A Chinese inactivated COVID-19 vaccine candidate has been proved safe and tolerable and can induce a quick immune response, according to the findings from early and mid-stage clinical trials published in the journal The Lancet Infectious Diseases.
The level of antibodies induced by the vaccine was lower than those in people who had recovered from COVID-19, whereas it was capable of protecting the human body from infections caused by the virus, the findings said.
The vaccine, CoronaVac, was developed by a Chinese biopharmaceutical producer Sinovac Biotech.
It was tested in randomized, double-blind and placebo-controlled phase-1 and phase-2 clinical trials involving more than 700 healthy adults aged 18 to 59.
Vaccination is done with two doses taken 14 days apart, and the vaccine candidate is effective, which makes it suitable for emergency use amid the pandemic, said Zhu Fengcai, one of the authors of the findings.
Zhu added that further research is needed to verify the duration of the immune response induced by the vaccination.
At present, the vaccine candidate is undergoing phase-3 clinical trials to confirm its effectiveness.
It refers to the likelihood that a coronavirus shot will work in people.
Two vaccine makers have said that preliminary results from their late-stage studies suggest their experimental vaccines are strongly protective. Moderna this week said its vaccine appears nearly 95% effective. This comes on the heels of Pfizer’s announcement that its shot appeared similarly effective.
Those numbers raised hopes around the world that vaccines could help put an end to the pandemic sometime next year if they continue to show that they prevent disease and are safe.
Effectiveness numbers will change as the vaccine studies continue since the early calculations were based on fewer than 100 COVID-19 cases in each study. But early results provide strong signals that the vaccine could prevent a majority of disease when large groups of people are vaccinated.
U.S. health officials said a coronavirus vaccine would need to be at least 50% effective before they would consider approving it for use. There was concern that coronavirus vaccines might be only as effective as flu vaccines, which have ranged from 20% to 60% effective in recent years.
The broad, early effectiveness figures don’t tell the whole story. Scientists also need to understand how well the vaccine protects people in different age groups and demographic categories.
For both vaccines, the interim results were based on people who had COVID-19 symptoms that prompted a virus test. That means we don’t know yet whether someone who’s vaccinated might still get infected -- even if they show no symptoms -- and spread the virus.
Also unknown is whether the shots will give lasting protection, or whether boosters will be required.
Smartphones, computers and tablets have been a staple in everyday life for a couple of decades now and have gradually evolved into a mandatory component in both work and recreational activities. With lockdowns and office restrictions becoming the norm due to Covid-19, many are forced to hunch over their desks at home and work without interruptions. Binge watching shows and playing video games also extends one’s daily screen time and finding an opportunity to take a break has never been harder. Such strain on the eyes is nothing to scoff at; so here’s how you can avoid screen fatigue.
What is Screen Fatigue?
Technically identified as asthenopia, screen fatigue is an ocular strain that comes from either long term screen exposure or strain when trying to adapt to dim lighting. Symptoms are as follows:
Pain around the eyes
Sensitivity to light
Difficulty keeping eyes open
Other strenuous activities like driving for too long or reading can also cause this, but screens tend to be the most difficult to avoid. Once experiencing these symptoms, it is crucial to pace yourself and take a few hours break, as if this is prolonged, risk factors would include nearsightedness, farsightedness, nausea, viral conjunctivitis (pink eye) and presbyopia. Some of these side effects are long term and it is best to refrain by following these steps:
Resting Eyes/Taking Breaks: The 20-20-20 rule could be your best bet to keep your eyes fresh when you’re grinding away at work for hours on end. How this works is that for every 20 minutes of work, you could look at something in the distance that’s about 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. It’s a neat little rule that will keep you accountable and will help you in the long run.
Blinking More Often: This sounds like a no-brainer at first, but the more you think about it, the more difficult it could be to maintain this. Conditioning yourself to blink more often when looking at the screen is basically revamping your screen-viewing habits - which can seem like a tall order. The benefits of doing this is to keep your eyes fresh and moist, instead of letting dry out when you’re in the middle of making swift, regular glances at your monitor.
Monitor Distance: The necessity of this can easily be underestimated, but having the proper monitor slightly below eye level is incredibly important to ensure that your eyes are looking forward at all times without disrupting your posture. Ideally, your screen should be an arm’s length from the screen to minimise eye movement at longer distances. If your desk is at an unconventional height, having an adjustable chair would be the perfect solution.
