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Kathryn R. Bown

Kathryn - Our health specialist likes to share with the readers the latest news from the field. Nobody understands better than her the relation between healthy mind and healthy body.

Image source: Wikimedia Commons

According a study by the University of Texas, the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine can still target a key mutation that has emerged in two new variants of coronavirus.

However, this is only one of many mutations that are found in the new forms of the virus.

So while the study has been welcomed, it is not being seen as definitive scientific evidence about how the vaccine will perform.

New variants have been detected in the UK and South Africa.

Both variants are spreading more quickly and this has raised questions over what level of protection vaccines can offer against them.

Covid-19 Vaccine: Israel Leads the World in Vaccination Rate

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The widely held view is that vaccines will still work, but researchers are on the hunt for proof.

The study focuses on a mutation called N501Y, which is emerged in both new variants.

This is thought to be important because it is in the part of the virus that makes first contact with our body’s cells and changes could make it easier to get in and cause an infection.

The researchers created two forms of the virus – one with and one without the mutation – and then bathed those viruses in blood samples taken from 20 patients that had been vaccinated in clinical trials.

The study results showed the immune systems of vaccinated patients were able to take out the new mutation.

However, the variant that emerged contain multiple mutations whose combined effects may help the virus evade the immune system.


Israel has the highest coronavirus vaccination rate in the world with 11.55 doses per 100 people.

It is followed by Bahrain at 3.49 and the UK at 1.47, according to a global tracking website affiliated with Oxford University.

In comparison, France had vaccinated 138 people in total by December 30.

More than 1.8 million people have now died of Covid-19 around the world.

The comparative figures on vaccination are put together by Our World in Data, which is a collaboration between Oxford University and an educational charity.

They measure the number of people who have received a first dose of the coronavirus vaccine. Most of the vaccines approved for use so far rely on two doses, given more than a week apart.

The US fell far short of its target of vaccinating 20 million people by the end of 2020, with just 2.78 million having received a jab by December 30.

Meanwhile, Dr. Anthony Fauci has said he does not agree with UK plans to give as many people as possible a first vaccine dose, while delaying second doses.

He said the US would not be adopting a similar strategy.

India has meanwhile approved two vaccines for emergency use – the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine and the Covaxin vaccine, developed locally by Bharat Biotech and the state-run Indian Council of Medical Research.

Two further vaccines are awaiting approval. India aims to vaccinate 300 million people by the middle of the year and has been staging drills to prepare for mass distribution.

India is holding a national drill for its vaccination program, which is aiming to reach 300 million people by the middle of the year.

It will rely on the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, which has now been recommended by a government panel. The Oxford vaccine does not require the same storage at extremely low temperatures as the Pfizer vaccine, making it suitable for distribution to areas without sophisticated health care facilities.

The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is known as Covishield in India, where it is being manufactured by the Serum Institute of India. Another vaccine, developed by Bharat Biotech, has been approved for emergency use.

Covid-19 has already claimed nearly 150,000 lives in India, with about 10 million people infected – second only to the number infected in the US.

Israel began vaccinations on December 19 and is delivering the shot to about 150,000 people a day, with priority given to the over-60s, health workers and people who are clinically vulnerable.

It secured supplies of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine following negotiations early on in the pandemic. It is contacting people with priority access to the vaccine through its health care system – by law all Israelis must register with a recognized health care provider.

Israel has safely subdivided shipments of the Pfizer vaccine, which must be stored at -70C, Health Minister Yuli Edelstein told YNet TV news. This means smaller batches of the vaccine can be sent out to remote communities.

PM Benjamin Netanyahu, who is campaigning for re-election, has predicted Israel could emerge from the pandemic as early as February. It is currently in its third national lockdown.

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In the first three days of the EU vaccination campaign, which launched on December 27, France inoculated fewer than 100 people. In comparison, Germany had given more than 190,000 vaccines by January 2.

Part of the difficulty in France stems from the widespread scepticism about the vaccination. In a 15-country poll carried out by Ipsos Global Advisor, just 40% of French respondents said they would be willing to have the vaccine.

This compares to 80% in China, 77% in the UK, and 69% in the US.

Earlier this week, the French health minister defended the slow pace of vaccinations, saying authorities had chosen to give the vaccine in care homes to elderly residents, rather than making them travel.


The EU is launching a co-ordinated mass vaccination to fight Covid-19, in what the bloc’s top official Ursula von der Leyen says is a “touching moment of unity”.

On December 26, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine had been delivered to all 27 member states.

Some countries started administering the jabs on the same day, saying they were not prepared to wait another day.

The EU has so far reported more than 335,000 coronavirus-related deaths.

More than 14 million people have been infected, and strict lockdown measures are currently in place in nearly all the member states.

The EU mass vaccination comes as cases of the more contagious variant of the virus are confirmed in several European countries as well as Japan and Canada.

Mass vaccination for the EU’s 446 million people is due to begin in the coming hours.

This comes after the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the European Commission authorized the German-US Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

The EU has secured contracts for more than two billion vaccine doses from a range of drug companies.

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Ursula von der Leyen tweeted: “Today, we start turning the page on a difficult year. The #COVID19 vaccine has been delivered to all EU countries. Vaccination will begin tomorrow across the EU. The #EUvaccinationdays are a touching moment of unity. Vaccination is the lasting way out of the pandemic.”

German Health Minister Jens Spahn said on December 26: “This really is a happy Christmas message. At this moment, trucks with the first vaccines are on the road all over Europe, all over Germany, in all federal states. Further deliveries will follow the day after tomorrow.

“This vaccine is the crucial key for defeating the pandemic. It’s the key for us getting back our lives.”

Health workers in north-east Germany decided not to wait for December 27 and started immunizing elderly residents of a nursing home in Halberstadt.

The authorities in Slovakia also said they had begun vaccinating.

Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio urged his compatriots to get the vaccine: “We’ll get our freedom back, we’ll be able to embrace again.”

In Hungary, the first recipient of the vaccine was a doctor at Del-Pest Central Hospital on December 26, the state news agency says.

Image by Jürgen Rübig from Pixabay

For many women, turning 30 is a big moment in their lives. Often, turning 30 coincides with numerous lifestyle changes. Women in their 30s may decide to start a family; or focus on their career. Or women in their 30s may decide to move to a new city, start a new business venture, or develop new relationships. Whatever your plan for the next ten years is, it’s important for women who are turning 30 to understand how to ensure their long-term health and wellness for years to come. Thankfully, this blog will help you achieve just that. Check out our top four health tips for women in their 30s:

Stay Active

As people get older, they tend to find it more difficult to stick to a rigorous exercise routine. However, it’s crucial that you maintain –– if not improve –– your workout habits moving forward. Regular exercise can not only help you achieve a healthy weight, but it can protect you from the onset of numerous medical conditions and illnesses. Now might be a great time to try out new exercise techniques that you may have overlooked so far.

Speak to Your Doctor

Individuals in their 20s may not feel the need to speak with their doctor all that often. Yet, as women enter their 30s, they should make it a priority to visit their doctor on a regular basis. Indeed, this is particularly true for women who are concerned with their fertility or who may want to have kids. Some women may even need to schedule an appointment with a tubal reversal doctor to improve their chances of conception. Regardless, all women in their 30s should seek to consult with their doctor more frequently.

Cut Out Bad Habits

Poor health decisions like staying up late, indulging in fast food, or engaging with cigarettes/alcohol are bad no matter when you start them. For women in their 30s, though, it’s imperative that you cut out these bad habits ASAP. Getting enough sleep, practicing a smart diet, and avoiding detrimental activities are all vital steps to building a healthy lifestyle.

