Strengthen immunity         Stay healthy

One Covid vaccine cuts infection rate in all age groups

The UK was the first country to prove use of covid vaccine. In a few month time, millions of people had their first dose of covid vaccine. Research has shown that the chances of becoming infected by Covid fell sharply after a first dose of either the AstraZeneca or Pfizer vaccines. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) and University of Oxford research also found a strong antibody response in all age groups from either jab.

One research is based on virus tests from 370,000 people in the general UK population - one of the largest to date. It provides further real-world evidence that the vaccines being used in the UK to protect against Covid-19 are effective at protecting people against coronavirus infections. people who had been vaccinated with a single dose of either the Oxford-AstraZeneca or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines were 65% less likely to get a new Covid infection. Those who had received a second vaccine dose of Pfizer were 90% less likely to be infected. Three weeks after their jab, given between December 2020 and early April 2021, infections with symptoms fell by 74%, while infections with no reported symptoms fell by 57%. Both vaccines were effective against the Kent variant (B117). Another study, with 46,000 adults who had been vaccinated with one dose, found strong antibody responses in all age groups which were lasting beyond 10 weeks.

References

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-56844220

Coronavirus vaccine

In the UK, there are 2 types of COVID-19 vaccine The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and The Oxford vaccine to be used once they are approved. They both require 2 doses to provide the best protection. Both have been shown to be safe and effective in clinical trials.

The NHS first offers these vaccines to those at highest risk of catching the disease and of suffering serious complications or dying from COVID-19 which includes older adults in care homes and frontline health and social care workers. When more vaccine becomes available, the vaccines will be offered to other people at risk as soon as possible.

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was found to be safe and effective by the UK medicines regulator and has been approved for mass use in over-16s. Margaret Keenan who was turning 91 was the first person in the world to receive a dose. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has manufacturing sites in Europe and the US. Initial vaccine doses for the UK are being produced at Pfizer's site in Puurs, Belgium.

The vaccine from Pfizer is made using genetic material RNA, a part of the virus's genetic code. This is injected into patients to activate patient’s immune cells. This technique never before developed on this scale - it has strict temperature requirements and needs to be stored at a very cold -70C to prevent it from degrading. This means it needs to be transported in a carefully controlled deep-freeze delivery chain.

The Oxford vaccine is a genetically modified common cold virus that used to infect chimpanzees. it can't trigger infection in humans because it has had a tiny bit of genetic material removed. A fragment of the genetic code for coronavirus is inserted into this gap. This forms the vaccine. The technical term is a viral vector vaccine. The Oxford vaccine has a crucial advantage - its vials can be stored and transported at normal fridge temperature.

Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine has been approved for use in UK just before New Year 2021.

The first people will receive the Oxford University/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine on 4 January 2021 as the NHS rapidly expands COVID-19 vaccination programmes across the UK.

The NHS is the first health service in the world to deploy the life-saving jab, which has been authorised by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) after meeting strict standards of safety, quality and effectiveness. It is the only approved vaccine which can be stored at fridge temperatures.

Brian Pinker, 82-year-old has become the first person in the world to receive the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine since it was approved for use in the UK.

References

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-vaccination-why-you-are-being-asked-to-wait/why-you-have-to-wait-for-your-covid-19-vaccine

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-55308216

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/first-people-to-receive-oxford-universityastrazeneca-covid-19-vaccine-today-4-january-2021

New coronavirus variants

New variants of a virus are expected to occur over time, because viruses frequently change through mutation. Sometimes new variants emerge and disappear. Other times, new variants emerge and persist. There is no exception of coronavirus. Multiple variants of the virus that causes COVID-19 have been found globally during this pandemic.

Scientists monitor changes in the virus, including changes to the spikes on the surface of the virus to understand how changes to the virus might affect how it spreads and what happens to people who are infected with it.

