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Insurers and pension funds face the challenges of historically low-interest rates and high volatility in equity markets, that have been accentuated due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Recent advances in equity portfolio management with a target volatility have been shown to deliver improved on average risk-adjusted return, after transaction costs. This paper studies these targeted volatility portfolios in applications to equity, balanced, and target-date funds with varying constraints on leverage. Conservative leverage constraints are particularly relevant to pension funds and insurance companies, with more aggressive leverage levels appropriate for alternative investments. We show substantial improvements in fund performance for differing leverage levels, and of most interest to insurers and pension funds, we show that the highest Sharpe ratios and smallest drawdowns are in targeted volatility-balanced portfolios with equity and bond allocations. Furthermore, we demonstrate the outperformance of targeted volatility portfolios during major stock market crashes, including the crash from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Meat quality is not only influenced by breed but also rearing environment. The aim of this study was to evaluate the influence of different housing environments on growth performance, carcase traits, meat quality, physiological response pre-slaughter and fatty acid composition in two pig breeds. A total of 120 growing pigs at 60-70 days of age were arranged in a 2 × 2 factorial design with the breeds (Duroc × Landrace × Large White [D × L × LW] and Duroc × Landrace × Min pig [D × L × M]) and environmental enrichment (barren concrete floor or enriched with straw bedding) as factors. Each treatment was performed in triplicate with ten pigs per replicate. The pigs housed in the enriched environment exhibited a higher average daily gain, average daily feed intake, saturated fatty acid percentage and backfat depth than the pigs reared in the barren environment. Plasma cortisol levels were lower and growth hormone higher in enriched compared to barren pens. The D × L × M pigs showed lower cooking loss compared with the D × L × LW pigs. Moreover, the D × L × M pigs exhibited poor growth performance but had a better water-holding capacity. Only carcase traits and meat quality interaction effects were observed. We concluded that an enriched environment can reduce preslaughter stress and improve the growth performance of pigs and modulate the fatty acid composition of pork products.
This study aimed to investigate the relationship between bone quality in terms of metabolism, homeostasis of elements, bone mineral density (BMD), and microstructure and keel-bone fractures in laying hens (Gallus gallus domesticus). One hundred and twenty 17 week old Lohmann White laying hens with normal keel bones were individually housed in furnished cages for 25 weeks. Birds were then euthanased and dissected to assess keel-bone status at 42 weeks. Serum and keel-bone samples from normal keel (NK) and fractured keel (FK) hens were collected to determine the previously mentioned bone quality parameters. The results showed FK hens to have higher levels of the components of osteocalcin, greater alkaline phosphatase activity in serum and keel bones, and greater tartrate-resistant acid phosphatase (TRAP) activity in keel bones, compared to NK hens. Additionally, FK hens also had higher concentrations of Li, B, K, Cu, As, Se, Sn, Hg, and Pb, but lower concentrations of Na, P, and Ca. Moreover, FK hens showed decreased bone microstructural parameters including bone volume/tissue volume, trabecular number, degree of anisotropy, connectivity density, and BMD, but increased trabecular separation. Meanwhile, no differences were detected in serum TRAP activity, trabecular thickness, bone surface, or bone surface/bone volume. Results showed laying hens with keel-bone fractures to have differences in bone metabolism, elements of home-ostasis, bone microstructure parameters, and BMD. These results suggest that keel-bone fractures may be associated with bone quality.
The surgical treatment of insular gliomas requires specialized knowledge. Over the last three decades, increased momentum in surgical resection of insular gliomas shifted the focus from one of expectant management to maximal safe resection to establish a diagnosis, characterize tumor genetics, treat preoperative symptoms (i.e., seizures), and delay malignant transformation through tumor cytoreduction. A comprehensive review of the literature was performed regarding insular glioma classification/genetics, insular anatomy, surgical approaches, and patient outcomes. Modern large, published series of insular resections have reported a median 80% resection, 80% improvement in preoperative seizures, and postsurgical permanent neurologic deficits of less than 10%. Major complication avoidance includes recognition and preservation of eloquent cortex for language and respecting the lateral lenticulostriate arteries.
When vaccination depends on injection, it is plausible that the blood-injection-injury cluster of fears may contribute to hesitancy. Our primary aim was to estimate in the UK adult population the proportion of COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy explained by blood-injection-injury fears.
