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    • Brazil's Bolsonaro rejects COVID-19 shot, calls masks taboo

    Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro says he won't take any working COVID-19 vaccine himself and calls the use of masks to limit the spread of the disease “the last taboo to fall.”

    Bolsonaro's comments, broadcast on his social media channels Thursday night, alarmed health experts who said they could undermine efforts to achieve vaccination levels essential to halting the pandemic and might scare off vaccine makers negotiating with local authorities.

    Bolsonaro also said, however, that any shot that is certified by Brazil's health agency will be available for free to the public.

    The Brazilian president, who contracted the virus in July, has long resisted the advice of most scientists and health experts to restrict social and economic activity, arguing that damage from a lockdown would be worse than the pandemic.

    He also repeatedly promoted an anti-malarial drug as the cure for the disease despite scientific studies finding it ineffective and possibly dangerous, and criticized state governors testing a Chinese shot at home.

    “I tell you; I will not take (any vaccine). It is my right and I am sure that Congress will not create difficulties for whoever doesn't want to take a vaccine," he said.

    "If it is effective, lasting, reliable, whoever doesn't take it will be doing harm only to himself, and who takes the vaccine will not be infected. There's nothing to worry about,” Bolsonaro said.

    A study published July 15 in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that social distancing measures can safely be halted if at least 75% of the population gets a vaccine that is more than 70% effective. Tests have shown some vaccine candidates have a potential efficacy higher than that.

    “Bolsonaro's statements are a horrible sign,” said Miguel Lago, executive director of Brazil’s Institute for Health Policy Studies, which advises public health officials.

    “If he were a less popular president, this might have little effect, but he is the hero of a lot of people," Lago told The Associated Press. "His hardcore supporters might not get a shot and that will generate more political dispute on the right not to get vaccinated. That will make it harder for Brazil to get above that minimum level of 70, 75% of the population vaccinated, which is key for life to go back to some kind of normal.”

    Some sensitive groups, such as cancer patients and pregnant women, may not be able to take COVID-19 vaccines and will still be susceptible to the virus.

    More than 171,000 people have died of COVID-19 in Brazil, second only to the United States.

    “Forcing people to take the vaccine or say that who doesn’t take it cannot get a passport, have a public job, that’s dictatorship”, the Brazilian president said. “Whoever defends that is a dictator. Or a false dictator that is willing to do business with the lives of others.”

    Brazil’s federal government has a deal to get up to 100 million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine candidate if it works. Other developers, such as Pfizer, are reportedly offering deals to Bolsonaro’s administration. Sao Paulo state, the epicenter of the crisis in Brazil, has an agreement to buy a vaccine made by Chinese company Sinovac, which is in the final phase of testing.

    Bolsonaro also cast doubt on the use of masks to halt the spread despite the fact most health experts, including Lago, say numerous studies since the pandemic began have found them to be effective.

    “The matter of the masks, there will be a serious study sometime to talk about the effectiveness of the mask,” Bolsonaro said. “It is the last taboo to fall.”

    At the beginning of the pandemic, Bolsonaro often ventured out of Brazil's presidential palace unmasked to greet supporters, which he did less frequently after contracting the virus himself.:
    • Coronavirus Cases: 62,279,113

    Deaths: 1,454,355

    Underreported US death count: 271,192

    American Civil War Casualties (North and South) - 214,938

    Originally posted by Boon Mee View Post
    it's been blown way out of proportion.
    Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


      • Moderna to apply for emergency use authorization for COVID-19 vaccine candidate on Monday

      Moderna announced that it will apply for emergency use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for its COVID-19 vaccine candidate on Monday.

      The company said in a statement that testing showed its vaccine candidate was 94.1 percent effective in preventing COVID-19 and was 100 percent effective against severe COVID-19.

      It also said "no serious safety concerns" have been identified to date. Some trial participants have experienced reactions like pain at the site of the injection or fatigue.

      “This positive primary analysis confirms the ability of our vaccine to prevent COVID-19 disease with 94.1% efficacy and importantly, the ability to prevent severe COVID-19 disease. We believe that our vaccine will provide a new and powerful tool that may change the course of this pandemic and help prevent severe disease, hospitalizations and death,” said Stéphane Bancel, chief executive officer of Moderna.

      Moderna is set to submit its emergency use application with both the FDA and the European Medicines Agency. Similar reviews are already underway for regulatory bodies in Canada, Switzerland, the U.K., Israel and Singapore.

