Vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms: The sign in your vision you could be lacking B12

Vitamin B12 deficiency occurs when the autoimmune system attacks cells in the stomach – named pernicious anaemia. There’s a sign in your vision that you could be lacking the nutrient.

Inside the stomach there’s a protein called intrinsic factor.

Someone suffering from pernicious anaemia has an immune system that attacks cells in the stomach.

Specifically, the immune system targets cells that are responsible for making intrinsic factor.

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Usually, intrinsic factor combines with vitamin B12 – sourced from food – and travels to a part of the gut called the distal ileum.

Here, the mixture of vitamin B12 and intrinsic factor is absorbed into the body.

This enables the nutrient to benefit the body’s red blood cells, nerve cells and DNA.

With pernicious anaemia, this doesn’t happen – instead, prolonged absence of vitamin B12 leads to symptoms.

Researchers from Mahidol University, Thailand, did a case study on a young man who had some of his bowel removed.

Having suffered from gangrene at a young age, the boy had his parts of his bowel – including the ileum – cut out at 11 years old.

At the time of the study, the 19-year-old has low levels of vitamin B12 in his body.

This would make sense, as the part of the bowel where vitamin B12 is usually absorbed – the ileum – had been cut out.

He also had less than the normal number of cells in his bone marrow – called hypocellular – and the bone marrow is where red blood cells are created.

He had complained of blurred vision and his visual acuity was 5/200.

Treatment was intramuscular injections of 1,000 micrograms of cyanocobalamin – a man-made form of vitamin B12.

Four months later, the man’s visual acuity improved, as did his levels of vitamin B12 and the bone marrow returned to normal functioning.

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  • Vitamin B12 deficiency: Nine symptoms of the condition

The researchers concluded: “This is a frank case of optic neuropathy in a patient with vitamin B12 deficiency due to a massive small bowel resection.”

Symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency

The NHS confirms “disturbed vision” is one symptom caused by a vitamin B12 deficiency.

Others include depression, irritability, and changes in the way you walk and move around.

Additionally, some people may experience mouth ulcers, pins and needles, and a pale yellow tinge to the skin.

Treatment

Treatment for a vitamin B12 deficiency is injections of man-made versions of the nutrient.

This would either be hydroxocobalamin or cyanocobalamin – the latter was the treatment option for the boy in the case study.

In the UK, hydroxocobalamin is the recommended option as it stays in the body for longer.

These injections will be administered by a medical professional, such as a nurse or doctor.

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Tanner Tolbert Jokes He's Taking the 'Blame' for 'Surprise' Third Baby on the Way with Wife Jade




In their conversation with ET, the former reality stars say that Emmy "had no idea" what to expect when Jade was pregnant with Brooks, but "she gets it now. She gets that there is another kid coming."

"She is so sweet with him. I feel like they are great," she says of her daughter's relationship with her baby brother, Brooks. "She loves to make him laugh and he lives for it. He absolutely adores her, and she likes being the center of attention, so that's great for her."

Tanner told the outlet he has "a strong feeling" that baby No. 3 will complete their family — but "never say never, of course, as we have learned."

"When we first got married, we put it out in the universe that we wanted four children, so who knows," Jade added. "This might be totally out of our control. But I think three is a really good number.

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Convalescent plasma therapy for COVID-19: Why is it promising?

Some researchers and doctors have started using plasma from people recovering from COVID-19 to treat others who have developed the disease. Medical News Today spoke to Dr. Arturo Casadevall, from Johns Hopkins University, to learn more about this approach.

In the search for an effective treatment for COVID-19, an old method of fighting infectious diseases has recently resurfaced: transfusions with convalescent plasma. Plasma is a component of blood.

This method has a simple premise. The blood of people who have recovered from an infection contains antibodies. Antibodies are molecules that have learned to recognize and fight the pathogens, such as viruses, that have caused disease.

Doctors can separate plasma, one of the blood components that contain such antibodies, and administer it to people whose bodies are currently fighting an infectious disease. This can help their immune systems reject the pathogen more efficiently.

Stay informed with live updates on the current COVID-19 outbreak and visit our coronavirus hub for more advice on prevention and treatment.

Recently, researchers and healthcare professionals have been looking into the possibility of using this method to treat people with COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

In the United States, a group of researchers and doctors from 57 institutions, including Johns Hopkins University, the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, and the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, are investigating and applying convalescent plasma therapy for COVID-19.

This is a concerted initiative — called the “National COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma Project” — born after the publication of a viewpoint paper in The Journal of Clinical Investigation in March, 2020.

