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.
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.
On September 9, some media released parts of the interviews between the president and the journalist, revealing his reported remarks on the outbreak as well as race and other issues.
Here are some of the key quotes so far from Rage, which will be released on September 15.
President Trump indicated that he knew more about the severity of the illness than he had said publicly.
According to a tape of the call, President Trump told Bob Woodward in February that the coronavirus was deadlier than the flu.
“It goes through the air,” President Trump told the author on February 7.
“That’s always tougher than the touch. You don’t have to touch things. Right? But the air, you just breathe the air and that’s how it’s passed.
“And so that’s a very tricky one. That’s a very delicate one. It’s also more deadly than even your strenuous flus.”
Later that month, President Trump promised the virus was “very much under control”, and that the case count would soon be close to zero. He also publicly implied the flu was more dangerous than Covid-19.
Speaking on Capitol Hill on March 10, President Trump said: “Just stay calm. It will go away.”
Nine days later, days after the White House declared the pandemic a national emergency, the president told Bob Woodward: “I wanted to always play it down. I still like playing it down, because I don’t want to create a panic.”
Speaking from the White House on September 9, President Trump told reporters: “I don’t want people to be frightened, I don’t want to create panic, as you say, and certainly I’m not going to drive this country or the world into a frenzy.
“We want to show confidence, we want to show strength.”
President Trump – who is running for re-election in November – said the Bob Woodward book was “a political hit job”.
Responding to reporters’ questions on the book, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said: “The president never downplayed the virus, once again. The president expressed calm. The president was serious about this.”
In a tweet, Joe Biden said that “while a deadly disease ripped through our nation, [President Trump] failed to do his job – on purpose. It was a life or death betrayal of the American people”.
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.
The City of Houston wants to keep critical safety information about the coronavirus pandemic a secret. Wait till you find out one of the reasons why.
Dolcefino Consulting asked for records on any events or locations where contract tracers found community spread. It was part of our investigation into any real evidence Houston bars had been linked to coronavirus outbreaks. We didn’t ask for patient information, just locations, like the huge protest rallies downtown and other large gatherings.
The City of Houston Legal Department and the City Attorney are now refusing to tell you where coronavirus outbreaks have happened. Why? One reason, according to the City, is Homeland Security.
“The release of this information could alert a criminal or terrorist to potential vulnerabilities in the Cities emergency response plan to COVID-19,” said City Attorney Rebekah Wendt. Wendt went on to claim that the release of certain information could “allow a criminal or terrorist to have intimate details concerning the City’s evolving plans to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and allow them to exacerbate COVID-19 and future disasters.”
Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo is also keeping the contact tracing results a secret, even though the taxpayers are the people footing the bill. In the span of just two hours, the County Health Department claimed they had no records of congregate settings related to the coronavirus. An hour and a half later, the County Health Department did admit that they had records but claimed that they were too busy with the spread of the coronavirus to tell us where the coronavirus was spreading.
“On one hand we have a statewide order and a local order telling us that we have to wear masks to wear masks to control the spread of the coronavirus and we are spending millions of dollars to try to keep people safe but meanwhile our local government won’t tell us which places we need to avoid,” says Wayne Dolcefino, President of Dolcefino Consulting.
“The public has every right to evaluate how the government is handling this pandemic and the City of Houston and Harris County Health Department should be ashamed of themselves.”
Demonstrators held up banners featuring such slogans as “Corona, false alarm” and “We are being forced to wear a muzzle”.
Some participants were from the far right and some were conspiracy theorists who do not believe Covid-19 exists, but others were ordinary people who simply object to the government’s approach to the pandemic.
Police ordered demonstrators to disperse at the end of the afternoon. They said they had launched legal action against organizers for not respecting coronavirus hygiene rules.
German Health Minister Jens Spahn criticized people for failing to adhere to regulations, including the 1.5m (5ft) social distancing requirement.
“Yes, demonstrations should be allowed even amid the pandemic. But not like this,” he wrote on Twitter.
Social distancing rules and hygiene requirements apply throughout Germany, and people must wear face-coverings in shops and on public transport. Mandatory testing has been introduced for holidaymakers returning from high-risk areas.
Germany has had more than 210,000 cases of coronavirus and more than 9,000 related deaths since the pandemic began.
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.
Herman Cain was born in Tennessee to a father who worked three jobs as a janitor, chauffeur and barber, and a mother who worked as a servant. He went on to study for a degree in maths and a master’s in computing.
He worked variously as a Baptist minister, a radio talk show host and as a businessman.
Herman Cain was an advocate of a flat tax system – his 9-9-9 plan – and ran for office after a stint as CEO of Godfather’s Pizza.
During his run, he told reporters he would not stand for any “gotcha questions”.
