Young adults vaping cannabis more likely to get Bronchitis, says study – WION

Last Updated on December 25, 2020 by

Connection between vaping cannabis and respiratory health issues were not known fully before but a recent study has found that yound adults who vape cannabis are at increased risk of getting Bronchitis and other issues. The study has found that vaping cannabis at any frequency increases the likelihood of respiratory diseases and even Covid-19 infection in teens around the age of 19.

Towards the end of 2019, mysterious cases of lung injury associated with vaping came to be noticed in the US. The US Centre for Disease Control (CDC) said that More than 2,800 people from all 50 states, Washington DC, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands died due to respiratory issues arising from vaping or e-cigarettes.

COVID-19 virus attacks a person’s respiratory system and affects lungs.

Jessica Braymiller, the study’s first author said that these mysterious illnesses were seen in people who had vaped nicotine or cannabis

During the course of the study, more than 2000 young adults, who responded to an online questionnaire reported history of vaping and smoking behaviours and respiratory problems.

Those who had vaped cannabis had stronger link to symptoms of Bronchitis, cough and wheezing compared to those who had never vaped cannabis.

Health ministry panel says people 65 or older should get COVID vaccine priority – Japan Today

Last Updated on December 25, 2020 by

A Japanese health ministry panel said on Friday that people aged 65 or older should get priority for vaccination against COVID-19 as the government sets guidelines that will also prioritise frontline healthcare workers and those with medical conditions.

The panel also specified chronic heart disease, chronic respiratory disease and chronic kidney disease, among others, as underlying conditions that should determine priority for the vaccine.

The recommendations would include 36 million elderly people and 8.2 million people with medical conditions in the first group to receive vaccine shots.

Another government panel this week recommended that priority be given to frontline medical professionals and workers at elderly care facilities, while the elderly and those with underlying health conditions should also receive priority.

Japan, with a population of 126 million, has agreements to buy 290 million vaccine doses from Pfizer Inc, AstraZeneca Plc and Moderna Inc, or enough for 145 million people.

Japan is currently facing a third wave of coronavirus infections, putting the nation’s medical system under heavy strain.

Five national groups of doctors and other medical workers made an emergency request on Friday to Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and Health Minister Norihisa Tamura, asking for strong anti-infection measures and support for the medical sector.

With hospitals equipped for COVID-19 patients filling up, other hospitals are being forced to accept them, said Tsuyoshi Masuda, president of the Japan Federation of Democratic Medical Institutions, one of the groups.

“Naturally, they run much higher risk of in-house infection than those equipped to treat COVID-19 patients,” Masuda told a news conference.

“These small and medium-sized hospitals, which have been supporting medical services in their respective regions, are facing a crisis that is threatening their survival.”

Tokyo reported 884 coronavirus infections on Friday, near Thursday’s record 888.

© Thomson Reuters 2020.

With challenges, govt urged to cautiously plan vaccination drive – Jakarta Post

Last Updated on December 25, 2020 by

As the government seeks the best way to roll up the national COVID-19 vaccination program as soon as possible, an expert has reminded the authorities to plan cautiously to carry out a successful drive. 

Indonesia is planning to run its vaccination program in the early months of next year. The government has ordered around 143 million doses of a vaccine from China’s Sinovac Biotech in various forms, from ready-to-administer doses to vaccine bulks, with a total of 1.2 million doses of the vaccine arriving in the country earlier this month.

The Food and Drug Monitoring Agency (BPOM), however, has yet to approve the Sinovac vaccine’s distribution, saying that it would extend the monitoring stage of the trials for another three months to determine the vaccine’s efficacy and side effects.

“A pandemic can turn into an endemic as long as [a country] is able to well prepare the vaccination program in order to keep the disease under control,” epidemiologist Dicky Budiman said as quoted by on Dec. 19. 

However, he said organizing the vaccination drive might not be an easy task as several factors could potentially hinder its success.

The first one, Dicky went on to say, was the potential for another pandemic in the future. An undetected virus that resides inside a body might reactivate in the future, for example. 

“Furthermore, animals could contract COVID-19 from humans and spread it to other animals and humans as well.”