The paper argued for the potential merits of passive antibody therapy in the treatment of COVID-19. It was authored by immunologists Dr. Arturo Casadevall, chair of the Molecular Microbiology & Immunology Department at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and Dr. Liise-anne Pirofski, professor of Infectious Diseases in the Department of Medicine at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

To understand more about convalescent plasma therapy, its merits, its risks, and its current use in COVID-19 treatments, Medical News Today recently spoke to Dr. Casadevall.

Here is what he told us, alongside more information on the current state of convalescent plasma therapy.

A therapy ‘used for over 100 years’

So, where did the idea of using convalescent plasma, or passive antibody therapy, come from?

This notion was first introduced in the late 19th century when physiologist Emil von Behring and bacteriologist Kitasato Shibasaburou discovered that they could use antibodies present in serum — another blood component — to fight the bacterial infection diptheria.

Since then, doctors have used passive antibody therapy, on and off, at least since the 1930s to treat or prevent both bacterial and viral infections, including forms of pneumonia, meningitis, and measles.

When we asked him how the idea of using convalescent plasma therapy to treat COVID-19 came about, Dr. Casadevall told us: “I have worked on antibodies my entire life professional life […], and I knew that convalescent plasma — or sera […] — was being used for over 100 years.”

“In fact, the first Nobel Prize was given [to Behring] for the use of serum to treat diphtheria, so I knew the history.” This long history of successfully using this method against different infectious diseases suggested that it might also be effective against the disease caused by SARS-CoV-2.

“I knew that in epidemics when you don’t have a lot of things, […] the blood of those who recover can have antibodies that can be used [as treatment],” Dr. Casadevall explained.

“So it’s an old idea, it’s been around for a long time, and I think that my contribution was, in fact, to alert my friends, authorities, that this [therapy] could be used in this epidemic.”

Recent research has already shown that people who have contracted SARS-CoV-2 have developed antibodies that can react to the coronavirus.

“There [are] now multiple studies that have shown that when people recover from the virus, they have in their blood neutralizing antibodies that are able to kill the virus,” Dr. Casadevall also told MNT.

Although “[p]eople differ greatly in the amount of antibodies that they make — some make large amounts, some make small amounts — […] the good news is that most have [them],” he added.

Given the willingness of people who have recovered from COVID-19 to donate blood, the method seems feasible right now. In fact, some doctors are already using convalescent plasma therapy in some cases.

Settling the matter of safety

In the U.S., the National COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma Project have already been trailing this method as widely as possible.

Dr. Casadevall told MNT that “in the United States, we have close to 12,000” people who have received the convalescent plasma treatment for COVID-19.

Based on the data obtained from a little less than half of this cohort, Dr. Casadevall and his colleagues have concluded that this approach is safe for the patients receiving treatment — the first step necessary before ascertaining the method’s effectiveness.

The team has reported these findings in a preprint that they have made available online.

“[On May 14], we put out a paper on the first 5,000 [patients] showing that [this therapy] was relatively safe. That’s the first step,” Dr. Casadevall explained.

“You want to show safety. And then the question of efficacy will be coming in the next few weeks. Right now, the data [is] being analyzed. We are hopeful,” he also told MNT.

“And,” he added, “especially since [the] Italians are reporting already that the use of convalescent plasma was associated with a drop in mortality [due to COVID-19]. We are hopeful that similar insights [will] come from the analysis of the data in the United States.”

In Europe, the European Blood Alliance — a non-profit association — report that 20 countries have initiated the use of convalescent plasma in the treatment of COVID-19 or are considering it for the near future. These include Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom, some of the European countries most aggressively hit by SARS-CoV-2.

Demonstrating this procedure’s safety is essential because of the risks inherent to the transfusion of blood or blood components.

“[One] of the issues that we were worried about 2 months ago [when the initiative started] was whether the administration of antibodies would make things worse. Even though there’s very little precedent about that, you have to always worry that your intervention can do harm. Fortunately, we did not see any of that, so we are now focusing on efficacy.”

– Dr. Arturo Casadevall

There is also the issue that adding more liquid volume into a person’s vascular system could lead to a risky overload, Dr. Casadevall explained.

“The concerns when you give plasma [include the fact that] rarely, you can get a transfusion reaction, [and] rarely, you could have a volume overload. What do I mean by that? I mean that […] you’re putting volume into blood, and if it goes in too rapidly, it could [lead to an] overload [of the] cardiac system,” he said.

“So when we looked at the experience of the first 5,000 [patients], we were very reassured that we did not see any major problems.”

Worries and hopes going forward

While different centers in the U.S. are already using convalescent plasma in the treatment of COVID-19, Dr. Casadevall expressed a worry that the therapy is not as effective as it might be because most patients receive it too late in the course of the disease.

