Home Authors Posts by Kathryn R. Bown

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.


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.

Coronavirus: Worldwide Cases Exceed 50 Million

Sputnik V: Russian Coronavirus Vaccine Shows to Produce Antibody Response

First Coronavirus Vaccine to Be Tested on US Volunteers

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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Coronavirus: Partial Lockdown Imposed on Madrid

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.

Edificio Metropolis

Spain’s federal government has imposed new restrictions on more than three million people living in Madrid as the country tries to control the most serious second wave of Covid-19 infections in Europe.

From this weekend, people living in the Spain’s capital can travel outside their home districts for essential journeys only.

Bars and restaurants cannot serve after 10PM. A maximum of six people are permitted to meet in any setting.

The measures have been demanded by Spain’s federal government.

They also take effect in nine towns around Madrid.

The restrictions have been resisted by Madrid’s city authorities, which tried to use the courts to block their imposition. Madrid’s justice minister said it would cost the capital’s economy €8 billion and regional president Isabel Díaz Ayuso wrote on Twitter: “Thanks for the chaos, [Prime Minister] Pedro Sánchez.”

Signs of the second wave of coronavirus infections now breaking over Spain can be seen at the emergency admission unit of the 12 de Octubre hospital, one of the biggest in Madrid.

Every hour ambulances arrive with new patients.

Some of the patients are helped into wheelchairs; others, already needing oxygen, have to be stretchered in by medical staff wearing full protective gear.

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A red warning signal indicating the seriousness of Spain’s predicament is that, at many hospitals across Madrid, existing ICU’s are again full with Covid-19 patients.

Hospitals are being forced to use overflow capacity prepared at the height of the pandemic, including beds usually reserved for burns patients and for post-operative recovery.

At La Paz Hospital, another of Madrid’s biggest, all 30 ICU critical care beds are occupied.

Some 10,000 new Covid-19 cases are now being identified in Spain each day.

On October 2, there were 11,325 new infections and 113 deaths.

Around one in four of all tests being done have been coming back positive, another warning signal about the prevalence of the new coronavirus.

Photo credit Matthias Zomer

When it comes to caregivers, we are spoilt for choices. From family caregivers to home care agencies to independent caregivers; we have numerous options at our disposal.

Generally, family caregivers shoulder the responsibility of taking care of senile members in their family, but a few remain unaware of how to get paid as a family caregiver and have to abandon their responsibilities due to financial issues, leaving home care agencies and independent caregivers as the two viable options.

Both home care agencies and independent caregivers provide an assortment of services, making it difficult for the families to choose the apt one. However, by reflecting on certain factors, you can make a sound choice.  The factors listed below can help you decide which one is the best for you.

Factor #1: Cost                          

The cost of the service is one of the most relevant questions that pop up while choosing between agency care and independent caregivers.

A caregiver agency takes a fat paycheque in exchange for its services, which is duly justified considering the quality of the service they offer. The agencies do not let you worry about the tedious tasks like tax paperwork, insurance requirements, payroll details, employee background checks, reference checks, etc., and hence, save your valuable time and effort.

Independent caregivers, on the other hand, cost you much less as compared to the caregiver agencies. However, they leave you with the responsibilities of all the paperwork and background investigations.

Factor #2: Quality

The quality of care or services is not a debatable factor as it largely depends on the interpersonal skills, background, and training of the caregiver.

However, when talking inclusively, the agencies score better in terms of quality of services. They always send qualified, certified, trained, and licensed caregivers to you. Moreover, they carry out a thorough background check of their employees.

Factor #3: Types of services

Caregivers are trained to provide an array of services to the aging, ailing, and disabled people. They provide medical care like wound care, monitoring vital status, administering injections, etc, and also assist the recipients in their day-to-day activities, like walking, eating, getting dressed, etc.

Independent caregivers go the extra mile by assisting the recipients in the instrumental activities, like running errands, going shopping, taking them for a short walk or to the doctor, etc.

