coronavirus

medicine

The New Coronavirus Vaccine Is Changing The Future Of Medicine

While the vaccines for Covid-19 seem to have been created in record time, the technology making them possible has been decades in development. The two vaccine candidates produced by Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna are unlike any other vaccine that’s come before. Should they achieve commercial success, it could usher in a new era of medical science — not just for vaccines, but for cancer treatments, blood disorders, and gene therapy.

The two new vaccines are the first ever to use mRNA, which stands for “messenger RNA,” to generate immunity. Historically, vaccines have used dead or weakened viruses to imitate an infection, spurring the body to make antibodies against that virus without danger of getting sick. Measles, polio, and some seasonal flu shots are examples of vaccines made with whole virus particles.

Other vaccines use only certain fragments of the virus, called antigens, that provoke an immune response. To make this type of vaccine, the genetic code for the desired viral antigen molecule is put into yeast or bacteria cells. These microbes can be grown rapidly and inexpensively, and they can churn out massive quantities of antigen. Then the molecule must be purified to clinical standards so that it’s safe to inject into healthy people. Prevnar and Gardasil are examples of this type of vaccine.

These methods work well, but they require enormous research and development efforts. A laboratory could spend years optimizing the methods for producing one virus protein, but those methods wouldn’t automatically translate to mass-producing a different protein.

“For every new protein, you start over. It’s a brand-new procedure every step of the way,” explains immunologist Drew Weissman of the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. Weissman is one of the pioneering scientists behind the mRNA vaccine.

“The way I see it, the mRNA platform is much better, it’s much quicker, and it’s cheaper,” says Weissman. “That’s the trilogy of what you need to improve vaccines.” With mRNA, the steps are the same, no matter what virus the vaccine is targeting. This makes it easily customizable. Once an mRNA manufacturing facility is up and running, it can easily be deployed to make vaccines against any number of viral antigens.

How is that possible? Here’s how it works

A strand of mRNA carries the instructions for making one protein. Your cells normally make their own mRNA strands and use them as blueprints to manufacture all the proteins your body needs to function.

The vaccine slips a new strand of mRNA into the cell, like an extra page in the blueprint. This mRNA contains the instructions for making the coronavirus spike protein, and the cell reads it the same way it reads its own mRNAs, using it to build the viral protein. The immune system recognizes that protein as foreign, and starts making antibodies against it. Then, if you’re exposed

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fitness

Top fitness executives are fighting to keep gyms open amid coronavirus

  • As of Thursday, four states — including Minnesota, New Mexico, Oregon, and Washington — re-issued state-mandated shutdowns requiring gyms to temporarily close to halt the spread of the virus.
  • In conversations with Business Insider, the chief executives of Life Time Fitness, Self Esteem Brands, and Retro Fitness make their case for leaving fitness centers open and explain why they believe closing them is a threat to public health. 
  • “If you look at a macro level, what’s frustrating to us is this country has a health problem and it’s not just COVID,” said Self Esteem Brands Chuck Runyon. “There is no better time for health officials around the country to remind people to take control of our health.”
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

While the pandemic has put a damper on Thanksgiving plans for many Americans, rising coronavirus cases are also hindering traditional pre-feast fitness routines like annual turkey trot races and family gym outings. 

As of Thursday, four states — including Minnesota, New Mexico, Oregon, and Washington — re-issued state-mandated shutdowns requiring gyms to temporarily shutter to halt the spread of the virus. And while gyms in most states remain open for now, officials in regions like New York are enforcing earlier closing times and stricter capacity limits for fitness centers. 

The closures are sparking outcry and exacerbating existing feuds between gym owners and state officials regarding what types of businesses are permitted to remain open and determined essential. 

In conversations with Business Insider, the chief executives of Life Time Fitness, Self Esteem Brands, and Retro Fitness made their case for leaving fitness centers open and explain why they feel closing is a threat to public health. Here’s what they had to say. 

