Study questions if violent video games lead to acts of violence

Agencies
November 7, 2019

Washington D.C., Nov 7: A recent study has questioned the perception of violent video games leading to acts of violence.

The study published in 'The Contemporary Economic Policy' journal has examined data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health, a nationally representative sample of adolescents in grades 7-12 in the United States between April and December 1995.

Over 15,000 participants were followed into young adulthood with four waves of in-home interviews, with the last interview conducted in 2008, when participants were 24-32 years old.

"While the data show that fighting later in life is related to playing video games as an adolescent, most of this is because, relative to females, males both play games more often and fight more often. Estimates that better establish causality find no effect or a small negative effect," said author Michael Ward, PhD, of The University of Texas at Arlington.

"This is my fourth analysis using a fourth methodology and the fourth dataset on actual outcomes that finds no violent effects from video games," added Dr Ward.

He noted that it is important that studies examine real-world outcomes and that they account for competing reasons why negative outcomes might be related to video game playing.

"Video game development is among the fastest evolving forms of human expression ever devised. It is hard for us to imagine the experiences that games developed over just the next few decades will provide," he said.

"It would be a shame to unintentionally, and needlessly, stifle this explosion of creativity with content-based policy interventions," added Dr Ward.

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Agencies
September 18,2020

London, Sept 18: Researchers have created a 90-minute high speed COVID-19 test which does not require a laboratory and can be performed in cartridges smaller than a mobile phone with high accuracy.

The study, published in the journal The Lancet Microbe, revealed that the Lab-in-Cartridge rapid testing device, which can be performed at a patient's bedside, was shown to have over 94 per cent sensitivity and 100 per cent specificity,

It means that it had a high level of accuracy and produced very few false negatives and no false positives.

To perform the test, a paediatric-sized nose swab from a patient is inserted into the device, which then looks for traces of genetic material belonging to the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19.

A result is available within 90 minutes, compared to conventional COVID-19 testing which delivers a result in 24 hours.

"These results suggest the test, which can be performed at a patient's bedside without the need to handle any sample material, has comparable accuracy to standard laboratory testing," said study researcher Graham Cooke from the Kings College London in the UK.

According to the study, the device was used on 280 NHS staff members with suspected COVID-19, 15 patients in accident & emergency department with suspected COVID-19, and 91 hospital in-patients.

The samples from all individuals in the study were analysed on both the rapid-testing device, called the COVIDNudge test, and standard hospital laboratory equipment - and then the results compared.

The research team assessed sensitivity and specificity.

Sensitivity is a measure of how well a test gives a positive result for people who have disease, and is an indication of how likely a test will produce false negative results.

Specificity, on the other hand, is a measure of a test's ability to give a negative result for people who don't have the disease, and is an indication of the likelihood of false positive results.

The percentage of those found to be positive for COVID-19 was 18 per cent.

The results showed 67 samples tested positive on the COVID Nudge test, compared with 71 positive results against a range of standard laboratory machines, which represents the value of 94 per cent sensitivity.

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Agencies
September 17,2020

covid.jpg

New Delhi, Sept 17: Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Thursday said that the coronavirus vaccine will be made available in the country by the start of next year. The remarks come at a time when India is recording more than 50 lakh cases and people are awaiting the vaccine with bated breath.

"Just like other countries, India is also making efforts. Three vaccines candidates are in different phases. Under Prime Minister's guidance, an expert group is looking at it and there is advanced planning in place. We are hopeful that by the start of next year a vaccine will be available in India," Harsh Vardhan said in Rajya Sabha.

Two indigenous vaccines by Zydus Cadila and Bharat Biotech have completed phase 1. Serum Institute of India (SII) has again commenced the trials after getting clearance from the Drug Controller General of India.

India is the manufacturing partner of the vaccine candidate named Covishield, developed jointly by the University of Oxford's Jenner Institute's and AstraZeneca. The Pune-based firm, SII, is looking after the trials at 17 trial sites across India.

Besides this, the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) and Dr. Reddy's Laboratories Limited, a global pharmaceutical company headquartered out of India, have agreed to cooperate on clinical trials and distribution of Sputnik V vaccine in India.

Sputnik V, an adenovirus vector-based vaccine, was developed by the Gamaleya Scientific Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology, along with the Russian Direct Investment Fund and registered on August 11.

"On regulatory approval in India, RDIF shall supply to Dr. Reddy's 100 million doses of the vaccine. The Sputnik V vaccine, which is based on well-studied human adenoviral vector platform with proven safety, is undergoing clinical trials for the coronavirus pandemic," said a statement from the fund.

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Agencies
September 17,2020

Vaccine candidates for COVID-19 should elicit a broad immune response that includes antibodies, and the body's helper and killer T cells, according to a study which says weak or uncoordinated immunity may lead to a poor disease outcome.

The research, published in the journal Cell, confirms that a multi-layered, virus-specific immune response is important for controlling the novel coronavirus during the acute phase of the infection and reducing COVID-19 disease severity.

"Our observations could also explain why older COVID-19 patients are much more vulnerable to the disease," said study senior author Shane Crotty from the La Jolla Institute for Immunology in the US.

"With increasing age, the reservoir of T cells that can be activated against a specific virus declines and the body's immune response becomes less coordinated, which looks to be one factor making older people drastically more susceptible to severe or fatal COVID-19," Crotty said.

In the research, the scientists collected blood samples from 50 COVID-19 patients, and analysed multiple branches of their immune system -- novel coronavirus specific antibodies, helper and killer T cells.

"It was particularly important to us to capture the whole range of disease manifestation from mild to critically ill so we could identify differentiating immunological factors," said study co-author and infectious disease specialist Sydney Ramirez.

The researchers found that all fully recovered individuals had measurable antibody, helper and killer T cell responses against the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2.

However, they said the response varied widely in acute COVID-19 patients, with some lacking neutralising antibodies, others helper or killer T cells or any combination thereof.

"When we looked at a combination of all of our data across all 111 measured parameters we found that in general, people who mounted a broader and well-coordinated adaptive response tended to do better," said Carolyn Moderbacher, another co-author of the study from La Jolla Institute for Immunology.

"A strong SARS-CoV-2 specific T cell response, in particular, was predictive of milder disease. Individuals whose immune response was less coordinated tended to have poorer outcomes," Moderbacher said.

The scientists found that the effect was magnified when they broke down the dataset by age.

"People over the age of 65 were much more likely to have poor T cell responses, and a poorly coordinated immune response, and thus have much more severe or fatal COVID-19," Crotty said.

The scientists explained that as people age, the immune system's supply of deployable immature T cells dwindles, with fewer cells available to be activated to respond to a new virus.

"This could either lead to a delayed adaptive immune response that is unable to control a virus until it is too late to limit disease severity or the magnitude of the response is insufficient," Moderbacher said.

The scientists believe T cells, and helper T cells in particular, are associated with better protective immune responses.

"This was perplexing to many people, but controlling a primary infection is not the same as vaccine-induced immunity, where the adaptive immune system is ready to pounce at time zero," Crotty said.

"Thus, these findings indicate it is plausible T cells are more important in natural SARS-CoV-2 infection, and antibodies more important in a COVID-19 vaccine," he said.

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