“And when they ask me who is the president of Ubeki-beki-beki-beki-stan-stan, I’m going to say you know, I don’t know. Do you know?”
Herman Cain initially proved popular, but later found himself at the centre of a number of harassment allegations.
Although he denied the accusations against him, his popularity soon suffered and he suspended his campaign. Mitt Romney later became the Republican candidate in an unsuccessful race against President Barack Obama’s bid for a second term in office. In 2019, President Trump sounded Herman Cain out to sit on the Federal Reserve Board, but he withdrew his nomination after several Republican senators refused to back his appointment.
The Department of Justice has accused China of sponsoring hackers who are targeting labs developing Covid-19 vaccines.
US officials have charged two Chinese men who allegedly spied on American companies doing coronavirus research and got help from state agents for other thefts.
The indictment comes amid a US crackdown on Chinese cyber espionage.
The US, UK and Canada last week accused Russia of seeking to steal research related to Covid-19.
The accusations against former electrical engineering students Li Xiaoyu and Dong Jiazhi released on July 21 include charges of trade secret theft and wire fraud conspiracy.
Prosecutors said the two men spied on a Massachusetts biotech company in January which was known to be researching possible cures for Covid-19. They also hacked a Maryland company less than a week after it said it was researching Covid-19.
Officials called the Chinese men private hackers who occasionally received support from Chinese intelligence agents, including an officer from the Chinese Ministry of State Security (MSS).
Li Xiaoyu and Dong Jiazhi previously stole “hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of trade secrets, intellectual property, and other valuable business information” beginning in 2009, prosecutors alleged.
The indictment unsealed in Washington state said Li Xiaoyu and Dong Jiazhi – who reside in China – recently “researched vulnerabilities in the networks of biotech and other firms publicly known for work on Covid-19 vaccines, treatments, and testing technology”.
Countries where companies were targeted include Australia, Belgium, Germany, Japan, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and the UK.
According to the indictment, the hackers were able to infiltrate a British artificial intelligence firm, a Spanish defense contractor, and a Australian solar energy company.
Prosecutors said the men at times acted in their own self-interest – including one occasion when they demanded a ransom from a company in exchange for not releasing its private information – but at other times “were stealing information of obvious interest” to the Chinese government.
According to the indictment, the hackers “worked with, were assisted by, and operated with the acquiescence of” the MSS.
Li Xiaoyu and Dong Jiazhi allegedly stole military data and provided the Chinese government with the passwords of a democracy activist in Hong Kong and a former Tiananmen Square protester.
Melbourne, Australia’s second-largest city, has begun a second lockdown in response to a spike in new coronavirus infections.
The five million Melbourne’s residents will be barred from leaving home for six weeks, except for essential reasons.
Police say they are setting up a “ring of steel” around the city, with “checkpoints anytime and anywhere” to enforce the measures.
Borders between Victoria, of which Melbourne is the capital, and neighboring states closed on July 7.
PM Scott Morrison paid tribute to Melbournians’ resilience on July 8.
“The rest of the country knows that the sacrifice that you’re going through right now is not just for you and your own family, but it’s for the broader Australian community,” the prime minister said during a news conference.
Scott Morrison also said he was proposing measures to slow the return of Australian nationals from overseas.
Victoria State Premier Daniel Andrews announced the Melbourne lockdown on July 7 after the state saw 191 new infections, its highest daily number since the pandemic began.
The July 8 figure was down to 134, but still much higher than numbers in the rest of the country.
Australia has recorded almost 9,000 cases and 106 deaths from the virus.
Meanwhile, Australian media reported that passengers on a flight from Melbourne to Sydney disembarked on July 7 without being screened.
New South Wales state has banned travel from the greater Melbourne area except under exceptional circumstances, and the passengers should have been required to self-isolate for two weeks.
People will be kept to their homes and will only be able to leave for essential reasons, such as for work, exercise and shopping for food and other necessities.
Life in the age of COVID-19 means that each day is more difficult to predict than the next. Whether students and educators will return to the classroom this fall still remains uncertain. Those already planning to return should expect a different classroom setting than they left behind. Many schools are even considering staggered learning schedules, all while navigating each student’s anticipated social and emotional adjustments to a classroom environment.
Michael Horn is the founder of the Christensen Institute, a non-profit partisan think tank that promotes “disruptive innovation” for understanding society’s most pressing issues, including education. Horn recently sat down with Joel Rose, co-founder of Teach to One: Math. Rose advocates for educational reform and presents Teach to One as a logical, data-driven approach to individualized math education. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on what K-12 schools might look like this fall, Rose argues that now is the time to transition away from the factory model classroom and toward the techniques implemented by Teach to One.
What does a Teach to One: Math classroom look like?
