You can still catch Omicron, even if you've already had COVID-19 - study and the Oldest person in the world dies at the age of 135 and Gold Rings, Ancient Coins and Early Christian Art Found in Shipwrecks Off Israel's Coast and A Box of Cash, ($180,000) a Secret Donor, and a Big Lift for Some N.Y.C. Students and what Hebrew letters are put on a Tombstone and COVID-19 symptoms are strikingly similar to flu. But if you test negative on an antigen test, don’t assume it’s influenza. Here’s why
Yehuda Lave is an author, journalist, psychologist, rabbi, spiritual teacher, and coach, with degrees in business, psychology and Jewish Law. He works with people from all walks of life and helps them in their search for greater happiness, meaning, business advice on saving money, and spiritual engagement.
I was told that there is supposed to be some Hebrew letters on a memorial grave marker/headstone. We are planning a headstone for my deceased mother; can you help me with this?
I am sorry to hear about your loss. I offer you the traditional condolences given to mourners: "May G‑d console you, together with all mourners of Zion and Jerusalem."
Most likely, the letters you are referring to are .ת.נ.צ.ב.ה. It is customary, but not obligatory, to put these letters on the bottom of a monument. These letters are an acronym for the Hebrew words תהא נפשו/ה צרורה בצרור החיים (t'hay nafsho/ah tzrurah b'tzror hachaim), "May his/her soul be bound up in the bond of life." This paraphrases the words that Abigail told King David (I Samuel 25:29): "But my lord's soul shall be bound in the bond of life with the L-rd your G‑d."
You can still catch Omicron, even if you've already had COVID-19 - study
If you've had coronavirus, you can get it again. According to the current report and previous studies, the variant seems to be able to evade more easily than any previous immunity achieved.
The numbers are going up and more and more people are getting infected with the contagious Omicron strain. A report on the risk of getting coronavirus again shows that no one is really immune to the new variant. Here are the numbers.A little over a month since it appeared, scientists are still learning the true risks of the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes coronavirus. The latest report from the COVID response team at the Imperial College London indicates that the risk of reinfection from the new version is 5.4 times higher than with the Delta strain.A previous study estimated that having had COVID provided 85% protection for six months against being infected with the Delta variant. In the current report, which has not yet been peer-reviewed, the protection against Omicron is only 19%.Top Articles By JPostRead More
Professor Neil Ferguson from the Imperial College stated to the press that this study shows that Omicron can definitely evade previous immunity achieved by infection or vaccination. This level of immune evasion means that Omicron poses a crucial and immediate threat to public health.The team also examined the risk of infection from a version of Omicron in people with two doses of the vaccine and in those who also received the booster. Data collected by the UK Health Security Agency and the National Health Service between November 29 and December 11 in people who received the standard vaccine shows effectiveness against symptomatic coronavirus appears to be 20% at most. After the booster, effectiveness rises to between 55 to 80%.
A woman wears a protective mask during the coronavirus pandemic (credit: TEL AVIV UNIVERSITY)Prof. Azra Ghani, also from Imperial, said that "quantifying reinfection risk and vaccine effectiveness against Omicron is essential for modelling the likely future trajectory of the Omicron wave and the potential impact of vaccination and other public health interventions." The study also indicates that there is no major difference in the severity of the disease between Delta and Omicron but researchers stressed that the data is limited, especially regarding hospitalization rates.Researchers stated that the study results are clear. If you've had coronavirus, you can get it again. According to the current report and previous studies, the variant seems to be able to evade more easily than any previous immunity achieved.
They conclude that the vaccine provides a safe and effective way to increase immunity to COVID-19, especially for the Omicron variant, without getting sick. It's important to get the booster shot, especially now, as this study shows that three doses provide much better protection against the variant than just two vaccines.
The Three Musketeers at the Kotel
Oldest person in the world dies at the age of 135
If her age is accurate, 135-year old Almihan Seyiti of China would be the oldest person in recorded history.
A woman who was thought to have been 135-years old passed away on Thursday.
If her age is accurate, Almihan Seyiti would be the oldest person in recorded history, the Daily Mail reported.
The elderly woman from the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region in Western China claimed that she was born on June 25, 1886, making her officially the oldest ever known human.
But her age has not been verified by independent investigators, including researchers from Guinness World Records.
Born during the Qing dynasty, the last Chinese imperial era, Seyiti was officially presented with the title as the country's oldest living person in 2013 by the China Association of Gerontology and Geriatrics.