Read also: [INSIGHT] What we know so far about COVID-19 vaccines and new variants

Dicky also reminded the government to prepare a preventive measure against anti-vaxxers who would likely create misleading narratives to discourage the public from supporting the vaccination program. A strong communication strategy, he added, was highly advised to anticipate such groups.

Moreover, the public is still taking the pandemic lightly because of hoaxes and misinformation that have been widely circulating on the internet. He believes this situation would lead to public distrust, which could threaten the vaccination program’s success.

“[Such false claims] would make it harder for some of our people to accept the vaccine,” he said.

Nevertheless, Dicky emphasized that the COVID-19 would not immediately cease once the government rolls out the vaccines, especially as Indonesia was still recording over 6,000 daily new cases. He suspected that had the tracing process been conducted properly, the number of daily new cases would have reached 20,000, he added.

President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo previously said on Dec. 16 that the COVID-19 vaccine would be available at no cost for the public, following criticism against the government’s plans to fund the vaccination of only a third of the targeted population.

As of now, Jokowi has yet to provide further details regarding the program’s timeline, as well as when the vaccines would be released to the public. (dpk)

Editor’s note: This article is part of a public campaign by the COVID-19 task force to raise people’s awareness about the pandemic.

Food Banks Partner With Fishermen To Get Nutritious Local Fish To The Hungry : Shots – Health News – NPR

Last Updated on December 25, 2020 by

Fishermen sell freshly caught seafood at the Saturday Fishermen’s Market in Santa Barbara, Calif. When the pandemic began, fishermen watched their markets dry up overnight. Now, as well as public markets like this, some are selling to food assistance programs.

April Fulton for NPR

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April Fulton for NPR

Fishermen sell freshly caught seafood at the Saturday Fishermen’s Market in Santa Barbara, Calif. When the pandemic began, fishermen watched their markets dry up overnight. Now, as well as public markets like this, some are selling to food assistance programs.

April Fulton for NPR

As the COVID-19 pandemic hit hard in the spring, fishermen watched their markets dry up. Restaurants and cafeterias — normally major fish buyers — closed or cut back orders significantly. Fishermen weren’t sure if they were going to get paid for what they brought to the dock.

Meanwhile as people lost jobs, food banks started to see an unprecedented demand for services. Things were getting desperate, with long lines for food assistance in many states.

Out of these dual crises, a new idea was born. Food assistance programs across the country have started connecting with local fishermen to stock up on local seafood, many for the first time. And the arrangement seems to be helping the fishermen, the economy and those in need of healthy food.

In Massachusetts, the Greater Boston Food Bank, which serves more than 500,000 food-insecure people with its 600-plus network partners, was looking for ideas.

According to Catherine D’Amato, president and CEO, the network usually keeps four or five weeks of food on hand in case of emergencies.

The pandemic hit, and by “late May … we found ourselves below one week of inventory and going down rapidly,” she says. That’s because the food bank normally distributes about 1 million pounds of food a week, and that became 2 1/2 million pounds of food a week, D’Amato says.

While Congress and the states have boosted funding for food banks, and increased donations of fresh produce, meat, dairy and shelf-stable products during the pandemic, it hasn’t been enough.

“For many years, we have been wanting to be able to work with organizations in the fishing industry,” D’Amato says. But it’s complicated. Fishermen catch a lot of big fish, and food banks who might take it need the products to be cut small and easy to use for clients. It also has to be fish they know and recognize.

The barriers have been too high in many places to make it work.

But this spring, the state department of agriculture connected the food bank with some grant makers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and other entities. They talked to some local fishermen about developing a traditional New England haddock chowder.

Haddock is plentiful in Cape Cod Bay, but it’s not in high demand because it’s rather small and doesn’t fillet well, according to the Cape Cod Commercial Fishermen’s Alliance. In other words, it’s perfect for chowder.

The grants paid fishermen for their catch and provided seed money for a local manufacturer to process, freeze and deliver the chowder to food banks in family-size servings.