If you are looking for a caregiver, well-versed at providing medical care to the recipient, seeking help from an agency will be a better option as finding a trained and licensed independent caregiver may take months. However, the caregiver assigned by the agency won’t run errands for you as it will be against their company’s rules.

Factor #4: Ease of hiring

Of course, hiring a caregiver from an agency is much easier than looking for an independent caregiver.

With home care agencies, you just need to go through a simple process- tell them what you want, and they lead you to a perfect caregiver who checks all your boxes.

Factor #5: Coverage for sick days or vacations

All human beings, including doctors, nurses, and caregivers, fall sick. When a private caregiver falls sick or takes a break for any reason, you won’t have any backup. You will have to walk into the caregiver’s shoes and take care of things until they resume their duty.

But, with a home care agency, you will always have someone to swoop in for the off duty caregiver. If a caregiver is sick, has a family emergency, or goes on a vacation, the agency appoints someone else to cover for them, brushing all worries off your head. 

Bottom Line

Hiring a caregiver for our loved ones is an inevitable decision that we all make at some point in our lives.  We hope this information helps you in making the right choice.

Image by Sammy-Williams from Pixabay

Root cause

By the age of 35, approximately 66% of men will have experienced hair loss according to the American Hair Loss Association. It is nothing to be ashamed of. Hair loss can be a result of many factors but the most common reason is androgenic alopecia (according to the American Hair Loss Association, 95% of hair loss in men is caused by androgenic alopecia). Androgenic Alopecia is a genetic condition that can affect both men and women. It is also called male pattern baldness (for men). Eventually, the hairline will recede. There will be loss of hair from the crown and frontal scalp. It can start affecting men from as early as their teens or in their early twenties. Other causes of hair loss include hormones, stress, illness, ringworm, drugs, cosmetic products, medical conditions, and even diet. Scientists are only just beginning to understand the process known as miniaturization. Miniaturization refers to the process of hair thinning that leads to pattern baldness.

Is there a cure for hair loss?

Yes, there is. But be careful when choosing hair loss treatment. Many products will be offered as a solution. Despite these numerous offerings, there are still only two medically approved drugs for the treatment of hair loss. The two drugs approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are minoxidil and finasteride. There are also several products like shampoos and vitamin supplements that can be useful for resolving hair loss.

Talk to an expert first

There is a tendency for individuals to self-diagnose the cause of their hair loss. With the internet, individuals throw themselves into an avalanche of hair growth products that promise hair restoration with ridiculous timeframes specified. The advisable thing should always be to seek professional opinions on how to restore hair. Always speak to physicians about hair loss problems. As mentioned earlier, the causes of hair loss are several. Different approaches will be required to treat them. Several outfits that offer hair loss treatments have dedicated professionals available for consultation about hair loss. Several organizations offer avenues where you can speak with professionals who work with personal information to provide the right diagnosis for hair treatment. Hair loss information is important. It is advisable to seek expert opinions before taking any step.

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

Hair loss treatment

Minoxidil had been used in the past to treat high blood pressure. However, scientists would discover that one of its side effects was hair growth in unexpected areas. It has since been approved by the FDA to treat hair loss. The minoxidil lotion is applied. Theoretically, it expands the blood vessels and it opens potassium channels. This allows more flow of oxygen, blood, and nutrients to the follicles. The minoxidil lotion is applied to the scalp, and it is to be used regularly for a positive result. Discontinuation of minoxidil allows hair loss to continue. Note that it does not help the hormonal process of hair loss. Organizations like Myhair.life offer Minoxidil alongside shampoo and supplements to help combat hair loss.

Since 1992, finasteride has been approved for the treatment of hair loss by the FDA. It is still being used to treat enlarged prostates. It is taken orally. It decreases the production of dihydrotestosterone (DHT) in the prostate gland and the scalp. It protects endangered hair follicles from being affected by the hormone. It has to be taken daily for effectiveness.

Dutasteride also helps to treat male pattern baldness and is also used to treat enlargement of the prostate, just like finasteride. While it is often more effective than finasteride, it has not been approved by the FDA. It is still used as a treatment for hair loss in other countries. Discontinuation also leads to continued hair loss.

