Two major warning signs you’re lacking the vitamin found on your face

PMQs: Boris Johnson urged to introduce vitamin D treatment

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Vitamin B12 is a crucial ingredient for the healthy running of one’s body, as it’s needed to make red blood cells. Signs of a deficiency can develop very slowly but there are two major warning signs found on your face including facial neuralgia and jaundice.

Pain on the face or facial neuralgia is one warning sign of low levels of B12 to look out for in the face, according to The Thyroid Patient Advocacy.

It continued: “The pain is usually felt on only one side of the face at a time.

“This pain varies so much that it would be difficult to describe all the possibilities.

“It can be a dull pain in the cheek bone right underneath an eye.

“It can also be a sharp shooting pain across the forehead, sometimes coming downward from the scalp to the edge of the nose by the eye.

“This can be excruciating but is usually fleeting.”

A study published in MD Edge Neurology found that vitamin B12 deficiency may cause isolated facial neuralgia with sensations of a decrease in touch and pain, as well as numbness on the affected side.

“It was somewhat unexpected that vitamin B12 deficiency can cause isolated facial neuralgia,” said Dr Jitendra Baruah, a neurologist.

He continued: “Treatment for facial neuralgia is sometimes very difficult, and patients may often go into multimodalities treatment without much success.”

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Those lacking B12 may also notice the colour of their face is more yellow. 

The whites of the eyes may also appear less white and more yellow.

The reason for this colour change in the face is due to the body’s red blood cell production being affected.

When the body lacks B12, it is not able to make red blood cells as easy.

People with a B12 deficiency often look pale or have a slight yellow tinge to the skin and whites of the eyes, a condition known as jaundice.

This happens when a lack of B12 causes problems with your body’s red blood cell production.

Due to the low levels of healthy red blood cells, leading to a type of anaemia called pernicious anaemia.

Symptoms of pernicious anaemia may include diarrhoea, loss of appetite, and jaundice.

How should I respond to these symptoms?

You should see a GP if you’re experiencing symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency, the NHS says.

“These conditions can often be diagnosed based on your symptoms and the results of a blood test,” explains the health body.

It’s doubly important for vitamin B12 deficiency to be diagnosed and treated as soon as possible.

“Although many of the symptoms improve with treatment, some problems caused by the condition can be irreversible if left untreated,” warns the NHS.

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How Watching Too Much TV Really Affects Your Health

There’s really nothing like an unfettered Netflix binge when you need to unwind, and doing this once in a while is probably more cathartic than harmful. But what happens to your body when most of your days entail answering “yes” to the dreaded pop-up question “Are you still watching?” 

Experts classify binge-watching as watching more than three hours of TV in a single sitting (via Everyday Health). And if you’re from the United States, you’re more likely than almost anyone else to be guilty of doing this. In fact, a third of Americans between 18 and 35 years old do this regularly, and Netflix metrics show that Americans tend to finish an entire television series in less than a week.

Studies have shown that there are different types of binge watchers, ranging from occasional to habitual, meaning that while some will only engage in three or more hours of TV watching once in a while, others do it regularly. As you might expect, like most things that are better in moderation, it is those who are classified as “habitual bingers” that tend to suffer the most consequences.

How too much TV hurts your body

The first way bingeing TV can be harmful is due to the sedentary nature of the activity. For the most part, while we are viewing hours of TV, we are sitting on our couches or lounging in bed. Further, we are less engaged mentally and physically while lounging and consuming entertainment than we are while sitting at a desk, working. This is the difference between active and non-active sitting.

Non-active sitting, which is what most of us do while watching TV, has been linked to 25 percent higher body mass index (BMI) and also higher body fat in young adults. It even contributes to the occurrence of metabolic syndrome according to the Journal of Behavioral Medicine. Another issue that crops up with TV bingeing is that while we watch, we often snack, and not always on healthy foods. We are all guilty of having vegged out watching TV with a bag of chips in our lap.