Horn opened the interview with a question about what Teach to One: Math looks like in action. Rose describes a TTO classroom as a large open space with several stations. Each station will tackle an instructional modality. Some modalities facilitate group learning, while some facilitate one-on-one lessons. Each student is placed, according to Rose, based on “where they are and where they need to be.”
Teach to One: Math is administered by a nonprofit called New Classrooms, which is located in New York City. Every day, each student exits the classroom after completing a daily assessment. These assessments are then sent to the organization to inform the design of the next day’s personalized lessons. Since each student’s curriculum is designed on the basis of their individual strengths and weaknesses, TTO’s tactics pivot students toward mastery.
What are Teach to One: Math’s policy limitations?
Since Teach to One disrupts the norms of traditional classroom learning, its implementation faces large policy barriers. Rose discusses these policy barriers in an essay titled “The Iceberg Problem.” The essay includes a case study of a seventh grader who enters their first day of math class without remembering any skills from both fourth- and fifth-grade math. How did these skill gaps go unnoticed by previous math educators? Rose argues that state testing requires schools to prioritize assessment preparation. Test preparation means that teachers do not have time to go back and review more than a year’s worth of material. The resulting “maximum exposure to grade-level content,” Rose finds, perpetuates gaps in math education.
Rose also points out that educators tend to interpret student growth in a restrictive manner. Educators typically assess a student’s growth by comparing how said student performs on the seventh-grade standardized test compared to the eighth-grade standardized test. This, Rose believes, is “too granular.” As a result, teachers continue to teach skills that their students either do not truly know, are not ready to learn, or already know. By failing to evaluate mathematical growth adequately, students continue to fall behind.
Where does Teach to One: Math fit into an educator’s post-quarantine concerns?
It is common sense for teachers to expect wider educational gaps heading into the 2020-2021 school year than in ordinary years. Rose is hopeful that this will catalyze thinking “about learning loss much more holistically.” For schools that were already using TTO prior to stay-at-home orders, teaching math at a distance was not a difficult concept to grasp. “Their delivery model was already evolved,” Rose concludes, which created space to promote the personalization that students required to stay on track.
A student’s mathematical mastery will be harder to assess this year. “We’re not gonna know how kids did after this year,” says Rose, pointing out that many schools were not able to carry out their math curriculum as planned. In response, Rose says that timing is everything. Diagnostics will not be effective if they are implemented before students feel safe and connected at school. This might mean waiting for one, two, three, or even more weeks before beginning the math curriculum. However, waiting is necessary if students are not yet adjusted.
How did Teach to One: Math come about?
In 2011, Rose founded New Classrooms Innovation Partners, a New York-based nonprofit. New Classrooms: Innovation Partners administers Teach to One: Math (TTO) as a school-based approach that integrates multiple learning modalities. The organization assists with the implementation of algorithms and classroom-specific information to organize a daily math curriculum for 10,000 students per day. The outcome is teacher-led mathematical learning experiences catered to each student’s individualized progress.
Gaps in math education pose serious threats to college preparedness and long-term educational success. Fortunately, Teach to One was designed with these gaps in mind. At the end of every lesson, a student completes an exit slip. The student’s performance on that exit slip determines whether the student will proceed to the next lesson. This approach demonstrates the flexibility to go back and spend time filling gaps without sacrificing state-level assessment preparation.
Novak Djokovic has become the latest tennis player to test positive for the new coronavirus.
Grigor Dimitrov, Borna Coric and Viktor Troicki all revealed they have tested positive for Covid-19 after playing at Djokovic’s Adria Tour competition.
The 33-year-old world’s No 1 played fellow Serb Troicki in the first event in Belgrade.
In a post on Twitter, Novak Djokovic said it had been “too soon” to stage the tournament.
“I am so deeply sorry our tournament has caused harm,” he said.
He said the tournament had been organized with “a pure heart”, “good intentions” and a belief that they had “met all health protocols”.
“We were wrong and it was too soon,” he said.
The remaining Adria Tour events in Banja Luka and Sarajevo have now been canceled Novak Djokovic’s brother Djordje, who is a director of the tournament, has confirmed.
“Unfortunately, due to all the events that happened in the last few days, we have decided that the most important thing right now is to stabilize the epidemiological situation, as well as for everyone to recover,” he said.
A statement on Novak Djokovic’s website said: “Immediately upon his arrival in Belgrade [after the second event] Novak was tested along with all members of the family and the team with whom he was in Belgrade and Zadar. He is not showing any symptoms.”
There have been no ATP Tour events since February because of the global pandemic and the Adria Tour, which is not an ATP Tour event, was one of the first competitions to be staged since then.
The first leg in Serbia attracted 4,000 fans, and players were later pictured dancing close together in a Belgrade nightclub.
Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov played Croatia’s Borna Coric on June 20 in the second leg in Zadar, Croatia.