Multiple variants of the virus that causes COVID-19 are circulating globally:

In the UK a variant called B.1.1.7 with a large number of mutations was identified in the autumn of 2020. This variant spreads more easily and quickly than other variants. It has since been detected in many countries around the world.

In South Africa, another variant called B.1.351 emerged independently of B.1.1.7. Originally detected in early October 2020, B.1.351 shares some mutations with B.1.1.7.

In Brazil, a variant called P.1 emerged that was first identified in travelers from Brazil, who were tested during routine screening at an airport in Japan, in early January. This variant contains a set of additional mutations that may affect its ability to be recognized by antibodies.

In India, a variant called B.1.617 was first detected in October. One of its mutations is similar to those seen in variants identified in South Africa and Brazil which may help the virus evade antibodies in the immune system.

These variants seem to spread more easily and quickly than other variants, which may lead to more cases of COVID-19.

The good news is that so far, studies suggest that antibodies generated through vaccination with currently authorized vaccines recognize these variants.

References

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/transmission/variant.html

 

Acupuncture helps to strengthen immunity to keep you safe

What is the immune system in the body? Why it is important? The immune system is a defense system in the body containing many organs and cells against diseases such as viral and bacterial infections. Sometimes the immune system does not work well; it can either be underactive or overactive or attack the wrong targets. If the immune system is underactive and low functioning, you could get frequent infections such as viral infection, fungal infection or chronic inflammation in the body such as aching or pain somewhere in the body or IBS, tiredness etc. If the immune system is overactive you could get diseases such as allergy, hay fever, eczma, athma etc. If the immune system targets your own organs you could get autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis.

 

Acupuncture was mostly known for its analgesic effects. It has immunomodulatory effects too. It can reduce or block the inflammatory process. Recent research has shown that acupuncture can help regulate immune system function. For example, a study involved in 34 female patients aged 30-60 with impaired immune function. The result has shown that the improvement of immune function of acupuncture on immune function started from 72 hours after the first acupuncture session and persisted when follow-up time of a month after a year treatments. The impaired immune system in the group was improved significantly to the same level with healthy control group. Acupuncture can reduce pain, edema, hyperemia, in tendonitis. In the acute or chronic inflammation and allergic processes acupuncture can regulate the immune response, decreasing the hyperresponsiveness of the markers pro – inflammatory and modulating immunologic markers such as intereukins, total leukocyte, lymphocyte immunoglobulins or antibodies and cytokines like TNKα.

References

https://www.intechopen.com/books/acupuncture-in-modern-medicine/acupuncture-in-modulation-of-immunity

Arranz L et al Am J Chin Med (2007) 35:35-51

Coronaviruses (CoV) known to cause disease in humans and animals are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases. Some of them including four (human coronaviruses 229E, NL63, OC43 and HKU1) only infect the upper respiratory tract and cause relatively minor symptoms. But, there are three coronaviruses (severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV), Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) and novel coronavirus 2019 (SARS-CoV2) that can attack the lower respiratory tract and cause pneumonia, which can be fatal. SARS-CoV2, the closest relative among human coronaviruses is SARS-CoV which has 79% genetic similarity between the two.  SARS-CoV2 which is most similar to bat coronavirus and the pangolin coronavirus, is a new strain that was discovered in 2019 and has not been previously identified in humans and that can affect your lungs and airways causing COVID-19 disease.

The COVID-19 viral disease has started in Wu Han of China in December 2019 and spread globally. It was a pandemic, officially announced by the World Health Organization on Wednesday 11th March 2020. It spread to more than 200 countries and over 300,000 people were infected with over 16, 000 death by that time. More than 3 million people were infected with over 200,000 fatality by the end of April. The epicenters of the pandemic shifted from Wu Han China to Europe,  then to the US North America and now it moves to Brazil, South America. As of 13th August 2020, over 20 millions population world wide were infected and nearly 750,000 death were reported. 

