The World Health Organisation (WHO) has classified the new Covid variant detected in southern Africa this week as the 'Variant of Concern' following the Technical Advisory Group meeting on Friday.
"Based on the evidence presented indicative of a detrimental change in Covid-19 epidemiology, the TAG-VE has advised WHO that this variant should be designated as a Variant of Concern and the WHO has designated B.1.1.529 as a VOC, named Omicron", said the global health body in a statement.
The B.1.1.529 variant was first reported to WHO from South Africa on November 24, 2021. The epidemiological situation in South Africa has been characterized by three distinct peaks in reported cases, the latest of which was predominantly the Delta variant. The first known confirmed B.1.1.529 infection was from a specimen collected on November 9, 2021.
The WHO has asked the countries to enhance surveillance and sequencing efforts to better understand circulating SARS-CoV-2 variants and submit complete genome sequences and associated metadata to a publicly available database. The WHO has reminded to take measures to reduce their risk of Covid-19, including proven public health and social measures such as wearing well-fitting masks, hand hygiene, physical distancing, improving ventilation of indoor spaces, avoiding crowded spaces, and getting vaccinated.
The WHO said that this variant has a large number of mutations, some of which are of concern.
Preliminary evidence suggests an increased risk of re-infection with this variant, as compared to other VOCs. The number of cases of this variant appears to be increasing in almost all provinces in South Africa. Current SARS-CoV-2 PCR diagnostics continue to detect this variant. Several labs have indicated that for one widely used PCR test, one of the three target genes is not detected and this test can therefore be used as marker for this variant, pending sequencing confirmation. Using this approach, this variant has been detected at faster rates than previous surges in infection, suggesting that this variant may have a growth advantage, said the WHO.
The Technical Advisory Group on SARS-CoV-2 Virus Evolution (TAG-VE) is an independent group of experts that periodically monitors and evaluates the evolution of SARS-CoV-2 and assesses if specific mutations and combinations of mutations alter the behaviour of the virus. The TAG-VE was convened on 26 November 2021 to assess the SARS-CoV-2 variant: B.1.1.529. (agency)
Read More► How Covid Affects Pregnant Mothers And Babies
आगरा (21 नवंबर, 2021)- आधुनिक जीवनशैली और पर्यावरण में लगातार हो रहे बदलाव ने मानव स्वास्थ्य के सामने गंभीर संकट पैदा कर दिया है। वायु प्रदूषण अपने सबसे खतरनाक स्तर पर पहुँच चुका है। स्वास्थ्य पर प्रतिदिन इसका प्रतिकूल असर पड़ रहा है। लेकिन ये समझ में नहीं आ रहा कि इस वैश्विक स्वास्थ्य समस्या से अपनी और अपने परिवार की सुरक्षा कैसे की जाए? ऐसे में आयुर्वेद का प्राचीन विज्ञान आशा की किरण बनकर उभरा है। आयुर्वेद के माध्यम से इस स्वास्थ्य चुनौती का मुकाबला बखूबी किया जा सकता है क्योंकि इस चिकित्सा पद्धति में रोगों से लड़ने और प्राकृतिक घटकों के माध्यम से उसके निवारण की अद्भूत क्षमता निहित है। यही वजह है कि आयुर्वेद को स्वास्थ्य सेवाओं का भविष्य कहना अतिशयोक्ति नहीं होगी।
प्रसिद्ध आयुर्वेद चिकित्सक और पंचकर्म की विशेषज्ञ डॉ. मीनल गुप्ता ने उपरोक्त बाते निरोगस्ट्रीट द्वारा आगरा में आयोजित संगोष्ठी में कही जिसमें बड़ी संख्या में चिकित्सकों ने भाग लिया। डॉ. मीनल ने आयुर्वेद की महत्ता को रेखांकित करते हुए कहा कि आयुर्वेद उन सभी समस्याओं और कमियों का समाधान है जो वर्तमान स्वास्थ्य प्रणाली को कमजोर बनाती है। आयुर्वेद बिरादरी को पूरे पारिस्थितिकी तंत्र को बेहतर बनाने और दुनिया भर के रोगियों के लाभ के लिए इसे और अधिक सक्षम बनाने के साथ-साथ नियमित रूप से इस तरह के संगोष्ठियों और परिचर्चा को आयोजित करते रहने की जरूरत है।
यह भी पढ़े► कोरोना महामारी के दौरान आयुर्वेद के महत्व को दुनिया ने स्वीकारा
