No return to old normal in foreseeable future: WHO chief

Agencies
July 14, 2020

UN, Jul 14: There will be no return to the "old normal" for the foreseeable future as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and too many countries were still headed in the wrong direction, the chief of the World Health Organization (WHO) warned.

"The virus remains public enemy number one, but the actions of many governments and people do not reflect this," Xinhua news agency quoted WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus at as saying a regular briefing on Monday.

He noted that mixed messages from leaders are undermining trust, which is the most critical ingredient of any response, while the only aim of the virus is to find people to infect.

Things are going to "get worse and worse and worse", he warned, unless governments communicate clearly with their citizens and roll out a comprehensive strategy focused on suppressing transmission and saving lives, while populations follow the basic public health principles of physical distancing, hand washing, wearing masks, coughing etiquette and staying home when sick.

COVID-19 has been gaining its momentum lately.

According to Tedros, Sunday saw a record of 230,000 cases reported to WHO, of which almost 80% were from just 10 countries and about half from just two countries.

"But it does not have to be this way," he said, asking every single leader, government and individual "to do their bit to break the chains of COVID-19 transmission and end the collective suffering".

To control the disease and get on with people's lives, Tedros said, three things are required. The first is to focus on reducing mortality and suppressing transmission; the second is to focus on an empowered, engaged community that takes individual behaviour measures in the interest of each other.

And the third is a strong government leadership and coordination of comprehensive strategies that are communicated clearly and consistently.

"We weren't prepared collectively, but we must use all the tools we have to bring this pandemic under control. And we need to do it right now," he added.

At the WHO briefing on Monday, health experts also said there was evidence to suggest that children under the age of 10 were only very mildly affected by Covid-19, while those over 10 seemed to suffer similar mild symptoms to young adults.

To what extent children can transmit the virus, while it appears to be low, remains unknown.

On Tuesday, the number of global coronavirus cases cross the 13 million mark, according to the Johns Hopkins University.

The total number of cases currently stood at 13,070,097, while the fatalities rose to 572,411, the University's Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) revealed in its latest update.

The US accounted for the world's highest number of infections and fatalities at 3,363,056 and 135,605, respectively, according to the CSSE.

Brazil came in the second place with 1,884,967 infections and 72,833 deaths.

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News Network
September 18,2020

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Ludhiana, Sept 18: DMCH Cancer Care Centre in collaboration with American Oncology Institute recently started a new diagnostic service (PSMA-PET Scan) in treating various prostate cancer.

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men and one of the leading causes of cancer death. Prostate Specific Membrane Antigen (PSMA ) is highly expressed in prostate cancer and its expression increases with tumour aggressiveness, metastatic disease and disease recurrence.

Secretary of DMCH Managing Society, Sh. Prem Kumar Gupta said, “Very few facilities in the region have this state-of-art facility and will be of great benefit for the patients.” He further added, “DMCH Cancer Care Centre is always in the process of acquiring new techniques and facilities for diagnosing and treating various cancer diseases. The availability of this facility will go a long way to help both patients and clinicians in knowing about the proper stage of prostate cancer, thereby helping patients with better outcome.”

Dr. Puneet Bhutani from the Department of Nuclear Medicine, American Oncology Institute stated, “This is a major milestone in diagnosis of prostate cancer. The procedure of diagnosing prostate cancer through PSMA-PET Scan is more accurate method for early detection of recurrent disease. It allows the oncologists to treat patients at an early stage and provide them a better treatment outcome.”

About American Oncology Institute:

American Oncology Institute is the leading cancer care provider across South Asia operating a chain of cancer hospitals in multiple cities across South Asia. AOI today is a wholly owned subsidiary of Varian Medical Systems (NYSE: VAR).

The team of clinical, paraclinical and healthcare operations experts pride themselves with the aim of closing the gap between standards of cancer care in South Asia and the developed cancer hospitals in the West. AOI provides comprehensive cancer management that is powered by clinical excellence, world class technology as well as best in class clinical pathways and protocols for treatment planning and execution, providing best in-class quality in cancer care across South Asia.

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Dr Nandini Sankaranarayanan
September 28,2020

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The booming market for digital devices has flooded us with plenty of options to choose from, for various purposes ranging from entertainment to educational and professional uses. Mobile phones, tablets, laptops and video gaming devices have come to play an important part in our daily lives, however, they have also impacted our lifestyles, resulting in some new types of health issues. One of the most common results of the improper/excessive use of digital devices has been an unpleasant eye condition called ‘digital eye strain’.

What is digital eye strain?

Digital eye strain results from spending long hours on digital devices. Common symptoms include watering, itching, stinging or burning sensation, with tired and achy eyes. Sometimes there may be blurring of vision and headache after intense use of digital devices.

Until recently, this condition was commonly seen among IT professionals. But lately, we see many children as young as 4-5 years old being brought to the Ophthalmologist, with digital eye strain.

What has changed for these children? With the shifting of schools to online learning due to the current pandemic, children now spend longer durations with gadgets. It is important that we teach our children on ways to use digital devices without straining their eyes.

Dos and Don’ts for children while using digital devices for long durations

1. Make sure that they sit in well-lit rooms.

2. The device must have a large screen. Avoid small screens like mobile phones or tablets.

3. The screen should be about 40-50 cm from the eyes with a tilt of 10-20 degree and just below the eye level for comfortable viewing.

4. Encourage them to take a break from the screen every 20 minutes or so, and look at some far off object about 20 feet away for 20 seconds before resuming work on the screen. This is called 20-20-20 rule which gives much needed relief for the muscles of the eyes.