Aside from its use in clinical trials, the Food And Drug Administration (FDA) have approved the administration of this form of therapy only in emergency situations to patients in a severe stage of the disease, which may not be soon enough.

“Often, physicians are using the plasma on patients that are very ill, and we don’t really know whether that’s going to be as effective as if you gave it early in the course of the disease,” Dr. Casadevall pointed out.

“Here in the United States, patients have been treated when they’re intubated, but we think that is relatively late. Many physicians are trying to move it earlier, that is, when people begin to decompensate,” he added.

But even where there is a will, getting this treatment to the patients who need it sooner rather than later is not always straightforward. “Some of the problem […] is that it takes time,” Dr. Casadevall explained.

“Because let’s say the doctor orders plasma and people are getting worse. It sometimes takes a while for the plasma to arrive. Some hospitals have it on site, others have to get it from blood banking centers.”

Despite these obstacles, the use of convalescent plasma therapy is so attractive to healthcare practitioners because they can access it and use it now.

Unlike with vaccines, whose development takes time, or experimental medication, which needs to go through several different stages of testing before it can obtain formal approval, this approach allows doctors to use what is already there — the blood of those who have recovered from the illness — to treat hospitalized patients.

“People often get confused [about the difference between convalescent plasma therapy and some vaccines] because they both involve antibodies,” Dr. Casadevall told MNT.

But while vaccines also operate on the premise of stimulating a person’s immune system to block or kill the virus, they do not use “ready made” antibodies, and testing them for safety and efficacy could take a year or more.

“When you get plasma, someone else is giving you the antibodies, and you get them immediately,” Dr. Casadevall explains.

Going forward, he thinks that doctors could use this therapy alongside other options as they gradually become available.

“This [therapy] will provide something that is immediately available. I think what you [will] see in the United States [will be its] continuous use. I hope that there will be better options down the line. For example, [I and my colleagues] are trying to make antibodies from convalescent plasma that may become available in a few months. There is also a hope for monoclonal antibodies in the future and various antivirals.”

– Dr. Arturo Casadevall

“[C]onvalescent plasma provides something that can be used today with standard knowledge and standard procedures […] But we do hope that better options will be available in the future,” he reiterated.

For live updates on the latest developments regarding the novel coronavirus and COVID-19, click here.

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Should you fly yet? An epidemiologist and an exposure scientist walk you through the decision process

We don’t know about you, but we’re ready to travel. And that typically means flying.

We have been thinking through this issue as moms and as an exposure scientist and infectious disease epidemiologist. While we’ve decided personally that we’re not going to fly right now, we will walk you through our thought process on what to consider and how to minimize your risks.

Why the fear of flying?

The primary concern with flying—or traveling by bus or train—is sitting within six feet of an infected person. Remember: Even asymptomatic people can transmit. Your risk of infection directly corresponds to your dose of exposure, which is determined by your duration of time exposed and the amount of virus-contaminated droplets in the air.

A secondary concern is contact with contaminated surfaces. When an infected person contaminates a shared armrest, airport restroom handle, seat tray or other item, the virus can survive for hours though it degrades over time. If you touch that surface and then touch your mouth or nose, you put yourself at risk of infection.

Before you book, think

While there is no way to make air travel 100% safe, there are ways to make it safer. It’s important to think through the particulars for each trip.

One approach to your decision-making is to use what occupational health experts call the hierarchy of controls. This approach does two things. It focuses on strategies to control exposures close to the source. Second, it minimizes how much you have to rely on individual human behavior to control exposure. It’s important to remember you may be infectious and everyone around you may also be infectious.

The best way to control exposure is to eliminate the hazard. Since we cannot eliminate the new coronavirus, ask yourself if you can eliminate the trip. Think extra hard if you are older or have preexisting conditions, or if you are going to visit someone in that position.

If you are healthy and those you visit are healthy, think about ways to substitute the hazard. Is it possible to drive? This would allow you to have more control over minimizing your exposures, particularly if the distance is less than a day of travel.

You’re going, now what?

If you choose to fly, check out airlines’ policies on seating and boarding. Some are minimizing capacity and spacing passengers by not using middle seats and having empty rows. Others are boarding from the back of the plane. Some that were criticized for filling their planes to capacity have announced plans to allow customers to cancel their flights if the flight goes over 70% passenger seating capacity.

Federal and state guidance are changing constantly, so make sure you look up the most recent guidance from government agencies and the airlines and airport you are using for additional advice, and current policies or restrictions.

While this may sound counterintuitive, consider booking multiple, shorter flights. This will decrease the likelihood of having to use the lavatory and the duration of exposure to an infectious person on the plane.

After you book, select a window seat if possible. If you consider the six-foot radius circle around you, having a wall on one side would directly reduce the number of people you are exposed to during the flight in half, not to mention all the people going up and down the aisle.