With Croatia easing lockdown measures, players were not obliged to observe social distancing rules and were seen embracing at the net at the end of their matches.
Pictures on the tournament’s social media site from June 19 showed Grigor Dimitrov playing basketball with Novak Djokovic, Alexander Zverev and Marin Cilic, while he also put his arm around Borna Coric before their match.
Alexander Zverev, Marin Cilic and Andrey Rublev, who also played in the Adria Tour, have tested negative, but suggested they will all now self-isolate for up to 14 days.
The ATP Tour season is set to restart on August 14 and the US Open will be held without fans from August 31 to September 13, despite some players voicing concerns about travelling to New York.
Spanish police have launched an investigation into the party. Those found to have flouted lockdown rules could be fined up to €10,000 ($11,100).
Everyone who attended the party is said to be in quarantine. Prince Joachim, the youngest son of Princess Astrid and 10th in line to the Belgian throne, is said to have mild coronavirus symptoms.
Rafaela Valenzuela, a representative of the Spanish government in Córdoba, condemned the party, calling those who attended “irresponsible”.
She said: “I feel surprised and angry. An incident of this type stands out at a moment of national mourning for so many dead.”
The party was first covered by Spanish newspaper El Confidencial, which cited a document from the Andalucian authorities but did not name the prince.
Belgian media have since confirmed with the palace that Prince Joachim was in Spain, where he remains.
Prince Joachim is known to have a long-standing relationship with a Spanish woman, reported to be Victoria Ortiz.
Spain is in the process of emerging from one of the strictest lockdowns in Europe. It outlined a four-stage plan on May 4 to start easing the lockdown, which saw children under 14 confined to their homes for six weeks.
The country said it was moving to a second phase from June 1 for 70% of Spaniards, leaving only major cities under tighter restrictions.
Spain has among the highest number of coronavirus cases and deaths in the world. As of May 30, the country had 239,228 infections and 27,125 deaths, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.
“Rather than being a human, be a humanitarian” – Kowtham Kumar
Are you pondering the importance of giving of your time and money to charitable organizations like NGOs and Non-Profits?
This quotation by Kowtham Kumar highlighted above, describes the raison d’etre of being human. Ergo, being human is to espouse humanitarian acts and principles.
What is a humanitarian?
By way of answering this question, let’s examine the following definition:
A humanitarian is defined as a“person actively engaged in promoting human welfare and social reforms, as a philanthropist.”
The new normal: Navigating the socioeconomic consequences of COVID-19
The world first heard of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, in the last days of 2019. Fast forward to May 2020, and very little is known about this virus. Consequently, scientists and medical professionals are struggling to predict the virus’s behavior.
What is internationally accepted is that one of the only ways to control its rampant spread is social isolation or social distancing. Therefore, over 50% of the world’s population is currently under a stay-at-home or lockdown order. All non-essential businesses have closed, and millions of people have either lost their jobs or been furloughed. As a result, the COVID-19 is responsible for a total shutdown of the global economy, costing the world at least $7 trillion (USD).
NGOs and non-profits like yadezra.net are still continuing to feed the vulnerable, poor, and needy during these challenging times. However, it is a challenge because they are feeling the financial strain from the economic challenges of the fallout from COVID-19. Thus, they need donations even more than before the world woke up to the “new normal.”
Reasons why donating to charities is an imperative
Now that we have established that donating to NGOs, non-profit organizations, and charities is an imperative, let’s consider two of the most important benefits of supporting NGOs and charities during this crisis.
Helping people less fortunate
It is our social, moral, an ethical imperative to help people less fortunate than ourselves. It does not matter how much we give, what matters is that we give. Many religious organizations espouse the edict of giving at least 10% of all income to a charitable organization.
The website, nonprofitsource.com, notes that “giving to religion (defined as giving specifically to congregations, denominations, missionary societies, and religious media) has consistently remained America’s single largest recipient of charitable giving.”
Thus, irrespective of what our personal beliefs are because this article’s intent is not to discuss religion, let’s consider a simple case study of giving to charity during these challenging times.
If by way of example, we use the principle of giving 10% of our income to charity, then the following figures apply:
For every $10 we earn, we only need to give $0.10 to charity.
Therefore, if we only earn $40 per month ($10 per week x 4), then the maximum amount that we need to donate to charity for a particular month is $0.40.
Statistics show that, in 2017, the median US weekly salary was $857. Thus, an average American employee earned $3428 per month ($847 x 4 weeks). Therefore, 10% of $3428 is $342.80. Thus, the maximum amount suggested based on the 10% rule is $342.80.
While this sounds like a lot of money, in the bigger scheme of things it is only 10% of your salary. And, from personal experience, it is essential to make the donation as soon as you get paid; otherwise, it is easy to spend this money on something else.