Gym owners push lawmakers for essential status 

Compounding the struggle for gym owners and consumers alike is a lack of conclusive data regarding exposure and infection rates at gyms, leaving many experts and policymakers at odds over the best course of action.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention maintains that “indoor spaces are more risky than outdoor spaces” and several reports found fitness centers — including a spin studio in Ontario, Canada and an indoor ice rink in Massachusetts — tied to several coronavirus outbreaks. Further, a recent analysis by Northwestern University found that gyms were among superspreader venues early in the virus, based on cellphone mobility data. 

Still, other studies — including a September report from the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association — are reporting contrary findings that show low risk of infection at gyms. While IHRSA reported infection rates as low as .0023% across 2,873 fitness centers, The Washington Post reported that concerns have arisen over the methodology of the survey and conflicts of interest in its development. 

Regardless, gym owners are fighting tooth and nail to keep their facilities open, using any helpful data point to their advantage. 

Among the most vocal opponents of gym closures is Bahram Akradi, the founder and CEO of Life Time Fitness, a Minnesota-based company

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dentist

Dentist offices remain ‘extremely safe’ during coronavirus pandemic

Cesareo Contreras
 
| MetroWest Daily News

ASHLAND –  More than nine months into the coronavirus pandemic, many local businesses are still struggling to get by. But for Dr. Sandra Cove, who owns a dental office at 37 Main St., business has been great.  

“People are knocking the door down,” she said. 

The anxiety of the pandemic is weighing down on many. And that is often reflected on oral health, Cove said.

It’s not uncommon for Cove to see people around the holidays come in with problems, given the stress during this time of year. She is seeing patients with major dental issues at a rate she has never seen in her career. 

From cavities and inflamed gums to chipped and infected teeth, the issues are various.  

“We have this phenomenon in dentistry. Whenever people are under a lot of stress, a lot crazy things happen – a lot of root canals and broken teeth,” she said. “A lot of this stuff happens around Christmas time and Thanksgiving and it only lasts for a week or two, but this going on for six months, where every day, I must have two or three broken teeth due to stress or people gums are completely on fire because they are overreacting to the bacteria because their defenses are down.” 

Dr. MaryJane Hanlon, president of the Massachusetts Dental Society, said she isn’t surprised by number of patients Cove has seen with new and serious dental problems.  

“Sandra, I know, is very busy, and many practices are busy,” she said. “Some practices never slowed down. They saw a lot of emergency care. … The bottom line is that we are seeing a breakdown because people were very concerned about going to the dentist. ” 

While some dental offices are doing well, others have been hit hard.  

Hanlon is the dean of operations at Tufts University and manages all of the school’s clinical operations. Unlike Cove, she said she has seen a decline in the number of people visiting the clinic. Before the pandemic, the college would see around 600 people a day. Now they are seeing half of that. 

In June, the association conducted a survey to better understand how dental offices in the state were faring during the pandemic. The survey was taken by more than 400 dental practice owners. 

More than half of responders said they expect it to take between seven months to over a year to get the number of patients they had before the pandemic hit. 

Nearly 90% of dental practices are spending between $8 – $29 or greater per patient on personal protective equipment, according to survey. 

Moreover, more than half or respondents said the pandemic has cost their practice $225,000 in office upgrades and loss in patients. 

Cove said she thinks a big reason why people are coming to her office is because they feel reassured that the appropriate measures are in place to keep them safe from the coronavirus. 

After the start of pandemic in March, Cove

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fitness

Philadelphia Fitness Coalition protesting restrictions on city gyms amid coronavirus pandemic

More than two dozen gyms in Philadelphia are joining forces, demanding that the city allows them to reopen.

Philly Fitness Coalition is fighing the restrictions for gyms in the city

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UP NEXT

They have created the Philadelphia Fitness Coalition and have gathered more than 1,500 signatures in opposition to the new restrictions.

As the number of covid-19 cases rises, the city required gyms to shut down indoor activities at the end of last week.