      The FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee is likely to meet on Dec. 17 to review the Moderna vaccine candidate’s safety and efficacy data, according to the company. The drugmaker expects to have made about 20 million doses of the virus available in the U.S. by the end of the year.

      Pfizer, meanwhile, has announced its own candidate is 95 percent effective, following interim data showing it was 90 percent effective against the virus.

      The extremely high efficacy of two different vaccines is welcome news in the fight against the pandemic, but there are still several tough months before it will be available on a broad scale.

      While the first high-priority Americans are expected to get doses of the vaccine in December, it will take several more months for the wider public to have access. Officials predict that people who do not fall into high-risk groups could start getting the vaccine sometime in the spring.

      Health officials on Sunday warned of a surge in COVID-19 cases in the wake of Thanksgiving holiday travel.

      "We have to be careful now because there almost certainly is going to be an uptick because of what has happened with the travel,” Anthony Fauci said on ABC's "This Week."

      The nation's leading infectious disease expert also said the U.S. may see a "surge upon a surge" in the next few weeks.:
      • Coronavirus Cases: 63,286,254

      Deaths: 1,469,230

      Underreported US death count: 273,160

      American Civil War Casualties (North and South) - 214,938

      Originally posted by Boon Mee View Post
      it's been blown way out of proportion.
      Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


        • Coronavirus Was In U.S. Weeks Earlier Than Previously Known, Study Says

        The coronavirus was present in the U.S. weeks earlier than scientists and public health officials previously thought, and before cases in China were publicly identified, according to a new government study published Monday.

        The virus and the illness that it causes, COVID-19, was first identified in Wuhan, China, in December 2019, but it wasn't until Jan. 19 that the first confirmed COVID-19 case, from a traveler returning from China, was found in the U.S.

        However, new findings published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases suggest that the coronavirus, known officially as SARS-CoV-2, had infected people in the U.S. even earlier.

        "SARS-CoV-2 infections may have been present in the U.S. in December 2019, earlier than previously recognized," the authors said.

        This discovery adds to evidence that the virus was quietly spreading around the world before health officials and the public were aware, disrupting previous thinking of how the illness first emerged and how it has since evolved. It also shows the virus's presence in U.S. communities likely didn't start with the first case identified case in January.

        Researchers came to this conclusion after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention analyzed blood donations collected by the American Red Cross from residents in nine states. They found evidence of coronavirus antibodies in 106 out of 7,389 blood donations. The CDC analyzed the blood collected between Dec. 13 and Jan. 17.

        The presence of antibodies in a person's blood means they were exposed to a virus, in this case the coronavirus, and that their body's immune system triggered a defensive response.

        Researchers found coronavirus antibodies in 39 samples from California, Oregon, and Washington as early as Dec. 13 to Dec. 16. They also discovered antibodies in 67 samples from Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan, Rhode Island, and Wisconsin in early January — before widespread outbreaks in those states.

        Despite the findings, widespread community transmission in the U.S. was unlikely until late February, the authors said.

        "These findings also highlight the value of blood donations as a source for conducting SARS-CoV-2 surveillance studies," they said.

        The authors said the report will help broaden health officials' understanding of the pandemic as the world continues to grapple with COVID-19, adding that the research might help in identifying what resources and public health interventions are needed to stop serious illness and death from COVID-19.:
        • Coronavirus Cases: 63,729,188

        Deaths: 1,476,909

        Underreported US death count: 274,355

        American Civil War Casualties (North and South) - 214,938

        Originally posted by Boon Mee View Post
        it's been blown way out of proportion.

        Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


          • Covid-19 cases are rising in Asia, but compared to the West it's a drop in the ocean

          Winter is coming, for parts of Asia too.

          Across the region, many countries and cities that had previously kept the coronavirus largely under control are seeing a rise in infections.

          Last week, Japan's daily caseload surged to its highest since the pandemic began, surpassing 2,000 for five days in a row.

          In South Korea, daily infections also rose from a relative lull in late September and October to hover above 300, the highest since late August.

          Hong Kong, meanwhile, has declared its "fourth wave" of coronavirus infections, after multiple isolated clusters emerged. Its daily cases -- still within single-digits in early November -- exploded over the past week to reach 80 on Tuesday.

          Even in mainland China, known for its "zero-tolerence" approach against the coronavirus, sporadic cases have sprung up in multiple cities, from the financial hub of Shanghai and the port city of Tianjin to the grasslands of Inner Mongolia.