Cosmetic surgery

For hair transplants, hair from thicker parts of the head or even other body parts is grafted to the thinner sections of the scalp. While there are emerging medications to treat hair loss, more people are choosing hair transplants to solve the problem. According to the Indian Dermatology Online Journal, between 10-80 percent of the transplanted hair will fully grow in an estimated three to four months.

In conclusion

Before taking any steps, it is important to consult an expert. Find a dermatologist close and seek advice. Consultations to get to the root of the problem help narrow down the approach to take. By seeing a board-certified dermatologist, individuals can get in on inside secrets that help with hair loss. These are tailored to individual needs.


Over the course of six months of quarantine, Americans have been desperate for things to do. To cure some of the boredom, many have taken up new hobbies, learned new languages and started new home improvement projects. But with more free time than ever, many have turned to exercise, seeking to shed a few pounds during quarantine, explore some new trails, or achieve some fitness milestones.

But when it comes to personal fitness, exercise is but one side of the coin. A proper diet is just as integral to maintaining personal fitness as any run or weightlifting routine. But eating properly is easier said than done. Beyond merely counting calories, those seeking to eat healthily should find ways to incorporate fruits, vegetables, and other key nutrients into their diets. 

Since even before the onset of COVID, plenty of innovative startups have been hard at work devising new restaurants and products that offer tasteful, healthy food while catering to the unique preferences of young consumers.

We sat down with Amit Raizada—an entrepreneur, venture capitalist and CEO of Spectrum Business Ventures to talk about how the startup and VC sectors are helping to develop new products that can help fitness enthusiasts enjoy healthy, low-calorie meals that complement their workout routines.

“One of these companies is Tu Me Water, which Spectrum Business Ventures is proud to support,” said Raizada. “Tu Me is an excellent post-workout choice, as it offers flavored water injected with turmeric.”

Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Raizada explained that turmeric is a critical, yet often under-consumed, nutrient that helps aid muscle recovery. Turmeric is often used to reduce inflammation, which Raizada said comes in handy after a difficult weightlifting routine or a strenuous run.

“Tu Me really got it right when it came to turmeric,” Raizada said. “The nutrient has long been celebrated for the ways it reduces inflammation in the body. Tu Me combined this with water—which we all drink after our workouts—and unique flavoring to create a healthy, enticing product.”

Raizada cited Tocaya Organica, an SBV-backed venture, as another firm making waves within the health-food sector.  

“Tocaya Organica offers clean, fast-casual Mexican cuisine in an upbeat setting,” said Raizada. “Tocaya’s food is vegan-base, meaning that all meals conform to vegan standards. Customers can add additional, non-vegan ingredients as they wish, but no matter how you build your meal, Tocaya is delicious, healthy, and low calorie.”

Both companies, Raizada said, created innovative models that align with many of Spectrum Business Ventures’ guiding investment philosophies.

“I always seek out ventures that have identified a demand popular among younger consumers and have devised a solution to fulfill it,” Raizada said. “That was the case with both ventures, which saw the ways in which personal fitness and healthful living had become major markets, and developed innovative, health foods that quickly took hold.”

Raizada said that, often, successful ventures need not reinvent an established market to make a sizeable splash.

“Younger generations are particularly health- conscious, and during quarantine, this has become even more mainstream,” said Raizada. “Companies like Equinox, for example, have come up with trailblazing ways to cater to this increasingly well-established trend. By tailoring their cuisines to meet the appetites of an increasingly health-conscious clientele, Tu Me Water and Tocaya Organica became hits.”

A new research has found that people who walk with a slouched body posture are more likely to feel depressed

Having a good posture is key to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Your posture plays a huge role in making sure that your bones are well aligned with the rest of your body while the tension in your ligaments and muscles is properly distributed. A person with good posture will have improved blood flow, decreased wear and tear on joints, and experience less shoulder, back, and neck pain than a person with bad posture.

Your posture is determined by your day-to-day habits which are formed over years of repeated behavior. Luckily, you won’t need years to improve your posture. In this article, we will explore 4 things you can do daily that will improve your posture in less than 30 days.