But gym owners say it is unfair because of the safety precautions they have put in place.

They plan to protest outside of City Hall on Tuesday.

Last week, the city’s top health official, Dr. Thomas Farley, defended the city’s decision to tighten restrictions, saying now is the riskiest time for the transmission of the virus.

“What was now safe is now dangerous with the change in the weather. Many businesses feel they put safety measures in place, sure they have, and I’m sure there’s no spread there and that’s true in many places. Remember, there are more people than ever with the virus,” said Farley.

City officials said dramatic action is needed to respond to an exponential growth in cases and hospitalizations.

On Thursday, health officials announced 765 additional confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Philadelphia. That brings the number of confirmed cases to 57,237.

The number of residents who have died from the virus in Philadelphia is 1,945.

How is 2nd wave of COVID-19 impacting local hospitals?

As the second wave of COVID-19 hits the Philadelphia region, doctors and medical professionals discuss how the virus is impacting hospitals.

Grey Lodge Pub in Mayfair closing

The new round of COVID-19 regulations was the final straw for one Philadelphia restaurant. The Grey Lodge Pub in Mayfair is closing its doors for good after 70 years in business. The Lucky Cat Brewing Company, which is a standalone business inside the pub, will remain open.

Philadelphia museums knocked back down by new COVID-19 restrictions

The new restrictions put in place to tackle the surge of COVID-19 cases in Philadelphia are hitting museums in the area hard. After going through a five-month shutdown during the first wave, they are being shut down again, which in some cases, will cause hard economic pain and uncertainty for employees.

National Constitution Center temporarily closes to the public through January 1, 2021

In accordance with health guidelines from the City of Philadelphia in response to COVID-19, the National Constitution Center is temporarily closed to the public through January 1, 2021. The Center offers a range of free online programs and resources for learners of all ages. CLICK HERE to learn more.

Houses of worship in Philly vow to persevere amid new COVID restrictions

The new COVID-19 restrictions in Philadelphia will have a major impact on houses of worship, which for the time being can operate at only 5% capacity. While the Archdiocese of Philadelphia revises its guidance, some churches and synagogues in the city have a variety of innovative plans

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fitness

Philadelphia COVID-19 today: Philadelphia Fitness Coalition protesting gym closures in city amid coronavirus pandemic

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) — More than two dozen gyms in Philadelphia are joining forces, demanding that the city allows them to reopen.

They have created the Philadelphia Fitness Coalition and have gathered more than 1,500 signatures in opposition to the new restrictions.

As the number of covid-19 cases rises, the city required gyms to shut down indoor activities at the end of last week.

But gym owners say it is unfair because of the safety precautions they have put in place.

They plan to protest outside of City Hall on Tuesday.

Last week, the city’s top health official, Dr. Thomas Farley, defended the city’s decision to tighten restrictions, saying now is the riskiest time for the transmission of the virus.

“What was now safe is now dangerous with the change in the weather. Many businesses feel they put safety measures in place, sure they have, and I’m sure there’s no spread there and that’s true in many places. Remember, there are more people than ever with the virus,” said Farley.

City officials said dramatic action is needed to respond to an exponential growth in cases and hospitalizations.

On Thursday, health officials announced 765 additional confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Philadelphia. That brings the number of confirmed cases to 57,237.

The number of residents who have died from the virus in Philadelphia is 1,945.

How is 2nd wave of COVID-19 impacting local hospitals?

As the second wave of COVID-19 hits the Philadelphia region, doctors and medical professionals discuss how the virus is impacting hospitals.

Grey Lodge Pub in Mayfair closing

The new round of COVID-19 regulations was the final straw for one Philadelphia restaurant. The Grey Lodge Pub in Mayfair is closing its doors for good after 70 years in business. The Lucky Cat Brewing Company, which is a standalone business inside the pub, will remain open.