“We worked with the manufacturer to create a nutrient-rich recipe and to date, we’ve received 48,000 pounds. And now we have started to purchase the product,” D’Amato says. “It’s very tasty and popular.”

Studies have shown eating just one or two servings of seafood a week can reduce the risk of coronary death by up to 36%. And preliminary research into the omega-3 fatty acids found in many types of fish can help treat or protect against age-related cognitive decline such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Eating more of certain kinds of fish has also been shown to reduce asthma symptoms in city kids exposed to pollution.

But many people are not sure how to cook fresh seafood, and it can be expensive if you’re on a budget. That may be why many feeding programs haven’t handled a lot of fresh fish.

“We have handled, you know, your typical fish sticks or fish made with a breading on it,” D’Amato says — which she says is not necessarily the healthiest option.

But the new chowder is chock-full of vegetables, and it’s easy — just heat and serve.

“Consumers are used to red meat, poultry in every shape and form. Pork is sort of further down the list. We do offer items like tofu. … But fish has been a missing component,” she says.

The chowder, branded as “Small Boats, Big Taste,” is helping to feed families and keep fishermen fishing in Massachusetts. The fishermen hope to sell it in retail stores in the next year, and D’Amato hopes to purchase more chowder and expand into new seafood products for her clients this winter.

In other parts of the country, local fishermen hurt by COVID-19 are getting to work supplying food banks, too.

Paul Parker is the founder of Catch Together, a nonprofit organization that works with small-scale fishermen to connect the local fishing industry with the local community. Catch Together provided some of the grants for the chowder project and others around the country.

When the pandemic hit, “Our first round of funding was to just make sure that small-scale fishing organizations and their leadership were able to continue their typical programming in 2020,” he says. That means things like fisheries management and keeping consumer markets open.

“The second phase of our work was to begin doing outreach to commercial fishing organizations and to food banks around the country and try to learn about places where we could help provide fishermen fair wages to go fishing while simultaneously providing great, healthy food for people that needed it,” Parker says.

Joseph and Melissa Garrigan of Garrigan Seafood Co. show off a freshly caught spider crab and a California spiny lobster.

April Fulton for NPR

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Joseph and Melissa Garrigan of Garrigan Seafood Co. show off a freshly caught spider crab and a California spiny lobster.

April Fulton for NPR

Catch Together set out to support up to 10,000 fishermen to provide food for 1 million Americans in need this year. It’s led to innovative programs that are putting local shrimp in Mississippi food banks and getting sockeye salmon to the needy in Alaska.

Catch Together also gave a $53,000 grant to the Commercial Fisherman of Santa Barbara. The fishermen worked with community partners this summer to get 7,000 pounds of flash-frozen Pacific rockfish, yellowtail, grenadier, white sea bass and black cod fillets into their local food bank.

It was a hit, and they plan to expand the offerings this winter to include bringing fresh fish to soup kitchens as the pandemic continues, says Mike Nelson, the Commercial Fisherman of Santa Barbara’s program officer.

While COVID-19 has caused a lot of hardships, it’s also created new opportunities for fishermen. The food bank partnership is one part of it.

For fisherman Paul Teall, when his usual restaurant buyers in Los Angeles stopped buying this fall because the county restricted restaurant business to takeout only, selling directly to consumers at a small seafood market on the dock in Santa Barbara suddenly became a lot more important.

Teall is a longtime Santa Barbara fisherman who sells a variety of seafood native to West Coast waters, including rock crabs and a large sea snail called Kellet’s whelk.

The seafood market has been open to the public for about 30 years. Once the pandemic started, people who had never come to the market before started showing up, saying they didn’t want to risk shopping in grocery stores, Teall says.

“We’ve seen the sales spike — maybe double. So I think a lot more people are feeling comfortable buying in the open air,” Teall says.

Fisherman Paul Teall selects large sea snails called Kellet’s whelks for a customer at the Saturday Fishermen’s Market in Santa Barbara.

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Fisherman Paul Teall selects large sea snails called Kellet’s whelks for a customer at the Saturday Fishermen’s Market in Santa Barbara.