Improves our mental, emotional, and physical health
The health benefits associated with generosity include increased self-esteem, improved mood, less depression, lower stress levels, lower blood pressure, and greater happiness.
Research studies conducted by the National Institutes of Health have found that giving to charitable organizations boosts the feel-good chemicals or endorphins in your brain. Endorphins are manufactured by the hypothalamus and the pituitary glands. They act as a pain reliever and a happiness booster.
As an aside, it is interesting to note that endorphins have a similar function in your body as opioids. In other words, endorphins act as natural opioids. The human body has special receptors that bind to the synthetic opioids when taken on prescription by a medical professional to manage short-term pain. And, the combination of the opioids and the body’s receptors blocks pain signals from reaching the brain.
Consequently, the more you give and help people who are less fortunate, the more endorphins your body will manufacture, the happier you will be. And, the happier you are, the healthier you are.
It’s vital to remember that, while philanthropic behavior is essential to your health and happiness, it’s equally important to manage your budget carefully, save as much as you can, and not overspend on anything. Otherwise, you will end up in financial difficulties.
The consequences of overspending are directly juxtaposed to the positive benefits of giving and managing your finances properly. And, if you overspend, you will no longer be in the position to support charitable organizations. Thus, everyone concerned, including yourself, will lose out on the overall benefits of your charitable actions.
The FDA has authorized emergency use of the Ebola drug remdesivir for treating the coronavirus.
The authorization means the anti-viral drug can now be used on people who are hospitalized with severe Covid-19.
A recent clinical trial showed remdesivir helped shorten the recovery time for people who were seriously ill.
However, the drug did not significantly improve survival rates.
Experts have warned remdesivir – which was originally developed to treat Ebola, and is produced by Gilead pharmaceutical company in California – should not be seen as a “magic bullet” for coronavirus.
Remdesivir interferes with the virus’s genome, disrupting its ability to replicate.
During a meeting with President Donald Trump in the Oval Office, Gilead Chief Executive Daniel O’Day said the FDA authorization was an important first step.
Gilead would donate 1.5 million vials of the drug, he said.
FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn also said at the meeting: “It’s the first authorized therapy for Covid-19, so we’re really proud to be part of it.”
Emergency FDA authorization is not the same as formal approval, which requires a higher level of review.
Remdesivir did not cure Ebola, and the producing company says on its website: “Remdesivir is an experimental medicine that does not have established safety or efficacy for the treatment of any condition.”
Gilead also warns of possible serious side-effects.
However, President Trump has been a vocal supporter of remdesivir as a potential treatment for the coronavirus.
In its clinical trial, whose full results are yet to be released, the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) found that remdesivir cut the duration of symptoms from 15 days down to 11.
The trials involved 1,063 people at hospitals around the world – including the US, France, Italy, the UK, China and South Korea. Some patients were given the drug and others were given a placebo (dummy) treatment.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, who runs NIAID, said that remdesivir had “a clear-cut, significant, positive effect in diminishing the time to recovery”.
However, although remdesivir may aid recovery – and possibly stop people having to be treated in intensive care – the trials did not give any clear indication whether it can prevent deaths from coronavirus.
As much remains uncertain about the treatment regime, Gilead suggests a 10-day dosing duration for patients on ventilators and five days for patients who are not.
The FDA’s jurisdiction does not stretch overseas so the authorization only applies to US. Experts also stressed that the emergency use is not the same as full approval.
President Donald Trump has suggested he has seen evidence coronavirus originated in a Chinese laboratory.
Earlier the US national intelligence director’s office said it was still investigating how the virus began.
However, the office said it had determined Covid-19 “was not manmade or genetically modified”.
China has rejected the lab theory and criticized the US response to Covid-19.
Since emerging in China at the end of 2019, the new coronavirus has killed 230,000 people worldwide including 63,000 in the US.
The pandemic has seen at least 3.2 million people infected, a million of them Americans, since the virus spread from the city of Wuhan.
At the White House on April 30, President Trump was asked by a reporter: “Have you seen anything at this point that gives you a high degree of confidence that the Wuhan Institute of Virology was the origin of this virus?”
“Yes, I have. Yes, I have,” said President Trump, without specifying.
“And I think the World Health Organization [WHO] should be ashamed of themselves because they’re like the public relations agency for China.”
Asked later to clarify his comment, the president said: “I can’t tell you that. I’m not allowed to tell you that.”
President Trump also told reporters: “Whether they [China] made a mistake, or whether it started off as a mistake and then they made another one, or did somebody do something on purpose?
“I don’t understand how traffic, how people weren’t allowed into the rest of China, but they were allowed into the rest of the world. That’s a bad, that’s a hard question for them to answer.”
In a rare public statement, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which oversees US spy agencies, said on April 30 it concurs with the “wide scientific consensus” regarding Covid-19’s natural origins.