          While the resurgence of the virus is certainly dispiriting as it dominates local headlines and leads to tighter restrictions ahead of the holiday season, the rise in cases in Asia seems more like a ripple compared with the second wave in the United States and Europe.

          On Saturday, the US caseload surpassed 12 million -- an increase of more than 1 million cases in less than a week. In Europe, the number of daily cases have fallen from an early November peak, but are still well above 100,000.

          To put things into perspective, with a population of around 10 million, the South Korean capital of Seoul reported 382 new Covid-19 cases on Tuesday, while Los Angeles County reported 3,692 cases -- nearly 10 times the daily surge in Seoul.

          Swift response

          Despite their comparatively miniscule rise in infection numbers, Asian governments are taking no chances in efforts to curb the outbreaks.

          In China, the response has been particularly swift and drastic. On Sunday night, the Shanghai Pudong International Airport conducted a sudden testing drive in a parking garage on more than 17,000 staff members, following a handful of cases among cargo handlers. In Tianjin, authorities tested 2.6 million residents in three days after reporting five locally transmitted cases. And in Inner Mongolia, a border town with Russia was partially locked down and all its residents tested over just two local infections.

          As a result of Hong Kong's spike in cases, the highly-anticipated Hong Kong-Singapore "air travel bubble" was postponed -- less than 24 hours before it was due to launch. The scheme would have allowed quarantine-free air travel between the two Asian hubs, in an effort to boost business travel and tourism.

          On Monday, South Korea declared an "emergency period" in Seoul until the end of the year. Public transportation capacity has been reduced by 20% after 10 p.m. and gatherings of more than 10 people banned. The city will also conduct regular coronavirus tests on some 40,000 workers and users of nursing hospitals and daycare centers.

          The measures come after a series of new restrictions were announced for Seoul on Sunday, including mandatory mask wearing indoors and closures of entertainment facilities such as clubs. Restaurants are only allowed to do deliveries and takeout after 9 p.m., gatherings will be limited to 100 people, and schools must operate at one-third capacity.

          In Japan, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga announced last week that the country was on "maximum alert" after reporting a record number of daily infections. He also halted the government's domestic travel and dining promotion program in coronavirus hotspots to curb further infections.

          In the US and Europe, where daily cases are surging by tens of thousands, contact tracing seems not only impossible, but futile. The virus is so widespread that governments have few remaining tools left to tackle the outbreaks, other than reimposing lockdowns -- which have drawn backlash and protests.:
          • Coronavirus Cases: 63,897,491

          Deaths: 1,480,198

          Underreported US death count: 274,851

          American Civil War Casualties (North and South) - 214,938

          Originally posted by Boon Mee View Post
          it's been blown way out of proportion.
          Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


            • U.K. Approves Pfizer Coronavirus Vaccine For Emergency Use

            The U.K. has formally approved Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine, becoming the first Western country to OK its use for the general public.

            The British regulatory agency, the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Authority, or MHRA, announced the approval of the vaccine from Pfizer and the German company BioNTech for emergency use early Wednesday. The vaccine promises up to 95% protection against COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

            The U.K.'s Secretary of State for Health & Social Care Matt Hancock tweeted Wednesday morning that the National Health Service stands ready to start vaccinating people in high priority groups as early as next week.

            U.S. regulators have still not approved the vaccine's use in America.

            The U.K. has reportedly already purchased 40 million doses, according to BBC.:
            • Coronavirus Cases: 64,252,744

            Deaths: 1,488,054

            Underreported US death count: 276,979

            American Civil War Casualties (North and South) - 214,938

            Originally posted by Boon Mee View Post
            it's been blown way out of proportion.
            Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


              • Thai Govt extends subsidy and welfare plans

              The government is earmarking 43.5 billion baht to stimulate the domestic economy through an extension of the co-payment scheme that subsidises 50% of food and goods purchased at small shops, as well as its state-sponsored welfare card programme for low-income earners. The 43.5 billion baht covers 22.5 billion baht to be allocated to the second phase of the co-payment scheme and 21 billion baht for the state welfare card programme.

              The second phase of the co-payment scheme will use funds from the 400 billion baht designated for economic and social rehabilitation through projects aimed at creating jobs, strengthening communities and building infrastructure, while the welfare card programme will use funds from 500 billion baht loans slated to help people affected by the pandemic. The funding schemes won the green light of the Centre for Economic Situation Administration (CESA) chaired by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha on Wednesday.:
              • Ministry sees four-year test for tourism sector

              The tourism industry, which accounts for 12% of Thailand's GDP, is expected to take at least four years to recover to the pre-pandemic levels, says the Finance Ministry.