In total, 15 014 UK adults, quota sampled to match the population for age, gender, ethnicity, income and region, took part (19 January–5 February 2021) in a non-probability online survey. The Oxford COVID-19 Vaccine Hesitancy Scale assessed intent to be vaccinated. Two scales (Specific Phobia Scale-blood-injection-injury phobia and Medical Fear Survey–injections and blood subscale) assessed blood-injection-injury fears. Four items from these scales were used to create a factor score specifically for injection fears.
In total, 3927 (26.2%) screened positive for blood-injection-injury phobia. Individuals screening positive (22.0%) were more likely to report COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy compared to individuals screening negative (11.5%), odds ratio = 2.18, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.97–2.40, p < 0.001. The population attributable fraction (PAF) indicated that if blood-injection-injury phobia were absent then this may prevent 11.5% of all instances of vaccine hesitancy, AF = 0.11; 95% CI 0.09–0.14, p < 0.001. COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy was associated with higher scores on the Specific Phobia Scale, r = 0.22, p < 0.001, Medical Fear Survey, r = 0.23, p = <0.001 and injection fears, r = 0.25, p < 0.001. Injection fears were higher in youth and in Black and Asian ethnic groups, and explained a small degree of why vaccine hesitancy is higher in these groups.
Across the adult population, blood-injection-injury fears may explain approximately 10% of cases of COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy. Addressing such fears will likely improve the effectiveness of vaccination programmes.
Improving the accuracy and robustness of deep neural nets (DNNs) and adapting them to small training data are primary tasks in deep learning (DL) research. In this paper, we replace the output activation function of DNNs, typically the data-agnostic softmax function, with a graph Laplacian-based high-dimensional interpolating function which, in the continuum limit, converges to the solution of a Laplace–Beltrami equation on a high-dimensional manifold. Furthermore, we propose end-to-end training and testing algorithms for this new architecture. The proposed DNN with graph interpolating activation integrates the advantages of both deep learning and manifold learning. Compared to the conventional DNNs with the softmax function as output activation, the new framework demonstrates the following major advantages: First, it is better applicable to data-efficient learning in which we train high capacity DNNs without using a large number of training data. Second, it remarkably improves both natural accuracy on the clean images and robust accuracy on the adversarial images crafted by both white-box and black-box adversarial attacks. Third, it is a natural choice for semi-supervised learning. This paper is a significant extension of our earlier work published in NeurIPS, 2018. For reproducibility, the code is available at https://github.com/BaoWangMath/DNN-DataDependentActivation.
Our aim was to estimate provisional willingness to receive a coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) vaccine, identify predictive socio-demographic factors, and, principally, determine potential causes in order to guide information provision.
A non-probability online survey was conducted (24th September−17th October 2020) with 5,114 UK adults, quota sampled to match the population for age, gender, ethnicity, income, and region. The Oxford COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy scale assessed intent to take an approved vaccine. Structural equation modelling estimated explanatory factor relationships.
71.7% (n=3,667) were willing to be vaccinated, 16.6% (n=849) were very unsure, and 11.7% (n=598) were strongly hesitant. An excellent model fit (RMSEA=0.05/CFI=0.97/TLI=0.97), explaining 86% of variance in hesitancy, was provided by beliefs about the collective importance, efficacy, side-effects, and speed of development of a COVID-19 vaccine. A second model, with reasonable fit (RMSEA=0.03/CFI=0.93/TLI=0.92), explaining 32% of variance, highlighted two higher-order explanatory factors: ‘excessive mistrust’ (r=0.51), including conspiracy beliefs, negative views of doctors, and need for chaos, and ‘positive healthcare experiences’ (r=−0.48), including supportive doctor interactions and good NHS care. Hesitancy was associated with younger age, female gender, lower income, and ethnicity, but socio-demographic information explained little variance (9.8%). Hesitancy was associated with lower adherence to social distancing guidelines.
COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy is relatively evenly spread across the population. Willingness to take a vaccine is closely bound to recognition of the collective importance. Vaccine public information that highlights prosocial benefits may be especially effective. Factors such as conspiracy beliefs that foster mistrust and erode social cohesion will lower vaccine up-take.