The issue is, if we eat chips while paying attention to what we are eating, we are likely to eat less of them. However, when we eat while watching TV, it is usually “distraction eating,” which means we aren’t paying attention to our actual level of hunger or the portions we are consuming. So, we just keep eating. Distraction eating is directly associated with consuming more food and being overweight, per the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Need to sleep? Shut off the TV

Watching TV right before bed can actually have a negative impact on both quantity and quality of your sleep (via Reverie). Once again, Americans are the worst about this; a whopping 90 percent of us admit to watching something on a screen in the hour before bed. Interestingly, 60 percent of us also report some type of sleep issue. Are the two related? Maybe.

Our bodies and brains just weren’t built for this screen-related behavior. All screens are backlit, and so when we engage with them in the hour before bed, we confuse our brains into thinking it’s daytime. Studies have shown that looking at screens in the hour before bed reduces the secretion of the hormone melatonin by over 20 percent (via Applied Ergonomics). Melatonin is the hormone that helps to make us sleepy. Also, watching TV engages our minds in a way that makes us want to stay up and watch the rest of the episode or just one more. In this way, watching TV before bed encourages us to stay up later than we otherwise might (via Health).

Further, according to Buffer, doing anything in bed other than winding down to sleep (like doing work, answering texts, eating, or watching TV) over time sends the message to our minds and bodies that bed isn’t necessarily for sleep, and so we might find it harder to fall asleep than if we automatically associate crawling into bed with dozing off by reserving our bedrooms for that purpose.

Too much TV can affect your mental health, too

And let’s not forget our mental health. According to Everyday Health, binge-watching TV can become a substitute for social interaction and can lead to social isolation. This can happen in a cycle; people who are stuck inside may turn to the TV for company and entertainment, and at first it helps to alleviate the loneliness. But eventually, the desire to actually interact meaningfully with other actual people can decrease, because they start to feel that the TV is sufficient company and that their needs are being met. 

This also relates to another mental health issue that can come of too much TV bingeing: addiction. In the same way that some people can experience potentially addicting things but only use them occasionally (like alcohol, gambling, etc.) while others become dependent, habitual TV bingers can become addicted to the behavior. The pleasure centers of the brain are stimulated in a way that is calming and joy-inducing when we watch a show we enjoy. While most of us can enjoy that feeling and then go about the rest of our lives, others become dependent on TV to help them feel happy and relaxed, and this addiction can interfere with their ability to live a normal and healthy life. 

So, at the end of the day, no one is telling you to give up your favorite shows! We are just reminding you that like all good things, moderation is key to enjoying all the wonders Netflix has to offer without damaging your health or well-being.

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India Covid variant: Two reasons why new variant found in UK raises major concerns

Coronavirus 'double mutation' variant found in UK

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Figures published by Public Health England (PHE) show there is a new coronavirus variant proliferating on UK shores. There have been 73 cases detected in England and another four in Scotland of the new Indian variant, also known as B.1.617. It is thought to be behind a tsunami of cases being recorded in India. 

The variant raises particular alarm bells because it has undergone a “double mutation”.

Mutations are part of the natural course of viruses, but this latest strain has undergone two mutations, which could make it more resistant to antibodies and more infectious.

One of the mutations – L452R – has been detected in a variant circulating in California.

The other variant – E484Q – shares some of the characteristics of the mutated spike protein seen in the South African variant, and some others.

But there are also differences in the genome and this uncertainty raises legitimate concerns over vaccine effectiveness.

The government said that an analysis of the samples collected from the western state of Maharashtra showed “an increase in the fraction of samples with the E484Q and L452R mutations” compared with December last year.

“Such [double] mutations confer immune escape and increased infectivity,” the health ministry said in a statement.

Lab tests show both mutations help the virus to infect human cells and evade some antibodies.