5. Use break times to rest and relax the eye. Avoid using digital devices during breaks.

6. Encourage them to blink more often. The blink rate of eyes comes down to about 3-4 from a normal blink rate of 12-15, as one works on the screen for long periods. This hampers the spreading of tear-film, causing dry patches and discomfort in the eyes.

7. For any online extracurricular activities, it’s a good idea to cast it on television which has a bigger screen and can be viewed from far off distance without strain on the eyes.

8. Avoid screen-related activities about 1-2 hours prior to bedtime.

When to consult a doctor

Following the tips outlined above will go a long way in avoiding digital eye strain, especially in young eyes. In spite of all these precautions, it’s not unusual for the child to complain of redness, watering, itching, blurring, headache and in severe cases, even squinting of eyes.

In any of the aforementioned cases, immediate consultation must be sought from a qualified Specialist Ophthalmologist who will thoroughly evaluate their eyes and give appropriate treatment. It’s not unusual for the ophthalmologist to detect refractive problems or squint in eyes which the child and parents may not be aware of.

The only connect for our children with the outside world in these challenging times is through these digital devices! Let us not chide them for using these devices, but teach them the proper way of utilizing them for their benefit!

 

Dr Nandini Sankaranarayanan is a Specialist Ophthalmologist at Thumbay Medical and Dental Specialty Centre, Sharjah.

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Agencies
September 29,2020

Pune, Sept 29: A further collaboration among the Serum Institute of India (SII), the world's largest vaccine manufacturer by volume, Gavi and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will accelerate the manufacture and delivery of up to 100 million doses of safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines for India and low-and middle income countries.

This brings the total number of vaccine doses to be covered by the partnership between SII, Gavi, and the Gates Foundation to an aggregate of up to 200 million doses, following the initial agreement for up to 100 million doses announced in August.

The arrangement again provides an option to secure additional doses if the vaccines pillar of the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator sees a need for it. The collaboration will provide upfront capital to SII to help it increase manufacturing capacity now so that, once a vaccine, or vaccines, gains regulatory approval and WHO Prequalification, doses can be distributed at scale to LMICs as part of the Gavi COVAX AMC mechanism as early as the first half of 2021.

"The collaboration further bolsters our fight against COVID-19. Through the avid support of Gavi and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, we will now manufacture and deliver up to an additional 100 million doses of immunogenic and safe-proven future Covid-19 vaccines to India and low- and middle-income countries in 2021," said Adar Poonawalla, CEO of Serum Institute of India.

He added, "At this stage, it is important for governments, global health and financial institutions in the public and private sector to come together in ensuring that no one is left behind in the road to recovery. This association is in line with our efforts to see that the future vaccines reach the remotest part of the world providing full immunization coverage in a bid to contain the spread of the pandemic."

The funding will help accelerate the manufacturing by SII for candidate vaccines licensed from AstraZeneca and Novavax, which will be available for procurement if they are successful in attaining full licensure and WHO Prequalification.

The vaccines will have a ceiling price of US$3 per dose, a price enabled by investments made by partners such as the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and SII. "This is vaccine manufacturing for the Global South, by the Global South, helping us to ensure no country is left behind when it comes to access to a Covid-19 vaccine," said Dr. Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.

"The momentum behind our effort to ensure global, equitable access to Covid-19 vaccines is really building. Last week, we were able to announce the historic number of countries that are now signed up to the COVAX Facility, today we can announce further doses of safe, effective vaccines that will be reserved specifically for low- and middle-income countries. No country, rich or poor, should be left at the back of the queue when it comes to Covid-19 vaccines; this collaboration brings us another step closer to achieving this goal."

The Gavi COVAX AMC, which is currently seeking at least US$2 billion in initial seed funding, will meet at least part of the cost of procurement for the vaccine doses. The Gavi Board has agreed upon the final list of 92 countries that will be supported by the Gavi COVAX AMC. Under the new collaboration, AstraZeneca's candidate vaccine, if successful, will be available to 61 Gavi-eligible countries.

Novavax's candidate, if successful, will be available to all 92 countries supported by the Gavi COVAX AMC. These countries align with SII's licensing agreements with the two partners. The collaboration between Gavi, SII, and the Gates Foundation supports the efforts of the ACT Accelerator's vaccines pillar, also known as COVAX, co-led by Gavi, CEPI and the World Health Organization (WHO), to accelerate the development of COVID-19 vaccines and ensure rapid, global access to them.

Decisions around investment in manufacturing are taken in close collaboration between these three lead organisations of the COVAX pillar. Under the COVAX umbrella, Gavi is coordinating the COVAX Facility, which provides governments with the opportunity to benefit from a large portfolio of Covid-19 candidate vaccines using a range of technology platforms, produced by more manufacturers across the world, with a bigger market to provide security of demand.

So far 73 higher-income economies have formally committed to join the Facility, in addition to the 92 low- and middle-income economies that are eligible for support from the Gavi COVAX AMC. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, via its Strategic Investment Fund, will provide at-risk funding of a further US$150 million to Gavi, bringing the total funding provided through this collaboration to US$300 million.

This will be used to support the Serum Institute of India to manufacture potential vaccine candidates, and for future procurement of vaccines for India and low- and middle-income countries via Gavi's COVAX AMC.

The deal is additional to a Memorandum of Understanding between AstraZeneca and Gavi, announced in June, which will commit an additional 300 million doses of AstraZeneca's candidate vaccine to the wider COVAX Facility, to be supplied upon licensure or prequalification. These two deals can help assure access to early doses for the most vulnerable on a truly global scale.

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