Health en Tue Nov 02 15:46:46 IST 2021 explainer--ba-2-variant-takes-over--whats-known-about-it- <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>In the latest battle of the coronavirus mutants, an extra-contagious version of Omicron has taken over the world.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The coronavirus version known as BA.2 is now dominant in at least 68 countries, including the United States.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The World Health Organization says it makes up about 94 percent of sequenced omicron cases submitted to an international coronavirus database in the most recent week. And the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says it was responsible for 72 percent of new US infections last week.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Dr. Wesley Long, a pathologist at Houston Methodist in Texas, said he’s seen BA.2 quickly become dominant in his medical system. At the end of last week, the variant was responsible for more than three-quarters of cases in Houston Methodist hospitals. Less than two weeks earlier, 1percent to 3percent of cases were caused by BA.2.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“It’s not terribly surprising because it is more contagious” than the original omicron, Long said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>As the variant advances, scientists are learning more about it. But they still don’t know exactly how it will affect the trajectory of the pandemic.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>WHAT’S KNOWN</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>BA.2 has lots of mutations. It’s been dubbed “stealth omicron” because it lacks a genetic quirk of the original Omicron that allowed health officials to rapidly differentiate it from the delta variant using a certain PCR test.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>One reason BA.2 has gained ground, scientists say, is that it’s about 30percent more contagious than the original omicron. In rare cases, research shows it can sicken people even if they’ve already had an omicron infection — although it doesn’t seem to cause more severe disease.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Vaccines appear equally effective against both types of omicron. For both, vaccination plus a booster offers strong protection against severe illness and death.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>HAS THE VARIANT PUSHED UP CASES?</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Coronavirus cases rose in parts of Europe and Asia when BA.2 became dominant, and some scientists are concerned that the variant could also push up cases across the US.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Besides being more contagious, it’s spreading at a time when governments are relaxing restrictions designed to control Covid-19. Also, people are taking off their masks and getting back to activities such as traveling, eating indoors at restaurants and attending crowded events.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>At this point, overall coronavirus cases in the US are still on the decline. But there have been upticks in some places, including New York, Arizona and Illinois. Health officials have also noted that case counts are getting more unreliable because of the wide availability of home tests and the fact some people are no longer getting tested.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>(AP)</p> Sat Apr 09 08:28:49 IST 2022 mumbai-man-stabbed-in-chest-survives-a-rare-lung-collapse <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>In a rare case, a 34-year-old man from Mumbai experienced a life-threatening condition when his lungs "collapsed," due to stabbing in the chest. </p> <p>The doctors from Mumbai's Wockhardt Hospital in Mira Road termed the condition to be Pneumothorax, also known as 'a collapsed lung,' which occurs when air leaks into the space between one's lung and chest wall. This air pushes on the outside of the lung and makes it collapse. This can either mean a complete or a partial lung collapse. </p> <p>The patient, a businessman living in Mira Road, was saved with timely intervention in the first hour after the trauma and can &nbsp;breathe freely now. He has been discharged from the hospital. </p> <p>"This condition leads to air trapping in the chest, compressing the heart and causing respiratory distress," said Dr. Tushau Prasad, consultant emergency physician who treated the patient. “In our initial assessment, we came to know that his airway was clear since he could speak full sentences but he didn’t have any breath sounds on the right side of his chest. His X-Ray revealed that there was an air-trapping happening under the skin on the right side. We realized that it was a traumatic chest injury wherein the stabbing object had penetrated through the chest wall, hurting blood vessels and with its tip injuring the pleura, contributing to the development of pneumothorax, when air enters the pleural space. Such traumatic cases, if not handled immediately, lead to loss of life.”</p> <p>Help came in time when a security guard outside the hospital alerted the emergency room (ER) upon seeing the patient coming out of an auto-rickshaw with clothes drenched in blood, and his left hand on his right chest. He seemed distressed, in pain, and the injury, said the guard, seemed as if the patient had been stabbed in the chest. The patient was immediately taken to a triage bed which is a method by which an early focused examination is done to rule out any life-threatening problems. He was then put on oxygen support and a needle decompression of the chest cavity was carried out to release the air in the lungs. This procedure, which is carried out in emergencies and is a potentially life-saving one, is known as Needle Thoracostomy. It involves the insertion of a needle into the pleural space so as to decompress a tension pneumothorax in patients with suspected pneumothorax. </p> <p>The patient was also put on blood transfusion because the blood pressure was critically low that is 67/42 mmHg and the patient had lost significant blood. Slowly, his BP came to normal range, and his breathing improved. His CT scan too, showed a remarkable improvement. After four days, the patient was discharged. </p> <p>Symptoms of a pneumothorax usually include sudden chest pain and shortness of breath. On some occasions, a collapsed lung can be a life-threatening event. People of all ages are at risk for chest trauma and after head and extremity trauma, chest trauma is the third most common blunt injury, explain doctors. Penetrating injuries of the chest are most commonly the result of stab wounds and are often associated with a range of potentially life-threatening injuries. Treatment of such patients depends on the size of the pneumothorax, the patient's symptoms and previous respiratory or lung disease history. Early recognition of trauma to the chest is of utmost importance, said doctor Prasad as following a routine method of trauma evaluation reduces missed injuries.