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Speaking to the BBC, Dr Jeremy Kamil, a virologist at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center Shreveport, said the E484Q is similar to E484K – a mutation seen in the B.1.351 (South Africa) and P.1 (Brazil) variants, which have sprouted up independently several times.

If enough mutations happen in a viral family tree or a lineage, the virus can begin to function differently and the lineage can become a so-called “variant of concern”, Dr Jeremy Kamil said.

As far as the L452R mutation – also found in the “double mutation” in India – it first got attention as part of B.1.427/B.1.429 lineage in the US, which is sometimes called the “California variant”, he told the BBC.

Will the vaccines work agains the new Indian variant?

In short, it’s too early to say how effective the current crop of vaccines will prove against the new variant.

“Because COVID-19 vaccines train our immune system to respond to the spike proteins on the surface of the virus, there is concern that new variants with changes to the spike protein that help them evade immune responses may also render vaccines ineffective,” explains the COVID Symptom Study app.

Fortunately, research has shown that the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine is working well against the B.1.1.7 variant first discovered in the UK.

However, because the trial mainly included young people who don’t tend to get seriously ill from COVID-19, it wasn’t possible to investigate the vaccine’s effect on rates of severe disease.

Laboratory studies suggest that the Pfizer and Oxford AstraZeneca vaccines offer some protection against the Brazil variant, but more work is needed to confirm this.

As COVID-19 continues to spread in many places, new variants will continue to emerge, especially in areas where rates of infection remain high.

According to the team behind the Symptom Study app, experts think future variants could help the virus avoid immune recognition, meaning that we will need new vaccines.

The CEO of Pfizer has signalled that the threat of new variants will not be going away anytime soon.

Albert Bourla said a potential booster shot of the Pfizer vaccine would be administered six to 12 months after being fully vaccinated.

The jab will then be offered annually, he suggested during a panel discussion.

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Brazil's hospitals running out of sedatives as COVID-19 rages

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) – Hospitals in Brazil were running out of drugs needed to sedate patients on Thursday, with reports of the seriously ill being tied down and intubated without effective sedatives.

FILE PHOTO: Medical workers take care of patients in the emergency room of the Nossa Senhora da Conceicao hospital that is overcrowding because of the coronavirus outbreak, in Porto Alegre, Brazil, March 11, 2021.  REUTERS/Diego Vara

The scenes playing out across Brazil, one of the countries hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, are placing growing international pressure on President Jair Bolsonaro.

Aid group Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) said Brazil’s “failed response” had led to thousands of avoidable deaths and created a humanitarian catastrophe that could still get worse.

Brazil has recorded a total of 361,884 coronavirus deaths – only the United States has more – and 13,673,507 confirmed cases.

More Brazilians are currently dying of the virus each day than anywhere else in the world. Bolsonaro has opposed lockdowns and held large events in which he often does not wear a mask. He has only recently embraced vaccines as a possible solution.

Brazil’s hospitals are struggling to cope.

Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo have both sounded the alarm over shortages of sedatives, with Sao Paulo’s Health Secretary saying the city’s ability to care for seriously ill COVID-19 patients is on the verge of collapse.

“I never thought that I would be living through something like this after 20 years working in intensive care,” Aureo do Carmo Filho, an ICU doctor in Rio, told Reuters.

“Using mechanical restraints without sedatives is bad practice…the patient is submitted to a form of torture,” he said.

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Seriously ill COVID-19 patients struggling for breath are sedated in order to put them on ventilators, an intrusive practice the body can naturally resist.

With ICU beds at or near capacity across the country, hospitals are being forced to create improvised intensive care beds which often lack equipment or professional expertise.

Globo television network on Wednesday reported cases from a Rio hospital in which patients were intubated with a lack of sedatives, tied to beds.

The Albert Schweitzer hospital, through the press office of the city of Rio which runs it, said there was a shortage of intubation drugs but that substitutes were being used to ensure medical assistance was not compromised. It said mechanical restraints were only used when prescribed by a doctor.