Screen Settings: Lighting can make and break your threshold when looking at your screen for extended periods of time. Having your screen too bright or too dark will put the most immediate amount of strain on your eyes. An ideal benchmark would be to have consistent lighting in your room (again, not too dim or bright) that will complement the brightness of your screen so that your peripherals are exposed to the same intensity as your screen.
Amid the number of people with diabetes surge, the UN Secretary-General António Guterres stressed need for strengthening health system as many diabetic patients are at “increased risk of severe disease and death from COVID-19”.
“Many efforts have been made to prevent and treat diabetes”, but the disease continues to rise rapidly in low and middle income countries, those “least well-equipped with the diagnostics, medicines, and knowledge to provide life-saving treatment”, said UN chief in his message for World Diabetes Day, on Saturday, reports UN news.
A gloomy picture
Globally, some 422 million adults are living with diabetes (latest figures from 2014), according to the World Health Organization (WHO), compared to around 108 million in 1980 – rising from 4.7 to 8.5 per cent in the adult population.
This reflects an increase in associated risk factors, such as being overweight or obese.
Diabetes is a major cause of blindness, kidney failure, heart attack, stroke and lower limb amputation, and the COVID-19 pandemic has brought additional pain to those requiring regular care and treatment who struggle to access therapies for their condition.
A healthy diet, physical activity and not smoking can prevent or delay Type 2 diabetes, formerly called non-insulin-dependent or adult-onset diabetes, the UN said.
Moreover, the disease can be treated and its consequences avoided or delayed with medication, regular screening and treatment for complications.
Next year, WHO is launching the Global Diabetes Compact, “a new initiative that will bring structure and coherence to our complementary efforts to reduce the burden of diabetes”, informed Mr. Guterres.
“Let us work together to make sure that, through this ambitious and much-needed collaboration, we will soon be talking about the decline in diabetes as a public health problem”.
The theme for World Diabetes Day 2020 is “The Nurse and Diabetes", which aims to raise awareness around the crucial role of these health care professionals in supporting people living with diabetes.
Nurses, who currently account for over half of the global health workforce, also help people living with a wide range of health concerns.
People living with diabetes face a number of challenges, and education is vital to equip nurses with the skills to support them.
“As we strive to overcome the pandemic, let us do our utmost to ensure Universal Health Coverage, strengthen health systems and advance good health and resilience for all”, the UN chief said.
Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have found in a preliminary study that the drug fluvoxamine seems to prevent some of the most serious complications of COVID-19 patients and make hospitalization and the need for supplemental oxygen less likely.
In an innovative twist to research during the pandemic, the study, involving 152 patients infected with SAR-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, was conducted remotely. When a symptomatic patient tested positive and enrolled in the study, research staff delivered the medication or inactive placebo to them, along with thermometers, automatic blood pressure monitors and fingertip oxygen sensors.
For two weeks, subjects took either the antidepressant drug or placebo sugar pills while having daily interactions with members of the research team via phone or computer. That allowed patients to report on their symptoms, oxygen levels and other vital signs. If patients suffered shortness of breath or were hospitalized for pneumonia, or their oxygen saturation levels fell below 92 percent, their conditions were considered to have deteriorated.
After 15 days, none of the 80 patients who had received the drug experienced serious clinical deterioration. Meanwhile, six or 8.3 percent of the 72 patients given placebo became seriously ill, with four requiring hospitalization.
"There are several ways this drug might work to help COVID-19 patients, but we think it most likely may be interacting with the sigma-1 receptor to reduce the production of inflammatory molecules," said senior author Angela M Reiersen, an associate professor of psychiatry. "Past research has demonstrated that fluvoxamine can reduce inflammation in animal models of sepsis, and it may be doing something similar in our patients."
Reiersen said the drug's effects on inflammation could prevent the immune system from mounting an overwhelming response, which is thought to occur in some COVID-19 patients who seem to improve after a few days of illness and then worsen. Many of those patients end up hospitalized, and some die.
In the next few weeks, the researchers will begin a larger study, using mobile and internet technology to conduct clinical trials throughout the United States.
Fluvoxamine is used commonly to treat obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), social anxiety disorder and depression. It is in a class of drugs known as selective serotonin-reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), but unlike other SSRIs, fluvoxamine interacts strongly with a protein called the sigma-1 receptor. That receptor also helps regulate the body's inflammatory response.
The study was published online Thursday in the Journal of the American Medical Association.