COVID-19 spreads to rural India, villages ill-equipped to fight it

NEW DELHI (Reuters) -Hopes that India’s rampaging second wave of COVID-19 is peaking were set back on Thursday as record daily infections and deaths were reported and as the virus spread from cities to villages that were poorly equipped to cope.

Government modelling had forecast a peak by Wednesday in infections that have overwhelmed the healthcare system, with hospitals running out of beds and medical oxygen.

A record 412,262 new cases and 3,980 deaths were reported over the past 24 hours, taking total infections past 21 million and the overall death toll to 230,168, Health Ministry data showed.

“This temporarily halts speculations of a peak,” Rijo M John, a professor at the Indian Institute of Management in the southern state of Kerala, said on Twitter.

While the capital New Delhi and several other cities have been hardest hit so far, limited public healthcare, including a dearth of testing facilities, means the threat is grave in rural areas that are home to nearly 70% of the 1.3 billion population.

In the town of Susner in Madhya Pradesh state, patients were being treated outdoors under trees, on blankets on the ground.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government welcomed U.S. President Joe Biden’s announcement that he would support waiving intellectual property rights for COVID-19 vaccinations.

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Such a waiver would make vaccines more widely available, although it could take months for the World Trade Organization to hammer out any deal.

VACCINE PRODUCTION STRUGGLES

While India is the world’s biggest vaccine maker, it is struggling to produce enough doses. Its two current vaccine producers will take two months or more to boost monthly output to more than 110 million doses from 70 million-80 million.

Modi stressed on Thursday that Indian states must keep up vaccination rates and that healthcare workers involved in the inoculation campaign must not be diverted to other tasks, the government said in a statement after a meeting between the prime and his top officials.

Modi has been widely criticized for not acting sooner to suppress the second wave, after religious festivals and political rallies drew tens of thousands of people in recent weeks and became “super spreader” events.

Several Indian states have imposed various levels of social restrictions to try to stem infections, but the federal government has resisted imposing a national lockdown.

Slideshow ( 5 images )

The southern state of Kerala announced on Thursday it will impose nine days of curbs on movement from Saturday.

In the office of a Hindu crematorium in Delhi, the floor and shelves were overflowing with earthen pots, plastic packets and steel containers filled with the ashes of people who have died from COVID-19.

Practising Hindus collect the ashes of the dead a few days after the funeral for immersion in a river or sea, one of the rituals that they believe lead to salvation of the soul.

Slideshow ( 5 images )

“Our lockers are full. We cannot store any more ashes. We used to get around 40 COVID-19 bodies a day. We are now telling relatives to take the ashes with them on the same day,” Pankaj Sharma, a manager at the crematorium, told Reuters.

Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar acknowledged the healthcare system “stands exposed” after 75 years of under-funding by successive governments since independence.

“It’s very easy to say today that we should have put in more money. Now that I am in government … I can say it is not as easy as it sounds,” Jaishankar said on Wednesday.

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Embryo gene editing in IVF can have potential major impacts on humanity

A global conference on human fertility has been warned of huge societal and ethical challenges regulating advances in gene editing in assisted reproduction.

Speaking at the 10th Congress of the Asian Pacific Initiative of Reproduction (ASPIRE), Dr Catherine Racowsky said embryo gene editing was a growing likelihood among latest advances in IVF with potential major impacts on humanity.

“The international community is working hard to develop regulatory guidelines regarding alterations in human genetics, but big questions remain about how and where they will be applied,” she said.

Dr Racowsky, University Consultant of Hospital Foch in France, Professor Emerita of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Harvard Medical School in the United States and Immediate Past President of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, was a keynote speaker at the ASPIRE Congress, which is being presented in virtual format – https://aspire2021.cme-congresses.com – to fertility specialists in over 100 countries.

She said the first reported birth from a genetically modified embryo was reported in China in 2018 creating a global uproar for violating the international position on human gene editing.

Dr Racowsky said pre-implantation genetic testing (PGT) for embryo selection in IVF is already an accepted test to identify embryos at risk for genetic disorders being passed on to offspring.

New frontiers in germ line gene editing and mitochondrial replacement therapy (MRT) can also be applied to reduce or prevent genetic diseases being passed on to offspring. However, genetic testing also paves the way for embryo selection for desirable traits in offspring including height, eye color, athletic ability and IQ.