Don’t Neglect Mental Health

You’re never too old to experience feelings of anxiety or depression. No one is immune to experiencing mental health issues, so it’s key that women in their 30s take their mental well-being seriously. At the very least, do your best to communicate your mental and emotional needs to others. And don’t hesitate to reach out to a mental health expert should you require clinical assistance. Remember, asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness –– it’s an example of your strength!

A new variant of coronavirus has been blamed for the introduction of strict tier four mixing rules for millions of people, harsher restrictions on mixing at Christmas in the UK, and other countries placing the UK on a travel ban.

Specialists have “moderate” confidence that the new variant is more able to transmit than other variants.

All the work is at an early stage, contains huge uncertainties and a long list of unanswered questions.

Three things are coming together that mean it is attracting attention:

  • It is rapidly replacing other versions of the virus
  • It has mutations that affect part of the virus likely to be important
  • Some of those mutations have already been shown in the lab to increase the ability of the virus to infect cells

All of these come together to build a case for a virus that can spread more easily.

However, we do not have absolute certainty. New strains can become more common simply by being in the right place at the right time – such as London, which had only tier two restrictions until recently.

But already the justification for tier four restrictions is in part to reduce the spread of the variant.

The variant was first detected in September. In November around a quarter of cases in London were the new variant. This reached nearly two-thirds of cases in mid-December.

The virus that was first detected in Wuhan, China, is not the same one you will find in most corners of the world.

The D614G mutation emerged in Europe in February and became the globally dominant form of the virus.

Another, called A222V, spread across Europe and was linked to people’s summer holidays in Spain.

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An initial analysis of the new variant has been published and identifies 17 potentially important alterations.

There have been changes to the spike protein – this is the key the virus uses to unlock the doorway to our body’s cells.

One mutation called N501Y alters the most important part of the spike, known as the “receptor-binding domain”.

This is where the spike makes first contact with the surface of our body’s cells. Any changes that make it easier for the virus to get inside are likely to give it an edge.

The other mutation – a H69/V70 deletion, in which a small part of the spike is removed – has emerged several times before, including famously in infected mink.

Work by Prof Ravi Gupta at the University of Cambridge has suggested this mutation increases infectivity two-fold in lab experiments.

Studies by the same group suggest the deletion makes antibodies from the blood of survivors less effective at attacking the virus.

The variant is unusually highly mutated.

The most likely explanation is the variant has emerged in a patient with a weakened immune system that was unable to beat the virus.

Instead their body became a breeding ground for the virus to mutate.

There is no evidence to suggest that the infection is more deadly, although this will need to be monitored.

However, just increasing transmission would be enough to cause problems for hospitals.

If the new variant means more people are infected more quickly, that would in turn lead to more people needing hospital treatment.

It appears that all three leading vaccines develop an immune response against the existing spike, which is why the question comes up.

Vaccines train the immune system to attack several different parts of the virus, so even though part of the spike has mutated, the vaccines should still work.

Vaccine escape happens when the virus changes so it dodges the full effect of the vaccine and continues to infect people.

This may be the most concerning element of what is happening with the virus.

This variant is just the latest to show the virus is continuing to adapt as it infects more and more of us.

Image source: Unsplash

When you’re shopping for furniture and trying to put together a room you can enjoy spending time in, rugs are usually an afterthought. But actually, rugs do much more than provide plush padding for your feet. They provide the foundation for a room. They’re essentially like artwork for your floor.

All this means that you should choose one carefully, especially since they can be quite pricey. But with so many options, it can get confusing. Well, you don’t have to spend months doing research. Here are the three most important things to consider when buying a rug.

The Size of the Rug

The size of the rug is very important. If it’s too small, it looks out of place. If it’s too big, it makes the room look and feel smaller. If you get just the right size, you can bring warmth and balance to your living space.

Rugs come in a variety of sizes. The most common are:

  • 3 feet by 5 feet
  • 4 feet by 6 feet
  • 7 feet by 10 feet
  • 8 feet by 11 feet
  • 9 feet by 12 feet

Most people get rugs that are too small. If they moved into a new house, many have spent a lot of money on flooring, and they don’t want to cover it with a carpet. But the right area rug won’t hide your floor. It will enhance its beauty.

The right size depends on the dimension of your room and its function. For the living room, you’ll most likely place the rug underneath the coffee table. The sofa and armchairs can be placed either with all four legs on the rug or just the front two. But it has to be uniform, so for example, you shouldn’t put the sofa with all four legs on the rug and the armchairs with just the front two.

In the dining room, it will usually be placed underneath the dining table, so it has to be large enough that people can push their chairs back when they stand up. That means you have to measure your table and add 36 inches to the width and length. If you have a round table add 72 inches to the diameter.

For the bedroom, you want to leave about 18 to 24 inches on each side of the bed, taking into account nightstands and any furniture you have at the foot of the bed.

Rug Weaves

The rug’s weave is also important because it determines how long it will last and how it will feel when you step on it.

You’ll get the best quality from a hand-knotted rug, but they can be quite expensive. That’s because they’re made through a meticulous and time-intensive process. If you want to see a wide variety of luxury designer rugs compliments of Lawrence of La Brea and read more about how they’re made and their maintenance, you can visit the website.

Tufted rugs are a more budget-friendly alternative to hand-knotted rugs. They’re made by pulling the loops of yarn through the back of the rug. These loops are sheared, which results in a flat and plush surface. The disadvantage is that they’re prone to shedding.

If you want to avoid shedding, you can get a hooked rug. They’re made through a similar process, but the loops are not sheared, which gives them a more textured feel.

The most affordable option remains machine-made rugs. You can still find good quality and elaborate patterns. Another advantage is that they offer better stain resistance because they’re mostly made from synthetic materials.


The materials will determine the durability, softness, and price of your rug.

Wool is the most common fiber since it’s affordable, soft, and has good insulation properties.

Cotton rugs are less durable than wool but very low maintenance, and you can wash them in the washing machine, so they’re ideal for kitchens.

Silk is a more luxurious option that you’ll usually find with hand-knotted rugs. It gives the rugs a natural sheen and softness, but it also makes them more sensitive to moisture. If you want something that looks like silk at a lower price, you can try viscose.

Synthetic fibers are great for high traffic areas because they’re quite resistant to fading and staining.


The practice of medicine focuses on anticipating and reducing risk based on current and historical patient data. Medical professionals historically have made decisions that don’t always have clear, certain outcomes, but with advances in new technologies, this is beginning to change.

Predictive analytics helps clinicians and medical professionals determine the likelihood of events and outcomes before they happen so that health issues can be more effectively prevented and treated. The algorithms used in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT) provide historical and real-time data that help users make meaningful predictions. Predictive algorithms support clinical decision making for individual patients, show interventions on a population level, and can be applied to operational and administrative challenges.

Predictive analytics is a branch of advanced analytics that uses current data and historical data to model forecasts about the likelihood of future outcomes in business processes. The best predictive analytics tools make it easy to gain predictive insights and actionable insights that improve business intelligence. Built-in data science with linked views and one-click predictions simplify the predictive analysis with custom visualizations and predictive models that give real-time results. Easy access to machine learning (ML) algorithms trains data to produce accurate predictions and insights for stronger forecasting. The best predictive analytics tools elevate a business’s analytics knowledge to aid in important decision making and future outcomes.

Risk Scoring for Chronic Diseases

There are many predictive analytics applications in healthcare. Prediction and prevention are essential to delivering quality patient care. Healthcare providers can pinpoint patients with higher risks of developing chronic conditions earlier in a disease’s progression than ever before. Such insights give patients the best chances of avoiding long-term, costly health problems. Predictive modeling is key to identifying and managing high-risk patients and improving quality and cost outcomes.

