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National Institutes of Health

According to recent reports, the first human trial of a vaccine to protect against pandemic coronavirus is starting in the US on March 16.

Forty five healthy volunteers will have the jab, at the Kaiser Permanente research facility, in Seattle.

According to experts, the vaccine cannot cause Covid-19 but contains a harmless genetic code copied from the virus that causes the disease.

It will still take many months to know if this vaccine, or others also in research, will work, experts say.

Scientists around the world are fast-tracking research.

This first human trial, funded by the National Institutes of Health, sidesteps a check that would normally be conducted – making sure the vaccine can trigger an immune response in animals.

However, the biotechnology company behind the work, Moderna Therapeutics, says the vaccine has been made using a tried and tested process.

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Typical vaccines for viruses, such as measles, are made from a weakened or killed virus.

In this case, the mRNA-1273 vaccine is not made from the virus that causes Covid-19.

Instead, the vaccine includes a short segment of genetic code copied from the virus that scientists have been able to make in a laboratory.

This will hopefully prime the body’s own immune system to fight off the real infection.

The volunteers will be given different doses of the experimental vaccine.

They will each be given two jabs in total, 28 days apart, into the upper arm muscle.

Even if these initial safety tests go well, it could still take up to 18 months for any potential vaccine to become available for the public.


For a number of years, doctors routinely recommended HRT or hormone replacement therapy for the treatment of menopause and the various uncomfortable symptoms associated with it. They also prescribed HRT for reducing the risk of osteoporosis and other coronary heart diseases. Then later in the year 2002, after the results were published of a federal study called the Women’s Health Initiative, there were many questions that rose about the actual benefits and risks of HRT, causing around two-thirds women to stop using it. So, what actually is HRT and for whom is this a perfect kind of treatment? Read on to know more on it.

Hormone replacement therapy – What is it actually?

HRT is a treatment which is used to normalize the natural hormone levels of our body, either in the form of estrogen therapy (ET) or as estrogen with progesterone therapy. While the former is done for women who have had surgical menopause, the latter is done for women who have gone through natural menopause in their midlife.

Some important things you should know about HRT

Here are some points to check out about HRT before you take a plunge and invest your dollars.

  1. When you might require HRT: Do you sweat during midnight? Do you experience pain during sexual intercourse? Do you suffer from anxiety and mood swings? Well, these are some common symptoms of menopause which you might experience once your body stops producing the essential female hormones. During such a time, taking replacement hormones is a way of managing them. However, ensure weighing the benefits and risks of this with your doctor.
  2. HRT within your limits: There was a time when doctors were of the opinion that all women who faced menopause would require hormones to manage their post-menopause symptoms and prevent bone loss and heart diseases. But later, a study by the NIH or the National Institutes of Health found out that taking artificial doses of hormone could aggravate the chances of stroke, blood clots and breast cancer.
  3. HRT off limits: You should inform your doctor about your entire medical history in case you’re opting for HRT. Remember that this therapy is not for you if you’re already suffered from cervical, endometrial, ovarian or any other hormone-sensitive cancer form. If you’ve had a history of liver problems, heart diseases, blood clots, stroke or other cardiovascular illnesses, you shouldn’t opt for HRT.
  4. Hormones in HRT: As mentioned above, there are 2 types of HRT, estrogen alone and with progesterone. Estrogen causes the uterus lining to thicken and can increase risk of endometrial cancer. Adding progesterone can reduce this risk. However, if you’re experiencing menopause due to surgery (hysterectomy), you won’t require the combination treatment.
  5. Whom to seek help: After knowing so much about HRT, you must be wondering about whom to seek help of if you consider undergoing this treatment. If your doctor thinks that HRT is suitable for you, he will give you a prescription of the drugs. You can also allow National HRT to help you find the best doctor for HRT.
  6. HRT routine may differ according to your needs: If you have the goal of relieving yourself of the menopausal symptoms, a few months of treatment would be enough. Nevertheless, symptoms could again arise once you stop. Ensure re-evaluating your regimen with your gynaecologist.