April Fulton for NPR

Joseph and Melissa Garrigan of Garrigan Seafood Co. say business has been better at the market lately, too. They sell giant spider crabs and California spiny lobsters among other things.

The pandemic has “actually been good for us. … [A] lot of people are coming out and going, ‘Wow, I didn’t know this [market] was here.’ And we feel like the community knows we’re here now,” Joseph Garrigan says.

The fishermen recently put up plastic film barriers between themselves and customers, and there’s a cleaning and filleting station. Everyone at the market has to wear a face covering.

“We’re doing everything we can to keep the customers safe and provide them with fresh food,” Teall says.

Severity of COVID-19 correlates with the ratio of antibodies targeting crucial viral protein – News-Medical.Net

Last Updated on December 25, 2020 by

COVID-19 antibodies preferentially target a different part of the virus in mild cases of COVID-19 than they do in severe cases, and wane significantly within several months of infection, according to a new study by researchers at Stanford Medicine.

The findings identify new links between the course of the disease and a patient’s immune response. They also raise concerns about whether people can be re-infected, whether antibody tests to detect prior infection may underestimate the breadth of the pandemic and whether vaccinations may need to be repeated at regular intervals to maintain a protective immune response.

This is one of the most comprehensive studies to date of the antibody immune response to SARS-CoV-2 in people across the entire spectrum of disease severity, from asymptomatic to fatal. We assessed multiple time points and sample types, and also analyzed levels of viral RNA in patient nasopharyngeal swabs and blood samples. It’s one of the first big-picture looks at this illness.”

Scott Boyd, MD, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Pathology

The study found that people with severe COVID-19 have low proportions of antibodies targeting the spike protein used by the virus to enter human cells compared with the number of antibodies targeting proteins of the virus’s inner shell.

Boyd is a senior author of the study, which was published Dec. 7 in Science Immunology. Other senior authors are Benjamin Pinsky, MD, PhD, associate professor of pathology, and Peter Kim, PhD, the Virginia and D. K. Ludwig Professor of Biochemistry. The lead authors are research scientist Katharina Röltgen, PhD; postdoctoral scholars Abigail Powell, PhD, and Oliver Wirz, PhD; and clinical instructor Bryan Stevens, MD.

Virus binds to ACE2 receptor

The researchers studied 254 people with asymptomatic, mild or severe COVID-19 who were identified either through routine testing or occupational health screening at Stanford Health Care or who came to a Stanford Health Care clinic with symptoms of COVID-19. Of the people with symptoms, 25 were treated as outpatients, 42 were hospitalized outside the intensive care unit and 37 were treated in the intensive care unit. Twenty-five people in the study died of the disease.

SARS-CoV-2 binds to human cells via a structure on its surface called the spike protein. This protein binds to a receptor on human cells called ACE2. The binding allows the virus to enter and infect the cell. Once inside, the virus sheds its outer coat to reveal an inner shell encasing its genetic material. Soon, the virus co-opts the cell’s protein-making machinery to churn out more viral particles, which are then released to infect other cells.

Antibodies that recognize and bind to the spike protein block its ability to bind to ACE2, preventing the virus from infecting the cells, whereas antibodies that recognize other viral components are unlikely to prevent viral spread. Current vaccine candidates use portions of the spike protein to stimulate an immune response.

Boyd and his colleagues analyzed the levels of three types of antibodies — IgG, IgM and IgA — and the proportions that targeted the viral spike protein or the virus’s inner shell as the disease progressed and patients either recovered or grew sicker. They also measured the levels of viral genetic material in nasopharyngeal samples and blood from the patients. Finally, they assessed the effectiveness of the antibodies in preventing the spike protein from binding to ACE2 in a laboratory dish.

“Although previous studies have assessed the overall antibody response to infection, we compared the viral proteins targeted by these antibodies,” Boyd said. “We found that the severity of the illness correlates with the ratio of antibodies recognizing domains of the spike protein compared with other nonprotective viral targets. Those people with mild illness tended to have a higher proportion of anti-spike antibodies, and those who died from their disease had more antibodies that recognized other parts of the virus.”

