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Immunity Coronavirus

Expert Claims Israel May Have Reached ‘Sort Of Herd Immunity’ From Covid-19

Eran Segal is a computational biologist at the Weizmann Institute of Science who recently spoke with the local Israeli media about how Israel in general may have reached a “sort of herd immunity” after getting nearly 4.9 million residents fully vaccinated. This led to a 97% decrease in the amount of new Covid-19 cases appearing in the nation.

“It is possible that Israel has reached a sort of herd immunity and regardless, we have a wide safety net. I think that makes it possible to remove some of the restrictions immediately.”

Segal claimed that now that most Israelis are immunized, a multitude of economic sectors can begin reopening to assist the nation in its recovery post-pandemic. He also cited that since the gatherings over the Purim and Passover holidays did not lead to any direct spike in cases, the vaccines were proving to be more than effective.

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If Israel does actually achieve this goal, they will be the first country in the world to hit herd immunity. Last week, researchers at the University College London said that the United Kingdom would reach herd immunity by Friday; a claim that was immediately disputed.

Israel has already begun rolling back on a multitude of coronavirus restrictions within the recent months as more and more citizens received their vaccinations. Businesses were able to reopen, even venues and other gathering activities were able to occur more frequently has morbidity levels dropped exponentially with the country’s world-leading vaccination drive.

The Israeli Health Ministry is expected to lift outdoor mask mandates in public spaces later this month while some restrictions on gatherings and schools are still being enforced to protect younger generations.

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Israel is continuously limiting the number of people who can enter and/or exit the nation every day as well, as many experts are worried about the multitude of variants around the world that could potentially undermine the effectiveness of their vaccination program.

Government ministers this past week voted to further ease certain Covid-19 restrictions in schools; they removed the requirement that made fourth graders learn in much smaller class sizes. Ministers also ended the requirement that made all students present a health declarations signed by their parents to enter into a classroom. All universities and colleges are also now able to hold all tests in person.

Currently, Israeli residents are allowed to gather outdoors in crowds up to 100 and up to 20 for indoor gatherings. Cultural and even venues are allowed to host up to 750 people under the Green Pass Program. This program is designed to grant access to public venues exclusively for individuals who have been fully vaccinated or have recovered from the coronavirus.

As of this past Saturday there were 4,002 active Covid-19 cases throughout Israel; 221 of which were recently diagnosed last week. The Health Ministry claims that 268 individuals are in serious condition, but the death toll has remained at 6,292. According to the ministry over 5.3 million citizens are vaccinated with their first dose while 4.9 million are now fully immunized.

Pandemic Mental Health

1 In 3 Covid-19 Survivors Diagnosed With Mental Health Disorders Within 6 Months Of Recovery

A pandemic study regarding the long term effects of Covid-19 in its survivors has estimated that 1 in 3 individuals were diagnosed with neurological or psychiatric conditions within six months of their initial infection. 

The study was published this week in the peer-reviewed journal, The Lancet Psychiatry. The study itself used electronic health records from more than 230,000 Covid-19 patients mainly from the US and specifically regarding 14 different brain and mental health disorders. 

The study found that “34% of survivors were diagnosed with at least one of the 14 conditions, with 13% of those people being their first recorded neurological or psychiatric diagnosis. Mental health diagnoses were most common among patients, with 17% diagnosed with anxiety and 14% diagnosed with a mood disorder.”

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Neurological diagnoses were much more uncommon, however, they were more prevalent in patients who experienced serious illness during their Covid-19 infection. 7% of Covid-19 patients who had to be admitted to intensive care had a stroke, for example, and 2% were diagnosed with dementia. 

“It shows the toll that COVID takes is not just with the (disease itself), but also with the aftermath of the condition, which can be extremely complicated, involving not only the brain but other organs in the body as well,” said Dr. William Li, president and medical director of the Angiogenesis Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to the study of abnormal blood vessel growth.

The study also looked at around 100,000 flu patients and more than 230,000 patients who were diagnosed with a respiratory tract infection within the past year and found that neurological and psychiatric diagnoses were more common in individuals who fought Covid-19. 

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“There was a 44% greater risk of brain or mental health disorder diagnoses after COVID-19 than after the flu, and a 16% greater risk than with respiratory tract infections,” according to the study.

Julie Walsh-Messinger, assistant professor in the department of psychology at the University of Dayton, recently discussed how it’s possible that “coronavirus infection could lead to anxiety or depression as these conditions have been associated with inflammation typically seen in Covid-19.”