              While several financial authorities and think tanks project Thailand's economy will fully recover over the next two years, the recovery of the domestic tourism sector is anticipated to take until 2024 to recoup 40 million foreign tourist arrivals, said Arkhom Termpittayapaisith, the finance minister.

              Foreign tourists are forecast to number 8 million next year before rising to 16 million, 32 million and 40 million in 2022, 2023 and 2024, respectively, said Mr Arkhom.

              If the pandemic can be controlled, the pace of the recovery in foreign tourist arrivals may be faster, he said.

              Foreign tourist arrivals reached 6.7 million on a year-to-date basis as of Oct 30, a far cry from almost 40 million arrivals registered in 2019, which generated revenue worth almost 2 trillion baht, according to the Ministry of Tourism and Sports.

              Thailand recorded no foreign tourist arrivals between April and September this year due to stringent measures to contain the outbreak. October's 1,201 foreign tourist arrivals were issued special tourist visas for long stays.

              Thailand's GDP is expected to expand by 4-4.5% in 2021, assuming foreign tourist arrivals of 8 million and an extension of the cash subsidy co-payment scheme, according to the National Economic and Social Development Council.

              Mr Arkhom said Thailand's economic structure needs to change and the new S-curve industry, which has been initiated by the government, will support the shift.

              There are 10 S-curve industries, such as biotechnology and robotics, targeted for investment under a strategy to transform and digitise the economy.

              As the Finance Ministry oversees taxation, the ministry will focus on designing a tax system to facilitate three main business sectors, namely digital technology, green business and health and wellness, said Mr Arkhom.

              For the e-service tax, a draft law is being deliberated in a third hearing in parliament and this tax policy is expected to be implemented next year, he said.

              The draft e-service tax, which applies value-added taxes to overseas electronic service providers, has passed the second committee hearing in the House of Representatives, according to the Revenue Department.

              Once the draft law takes effect, there will be a six-month period for the Revenue Department to prepare tax collection.

              Mr Arkhom said loose monetary policy is still needed to facilitate consumer spending, a crucial factor for economic recovery.

              A financial environment conducive to economic recovery and private sector financing is needed, he said.

              Fiscal stimulus and the monetary policy have to be compatible with one another to shore up economic conditions, said Mr Arkhom, adding monetary policy tightening during recovery will slow down improvements.:

              Originally posted by Somchai Boonporn View Post
              Perhaps a blessing in disguise for the Golden Land.
              Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


                • Covid-19: Lung damage 'identified' in study

                A study of 10 patients at Oxford University used a novel scanning technique to identify damage not picked up by conventional scans.

                It uses a gas called xenon during MRI scans to create images of lung damage.

                Lung experts said a test that could spot long-term damage would make a huge difference to Covid patients.

                The xenon technique sees patients inhale the gas during a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan.

                Prof Fergus Gleeson, who is leading the work, tried out his scanning technique on 10 patients aged between 19 and 69.

                Eight of them had persistent shortness of breath and tiredness three months after being ill with coronavirus, even though none of them had been admitted to intensive care or required ventilation, and conventional scans had found no problems in their lungs.

                The scans showed signs of lung damage - by highlighting areas where air is not flowing easily into the blood - in the eight who reported breathlessness.

                The results have prompted Prof Gleeson to plan a trial of up to 100 people to see if the same is true of people who had not been admitted to hospital and had not suffered from such serious symptoms. He is planning to work with GPs to scan people who have tested positive for Covid-19 across a range of age groups.

                Moving the goalposts

                The aim is to discover whether lung damage occurs and if so whether it is permanent, or resolves over time.

                He said: "I was expecting some form of lung damage, but not to the degree that we have seen."

                The risk of severe illness and death increases markedly for the over 60s. But if the trial discovers that the lung damage occurs across a wider age group and even in those not requiring admission to hospital "it would move the goalposts," according to Prof Gleeson.

                He believes the lung damage identified by the xenon scans may be one of the factors behind long Covid, where people feel unwell for several months after infection.

                The scanning technique was developed by a research group at the University of Sheffield led by Prof James Wild who said it offered a "unique" way of showing lung damage caused by Covid-19 infection and its after-effects.

                "In other fibrotic lung diseases we have shown the methods to be very sensitive to this impairment and we hope the work can help understand Covid-19 lung disease."

                Dr Shelley Hayles is a GP based in Oxford involved in helping set up the trial. She believes that up to 10% of those who have had Covid-19 might have some form of lung damage which is leading to prolonged symptoms.