Identifying Equipment Maintenance Needs

Predictive analytics is useful for identifying equipment maintenance needs before they happen. Components of some medical equipment degrade over time with regular use. Being able to predict when equipment needs maintenance or replacement parts minimizes unplanned workflow disruptions that affect healthcare providers and patients. The more that new technologies and advanced equipment is used by healthcare providers, the more important predictive maintenance becomes.

Paraplegics confined to wheelchairs and patients with spinal cord injuries who need to learn how to rewalk can greatly benefit from a wearable robotic exoskeleton. Robot suits have proven useful as a means of reducing workplace injuries and aiding those who struggle to stand upright.

Ekso Bionics is the global leader in exoskeleton technology, providing disruptive clinical robotics for rehabilitation. Workplace injuries caused by repetitive motions, overexertion, and fatigue can be alleviated with the use of an exoskeleton. Their FDA-approved exoskeleton suit enhances the wearer’s natural abilities, endurance, and overall quality of life. Exoskeleton technology empowers human mobility and enhances strength and endurance with advanced robotics.

Predicting Patient Utilization Patterns

Another predictive analytics application in healthcare is the prediction of patient utilization patterns. Medical clinics that operate without fixed schedules have to vary their staffing levels in anticipation of fluctuations in patients. Analytics help predicts patterns in utilization so that clinics can have sufficient staff scheduled to manage the flow of patients while reducing wait times and improving patient satisfaction. Visualization tools and analytics help clinics make better decisions about workflow adjustments and scheduling changes.

Precision Medicine and New Therapies

The more that precision medicine and genomics evolve, the more analytics are used to supplement clinical trials and drug discovery techniques. Predictive modeling and simulation predict clinical outcomes, guide clinical trial designs, supports effectiveness, optimizes dosage, predict product safety, and evaluates potential adverse outcomes. Prescriptive analytics is especially useful in drug individualization, modeling, and simulation.

There are many predictive analytics applications in healthcare including risk scoring for chronic diseases, predictive equipment maintenance, predicting patient utilization patterns, and precision medicine and new therapies.

Image source: Getty Images

The US Covid-19 vaccination has began, as the country gears up for its largest ever immunization campaign.

Sandra Lindsay, an intensive care nurse in Long Island, New York, is believed to have been the first person to be given the vaccine.

Millions of doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine are being distributed, with 150 hospitals expected to receive them on December 14.

The US vaccination program aims to reach 100 million people by April.

Covid-19 fatalities are nearing 300,000 in the US, which has by far the world’s highest death toll.

The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine received emergency-use authorization from the FDA on December 11.

President Donald Trump tweeted following the news from New York: “First Vaccine Administered. Congratulations USA! Congratulations WORLD!”

The roll-out of the vaccine comes as the epidemic continues to ravage the US. Deaths have been rising sharply since November and the number of people in hospital with the disease has also continued to grow steadily, with more than 109,000 people currently admitted, according to the Covid Tracking Project.

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Sandra Lindsay, a nurse at Long Island Jewish Medical Center, received the vaccine live on camera. Footage was streamed on the Twitter feed of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, whose state was the epicenter of the US epidemic in the first wave earlier this year.

She said: “It didn’t feel any different from taking any other vaccine.

“I hope this marks the beginning of the end of a very painful time in our history. I want to instill public confidence that the vaccine is safe. We’re in a pandemic and so we all need to do our part.”

The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine – a collaboration between a US pharmaceutical giant and a German biotechnology company – offers up to 95% protection and is the first Covid-19 vaccine to be approved by US regulators.

The vaccine is already being rolled out in the UK, while Canada is also beginning its inoculation program on December 14, with an initial 30,000 doses going to 14 sites across the country.

Anita Quidangen, a caregiver at the Rekai Centre nursing home in Toronto, was the first to receive the vaccine in Canada.

The first three million doses in the US are being distributed to dozens of locations across all 50 states by cargo plane and truck.


The US mass vaccination will begin on December 14 after it was authorized for emergency use, officials say.

The first three million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine would be shipped “across all states” this weekend, said General Gustave Perna, who is overseeing distribution.

The vaccine offers up to 95% protection against Covid-19 and was deemed safe by the FDA.

On December 12, the US recorded a daily toll of 3,309 Covid-related deaths.

The figure, reported on the Johns Hopkins University website, is the highest total in a single day anywhere in the world.Coronavirus deaths have been rising sharply since November in the US.

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Authorizing the emergency use of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine on December 11, the FDA – which had come under intense pressure from the Trump administration to do so – said the move was a “significant milestone” in the pandemic.

During a news conference on December 12, Gen. Perna – speaking for the government’s vaccination campaign Operation Warp Speed – said doses of the vaccine would be packed into shipping containers for transportation “within the next 24 hours”.

He said: “Expect 145 sites across the states to receive the vaccine on Monday, another 425 sites on Tuesday, and the final 66 sites on Wednesday.”

He also said that next week’s distribution would complete the initial delivery of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine and cover about three million people.

Gen. Perna told reporters he was “100% confident” that the doses “needed to defeat the enemy Covid” would be transported safely.

However, he warned that while it had been a week of progress, “we are not done until every American has access to a vaccine”.

The Pfizer vaccine has already received regulatory approval in the UK, Canada, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. Like those countries, US health authorities are expected to prioritize health workers and care home residents for the first doses.

More Americans outside the highest-priority groups are likely to be able to get the vaccine in January, with general availability expected by April.

On December 10, medical experts advising the FDA recommended the emergency-use authorization. A 23-member panel concluded the vaccine’s benefits outweighed its risks.

Emergency use, the FDA said, was not the same as full approval, which would require Pfizer to file a separate application to secure.

The Pfizer/BioNTech product was the first coronavirus vaccine to show promising results in the latter stages of its testing process.

It is a new type called an mRNA vaccine that uses a tiny fragment of genetic code from the pandemic virus to teach the body how to fight Covid-19 and build immunity.

The FDA said: “The vaccine contains a small piece of the [Covid-19] virus’s mRNA that instructs cells in the body to make the virus’s distinctive ‘spike’ protein.”

British and Russian scientists are teaming up to trial a combination of the Oxford-AstraZeneca and Sputnik V vaccines to see if protection against Covid-19 can be improved.

According to the researchers, mixing two similar vaccines could lead to a better immune response in people.

The trials, to be held in Russia, will involve over-18s, although it’s not clear how many people will be involved.

Oxford recently published results showing their vaccine was safe and effective in trials on people.

The researchers are still collecting data on the effectiveness of the vaccine in older age groups while waiting for approval from the UK regulator, the MHRA.

AstraZeneca said it was exploring combinations of different adenovirus vaccines to find out whether mixing them leads to a better immune response and, therefore, greater protection.

The Oxford vaccine, developed in partnership with AstraZeneca, and the Russian Sputnik vaccine, developed by the Gamaleya Research Institute in Moscow, are similar because they both contain genetic material from the Sars-CoV-2 spike protein.

They work differently to the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which has been approved in the UK, Canada, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and recommended for approval by medical experts in the US.

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Early results from late-stage trials of the Russian vaccine have shown promising results.

Russia was the first country to register a Covid vaccine for emergency use – in August, despite only having been tested on a few dozen people.

Sputnik V is now being offered to Russians as part of a mass vaccination campaign.

AstraZeneca said it was “working with industry partners, governments and research institutions around the world, and will soon begin exploring with Gamaleya Research Institute in Russia to understand whether two adenovirus-based vaccines can be successfully combined”.

The Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine has been approved in the UK, paving the way for mass vaccination.

The UK becomes the first country in the world to approve a coronavirus vaccine.

Britain’s medicines regulator, the MHRA, says the vaccine, which offers up to 95% protection against Covid-19 illness, is safe to be rolled out.

The first 800,000 doses will be available in the UK from next week, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said.

People should wait to be contacted by the NHS, he added.

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Elderly people in care homes and care home staff are top of the priority list, followed by over-80s and health and care staff.

However, because of the limited stocks and need to store at -70C, the very first vaccinations are likely to take place at hospitals so care home residents may not be immunized until later.

The Pfizer/BioNTech product is the fastest vaccine to go from concept to reality, taking only 10 months to follow the same steps that normally span 10 years.

The UK has already ordered 40 million doses of the free jab – enough to vaccinate 20 million people.

The doses will be rolled out as quickly as they can be made by Pfizer in Belgium, Matt Hancock said, with the first load next week and then “several millions” throughout December.

UK’s PM Boris Johnson said: “It’s the protection of vaccines that will ultimately allow us to reclaim our lives and get the economy moving again.”

Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine will be non-compulsory and there will be three ways of vaccinating people across the UK:

  • Hospitals
  • Vaccination centers
  • In the community, with GPs and pharmacists.

Around 50 hospitals are on stand-by and vaccination centers – in venues such as conference centers or sports stadiums – are being set up now.

Because the initial doses are being delivered to hospitals, which already have the facilities to store the vaccine at -70C, the very first vaccinations are likely to take place at hospital hubs – for care home staff, NHS staff and patients – so none of the vaccine is wasted.

It is thought the vaccination network could start delivering more than one million doses a week once enough doses are available.

Pfizer and BioNTech are filing for emergency authorization in the US of their Covid-19 vaccine on Friday, November 20.

The FDA will decide if the vaccine is safe to roll out.

It is not clear how long the FDA will take to study the data. However, the US government expects to approve the vaccine in the first half of December.

Data from an advanced trial showed the vaccine protects 94% of adults over 65.

Pfizer’s and BioNTech’s trial involved 41,000 people worldwide. Half were given the vaccine, and half a placebo.

If FDA authorization does come in the first half of next month, Pfizer and BioNTech will “be ready to distribute the vaccine candidate within hours”, the two companies said.

This would be remarkably quick for vaccine development – within 10 months of detailing the genetic code. The average wait for approval in the US is nearer eight years.

On November 19, Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said that the filing for emergency use was a “milestone in our journey to deliver a Covid-19 vaccine to the world”.

Initial doses would be scarce, though, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP) will decide who is first in line.

European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said the EU could move quickly too – by the end of the year.

Pfizer Vaccine Appears to Protect 94% of Adults over 65 Years Old

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Data released this week suggested the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine had 95% effectiveness.

This effectiveness was also consistent across age groups – essential given the vulnerability of the elderly – as well as ethnicities and gender.

The vaccine also had only mild-to-moderate and short-lived side-effects.

It uses an experimental approach, called mRNA, which involves injecting part of the virus’s genetic code into the body to train the immune system.

Antibodies and T-cells are then made by the body to fight the coronavirus.

The US this week passed 250,000 deaths in the coronavirus outbreak, by far the largest number in the world.

Its confirmed cases since the pandemic began stand at 11.7 million, according to Johns Hopkins University research, again a global first.

Cases have also been soaring over the past week, reaching record daily highs.


Pfizer’s and BioNTech’s coronavirus vaccine appears to protect 94% of adults over 65 years old.

More data released from their ongoing phase three trial suggests the vaccine works equally well in people of all ages, races and ethnicities.

The companies say they will now apply for authorization for emergency use of the jab in the US.

The findings are based on two doses given to more than 41,000 people around the world.

Last week, Pfizer and BioNTech published preliminary data showing the vaccine offered 90% protection against Covid-19 and there were no safety concerns.

This was followed by impressive data on another vaccine, made by US company Moderna, suggesting nearly 95% protection.

November 18 data from Pfizer and BioNTech, which builds on last week’s data, suggests the vaccine is 95% effective based on 170 cases Covid-19 developing in volunteers.

Just eight were in the group given the vaccine, suggesting it offers good protection. The rest of the cases were in the placebo group given a dummy jab.

Moderna Vaccine Shows Nearly 95% Protection Against Covid-19

Coronavirus: Pfizer Vaccine Offers 90% Protection

Scientists said the data was further encouraging news.

Although the full trial data has yet to be published, the companies say there have been no serious safety concerns.

However, they did notice headaches and fatigue in about 2% of volunteers given the vaccine, although older people seemed to experience minimal side effects.

There is also evidence that the vaccine protects against severe Covid – but this is based on only 10 cases.

It’s still unclear how long protection from the vaccine lasts and if it stops people transmitting the virus.

In the trial, 42% of all participants are from diverse ethnic backgrounds and 41% are aged between 56 and 85 years old.

The trial, which is testing people at 150 sites in the US, Germany, Turkey, South Africa, Brazil and Argentina, will collect data on the safety and efficacy of the vaccine for another two years.

Pfizer and BioNTech expect to produce up to 50 million doses of the vaccine this year and up to 1.3 billion doses by the end of 2021.

There are hundreds of vaccines in development around the world, and about a dozen in the final stages of testing, known as phase three.

The first two to show any results – made by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna – both use an experimental approach, called mRNA, which involves injecting part of the virus’s genetic code into the body to train the immune system.

Antibodies and T-cells are then made by the body to fight the coronavirus.

Russia’s Sputnik vaccine has also released early data from phase three based on a smaller number of volunteers and Covid cases.

There are some logistical challenges with mRNA vaccines, namely the need to store them at cold temperatures.

The Pfizer vaccine must be stored at around minus 80C, although it can be kept in a fridge for five days.

Moderna’s vaccine needs to be stored at minus 20C for up to six months and kept in a standard fridge for up to a month.


A new coronavirus vaccine made by Moderna showed nearly 95% protection against Covid-19.

Early data results come hot on the heels of similar results from Pfizer, and add to growing confidence that vaccines can help end the pandemic.

Pfizer and Moderna used a highly innovative and experimental approach to designing their vaccines.

Moderna says it is a “great day” and they plan to apply for approval to use the vaccine in the next few weeks.

However, this is still early data and key questions remain unanswered.

The trial involved 30,000 people in the US with half being given two doses of the vaccine, four weeks apart. The rest had dummy injections.

The analysis was based on the first 95 to develop Covid-19 symptoms.

Only five of the Covid cases were in people given the vaccine, 90 were in those given the dummy treatment. The company says the vaccine is protecting 94.5% of people.

The data also shows there were 11 cases of severe Covid in the trial, but none happened in people who were immunized.

Coronavirus: Pfizer Vaccine Offers 90% Protection

Moderna says it will apply to regulators in the US in the coming weeks. It expects to have 20 million doses available in the country.

The company hopes to have up to one billion doses available for use around the world next year and is planning to seek approval in other countries too.

We still do not know how long immunity will last as volunteers will have to be followed for much longer before that can be answered.

There are hints it offers some protection in older age groups, who are most at risk of dying from Covid, but there is not full data.

It is not known whether the vaccine just stops people becoming severely ill, or if it stops them spreading the virus too.

All these questions will affect how a coronavirus vaccine is used.

No significant safety concerns have been reported, but nothing, including paracetamol, is 100% safe.

Short lived fatigue, headache and pain were reported after the injection in some patients.

Both vaccines use the same approach of injecting part of the virus’s genetic code in order to provoke an immune response.