Mitochondria are tiny powerhouses within cells. Inherited from the mother via the egg, they turn consumed sugars, fats and proteins into chemical energy to support life, and they enhance the ability of cells to resist infection or injury.

Mitochondria carry their own DNA, but when there are genetic defects, or some form of damage occurs, transmission of serious conditions to an offspring may result.

MRT involves replacing or reducing the effect of mutated mitochondria by transferring the chromosomes from an affected egg into an egg with healthy mitochondria from a donor to allow for a healthy pregnancy and baby.

Dr Racowsky said there was a need for continuing wide ranging debate on ethical, societal and religious issues related to these technologies to avoid the possibility of changes in the genetic make-up of Homo sapiens.

“Alterations in the human germ line are likely to be introduced, but there are potential major impacts on humanity,” she warned.

“Huge scientific, clinical, financial and societal hurdles have been overcome in the 43 years since the world’s first IVF baby was born.

“But the emergence of new technologies including mitochondrial replacement therapy and embryo gene editing present important new challenges and concerns.”

Dr Racowsky said artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies were gaining traction in assisted reproduction, for example in selection of the best embryos for transfer in IVF.

We are in the early days in this field and we need to be careful that these new technologies are adequately validated”

Dr Racowsky, University Consultant of Hospital Foch in France

ASPIRE, the Asia Pacific Initiative on Reproduction, is a unique task force of clinicians and scientists involved in the management of fertility and assisted reproductive technology (ART) throughout the region, which contains about 60 per cent of the world’s population.

The ASPIRE Congress continues in virtual format until Sunday 9 May.

Source:

ASPIRE 2021 Virtual Congress

Posted in: Genomics | Life Sciences News

Tags: Artificial Intelligence, Baby, DNA, Embryo, Eye, Fertility, Gene, Genetic, Genetics, Gynaecology, Hospital, IVF, Machine Learning, Medical School, Medicine, Mitochondria, Obstetrics, Pregnancy, Reproduction, Traction

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Dental phobia: How to overcome a fear of the dentist – 6 tips

Chris Evans recalls 'traumatic experience' of visiting the dentist

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The general rule says we should all visit the dentist every six months but the NHS site explains the time between check-ups can vary from three months to two years, depending on how healthy your teeth and gums are and your risk of future problems. If you’re too scared to go to the dentist and it has been too long since your last visit, you need to force yourself to go. Express.co.uk chatted to Dr Kailesh Solanki, advisory dentist at Dental Phobia and Dr Martina Hodgson, dentist & Invisalign doctor at The Dental Studio to find out their top six tips to overcoming a fear of the dentist.

Experienced dentist

First things first, make sure you’re going to the right dentist for you.

Dr Solanki said: “If you can, ensure that your dentist is experienced in treating nervous patients.

“Dentophobia is very common and there’s no need to be embarrassed. Your dentist should take the time to talk over your fears and suggest how treatment could be adapted to accommodate your phobia.

“This might include mild sedation or using the wand technique instead of the traditional syringe, to deliver anaesthetic slowly; minimising the risk of feeling uncomfortable.”

Be on time

Being late will exacerbate your anxiety, but there’s no need to be more than five or 10 minutes early.

Dr Solanki said: “Although you need to arrive in good time for your appointment, try to ensure that you’re not exceptionally early.

“Arriving shortly before your appointment will ensure you don’t have to sit for too long in the waiting area, with your tension increasing by the minute.”

Arrive relaxed

Don’t do anything before the appointment that will make you feel more stressed, instead, you should try and relax.

Dr Hodgson said: “Start the relaxation process early. Before your appointment, you could try either doing an activity which makes you happy such as clothes shopping.

“Or enjoy a hot bath or even have a massage, so you come to your appointment already relaxed.”

Distract yourself

If you’d rather not think about what’s going on in the moment, it’s perfectly okay to distract yourself.

Dr Solanki said: “If you prefer not to know what’s going on, playing catchy music through headphones can be a great distraction, both from the noise of the equipment and the treatment taking place. Why not make your own dental playlist?