Philadelphia museums knocked back down by new COVID-19 restrictions


The new restrictions put in place to tackle the surge of COVID-19 cases in Philadelphia are hitting museums in the area hard. After going through a five-month shutdown during the first wave, they are being shut down again, which in some cases, will cause hard economic pain and uncertainty for employees.

National Constitution Center temporarily closes to the public through January 1, 2021

In accordance with health guidelines from the City of Philadelphia in response to COVID-19, the National Constitution Center is temporarily closed to the public through January 1, 2021. The Center offers a range of free online programs and resources for learners of all ages. CLICK HERE to learn more.

Houses of worship in Philly vow to persevere amid new COVID restrictions


The new COVID-19 restrictions in Philadelphia will have a major impact on houses of worship, which for the time being can operate at only 5% capacity. While the Archdiocese of Philadelphia revises its guidance, some churches and synagogues in the city have a variety of innovative plans to carry on through the holidays.

Philadelphia-area stores stock up as new COVID restrictions set

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dentist

Tokyo dentist nabbed for allegedly selling gargle solutions by pitching coronavirus efficacy

Gargling solutions and other items seized by the Metropolitan Police Department are seen in this photo taken at Kojimachi Police Station in Tokyo’s Chiyoda Ward on Nov. 20, 2020. (Mainichi/Takuya Suzuki)


TOKYO — A 58-year-old dentist and three others were arrested for allegedly advertising and selling gargle solutions, which have not been approved as pharmaceutical products, as effective in countering the novel coronavirus.


The Metropolitan Police Department’s life environment division announced on Nov. 20 that it had arrested the four, including dentist Kiyoshi Amano from Tokyo’s Shibuya Ward, on suspicion of violating the Pharmaceutical and Medical Device Act.


It is conducting further investigations on the assumption that the four suspects sold the solutions to a total of 8,500 people between January and July via the internet and earned around 44 million yen (roughly $423,867).


The suspects are specifically accused of advertising on an online sales site four types of gargle solutions that have not been approved by the minister of Health, Labor and Welfare, including Periotreat, as “highly likely to have a sterilizing effect against the novel coronavirus,” and selling a total of 67 such items to five customers in Tokyo for some 150,000 yen (about $1,450). They are also accused of storing some 4,200 gargle items for the purpose of selling them.


According to the life environment section, Amano has told investigators, “The advertisement did not have contents violating the law. We didn’t sell them as pharmaceutical products.” The other three have also reportedly denied knowing their actions were illegal.


Papers accusing sales site operator Amano Dental, headed by Amano himself, of the same charges were also sent to prosecutors.


The gargle solutions originally cost about 700 yen (about $6.7) per 500-milliliter bottle, but were sold at around 2,000 yen (about $19.3) each on the website from January 2019. They had been advertised to have an effect against influenza, diabetes, esophageal cancer and other diseases, even since before the spread of the coronavirus.


Amano has appeared in newspapers, magazines, TV and other media as a dentist on topics including dental health and bad breath.


(Japanese original by Makoto Kakizaki and Takuya Suzuki, City News Department)

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dentist

19 million NHS dentist appointments ‘missed’ due to coronavirus guidelines

Around 19 million NHS dental appointments have been missed due to coronavirus guidelines restricting services, dentists have warned.

In a letter to Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, the British Dental Association (BDA) has called on the Government to invest in practices to help them increase their capacity and provide vital care.

Nearly three quarters of practices are operating at half their pre-pandemic capacity, according to a survey carried out by the BDA, with nearly two thirds (63 per cent) reporting that they are focusing on emergency cases over routine dentistry.

The “major obstacle” to increasing capacity is “fallow time” – the mandated time needed between patients to minimise risks of coronavirus transmission – dentists say.

And despite new regulations allowing dentists to cut this wait time down from 60 minutes  following an Aerosol Generating Procedure (APG) to potentially as low as 15 minutes, 57 per cent said they lack the funds to invest in the equipment required to do so.

As a result, tens of millions of patients are missing out on treatment, according to the BDA.