Also, check out your airline to see their engineering controls that are designed or put into practice to isolate hazards. These include ventilation systems, on-board barriers and electrostatic disinfectant sprays on flights.

When the ventilation system on planes is operating, planes have a very high ratio of outside fresh air to recirculated air – about 10 times higher than most commercial buildings. Plus, most planes’ ventilation systems have HEPA filters. These are at least 99.9% effective at removing particles that are 0.3 microns in diameter and more efficient at removing both smaller and larger particles.

How to be safe from shuttle to seat

From checking in, to going through security to boarding, you will be touching many surfaces. To minimize risk:

Bring hand wipes to disinfect surfaces such as your seat belt and your personal belongings, like your passport. If you cannot find hand wipes, bring a small washcloth soaked in a bleach solution in a zip bag. This would probably freak TSA out less than your personal spray bottle, and viruses are not likely to grow on a cloth with a bleach solution. But remember: More bleach is not better and can be unsafe. You only need one tablespoon in four cups of water to be effective.

Bring plastic zip bags for personal items that others may handle, such as your ID. Bring extra bags so you can put these things in a new bag after you get the chance to disinfect them.

Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer as often as you can. While soap and water is most effective, hand sanitizer is helpful after you wash to get any parts you may have missed.

Once you get to your window seat, stay put.

Wear a mask. If you already have an N95 respirator, consider using it but others can also provide protection. We do not recommend purchasing N95 until health care workers have an adequate supply. Technically, it should also be tested to make sure you have a good fit. We do not recommend the use of gloves, as that can lead to a false sense of security and has been associated with reduced hand hygiene practices.

If you are thinking about flying with kids, there are special considerations. Getting a young child to adhere to wearing a mask and maintaining good hygiene behaviors at home is hard enough; it may be impossible to do so when flying. Children under 2 should not wear a mask.

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China's COVID-19 vaccine 'safe' in world's first completed human trial

China’s coronavirus vaccine is deemed ‘safe’ and triggers an immune response in world’s first completed human trial of 108 volunteers – but it may not ‘neutralize’ infection, expert says

  • Chinese CDCs and universities tested a candidate vaccine in 108 people
  • With results published Friday, it’s the first human trial to be completed in the world
  • It was found safe after no serious side effects were seen in any of the volunteers, though some had mild reactions, such as fever, pain and muscle aches 
  • Immune responses were seen in most patients, though more research is needed to determine if its enough to prevent infection 
  • A US vaccine expert told DailyMail.com he’s concerned, however, that the Chinese shot didn’t trigger enough ‘neutralizing’ antibodies to block the virus
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

A coronavirus vaccine trialled in 108 healthy volunteers in China safely triggered an immune response in the participants, a new study reveals. 

Antibody production seen in the patients is a good sign that the vaccine may protect them from infection, but it’s too soon to say for sure. 

The Chinese vaccine was the very first shot to enter clinical trials earlier this year – months ahead of human testing for the UK’s lead candidate jab – made by Oxford University – or the American lead-contender, made by biotech Moderna. 

Most of the people dosed with the vaccine had immune responses, although their levels of antibodies thought to neutralize the virus were relatively low. Researchers saw a stronger ramp-up of other immune compounds, called T-cells, that might also help fight the infection off. 

There were side effects – primarily pain, muscle aches and fever – but they subsided within 28 days, and no serious or dangerous side effects were reported. 

Promising results from the completed first human trial China’s Ad5 coronavirus vaccine place it at the front of the global race for a shot, though only by a slim margin, an expert told DailyMail.com. 

Chinese researchers have become the first to complete a human trial for a coronavirus vaccine, which was safe and triggered an immune response in participants, but a US expert worries the shot didn’t produce enough ‘neutralizing’ antibodies to block infection (file) 

The study, conducted by the collaborating universities and local CDC’s in China, recruited 108 patients ranging in age from 18 to 60, and split them into three groups the received, respectively, low, middle and high doses of the vaccine 

At the study’s start, none of the patients – who had never been infected with coronavirus – had neutralizing antibodies against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. 

Within two weeks, researchers started to see signs that their levels of antibodies were ramping up ‘moderately,’ and peaked 28 days after the volunteers got their shots, according to the study published Friday in The Lancet.

Levels of neutralizing antibodies – a type of immune cell that binds to a virus and may be able to completely block infection – were more than twice as high among the participants who got the high dose shot, compared to those given the low dose.  

While any increase in neutralizing antibodies was a significant gain over the subjects’ starting levels (zero), Dr Peter Hotez, a vaccine expert at Baylor College of Medicine in Texas, was unimpressed with the levels produced in the trial participants. 