The city of Rio added that a batch of intubation drugs was set to arrive on Thursday.

“FAILED RESPONSE”

Médecins Sans Frontières said Bolsonaro’s government had not done enough to prevent the tragedy.

“More than one year into the COVID-19 pandemic, the failed response in Brazil has caused a humanitarian catastrophe,” said Christos Christou, a medical doctor and president of MSF, called Doctors Without Borders in English.

“Each week there is a grim new record of deaths and infections – the hospitals are overflowing and yet there is still no coordinated centralized response,” Christou said in a briefing with reporters, adding that the situation was expected to become even worse in the weeks ahead.

Bolsonaro has openly fought against state and local governments seeking to institute lockdowns, saying Brazilians need to get on with normal life and that job losses are more dangerous than the virus.

MSF Director-General Meinie Nicolai said the surge in cases cannot be blamed only on the contagious Brazilian COVID-19 variant, known as P.1.

“The P.1 variant is certainly a problem, but this doesn’t explain the situation in Brazil,” she said.

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Virus variants inciting India's second surge, epidemiologists say

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – The second surge of COVID-19 cases in India has swamped hospitals much faster than the first because mutations in the virus mean each patient is infecting many more people than before, epidemiologists and doctors say.

A patient lies in a bed as she is being shifted to a hospital for treatment, amidst the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Ahmedabad, India, April 15, 2021. REUTERS/Amit Dave

India’s daily infections skyrocketed more than 20-fold to more than 200,000 on Thursday since a multi-month-low in early February, though the government has played down the role of mutants in the latest rise, the worst anywhere this month.

The world’s hardest-hit country after the United States has reported about 950 cases of people contracting the variants first detected in the United Kingdom, South Africa and Brazil.

“The point is that these variants of concern are still not on top of the discourse,” said epidemiologist Rajib Dasgupta of New Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University.

“Even if it is a new variant, you need to do the same things” to control it and treat patients “but it requires a different urgency to recognise that”, he said.

Doctors at New Delhi’s All India Institute of Medical Sciences have found that one patient is now infecting up to nine in 10 contacts, compared with up to four last year.

Scientists in Britain say the B.1.1.7 variant here, widely known as the British mutant, is 70% more transmissible than previous variants, and much deadlier.

The northern Indian state of Punjab, which has reported one of the highest recent fatality rates in the country, said late last month 81% of 401 COVID-19 samples it sent for genome sequencing were found to be the British variant.

“This virus is more infectious and virulent,” said Dhiren Gupta, a senior consultant at New Delhi’s Sir Ganga Ram Hospital.

“More children are reporting high-grade fever compared to last year. We have 35-year olds with pneumonia in intensive care, which was not happening last year.”

India has recorded 14.1 million infections and 173,123 deaths in total.

MASS GATHERINGS

The government has mainly attributed the big rise in cases to a reluctance to wear marks and crowding.

Still, it has refused to call off a mass gathering of Hindu devotees for a festival and its ministers are addressing tens of thousands of largely mask-less people in election rallies.

A scientist at the National Institute of Epidemiology said more evidence was needed to directly link the rise in cases to the variants, but that anecdotally that seemed to be the case.

“There are in-vitro experiments which can also tell us about the infectivity, the severity, how lethal it is, etc, but those are not completed yet, they are ongoing,” said Tarun Bhatnagar.

“We haven’t had a virus that has spread so rapidly, and we haven’t had the time to study it. Everything is on the go. We are dealing with it, being affected by it and studying it. The pace of every thing is too fast.”

But with crowding still common in many regions of India, “we are about to find out just how dangerous this strain is”, said Om Srivastava, head of infectious diseases at Mumbai’s Jaslok Hospital who also advises India’s worst-hit Maharashtra state.

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Magic mushroom compound at least as good as antidepressant in UK study

LONDON (Reuters) – Psilocybin, the psychedelic active compound in magic mushrooms, may be at least as effective as a leading antidepressant drug and could help more patients into remission from severe depression, a small study by British scientists has found.