Substantial variability in immune response

The researchers caution, however, that although the study identified trends among a group of patients, there is still substantial variability in the immune response mounted by individual patients, particularly those with severe disease.

“Antibody responses are not likely to be the sole determinant of someone’s outcome,” Boyd said. “Among people with severe disease, some die and some recover. Some of these patients mount a vigorous immune response, and others have a more moderate response. So, there are a lot of other things going on. There are also other branches of the immune system involved. It’s important to note that our results identify correlations but don’t prove causation.”

As in other studies, the researchers found that people with asymptomatic and mild illness had lower levels of antibodies overall than did those with severe disease. After recovery, the levels of IgM and IgA decreased steadily to low or undetectable levels in most patients over a period of about one to four months after symptom onset or estimated infection date, and IgG levels dropped significantly.

“This is quite consistent with what has been seen with other coronaviruses that regularly circulate in our communities to cause the common cold,” Boyd said. “It’s not uncommon for someone to get re-infected within a year or sometimes sooner. It remains to be seen whether the immune response to SARS-CoV-2 vaccination is stronger, or persists longer, than that caused by natural infection. It’s quite possible it could be better. But there are a lot of questions that still need to be answered.”

Boyd is a co-chair of the National Cancer Institute’s SeroNet Serological Sciences Network, one of the nation’s largest coordinated research efforts to study the immune response to COVID-19. He is the principal investigator of Center of Excellence in SeroNet at Stanford, which is tackling critical questions about the mechanisms and duration of immunity to SARS-CoV-2.

“For example, if someone has already been infected, should they get the vaccine? If so, how should they be prioritized?” Boyd said. “How can we adapt seroprevalence studies in vaccinated populations? How will immunity from vaccination differ from that caused by natural infection? And how long might a vaccine be protective? These are all very interesting, important questions.”

Group wants people with Down syndrome to be priority for COVID-19 vaccine –

Last Updated on December 25, 2020 by

Click here for updates on this story

    ASHEVILLE, North Carolina (WLOS) — As COVID-19 vaccines continue to roll out across the state, one group is raising concerns over distribution. The North Carolina Down Syndrome Alliance said it wants people with Down syndrome to be prioritized.

“There are very many coexisting conditions for people with Down syndrome,” said Donna Beckmann, the parent of a son with Down syndrome.

Beckmann also serves as the advocacy and outreach director for the North Carolina Down Syndrome Alliance.

“People with Down syndrome are at a higher risk for respiratory issues, as well as 30 to 50% of people with Down syndrome are born with some type of a heart defect,” she said.

Beckmann said two national Down syndrome organizations sent a letter last week to Dr. Mandy Cohen, secretary for NCDHHS, asking her to prioritize vaccines for people with Down syndrome.

NCDHHS sent News 13 this statement:

We’re currently reviewing the latest CDC guidance and ACIP recommendations and are in process of determining what updates are needed for our prioritization plan to ensure we can slow the spread of COVID-19 and save lives.”

Beckmann said there is a wide range for when people with Down syndrome will get their vaccines.

She referenced her son saying, “He has one chronic condition, so he’s in level two. However, if you are an adult without a condition, you’re in level three or four.”

Beckmann added that making people with Down syndrome wait is risky because they are more likely to live in group homes or live with elderly parents.

She also said that her son, like others with Down syndrome, has a higher threshold of pain and would be less able to communicate the severity of his symptoms if he got COVID-19.

“By the time that his behavior alerts us to an issue, it might very well be at a critical stage,” she said.

Down syndrome is not listed by the CDC as a condition with an increased risk for COVID-19. However, in the UK, for example, it is.

One study out of the University of Oxford found that people with Down syndrome are 10 times more likely to die from COVID-19.

“We just celebrated his 20th year, so we have a pretty good track record and I would like to keep that track record going,” Beckmann said.

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New research: Covid-19 isolation impacted women more, survey finds – The Indian Express

Last Updated on December 25, 2020 by

A study in Canada has found that women are suffering more than men during the months of Covid-19 isolation, with poorer sleep and more anxiety, depression and trauma, while also feeling more empathetic than men. Conducted by University of Calgary researchers with the Hotchkiss Brain Institute, the study has been published in the journal Frontiers in Global Women’s Health.