The preliminary data we have seen so far is very similar – around 90% protection for the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine and around 95% for Moderna’s.

However, both trials are still taking place and the final numbers could change.

Moderna’s vaccine appears to be easier to store as it remains stable at minus 20C for up to six months and can be kept in a standard fridge for up to a month.

Pfizer’s vaccine needs ultra-cold storage at around minus 75C, but it can be kept in the fridge for five days.

The Sputnik V vaccine, developed in Russia, has also released very early data which suggests it is 92% effective.

Image source: Pikrepo.com

With the widespread availability of meat substitutes in restaurants and grocery stores, many people are reducing or completely eliminating their meat intake. A vegetarian is somebody who doesn’t eat meat, but might still consume other animal products, such as cheese or milk. Vegans don’t consume any animal products, and many vegans also eliminate the use of products like leather from their lifestyle. The reasons for not eating meat vary, but some of the common reasons are social (such as concerns about factory farming or climate change), cultural, religious or dietary. Many people just don’t like the idea of eating meat. Whatever the reasons are, here are some tips for anyone contemplating a meatless lifestyle. 

1. Utilize Supplements 

Since some vitamins are found more commonly is animal foods, many vegetarians will supplement their vitamins. You can buy B12 injections and other supplements to reduce the stress of making sure you’re getting enough nutrients. This can help keep your energy up; many vegetarians and vegans have experienced anemia because they weren’t aware of the nutrients they were lacking. If you are not eating meat, you should seriously consider supplements — talk to a healthcare professional to figure out what will work best for you.

2. Plan Meals Ahead of Time 

If you’re planning on cutting out meat or other animal products completely, you’ll need to plan ahead when you travel or go out to eat. Meat is so engrained into the everyday diet that at some restaurants, your only vegetarian options might be french fries or what some people call a salad, but is really just a pile of lettuce with some carrot slices. You may want to bring snacks with you to keep you satiated and healthy. Plan ahead and figure out which restaurants will have quality meat-free options so you don’t end up disappointed and hungry. The pre-dinner rolls make a terrible meal. 

The same goes for group events — if you’re planning a meal with family or friends and they don’t want a meatless meal, just bring your own main course. It’s easy to prepare something, throw it in a container, and simply bring it to the event. If you’re cutting anything from your diet, don’t expect others to do the same when they’re around you. After all, how would you feel if a friend expected you to eat meat when you were around them? 

Many people find going without meat to be very rewarding, both mentally and physically. If it’s done correctly, it can be a very healthy way to live. Just make sure you’re getting the proper supplements and that you know ahead of time what your food options might be when you’re out and about. 

Image source: Wikimedia Commons

The use of stem cell therapy in cancer treatment implies the revenue of the red bone marrow. Red bone marrow is suffering from the chemotherapeutic treatment, as well as from radiation therapy. Since the intrinsic structures of the red bone marrow suffer, they need to be “updated”. For this, healthy stem cells are transplanted into the bone marrow.

What is a stem cell transplant done for?

With the help of stem cell therapy, it is possible to completely restore the normal process of hematopoiesis, destroyed by chemotherapy, radiation, or leukemia. Introduced intravenously, hematopoietic stem cells are moving through the bloodstream, settle in the patient’s bone marrow, and give origin to new blood cells.

Many tens of thousands of patients receive such stem cell transplants in Germany each year. If you or your relatives need treatment abroad, with the assistance of Booking Health it will be as comfortable as possible. Booking Health provides a full range of medical services, from quick preventive examinations and diagnostics in the best hospitals to comprehensive treatment and recovery after it. Moreover, the complex organization includes not only the medical services themselves but also the arrangement of a trip to Germany at the most affordable prices.

How do stem cells help with oncology?

The patient’s own material is used in autologous transplantation during the treatment of neuroblastomas, testicular cancer, lymphomas, and brain tumors. In this case, hematopoietic stem cells are harvested from the patient in advance, frozen, and then introduced back. This allows you to treat cancer with high-dose chemotherapy that damages the bone marrow. After it, autologous transplantation restores blood formation without causing immune complications, such as the graft versus host reaction.

Donor material is transplanted to the patient during allogeneic transplantation, which is also applied in patients with leukemia, aplastic anemia, and severe hereditary diseases (Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome, Fanconi anemia, Blackfan-Diamond anemia, etc.). Hematopoietic cells for transplant are harvested from a close relative (usually a brother or sister) or a person selected using the donor registry. The meaning of the transplant is to replace the patient’s own blood formation with the donor one and thus cure the disease of the hematopoietic system.

Can stem cells become any specific cells?

The boom in stem cell research has created great confusion in the minds of many researchers who first addressed this topic. The plasticity of many populations of normal stem cells is significantly overrated. There are allegations that stem cells of nerve tissue can turn into myocytes or hepatocytes; mesenchymal stem cells – into osteoblasts, cardiomyocytes; hepatic stem cells can turn into neurons and myocytes, etc. In order to acquire such a possibility of transdifferentiation, committed stem cells must dedifferentiate to an embryonic state in order to regain totipotency, that is, the ability to differentiate into any type of cell. A variety of examples of morphogenesis have shown that there is no complete dedifferentiation in nature and, probably, such a scenario of events is generally impossible.

Can stem cells be used to diagnose cancer?

The ability of stem cells to find a tumor can have practical importance. Thanks to the radioactive labels, it is possible to detect foci of malignant growth that can not be detected by other imaging methods. The life of the patient and the effectiveness of treatment in oncology depend on how timely the malignant growth is diagnosed. Stem cells can be modified and used as vectors to save people affected by malignant neoplasms.

Chemotherapy and stem cells

A clinically manifested tumor usually has billions of malignant cells that need to be destroyed. However, the population of tumor cells is heterogeneous, and the sensitivity of different tumor cells to cancer therapy is different. Therefore, it is extremely important to be able to overcome resistance to antitumor pharmaceuticals in the vast majority of tumor cells. It turned out that this can be achieved by introducing a dose of cytostatics that is ten times higher than the permissible standard dose. Such a sharp increase in the amount of the drug always leads to significant, often irreversible, damage to the hematopoietic cells of the bone marrow and disabling the function of hematopoiesis for many months.

If blood circulation is not restored, a person will die. The main method to overcome the hematological toxicity of chemotherapy is the transplantation of hematopoietic stem cells. In this case, hematopoietic stem cells are harvested either from the donor or from the patient himself. They are administered after the complete elimination of cytostatics from the body. Stem cell therapy in cancer treatment allows to relatively quickly and effectively restore the blood system’s function and save the patient.

A preliminary analysis shows that the first effective coronavirus vaccine can prevent more than 90% of people from getting Covid-19.

The developers – Pfizer and BioNTech – described it as a “great day for science and humanity”.

The vaccine has been tested on 43,500 people in six countries and no safety concerns have been raised.

The companies plan to apply for emergency approval to use the vaccine by the end of the month.

No vaccine has gone from the drawing board to being proven highly effective in such a short period of time.

There are still huge challenges ahead, but the announcement has been warmly welcomed by scientists with some suggesting life could be back to normal by spring.

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A vaccine – alongside better treatments – is seen as the best way of getting out of the restrictions that have been imposed on all our lives.

The data shows that two doses, three weeks apart, are needed. The trials – in US, Germany, Brazil, Argentina, South Africa and Turkey – show 90% protection is achieved seven days after the second dose.

However, the data presented is not the final analysis as it is based on only the first 94 volunteers to develop Covid-19 so the precise effectiveness of the vaccine may change when the full results are analyzed.

Pfizer chairman Dr. Albert Bourla said: “We are a significant step closer to providing people around the world with a much-needed breakthrough to help bring an end to this global health crisis.”