Slideshow ( 5 images )

The findings, in the first-of-a-kind head-to-head comparison of psilocybin therapy and the antidepressant escitalopram, suggests the psychoactive ingredient has promise as a potential mental health treatment, the researchers said.

“Remission rates were twice as high in the psilocybin group than the escitalopram group,” Robin Carhart-Harris, who designed and led the study as head of the centre for psychedelic research at Imperial College London, told a briefing.

“One of the most important aspects of this work is that people can clearly see the promise of properly delivered psilocybin therapy by viewing it compared with a more familiar, established treatment,” he said. “Psilocybin performed very favourably in this head-to-head.”

Depression is one of the leading causes of ill health worldwide, and existing treatments are often ineffective or have adverse side effects that lead patients to stop taking them.

Carhart-Harris warned that while these findings – published in the New England Journal of Medicine – were encouraging, patients with depression should not try to self-medicate with magic mushrooms. “That would be an error of judgment,” he said.

The research involved 59 patients with moderate to severe depression who got either a high dose of psilocybin and a placebo, or escitalopram plus a dose of psilocybin so low as to be classed as non-active and unlikely to have an effect.

This design was aimed at ensuring the two arms of the trial were as alike as possible for those taking part.

Treatment response, defined as a reduction of at least 50% in depression scores from baseline, was seen in 70% of people in the psilocybin group and 48% in the escitalopram group.

Results also showed that remission of symptoms – measured as a score of 0 to 5 at week six – was seen in 57% of the psilocybin group compared with 28% in the escitalopram group.

Carhart-Harris said participants’ reports suggested the psilocybin had a more “fundamental” effect than antidepressants.

“I think it’s getting more at the root causes of suffering,” he said. “There’s a kind of epistemic quality to the treatment, a revelatory quality, where people report feeling that they understand more fully why they’re depressed.”

The Imperial team, co-led by David Nutt, a professor of neuropsychopharmacology, has been exploring the potential of psilocybin for many years.

In 2016 they published a small study showing psilocybin could help ease a severe condition known as treatment-resistant depression.

The latest study was conducted under specific controlled conditions with two therapists and a regulated dose formulated in laboratory conditions, Nutt told the briefing, and taking magic mushrooms without such safeguards could be dangerous.

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COVID-19 public health messages have been all over the place—but researchers can do better

covid

Persuading people to get a COVID-19 vaccine remains a challenge even as more than a 120 million people in the U.S. have received at least one dose.

Public health officials have struggled to find persuasive and accessible approaches throughout the pandemic, from explaining where COVID-19 originated to how the virus spreads among individuals, along with steps to prevent its transmission, its inequitable impacts on people’s lives, and now relevant risks and benefits information about vaccines.

COVID-19 is not just a medical issue. It is also a social justice, economic and political issue. That makes it hard to figure out how best to share information about it, especially since messages come from a range of communicators—including elected officials, journalists, scientists, physicians and community leaders—and are delivered to diverse audiences.

And the science itself has been uncertain and evolving. New information can change what’s known almost daily, making clear, accurate communication a “moving target.”

As researchers focused on the science of science communication, we can suggest several communication strategies, based on a July 2020 report from the National Academies for Science, Engineering and Medicine, that encourage protective behaviors related to COVID-19.

Clear and open, even about uncertainty

Decades of research in risk communication show that people’s perception of their own risk is key to motivating them to take preventive measures. For that to work, public health messages must be clear, consistent and transparent.

One way to ensure that, especially for issues that have high uncertainty, like the pandemic, is for science and health messages to include context that connects the news to people’s concerns and prior experiences. What does risk or uncertainty about how the virus is transferred mean for the audience? How can they act on that information in their own lives? The “so what” of the message has to feel relevant. One approach, for example, is to emphasize how adoption of preventive behaviors—such as mask-wearing and hand-washing—leads to local businesses reopening and faster economic recovery.