‘The one thing not we’re not seeing is a really high neutralizing antibody titer,’ he told DailyMail.com. 

‘The question is whether we’re going to need that and whether these vaccines will be adequate to stimulate an immune response.’ 

Patients in the trial did have more robust increases in their levels of T cells, immune cells that perform a search and destroy function, rather than the blocking work done by neutralizing antibodies. 

More studies will be needed to determine whether the vaccine can protect against infection in practice. 

Encouragingly, none of the 108 patients had serious side effects. 

More than 80 percent did have some side effects, but these were mostly mild or moderate, like muscle aches, fever and pain. Most subsided within a couple of weeks, and almost all resolved by the end of the study. 

Moderna is working closely with the NIH to develop its vaccine, and is leading the US race 

The US government has placed an order for 300 million doses of AstraZeneca’s shot, developed with Oxford University 

‘That’s pretty good,’ Dr Hotez says. 

Side effect profiles may be particularly important to getting people to get vaccinated against coronavirus once one is available. 

A Reuters poll published Thursday found that a quarter of Americans were not very or not at all interested in getting a vaccine for the virus that has infected more than 1.6 million people in the US. 

Many of them said they were concerned the vaccine would be riskier than the disease itself because development is moving so fast. 

So far, the US government is supporting the development of 14 candidate vaccinations through its Operation Speed initiative. 

It’s unclear if the US is coordinating with the Chinese vaccine developers. 

In the US and UK, vaccines from Moderna and Oxford University (collaborating with AstaZeneca) are in human trials, and have shown promising early results. 

China’s completed trial puts it ahead – but not by much, says Dr Hotez. He says that all of the vaccines will need to go through large, Phase III trials before they become available, bringing their timelines close together.  

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America Ferrera Opens Up to Katie Lowes About Anxiety She Felt Towards End of Second Pregnancy



Pregnant America Ferrera Is "Thinking of All You Other Mamas" amid Coronavirus Pandemic

Adds the actress, "For me, I could feel my heart rate, my anxiety, my blood pressure go up. And also not being able to close my eyes and go to sleep at night because I'm sitting there with all these news stories swirling in my head and just realizing very early on I had to be very disciplined about what I let in because it just doesn't serve you. Especially in a time where you just don't need that added stress when you're pregnant."

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants star announced the birth of her second child, daughter Lucia Marisol, on Instagram for Mother's Day.

"LUCIA MARISOL WILLIAMS arrived on May 4th to give me my Mother's Day hugs and kisses herself. Mama, Dada & Big Brother are over the moon to welcome her bright light to our family," Ferrera wrote along with a photo of her newborn's tiny hand.

The star and her husband Ryan Piers Williams are also parents to son Sebastian, a.k.a. Baz, who turns 2 on Monday.

"The most exquisite little creature graced us with her presence on May 4, 2020. Please meet the newest member of our family, Lucia Marisol Williams. She came just in time for Mother's Day. Everyone is healthy and happy!" Williams, 39, wrote on Instagram.

Now, as a mother of two, Ferrera says her outlook on body image has shifted — for the better.

"I've struggled with body image my whole life," she says. "I feel like I've gotten to such a place, like f— that s—. What a waste of time and energy. F— the patriarchy and f— what my body is supposed to look like and also, f— you even more when I just brought life into the world and then my body is supposed to look like something. F— all of it."

Ferrera adds, "I was so in that place, that like post-baby [place], I didn't really struggle with it because I was just like, 'I f—ing dare someone to tell me to lose weight!' "

Katie Lowes Is Staying in Shondaland! Scandal Star Partners for New Podcast All About Motherhood

Speaking with PEOPLE, Lowes, 38, says she's grateful the third season of Katie's Crib is being released during this time — a time where everyone could all use a little support.

"I feel so lucky to have the guests we've had, whether they be experts or mom friends who are going through the same thing," says the Scandal actress, who shares 2½-year-old son Albee with husband Adam Shapiro.

"It's just very helpful in this time. I talked to America five days before she gave birth to her daughter," says the actress. "There are a lot of pregnant women who are not only going through the anxieties and fears of childbirth, you had a global pandemic on top of it. The anxiety is there."

"It's a very open, honest talk," Lowes adds of the third season. "We have amazing guests and I just feel really proud of the work and really proud of the Katie's Crib community that we've built. I hope it provides moms … feel less alone [and] get a little bit of advice should they need it and at the very least or most, they laugh."

Continues Lowes, "I just feel like it's really important to find joy and laugh at yourself, your kid and your family because at the end of the day we're just covered in pee, poop and spit-up. The whole ride is wild!"

