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Opinion

From Russia with vaccine

The image above sums up the process of how a vaccine is developed. Now that we’re living in a global pandemic, a vaccine is seen as something that will bring an end to lockdowns, economic downturns, and a return to normalcy. Hence the next image:

Scientists and vaccine makers around the world are racing to make one that is safe and effective against SARS-CoV-2 with the World Health Organization leading the global effort at an unprecedented pace. At the moment, there are more than 165 vaccines being developed of which 31 are in various stages of human trials.

The latest to grab international headlines is dubbed Sputnik-V which was announced by no less than Russian President Vladimir Putin on August 11 as ‘ready for public use.’ Much like how the first Sputnik satellite drew global attention back in 1957, Russia’s COVID-19 vaccine brought much shock and awe the world over.

The shock as scientists and medical experts has condemned Russia’s approval of a COVID-19 vaccine that has skipped Stage 3 phase of clinical trials. Apart from the risks of side effects that could be harmful, a vaccine that turns out to be ineffective could undermine immunization efforts the world over and not just against the coronavirus. This would even play into the hands of anti-vaxxers to further their agenda. Overall, it threatens global health atop of the natural threat that is COVID-19 which has already killed millions, destroyed livelihoods, and caused worldwide suffering.

It didn’t help that President Durterte was quick to announce that Russia would be supplying the vaccine to the Philippines, something that he has been desperately clinging on to as his administration has struggled and miserably failed to contain the spread of COVID-19 in the country. Never mind that even Russian health experts have voiced their opposition to fast-tracking Sputnik-V, Duterte even volunteered to be the first Filipino to get injected.

Days after his late-night address, his spokesperson confirmed that indeed the Philippines would be participating in the Phase III trials for the Russian vaccine. Ironic since the administration has used another controversial vaccine – Dengvaxia, to score political points against the opposition.

If this is not madness, I don’t know what else is.

Categories
Daily dose

Flying, children’s blood vessels, pepper sprays & the office

How Safe Is Flying in the Age of Coronavirus? link

Just like with SARS back in 2003, air travel has helped spread novel diseases the world over. Today’s COVID-19 pandemic is no different that’s why a lot of us are worried about the risks of getting sick in an airplane. Charlotte Ryan and Naomi Kresge have answers to key questions about the safety of air travel as some countries are now reopening for business and relaxing travel restrictions. If you think about it, the same questions apply to other modes of mass transportation such as buses and trains where a lot of people spend a lot of time in an enclosed environment.

“Running kids” by iwannt is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0
Why children avoid the worst coronavirus complications might lie in their arteries link

Children have less severe forms of COVID-19 compared to adults, especially those with diabetes and hypertension. The main difference, according to Frank Ruschitzka a cardiologist at the University Hospital Zurich in Switzerland, may lie in the endothelium that lines the blood vessels which are in better condition in children compared to in adults. Healthier endothelium is able to withstand infection from SARS-CoV-2 which avoids the devastating blood clotting often seen in adult patients.

Paul Monagle, a pediatric hematologist at the Melbourne Children’s Campus has a similar theory. He thinks that when SARS-CoV-2 invades endothelial cells, it disrupts communication between such cells, platelets, and plasma components that results in excess clot formation which could result in death.

Can existing live vaccines prevent COVID-19? link | link

A group of experts has made the argument that the polio vaccine should be tested against COVID-19 because it strengthens the immune system against a wide range of diseases aside from polio. It’s fairly recent and existing polio vaccine are not included in current trials by WHO and other health experts in their race to find a safe and effective vaccine against SARS-CoV-2.

“Crash UC Davis” by tpfliss is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0
How to handle a pepper spray attack – link

The ingredients that go into pepper sprays are not regulated by the US government. Manufacturers have their own blend and the ingredients are not printed on labels. This means there’s little that scientists know about its composition so they can’t really say how harmful it can be. I’ve had a whiff of tear gas before way back when my sister and I were still kids when we found a small canister in my aunt’s purse. It was a nightmare and they say pepper sprays are far worse. Yikes!

“Office” by Super Rabbit One is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0
Death of the Office – link

Before Google and other tech start-ups started the fad of open office spaces with slides, bean bags, and free snacks, the ancient Romans as it turns out were on a league of their own. As they dedicated more time to leisure ‘work’ was wherever and whenever they were not having fun. It’s an interesting overview of the origins and evolution of the office. Something we all miss somehow as we work from home due to the pandemic.