Ensuring consistency in messaging, even for a rapidly changing issue, also means considering context—the bigger-picture processes shaping the issue. In other words, where do both the information and the uncertainty come from? What do scientists, policymakers and health care workers know or not know at this point? Then, most crucially, what are people doing to address that uncertainty and what can audiences still do to act in the face of it?

Tap into a crowd mentality

At various points during the pandemic, public health officials needed to persuade people to change aspects of their daily lives. To do this effectively, it helps to remember that people change their behavior and beliefs to better match what they perceive other people are doing—especially those they most identify with. It’s human nature to want to go along with social norms.

Health messages should avoid putting a spotlight on “bad” behaviors, since that can actually exacerbate the problem. Disproportionate attention paid to vaccine hesitancy or people refusing to wear masks, for example, gives the impression that these behaviors are more common than they actually are. Rather, attention to “good” behaviors, such as small business successfully implementing social distancing practices, can be more effective.

But even well-intended efforts to promote social norms, such as vaccination selfies, may provoke significant backlash, including jealousy, anger and feelings of injustice.

One way to avoid unintended backlash is to consider, before sharing, who is likely to see this message beyond the intended audiences. Are those who might see the message able to act on this information? If people can’t sign up for their own vaccination yet, a photo of a happy newly vaccinated person may make them feel angry and trigger negative feelings about systemic unfairness and resentment toward those who do have access.

Balancing the good news with the bad

The fear of a threat can motivate action. But a fear-based message often leads to people feeling helpless unless it’s paired with clear actions they can take to mitigate the threat.

Alternatively, hope is a powerful motivator, much more so and more consistently than fear or anger in many cases. Fortunately, for science communication in particular, surveys find that the majority of Americans remain hopeful about the promise of science to improve people’s lives.

Communicating hope can happen implicitly, through highlighting what does work and the benefits of actions. For example, clients following mask-wearing policies permitted many small businesses like hair salons to remain safely open.

What tends to be more common, especially in news coverage, is an emphasis on the negative—both in the current situation and in hypothetical futures and risks that could come if people don’t change course. You can see this focus in the coverage of gatherings that violate health regulations, like crowded beaches during spring break.

The weight of constant bad news reduces how equipped individuals feel to deal with a problem or avoid a risk. And this negative tendency can paint an unrealistic picture of an issue that has both wins and losses to report.

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What are the symptoms of a vitamin B12 deficiency? Full list of 10 common signs

Dr Dawn Harper on signs of vitamin B12 and vitamin D deficiency

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Vitamin B12 is a type of water-soluble vitamin that’s crucial for the body’s overall function. If you aren’t getting enough B12 in your diet, you may start to develop some noticeable symptoms, including a sore tongue and irritability.

Vitamin B12 is used by the body to make red blood cells and DNA.

But the body doesn’t naturally manufacture B12, like it does for vitamin D, for example.

So it’s essential that you get enough vitamin B12 in your daily diet.

If you develop a B12 deficiency, you may slowly start to notice some key symptoms which you shouldn’t ignore.

READ MORE: Vitamin B12 deficiency – breath symptoms to spot

There are 10 common signs of a deficiency, but as they tend to develop quite slowly, you might not even notice they’re there.

You may start to change the way you walk or move around the house, or have subtle changes to your vision.

Some people even have an increasingly swollen tongue or persistent mouth ulcers.

The symptoms may be caused indirectly by a lack of red blood cells – which is also known as anaemia.

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Vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms

  • Pale yellow tinge to your skin
  • Sore and red tongue (glossitis)
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Pins and needles (paraesthesia)
  • Changes in the way that you walk and move around
  • Disturbed vision
  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Changes in the way you think, feel and behave
  • Decline in your mental abilities, such as memory, understanding and judgement (dementia)

“See a GP if you’re experiencing symptoms of vitamin B12 or folate deficiency anaemia,” said the NHS.