COVID-19 is highly contagious, which means it spreads easily from person to person. It spreads mostly from person to person through close contact or from droplets that are scattered when a person with the virus sneezes or coughs. People who have the virus are most contagious when they’re showing symptoms. Coronavirus is airborne virus which means that it is mainly transmitted through air by both small dry particles and as well as larger liquid droplets.​ It is possible that someone with the coronavirus infection without showing symptoms can transmit the virus, though it is less common. Also there is a possibility that the virus can be transmitted via touching virus-contaminated surfaces and then touching your mouth or nose, though it is not main way of spreading.

The incubation period for COVID-19 is between 2 to 14 days after exposure. On infection, the median incubation period is approximately 4–5 days before symptom onset , with 97.5% of symptomatic patients developing symptoms within 11.5 days. COVID-19 symptoms start as mild symptoms and gradually get worse over a few days for many people. The main symptoms include fever, shortness of breath, cough, fatigue. Other symptoms are achiness, nasal congestion, sore throat and running nose.

At the point of hospital admission, patients with COVID-19 typically exhibit a fever and dry cough; less commonly, patients also experience difficulty in breathing, muscle and/or joint pain, headache/dizziness, diarrhoea, nausea and the coughing up of blood. Within 5–6 days of symptom onset, SARS-CoV-2 viral load reaches its peak — significantly earlier than that of the related SARS-CoV, where viral load peaks at about 10 days after symptom onset. Severe COVID-19 cases progress to acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), on average around 8–9 days after symptom onset.

The cause of death of COVID-19: In COVID-19 aggressive inflammatory responses result in damage to the airways. Therefore, disease severity in patients is due to not only the viral infection but also the host response. Severe COVID-19 cases progress to acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) characterized by difficulty in breathing and low blood oxygen level. ARDS may lead directly to respiratory failure, which is the cause of death in 70% of fatal COVID-19 case.Besides, the vast release of cytokines by the immune system in response to the viral infection and/or secondary infections can result in a cytokine storm and symptoms of sepsis that are the cause of death in 28% of fatal COVID-19 cases. In these cases, uncontrolled inflammation inflicts multi- organ damage leading to organ failure, especially of the cardiac, hepatic and renal systems.

What to do?

Follow Government rules and seek advice from NHS helpline

Self- isolation

Use the 111 coronavirus service, if

you feel you cannot cope with your symptoms at home

your condition gets worse

your symptoms do not get better after 7 days

Why is it good to drink ginger tea during coronavirus outbreak?

Ginger can help your defence system.

Macrophages a type of defence cells in the body play a dual role in host defence. They act as the first line of defence by mounting an inflammatory response to antigen exposure and also act as antigen presenting cells and initiate the adaptive immune response. They are also the primary infiltrating cells at the site of inflammation. Inhibition of macrophage activation is one of the possible approaches towards modulating inflammation. Ginger, an herbal product with broad anti inflammatory actions was shown that it regulates immune function by inhibiting macrophage activation. A study has shown that ginger ginger improves on cytotoxicity induced by paraben (p-hydroxybenzoic acid) on red blood cells (RBC) in vitro from healthy adult human beings (25-30 years).

Ginger can help protect human bronchial epithelial cells.

Traditionally, ginger is used as an antiinflammatory drug. A recent study tested the effect of ginger extract in inflammation of human bronchial epithelial cells. They found that ginger extracts can reduce inflammatory substances production and suggested that distinct ginger compounds could be used as antiinflammatory drugs in respiratory infections.

Ginger reduces inflammatory and oxidative stress

This review investigated the effects of ginger supplementation on markers of inflammatory and oxidative stress. They evaluated the effects of ginger on some inflammation markers including serum CRP (C-reactive protein), TNF-α (tumor necrosis factor-alpha), IL-6 (interleukin-6), PGE2 (prostaglandin E2), TAC (total antioxidant capacity), and MDA (malondialdehyde). The results of this study indicated a statistically significant effect of ginger on serum CRP, TNF-α, IL-6, TAC, and MDA levels following ginger supplementation in compared to the controls. Also, the effects of ginger on serum PGE2 was marginally significant. They suggested that ginger supplementation has a significant effects on serum inflammatory and oxidative stress markers.