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Coronavirus bombshell: Hidden factors that play role in contracting deadly virus exposed

UCL Intensive Care Medicine Professor Hugh Montgomery claimed multiple factors explain why coronavirus cases differ from country to country. Professor Montgomery, who currently represents the Intensive Care Society Charity, insisted genes, pollution, culture and how data is recorded all played a role in the overall number of official coronavirus cases. During an interview with Express.co.uk, Professor Montgomery highlighted many of the risk factors that explained why coronavirus may differ between areas.

Professor Montgomery said: “There are other differences you have got to consider that account for different levels of mortality.

“It is a little unfair, in some cases, to compare Vietnam, that maybe only had four or five intensive cases, to Britain or somewhere else.

“There are demographic factors as well.

“We know obesity is a risk factor for severe disease and if you look at a place like Vietnam, the bulk of the population is very thin.

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“They eat healthy vegetable-based diets and take more physical exercise so are very lean.

“It could be simple factors such as that.”

Professor Montgomery also noted that air pollution may play a role in the spread of coronavirus and the severity if contracted.

He said: “Factors like obesity combined with air pollution which may well be playing a part in the transmission of the virus.

“It may also be making the severity worse as well as other risk factors like diabetes, high blood pressure and so forth.”

Mr Montgomery concluded that it was difficult to pinpoint one true cause of the spread of the virus as there are many factors to consider.

He closed by saying: “It is very hard to judge how much it is genes, how much it is the nature of the people, how much of it is cultural and how much of it is down to reporting.”

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Professor Montgomery has also warned if Britons do not take responsibility for their actions, a second coronavirus wave could overwhelm the NHS.

While the Government is confident the NHS can now deal with the number of people with COVID-19, Professor Montgomery claimed the NHS is still recovering from the first wave and dealing with a tsunami of new cases could prove to be difficult.

The charity Professor Montgomery represents, The Intensive Care Society, is currently working to provide essential wellbeing and support to the intensive care community through the coronavirus pandemic. Any donations to this cause are appreciated during this difficult time period. 

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Mouthwash Can’t Replace a Mask for Stopping the Spread of COVID-19

  • Experts are looking at mouthwash to see if it can help stop the spread of COVID-19.
  • In labs, mouthwash may help kill the new coronavirus.
  • Other experts disagree and point out that the coronavirus can quickly multiply in the throat even after using mouthwash.
  • Masks and physical distancing are still the best ways to prevent spreading or developing COVID-19.

Frequent handwashing, following social or physical distancing rules, and using face coverings in mass transportation and shops are still some of the best ways to protect against the new coronavirus.

However, a new study finds that ingredients in commercially available mouthwash may damage the virus that causes COVID-19 in a way that makes it harmless. The report, recently published in the journal Function, suggests that there’s an “urgent need” to test the effectiveness of this approach in clinical trials.

Previous research has shown that interfering with the lipid envelope represents an effective strategy to target similar viruses. Although experts are not recommending people trade in masks for mouthwash.

“Information has emerged highlighting how important the throat and salivary glands are as a site of virus replication in early disease and also in people who don’t have symptoms and how they seem to be involved in transmission of infection,” lead author Valerie O’Donnell, PhD, director, division of infection and immunity and co-director of the Systems Immunity Research Institute at Cardiff University, told Healthline. “It seemed worthwhile to check if there was any potential for direct antiviral targeting of virus in the throat via damaging the membrane.”

SARS-CoV-2 has a vulnerable spot

According to researchers, the virus strain that causes COVID-19, called SARS-CoV-2, is an enveloped virus with a fatty (lipid) membrane.

This envelope comes from the infected cell, or host, in a process called “budding off,” according to the National Cancer Institute. During this process, newly formed virus particles become “enveloped” or “wrapped” in an outer coat made from a small piece of the cell’s membrane. The envelope may help a virus survive and infect other cells.

“We found that there is evidence from other people’s research that enveloped viruses like influenza, herpes simplex, and other coronaviruses are sensitive to common ingredients in mouthwash, but this evidence is from test-tube experiments — not from studies on viruses in the mouth, where their response may be different, and where little work has been done,” explained O’Donnell.

However, she cautioned, “It’s important to note that studies haven’t been done on this coronavirus because it’s new.”

Infection begins in the nose and throat

SARS-CoV-2 infection is believed to happen through respiratory droplets, and the virus particle is viable in aerosols for up to 3 hours.

“Dampening transmission by any means could be a preventative measure, and we don’t have any ways to do this currently,” said O’Donnell.

“CDC have recommendations for dentists where patients use mouthwash before procedures for preventing transmission of respiratory disease already,” she continued. But she added that this is based on theoretical benefit, not benefit proven through clinical trials, which haven’t been conducted yet.