“These conditions can often be diagnosed based on your symptoms and the results of a blood test.

“It’s important for vitamin B12 or folate deficiency anaemia to be diagnosed and treated as soon as possible.

“Although many of the symptoms improve with treatment, some problems caused by the condition can be irreversible if left untreated.”

The best sources of vitamin B12 include animals foods, or some products that have been fortified with it.

Dairy products, eggs, fish, meat and poultry all rich in vitamin B12.

But, that means vegans and – to a lesser extent – vegetarians are most at risk of the deficiency.

Taking B12 supplements is an easy way to treat a deficiency.

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U.S. pauses J&J COVID-19 vaccine over rare blood clots

(Reuters) -U.S. federal health agencies on Tuesday recommended pausing the use of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine after six women under 50 given the shot developed rare blood clots, dealing a fresh setback to efforts to tackle the pandemic.

FILE PHOTO: A woman receives a dose of the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine during a visit of U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris to a vaccination center in Chinatown, in Chicago, Illinois, U.S., April 6, 2021. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

Following the news, Johnson & Johnson (J&J) said it was delaying the rollout of the vaccine to Europe, a week after regulators there said they were reviewing rare blood clots in four recipients of the shot in the United States.

The moves come after European regulators said earlier this month they had found a possible link between AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine and a similar rare blood clotting problem that led to a small number of deaths.

J&J’s single dose vaccine – most COVID-19 shots are delivered over two doses – and AstraZeneca’s low-cost vaccine are seen as vital tools in the fight against a pandemic that has claimed more than three million lives.

The White House said the pause would not have a “significant” impact on its plan to administer about three million shots per day and a total of 200 million shots before President Joe Biden’s 100th day in office.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said one person had died from the rare blood clotting condition after taking the J&J vaccine and another was in a critical condition.

Immunology experts stressed the risk posed by the J&J vaccine appeared extremely low, and that the shot remained a valuable tool against the risks of COVID-19. However they acknowledged the need for health officials to proceed with caution to understand the best ways to mitigate any risk.

“Even if causally linked to the vaccine: 6 cases with about 7 million doses (lower than the risk of clots with oral contraceptives) is not something to panic about,” Dr. Amesh Adalja, an infectious disease expert at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security in Baltimore, said in an email.

“People are asking me if they should cancel their J&J vaccine appointments and I have told them not to but I know many will and this will stall progress in controlling the pandemic.”

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FDA acting commissioner Janet Woodcock said it expected the pause to be a matter of days, and it was aimed at providing information to healthcare providers so that they can diagnose, treat and report such blood clots.

FDA official Peter Marks said that part of the reason for the pause was to warn doctors that administering the standard treatments for clots can cause tremendous harm, or be fatal.

‘LESS THAN ONE IN A MILLION’

Most of the available J&J vaccine has been used in the United States due to production issues that have limited the company’s supply. As of April 12, more than 6.8 million doses of the J&J vaccine had been administered in the United States, compared with more than 180 million shots combined of the Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech shots.

U.S. health officials said during a press briefing there had been no similar blood clot cases reported among recipients of the Pfizer/BioNTech of Moderna vaccines.

An advisory committee to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will meet on Wednesday to review the cases, and the FDA will review the analysis, the agencies said in a joint statement.

All six cases involved women between the ages of 18 and 48, and the symptoms occurred six to 13 days after vaccination.

In the cases, a type of blood clot called cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST) was seen in combination with low levels of blood platelets (thrombocytopenia).

J&J said it was working closely with regulators and noted no clear causal relationship had been established between the cases and the COVID-19 vaccine made by its Janssen unit.

“Even if all of the cases were caused by the vaccine, the risk of less than one in a million would have to be set against the benefits of protection from COVID-19 disease; a disease which, in itself, causes clotting in many cases,” said Peter English, a retired consultant in communicable disease control and a vaccine expert.