“Some dental clinics provide their own music or even a TV screen on the ceiling which has proven to relax many patients.”

Dr Hodgson added: “Try distracting yourself with an object you’ve brought in specifically, such as a stress ball, a charm bracelet or a fidget spinner.

“By focusing your touch sense on feeling the object in your hand, this may help to distract you from the treatment taking place in your mouth.”

Speak up

If you can’t distract yourself and you’d rather a continuous monologue from the dentist, tell them!

Dr Hodgson said: “Some patients are soothed by being able to maintain a degree of control whilst having treatment.

“For those individuals, a constant commentary by the dentist, explaining what each instrument does, what is happening and why, can be very helpful.”

Lavender

You can’t exactly have a soothing drink or do some yoga during your appointment, but you can use aromatherapy to stay calm.

Dr Hodgson said: “You can use your sense of smell to help you relax.

“Bring some lavender pillow spray and spray it on your top or on your wrist to help you calm down when you feel tense and bring about a sense of safety and wellbeing.”

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Three U.S. lawmakers seek to use part of COVID stimulus money for opioid crisis – Axios

FILE PHOTO: Rep. Abigail Spanberger speaks when U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken testifies before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs on The Biden Administration’s Priorities for U.S. Foreign Policy on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC., U.S., March 10, 2021. Ting Shen/Pool via REUTERS

(Reuters) – A bipartisan trio of U.S. lawmakers is asking Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen for latitude to use some of President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus stimulus package for addressing the opioid crisis, Axios reported on Wednesday bit.ly/2RtTx4O.

Democratic Representatives Abigail Spanberger and David Trone, along with Republican Representative David McKinley, are teaming up in the appeal, the report added. A letter will be sent to Yellen in relation to the matter on Thursday.

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G7 foreign ministers say will work to expand COVID-19 vaccine production

FILE PHOTO: The word “COVID-19” is reflected in a drop on a syringe needle in this illustration taken November 9, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

LONDON (Reuters) – The Group of Seven foreign ministers pledged on Wednesday to work with industry to expand the production of affordable COVID-19 vaccines, but stopped short of calling for a waiver of intellectual property rights of the pharma firms.

“We commit to working with  industry  to facilitate expanded manufacturing at scale of affordable COVID-19  vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics and their component parts,” the G7 foreign ministers said in a joint statement after a meeting in London.

The ministers said the work would include “promoting partnerships between companies, and  encouraging voluntary licensing and tech transfer agreements on mutually agreed terms”.

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Covid vaccine side effects: The lesser-known after effect symptoms caused by the vaccine

James Martin discusses problems getting his coronavirus vaccine

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The unprecedented vaccine rollout effort to help with the Covid pandemic has generated a stream of data about the possible side effects of each vaccine. What are the lesser-known side affects you need to know about?

Swollen lymph nodes

As more people are getting vaccinated, doctors are seeing an influx of women making mammogram appointments after noticing swollen lymph nodes in the arm region where they got vaccinated, according to ABC News.

Two days after getting the second Pfizer vaccine, Julie Mazenko felt a golf-ball size lump in her armpit.

She explained: “It was kind of painful and I touched and noticed that it was full of fluid.”

She then noticed a second swollen node in her neck and a third in the other arm.

READ MORE: Covid vaccine update: Third jab to be offered to over-50s in the autumn

Dr Laura Esserman is the director of UCSF’s Breast Care Center and says Julie is not alone.

They’re getting an influx of calls from women who are confusing swollen lymph nodes after the vaccine for signs of cancer.

“The lymph nodes when they get swollen, if you have an infection, are just doing their job. In the case of a vaccine, they are manufacturing the antibody for your body which is what you want,” said Dr Esserman.

Most people get their vaccine in the shoulder area which is a part of the body with around 20 – 40 lymph nodes in that region.

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Fatigue and headaches

The latest data from ZOE Covid Symptoms Study app looked at self-reported symptoms from 627,383 people after a jab between 8 December and 10 March.

The data found one in four people experience ‘mild, short lived’ side effects that mostly peaked within 24 hours and lasted one or two days.

The most common symptom was a headache, reported by eight percent and 13 percent after the first and second Pfizer dose, and 23 percent after the first AstraZeneca dose.

