The January 2021 “scientific” rumors list unveiled: would novel coronavirus vaccination change human gene? Can earlobe creases tell coronary heart disease?

2021-02-02

The monthly “scientific’ rumors list, guided by Beijing Association for Science and Technology, Beijing Municipal Cyberspace Administration Office and Beijing Internet Association and jointly released by Beijing Association of Science and Technology Journalists and Editors and www.piyao.qianlong.com, is supported by the Science Communication Committee of China Science Writers Association, the Society of Science Editors and Journalists of China Evening News, Shanghai Science and Technology Communication Association and Beijing Science and Technology Information Institute.

1. Novel coronavirus vaccination would change human gene

Rumors:

The mRNA novel coronavirus vaccine can embed virus gene into human chromosome through reverse transcription such that vaccine recipients will therefore change into genetically modified persons. 

Truth:

Currently, there are mainly two types of vaccines approved for marketing in the world: one is mRNA vaccine and the other is inactivated vaccine. Either type of vaccine will not change human gene, not to mention change vaccine recipients into “genetically modified persons”.

Inactivated vaccines cause novel coronavirus to lose infectivity and replicating power through chemical and other methods, while retaining the response activity that can trigger human immunity, thus falling into the traditional and classic way of vaccine preparation, not genetically engineered vaccines, let alone “change human gene”.

The mRNA novel coronavirus vaccine is mainly produced by taking a part of genes of spike protein encoding novel coronavirus as antigen using genome sequencing and analysis. The mRNA novel coronavirus vaccine only contains nucleotide sequences of an encoding protein of the virus, so human cells then synthesize proteins using their own components and the template of virus mRNA. Its viral nucleic acid substance is neither integrated into human cell genome nor is replicated or amplified within cells. Instead of being hijacked by viruses, cells trained a group of “mercenaries” using proteins synergized by them together, before protecting against incoming enemy---novel coronavirus with “mercenaries”.  

Most importantly, mRNA vaccine can express antigen proteins without entering cell nucleus, and the immune cells inside human body would proactively enrich (search) antigen proteins and produce naturalizing antibody through a series of molecular mechanisms.

The novel coronavirus is RNA virus but not “reversely transcribed RNA virus”, so the gene of novel coronavirus would not be integrated into human chromosomes. Chromosomes carrying human genomes exist inside cell nucleuses, which are wrapped by nuclear membranes. For mRNA vaccine, the nano-particle carrier of vaccine merely delivers the gene segments of the virus into cytoplasm without entering the cell nucleuses at all. How would there be any chance to integrate into human genomes since they cannot event enter cell nucleuses? So, the notion that mRNA novel coronavirus vaccination would change the vaccine recipients into genetically modified persons is totally alarmist. 

2. Earlobe creases can help foresee coronary heart disease

Rumors:

Earlobe creases can help predict atherosclerotic disease.

Truth:

Earlobe mainly consists of connective tissues and has neither cartilages nor ligaments, with its blood supply derived from the posterior auricular arteries and anterior auricular branch of superficial temporal artery such that local ischemia might result in shrinkage of earlobe skin, thus forming creases, which is a normal physiological phenomenon and is not necessarily associated with coronary heart disease.

CHD is a heart condition caused by myocardial ischemia, myocardial anemia or necrosis due to narrowed or blocked blood vessels as a result of atherosclerotic lesion happening to coronary arteries. In short, t is a series of symptoms such as chest stuffiness and chest pain manifested by human body due to narrowing of supplying vessels of heart and undersupply of blood to heart. According to the reminders in China Guidelines for Primary Prevention of Cardiovascular Diseases, apart from age, gender, inheritance and other uncontrollable factors, hypertension, abnormal blood lipid, diabetes, obesity, overweight, smoking and bad dietary habits are all independent danger factors to CHD.

Studies show that the mechanism for occurrence of earlobe crease signs might be associated with special sleeping gestures, genetic background, premature aging, oxidative stress and collagen degradation, although the specific mechanism remains unclear. Earlobe creases have never been written into the CHD diagnosis and treatment guidelines, expert consensus or medical textbooks either at home or abroad, suggesting that its guiding significance to physicians is small. Clinically, when diagnosing whether a person has CHD, cardiovascular doctors need to make comprehensive judgments based on the patient’s medical history, clinical symptoms, physical examination, electrocardiogram, ultrasonic cardiogram, cardiac markers, coronary angiography and other related examinations, which apparently are more reliable than observing earlobe creases.

3. “Self-heating underwear” can generate heat itself

Rumors:

Self-heating underwear, the so-called “wintering artifact”, can generate heat itself and maintain a constant temperature of 37℃, thanks to many black technologies.

Truth:

Most of vendors selling self-heating underwear claim that their self-heating underwear has a layer of “high-tech” materials that can generate heat itself and preserve warmth many times more effective than traditional pure-cotton thermal underwear, thereby constituting “black technology”. From the perspective of law of conservation of energy, self heating is not scientific, as energy needs to be sourced and it is impossible to generate heat out of thin air. Currently, there is no single type of materials in the world that can truly generate heat itself, that is to say, there is no clothing that is truly self heating.