                "We're now at more than one and a quarter million who have been infected - and 10% of that is a lot of people," she said.

                "When medical staff tell patients that they don't know what's wrong with them and they don't know how to sort the symptoms out, it's very stressful.

                "With most patients, even if the news isn't great, they want the diagnosis."

                'I'd rather know'

                That is true of Tim Clayden, who spent his 60th birthday at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford with Covid symptoms that were so severe he believed that he would die. Fortunately he recovered but remains weary to this day. Tim was frustrated not knowing why he wasn't recovering to full health.

                He said that he was simultaneously concerned and relieved when he received one of Prof Gleeson's scans which showed that his lungs were damaged.

                "It does help knowing that there is an issue with your lungs," he says.

                "I now know what it is. I know the origin of it. What I don't know, because no one does, is whether it is permanent or if it will pass. But I'd rather know than not know."

                Dr Samantha Walker, director of research and innovation at Asthma UK and the British Lung Foundation, said: "This is an interesting investigation and it's important that post-Covid lung damage is looked into further and on a larger scale so we can better understand the longer term damage caused.

                "If further investigation shows that lung damage occurs, it could enable the development of a test that can measure lung damage caused by Covid-19 which would make a huge difference to many people with 'long covid' respiratory issues and also allow specific treatments to be developed.":
                • Coronavirus Cases: 64,743,134

                Deaths: 1,497,010

                Underreported US death count: 279,334

                American Civil War Casualties (North and South) - 214,938

                Originally posted by Boon Mee View Post
                it's been blown way out of proportion.
                Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


                  • WHO warns Covid reinfections may occur as data suggests antibodies wane

                  World Health Organization officials on Friday warned that recent data suggests that, though it is rare, people who were once infected with the coronavirus could be infected again as their antibody response wanes.

                  “We have seen the number of people infected continue to grow, but we’re also seeing data emerge that protection may not be lifelong, and therefore we may see reinfections begin to occur,” Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of the WHO’s health emergencies program, said during a press briefing at the organization’s Geneva headquarters. “So the question is: What are the levels of protection in society?”

                  Reinfection means that a person was infected with the virus, recovered and then later became infected again, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Based on the CDC’s experience with other viruses, Covid-19 reinfections are expected, the agency said.

                  However, researchers are trying to determine how likely and how often reinfection occurs, among other considerations, such as how severe reinfection might be and how soon it can occur after the first infection.

                  Maria Van Kerkhove, head of the WHO’s emerging diseases and zoonosis unit, said that researchers are still trying to determine how long an antibody response lasts after someone is infected with the virus.

                  “What we understand is 90[%] to 100% of people who are infected with the coronavirus do develop an antibody response, whether you have mild infection, asymptomatic infection, all the way to severe infection,” she said.

                  Ongoing research indicates an immune response may last for six months or longer, she said. In a recent Oxford study, researchers found that people who have contracted the coronavirus are “highly unlikely” to contract the disease again for at least six months.

                  The study, conducted between April and November with 12,180 health-care workers employed at Oxford University Hospitals, found that 89 of 11,052 staff without antibodies developed a new infection with symptoms. None of the 1,246 staff with antibodies developed a symptomatic infection.

                  “In some people, it may wane after a few months, but we do get a good indication that natural infection immune response is lasting for some months,” Van Kerkhove said. “We’re about a year into this pandemic, and so we still have a lot to learn.”

                  In late August, researchers in Hong Kong reported what appeared to be the first confirmed case of Covid reinfection after a 33-year-old man who was first infected with the virus in late March appeared to contract the virus again more than four months later, STAT News reported. The WHO acknowledged at the time that, though rare, reinfection could be possible.

                  “It doesn’t mean that it’s happening a lot; we know that it’s possible,” Van Kerkhove said during a live Q&A session on Aug. 26.:
                  • Coronavirus Cases: 66,114,102

                  Deaths: 1,522,153

                  Underreported US death count: 285,132

                  American Civil War Casualties (North and South) - 214,938

                  Originally posted by Boon Mee View Post
                  it's been blown way out of proportion.
                  Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


                  • Chiang Rai Covid alert, 15 new cases linked to Tachilek

                    A second hospital has been prepared to receive Covid-19 patients, with six new cases reported in Chiang Rai among people returning from working in Tachilek, in Myanmar.

                    Chiang Rai governor Prachon Pratsakul on Monday announced the six new infections found in Thai returnees, which had not yet been included in the daily update by the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration.