Data obtained through freedom of information requests show there were around 14.5 million fewer treatments delivered by NHS dentists in England between April and August 2020 compared to the same period last year – where monthly delivery was around 3.3million on average.

According to the BDA activity has not exceeded a third of normal levels for September and October, bringing the number of missed courses to an estimated 19 million.  

“Covid-19 restrictions on patient throughput, set by government, are placing significant limits on the number of patients we can treat for the foreseeable future. Your support could help bring tens of millions of patients back through our doors to get the care they need,” the letter to Mr Hancock states.

Eddie Crouch, BDA Chair, said coronavirus restrictions have left dentists “firefighting with huge backlogs”.

“We now face a Catch-22. New rules could bring back a dose of normality, but come with a multi-million-pound bill for new kit that practices simply cannot afford,” he said.  

“On paper we have a chance to restore services to millions, but without support from Government it won’t translate into better access.”  

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fitness

At-home fitness may outlast coronavirus pandemic as digital offerings keep customers engaged

At-home workouts have been the go-to solution since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic and with new cases surging and winter approaching, the trend may be far from over. 

Companies first saw an influx of new members amid widespread lockdown orders when droves of Americans were holed up inside and gyms were shuttered. Companies are preparing for continued demand as cold weather is likely to keep even more fitness junkies indoors.

At-home fitness has always been a part of people’s lives, however, due to technological advancements and social media, working out at home has come a long way since the early 1980s when American actress Jane Fonda and others took over the scene with VHS exercise tapes. The videos sold tens of millions of copies and ignited a swath of TV workout programs, according to the BBC. However, the outdated tapes are a far cry from the virtual trainers and live-streamed classes that many are privy to today.

This new technology is a key tool for many companies in helping to keep consumers both motivated and inspired especially amid the current climate.

CORONAVIRUS ACCELERATES STREAMING FITNESS CLASS INDUSTRY

In a recent earnings call, Planet Fitness CEO Chris Rondeau noted that the company’s United We Move initiative, which offers free at-home workouts through its social media pages, “continues to see strong results.” The program has reached 45 million viewers in 36 countries since the pandemic began, Rondeau said.

Planet Fitness isn’t alone.

Total connected fitness subscriptions for Peloton climbed to more than 1.33 million at the end of the quarter and total digital subscriptions grew 382% to over 510,000.

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All of its fitness members completed more than 90 million workouts across over 17,000 classes, up 332% year-over-year. As a result, the company says it’s continuing to “ramp content production” producing over 2,400 new classes in the last quarter alone.

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
PTON PELOTON INTERACTIVE 100.01 -25.45 -20.29%
PLNT PLANET FITNESS INC 78.07 +10.88 +16.19%
NKE NIKE INC. 128.95 +0.05 +0.04%

Moving forward, the company expects to see “elevated engagement levels, higher penetration of digital subscriptions, and continued fitness and wellness programming investments,” according to an earnings report.

For Nike, it’s all about “dialing up” its digital ecosystem and “leveraging” its entire digital portfolio, Heidi O’Neill, Nike president of consumer and marketplace, told FOX Business.

This includes Nike.com, the Nike app, Nike Run Club app, the Nike Training Club app and Nike social channels. Nike Run Club alone welcomed more than 1 million new runners in March and saw a 42% increase in runs logged, the company told FOX Business.

Home fitness company Mirror sells full-length mirrors that give consumers access to on-demand workouts. It also saw a surge in business with workouts per household growing 70% during peak COVID months, a company spokesperson told FOX Business.

Mirror

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dentist

Dentist Natalia Nairn is jailed for skipping coronavirus quarantine to work

Dentist JAILED for treating 41 patients when she was meant to be in coronavirus quarantine isolation in Perth

  • Ukrainian dentist Nataliia Nairn flew from Canberra to Perth via Sydney
  • Instead of 14 days of isolation, she treated 41 patients over eight days 
  • Jailed for two months with a further five months’ suspended sentence  

A Ukrainian dentist who treated patients while she was supposed to be in mandatory coronavirus quarantine has been jailed for two months.