Hence if you’re intrigued by the benefits of HRT, you might opt for it. But take into account the word of caution mentioned above so that you don’t end up with some other fatal disease in your pursuit to stay young and happy.


According to a National Institutes of Health study, cutting fat from your diet leads to more fat loss than reducing carbs.

Scientists intensely analyzed people on controlled diets by inspecting every morsel of food, minute of exercise and breath taken.

Both diets, analyzed by the National Institutes of Health, led to fat loss when calories were cut, but people lost more when they reduced fat intake.

Experts say the most effective diet is one people can stick to.

It has been argued that restricting carbs is the best way to get rid of a “spare tire” as it alters the body’s metabolism.

The theory goes that fewer carbohydrates lead to lower levels of insulin, which in turn lead to fat being released from the body’s stores.

“All of those things do happen with carb reduction and you do lose body fat, but not as much as when you cut out the fat,” said lead researchers Dr. Kevin Hall, from the US-based National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.Cutting fat better than low carb

In the study, 19 obese people were initially given 2,700 calories a day.

Then, over a period of two weeks they tried diets which cut their calorie intake by a third, either by reducing carbs or fat.

The team analyzed the amount of oxygen and carbon dioxide being breathed out and the amount of nitrogen in participants’ urine to calculate precisely the chemical processes taking place inside the body.

The results published in Cell Metabolism showed that after 6 days on each diet, those reducing fat intake lost an average 463g of body fat – 80% more than those cutting down on carbs, whose average loss was 245g.

Dr. Kevin Hall said there was no “metabolic” reason to chose a low-carb diet.

However, studies suggest that in the real world, where diets are less strictly controlled, people may lose more weight by reducing carbohydrate intake.

Dr. Kevin Hall is now analyzing brain scans of the participants to see how the diets affect how rewarding food is.


The first batch of GSK’s Ebola experimental vaccine is on its way to Liberia.

The shipment will be the first potentially preventative medicine to reach one of the hardest hit countries.

However, experts say that, with Ebola cases falling, it may be difficult to establish whether the jab offers any protection against the virus.

The vaccine has been produced by British company GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and the US National Institutes of Health.

GSK said a plane carrying some 300 initial doses of the vaccine was expected to arrive in Monrovia on January 23.

The company hopes the first volunteer will be immunized in the next few weeks.

GSK CEO Andrew Witty said the pace of development was almost unparalleled and was comparable to only the development of a pandemic flu vaccine or new medicines for HIV.

Photo AP

Photo AP

Scientists aim to involve 30,000 volunteers in the trial in total, including frontline health workers.

If all regulations are met, 10,000 volunteers will be given the GSK vaccine.

A matching number will get a placebo, dummy vaccine. And there are plans for a further 10,000 people to get a separate experimental jab.

The results will be compared to see if either vaccine offers any meaningful protection against the virus.

A version of the vaccine has already been tested on 200 healthy volunteers across the UK, US, Switzerland and Mali.

GSK says it has been found to have an acceptable safety profile so far.

However, it is only in affected countries that experts can determine whether it provides adequate protection against the virus.

Dr. Moncef Slaoui, of GSK said: “Shipping the vaccine today is a major achievement and shows that we remain on track with the accelerated development of our candidate Ebola vaccine.

“The initial phase one data we have seen are encouraging and give us confidence to progress to the next phases of clinical testing.”

GSK stresses the vaccine is still in development and the World Health Organization, and other regulators, would have to be satisfied the vaccine is both safe and effective before any mass immunization campaigns could be considered.

Field trials of other promising vaccines – for example one involving the company Merck – are planned in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone in the months to come.

There are reports that a trial of an experimental drug called Zmapp might start in the next few weeks.

However, experts say with the number of Ebola cases falling opportunities to test vaccines and drugs could be limited.