                    The centre reported on Monday that nine Thais returning from Tachilek were among 21 new cases. The six new cases in Chiang Rai will be added in the centre's tally on Tuesday, for a total of 15.

                    Provincial public health chief Thossathep Boonthong said the new cases included four women who worked at the 1G1-7 Hotel in Tachilek. They returned and reported to authorities last Wednesday. Their tests on Sunday confirmed their infections.

                    The other two women had worked at the Hollywood nightclub and Karaoke bar in the Myanmar town, and returned on Saturday. Their tests on Sunday were also positive.

                    All are being treated at Chiang Rai Prachanukroh Hospital in Muang district.

                    Thailand has 38 cases directly and indirectly linked to people returning from Tachilek, 26 of them found in Chiang Rai, since the first was detected on Nov 24.

                    With the number of infections found in Chiang Rai on the rise, officials in the northern province are working with their Myanmar counterparts on the Thai-Myanmar Border Committee (TBC) to encourage Thais working in the Myanmar town to return through the official border checkpoint at the second Thai-Myanmar Friendship Bridge, hoping to contain the outbreak.

                    But although they return through the checkpoint they will still be charged with crossing illegally, because the border is officially closed.

                    Deputy provincial governor Narong Rojanasothorn said at least 42 Thais were due to return from Tachilek on Monday. "We are closely coordinating with Myanmar through the TBC," Mr Narong said.

                    The hotspot in Tachilek is the 1G1-7 Hotel. It promotes itself as an entertainment complex and is just 1.5 kilometres from the Thai border, Mae Sai district, and 2-3km from the permanent border crossing. It has foreign investors and offers a full range of pubs, young girls, drinks, karaoke and a casino.

                    Hundreds of Thais work there, according to Sophon Iamsirithaworn, director of the Communicable Diseases Division.

                    The hotel has been closed since Nov 24 due to the coronavirus outbreak in that area of Myanmar.

                    Chiang Rai authorities said they expect more Thais will flee Tachilek in fear of catching the virus.

                    Chiang Rai uses Chiang Rai Prachanukroh Hospital as the main base to treat infected people, including those from the Myanmar town.

                    Dr Thossathep said Mae Fah Luang Medical Centre at Mae Fah Luang University in Muang district was now ready to receive coronavirus patients if Chiang Rai Prachanukroh Hospital reaches full capacity.

                    He sought to ease concerns about the virus situation in the province, saying the cases from Tachilek were not severe infections, and health personnel could handle them.

                    The provincial health chief said the new facility at the university was prepared because authorities do not know how many Thais intend to return from Myanmar.:

                    Originally posted by Somchai Boonporn View Post
                    Perhaps a blessing in disguise for the Golden Land.

                    Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


                      • Some experts believe previous exposure to a similar virus helped East Asia fight COVID-19. Others are doubtful.

                      Dr. Yasuhiro Suzuki, who served as the highest-ranking doctor in the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare's medical corps until he retired in August, told The Wall Street Journal he believes there's a "strong" theory that East Asian countries like South Korea, Japan, China, Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia, and Singapore have all dealt with fewer COVID-19 infections and deaths than the United States and Europe because of prior exposure to similar pathogens.

                      Although he acknowledged there are no studies to back up the idea, Suzuki suggested it's worth following up. "There's a theory, and I think it's quite a strong one, that in East Asia a cold similar to the novel coronavirus spread widely and a large number of people caught it," he told the Journal. "As a result of having immunity to a similar virus — although it isn't bulletproof immunity — they either don't develop it or don't get seriously ill if they do."

                      Dr. Tatsuhiko Kodama, who is studying coronavirus antibodies at the University of Tokyo, said that similar viruses have probably spread repeatedly in the region, and he's confident that exposure is related to the COVID-19 immune response.

                      But not everyone is so sure sure that a previous virus could be behind the regional discrepancies. Prof. Tetsuya Mizutani, a virologist at the Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology, told the Journal that the theorized pathogens would have traveled around the world just as quickly as the novel coronavirus has over the last several months. His much simpler explanation for the differences in severity? People in East Asian countries wear masks and wash their hands more consistently. Read more about research into the pandemic's regional differences at The Wall Street Journal.:
                      • Coronavirus Cases: 66,314,837

                      Deaths: 1,526,319

                      Underreported US death count: 285,656

                      American Civil War Casualties (North and South) - 214,938

                      Originally posted by Boon Mee View Post
                      it's been blown way out of proportion.
                      Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


                        • U.K. begins world's first Pfizer coronavirus vaccinations

                        United Kingdom medical teams began administering Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine doses on Tuesday, with people aged 80 and older the first to be inoculated.