This was followed by fatigue, among eight percent and 14 percent of participants after the first and Pfizer dose, and 21 percent after the first AstraZeneca dose.

Reported side effects of COVID-19 vaccines have mostly been mild to moderate and have lasted no longer thana few days.

Typical side effects include pain at the injection site, fever, fatigue, headache, muscle pain, chills and diarrhoea.

The chances of any of these side effects occurring after vaccination differ according to the specific vaccine.

 Individuals should alert their local health providers following vaccination if they experience any unexpected side effects or other health events – such as side effects lasting more than three days.

Less common side effects reported for some COVID-19 vaccines have included severe allergic reactions such as anaphylaxis; however, this reaction is extremely rare. 

Side effects were more likely after the first dose of the AstraZeneca jab – with 13.5 percent of participants reporting symptoms after their first Pfizer dose, 22 percent after the second Pfizer dose and 34 percent after the first AstraZeneca dose, it also found.

Participants who’d previously had Covid-19 were also three times more likely to have side effects after the Pfizer vaccine and twice as likely after the AstraZeneca jab.

In addition, side effects were more common among people under 55 years of age and among women.
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Prediabetes can boost a person's chance of major cardiovascular events

People with prediabetes were significantly more likely to suffer a heart attack, stroke or other major cardiovascular event when compared with those who had normal blood sugar levels, according to research being presented at the American College of Cardiology's 70th Annual Scientific Session. Researchers said the findings should serve as a wake-up call for clinicians and patients alike to try to prevent prediabetes in the first place.

"In general, we tend to treat prediabetes as no big deal. But we found that prediabetes itself can significantly boost someone's chance of having a major cardiovascular event, even if they never progress to having diabetes," said Adrian Michel, MD, internal medicine resident at Beaumont Hospital-Royal Oak, MI, and lead author of the study, which he said is one of the largest to date. "Instead of preventing diabetes, we need to shift focus and prevent prediabetes."

Prediabetes is a condition in which the average amount of sugar in the blood is high but not high enough to be diagnosed as Type 2 diabetes. While Type 2 diabetes is a well-known, leading risk factor for heart attack, stroke and blockages in the heart's arteries, the role of prediabetes has been less clear. Yet prediabetes is fairly common. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 34 million Americans–just over 1 in 10–have diabetes, and another 88 million–approximately 1 in 3–have prediabetes.

This study revealed that serious cardiovascular events occurred in 18% of people with prediabetes compared with 11% of people with normal blood sugar levels over a median of five years follow-up. The relationship between higher blood sugar levels and cardiovascular events remained significant even after taking into account other factors that could play a role, such as age, gender, body mass index, blood pressure, cholesterol, sleep apnea, smoking and peripheral artery disease.

Based on our data, having prediabetes nearly doubled the chance of a major adverse cardiovascular event, which accounts for 1 out of 4 deaths in the U.S. As clinicians, we need to spend more time educating our patients about the risk of elevated blood sugar levels and what it means for their heart health and consider starting medication much earlier or more aggressively, and advising on risk factor modification, including advice on exercise and adopting a healthy diet."

Adrian Michel, MD, Internal Medicine Resident, Beaumont Hospital-Royal Oak, MI

Of particular concern was the finding that even when patients in the prediabetes group were able to bring their blood sugar level back to normal, the risk of having a cardiovascular event was still fairly high. Events occurred in just over 10.5% of these patients compared with 6% of those with no diabetes or prediabetes.

"Even if blood sugar levels went back to normal range, it didn't really change their higher risk of having an event, so preventing prediabetes from the start may be the best approach," Michel said.

This single-center, retrospective study included data from 25,829 patients treated within the Beaumont Health System in Michigan between 2006 and 2020. Patients were then split into either the prediabetes or control group based on at least two A1C levels five years apart; the control group included patients who maintained a normal hemoglobin A1C during the study. A total of 12,691 patients and 13,138 were included in the prediabetes and control groups, respectively. Participants ranged in age from 18 to 104 years. All patients were followed for the 14-year study period and researchers used international classification of disease codes or diagnostic codes to determine whether a major adverse cardiovascular event occurred.