Introduction: Whole-body computed tomography scans (WBCT) are a mainstay in the work-up of polytrauma or multiple trauma patients in the emergency department. While incredibly useful for identifying traumatic injuries, WBCTs also reveal incidental findings in patients, some of which require further diagnostic testing and subsequent treatment. Although the presence of incidental findings in WBCTs have been well documented, there has been no systematic review conducted to organize and interpret findings, determine IF prevalence, and document strategies for best management. Methods: A systematic review was conducted using MEDLINE, PUBMED, and EMBASE. Specific journals and reference lists were hand-mined, and Google Scholar was used to find any additional papers. Data synthesis was performed to gather information on patient demographics, prevalence and type of incidental findings (IFs), and follow-up management was collected. All documents were independently assessed by the two reviewers for inclusion and any disagreements were resolved by consensus. Results: 1231 study results were identified, 59 abstracts, and 12 included in final review. A mean of 53.9% of patients had at least one IF identified, 31.5% had major findings, and 68.5% had minor findings. A mean of 2.7 IFs per patient was reported for articles that included number of total IFs. The mean age of patients included in the studies were 44 years old with IFs more common in older patients and men with more IFs than women. IFs were most commonly found in the abdominal/pelvic region followed by kidneys. Frequency of follow-up documentation was poor. The most common reported mechanisms of injury for patients included in the study were MVA and road traffic accidents (60.0%) followed by falls from >3m (23.2%). Conclusion: Although there is good documentation on the mechanism of injury, patient demographics, and type of IF, follow-up for IFs following acute trauma admission lacks documentation and follow-up and is an identified issue in patient management. There is great need for systematic protocols to address management of IFs in polytrauma patients.
Employing atomic-scale simulations, the response of a high-angle grain boundary (GB), the soft/hard GB, against external loading was systematically investigated. Under tensile loading close to the hard orientation, strain-induced dynamic recrystallization was observed to initiate through direct soft-to-hard grain reorientation, which was triggered by stress mismatch, inhibited by surface tension from the soft-hard GB, and proceeded by interface ledges. Such grain reorientation corresponds with expansion and contraction of the hard grain along and perpendicular to the loading direction, respectively, accompanied by local atomic shuffling, providing relatively large normal strain of 8.3% with activation energy of 0.04 eV per atom. Tensile strain and residual dislocations on the hard/soft GB facilitate the initiation of dynamic recrystallization by lowering the energy barrier and the critical stress for grain reorientation, respectively.
Music or other background sounds are often played in barns as environmental enrichment for animals on farms or to mask sudden disruptive noises. Previous studies looking at the effects of this practice on non-human animal well-being and productivity have found contradictory results. However, there is still a lack of discussion on whether piglets have the ability to distinguish different types of music. In this study, we exposed piglets to different music conditions to investigate whether the piglets preferred certain music types, in which case those types would have the potential to be used as environmental enrichment. In total, 30 piglets were tested for music type preference to determine whether growing pigs respond differently to different types of music. We used music from two families of instruments (S: string, W: wind) and with two tempos (S: slow, 65 beats/min (bpm); F: fast, 200 bpm), providing four music-type combinations (SS: string-slow; SF: string-fast; WS: wind-slow; WF: wind-fast). The piglets were given a choice between two chambers, one with no music and the other with one of the four types of music, and their behaviour was observed. The results showed that SS and WF music significantly increased residence time (P<0.01) compared with the other music conditions. Compared with the control group (with no music), the different music conditions led to different behavioural responses, where SS music significantly increased lying (P<0.01) and exploration behaviour (P<0.01); SF music significantly increased tail-wagging behaviour (P<0.01); WS music significantly increased exploration (P<0.01); and WF music significantly increased walking, lying, standing and exploration (all P<0.01). The results also showed that musical instruments and tempo had little effect on most of the behaviours. Fast-tempo music significantly increased walking (P=0.02), standing (P<0.01) and tail wagging (P=0.04) compared with slow-tempo music. In conclusion, the results of this experiment show that piglets are more sensitive to tempo than to musical instruments in their response to musical stimulation and seem to prefer SS and WF music to the other two types. The results also suggest a need for further research on the effect of music types on animals.