&nbsp;</p> Thu Apr 07 16:36:29 IST 2022 govt-s-focus-on-affordable-healthcare-helped-poor--middle-class- <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>On the occasion of World Health Day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said the government is working tirelessly to augment India's health infrastructure with a focus on ensuring good quality and affordable healthcare to citizens.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Declared by the World Health Organization (WHO), World Health Day is celebrated on April 7 every year. On this year's World Health Day, the WHO is focussing global attention on urgent actions needed to keep humans and the planet healthy and foster a movement to create societies focused on wellbeing.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;Greetings on World Health Day. May everyone be blessed with good health and wellness. Today is also a day to express gratitude to all those associated with the health sector. It is their hardwork that has kept our planet protected,&quot; Modi tweeted.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The government of India is working tirelessly to augment India's health infrastructure, he said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Modi said the focus is on ensuring good quality and affordable healthcare to the country's citizens.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;It makes every Indian proud that our nation is home to the world's largest healthcare scheme, Ayushman Bharat,&quot; he said in a series of tweets.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;I feel very happy when I interact with beneficiaries of schemes such as PM Jan Aushadhi. Our focus on affordable healthcare has ensured significant savings for the poor and middle class,&quot; Modi asserted.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>At the same time, the government is strengthening the Ayush network to further boost overall wellness, he said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;In the last 8 years, the medical education sector has undergone rapid transformations. Several new medical colleges have come up. Our Government's efforts to enable study of medicine in local languages will give wings to the aspirations of countless youngsters,&quot; the prime minister said.&nbsp;</p> Thu Apr 07 12:17:58 IST 2022 diabetes-mellitus-showed--increased-prevalence--in-south-and-eas <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Diabetes mellitus showed an &quot;increased prevalence&quot; in the southern and eastern parts of the country with an average national prevalence of 6.96 percent last year, a new study by a leading healthcare group has claimed.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>On the eve of World Health Day, Apollo group held a virtual press conference and shared insights from the study, compiled in Health of the Nation 2022 report based on data gleaned from its clients over digital platform in 2021, a spokesperson said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;Key findings of the report for diabetes mellitus show an increased prevalence in the southern and eastern parts of the country with an average national prevalence of 6.96 percent. Urban areas showed a higher prevalence at 7.01 percent as compared to rural areas with 6.70 percent,&quot; it claimed in a statement.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The study also showed obesity in women over 35 years of age leading to poor diabetes control and increasing risk of heart disease and other complications.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The report highlighted the prevalence and distribution of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) across the country.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Based on &quot;16 million anonymised responses to the COVID-19 Risk Assessment Scanner by Apollo 24/7, the report gives critical insights on trends in NCDs such as diabetes, hypertension and heart disease, COPD &amp; asthma, obesity in different regions of the country&quot;, the group said in the statement.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The report also underscores the potential of AI and data analytics in prediction of risk and early identification as well as management of NCDs.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Data also indicated poor diabetes control in women with high cholesterol with a 0.5 increase in HbA1c diabetes marker levels, it said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In hypertension, the study showed a national prevalence of high blood pressure at over 8.18 percent with a higher incidence in North and East India.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Data also indicated that adult males between the ages of 36 to 50 years have a 36 percent higher chance of developing hypertension than adult females in the same age range. Urban areas at 8.6 percent showed a higher incidence as compared to rural areas with 7.58 percent, it added.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Chronic obstructive lung disease (COPD) and asthma showed an incidence similar to global numbers at 2 percent. Here, females between 36-50 years of age showed a 1.3 times higher chance of developing COPD as compared to males, the study claimed.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Dr Prathap C Reddy, Chairman, Apollo Hospitals Group said, &quot;The last year saw the country steadily building a bulwark against COVID-19 with a robust vaccination programme that led to a steady fall in the number of Covid cases.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;As we emerge from the shadow of Covid, it is imperative to bring the focus back on the pandemic of NCDs, a focus that faced a disruption impacting diagnosis and treatment for millions of patients&quot;.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>It is the only way we will succeed against the multiple challenges we face today with the pandemic, a polluted planet, and an increasing incidence of diseases that form the theme for World Health Day 2022 is 'Our Planet, Our Health', he was quoted as saying in the statement.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Health of the Nation study also looked at corporate employee data of about 35,000, where the average prevalence of at least one NCD in employees is about 56 per cent, it said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The NCD risk factors of high cholesterol is prevalent in 48 per cent of employees and obesity in 18 per cent of employees. There is variability across sectors, indicating that more sedentary corporate settings should consider ways to help their employees proactively reduce these risks, the report claimed.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Dr Sangita Reddy, Joint Managing Director, Apollo Hospitals Group, said, &quot;NCDs are fuelled by many factors that include urban lifestyles with stress and unhealthy diets and an aging population.