The relationship between prediabetes and events were strongest among males, Blacks and people with a family history of cardiovascular disease or personal risk factors for heart disease. People who were overweight had the highest rates of cardiovascular events among all patients, even more than those who were obese, which is something Michel said needs to be studied further.

Prediabetes is thought to play a role in heart health because elevated glucose levels in the blood can damage and cause inflammation within the vessels. This causes injury to the vessels in the body and can lead to narrowing of the vessels and ultimately cardiovascular injury, Michel said.

The study findings are an important reminder for adults to know their blood sugar numbers, especially as prediabetes usually has no symptoms. As with diabetes, prediabetes is diagnosed based on results from blood sugar tests, including an A1C, which reflects someone's average blood sugar for the past two to three months; a fasting plasma glucose test, which measures your blood sugar after not eating or drinking for at least eight hours beforehand; and/or an oral glucose tolerance test, which checks how well the body processes sugar after drinking a sweet drink given by the clinician. Prediabetes is suspected with an A1C between 5.7-6.4%, fasting blood sugar of 100-125 mg/dl, or an oral glucose tolerance test of 140-199 mg/dl, according to the American Diabetes Association.

More research is needed to validate these findings.

Source:

American College of Cardiology

Posted in: Medical Research News | Medical Condition News

Tags: Blood, Blood Pressure, Blood Sugar, Body Mass Index, Cardiology, Cardiovascular Disease, Cholesterol, Diabetes, Diagnostic, Diet, Education, Exercise, Fasting, Glucose, Glucose Test, Heart, Heart Attack, Heart Disease, Hemoglobin, Hospital, Inflammation, Medicine, Peripheral Artery Disease, Prediabetes, Research, Sleep, Sleep Apnea, Smoking, Stroke, Type 2 Diabetes

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The Genetics of Asthma

Asthma is a chronic condition characterized by lung airway inflammation that is caused by both genetic and environmental factors.

Asthma is a chronic inflammatory condition affecting the airways of the lungs that is caused by increased airway responsiveness and reversible airway obstruction. This leads to symptoms of chest tightness, wheezing, coughing, and shortness of breath.

When these symptoms occur (usually suddenly), it is known as an asthma attack. Reliever inhalers (normally blue) can be used as effective and quick emergency treatments to combat asthma attacks. However, if emergency inhalers are not available, or medical attention is not immediately sought, asthma attacks can be life-threatening and 3 people die every day in the UK due to untreated asthma attacks.

The worldwide prevalence of asthma has been increasing and continues to rise across the world. More specifically, asthma rates in urban areas are increasing more than in rural areas. Many of the causes of asthma may be attributed to environmental factors such as smoking, air pollution, climate change, but also increasing evidence points towards specific genetic factors that may directly cause asthma in families or predispose individuals to later-onset asthma – especially in combination with environmental factors.

Image Credit: Lightspring/Shutterstock.com

Genetics of asthma

Almost half of all people affected by asthma have a genetic susceptibility – either inherited genetic mutations or single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) which increase the risk of developing asthma especially in combination with certain environmental factors.

For example, people with no family history of asthma have a 5% risk of developing asthma. Having a sibling or a parent with asthma increases this risk to 25%, having both parents with asthma increases this risk to 50%, and having a monozygotic twin increases the risk to 75%. This clearly illustrates a strong genetic basis for asthma risk. The latter also highlights that asthma is not a purely genetic disease and the environment plays an important role in determining asthma risk too (otherwise the risk would be 100% with a monozygotic twin).

Where genes play a strong role as compared to the environment would be primarily in early-onset asthma. Having a family history of asthma usually results in earlier onset disease thus genes may be implicated in the age at onset of disease. Furthermore, the severity of the disease may also be uniform in families e.g., more severe asthmatic parent leading to a severely asthmatic child. Specific genes may increase the risk of allergic asthma (most common) whereas others are involved in non-allergic asthma (rarer but tends to be more severe and usually occurs later in life).

Genes involved in asthma

Most genes implicated in asthma are related to inflammation/modulation of the immune system, or to do with lung physiology. To date, over 100 such genes have been identified – with more being identified each year. These genes include specific cytokines (inflammation/immunity), Toll-like receptors, major histocompatibility complexes (MHC), receptors, cysteine leukotriene metabolic pathway, airway hyperresponsiveness, lung function as well as some other genes.