Rabies is one of the major public health problems in China, and the mortality rate of rabies remains the highest among all notifiable infectious diseases. A meta-analysis was conducted to investigate the post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) vaccination rate and risk factors for human rabies in mainland China. The PubMed, Web of Science, Chinese National Knowledge Infrastructure, Chinese Science and Technology Periodical and Wanfang databases were searched for articles on rabies vaccination status (published between 2007 and 2017). In total, 10 174 human rabies cases from 136 studies were included in this meta-analysis. Approximately 97.2% (95% confidence interval (CI) 95.1–98.7%) of rabies cases occurred in rural areas and 72.6% (95% CI 70.0–75.1%) occurred in farmers. Overall, the vaccination rate in the reported human rabies cases was 15.4% (95% CI 13.7–17.4%). However, among vaccinated individuals, 85.5% (95% CI 79.8%–83.4%) did not complete the vaccination regimen. In a subgroup analysis, the PEP vaccination rate in the eastern region (18.8%, 95% CI 15.9–22.1%) was higher than that in the western region (13.3%, 95% CI 11.1–15.8%) and this rate decreased after 2007. Approximately 68.9% (95% CI 63.6–73.8%) of rabies cases experienced category-III exposures, but their PEP vaccination rate was 27.0% (95% CI 14.4–44.9%) and only 6.1% (95% CI 4.4–8.4%) received rabies immunoglobulin. Together, these results suggested that the PEP vaccination rate among human rabies cases was low in mainland China. Therefore, standardised treatment and vaccination programs of dog bites need to be further strengthened, particularly in rural areas.
FK506 binding protein 5 (FKBP5) alters stress response system functioning, and childhood maltreatment is associated with methylation of the FKBP5 gene. Yet it is unknown if maltreatment contributes to change in FKBP5 methylation over time. The current study draws upon a sample of 231 preschoolers, including 123 with child welfare documentation of moderate to severe maltreatment in the past 6 months, to understand if maltreatment contributes to change in FKBP5 methylation over a 6-month period. Review of child protection records and semistructured interviews in the home were used to assess maltreatment and exposure to other contextual stressors, as well as service utilization. Methylation of FKBP5 at two CpG sites in intron 7 was measured from saliva DNA at the time of initial study enrollment, and 6 months following enrollment. Child maltreatment was associated with change in FKBP5 methylation over time, but only when children were exposed to high levels of other contextual stressors. Service utilization was associated with increases in methylation over time, but only among children with the FKPB5 rs1360780 protective CC genotype. Methylation of FKBP5 is sensitive to stress exposure and may be a mechanism linking early adversity to long-term health and developmental outcomes.
Epigenetics processes may play a vital role in the biological embedding of early environmental adversity and the development of psychopathology. Accumulating evidence suggests that maltreatment is linked to methylation of the glucocorticoid receptor gene, nuclear receptor subfamily 3, group C, member 1 (NR3C1), which is a key regulator of the hypothalamus–pituitary–adrenal axis. However, prior work has been exclusively cross-sectional, greatly constraining our understanding of stress-related epigenetic processes over time. In the current study, we examined the effect of maltreatment and other adversity on change in NR3C1 methylation among at-risk preschoolers to begin to characterize within-child epigenetic changes during this sensitive developmental period. Participants were 260 preschoolers (3–5 years old, 53.8% female), including 51.5% with moderate to severe maltreatment in the past 6 months. Child protection records, semistructured interviews, and parent reports were used to assess child stress exposure. Methylation of exons 1D and 1F of NR3C1 via saliva DNA were measured at two time points approximately 6 months apart. Results indicate that maltreated children evidence higher baseline levels of NR3C1 methylation, significant decreases in methylation over time, and then at follow-up, lower levels of methylation, relative to nonmaltreated preschoolers. Findings from the current study highlight the complex nature of stress-related epigenetic processes during early development.