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;Study results, derived from 35,000 health checks done with the corporate in 2021, has also shown a high prevalence of NCDs among corporate employees. These insights will help us use technology to gain an upper hand in ensuring a healthy workforce&quot;.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Thu Apr 07 11:52:45 IST 2022 new-covid-vaccine-from-austria-could-protect-against-omicron-var <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>A new vaccine being developed by scientists in Austria is effective against all SARS-CoV-2 variants known to date, including Omicron, even in those who have not yet built up any immunity as a result of immunisation, according to the preclinical data.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The antigen-based vaccine developed at MedUni Vienna targets the receptor binding domains (RBD) of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and induced a robust and uniform RBD-specific IgG antibody response in animal models and in human tests.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>This antibody response prevents the virus from docking onto and entering the body's cells, so that infection cannot occur, the researchers said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The SARS-CoV-2 subunit vaccine (PreS-RBD) is based on a structurally folded fusion protein consisting of two RBD of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and the PreS antigen from hepatitis B, which serve as immunological carriers for each other, thereby strengthening the immune response, they said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The researchers noted that currently available genetic SARS-CoV-2 vaccines induce mainly transient IgG1 antibody responses, whereas the PreS-RBD vaccine can additionally induce long-lived RBD-specific IgG4 antibodies.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>According to the findings published in the journal Allergy, PreS-RBD-specific IgG antibodies detected in blood and mucosal secretions reacted with SARS-CoV-2 variants, including the Omicron variant. Antibodies induced by vaccination with PreS-RBD more potently inhibited the binding of RBD with its human receptor ACE2, the researchers said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Their virus-neutralising titers were higher than those in a random sample of individuals fully immunised with two vaccinations of currently registered vaccines or than those of individuals who had previously had COVID-19, they said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;The PreS-RBD vaccine has the potential to induce sterilising immunity to old and new SARS-CoV-2 variants by preventing infection by stopping viral replication and transmission through the inhibition of cellular virus entry,&quot; said study leader Rudolf Valenta.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>It is also expected that the vaccine will even be effective in people who have not previously responded to vaccination, as they will receive additional T-cell support from the PreS portion of the vaccine. An earlier study by the team had found that approximately 20 per cent of those recovered from COVID-19 failed to form RBD-specific antibodies and were thus at constant risk of re-infection. Previous work on allergy vaccines and clinical trials also conducted with PreS-based allergy vaccines have demonstrated the safety of PreS-based vaccines, even when used repeatedly.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;Our data give us grounds to hope that this readily producible protein-based vaccine antigen will be effective against all SARS-CoV-2 variants known to date, including Omicron,&quot; said Valenta.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;The vaccine is designed to enable repeated injections to build up sustained sterilising immunity, is suitable for use in all age and risk groups and appears to be superior to currently available vaccines when it comes to inducing neutralising antibodies,&quot; he said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The first clinical trials of the vaccine required for approval could be carried out this year, if sufficient funding is available, the researchers added.</p> Wed Apr 06 16:46:46 IST 2022 uk-studies-new-covid-variant-xe-as-mutation-of-omicron <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>A new Covid-19 variant called XE has been found in the UK, which is a mutation of strains of the Omicron variant, and early indications suggest it could be around 10 per cent more transmissible than other Omicron mutations, it emerged on Tuesday.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) is studying XE a mutation of the BA.1 and BA.2 Omicron strains and as of March 22, 637 XE cases had been detected in England, according to official figures. Professor Susan Hopkins, the UKHSA's chief medical advisor, said such variants are known as recombinant and usually die off &quot;relatively quickly&quot;.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;So far there is not enough evidence to draw conclusions about transmissibility, severity or vaccine effectiveness,&quot; Hopkins told The Sun'.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>As of March 16, XE had a growth rate 9.8 per cent above that of the so-called stealth BA.2 Omicron variant already known to be highly transmissible, the UKHSA said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The agency cautioned that &quot;as this estimate has not remained consistent as new data have been added, it cannot yet be interpreted as an estimate of growth advantage for the recombinant.&quot;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;Numbers were too small for the XE recombinant to be analysed by region,&quot; the UKHSA said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>According to the agency, while there are signs of community transmission of XE in England, it remains less than 1 per cent of the totally sequenced coronavirus cases.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The XE variant has also been detected in Thailand and New Zealand. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has said further data is required before more can be said about the mutation.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>It said: &quot;Early-day estimates indicate a community growth rate advantage of 10 per cent as compared to BA.2.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;However this finding requires further confirmation. XE belongs to the Omicron variant until significant differences in transmission and disease characteristics, including severity, may be reported.&quot;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>There is no evidence XE is any more serious in disease severity, with all Omicron variants so far shown to be less severe.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> Wed Apr 06 15:11:29 IST 2022