What is asthma?

Specific genes commonly implicated in asthma include:

  • ORMDL3 (ORMDL Sphingolipid Biosynthesis Regulator 3) is a gene that is strongly associated with early-onset asthma – leading to high levels of IgE.
  • HLA-DQ(A1/B1) is the αβ heterodimer of type MHC class II found on antigen-presenting cells, involved in autoimmune conditions including coeliac disease and diabetes mellitus type 1. Mutations within this gene are involved in late-onset asthma.
  • ADAM33 (A Disintegrin and Metalloproteinase 33) is expressed strongly in bronchial smooth muscle cells and lung fibroblasts and is involved in airway hyperresponsiveness and decreased lung function.
  • Filaggrin is a gene involved in the maintenance of skin barriers and mutations are typically involved in atopic dermatitis & ichthyosis Vulgaris. Having mutations in this gene usually increases the risk of skin conditions, but also increases the risk of asthma and hay fever on top of those.
  • Other commonly implicated genes include (non-exhaustive list):
    • IL1RL1 – Interleukin 1 Receptor Like 1 (receptor)
    • IL33 – Interleukin-33 (cytokine)
    • SMAD3 – SMAD Family Member 3 (intracellular signal transducer protein)
    • IL2RB – Interleukin 2 Receptor Subunit B (receptor subunit)
    • SPINK5 – Serine Peptidase Inhibitor Kazal Type 5 (multidomain serine protease inhibitor)
    • VDR – Vitamin D Receptor (receptor)
    • DPP10 – Dipeptidyl Peptidase Like 10 (membrane protein)
    • PHF11 – Ph.D. Finger Protein 11 (Ph.D. type zinc finger)
    • HLA-G – Human Leukocyte Antigen G (MHC)
    • IL13 – Interleukin-13 (cytokine)
    • GPR15 – G Protein-Coupled Receptor 15 (receptor)
    • TLR2/4/6/9/10 – Toll-Like Receptors 2, 4, 6, 9 & 10 (receptors)

Many of these genes are involved in inflammation, immunity, and lung function. Mutations or polymorphisms to any of these genes compromise their normal function thus leading to dysregulated immune/inflammatory responses (i.e., exaggerated response), or remodeling of the airways decreasing lung function, or increasing hyperresponsiveness.

Collectively they contribute either to causing earlier-onset asthma, or predisposing adults to developing asthma later in life in combination with certain environmental factors (such as smoking, air pollution, dust mites, or pollen) or combination with other conditions such as dermatitis.

In summary, asthma is a complex multifactorial condition that has many causes – both environmental and genetic. Having a family history of asthma increases the risk of asthma thus suggesting a strong genetic basis. Certain genes may only predispose individuals to asthma (later-onset/environmentally triggered), however, other genes may be directly causative of asthma – particularly early-onset or that which is more severe (typically running in families). Knowing what genes cause asthma or increase the risk of asthma is important in the development of novel therapies and treatments.

References

  • Huo & Zhang, 2018. Genetic Mechanisms of Asthma and the Implications for Drug Repositioning. Genes (Basel). 9(5):237. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29751569/
  • Thomsen, 2015. Genetics of asthma: an introduction for the clinician. Eur Clin Respir J. 16;2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26557257/
  • Jindal, 2015. Genetic basis of asthma. Indian J Med Res. 142(6):640-3. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26831411/

Further Reading

  • All Asthma Content
  • Asthma
  • Childhood Asthma
  • Signs of Asthma Attack
  • Asthma Symptoms
More…

Last Updated: May 4, 2021

Written by

Dr. Osman Shabir

Osman is a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the University of Sheffield studying the impact of cardiovascular disease (atherosclerosis) on neurovascular function in vascular dementia and Alzheimer's disease using pre-clinical models and neuroimaging techniques. He is based in the Department of Infection, Immunity & Cardiovascular Disease in the Faculty of Medicine at Sheffield.

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Parents excited over prospect of virus shots for children

Parents excited over prospect of virus shots for children

After more than a year of fretting over her 13-year son with a rare liver disease, Heather Ousley broke into tears when she learned that he and millions of other youngsters could soon be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine.