                        The big picture: The U.K. last week became the first Western nation to give emergency approval for a COVID-19 vaccine. Margaret Keenan, 90, was the world's first person to get a fully tested, clinically authorized COVID-19 vaccine, at a hospital in Coventry, central England. Health Secretary Matt Hancock said, "We will look back on today, V-day, as a key moment in our fightback against this terrible disease.": -
                        • Coronavirus Cases: 66,922,087

                        Deaths: 1,535,659

                        Underreported US death count: 287,825

                        American Civil War Casualties (North and South) - 214,938

                        Originally posted by Boon Mee View Post
                        it's been blown way out of proportion.
                        Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


                        • Thailand - Cabinet to launch second phase of co-payment stimulus on December 16th

                          Thailand’s cabinet approved the second phase of the 50:50 co-payment scheme for 15 million Thais today (Tuesday), including five million new applicants, and the amount to be wired into their bank accounts is to increase from 3,000 baht to 3,500 baht.

                          Government spokesman Anucha Burapachaisri said that the current 10 million recipients of the stimulus funding, who are now receiving 3,000 baht, will get an extra 500 baht.

                          Registration for the new applicants will begin on December 16th and the scheme will expire at the end of March.

                          The first phase of the scheme has been very popular among both consumers and traders, because the scheme has boosted spending and reduced living costs during an economic slump.:

                          Originally posted by Somchai Boonporn View Post
                          Perhaps a blessing in disguise for the Golden Land.

                          Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


                          • Study confirms AstraZeneca's vaccine is moderately effective

                            Peer-reviewed research published Tuesday confirms that the coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University is moderately effective at preventing infection, and it appears to keep people out of the hospital.

                            Why it matters: Some questions remain about AstraZeneca's vaccine, but the findings released in The Lancet medical journal help validate that the product works and is safe.

                            The big picture: When AstraZeneca's vaccine was administered in two standard doses, it was about 62% effective in preventing symptomatic infections.
                            • That's not as high as the roughly 95% efficacy reported by the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, but AstraZeneca's has some other advantages over those two, including easier distribution.
                            • No one who had received both doses of the vaccine in AstraZeneca's trials developed a severe infection or had to be hospitalized.

                            The big question: The company accidentally gave some patients a modified dosing regimen — a half dose, followed by a full standard dose. In those patients, the vaccine registered 90% efficacy.
                            • Experts have puzzled over those results since AstraZeneca's initial release, and the research published Tuesday doesn't have many answers.
                            • The group that got the half-dose didn't include anyone older than 55 — the people most at risk for severe infection. We still don't know whether that skewed the results or AstraZeneca accidentally hit on a better dosage.

                            The lower initial dose also appeared to be much more effective in preventing asymptomatic spread — a critically important part of stopping the virus from spreading.:
                            • Coronavirus Cases: 68,001,959

                            Deaths: 1,551,771

                            Underreported US death count: 290,474

                            American Civil War Casualties (North and South) - 214,938

                            Originally posted by Boon Mee View Post
                            it's been blown way out of proportion.

                            Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


                              • Google launches virtual medical research app, starting with studies in the flu and COVID-19

                              Google has launched its own virtual clinical research app for Android phones—and it's starting with studies into respiratory diseases such as COVID-19.

                              According to the tech giant, the app allows any user to sign up and volunteer to participate in medical research, after submitting data about themselves and answering a questionnaire.

                              The goal is to furnish a platform for scientists, who can poll the system to find the people they need to help answer their research questions. And by lowering barriers to entry, Google ultimately hopes to provide a large and diverse population of potential study participants.

                              In this manner, the app is similar in structure to one launched by Apple for its iPhones, iPads and smartwatches last year, which has included studies in cardiovascular health, hearing and women’s health and fertility—with one heart-focused study canvassing more than 400,000 people in less than nine months.

                              Google’s first project will be launched in partnership with Harvard Medical School and Boston Children’s Hospital focused on respiratory infections like influenza and the novel coronavirus.

                              RELATED: Google, Oxford study projects benefits to coronavirus-tracing smartphone apps, even at low levels of adoption

                              By tracking adults across the U.S., the researchers hope to see how these diseases evolve and spread through communities, while gauging how age and different activities—such as how many daily trips a person takes outside the home—contribute to potential risk factors.