The statement said: “The [intelligence community] will continue to rigorously examine emerging information and intelligence to determine whether the outbreak began through contact with infected animals or if it was the result of an accident at a laboratory in Wuhan.”
It was the first clear response from American intelligence debunking conspiracy theories – both from the US and China – that the virus is a bio-weapon.
The Wuhan Institute of Virology, which was founded in the 1950s, houses China’s first Biosafety Level 4 laboratory.
Such labs handle the most dangerous pathogens for which there are few available vaccines or treatments, and one of the areas the Wuhan facility studies is coronaviruses from bats.
President Trump has recently been escalating his war of words with China over the pandemic after what officials within the president’s administration had described as a truce with Beijing.
On April 29, he suggested China wanted him to lose his re-election bid in November.
President Trump has formerly accused Chinese officials of covering up the virus early on and saying they could have stopped the disease from spreading.
He has similarly criticized the WHO and withdrawn US funding for the global body.
China’s foreign ministry, meanwhile, has accused the Trump administration of trying to distract from its own problems tackling the crisis.
The Coronavirus outbreak has affected virtually everyone on earth in some way or another, redefining social interaction, work productivity and our capacity to enjoy something as simple as the outdoors. With nationwide lockdown expected to go on for some time in countries inflicted severely by the outbreak, such as the UK and US, many people are looking at their governments and public health organisations as a source of complete truth and accountability.
Whilst research into the relationship of contracting and transmitting COVID-19 has been somewhat cloudy and inconclusive, the real facts and evidence on the virus are constantly being discovered and debated. Scientists and health professionals all over the globe are working across the clock to not just try and find a vaccine but to explore the intricate details of the virus and why it has become so deadly. Whilst this has been resoundingly applauded across society, the release of findings, guidelines and stance of governments have been an embarrassing mismatch of contradictory information.
We examine some of the claims voiced by experts and government officials regarding COVID-19 over the course of the last few months, whilst shedding light on certain lifestyle choices which could impact contracting the virus.
Clear As Mud
Let’s rewind back to the start of the year, when regular routine was operated across the globe, except in China where a newfound virus threatened to damage normality in all senses. With news bulletins partially mentioning the outbreak of this unknown virus, government officials played down the prospect of it having a catastrophic effect.
Whilst the initial hypothesis that this disease affects older people far greater than younger age groups, there’s no denying that governments miscommunication on the severity of the virus on all age groups has potentially costs thousands of lives.
Furthermore, isolation and social distancing guidelines have become an increasingly contentious and confusing issue. In the UK under the sanctioned lockdown, citizens are required to self-isolate except to:
Only go outside for food, health reasons or work (but only if you cannot work from home).
If you go out, stay 2 metres (6ft) away from other people at all times.
Despite the resounding nature of these measures, the clarity of rhetoric used can be construed in many ways. For example, it’s stressed that a person can go out to exercise once daily alone or with members of their household, but no time measures are attached. This essentially means under law, a person or family could stay outside for as long as they wish over a 24 hour period as long as they’re staying active.
As well as this, the fact that most unessential businesses have been forced to close highlights the seriousness of the situation, however construction workers are deemed to be key workers and obviously cannot conduct their work from home in the majority of circumstances. This has led many labourers having to go to work to make ends meet, whilst the 2m social distancing measure implied is nigh on impossible for many who have to work in close proximity. This complete lack of disregard for a huge sector of the economy has again put thousands of people at risk of contracting the virus.
Up In Smoke
Whilst governments and public health officials have been inconsistent in their approach to tackling the pandemic, in regards to smokers (who make up over 1 billion worldwide), the message has been resoundingly clear.
The WHO states, ‘Smokers are likely to be more vulnerable to COVID-19 as the act of smoking means that fingers (and possibly contaminated cigarettes) are in contact with lips which increases the possibility of transmission of virus from hand to mouth. Smokers may also already have lung disease or reduced lung capacity which would greatly increase risk of serious illness.’
It’s also highly evidenced that smoking causes the immune system to weaken, whilst the fact that Coronavirus is a respiratory disease clearly highlights that smoking can have huge effects on those who have contracted the virus or developed symptoms.
This resonant assertion whilst respected, doesn’t cover the borderline product of e-cigarettes. Vaping is seen by many, including PHE, NHS, Cancer Research and The British Lung Foundation as a viable harm-reducing alternative to nicotine consumption. Yet many believe vaping could transmit COVID-19, especially through vape clouds.
In line with this, Leading academic Physician and Professor of Medicine at the University of California, Dr Neal Benowitz states,” It is my understanding that exhaled e-cigarette vapor consists of very small particles of water, propylene glycol and glycerin and flavor chemicals, not droplets of saliva. The vaping aerosol evaporates very quickly, while particles that are emitted when coughing or sneezing are large particles that persist in the air for a relatively long period of time. Thus, I would not think that vapers present any risk of spreading COVID-19, unless they are coughing when they exhale the vapor.”