“This day is the best day in the history of days!!! I love this day!!!” she texted, joining other parents and educators in welcoming the news that the Food and Drug Administration is expected to authorize Pfizer’s vaccine by next week for children ages 12 to 15.

Ousley, who is president of the school board for the 27,000-student Shawnee Mission School District in Kansas, plans to get her 13- and 15-year-olds promptly vaccinated and then celebrate with ice cream. They have been learning from home with their younger brother since the start of the outbreak.

Pfizer is also anticipating the FDA will endorse use of its vaccine in even younger children sometime this fall. And results are expected by the middle of this year from a U.S. study of Moderna’s shots in 12- to 17-year-olds.

Officials are hoping that extending vaccinations to children will drive down the nation’s caseload even further and allow schools to reopen with minimal disruption this fall.

It could also reassure parents and teachers alike. While children rarely get seriously ill from the coronavirus, then can still get sick and spread it to others.

“I don’t even think we realized how much energy is spent on worrying until we are able to set aside the worry, and then thinking about what this means for all of our kids in the district,” Ousley said.

Pfizer in March released preliminary results from a study of 2,260 U.S. volunteers ages 12 to 15, showing there were no cases of COVID-19 among fully vaccinated children compared with 18 among those given dummy shots.

That is welcome news for Robin and Aaron Perry of Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, who have five boys, ages 5 to 17. Their oldest, Cooper, has been battling leukemia and contracted COVID-19 in November, in what his mother described as a “terrifying” time for the family. The disease spread to the rest of the family.

They all pulled through, and Cooper and his parents have all since been vaccinated. But his mother can’t wait for her 15-year-old, Reece, and 12-year-old, Tucker, to get their shots so their brother is as protected as possible.

“Our personal situation, it feels like more security around Cooper with a compromised immune system,” Robin Perry said. “It’s just being part of the solution. That’s what excites me the most. It’s an added level of protection. Maybe you can take a deeper breath.”

Educators have already embraced vaccines for students 16 and up, with some scheduling vaccine clinics during school hours and dangling prize drawings and other incentives.

In New York’s Erie County, a prom-themed vaccine clinics were held this past weekend, including one with a tropical feel where health care workers wore grass skirts and 16- and 17-year-olds went home with gift bags of masks and hand sanitizer. Similar efforts are expected to draw in 12- to 15-year-olds.

Dan Domenech, executive director of AASA, The School Superintendents Association, said the anticipated authorization to vaccinate younger students would help make parents feel more comfortable to send their children back to classrooms and ease concerns among some teachers.

“Say you have a class where every student is vaccinated and so is the teacher. That becomes a very different environment,” Domenech said.

“Schools were very pleased when the CDC came out with the 3-foot spacing as opposed to the 6-foot spacing, because that immediately allowed them to have more students in school at one time. This will have a similar effect,” he said. “If now you can have a significant population of your students in middle schools and high schools vaccinated, that makes it even safer for greater numbers of students to be in school.”

Seventy-four-year-old Pat Shepard, a retired Spanish teacher from Lincoln, Nebraska, who has worked as a substitute during the outbreak, is eager to see eligibility expand, saying students are increasingly resisting wearing masks.

“You are starting to see more and more of them wearing them down below their nose because they are just tired of it,” she said. “And then, too, they want to get out and do more things.”

Keri Rodrigues, a co-founder of the education advocacy group the National Parents Union, said she rushed out to get vaccinated after becoming eligible but has more trepidation about immunizing her oldest son, who is 13.

She plans to go ahead with it, though, in part because he is demanding it.

“He has cabin fever and he wants to get out,” explained Rodrigues, who lives near Boston.

The group’s survey from March of 1,100 parents around the country found that others are also conflicted. Forty percent planned to get their children vaccinated immediately, 21% eventually and 24% never, and the remaining 15% were unsure.

“Obviously parents are torn right now because you are watching your kids really go through an emotional struggle, especially our teens,” she said. “I think we are all taking a leap of faith, but I think what we have to do is trust science in this moment.”

President Joe Biden said Tuesday that if the FDA authorizes the use of Pfizer’s vaccine in children as young as 12, the administration is prepared to ship doses to 20,000 pharmacies around the country and directly to pediatricians.