Start Your Day with Stretches

Tight and tense muscles have a major impact on your posture and can lead to a miserable day in the office. A daily stretch can help relieve any tension or pain you may have sustained from sleeping, energize you for the day, improve your posture, decrease back pain, help prevent injury, decrease muscle pain, and improve your body’s flexibility. 

Form a new daily habit of a full-body stretch in the morning; this will allow you to loosen up your muscles and give you a better chance at maintaining a good posture during the day.

Keep Your Sitting Posture in Check

You may have heard of ergonomic chairs, and even ergonomic mouse pads and keyboards, but what does the term ergonomic mean and why is it important? According to Collins, ergonomics is the science that seeks to adapt work or working conditions to suit the worker so that workers can perform activities efficiently and comfortably. An ergonomic chair would be a chair that can be adjusted to give a person the most support and most comfort while they are seated.

Your chair can only do so much though. When you are sitting at your office desk, or even seated behind the wheel of your car, try and practice ergonomic sitting. Most people tend to lean forward while seated, putting unnecessary pressure on the lower back. While seated, sit upright so that your shoulder blades are in line with your hip and make sure your chair’s height is adjusted so that your feet can sit flat on the ground. Your knees should bend at a natural 90-degree angle and legs should remain uncrossed. 

Start Strengthening Your Core Muscles

The muscles in your core can be defined as those that help keep you upright. Exercising these muscles can greatly improve your posture in just a few sessions. Exercises such as planks, deadlifts, squats, and crunches are some of the main exercises you can do to strengthen your core and help you on the road to a better posture.

Relax with Care

Relaxing after a long day at work is a must; however, now is not the time to start slacking on your posture. Watching TV from a couch or while lounging on a bed may be comfortable, but the effect it could have on your muscles later that night may just negate all those good feelings. Watching TV from the wrong position can cause strain in the back and neck muscles, so be sure to give your body ample support during times of relaxation.

Your bed is another important factor in good posture as the right bed can mean the difference between a good night’s sleep and one which leaves a person with more aches and pains than they went to sleep with. Make sure your mattress is hard enough to support your weight but not too hard that it affects your posture while you sleep. If you feel that your current bed is not up to the task, a list of Black Friday mattress deals can help you find a bed that best suits you and your budget.

While forming new habits can be difficult, improving posture can have a huge impact on a person’s everyday health and wellbeing. Start practicing some of these good habits today and you should see an improvement in your overall health almost immediately.

Trials of Astra Zeneca’s and Oxford University’s Covid-19 vaccine will resume after being paused due to a reported side effect in a patient in the UK.

On September 8, AstraZeneca said the studies were being paused while it investigated whether the adverse reaction was linked with the vaccine.

However, on September 12, Oxford University said it had been deemed safe to continue.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock welcomed the news that the trials would resume.

He said: “This pause shows we will always put safety first. We will back our scientists to deliver an effective vaccine as soon as safely possible.”

Oxford University said in a statement that it was “expected” that “some participants will become unwell” in large trials such as this one.

The university added that the studies could now resume following the recommendations of an independent safety review committee and the UK regulator, the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency.

It would not disclose information about the patient’s illness for confidentiality reasons.

However, the New York Times reported that a volunteer in the UK trial had been diagnosed with transverse myelitis, an inflammatory syndrome that affects the spinal cord and can be caused by viral infections.

The WHO says nearly 180 vaccine candidates are being tested around the world but none has yet completed clinical trials.

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Hopes have been high that the vaccine might be one of the first to come on the market, following successful Phase 1 and 2 testing.

The move to Phase 3 testing in recent weeks has involved some 30,000 participants in the US as well as in the UK, South Africa and Brazil. Phase 3 trials in vaccines often involve thousands of participants and can last several years.

According to official figures released on September 12, a further 3,497 people have tested positive with the virus in the UK. It is the second day in a row that number of daily reported cases has exceeded 3,000.

It brings the overall number of confirmed cases so far to 365,174. Meanwhile, the government figures revealed that a further nine people have died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19, bring the UK death toll to 41,623.