Prof. Ugur Sahin, one of the founders of BioNTech, described the results as a “milestone”.

A limited number of people may get the vaccine this year.

The two companies say they will have enough safety data by the third week of November to take their vaccine to regulators.

Until it has been approved it will not be possible for countries to begin their vaccination campaigns.

Pfizer and BioNTech say they will be able to supply 50 million doses by the end of this year and around 1.3 billion by the end of 2021. Each person needs two doses.

Not everyone will get the vaccine straight away and countries are each deciding who should be prioritized.

Hospital staff and care home workers will be near the top of every list because of the vulnerable people they work with, as will the elderly who are most at risk of severe disease.

People under 50 and with no medical problems are likely to be last in the queue.

There are still many unanswered questions as this is only interim data.

We do not know if the vaccine stops you spreading the virus or just from developing symptoms. Or if it works equally well in high-risk elderly people.

The biggest question – how long does immunity last – will take months or potentially years to answer.

There are also massive manufacturing and logistical challenges in immunizing huge numbers of people, as the vaccine has to be kept in ultra-cold storage at below minus 80C.

The vaccine appears safe from the large trials so far but nothing, including paracetamol, is 100% safe.

There are around a dozen vaccines in the final stages of testing – known as a phase 3 trial – but this is the first to show any results.

It uses a completely experimental approach – that involves injecting part of the virus’s genetic code – in order to train the immune system.

Previous trials have shown the vaccine trains the body to make both antibodies – and another part of the immune system called T-cells to fight the coronavirus.


The global number of confirmed coronavirus cases has surged past 50 million following record numbers of new cases in several countries.

According to Johns Hopkins University, more than 1.25 million people have now died after contracting the new coronavirus.

However, the numbers are thought to be higher because of insufficient testing in many countries.

A second wave of the virus has accounted for a quarter of all cases, Reuters reported.

Europe, with more than 12.5 million cases and 305,700 deaths, is again a hotspot after being the first epicenter of the pandemic earlier this year.

In the US, just under 10 million have tested positive for Covid-19. It has seen more than 125,000 cases per day three days in a row.

The states of North and South Dakota have the highest rates of death per capita.

President-elect Joe Biden has vowed a much more aggressive approach to the pandemic, after President Donald Trump repeatedly downplayed its gravity and resisted public health measures including wearing masks and social distancing.

Joe Biden has vowed to name a group of top scientists to his coronavirus task force as early as November 9, wants more testing and plans to call on every American to wear a mask when they are around people outside their own household.

He is likely to take charge when the pandemic is at its peak in the country, former FDA commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb says.

Dr Gottlieb told media that the rate of new infections would probably be starting to decrease by late January, and “the only question is going to be how many people have died in the course of this and how many people have been infected”.

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In Europe, France recorded 38,619 new cases on November 8 – many less than November 7 record increase of 86,852 cases. However, the health ministry said it had problems collecting data and there would be a correction on November 9.

France also registered 271 deaths, bringing the total to 40,439. The country is just over a week into a second lockdown with the aim of curbing the spread of the virus.

Under the lockdown restrictions, expected to be in place until December 1, people can only leave their homes to go to work if they cannot work from home, to buy essential goods, seek medical help or to exercise for one hour a day.

India and Brazil have also been hard hit.


As human beings, we tend to take our breathing for granted. It’s only when we encounter a health crisis that we take notice of this profound, yet basic ability. Every system in our body depends on oxygen, which is needed for digestion and cognition function. Effective breathing can transform your life in all kinds of ways.

Whether you already know about deep breathing exercises, or want to find out more, here are five ways your health will benefit from proper breathing.

Relieves Stress and Anxiety

Deep breathing exercises are one of the best strategies for lowering stress and anxiety. Many of us are feeling more tense than ever before due to the coronavirus pandemic. So, if you’re struggling to keep on top of things, relaxing your body and mind is key to good health. If you suffer from anxiety, you may feel breathless which can bring on panic attacks and make your heart beat faster. High stress levels can increase your risk of developing heart disease and diabetes. Therefore, learning to breathe properly will reduce tension, clear your mindset, and help you live a better quality of life.

Improves Sleep Quality

A good night’s sleep is imperative for your overall health and wellbeing. If you aren’t breathing correctly, this can have an effect on how much sleep you get. For those who wake up feeling sluggish and groggy, trying deep breathing techniques can help you get a more restorative sleep. If you’re prone to snoring, you may wake up with fatigue and an irritated throat, which can impact your day going forward. So, trying Somnifix strips can help to promote nose breathing and reduce snoring. Proper breathing will ensure you sleep soundly and wake up feeling refreshed and full of energy for the day ahead.

Digest Food Better

Digestion is critical for your body as it needs nutrients from the foods and drinks you consume to work correctly and stay healthy. If you breathe through your chest, there will be less oxygen that enters your blood, which can hurt digestion and create tense muscles. High-stress levels can create the ‘fight or flight’ response which can interfere with digestion and weaken your immune system. To improve digestion, deep breathing can help relax your abdominal area and improve brain function once you’ve eaten.

Boosts Your Immune System

If the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us anything, it’s how important our breathing is and how crucial preventive medicine and immunity are. Your immune system plays a key role in protecting your body from harmful germs and substances that can make you ill. To reduce your risk of getting the coronavirus, boosting your immune system is key. High-stress levels can change how you breathe and put your immune system at risk. So, practicing mindful breathing alongside regular exercise, maintaining a healthy diet, and keeping hydrated will help keep your immune system in check.

Lower Blood Pressure

Slow breathing techniques can help decrease stress levels and lower your blood pressure. Breathing exercises are a good way to encourage blood pressure receptors and keep your stress levels at bay. High blood pressure can increase your risk of having a heart attack and a stroke. So, if you are worried about your blood pressure, techniques like belly breathing and pursed lip breathing may help.

There are numerous practices and techniques that concentrate on your breathing, which helps to improve your mental and physical wellbeing. While we make lifestyle alterations like changing our diets and incorporating exercise into our routine to improve our quality of life, changing the way you breathe can provide tons of health benefits too.


Many Australians suffer from hearing loss. A large percentage of the population have not done anything about their hearing loss and so experience significant difficulties. Hearing loss can negatively impact daily life in a number of ways. Hearing loss can impact you in the home, in the workplace, in social situations, and it can even negatively impact your safety. Let’s have a look at how it does this. Then we will have a look at some strategies you can use to help your hearing abilities in these environments.

Impact of hearing loss at home:

Hearing impairment not only affects the person with the impairment but also their significant other. Hearing loss can have a negative impact on our relationships and communication with others in our home environment. As humans we rely on social bonds with other people. Social bonds are created and maintained through our interactions with one another. A way to communicate and build these bonds with others can be through conversations. Hearing loss affects the way we communicate with others and can therefore effect our relationships too. In relationships where there is one person with hearing loss, the following may be true:

  • Frustration can occur, sparking argument and impatience
  • Communication is minimised due to difficulty of interaction and they only talk to each other when necessary e.g. to ask a question or to give information, rather than for social reasons.
  • Connection is heavily reliant on communication, meaning the depth of the relationship may suffer

The people in their lives may become distant with them as their communication is not what it once was. They may feel rejection if the person with the hearing loss is not responding to them or is socially withdrawing due to their inability to join into conversation. They could be confused as they do not understand what their partner is going through. They may feel sadness for their partner and what they have to deal with. They can also feel anger or frustration with having to repeat themselves or pick up a lot of the slack during a conversation.