“We’re seeing higher rates of depression and anxiety across the board regardless of (COVID-19 infection) or not. It’s hard to tease apart how much of it is general stress-induced anxiety or depression because of lack of ability to socialize, lack of ability to engage in activities that one normally enjoys, fear about the future and how much of it is specific to the disease’s progress. Even so, the study is an important first step in what clinicians can expect from their patients who have recovered from COVID-19,” she explained. 

“The size of the study also demonstrates how the long-term effects of COVID-19 can impact a country’s health care system even after the disease is gone. Although the individual risks for most disorders are small, the effect across the whole population may be substantial for health and social care systems due to the scale of the pandemic. Health care systems need to be resourced to deal with the anticipated need,” said lead author Paul Harrison, a professor at the University of Oxford in the U.K.

Apple Watch and Iphone Activity

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Thanks to a wide variety of technology, it’s never been easier for people to start making healthier choices in their day-to-day lives.

Doctor Giving Coronavirus Vaccine

Half Of US Adults Could Be Vaccinated By This Weekend 

According to an adviser from the White House, the United States is currently on track to have half of all adults vaccinated with at least one Covid-19 shot by this weekend, however, the adviser also emphasized that this doesn’t mean America is done with the pandemic. 

“We do have to remember that there are 100 million-plus adults that still haven’t been vaccinated. They’re not there yet, and you don’t win the war until you bring everybody over with you.”

President Joe Biden recently announced the goal of getting vaccinations open for all adults in all 50 states by April 19th, a task that is becoming more and more likely to occur as vaccine supplies increase, according to Andy Slavitt, the White House senior adviser who recently spoke to the press regarding the pandemic. 

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Dr. Anthony Fauci has claimed that around 70-85% of the population needs to be vaccinated to reach a proper herd immunity, and many states have a large population of people who don’t want to be vaccinated. Current data projects that certain states will likely be done vaccinating all willing adults by mid-June, while others could take until the end of 2021. 

Some states have been criticized for prematurely lifting mask mandates and other procedures meant to curb the spread of the virus due to the fact that they feel the vaccine’s release is enough to re-open the world. Fauci claims this couldn’t be more false: 

“It’s too premature to declare victory, we’ve got to continue to hang in there a bit longer by continuing with the public health measures.”

Slavitt claims that the US is more than equipped to stay on course with vaccination efforts, which is a great sign for the future of the nation in regards to this pandemic’s end. This is great news considering more and more health experts are growing concerned with the number of variants of the virus appearing throughout all 50 states. 

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Dr. Rochelle Walensky is the director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention who recently discussed how “the daily rate of new cases has been on the rise over the last four weeks due to highly transmissible variants like B117 spreading.” According to Walensky within the past week alone five states have accounted for 44% of new Covid-19 cases. 

Within the past week there have been around 453,000 new cases in the US; New York, Michigan, Florida, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey accounting for 198,000 of those cases. According to data from Johns Hopkins University, “Michigan had the highest rate per capita and is leading the country in terms of new cases. Along with Michigan, Minnesota is also reporting some of the highest new cases in the country, however both states have high levels of vaccination.”

Many health experts are also discussing how to monitor which US citizens have been vaccinated and which haven’t in a post-pandemic world. Many believe that vaccine passports, or some form of official written proof of vaccination, should be required to enter into certain highly populated spaces. New York, for example, is currently testing out “Excelsior passes” to grant vaccinated citizens access to sports events and concerts at limited capacity. 

Director for the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota Michael Osterholm, recently claimed that “in addition to vaccination documentation debates, the US will also have to contend with ‘long Covid,’ a condition in which even patients with relatively mild illnesses could suffer symptoms long after their infection.”

One in three people who have been infected with Covid-19 have reported longer mental health and neurological symptoms, according to a recent study, so the US will have to continue to fund research that can help those individuals in their continued Covid journey after the pandemic comes to its eventual end.

Children Drinking Juice Box

Manchester Schools To Perform Study On Children’s Wellbeing Post-Pandemic 

A multitude of school districts in Manchester are participating in a study that’s looking into the wellbeing of children and their emotional responses to reentering the world as the pandemic reaches its eventual end. Two-thirds of parents believe that mental health should be prioritized over academic attainment in the coming school year. 

The Greater Manchester Young People’s Wellbeing Program will be running the study that will be gathering data from tens of thousands of young students across 250 secondary schools in the city of Manchester. This is the first study of its kind in the UK, and it will begin collecting data this fall. Initially, the program will attempt to learn young people’s feelings and concerns over returning to school, as well as their physical activity. 

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Research is also being conducted for the University of Manchester in association with the Anna Freud Center, the Youth Sports Trust, and the Greater Manchester combined authority. This major collaborative effort shows that Manchester authorities and educators are greatly concerned that students won’t be able to learn as successfully due to the amount of adjustments they’ve had to make within the past year. 