Whilst vaping is only recommended for smokers looking to make the switch over, now could be the ideal time for those who smoke cigarettes to change over their habit. Vape Club’s dedicated guide section provides an extensive knowledge on all aspects of vaping for those unsure of the harm-reducing benefits when compared to tobacco.
Of course, many of us can feel like we’re left out in the cold with all of the differing opinions and claims floating around. It’s essential to be able to use common sense in the majority of social situations, with a large proportion of the population across the world adhering to guidelines and ultimately taking pressure of health services.
The US passed a grim milestone, with more than a million cases of Covid-19 recorded.
There are now 3,098,391 confirmed cases worldwide and 216,160 deaths, Johns Hopkins University says.
The House of Representatives has abandoned plans to return to Washington next week. Several states, including Georgia and Texas, have pressed ahead with plans to reopen amid the infection rise.
President Donald Trump was speaking earlier at a White House event about supporting small businesses through the coronavirus pandemic.
As he closed the event, President Trump expressed his pride at the work being done by his government and tried to compare the scale of the outbreak with the Spanish Flu pandemic.
He said: “We’re going through a period of time the likes of which we’ve never seen in this country before, certainly even if you go back into 1917 – it was the worst of all time but it was also not as bad here.
“It was very bad, it was very rough – it was a bad one. But it wasn’t quite like what we’re going through right now.”
However, the Spanish Flu pandemic happened in 1918, not 1917. It also had a far higher death toll than the coronavirus pandemic has had so far.
According to Johns Hopkins University tracking, more than 50 million people died of Spanish Flu worldwide while the current death toll from the coronavirus is about 216,000.
Some 675,000 Americans died in the 1918 pandemic, while some 58,000 are thought to have died with Covid-19.
In other developments, the organizers of the Academy Awards have announced that they will bend their own rules to let films only released on streaming platforms be eligible for nomination.
Under current rules, films have to be screened in a cinema in Los Angeles for at least seven days to qualify for awards.
On April 28, Academy president David Rubin and CEO Dawn Hudson said in a statement that their commitment to theatre releases was “unchanged and unwavering” but said the pandemic has made the rule change necessary.
The Academy’s new policy is only temporary while most cinemas are closed because of coronavirus.
Many scheduled movie releases have been completely delayed by the pandemic.
According to recent figures from Johns Hopkins University, more than 200,000 people worldwide have now died with the coronavirus.
There are more than 2.8 million confirmed cases of Covid-19, the tally shows.
It comes after the US death toll passed 50,000, as Americans endure the world’s deadliest outbreak.
Chinese state media reported the first known death linked to the virus on January 11. More than 210 countries and territories have since reported cases.
Five countries have now reported death tolls above 20,000 although the way fatalities are counted varies widely.
The US, Spain and Italy have seen the highest number of reported fatalities.
France, which does include deaths in care homes in its statistics, said its toll had risen by 369 on April 25.
There have been 22,614 virus deaths in France since the start of March, but health officials say the mortality rate in hospitals is falling, and the number of people in intensive care has dropped for the seventeenth consecutive day.
The World Health Organization (WHO) says patients who have recovered from the virus may not be protected against re-infection.
Earlier this week, WHO Director General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus highlighted upward trends in Covid-19 cases in Africa, Eastern Europe, Central America and South America.
Dr Tedros said that while most of the epidemics in Western Europe appeared to be stable or in decline, for many countries the disease was just getting started.
He said: “And some (countries) that were affected early in the pandemic are now starting to see a resurgence in cases.”
One such country is Singapore, which was initially praised for its success in containing the virus, but has since seen a surge of infections linked to industrial worksites and tightly packed worker dormitories.
Elsewhere in Asia, Chinese authorities reported no new deaths for the tenth consecutive day on April 25, and South Korea had its second day without a death.
Statisticians have cautioned that a reported death toll may not always give the full picture of a country’s epidemic.
The US has seen the most coronavirus deaths of any individual country, for example, but also has a far larger population than most.
With 330 million people, the US population exceeds the total number of people living in the five largest countries in Western Europe – the UK, Germany, France, Italy and Spain.
Many European countries have reported more deaths per head of population than the US, and Europe as a whole has reported more deaths overall.
Death rates also depend on who is counted. Some countries are including deaths in care homes in their data, giving a fuller picture, whereas others only count deaths in hospital where Covid-19 has been confirmed.
American medical community has lambasted President Donald Trump for suggesting research into whether coronavirus might be treated by injecting disinfectant into the body.
The president also appeared to propose irradiating patients’ bodies with UV light, an idea dismissed by a doctor at the briefing.