The first report on the Russian coronavirus vaccine, named Sputnik-V, says early tests showed signs of an immune response.

The report published by medical journal The Lancet said every participant developed antibodies to fight the virus and had no serious side effects.

Russia licensed the vaccine for local use in August, the first country to do so and before data had been published.

However, experts say the trials were too small to prove effectiveness and safety.

But Moscow has hailed the results as an answer to critics. Some Western experts have raised concerns about the speed of Russia’s work, suggesting that researchers might be cutting corners.

Last month, President Vladimir Putin said the vaccine had passed all the required checks and that one of his own daughters had been given it.

Two trials were conducted between June and July, The Lancet paper said. Each involved 38 healthy volunteers who were given a dose of the vaccine and then a booster vaccine three weeks later.

The participants – aged between 18 and 60 – were monitored for 42 days and all of them developed antibodies within three weeks. Among the most common side effects were headaches and joint pain.

The trials were open label and not randomized, meaning there was no placebo and the volunteers were aware they were receiving the vaccine.

According to the report: “Large, long-term trials including a placebo comparison, and further monitoring are needed to establish the long-term safety and effectiveness of the vaccine for preventing Covid-19 infection.”

A third phase of trials will involve 40,000 volunteers from “different age and risk groups,” according to the paper.

Russia’s vaccine uses adapted strains of the adenovirus, a virus that usually causes the common cold, to trigger an immune response.

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Kirill Dmitriev, head of a Russian investment fund behind the vaccine, said during a news conference that the report was “a powerful response to the skeptics who unreasonably criticized the Russian vaccine”.

He said that 3,000 people had already been recruited for the next phase of trials.

Health Minister Mikhail Murashko said Russia would start vaccinations from November or December, with a focus on high-risk groups.

However, experts warned that there was still a long way to go until a vaccine could enter the market.

According to the WHO, there are 176 potential vaccines currently being developed worldwide. Of those, 34 are currently being tested on people. Among those, eight are at stage three, the most advanced.

Germany is using three pop concerts to enable scientists to investigate the risks of such mass indoor events during the pandemic.

Some 4,000 healthy volunteers aged between 18 and 50 were urged to sign up for August 22 study in Leipzig, carried out by Halle University.

Singer-songwriter Tim Bendzko agreed to perform at all three successive gigs.

The study came as Germany recorded its highest number of Covid-19 infections since the end of April.

More than 2,000 cases were recorded in Germany in the last 24 hours, bringing the total number of cases to 232,082, the Robert Koch Institute reported.

The concert study, called Restart-19, was created “to investigate the conditions under which such events can be carried out despite the pandemic”, researchers said.

Scientists planned to run three different scenarios with some 4,000 visitors at the Quarterback Immobilien Arena in Leipzig during the course of August 22.

The first aims to simulate an event before the pandemic; the second with greater hygiene and some social distancing; and the third with half the numbers and with each person standing 1.5 meter apart.

Each staged scenario involves arrivals and departures from the stadium and performances by Tim Bendzko “in order to depict spectator behavior as realistically as possible.”

All participants are being tested for Covid-19, and given face masks and tracking devices to measure their distancing. Exactly how many volunteers came forward to participate remains unclear.

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German researchers are reportedly using fluorescent disinfectants to track what surfaces audience members touch the most.

The project received 990,000 euros ($1.17 million) funding from the states of Saxony-Anhalt and Saxony with the aim of helping to pave the way for the resumption of major indoor sporting and music events by ascertaining realistic levels of risk.

Saxony-Anhalt’s Minister of Economics and Science, Prof. Armin Willingmann, said before the event: “The corona pandemic is paralyzing the event industry.

“As long as there is a risk of infection, major concerts, trade fairs and sporting events cannot take place. This is why it is so important to find out which technical and organizational conditions can effectively minimize the risks.”


2020 has become a year of radical change, shifts in perspective, and the sobering reminder that all of us are mortal, prone to disease and ailments that can, and sometimes will end our lives. From wildfires engulfing en entire continent to political scandals, a biblical plague, and everything in between, the term “dumpster fire” doesn’t even begin to cover the year 2020.