Coy Marquardt, associate executive director of Iowa’s teachers union, said his 14-year-old son is excited to get vaccinated and has been asking for months when he would be eligible. Marquardt said that because of vaccine hesitancy, it doesn’t look as if herd immunity is going to be achieved anytime soon.

“That makes it even more important to expand the use to 12- to 15-year-olds, including my son, just to protect him,” he said.

Tom Rosenberg, president and CEO of the American Camp Association, which accredits 3,200 camps and works with about 12,000 others, said he has ben deluged with messages since the news broke.

Last year, 40% of day camps and 82% of overnight camps didn’t operate, but many were gearing up to reopen this summer, with masks and socially distancing, he said. He said the vaccine would offer another layer of protection and might persuade some hesitant parents to sign up their children.

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Can’t Stop Munching But Want To Make The Weight? These Weight Loss Snacks Have Got You Covered

Snacks are becoming an essential aspect of diet, and everyone often has a snack or two daily. Some people use snacks to cover for their lack of time to get a proper breakfast, while others use snacks to keep the mouth busy and the stomach satisfied. When it comes to snacks, getting it wrong could be harmful to your health. The rate at which snacks are consumed daily could impair your health if not eaten properly. Whether you do it while watching a movie or to satisfy your guilty pleasure, the quick snacks you grab from time to time could go a long way in affecting the state of your health.

Eating healthy is essential for a healthy life. Hence, we have come up with a list of healthy snacks that you can enjoy to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Hard-Boiled Eggs

Eggs are for everyone, and they can be eaten at any time of the day. Eggs possess an abundance of branched-chain amino acids, providing a lot of muscle-building bang for your buck. Boiled eggs can be quick snacks anytime, either at home, school, or work.

Yogurt

The traditional mucky yogurt typically has even more protein than its western counterpart and a creamy texture that makes it feel more like dessert than a healthy snack. Greek yogurt is made by pouring yogurt on a paper cloth to strain away the liquid, so deliciously thick Greek-style yogurts can contain twice as much protein as regular versions, supplying up to 23 grams of protein per cup. It also contains a significant number of gut-friendly bacteria and bone-building calcium.

Chocolate

Chocolate is number one on the all-time guilty pleasure list. Everyone loves chocolate for its melting abilities and delicious taste. Chocolate makes people happy because it contains hormones that brighten mood. Dark chocolate is stuffed with at least 60 percent cocoa and has been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease.

Tomato Juice

Aside from its great taste, tomato juice contains less than half the sugar found in orange juice. Lower-sodium options help reduce the risk of water retention. Tomato juice is very natural and is 100 percent vegetable juice and not a blend made with sugary fruit juices and sweeteners. In a study published in Nutrition Journal, athletes who sipped antioxidant-rich tomato juice had less post-exercise inflammation than those who didn’t, which could speed up recovery.

Baked Chips

Fried potato chips usually contain a high amount of oil, which increases the LDL cholesterol level and is quite harmful to the heart. Fried potato chips can be replaced with baked chips. Baked chips contain much less fat and provide the body with protein, and they are easy to integrate into the daily diet.

Strawberries

Among all types of berries available, strawberries are commonly agreed to be the most delicious and supply the least amount of sugar, making them a great option for satisfying a yearning for a snack. Strawberries are a stellar source of vitamin C, which strengthens the immune system, helps the eyes, and makes the skin glow beautifully.

Milk

Milk remains a basic and primary source of protein for the body. Milk contains minerals that make the bones and teeth stronger and it also provides the body with disease-fighting antibodies. Milk will help you absorb the fat-soluble nutrients like vitamin D present in it.

Protein Bars

If you’ve been searching for a healthy and convenient snack that is both nutritious and delicious, then protein bars is the answer.  Protein bars provide the body with the proper amount of nutrients, and they can conveniently fit into yur daily plans.

Meat

From burgers to ribs to chicken wings, meat is consumed as snacks by lots of people. Meat is very high in protein, and lean meat that contains less fat can be a very healthy snack for your body.

Oatmeal

Grains are not just for breakfast – they can be eaten anytime. Oats are a good source of filling fiber, and adding almond butter offers mono- and poly-unsaturated fats that are satiating and heart-healthy.

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