References

Tripathi S et al BMC Complement Altern Med. 2008 Jan 3;8:1. doi: 10.1186/1472-6882-8-1.

Asnani V, Verma RJ. Acta Pol Pharm. 2006 Mar-Apr;63(2):117-9. 

Podlogar JA, Verspohl EJ. Phytother Res. 2012 Mar;26(3):333-6. doi: 10.1002/ptr.3558. Epub 2011 Jun 23. 

Jalali M et al Phytother Res. 2020 Mar 8. doi: 10.1002/ptr.6638. [Epub ahead of print]

Why is it good to eat garlic during coronavirus outbreak?

The benefits of garlic to health have been indicated for centuries and the wide variety of effects garlic preparations and extracts has been reported are beneficial and useful. Recently garlic extract Allium sativum and its derivatives been proposed as promising candidates for maintaining the homeostasis of the immune system. A review assessed the most recent experimental results. They suggested that garlic boosts the functioning of the immune system by stimulating certain cell types, such as macrophages, lymphocytes, natural killer (NK) cells, dendritic cells, and eosinophils, by mechanisms including modulation of cytokine secretion, immunoglobulin production, phagocytosis, and macrophage activation.

References

Arreola R et al J Immunol Res. 2015;2015:401630. doi: 10.1155/2015/401630. Epub 2015 Apr 19.

Should you do acupuncture, if you have COVID-19?

No. You shouldn’t have acupuncture, if you have symptoms of COVID-19. Acupuncture can’t kill COVID-19, but there is a possibility of increasing the spreading of the virus due to its high contagion nature.

Wishing everyone stay safe and well.

References

https://www.livescience.com/coronavirus-pandemic-who.html

https://www.healthline.com/health/coronavirus-incubation-period#how-does-it-spread

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41577-020-0311-8

Research shows that diabetes is a risk factor for the progression and prognosis of COVID-19.

COVID-19 is a novel virus which has lots of unknown factors. Is diabetes a risk factor affecting the progression and prognosis of COVID-19? A total of 174 consecutive patients confirmed with COVID-19 were studied. They found that patients with diabetes were at higher risk of severe pneumonia, release of tissue injury-related enzymes, excessive uncontrolled inflammation responses and hypercoagulable state associated with dysregulation of glucose metabolism. Moreover, serum levels of inflammation related biomarkers such as IL-6, C-reactive protein, serum ferritine and coagulation index, D-dimer, were significantly higher in diabetic patients compared with those without. This suggests that patients with diabetes are more susceptible to an inflammatory storm eventually leading to rapid deterioration of COVID-19. The conclusion is that diabetes should be considered as a risk factor for a rapid progression and bad prognosis of COVID-19.

References

Guo W Diabetes Metab Res Rev. 2020 Mar 31:e3319. doi: 10.1002/dmrr.3319. [Epub ahead of print]

Covid-19: risk factors for severe disease and death

Study has shon that Covid-19 risk factors include older age, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, hypertension, and cancer which are related to increased risk of death.

A meta-analysis of eight studies including 46 248 patients with laboratory confirmed covid-19 indicated that those with the most severe disease were more likely to have hypertension, respiratory disease and cardiovascular disease.

References

https://www.bmj.com/content/368/bmj.m1198

The world’s most advanced centre for disease and emergency analytics is where Imperial’s scientists are leading the response to the coronavirus.

 J-IDEA, the Abdul Latif Jameel Institute for Disease and Emergency Analytics, headquartered at Imperial College London, was only setup last year to rapidly respond to emergencies such as pandemics, extreme climate events, and natural and humanitarian disasters. Not long after it was launched, the first cases of the novel Coronavirus, COVID-19 from Asia was reported.  