O’Donnell concluded, “This is where research needs to be done, first to find out if these ingredients can inactivate this virus in the throat, and then if they can, whether this could reduce transmission.”

Mouthwash could have an unexpected effect on health

Post-exercise hypotension (PEH) is a common physiological process that lowers blood pressure after “acute exercise.”

But how this happens is still not fully understood.

Recent research finds that interfering with the bacteria in your mouth may affect your cardiovascular health. The study examined whether the “nitrate-reducing activity” of bacteria in our mouths is a key trigger for PEH.

Scientists used a randomized, double-blind, and crossover study design, which means neither the testers nor the participants knew who received mouthwash or a placebo.

Findings suggest that the participants who used mouthwash experienced significantly higher blood pressure after exercising than the placebo group, reducing an important benefit of cardiovascular exercise.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that mouthwash is bad for you or doesn’t provide important benefits.

COVID-19 researcher weighs in

“There is potential for mouthwash with alcohol to reduce, maybe slightly, short-term spread of virus to close household contacts. The alcohol might kill virus in the mouth surfaces temporarily — so might a shot of whiskey, rum, or tequila,” said Eric Bortz, PhD, assistant professor of biology, University of Alaska Anchorage.

But Bortz, who is currently researching the genome sequencing of COVID-19, pointed out, “If someone is actively infected, the infected cells in the throat will soon produce more virus.”

He added that the upper and lower respiratory tissues are very often infected and can produce transmissible virus. “So for most people with coronavirus, mouthwash will be of limited value in preventing spread of COVID19.”

“Face coverings [masks], social distancing, and limiting contact are the best public health measures. But good oral hygiene is good for health, so it’s good to maintain it [mouthwash use] anyway!” Bortz advised.

It kills the virus, but it’s not the best defense

Bortz agreed that anything that kills the virus in a test tube might kill the virus in the mouth, “But that doesn’t mean you should use it as a first line of defense. For example, bleach kills virus — but don’t drink it or wash your mouth with it because it might kill you too!”

“The coronavirus survives inside of cells mainly in the respiratory tract, not just the mouth,” he emphasized.

Mouthwash won’t cure anyone of COVID-19, concluded Bortz, “or prevent infection by coronavirus.” But he remarked that good oral hygiene is a part of good health: “So for adults non-alcohol or alcohol-based mouthwashes are great, but for children, no alcohol.”

Mouthwash company Listerine has urged consumers not to use mouthwash to fight COVID-19 during the pandemic. “LISTERINE mouth rinse has not been tested against the coronavirus and is not intended to prevent or treat COVID-19,” the company said in a statement.

The bottom line

Research finds that mouthwash ingredients have a potential role in the fight against COVID-19. They say that commercially available mouthwash could damage the new coronavirus in such a way to render it harmless.

Some scientists emphasize that since the throat is a major area of infection for COVID-19, then strategies, like mouthwash, that reduce the concentration of virus in mucous membranes could contribute to reduced transmission risk.

Other experts disagree and point out that the coronavirus can quickly multiply in the throat even after using mouthwash, and that masks and social or physical distancing are still the best ways to prevent spreading or developing the infection.


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Cooking more at home? Diverse food cultures can expand heart-healthy menu

For many in the United States, dinner means a large portion of meat and two sides, usually a starch and a vegetable. Think steak, potatoes and peas, or chicken, carrots and rice.

“That’s a very American and northern European idea—a meal which stems from a large amount of meat being available, and also wealth,” said Amy Bentley, a professor of food studies at New York University.

But trying different dishes from diverse cultures can open up a new menu of heart-healthy food options and go-to meal ideas. And now, with more people making their own meals as they stay home to limit the spread of the coronavirus, what better time than World Day of Cultural Diversity to try something different for dinner?

Meat is just an accent on the dish in many other parts of the world, said Bentley, author of “Inventing Baby Food: Taste, Health and the Industrialization of the American Diet.” Vegetables, including legumes like black beans or chickpeas, make up a medium portion of the plate. A starch like rice or polenta usually makes up the largest portion. Spices add flavor.

Think an Indian curry or Chinese stir-fried chicken and vegetables.

If you’re cooking the dish for the first time, Bentley recommends making a smaller amount or going light on spicier ingredients to get used to the flavors.

Keep moderation in mind when sizing up portions, too, said Ronaldo Linares, a New Jersey-based chef and restaurant consultant who teaches cooking classes. Linares, who comes from a Cuban-Colombian background, wrote the cookbook, “Sabores de Cuba,” a recipe collection of classic Cuban dishes with a healthy, diabetes-friendly twist.

Eating one big meal has the potential to cause fluctuations in blood sugar, Linares said. Research shows fluctuations in blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol could put people at higher risk for heart attack or stroke.