David Gregson is a philanthropist who first brought up the idea of performing this study. Gregson argues that “the UK has neglected the wellbeing and physical health of children in favor of academic attainment, to the detriment of their actual development.” 

The Youth Sports Trust also recently performed a survey that suggested parents agree with Gregson’s argument. The survey found that “65% of parents believed wellbeing was a key factor in choosing a child’s secondary school, while only 48% said the same of exam results. Meanwhile, 70% of parents with children between the ages of 11 and 16 said their children’s wellbeing had suffered during the pandemic.”

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“I first took this idea to Greater Manchester in 2019 and all Covid has done, as the tide has gone out, is expose the pebbles we knew existed. For me, our education system has become too focused on attainment. A necessary but insufficient assessment,” Gregson said. 

“We’ve got ourselves into the position where we think that attainment is the be-all and end-all and I don’t agree with that. I want to change that dialogue and I want to improve the wellbeing of young people in Greater Manchester to prove that point.”

Gregson claims that all the data collected in this program will be shared with local authorities and government leaders so that they can recognize, and hopefully change, areas of need within the education system. 

“My 10-year plan is to add a second leg to the assessment of young people in Britain that we don’t just think of them as people who get GCSE results,” Gregson said. 

“That we think about another equally important part of their makeup, which is their wellbeing, their sense of self-esteem, their sense of optimism. We’ll need all of that. We needed it pre-Covid and we’ll certainly need it after Covid.”

US Covid-19 Update: All 50 States To Make Vaccine’s Eligible For All By May 1st

All 50 states have announced plans to open up Covid-19 vaccinations for all adults by May 1st.

Covid-19 Mutation

Majority Of Covid-19 ‘Long-Haulers’ Experiencing Multiple Brain-Related Symptoms 

According to a new study, 85% of Covid-19 “long-haulers” are experiencing at least four lingering neurological symptoms even if they weren’t hospitalized for their initial illness. The lingering symptoms include brain fog, headache, and the loss of smell and/or taste. 

The study was published in the journal Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology earlier this week. Researchers claimed to analyze information from 100 Covid-19 long haulers from 21 states. All participants were seen in person or over video conference at the Neuro Covid-19 Clinic at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago. The study went from May-November of 2020, and none of the participants were hospitalized when initially infected with the virus. 

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All participants claimed to experience Covid symptoms for more than six weeks, and on average they were seen for four to five months after their initial infection. Half of the participants had previously tested positive while the other half had tested negative but were still experiencing consistent Covid symptoms. The researchers of the study believed that all the participants who tested negative in the study likely did have the virus, but got it at the point in the pandemic when getting a test was nearly impossible.

“85% of participants reported at least four neurological symptoms. The most common symptom was ‘brain fog’ or trouble thinking, reported by 81% of participants; followed by headaches, reported by 68%; and numbness or tingling, reported by 60% of participants. More than half reported problems with their sense of taste or smell; 47% reported dizziness; 30% reported blurred vision; and 29% reported ringing in the ears,” according to the article. 

According to a previous study posted by Live Science Magazine last year, “‘long COVID-19’ is an important emerging entity requiring multidisciplinary expertise and care. It’s unclear how many people have long COVID, but some studies suggest that about 30% of people with COVID-19 experience lingering symptoms up to nine months after their diagnosis.”

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Study author Dr. Igor Koralnik claimed in a news conference that it’s likely millions of people are experiencing long Covid symptoms, so these studies are important. He also noted that more than 40% of the participants claimed to have struggled with anxiety and depression throughout their lives pre-pandemic, so more research is currently being done to see if there’s a link to mental illness and the long-Covid symptoms. 

“About 70% of participants were women, which matches the sex ratio seen in some other autoimmune disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis, which affects three times more women than men,” the authors wrote.

The authors also noted that this study was extremely preliminary and small, pointing out that a majority of the patients were white, and there’s a chance a lot of the long-haulers with negative Covid tests may have never had the virus to begin with. Researchers are planning on continuing these research efforts and are starting with analyzing how certain immune systems respond to Covid-19 proteins.

AstraZeneca Vaccine

AstraZeneca Vaccine 79% Effective Against Symptomatic Covid-19, According To New US Study

AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine has proven to have a 79% efficacy against symptomatic Covid-19, and 100% efficacy against severe disease and hospitalizations, according to a new US study.

The findings from a new Phase 3 trial included more than 32,000 participants and came after many European nations began delaying the distribution of the AstraZeneca vaccine over blood clot fears. Many doctors and healthcare experts were quick to warn against delaying the distribution of these vaccines, because the blood clot risks were just as high as any other vaccine, and the delays are preventing vulnerable parties from being protected against the virus.