Imperial’s MRC Centre for Global Infectious Disease Analysis (MRC-GIDA) is leading the College’s COVID-19 epidemiological response, working closely with institutes across the School of Public Health under the umbrella of J-IDEA, as the Imperial College COVID-19 Response Team.

Since January the teams have responded rapidly to the emerging coronavirus threat and have analysed the continuously changing data in real-time, and produced more than a dozen reports on the pandemic, which have informed governments and health services around the world.

References

https://www.imperial.ac.uk/news/196659/the-disease-outbreak-centre-where-scientists/

Study showed that sunlight exposure increases COVID-19 recovery

A study investigated the correlation between sunlight exposure and Covid-19 recovery statuses in Jakarta, Indonesia. They found that the number of recovered patients is correlated significantly with sunlight exposure and suggested that sunlight exposure was associated with recovery from Covid-19.

References

Asyary A & Veruswati M

Sci Total Environ. 2020 Apr 27;729:139016. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.139016. [Epub ahead of print]

Coronavirus second wave

Coronavirus is far from over. Some countries bring the infections down, but others are still dealing with large epidemics.

Those currently controlling the virus fear the second wave.

The infection cases are like waves on the sea. The number of infections goes up and then comes back down – this is one cycle which is one "wave" of coronavirus. For one wave to end, the virus would have been brought under control and cases fallen substantially. For a second wave to start a sustained rise in infections would be seen.

The second phase of Spanish flu a century ago was deadlier than the first. The question is a second wave of coronavirus inevitable like Spanish flu? And how bad could it be?

What did they try to constrain the Spanish flu in 1918?

Spanish flu pandemic that swept the globe in 1918 was caused by the deadly strain of influenza. It tended to strike those aged between 20 and 30, with strong immune systems.

The actions taken by governments and individuals to prevent the spread of infection have a similarity to today’s COVID-19.

The first recorded victim of Spanish flu was found in May 1918 when the country was at war. In 1918, there were no treatments for influenza and no antibiotics to treat complications such as pneumonia. Hospitals were quickly overwhelmed. There was no centrally imposed lockdown to contain the spread of infection, although many theatres, dance halls, cinemas and churches were closed, in some cases for months; Pubs, which were already subject to wartime restrictions on opening hours, mostly stayed open. The Football League and the FA Cup had been cancelled for the war, but there was no effort to cancel other matches or limit crowds, with men's teams playing in regional competitions, and women's football, which attracted large crowds, continuing throughout the pandemic. The major duty was still carrying on.

Streets in some towns and cities were sprayed with disinfectant and some people wore anti-germ masks, as they went about their daily lives. They believed fresh air could protect them from the viruses and they took 15-minute walks to breathe in fresh air every morning and night. Other advices include ‘avoid street crowd; don’t take train, bus and taxi; don’t get tired; don’t speak anyone who has signs of cold’.

There was a more deadly second wave of the disease, in the autumn of 1918. By the end of the pandemic, the death toll in Britain was 228,000, and a quarter of the population are thought to have been infected.

References

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/in-pictures-52564371

A study suggested that absorbed plant MIR2911 in honeysuckle decoction inhibits SARS-CoV-2 replication and accelerates the negative conversion of infected patients

A plant microRNA, MIR2911, which is enriched in honeysuckle decoction (HD), was proved previously that it directly targets influenza A viruses (IAV), including H1N1, H5N1, and H7N9 subtypes by binding to their mRNA and blocking protein translation. These microRNAs after being taken can self-assemble into exosomes and go into the circulation and be delivered into target tissues or specific cells, including the liver, lung, spleen, pancreas, and T cells.

A new study indicated that this absorbed MIR2911 directly and sufficiently inhibits SARS-CoV-2 replication which causes Covid-19. The clinical study assessed the antiviral effect of MIR2911 in HD on COVID-19 patients. This study were involved in seventy-five moderate type COVID-19 patients who received routine antiviral therapy (RT) at Nanjing Second Hospital from January 2020 to March 2020. Their result suggest that absorbed plant MIR2911 in HD inhibits SARS-CoV-2 replication and accelerates the negative conversion of infected patients. HD treatment might greatly help cure infected patients and stop the COVID-19 pandemic.