The government announced on Saturday that Seyiti had died "peacefully" on December 16 surrounded by family members.
After marrying in 1903, she adopted a boy and a girl. Her husband died in 1976.
Seyiti lived to see six generations of descendants. When she died, she had 43 living grandchildren and 43 living great-grandchildren.
Kuerban Nuer, her grandson and caretaker, said that she was in good health before she passed away. He added that she would wake up every day at 10 a.m. and spend the day listening to music before going to bed at 11 p.m.
"When hearing music from the radio before sleep, her feet would move along with the rhythm," he said.
While Seyiti, of Komuxerik in Shule county of Kashgar prefecture, has a government issued identification card that listed her year of birth as 1886, questions have arisen because of lacklustre record keeping during that era.
Komuxerik has been labelled a "longevity town" due to an unusually large number of residents over 90-years old.
A Box of Cash, a Secret Donor and a Big Lift for Some N.Y.C. Students
When he returned to teaching in-person this semester, Vinod Menon, a physics professor at City College of New York in Harlem, finally looked through a pile of office mail and found a cardboard box the size of a toaster.
The box, heavy enough to warrant $90 in postage for priority U.S. mail, was addressed to "Chairman, Physics Department" — his title.
Maybe it was a token of thanks from a former student, Dr. Menon thought, as he inspected the package, which was postmarked Nov. 10, 2020. It had been sitting for more than nine months, first in the campus mailroom and then in the physics office.
For Dr. Menon, 49, who specializes in nano- and microphotonics, an exciting moment usually comes in a campus laboratory with some breakthrough in the exploration of the way light interacts with matter on a quantum level.
But the matter contained in the cardboard box gave him quite a charge. It was full of $50 and $100 bills bundled in paper bands, totaling $180,000.
An enclosed letter to Dr. Menon explained that the cash was a donation meant to help needy physics and math students at City College.
"It was a complete shock — I know a lot of academics and I've never heard of anything like this," he said. "I didn't know if the college accepted cash, so I didn't know if they'd keep it."
The letter explained the donor's motivations. "Assuming that you are bit curious as to why I am doing this, the reason is straightforward," wrote the donor, who said he or she "long ago" took advantage of the "excellent educational opportunity" of attending both Stuyvesant High School and earning a bachelor's and master's degrees in physics at City College, which helped lead to "a long, productive, immensely rewarding" scientific career.
The note was unsigned, and the name on the return address, Kyle Paisley, was not listed as a graduate in the college's records.
City College has benefited from larger donations. It has raised $17.2 million in funds since the beginning of the fiscal year in July.
But Dr. Menon said the gift's value was less about the dollar amount and more about "a testament to what the physics department has been providing all these years."
He noted that since the annual tuition at City College is $7,500, the donation would go much further than at an expensive private institution in providing scholarships.
Officials, both at the college and the entire CUNY system, could not recall a similar type of donation. "Kyle Paisley" seemed to be a phony name, said Chief Pat Morena, who heads the Department of Public Safety at City College, the founding school in the city's 25-college public university system, the largest public urban university system in the country.
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"Who gets $180,000 sent to them in currency, and the person who's sending it is anonymous?" he asked.
Also notable was that the donation was earmarked for the physics department, which has had a long and distinguished history. In 1921, Albert Einstein gave one of his earliest U.S. lectures there, and the department has long punched above its weight, with three of its alumni becoming Nobel laureates in physics.
With the coronavirus pandemic snarling mail delivery on campus, the unobtrusive box probably sat for months in the college's main mailroom like "a regular, everyday package" and was finally taken with other accumulated parcels to Dr. Menon's office, most likely in March, said Robin Cruz, who runs the mailroom.
But Dr. Menon had been teaching remotely since March 2020. He conducted research in a lab across campus from his chairman's office and did not check his office mail until late summer.
"It's crazy that it just sat in the mailroom, or even that it was sent by mail — the person trusted the system so much," said Dr. Menon, who was leery of even touching the money when he opened the box.
The money was "treated like evidence" and stored in a safe in the public safety office, whose officials contacted federal authorities "to see if it was possible that this was proceeds from criminal activity," Chief Moreno said.
Based on information on the bands bundling the cash, federal agents determined that it had been withdrawn from several banks in Maryland in recent years and was not connected to criminal activity, the chief said.
The address on the package, an actual house in Pensacola, Fla., did not lead to anyone connected to the donation.