Impact of hearing loss in the workplace:

Hearing loss also has a major impact in the workplace. Workplaces have listening conditions which tend to be more complex and difficult than other environments such as the home. The employee also has less control of the listening conditions in the workplace and so the coping strategies that they usually use in other aspects of their daily life may not provide benefit in the workplace. Technologies, e.g. hearing aids, that they use in other listening environments, may also not be enough. Most workplaces also tend to be reliant on communication.

People with hearing loss in the workplace may experience discrimination. They may find that their hearing loss stops them from interacting in their job. They may also find that it stops them from having the opportunity for further training. It may even affect their chances of promotion. There are cases where the hearing-impaired employee has moved jobs due to their poor treatment in the workplace. Hearing impaired workers often feel that their colleagues do not understand their hearing loss. They also often feel that their workplaces do not make enough accommodations for them to better fit in.

People with hearing loss in the workplace may find that they have high levels of fatigue and limited energy. They may fear what others will think of them and often avoid interacting with colleagues. They may also hide that they have a hearing loss and feel embarrassed and self-conscious.

Impact of hearing loss on social life:

Hearing loss can negatively affect people’s social lives. People with hearing loss may withdraw socially and avoid meeting new people, beginning relationships, and keep existing ones, as they cannot keep up with conversation. They may prefer to withdraw and isolate themselves.

They are also less likely to have a lot of activities which they participate in if they do not have hearing aids. This is because things that they used to do may not be as enjoyable anymore as they have trouble hearing in these environments/situations, e.g. at golf or bridge.

They may also avoid going out to meet with friends at cafes, restaurants, and clubs, as they have difficulty hearing in noisy environments and the effort required to listen is too much. For example, modern restaurants have poor acoustics (high ceilings and hard surfaces that the sound reflects off) making it very hard for hearing impaired people to communicate with others.

Impact of hearing loss on safety

Hearing loss can also negatively impact people’s safety. Those with hearing loss who are not wearing hearing aids may be at risk of accidents. For those with significant degrees of hearing loss who do not wear hearing aids, they may not be able to hear important signals warning them of danger. For example, not being able to hear important safety instructions, car horns when crossing the road, traffic noise before stepping onto the road, emergency vehicle sirens, smoke alarms in the home, security alarms, PA system announcements (e.g. at train stations), and people calling out to them.

Coping strategies:

The difficulties of hearing loss have been highlighted but it is important as someone dealing with hearing loss of if you know someone who does, to know some strategies for coping. Below are some coping strategies which may help reduce the negative impacts of hearing loss on daily life.

At home

  • Reduce background noise, e.g. turn the TV down, when talking to others
  • Try hearing aids and other listening devices, e.g. TV headset
  • Ask for specific repeats to show that you were listening, e.g. “What did you say the name of that shop was?”
  • Do not talk to each other from other rooms
  • Make sure you can see each other’s faces to help with lip reading and expression

In the workplace

  • Make your hearing loss known to colleagues.
  • Ask people to face you and speak slowly and clearly
  • Ask people to get your attention before speaking to you.
  • Ask for accommodations, e.g. one speaker at a time, meeting minutes for after a discussion to ensure you did not miss anything
  • Try hearing aids and other listening devices, e.g. remote microphone.


  • Select venues (cafes/restaurants) with good acoustics. Make sure they have low ceilings and soft furnishings to absorb some of the noise.
  • Avoid places with live bands or loud music that make it difficult to talk over
  • Select quieter venues or go when they are less busy.
  • If the venue has background music, ask staff to turn it down.
  • Pick a table away from any doors, kitchens, or tables with noisy children.
  • Ask people to get your attention before talking to you.
  • Try hearing aids and other listening devices.

Hearing loss can negatively impact many aspects of daily life including in your home, workplace, and in social situations, as well as your safety. Luckily, there are some basic strategies available to help you hear in these environments. It is important to get your hearing tested to have a baseline test and to determine if there is a hearing loss which needs to be addressed. Call your local audiologist for a hearing test today.


During the COVID-19 pandemic there are less people on the roads across Europe. With less cars and traffic, drivers tend to drive more recklessly. There has been an increase in accidents on the continent. In response to this, cities around Europe are taking steps to improve safety when the roads are emptier and people are driving faster. While each city has their own problem with road safety, all of them are creating their own solutions. A universal issue that is contributing to accidents and making more dangerous roads is speeding. Below are some of the stats about speeding and how various European cities are dealing with it.

Empty Roads & Speeding

Whenever roads empty, the speeding increases for those still driving. Furthermore, according to the personal injury claims law firm McGinley Solicitors, speeds have gone up during the COVID-19 pandemic. While speeds have increased, the number of accidents have gone up. This goes for accidents with cars, pedestrians, cyclists, and more. Speeding isn’t the only problem, people are also drinking and driving and getting on the roads during inclement weather. Driving under the influence also increases the speed of drivers and the likelihood that an accident will occur. The problems are multi-faceted, but so are the solutions. Each country and city has their own way of dealing with speeding, driving under the influence, accidents, and deaths in their own way.


Berlin is already known for being a forward-thinking and progressive city. It is a city of constant change and flux. It has been destroyed and rebuilt, evolving into a modern and accessible place to live. The city has responded to the increase in speed and accidents by temporarily widening the cycle lanes, allowing wider distance for cars and social distancing. The response is to create new space for pedestrians and bicyclists, but with so many vehicles in Germany some are not happy about the new roads.

40 percent less people are on the roads. The extra space and less traffic has provided safer situations for people who want to walk and cycle, but cars are also now having to avoid more pedestrians. Currently there aren’t really reliable numbers on how this will effect accidents between cars and pedestrians, but it seems clear cars are having to be more careful when they are driving these widened roads. It is a significant change, and not everyone likes change, but they are necessary in this ever-evolving pandemic.


Brussels is another progressive city that has responded quickly to the changing roads during the COVID-19 pandemic. The city has decided to lower the speed limit inside their main drag, the inner ring road. The speed limit will be lowered to 20 kmh. Brussel’s center is shaped like a pentagon, which makes it ideal for pedestrians. This means that pedestrians have space to move around, and bicycles can more easily maneuver. Again this creates more foot-traffic for drivers to navigate, but with so few cars on the road it makes for a socially distanced and traversable intersection. There are also concerns about the center becoming a meeting place. With social distancing, Brussels is learning how best to use their city.


Milan is also taking measures to open up traffic to pedestrians while making the roads safer for drivers. They are doing their best to open up the center for walking, closing 35km streets to cars. Like other Italian cities, Milan is changing its environmental regulations to make cities livable and social-distanced. While many city centers like Milan are closing to car traffic and opening up for pedestrians, there are still less cars on the highways and people are speeding, causing an increase in accidents.


Many large cities around Europe have begun rolling out cycling lanes that give cars and pedestrians more room. The city aims to create 650 kilometers of lockdown cycle lanes. This will not only provide space for social distancing, it will help commuters and others who are taking a ride for exercise. With fewer cars on the streets of the French capital, it provides a more regulated system of streets where drivers have to be careful with pedestrians around. This system, while it is becoming common, is especially suited to French society.

European cities around the continent are adapting to the new streets that have less cars and more pedestrians on them. Everyone is adapting to social distancing with less people on the roads and more people trying to get out of the house and other closed spaces. We all can learn how to adapt our cities like the ones above.

Image source: www.un.org

Remdesivir has little to no effect on Covid-19 patients’ chances of survival, a WHO study on the anti-viral drug has found.

The WHO’s Solidarity clinical trial evaluated four potential medications for Covid-19, including hydroxychloroquine and remdesivir.

Remdesivir was among the first to be used to treat Covid-19, and was recently given to President Donald Trump when he was in hospital.