References

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41421-020-00197-3

How five of the world’s worst pandemics finally ended.

1, Plague of Justinian—No One Left to Die
This plague was one of the three deadliest pandemics in recorded history which was caused by bacterium, Yersinia pestis infection. The Emperor Justinian was receiving tribute in grain from conquered Egypt. The plague was carried across the Mediterranean Sea from Egypt with the grain contaminated with fleas and black rats and arrived in Constantinople, the capital of the Byzantine Empire, in 541 CE.

The plague decimated Constantinople and spread like wildfire across Europe, Asia, North Africa and Arabia killing an estimated 30 to 50 million people, perhaps half of the world’s population.

People had no real understanding of how to fight it other than trying to avoid sick people at that time. The guess how the plague ended was that those who survive have immunity.

2. Black Death— Quarantine invented
The plague never really went away, and it came back 800 years later. The black death caused by the same bacterium, Yersinia pestis infection hit Europe in 1347 and was the worst pandemic in human history by claiming 200 million lives. People still had no scientific understanding of contagion and transmission, but they realised the close contact contributed to the infection. Isolation was invented at that time. Newly arrived sailors were held in isolation for 30 days, then extended to 40 days or a quarantine, the origin of the word quarantine until they could prove they weren’t sick. This had effects of controlling the transmission.

3. The Great Plague of London—Sealing up the Sick
The Great Plague of London was another outbreak caused by bacterium, Yersinia pestis infection. Actually, London never really caught a break after the Black Death. The outbreaks were on and off for 300 years from 1348 to 1665. By the early 1500s, England imposed the first laws to separate and isolate the sick. Homes stricken by plague were marked with a bale of hay strung to a pole outside. If you had infected family members, you had to carry a white pole when you went out in public. Cats and dogs were believed to carry the disease, so there was a wholesale massacre of hundreds of thousands of animals.

The Great Plague of 1665 was the last and one of the worst of the centuries-long outbreaks, killing 100,000 Londoners in just seven months. All public entertainment was banned and victims were forcibly shut into their homes to prevent the spread of the disease. This may have been the only way to bring the last great plague outbreak to an end.

4. Smallpox—Vaccinating healthy people
Smallpox was endemic to Europe, Asia and Arabia for centuries and this was bringing to Americas by the first European explorers in 15th century. The indigenous peoples of modern-day Mexico and the United States had zero natural immunity to smallpox and the virus cut them down by the tens of millions.

In the late 18th-century, a British doctor named Edward Jenner discovered that milkmaids infected with a milder virus called cowpox seemed immune to smallpox. Jenner famously inoculated his gardener’s 9-year-old son with cowpox and then exposed him to the smallpox virus with no ill effect.

And he was right. It took nearly two more centuries, but in 1980 the World Health Organization announced that smallpox had been completely eradicated from the face of the Earth. Smallpox became the first virus epidemic to be ended by a vaccine.

5. Cholera—Avoiding contaminated water
In the early- to mid-19th century, cholera killing its victims within days of the first symptoms tore through England, killing tens of thousands.

A British doctor named John Snow suspected that it was related to London’s drinking water. He tracked the precise locations of deadly outbreaks and created a geographic chart of cholera deaths over a 10-day period and found a cluster of 500 fatal infections surrounding the Broad Street pump, a popular city well for drinking water. He convinced local officials to remove the pump handle on the Broad Street drinking well, rendering it unusable, and like magic the infections dried up.

His work didn’t cure cholera overnight, but it eventually led to a global effort to improve urban sanitation and protect drinking water from contamination. While cholera has largely been eradicated in developed countries, it’s still a persistent killer in third-world countries lacking adequate sewage treatment and access to clean drinking water.

References
https://www.history.com/news/pandemics-end-plague-cholera-black-death-smallpox