The findings are based on an online survey of 573 Canadians (112 men and 459 women, mean age 25.9 years) between March 23 and June 7. In a statement on the research, the University of Calgary said more than 66% of the survey participants reported poor quality of sleep, more than 39% reported increased symptoms of insomnia, and anxiety and distress were increased in the whole sample. Sleep, depression and anxiety symptoms were more prevalent in women.

Source: University of Calgary

Morocco orders 65 million vaccine doses – Macau Business

Last Updated on December 25, 2020 by

Morocco said Thursday it had ordered 65 million doses of novel coronavirus vaccine, as the North African kingdom prepared to launch a vaccination campaign targeting 25 million people.

“Preparations have reached very advanced stages,” Health Minister Khalid Ait Taleb said in a statement on the roll-out plans. 

“Field exercises covering all stages of the process of vaccinating citizens have been put in place.” 

A government source confirmed to AFP that Morocco has opted for the Chinese Sinopharm and British AstraZeneca vaccines, which both require two shots. 

No date has been given for the arrival of the jabs or for the start of the vaccine rollout. 

The vaccination campaign will first target frontline staff in the health, security and education sectors, as well as vulnerable and elderly people, before being extended to the rest of the population.

King Mohammed VI has decreed that the vaccine will be administered free of charge.

Morocco, a country of around 35 million people, has officially recorded more than 425,000 novel coronavirus cases and 7,130 deaths.

On Wednesday, authorities imposed a nationwide three-week night-time curfew.

Gatherings have been prohibited and restaurants, cafes, shops and department stores have been ordered to close from 8 pm. 

In the major cities of Casablanca, Marrakesh, Agadir and Tangier, restaurants have been shuttered for three weeks. 

Morocco has extended a state of public health emergency until January 10, 2021.

Can you take paracetamol and ibuprofen at the same time? What you need to know – Express

Last Updated on December 25, 2020 by

Despite their popularity, many people have unanswered questions around when it is appropriate to take paracetamol.

High up on the list of uncertainties is whether paracetamol can be taken together with ibuprofen.

Ibuprofen is an everyday painkiller for a range of aches and pains, including back pain, period pain, toothache.

It’s available as tablets and capsules, and as a syrup that you swallow. It also comes as a gel, mousse and spray that you rub into your skin.

READ MORE: Best hair supplements: MPS supplementation shown to promote hair growth in affected areas

The Commission on Human Medicines has now confirmed there is no clear evidence that using ibuprofen to treat symptoms such as a high temperature makes coronavirus worse.

You can take paracetamol or ibuprofen to treat symptoms of coronavirus, however, try paracetamol first if you can, suggests the NHS.

“It has fewer side effects than ibuprofen and is the safer choice for most people,” it adds.

How much paracetamol should I take?

“If you need to take a painkiller, check the labels carefully on other medicines. Ask your pharmacist for advice if you’re unsure,” advises Bupa.

According to the health body, you should take 500mg to 1,000mg (usually one or two tablets) every four to six hours.

“Take no more than 4,000mg (eight 500mg tablets) in 24 hours,” the health site warns.

It adds: “Paracetamol is an ingredient of many flu medicines, so check the patient information leaflet that comes with your medicine to know how much you’re taking.”

When should I avoid paracetamol?

It’s safe to take paracetamol with most prescription medicines, including antibiotics.

Paracetamol isn’t suitable for some people, however.

According to the NHS, you should talk to your doctor if you take:

  • The blood-thinner warfarin – paracetamol can increase the risk of bleeding if you take it regularly
  • Medicine to treat epilepsy
  • Medicine to treat tuberculosis (TB).

“Check with your doctor or pharmacist if you’re taking St John’s wort (a herbal remedy taken for depression) as you may need to reduce your paracetamol dose,” advises the NHS.

Otherwise, paracetamol isn’t generally affected by also taking herbal remedies or supplements, the health body notes.

“For safety, tell your doctor or pharmacist if you’re taking any other medicines, including herbal remedies, vitamins or supplements,” it adds.