The company manufacturing the anti-viral drug, Gilead Sciences Inc., rejected the findings of the trial.

In a statement, Gilead said the findings of the study were “inconsistent” with others, and that it was “concerned” that the results have yet to be reviewed.

For the Solidarity clinical trial, the WHO tested the effects four potential treatments – remdesivir, an Ebola drug, was one, but they also looked at malaria drug hydroxychloroquine, auto-immune drug interferon, and the HIV drug combination of lopinavir and ritonavir.

Dexamethasone, a low-cost steroid now widely used on Covid patients in intensive care in many countries, was not included in this study.

The four drugs were tested with 11,266 adult patients in total, across 500 hospitals in more than 30 different countries.

The results, which are yet to be peer-reviewed, suggest that none of these treatments has a substantial effect on mortality or on the length of time spent in hospital, the WHO said on October 15.

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On October 14, WHO chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan said that their trials on hydroxychloroquine and lopinavir/ritonavir were stopped in June because they had already proven ineffective. However, the other trials continued.

The study’s results appear to contradict a previous study from earlier this month, conducted by Gilead, which concluded that treatment with remdesivir cut Covid recovery time by five days compared to patients given a placebo. About 1,000 patients took part in that trial.

Gilead dismissed the findings, saying in a statement: “The emerging (WHO) data appears inconsistent, with more robust evidence from multiple randomized, controlled studies published in peer-reviewed journals validating the clinical benefit of remdesivir.

“We are concerned the data from this open-label global trial has not undergone the rigorous review required to allow for constructive scientific discussion, particularly given the limitations of the trial design.”

Remdesivir was given emergency use authorization in the US from the FDA on May 1and has since been authorized for use in several other countries.

Image source: PickPik

Hospice is specialized medical care for those with a life-threatening illness, typically reserved for patients expected to live a year or less who have lessened or stopped curative treatments. Of course, the prognosis isn’t always accurate and can be even harder to predict in children as they generally have healthier organ systems, and some may get better, even “graduating” from hospice as their health improves and it’s no longer required.

Unfortunately, hospice care for children is underutilized – of the approximately 44,000 pediatric deaths a year, according to a 2014 study, “Who are the children using hospice care?” fewer than 10% of children utilize it for end of life care. Children’s hospice is a bit different than it is for older adults. While relieving pain and managing symptoms is the focus, helping to improve quality of life, children may also receive curative treatments and receive care from various providers too.

The Hospice Care Team

A board-certified physician with training in pediatrics is part of the hospice care team. The doctor may have another area of specialty, too, such as oncology or neonatology. He or she typically works in coordination with the child’s other physicians and healthcare providers and will provide insight into managing symptoms like pain, nausea. or difficulty breathing. The doctor’s role is to also guide the team in understanding the medical aspects of the child’s condition.

Other team members usually include a nurse who helps to manage pain and other symptoms along with home health aides who are trained in hospice care and can assist with daily care needs.

A social worker is likely to be on hand to help the child and family members cope with emotional and other issues related to their condition, while a grief counselor can provide education for members of the family on loss and grief. There may be others such as art and music therapists, rehab therapists, nutritionists, and psychologists helping too. The team as a whole helps both the child and family caregivers cope with the challenges of the illness and focus on emotional support.

Helping to Determine the Level of Pain and Where It’s Coming From

Children, especially young children, often have difficulty explaining their pain, including how much it hurts and where it is. A hospice doctor and other team members use techniques specific to children, such as body language and special charts to determine how bad the pain is and to identify where it’s coming from.

Providing the Appropriate Pain Relief

It’s more difficult to provide medicine that will treat pain and other symptoms in children as their bodies are smaller, and they process it differently. Many can’t swallow pills. A hospice doctor understands which medicine to prescribe in the right doses while recommending ways the child can take it, such as pills that dissolve on the tongue, liquids, or special patches.

Helping Children Understand Their Illness and Medical Care

Depending on the child’s age, many don’t understand their illness or why they need tests and medicines. The doctor and other hospice team members can help the child understand what they’re going through in an age-appropriate way. They can also recommend ways for the child to express his or her feelings, such as through art, music, or play.

The entire population of the Chinese city of Qingdao will be tested for Covid-19 over a period of five days.

The 9 million population testing comes after a dozen cases were found linked back to a hospital treating coronavirus patients arriving from overseas.

In May, China tested the entire city of Wuhan – home to 11 million people and the epicenter of the global pandemic.

China has largely brought the virus under control.

That’s in stark contrast to other parts of the world where there are still high case numbers and lockdown restrictions of varying severity.

In a statement posted to Chinese social media site Weibo, Qingdao’s Municipal Health Commission said six new cases and six asymptomatic cases had been discovered.

According to the Global Times, all the cases were linked to the same hospital.

China now has a strategy of mass testing even when a new coronavirus cluster appears to be relatively minor.

Qingdao’s commission added that a citywide testing program had been launched, with five districts to be tested within three days – and the whole city to be tested within five days.

Some 114,862 people – including medical staff and newly hospitalized patients in the city’s hospitals – have already tested negative for the coronavirus, it said.

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Videos circulating online showed local residents lining up on October 11 to get tested, said the Global Times, adding that some of these test points were open from 7AM to 11PM.

The new cases come a week after China’s Golden Week holiday – which saw millions travel across the country.

A Global Times report quoting the Qingdao Municipal Bureau of Culture and Tourism said the city had received 4.47 million passenger trips over this period.

The nearby city of Jinan, which is also in the same province as Qingdao, called for anyone who had visited the city since September 23 to get tested for the virus, according to a report by The Paper.

Earlier last month, Qingdao announced that two port workers in the city who handled imported seafood had tested positive for the virus. However, they were not known to have infected anyone else.

Daily coronavirus infections have fallen drastically in China, and for the most part the country appears to have recovered from the worst of the virus.

China currently has 85,578 virus cases and the death toll stands at 4,634.

Earlier this year, China completed a mass testing program in Wuhan saying 11 million people had been tested in 10 days.


Nearly 6,000 scientists and health experts have joined the Great Barrington Declaration – a global movement warning of “grave concerns” about Covid-19 lockdown policies.

They say the approach is having a devastating impact on physical and mental health as well as society.

Experts are calling for protection to be focused on the vulnerable, while healthy people get on with their lives.

The declaration has prompted warnings by others in the scientific community.

Critics have pointed out that a more targeted approach could make it difficult to protect vulnerable people entirely and the risk of long-term complications from coronavirus mean many others are also at risk.

The movement – known as the Great Barrington Declaration – started in the US.

The declaration has now been signed by nearly 6,000 scientists and medical experts across the globe as well as 50,000 members of the public.

They say keeping the lockdown policies in place until a vaccine is available would cause “irreparable damage, with the underprivileged disproportionately harmed”.

The health harms cited include lower childhood vaccination rates and worsening care for heart disease and cancer patients.

They point out the risk from coronavirus is 1,000 times greater for the old and infirm, with children more at risk from flu than Covid-19.

As immunity builds in the population, the risk of infection to all – including the vulnerable – falls, they say.

This would be a much more “compassionate” approach.

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The declaration recommends a number of measures to protect the vulnerable, including regular testing of care-home workers, with a move as far as possible towards using staff who have acquired immunity.

Retired people living at home should have groceries and other essentials delivered, it says.

When possible, they should meet family members outside rather than inside.

Simple hygiene measures, such as hand washing and staying home when sick, should be practiced by everyone.

However, young low-risk individuals should be allowed to work normally, schools and universities should be open for in-person teaching, sports and cultural activities could resume and restaurants reopen.