Using fresh ingredients and avoiding processed foods can add interesting flavors, he added. “If you are sticking to the guidelines of traditional cooking, it’s going to be naturally healthy.”

Instead of store-bought salsa, Bentley suggested making homemade salsa with chopped-up tomatoes, onion, cilantro, jalapenos and a pinch of salt. If a recipe calls for butter, Linares suggested substituting avocado oil or olive oil, which are high in heart-healthy monounsaturated fats.

Both Linares and Bentley noted that for some families, a lack of access to affordable, fresh ingredients can hamper the ability to eat diverse or healthier foods. Food choices also can be influenced by the exposure to ads for sugary drinks and fast food, regardless of one’s racial or ethnic background.

Just 1 in 10 adults meet the daily recommendation of having at least 1 1/2 to 2 cups of fruit and 2 to 3 cups of vegetables as part of a healthy eating pattern, according to a 2017 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Ultimately, we need a better food environment,” Bentley said. “It’s too much to expect the individual to be solely responsible because so much of this is about the food that’s available in the culture as well as socioeconomic issues.”

Some general nutritional guidelines can fit into meals within any cultural preference, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. They include making half your plate fruits and vegetables, and adding calcium-rich foods to each meal.

“It’s better to talk about healthy approaches to eating through actual food rather than nutrients,” Bentley said, “and not get hung up on portions and the minute mechanics that only adds to people’s stress.”

The American Heart Association suggests a healthy dietary pattern to reduce heart disease risk factors, such as obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure. Plant-based and Mediterranean diets are singled out in AHA dietary guidelines.

Linares picked Peruvian cuisine when asked to highlight another food culture for people looking to try heart-healthy but flavorful alternatives. His sample meal starts with ceviche, a seafood dish.

“So, let’s say a ceviche of cooked octopus. It’s super tender, they char it, serve it cold, toss it in some lime juice and some herbs,” he said. “Then you have a sweet potato puree and add some aromatics and seasoning. Add some corn, some pickled onions and you put it together in this beautiful bowl.

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Pregnant Hilaria Baldwin Takes 'Baths Morning and Night' to Help with Feeling 'Overwhelmed'

Hilaria Baldwin might be a busy mom of four, juggling parenting and homeschooling her children amid the coronavirus pandemic as they continue to social distance together, but she still finds the time for self-care.

In a video for Verizon Media/Yahoo's "Reset Your Mindset" virtual event, the fitness instructor and Mom Brain podcast co-host, 36, reveals a few of the ways she is "spending 'me time' " during the crisis.

"I close myself off in my bathroom and I love to exercise and do breath work," she says. "I take baths morning and night — that really, really helps me."

Of course, sometimes she is joined by her "little people" — sons Romeo Alejandro David, 2, Leonardo Ángel Charles, 3½, and Rafael Thomas, 5 next month, plus daughter Carmen Gabriela, 6½ — but she doesn't mind, and just appreciates "the warm water on [her] skin."

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Pregnant Hilaria Baldwin on "Nonstop" Day While Social Distancing with 4 Kids amid Coronavirus

Hilaria, who is sheltering in place with husband Alec Baldwin and their kids while pregnant with their fifth child together, says that when she's having a tough time mentally, "I always think about how much worse it could be."

"How much worse it could be all of a sudden makes my situation seem not as bad, and with that, it pulls me up a little bit," shares The Living Clearly Method author, "and allows me to have a lightness and a strength to be able to attack my problem."

But she certainly has her moments when she just needs to let it out, too. "I cried the other morning, and it was over a bunch of really silly little things," Hilaria recalls. "And I don't typically do that, and my kids were [taken aback]."

"I wasn't freaking out on them — I just had tears," she clarifies, laughing. "There were just tears because I was so overwhelmed."

Hilaria — who suffered a miscarriage last April and another at four months along in November, while expecting a baby girl — recently chatted with PEOPLE about how she and her family are looking at the big picture amid the global health crisis.

"Alec and I were complaining about it a week or so ago and Carmen was asking about it and I said, 'Carmen, nobody wants to be doing this right now. It's frustrating for us all to have to stop our normal lives,' " she said in late March. "And she's like, 'I don't know what you guys are talking about, I love this. I love spending time with you. All I want to do is spend time with Mommy and Daddy and my brothers.' "

"And it kind of stopped us in our tracks and our mouths were open and we were like, 'Okay, let's go with that mentality, because that sounds so much better than complaining, which is what we've been doing!' " Hilaria added.

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments. PEOPLE has partnered with GoFundMe to raise money for the COVID-19 Relief Fund, a GoFundMe.org fundraiser to support everything from frontline responders to families in need, as well as organizations helping communities. For more information or to donate, click here.

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