Natalia Nairn, 31, flew into Western Australia from Canberra via Sydney and was meant to go straight into 14 days of self-isolation due to border restrictions.

Instead the dentist and keen powerlifter treated 41 patients over eight days at a Joondalup dental practice in  where she worked part-time. 

Natalia Nairn (right) outside Joondalup Magistrates Court on Monday

Natalia Nairn (right) outside Joondalup Magistrates Court on Monday

The weightlifting dentist from Tapping, Perth, previously pleaded guilty to eight charges of failing to comply with a direction under the Emergency Management Act in Joondalup Magistrates Court.

Defence lawyer Katherine Dowling told the court that Nairn was remorseful for her actions, and was under financial stress at the time, trying to pay off her debts. 

Nairn, who has no previous convictions, had told the court she was a health professional who had taken the necessary safety precautions such as wearing protective equipment when she travelled. 

Nataliia Nairn (pictured) was sentenced to seven months' jail with only two months to serve

Nataliia Nairn (pictured) was sentenced to seven months’ jail with only two months to serve

Nairn, who is a powerlifter, was supposed to be in self-isolation when she treated patients

Nairn, who is a powerlifter, was supposed to be in self-isolation when she treated patients 

Magistrate Matthew Walton described her excuse as ‘untenable’ and ‘staggeringly naive’ on Monday before sentencing her to a seven months’ jail.

She will only have to serve two months behind bars with the remainder of the sentence suspended for eight months.

Nairn walked into the courthouse on Monday but didn’t come out again as she was taken directly to prison. 

Her career as a dentist has now been threatened by her criminal conviction, with the  Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency to decide if she can work again after she serves out her sentence, 7News reported.

When police officers visited Nairn’s home in the Perth suburb of Tapping to check on her quarantine between June 17 and 18, they found she was not there. 

The dentist broke quarantine on several occasions between June 17 and 18, and again between June 21 and June 29. 

Although she tested negative for coronavirus, the close personal nature of her work would have put her patients at serious risk if she had been carrying the virus.  

The offences carry a maximum penalty of $50,000 or 12 months in prison. 

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dentist

Dentist jailed for seeing Perth clients during mandatory coronavirus self-quarantine

A Perth dentist has been sentenced to two months’ immediate jail for breaching COVID-19 quarantine requirements and treating 41 patients despite knowing the health risk posed by the virus.

During sentencing in the Joondalup Magistrates Court, Magistrate Matthew Walton told Natalia Nairn her offending constituted a “contemptible disregard” for the rules.

He said she could have been responsible for spreading the virus through the community.

“The offender did pose a significant risk to the health and safety of West Australians,” Magistrate Walton said.

Nairn flew back to Perth from Canberra on June 16 via Sydney and was supposed to quarantine at home for two weeks.

But the court heard on seven or eight occasions, she left her home to work at a dental clinic and treated 41 patients.

She even went to the dental clinic again after police tried to contact her at her home over the breach.

She was charged with eight offences of failing to comply with a direction under the Emergency Management Act.

Nairn pleaded guilty on October 21.

Magistrate dismisses ‘feeling fine’ defence

Magistrate Walton said Nairn’s view she did not pose a risk because she was “feeling fine” was “patently ridiculous” and “staggeringly naive or at the very least irrelevant”.

He said she knew the risk and in fact wore PPE while treating patients.

“She took those measures to fundamentally protect herself,” he said.

Magistrate Walton described the crimes as deliberate and at the “upper range of seriousness”.

He said she risked potentially freshly introducing COVID-19 into the state, through 41 patients who could have then spread it through their own networks and contacts.

He took into consideration her remorse, early guilty plea and the fact she may be registered as a dentist.

But he said the offending warranted a jail term.

Nairn was sentenced to two months in prison, as well as another five months suspended for a period of eight months.

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