The so-called self-heating underwear actually steals the concept from the rationale of fiber “absorbing wet and generating heat”. It is well known that the cuticle on human skin surface would discharge moisture and when human skin emits vapors to the outside, these vapors would dissipate heat when liquefied, which is an important reason we feel cold in winter. 

Generally speaking, the best way to defend cold is to wear thicker clothes. The thermal conductivity in static air is the minimum, and given stagnancy of air, the more air the fiber layer can hold, the better the thermal preservation performance of clothes. Nonetheless, although capable to achieve thermal preservation effect, heavy and thick clothes are not only aesthetically poor but also much less ambulatory. So, clothing makers started working on fabrics: on the one hand, materials need to be thin and light enough, fit and allow ease of use; on the other hand, the thermal insulation performance needs to be good enough, so fiber materials may after all be accepted as a good choice. When fiber absorbs moisture, the hydrophilic groups in fiber molecules bond with water molecules and the (vapor) kinetic energy of water molecules decreases, while at the same time is converted into heat energy for release, which is heat generation by moisture absorption. The higher the moisture absorption performance of fiber, the more heat is dissipated in the moisture absorption process.

So, the so-called self-heating underwear is actually underwear having the effect of “moisture absorption and heat preservation” and made from special fiber materials. For example, self-heating underwear of a particular brand is mainly made from polyester fiber and viscose, of which acrylic fibers are responsible for heat preservation and viscose is mainly responsible for breathing and perspiration and incidentally assists with heat preservation, polyester fiber is responsible for resisting wrinkles and polyurethane fiber is responsible for making clothes more fit. Along with growing “heating capability”, it can be seen that the percentage of the sum of viscose and acrylic fibers roughly increases.

 After “recombining” fiber materials with components, the self-heating underwear indeed is warmer than ordinary thermal underwear. But self-heating underwear is considerably affected by environments and would have little heat absorption capacity in very dry environments, for example, in dry and cold northwest and north China in winter, where self-heating underwear is definitely less effective than it is in Yangtze River basin.

In addition, maintaining constant temperatures is not easy, as heat generated would be less when fiber becomes saturated absorbing moisture and absorbs less moisture. According to the conservation of energy, moisture absorbed by fiber materials also needs to be released, which is also a process of “absorbing heat and dispersing moisture”, that is to say, self-heating underwear actually has always been recycling in the moisture absorption-heat dissipation-moisture release-heat absorption process, which is not good for some people whose skin is rather sensitive.

4. Eating more lard oil is beneficial to cardiovascular system and has healthcare effects.

Rumors:

Eating more lard oil is beneficial to human cardiovascular system and has the healthcare effects, so lard oil is indeed a treasure. 

Truth:

Lard oil is indeed considerably nutritional, as it can provide fatty acid required by human body, promote absorption of fat-soluble vitamins and provide calories. Fat taken in from diet is an important source of calories supplied to human body.

But lard oil is not a healthcare product. The main component in lard oil is fat and a very large part of it is saturated fat, which is of no special use to human health, let alone cure diseases.

In addition, lard oil has too much energy and eating more of it is not good to health. The energy provided by fat to human body each day should not exceed 25% of all energy required by body at best. Take an adult who needs 2000 kcal each day as an example, the daily intake of saturated fat should be kept at about 22g, or about 56g if all of it is converted into lard oil. If the share of energy supply from fat exceeds 30%, it would be easy to contract many chronic diseases, the most common of which is cardiovascular diseases. A large number of scientific researches show that excessive intake of fat (especially saturated fat) and energy would increase the risk of contracting cardiovascular diseases. Therefore, the claim that eating more lard oil is beneficial to cardiovascular system is totally putting the cart before the horse.

5. Tea water can kill novel coronavirus

Rumors:

90% of novel coronavirus can be killed by tea water within a minute, and 99.9% of novel coronavirus can be skilled by tea water within 10 minutes. A video of chief physician of thoracic surgery department of Guangdong Provincial People’s Hospital Qiao Guibin validated this conclusion.

Truth:

Online rumor has it that this research refers to a study of “inactivation effects of different teas on novel coronavirus” by a research team headed by Toshikazu Yano, professor of microbial infection science of Medical University of Nara Prefecture, Japan. The conclusion in this article is that this research failed to validate the effect that “novel coronavirus infection can be prevented by drinking tea”.

In addition, this research was conducted inside test tubes, in other words, it is an in vitro experiment. The research results of killing virus in vitro cannot not directly deduce the results of being drunk into body. So far, there is no antivirus data or clinical experiment data about animal in vivo experiments at the level of in vitro cell or dosage relations or other complete evidence-based research results that can prove that drinking tea alone can prevent or treat novel coronavirus infection, so everyone still needs to take rigorous personal precautions.

On January 7, 2021, chief physician of thoracic surgery department of Guangdong Provincial People’s Hospital Qiao Guibin published an article via his official microblog titled “please stay alert against a short online video called “tea water can kill the novel coronavirus”, refuting the rumors. Qiao Guibin pointed out that the online video was taken out of context to make refuting rumors into starting rumors, reminding everyone to sharpen their eyes and not to believe rumors.

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