Most of us take a few major events per year in stride. That’s just how it goes, right? Things happen, people die, and the world keeps turning. So, why are you feeling extra emotional this year? Could it be that there’s more to it? Perhaps these new changes are more traumatic than we might have thought. Why am I so emotional? Let’s look closer at some of the reasons you might be feeling more emotional than usual.

1. Can You Say…COVID?

COVID-19 came sweeping out of the east with a fury no one saw coming (except everyone did, just not the US). If you’re in the United States, you’re probably still feeling terrified of the virus, which has claimed more than 160,000 peoples’ lives and continues to spread, despite areas of the world being in recovery.

With five million confirmed cases and counting, the end of the COVID crisis is nowhere in sight for the United States, and experts are suggesting that we may experience a resurgence as winter approaches. How can one not feel emotional under these circumstances? We feel neglected by our leaders, uncertain of the future, and afraid to even visit a grocery store for fear of catching the virus.

The hierarchy of needs comes into play here. Maslow suggests that all people have a hierarchy of needs, and until the basic needs are met, you can’t be creative, happy, or fulfilled. These basic needs are physiological needs (food, air, water, etc.), safety needs (personal security, employment, resources, health), and then love and belonging, esteem, and self-actualization.

Notice how safety and things like food and air come before everything else. If your most basic needs aren’t met, it’s incredibly difficult to feel safe or satisfied; and lets’ be honest, none of us are feeling very safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.

2. Social Media

The unfortunate truth about our favorite way to connect with friends, family, and our favorite brands is that it may not be a healthy habit to engage in. Studies have shown that people who spend a lot of time on social media tend to suffer from lower self-esteem, a sense of sadness or even depression, and increased social withdrawal. That’s a bit alarming, no doubt, but there’s a good chance your social media usage has increased during quarantine.

Social media can be a stressful place. Not only are you seeing doctored versions of everyone else’s lives (that always seem to look “better”), but you’re also getting a ton of misinformation on things like COVID restrictions. How can anyone feel good getting bombarded with conflicting information, political opinions, and Jane’s constant posting about how amazing her life is?

Cutting down on social media might actually help improve your mental health and help you through this year without having a major breakdown. We all miss our friends and family, but there are plenty of other ways to stay connected until we can meet in-person once more.

3. Life Brought Into Perspective

Major traumatic events often have the effect of bringing life into sharp focus. When mortality comes knocking, and the threat of illness and potential death lingers in the air like a foul stench, we tend to look back on our lives and take measure of what we’ve done; and everything we haven’t. For some, this means facing mistakes or decisions that have potentially led to happiness or unfulfillment. For others, this means getting their act together and finally deciding to get that degree, ask that girl out, or just do better for themselves.

There’s no guarantee that we’ll have a future. Even tomorrow isn’t something we can be sure of, but if COVID has taught us anything, it’s that life is short. Too short to waste on petty quarrels, pointless scrolling online, and other trifles. If reflecting on your life has caused you to feel sad, unfulfilled, or generally unhappy with where you’re at, now’s the time to make some important choices to ensure the rest of your life is exactly what you want.

4. The News

Fear-based media; what is it? To properly explain it, we’d need an entire article. Luckily, this article explains the concept in-depth. The basic premise is that fear sells papers, column inches, and keeps people coming back for more. If you’ve ever watched the news, you’ll notice it’s riddled with fear-based headlines, commentary, and a general focus on the negative. Why? Because it preys on the anxieties we all have.

This year has been a treasure trove of fear for the mainstream media. If you’ve been watching the news consistently, you’re probably starting to feel the effects of this fear-mongering, to the detriment of your mental health. Yes, you should still keep yourself informed, but where you get your information is just as important as the information itself.


A 12-day extension of Auckland’s Covid-19 restrictions has been announced by New Zealand’s PM Jacinda Ardern, after a cluster of cases grew to 29.