Another of the president’s officials had moments earlier said sunlight and disinfectant were known to kill the infection.
Disinfectants are hazardous substances and can be poisonous if ingested.
Even external exposure can be dangerous to the skin, eyes and respiratory system.
During April 23 White House coronavirus task force briefing, an official presented the results of US government research that indicated coronavirus appeared to weaken more quickly when exposed to sunlight and heat.
The study also showed bleach could kill the virus in saliva or respiratory fluids within five minutes and isopropyl alcohol could kill it even more quickly.
William Bryan, acting head of the Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate, outlined the findings at the news conference.
While noting the research should be treated with caution, President Trump suggested further research in that area.
He said: “So, supposing we hit the body with a tremendous – whether it’s ultraviolet or just very powerful light.”
“And then I said, supposing you brought the light inside of the body, which you can do either through the skin or in some other way. And I think you said you’re going to test that too. Sounds interesting,” he continued.
“And then I see the disinfectant where it knocks it out in a minute. One minute. And is there a way we can do something like that, by injection inside or almost a cleaning?
“So it’d be interesting to check that.”
Pointing to his head, President Trump went on: “I’m not a doctor. But I’m, like, a person that has a good you-know-what.”
The president turned to Dr. Birx and asked if she had ever heard of using “the heat and the light” to treat coronavirus.
“Not as a treatment,” she said.
“I mean, certainly, fever is a good thing. When you have a fever, it helps your body respond. But I’ve not seen heat or light.”
“I think it’s a great thing to look at,” President Trump said.
Spain will allow children outside after six weeks of confinement, the country’s prime minister has announced.
Spanish children have been kept at home since March 14, under strict measures to curb the spread of Covid-19.
Now PM Pedro Sánchez aims to relax the rule on April 27 so they can “get some fresh air”.
Meanwhile, Barcelona Mayor Ada Colau, who has young children herself, this week pleaded with the government to allow children outside.
Spain has seen more than 20,000 deaths since the start of the pandemic and almost 200,000 reported cases.
In a TV briefing on April 18, PM Sánchez said Spain had left behind “the most extreme moments and contained the brutal onslaught of the pandemic”.
However, the prime minister said he would ask parliament to extend the country’s state of alarm to May 9 as the achievements made were “still insufficient and above all fragile” and could not be jeopardized by “hasty decisions”.
Another 410 deaths were reported on April 19 – fewer than the previous day. The latest death toll is well down from the peak of the pandemic, and the government allowed some non-essential workers to resume construction and manufacturing on April 13.
However, the main lockdown measures remain in place, with adults only allowed out to visit food stores and pharmacies or work considered essential. Children have been barred from going outside their homes completely.
Spain’s eight million children have already spent five weeks in confinement and there has been growing unease at the risk to their health.
The Spanish Children’s Rights Coalition has warned of mental and physical health problems for children as a result of such measures and called for boys and girls to be allowed outside to play and do some physical activity.
Barcelona Mayor Ada Colau demanded: “These children need to get out. Wait no more: Free our children!”
In a statement released on April 17, officials in Wuhan said the revised figures were the result of new data received from multiple sources, including records kept by funeral homes and prisons.
Deaths linked to the virus outside hospitals, such as people who died at home, had not previously been recorded.
According to the statement, the “statistical verification” followed efforts by authorities to “ensure that information on the city’s Covid-19 epidemic is open, transparent and the data [is] accurate”.
The statement added that health systems were initially overwhelmed and cases were “mistakenly reported” – in some instances counted more than once and in others missed entirely.
A shortage of testing capacity in the early stages meant that many infected patients were not accounted for, it said.
A spokesman for China’s National Health Commission, Mi Feng, said the new death count came from a “comprehensive review” of epidemic data.
In its daily news conference, the foreign ministry said accusations of a cover-up, which have been made most stridently on the world stage by President Donald Trump, were unsubstantiated. “We’ll never allow any concealment,” a spokesman said.
The April 17 revised figures come amid growing international concern that deaths in China have been under-reported. Questions have also been raised about Beijing’s handling of the epidemic, particularly in its early stages.
In December 2019, Chinese authorities launched an investigation into a mysterious viral pneumonia after cases began circulating in Wuhan.
The country reported the cases to the World Health Organization (WHO), the UN’s global health agency, on December 31.
However, WHO experts were only allowed to visit China and investigate the outbreak on February 10, by which time the country had more than 40,000 cases.
The mayor of Wuhan city has previously admitted there was a lack of action between the start of January – when about 100 cases had been confirmed – and January 23, when city-wide restrictions were enacted.
Around that time, Dr. Li Wenliang, who tried to warn his colleagues about an outbreak of a SARS-like virus, was silenced by the authorities. He later died from Covid-19.