Officials from the federal postal inspector's office were unable to obtain video of the package being sent. So after a monthlong investigation, the authorities told college officials that the donor's identification "really was untraceable," Chief Morena said.
With that, CUNY's Board of Trustees was cleared to formally vote to accept the gift at its meeting on Dec. 13.
They did so with giddy elation.
"That is absolutely astonishing, $180,000 in cash in a box," said the board's chairman, William C. Thompson, in introducing the vote.
Asked by a board member if this was a first, CUNY's chancellor, Félix V. Matos Rodríguez, said, "Clearly in a box, I think it's a first."
A board member, Lorraine Cortés-Vázquez, said, "We have to bronze that box and put it in a display case as the most generous gift."
She praised school officials for following procedure: "They were like, 'We are not sending this back — we will do all the due diligence necessary.'"
Dr. Menon said the money would have an outsize impact for the department, which would put it toward funding two full tuition scholarships each year for more than a decade. In the spirit of the donation, he said, the fellowship would require the students to "give back in some way," perhaps by peer mentoring.
The professor, who emigrated from India in 1996, has studied and conducted research at public universities and private institutions, including Princeton University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Despite offers to teach at elite schools, Dr. Menon said he has remained at City College largely because of its commitment to offering an affordable education to a diverse body of students, many of them immigrants. Many of his students come from families who have never attended college, and many have never been inside a laboratory, he said.
"The impact factor of teaching here is much higher," he said. "It's a place where you can elevate somebody."
Gold Rings, Ancient Coins and Early Christian Art Found in Shipwrecks Off Israel's Coast
Israel Antiquities Authority discovered the two shipwrecks, separated by nearly 1,000 years, off the coast of Caesarea
A gold ring engraved with the figure of the Good Shepherd discovered off the coast of Caesarea.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg
Israeli archaeologists have discovered a treasure trove of Roman and Mamluk artifacts from two ancient shipwrecks that sank off the coast of the ancient port city of Caesarea nearly a thousand years apart, the Israel Antiquities Authority announced on Wednesday.
According to the authority, the treasure — which includes a horde of gold coins, a gold ring engraved with the figure of the Good Shepherd, a well-known symbol of Jesus in early Christian art, and a bronze figurine in the form of an eagle, symbolizing Roman rule — was found scattered four meters (13 feet) down on the sea floor near the remains of the ships' wrecked hulls.
The ships, which have been dated to approximately 1,700 and 600 years ago, respectively, "were probably anchored nearby and were wrecked by a storm," said Jacob Sharvit and Dror Planer of the Israel Antiquities Authority's Marine Archaeology Unit.
"They may have been anchored offshore after getting into difficulty, or fearing stormy weather, because sailors knew well that mooring in shallow, open water outside a port is dangerous and prone to disaster," he said.
Other finds included a figurine of a Roman pantomimus in a comic mask; numerous bronze bells intended among other things to ward off evil spirits; and pottery vessels, as well as including dozens of large bronze nails, lead pipes from a bilge pump, and a large iron anchor broken.
Of special note, the Antiquities Authority said, were personal effects found in the wreckage, including the Good Shepherd ring, "a thick, octagonal gold ring set with a green gemstone carved with the figure of a young shepherd boy," and a "gemma ring" containing a red gemstone featuring a carving of a lyre, the ancient instrument which the Bible says David played to help sooth King Saul.
"They are extremely vulnerable, which is why the Israel Antiquities Authority conducts underwater surveys to locate, monitor and salvage any antiquities," he said, urging people to report any ancient finds they may come across while engaged in water sports.
You have a blistering headache. Your body aches. You've developed a cough. You're sneezing. But you test negative on an antigen test. Do you have COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus SARS-CoV-2? Or the flu?
It's a stressful dilemma and an increasingly common question. Flu season is upon us. Omicron is upon us. If you have a COVID-19 vaccine, your immune system will kick in faster to fight the virus. That's when you start feeling sick.
You isolate for at least 5 full days — day zero being the first day of symptoms — because that's the responsible thing to do. Yet you still have your sense of taste and smell, but you know that doesn't mean you don't have COVID-19.
A COVID-19 vaccine and booster shot help reduce the risk of severe symptoms, and hospitalization, studies suggest. If this is what omicron feels like with a vaccine, you may be thanking your lucky stars that you got your shots.
As the omicron variant sweeps across the world, and flu season takes hold, how can you tell the difference between COVID-19 and the flu? The truth is unless you finally get a positive COVID-19 antigen test, it's almost impossible to tell.