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“The trial showed that the vaccine was well-tolerated and identified no safety concerns. An independent committee found no increased risk of thrombosis (blood clots) or events characterized by thrombosis among the 21,583 participants receiving at least one dose of the vaccine,” AstraZeneca said in a statement.

Ruud Dobber is the president of AstraZeneca’s biophermaceutical’s business unit who recently spoke with the media about the company’s future plans for rolling out their vaccine in the US.

“We plan to apply for emergency use authorization from the US FDA in April. If approved we’ll be the fourth Covid-19 vaccine available in the US.”

The University of Oxford, which helped develop the vaccine, claims that the “new findings add to previous trial data from the United Kingdom, Brazil, and South Africa, as well as real-world impact data from the United Kingdom.” 79% of trial participants were White, 22% were Hispanic, 8% were Black, 4% were Native American and 4% were Asian.

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“About 20% of participants were 65 years and over and approximately 60% had conditions linked with higher risk of severe Covid-19, such as diabetes, severe obesity or heart disease. In patients 65 years and older, vaccine efficacy was 80%, — echoing the overall trial results — which is notable as some countries initially did not authorize the vaccine for use in this older age group, citing a lack of data from earlier trials,” AstraZeneca said.

“It is clear this vaccine has very good efficacy, remember that 60% was, prior to any trials being started, regarded as a good target, and that this efficacy does not show a notable decline at older ages. Previous assertions that the vaccine may be ineffective in older ages are totally unjustifiable,” according to Stephen Evans, a professor of pharmacoepidemiology at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.

Dr. Peter Hotez, dean for the National School for Tropical Medicine at the Baylor College of Medicine, spoke with the press about how this new data was great news for Americans and the rest of the world: “I’m pretty confident now AstraZeneca will apply for, request emergency use authorization, so we’ll have that vaccine released to the American public. Despite recent pauses in the vaccine’s rollout, this is one of our workhorse vaccines that we’re expecting for Africa and Latin America. So this is good news also because it’s reaffirming for the vaccines used for global health as well.”

Michelle Obama’s “Waffles + Mochi” Teaches Kids The Importance Of Healthy Eating

Former first lady Michelle Obama is teaming up with Netflix and some puppet friends to educate children about food and healthy ingredients.

The CDC Still Wants You To Be Diligent If You’ve Been Vaccinated 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently released new guidelines for individuals who are fully vaccinated against Covid-19. However, now, they’re urging the general public not to let these new guidelines deter them from treating this pandemic any less seriously, as only about 10% of the US population is fully vaccinated at this point.

Dr. Amesh Adalja of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security recently spoke to the media about these new guidelines and how the CDC needs to be more direct with the public on what they can and can’t do. “If people believe the vaccine is not going to improve their life why would they get it?”

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“The CDC is waiting for more ironclad data about the vaccination before issuing a more detailed guidance, and while the initial data from Israel, which has the highest coronavirus vaccination rates in the world, is highly encouraging, it’s apparently not encouraging enough for the CDC to give an all-clear to Americans who’ve had their shots,” Adalja explained.

The new guidance says that vaccinated individuals can gather in small groups without masks or socially distancing. Vaccinated grandparents will be able to see their unvaccinated grandchildren as long as they are indeed children, and the new guidelines still advise against any travel. Thomas Skinner is a spokesman for the CDC who recently spoke with the press to defend the new guidelines. 

“It’s a good first step until we have more people vaccinated and data around vaccine effectiveness when it comes to real world circumstances. Until then it’s important to minimize cohorting of people.”

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The CDC was also greatly silenced throughout the beginning and middle of the pandemic due to former president Donald Trump and his administration’s constant interference with new guidance on things like wearing masks, reopening schools, and business protocols. The Biden administration has luckily allowed the CDC to have the platform they need to keep the public informed and educated on where the US is with this pandemic. 

Currently more than 2 million people are being vaccinated daily, and with Biden recently purchasing an additional 100 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, it’s likely that the rate will increase in the coming month. This is good news considering around 90% of the population is still unvaccinated. 

“While some guidance is better than no guidance, the guidelines are too timid and too limited, and they fail to tie reopening guidance with vaccination status, as a result the CDC missed a critical opportunity to incentivize Americans to be vaccinated,” said emergency physician and former Baltimore health commissioner Dr. Leana Wen. 

“The perfectly understandable desire to return to normal as quickly as possible can obscure the fact that the first doses of coronavirus vaccine were administered in December. A more liberalized guidance should come this spring or summer,” said Dr. Peter J. Hotez, an infectious disease specialist at Baylor College of Medicine.

For now, everyone should continue to treat the pandemic as they have within the past year and stay home, social distance, and wear a mask in public.