‘ABUNDANCE OF CAUTION’

“The FDA recommendation to pause the administration of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine out of an abundance of caution makes sense in terms of the nature of the unusual and serious side effect not seen with the other vaccines,” said Dr. Robert Klugman at the UMass Memorial Medical Center in Massachusetts in an email.

J&J’s shares were down 2.6% in early New York trade.

The J&J and AstraZeneca vaccines both use an adenovirus vector – a harmless cold virus that instructs human cells to produce a protein found on the surface of the coronavirus, thereby spurring the immune system to prepare an arsenal against the COVID-19-causing virus.

Among leading global COVID-19 vaccine developers, China’s CanSino Biological and Russia’s Gamaleya Institute with its Sputnik V vaccine are also relying on this approach. The Pfizer/BioNtech and Moderna vaccines use mRNA technology.

The rollout of J&J’s vaccine has been slowed by issues at production plants.

The company has supplied the United States with at least 20 million doses but is behind schedule on its deliveries. Problems at a Baltimore, Maryland plant run by outside contractor Emergent BioSolutions forced the companies to trash a batch of vaccine substance.

J&J only began delivering its COVID-19 vaccine to European Union countries this week. It has committed to delivering 55 million doses to the bloc by the end of June and another 120 million in the third quarter.

J&J has been doing vaccinations in South Africa to study the effects on health workers, and had vaccinated just under 300,000 people there as of Monday, according to data from the country’s health department. J&J recently struck a deal with the African Union for up to 400 million doses.

Europe’s drugs regulator continues to recommend the use of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine, saying the benefits outweigh the risks. Several EU countries, however, have limited its use to certain age groups.

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German government seeks more powers to set pandemic rules

BERLIN — Chancellor Angela Merkel said Tuesday her government wants clear rules that include nighttime curfews imposed in all regions with high numbers of COVID-19 infections, ending the patchwork of measures that have characterized the pandemic response across Germany’s 16 states.

“The uniform, nationwide emergency brake is overdue because even though it’s difficult to hear this again, the situation is serious,” Merkel told reporters in Berlin after her Cabinet approved the plan.

Many Germans have expressed frustration and confusion in recent months as governors interpreted rules agreed with the federal government in different ways, despite having similar infection rates.

Merkel warned that Germany remains “firmly in the grip of the third wave” of infections, citing figures from the country’s disease control agency that showed 10,810 newly confirmed cases in the past 24 hours, and 294 deaths.

Since the start of the pandemic, Germany has registered more than 3 million infections and 78,746 deaths from COVID-19.

“If we were to wait until all the intensive care beds were occupied, then it would be too late,” Merkel said, adding that governments and citizens need to help doctors and nurses tackle the surge in cases.

The emergency brake, proposed in a bill that will be submitted to Parliament, will apply in regions with more than 100 new weekly cases per 100,000 inhabitants. It entails the closure of stores, cultural and sports facilities, limits on personal contacts and nighttime curfews.

States would be free to set more flexible rules in regions with fewer than 100 new cases each week per 100,000 inhabitants.

Merkel said she hoped Parliament would swiftly debate and pass the bill.

She again asked for Germans to show patience and noted that the country’s sluggish vaccine program had picked up with the recent start of vaccinations in GP practices. Last week, some 3.2 million shots were administered in Germany, compared with 1.9 million the previous week.

The Cabinet also agreed that companies will need to offer all employees who aren’t working from home at least one coronavirus test each week, and that parents will get more paid leave to care for children who cannot go to school due to the pandemic.

Separately, Germany’s top security official ordered an end to temporary border controls along with frontier with the Czech Republic. The checks, which caused lengthy tailbacks along the border and were a headache for commuters, had been in place for two months due to the high rate of infection in Germany’s eastern neighbor.

Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said the spot checks would continue to take place to ensure that people have a negative coronavirus test when entering Germany from the Czech Republic.

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Follow all of AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic, https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

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