COVID-19 and flu symptoms are practically the same
Here's why it's tough: Both COVID-19 and flu may result in fever, coughing, shortness of breath/difficulty breathing, fatigue, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, vomiting, diarrhea, change in or loss of taste or smell.
The CDC says a loss or change in taste or smell is more common in COVID-19, but it's not a precondition for having omicron, the highly transmittable variant that's blazing a trail across schools, workplaces and family gatherings.
One sign you could have COVID-19 rather than the flu: A persistent dry cough, and shortness of breath or difficulty breathing are two symptoms that could point to COVID-19, especially if you were exposed to someone who tested positive.
It's a Catch 22. The flu and COVID-19 have near identical symptoms. Despite all the guidelines helping people to distinguish between the two, a positive rapid antigen test is still the only surefire way of knowing which illness you have.
But here's the rub: Tests are not one and done. If you have COVID-19 and have symptoms, you may still test negative on antigen tests for days. What's more, your immune system, helped by a vaccine, may actually defeat the virus.
Repeatedly testing negative with COVID-19 or flu symptoms
Therein lies the silver lining to feeling ill. Early in the pandemic, our immune systems fought the coronavirus and we felt ill. Without any preexisting immunity we likely had a large amount of virus in our systems by the time we felt rotten.
Vaccines were a game changer. Michael Mina, an epidemiologist, says feeling sick can be a good thing. Vaccines help our immune system to more quickly recognize and fight the virus, and that makes us feel sick — not necessarily the virus load.
Mina said you can be symptomatic and pre-infectious, infectious, post-infectious or never infectious. "Symptoms don't = contagious virus," he wrote on Twitter. "This is literally a reflection of the fact that vaccines are doing their job!"
That's why we feel horrible even when we're negative. "We recognize the virus quickly after it lands in us, we develop symptoms, we kind of fight it off, then it often eventually wins, and grows fast AFTER immunity/symptoms started," he added.
"Thus, if you are symptomatic and negative — although it means you're probably not contagious at that moment, be very very cautious," Mina adds. "Quarantine even if possible and test the next morning or that night. (Sometimes even longer.)"
Emily Landon, executive medical director for infection prevention and control at University of Chicago Medicine, told UChicago News in a Q&A that antigen tests detect COVID-19 when people have a higher amount of virus in their system.
'A negative antigen test doesn't necessarily mean you aren't contagious.'
— Emily Landon, executive medical director for infection prevention and control at UChicago Medicine
"But a negative antigen test doesn't necessarily mean you aren't contagious. If someone has COVID-19, but hasn't yet reached the test's threshold of viral particles, they may still test negative with an antigen test but positive on a PCR."
PCR tests, which amplify the genetic material, are mostly carried out at hospitals and other testing facilities. "They're able to detect smaller quantities of the virus and detect them sooner (and for more time) than antigen tests," Landon added.
And then there is the elephant in the room, as outlined in a small and, thus far, non-peer reviewed study published Wednesday, which compared rapid antigen tests with those more sensitive PCR tests.
The research looked at 30 fully vaccinated workers in Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco who were tested daily last month, using both nasal antigen and saliva PCR tests. A high, but unspecified number, had booster shots.
The results were concerning, particularly as millions of people rely on at-home antigen tests. "Most omicron cases were infectious for several days before being detectable by rapid antigen tests," the researchers concluded.
In fact, it took approximately three days from the first positive PCR test to detect the virus that causes COVID-19 with a standard antigen test. As a result, four participants spread the virus before discovering they were positive.
Isolate and test with symptoms. But when do you exit isolation?
How do you interpret those rapid tests? One red line is negative, while two red lines means positive. A stronger second red line likely means you're at your most infectious. A lighter red line means you're at the beginning or end of your infection.
When and how you exit isolation has just gotten trickier. The CDC is maintaining its position on its isolation policy, instructing people who had symptoms and who have access to a test to take one before exiting isolation. But it does not require it.
Even if you are less contagious after your symptoms have alleviated, the CDC's critics argue that this creates another gray area of confusion, and puts the onus on the individual to make decisions that are best left up to public-health officials.
The CDC's explanation: "The majority of SARS-CoV-2 transmission occurs early in the course of illness, generally in the 1-2 days prior to onset of symptoms and the 2-3 days after." That, however, was before omicron spread like wildfire.
This stance has divided public opinion, and frustrated some epidemiologists. Many public-health advocates say it's safer to get that negative antigen test before going out into the world. For his part, Mina called the CDC guidelines "reckless."