Four people tested positive on August 11 in Auckland. A three-day lockdown was brought in the following day, now extended by 12 days.

There are four “alert levels” in the country, and Auckland has been on Level 3 since August 12.

The rest of the country is on Level 2, and PM Ardern said both would be extended.

New Zealand has had success containing coronavirus, and went 102 days without a community transmission.

The origin of the cluster in Auckland – New Zealand’s largest city with a population of 1.5 million – is still being investigated.

Jacinda Ardern said the decision to extend the restrictions was “in keeping with our cautionary approach and New Zealand’s philosophy of going hard and going early”.

She said that, in 12 days’ time, she thought “the cluster will be identified, will be isolated, and we can move to Level 2 in Auckland with confidence”.

All 29 cases “remain linked to one cluster centered in Auckland”, PM Ardern said, adding that 38 people are in government quarantine.

However, she said that, although the first cases of the new outbreak were confirmed in Auckland on August 11, contact-tracing had uncovered an earlier case, involving a shop worker in the Mt Wellington district of Auckland who became sick on July 31.

“In terms of the ongoing investigation to identify where the virus originated from, there are still no clear connections at this point,” she said.

However, the prime minister said genomic testing and contact-tracing suggested the current outbreak was not linked to border entry points or New Zealand’s previous outbreak in March.

New Zealand could expect to see more cases from the cluster, PM Ardern said, adding: “It will grow before it slows.

“And it may continue to be linked to schools, churches and social gatherings, as it has done to date. We also know, based on overseas experience and our own, that it is possible to contain a cluster or outbreak without ever being able to identify its origin.”

Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Coronavirus: New Zealand Ends Community Transmission of Covid-19

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Under Level 3, which is now in place in Auckland, all public places – such as libraries, museums, cinemas, food courts, and playgrounds – must be closed.

People must work from home where possible, and children are encouraged to “learn from home”. Residents have been told to stay in their “household bubbles” when not at work or school if they have to attend.

Supermarkets and petrol stations can open, but other “close contact” businesses must shut.

Level 2 – which applies to the rest of the country – is less severe.

People can still go to workplaces and schools, but they must keep their distance and wear a mask if possible. Gatherings of more than 100 are banned.

Aside from the lockdown measures, the outbreak also prompted Ms Ardern to postpone until Monday the dissolution of parliament so that September’s election can take place. In her latest address, she said no decision had been taken on the election 19 September date yet – she would decide in the next 48 hours.

Before August 11, New Zealand was one of only a handful of countries to go so long without recording a locally transmitted case of Covid-19.

All 22 active cases of the virus before August 11 announcement were among returning travelers quarantined in isolation facilities.

Russia is preparing to start a mass vaccination campaign against coronavirus in October, the health minister has said.

Health minister Mikhail Murashko said that doctors and teachers would be the first to receive the vaccine, local media reported.

Russia’s first potential vaccine would be approved by regulators this month, Reuters reports, citing anonymous sources.

However, some experts are concerned at Russia’s fast-track approach.

On July 31, Dr. Anthony Fauci said he hoped that Russia – and China – were “actually testing the vaccine” before administering them to anyone.

The leading infectious disease expert in the US has said that America should have a “safe and effective” vaccine by the end of this year.

“I do not believe that there will be vaccines so far ahead of us that we will have to depend on other countries to get us vaccines,” Anthony Fauci told US lawmakers.

Scores of possible coronavirus vaccines are being developed around the world and more than 20 are currently in clinical trials.

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Mikhail Murashko, quoted by Interfax news agency, said that the Gamaleya Institute, a research facility in Moscow, had finished clinical trials of a vaccine and that paperwork was being prepared to register it.

“We plan wider vaccinations for October,” he said, adding that teachers and doctors would be the first to receive it.

Last month, Russian scientists said that early-stage trials of an adenovirus-based vaccine developed by the Gamaleya Institute had been completed and that the results were a success.

Last month the US, UK and Canada security services said a Russian hacking group had targeted various organizations involved in Covid-19 vaccine development, with the likely intention of stealing information.