                              "With COVID-19 emerging alongside seasonal respiratory pathogens, research is now needed more than ever to develop more effective treatments and mitigation strategies,” said John Brownstein, Ph.D., a professor at Harvard Medical School and chief innovation officer at Boston Children’s.

                              Volunteers will use Google’s app to report symptoms, any preventive measures they’ve taken and medical information such as test results. Participants’ data will be encrypted, and they will have control over what is contributed and shared; no data will be sold or shared with advertisers, Google said. In addition, the app will help users access any research findings once they are published.:
                              • Coronavirus Cases: 68,693,252

                              Deaths: 1,565,876

                              Underreported US death count: 293,496

                              American Civil War Casualties (North and South) - 214,938

                              Originally posted by Boon Mee View Post
                              it's been blown way out of proportion.
                              Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


                              • Men face 'almost three times the odds' of ICU admission for Covid-19, study says

                                In the early weeks and months of the coronavirus pandemic, medics and health professionals working in hospitals around the world noticed that Covid-19 was hitting men harder than women.

                                Now, a global analysis of over 3 million Covid-19 cases from January to June has found that male patients with the disease have "almost three times the odds" of requiring admission to intensive care than female patients.

                                What's more, men were almost 1.4 times more likely to die from Covid-19 than women -- although both sexes have an equivalent risk of infection.

                                The researchers analyzed data from 90 reports involving 46 countries and 44 US states. This data showed that, among the cases in the study, about 1.57 million were women and about 1.53 million were men.

                                Yet when it came to data on over 12,000 admissions to hospital intensive care units, about 8,000 of those were men and 4,000 were women, the researchers found.

                                And among the over 200,000 Covid-19 deaths included in the study, about 120,000 were men and 91,000 were women.

                                The study, which published in the journal Nature Communications on Wednesday, didn't examine the reasons for the disparity. But the researchers -- from the University College London and the University of Cape Town in South Africa -- suggested the explanation is more likely due to biological differences than behavioral or socioeconomic ones.

                                The many parts of the immune system that work together to defend the body against viruses do not operate exactly the same way in men and women, and the study said that more research is needed to determine which specific biological factors may be driving these differences.

                                "Men and women have differences in almost all arms of the immune system. These range from the early immune responses to viral infection, to T cell responses, B cell responses and immune memory," said study author Dr. Kate Webb, a consultant pediatric rheumatologist at the University of Cape Town and The Francis Crick Institute in London.

                                "There are many potential reasons for these differences in immunity: hormones have immunological effects and women have two X chromosomes compared to one in men. X chromosomes are packed full of genes which code for immunity."

                                Many diseases attack men and women in different ways. Why this is can depend on a complex mix of biology and behavior that is difficult to untangle.

                                Men are more likely in some cultures to leave the house and visit more crowded areas. They're also less likely than women to wash their hands with soap after using a restroom. However, because the data showed that infection rates are roughly equal between men and women, differences in hygiene behavior by gender are unlikely to explain the disparity in disease severity, the researchers said.

                                Other explanations for the disparity include men being more likely to have certain preexisting health conditions, or comorbidities, that put them at risk. The researchers said, however, that they did not have enough data on these factors.

                                The team noted, though, that there are no marked sex differences in the proportions of adults globally with hypertension (high blood pressure) or diabetes, and those are the most commonly reported comorbidities in hospitalized Covid-19 patients. Men are also more likely to smoke, but the study said smoking had not emerged as a clear risk factor.

                                During previous coronavirus epidemics, the study said that men were reported to have a worse clinical outcome during the SARS outbreak in Hong Kong and Singapore. They also had a higher risk of dying from MERS in Saudi Arabia.

                                From an evolutionary perspective, some research has suggested that women have a stronger immune response against viral infections than men because they are biologically designed to spend part of their lives with a foreign body inside -- a baby -- thus granting them a survival advantage.

                                The authors of the study said that sex remained "an under-appreciated variable when interrogating outcomes in infectious diseases."

                                "Sex has been traditionally under-appreciated in scientific research, ranging from basic laboratory to bedside clinical research," Webb said via email.

                                "Including females in basic laboratory research introduces variation that would not exist if only male cell or animal models were used, so they were usually excluded. Sex based differences are often missed even in the earliest laboratory research.":
                                • Coronavirus Cases: 69,161,271

                                Deaths: 1,573,60

                                Underreported US death count: 295,855

                                American Civil War Casualties (North and South) - 214,938

                                Originally posted by Boon Mee View Post
                                it's been blown way out of proportion.

                                Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


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