Serotonin signaling pathways play a key role in brain development, stress reactivity, and mental health. Epigenetic alterations in the serotonin system may underlie the effect of early life stress on psychopathology. The current study examined methylation of the serotonin receptor 2A (HTR2A) gene in a sample of 228 children including 119 with child welfare documentation of moderate to severe maltreatment within the last 6 months. Child protection records, semistructured interviews in the home, and parent reports were used to assess child stress exposure, psychiatric symptoms, and behavior. The HTR2A genotype and methylation of HTR2A were measured at two CpG sites (–1420 and –1224) from saliva DNA. HTR2A genotype was associated with HTR2A methylation at both CpG sites. HTR2A genotype also moderated associations of contextual stress exposure and HTR2A methylation at site –1420. Contextual stress was positively associated with –1420 methylation among A homozygotes, but negatively associated with –1420 methylation among G homozygotes. Posttraumatic stress disorder and major depressive disorder symptoms were negatively associated with methylation at –1420, but positively associated with methylation at –1224. Results support the view that the serotonin system is sensitive to stress exposure and psychopathology, and HTR2A methylation may be a mechanism by which early adversity is biologically encoded.
A highly efficient parallelization scheme of direct numerical simulation (DNS) for two-dimensional Rayleigh-Bénard convection is presented. By introducing the parallel diagonal dominant (PDD) algorithm to solve the pressure Poisson equation and adjusting the domain decomposition accordingly, all-to-all communication as the usual obstacle to parallel computing can be eliminated. Excellent strong scaling and weak scaling for the parallel efficiency are achieved. Numerical results show that very complex structures in flow exist at very high Ra numbers. The required high resolution both in space and in time can be obtained by the present method at low parallel overhead.
We investigated the first presence of qnrA among Shigella sonnei clinical isolates in Jiangsu Province, China. The qnrA-positive isolates coexisted with the mutation in gyrA at codon 83, these isolates were resistant to nalidixic acid and 22·2% (2 of 9) of them were resistant to norfloxacin.
Stretchable and ultraflexible electronic devices have a broad range of potential uses, from robust devices for energy storage and conversion to biomedical devices that make conformal interfaces with the skin and internal organs. Organics have long been associated with mechanical compliance, which enables inexpensive manufacturing via roll-to-roll printing. This article provides an overview of the use of organic electronic materials, including π-conjugated polymers and small molecules, in highly deformable devices. It begins with a comparison of devices based on organic devices to those based on inorganic composites. The thin-film nature of organic semiconductor devices has also led to the development of several techniques for metrology that can be applied specifically to brittle organic thin films. The article concludes with a brief discussion of the applications of stretchable and ultraflexible organic electronic devices and a prescriptive outlook for successful collaborative work in this exciting, interdisciplinary field.
New data and a review of historiographic information from Neolithic sites of the Malaga and Algarve coasts (southern Iberian Peninsula) and from the Maghreb (North Africa) reveal the existence of a Neolithic settlement at least from 7.5 cal ka BP. The agricultural and pastoralist food producing economy of that population rapidly replaced the coastal economies of the Mesolithic populations. The timing of this population and economic turnover coincided with major changes in the continental and marine ecosystems, including upwelling intensity, sea-level changes and increased aridity in the Sahara and along the Iberian coast. These changes likely impacted the subsistence strategies of the Mesolithic populations along the Iberian seascapes and resulted in abandonments manifested as sedimentary hiatuses in some areas during the Mesolithic–Neolithic transition. The rapid expansion and area of dispersal of the early Neolithic traits suggest the use of marine technology. Different evidences for a Maghrebian origin for the first colonists have been summarized. The recognition of an early North-African Neolithic influence in Southern Iberia and the Maghreb is vital for understanding the appearance and development of the Neolithic in Western Europe. Our review suggests links between climate change, resource allocation, and population turnover.
Anthrax is still a severe public health problem and threat to human health. A cutaneous anthrax outbreak occurred in Jiangsu Province, a non-endemic anthrax region of eastern China, from July to August 2012. Epidemiological and laboratory investigation were initiated to trace the source of infection and identify the risk factors of the outbreak. On 25 July 2012, 17 persons were exposed to a sick cow, which had been imported from northeast China a few days previously. Of the 17 exposed, eight developed symptoms between 1 and 8 days and were diagnosed as cutaneous anthrax cases. Three main genes of Bacillus anthracis were detected from both human and cow meat samples, indicating that the outbreak was associated with this infected cow. A retrospective cohort study showed that contact with blood and presence of skin damage contributed to the case infection with B. anthracis. The outbreak highlights the need to enhance quarantine for imported livestock, which should have been vaccinated prior to importation, the significance of education for high-risk individuals, and training for primary healthcare workers even in anthrax-free areas.