If you’re taking the journey toward quitting smoking, you’re in for a long road, but no an impossible one. Thousands of people quit smoking every year, and their bodies, minds, and overall health are better for it. Smoking is a dangerous habit, causing addiction to nicotine, exposing your body to harmful chemicals, and even bringing about certain social roadblocks.

Quitting smoking is one of the best decisions you can make, but you might need some help along the way. This guide will cover five foods that you can eat while you’re quitting that won’t cause you to gain weight. Empty carbs, high-sugar foods, and high-fat foods aren’t good choices, as they can pack on the pounds and make the quitting process more difficult. Here are our five choices.

1. Spinach and Bananas

Both fresh spinach and bananas are packed with nutrients and vitamins, making them the perfect snack, smoothie ingredients, or meal additive. The best part? Research shows that smokers who consume more fruits and vegetables are up to three times more likely to ditch the habit than those who don’t.

Fruits and vegetables are packed with nutrients that many smokers lack. In fact, smoking a cigarette affects the body’s ability to absorb certain nutrients, making your diet even less effective than it should be. The solution? Pack in those fruits and veggies whenever you can! Morning smoothies make for a great morning cigarette substitute, and will help you feel energized and focused throughout your morning routine.

Spinach is an excellent source of vitamin A, E, K, B6, B2, and even calcium, making it one of the most nutrient-rich veggies you can get your hands on. It’s tasty, too! Spinach can be cooked into casseroles, eaten fresh with fish or steak, or included in a salad. Banana and spinach smoothies offer a powerhouse of nutrition for your morning routine or dessert.

2. Whole Grains

One of the symptoms of nicotine withdrawal is constipation (or the opposite, diarrhea). Digestive issues occur when the body is suddenly deprived of nicotine, but whole grains that are rich in dietary fiber can help keep things moving. Even if you’re using alternative tobacco products like tobacco free chew, you’ll still need some whole grains to keep your body operating at full capacity while you quit.

Whole grains offer much more than just dietary fiber, however. Packed with vitamins A, B, antioxidants, protein, and trace minerals, high-quality whole grains are a necessary component to overall health. As long as you regulate how much grain you’re eating, you won’t gain weight from it.

3. Mint

Mint comes in many forms; from candy to gum to peppermint sticks and everything in between. You can even eat mint straight off the plant in the form of mint leaves. These are potent and sugar-free, making them a great cigarette alternative and something that can help you curb your cravings.

If you’re worried about extra calories, you can always opt for sugar-free mints or gum. There are literally thousands of options available, from those tasty little red and white mints to spearmint/peppermint gum and everything in between. You can also try some mint tea as well! Include just a bit of honey and you’ve got yourself a tasty, health-conscious drink to help curb those nicotine cravings without packing on the extra weight.

4. Ginseng

Research is developing on the use of ginseng on the form of tea and other consumables to curb nicotine cravings. Ginseng is already known to boost energy levels and focus, but did you know it can actually help minimize withdrawal symptoms and even help you kick your smoking habit for good?

Ginseng is also an excellent detoxifier for the liver and other organs. When you smoke cigarettes, you’re essentially pumping thousands of harmful chemicals and toxins into your bloodstream, which are filtered and processed eventually by your liver. Ginseng can help remove harmful toxins and curb your cravings so you can achieve a smoke-free lifestyle.

5. Cinnamon Sticks

Sucking on a cinnamon stick might seem a bit unorthodox, but many smokers have reported that replacing their smoking habit with this calorie-free option actually helps occupy their hands and mouths, and keeps those cravings at bay. Cinnamon tastes great and offers little to no nutritional (or non-nutritional) value in small amounts.

When you feel the need to have a cigarette, reach for a cinnamon stick instead. It will feel sort of like a cigarette in your mouth, offer a much better taste, and keep you from lighting up.

Final Thoughts

When you decide to quit smoking, you’re reaching for a better future. A future in which you don’t have to fear cancer, disease, and other health conditions. You won’t have to pay outrageous medical bills for special treatments, and you won’t put your loved ones or yourself through the pain of these maladies.