'आधुनिक दुनिया के परिप्रेक्ष्य में आयुर्वेद' (आधुनिक दुनिया में आयुर्वेद की प्राचीन प्रक्रियाएं) विषय पर आयोजित चिकित्सकों की संगोष्ठी में 'कोरोनावायरस' के बाद की स्वास्थ्य चुनौतियों और आयुर्वेद में उसकी भूमिका पर भी विस्तृत चर्चा हुई जिसमें बड़ी संख्या में चिकित्सकों ने भाग लिया। चर्चा के केंद्र में बिगड़ती हुई पर्यावरणीय परिस्थितियों में स्वस्थ जीवन के लिए आयुर्वेद की महत्ता रही जिसमें ये बात उभर कर सामने आयी कि 'प्रौद्योगिकी' (टेक्नॉलजी) के साथ 'आयुर्वेद' ग्लोबल हेल्थकेयर के भविष्य को पूरी तरह से बदल सकता है।
देश के सबसे बड़े आयुर्वेद चिकित्सकों के प्लेटफॉर्म 'निरोगस्ट्रीट' द्वारा आयोजित इस संगोष्ठी को व्यापक सफलता मिली जिसमें आगरा के साथ - साथ देशभर के 50 चिकित्सकों ने अपनी सहभागिता दर्ज कराई। पंचकर्म केरली आयुर्वेद केंद्र के चिकित्सकों ने भी संगोष्ठी के दौरान अपने विचार रखे।
यह अंग्रेज़ी में भी पढ़े► Medical Fraternity meet in Agra: Ancient Procedures of Ayurveda in the Modern World
New York- Covid-19 infection during pregnancy leads to distinct immune changes in mothers and babies, according to a study.
The researchers found that Covid-19 dysregulates maternal immune response, with different immune signatures between mothers with asymptomatic and severe disease.
"We know that pregnancy increases maternal risk for Covid-19, but relatively little is known about the long-term consequences of in-utero exposure for infants," said Jae Jung, Director of the Cleveland Clinic Global Center for Pathogen & Human Health Research.
The study highlights "how important it will be for long-term follow-up after pregnancy to catch and hopefully prevent any unforeseen long-term health conditions related to prenatal infection,"Jung added.
For the study, published in the journal Cell Reports Medicine, the team involved 93 mothers with Covid-19 and 45 of their infant children who were exposed to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19.
The research team studied immune profiles for more than 1,400 cytokines and other inflammatory proteins collected from peripheral and cord blood samples.
The researchers compared maternal blood specimens collected close to the initial detection of SARS-CoV-2 and at different time points throughout pregnancy and delivery.
They found that compared to mild or moderate disease, pregnant women with severe Covid-19 exhibited significantly more inflammation and elevated levels of a protein called IFNL1 (interferon lambda 1) and the receptor it binds with, IFNLR1, which plays a critical role in protecting against viruses.
"This increase in interferon lambda signaling may help explain why we see relatively little direct transmission of Covid-19 between mother and baby during the period right before or after birth -- what we call vertical transmission," explained Suan-Sin (Jolin) Foo, a research associate in Dr. Jung's lab and co-first author on the paper.
Despite the lack of evidence for robust vertical transmission, the researchers found that SARS-CoV-2 infection alters maternal immunity at delivery and that gestational SARS-CoV-2 exposure alters infant immunity at birth.
At delivery, the women exhibited dysregulated levels of several cytokines that are associated with pregnancy complications, including MMP7, MDK, ESM1, BGN and CD209.
Among infants, prenatal exposure induced the expression of cytokines related to T cells, which are a type of immune cell involved in recognising and attacking specific antigens.
The majority of births within the cohort were healthy, but there was a high incidence of some complications, including preeclampsia and foetal growth restriction.
More research will be necessary to understand the extent to which the observed immune changes are related to these clinical outcomes, the team said.
Read More► How Covid-19 Exposed Vulnerability in People With Diabetes
While wearing double masks, which helps create a strong barrier against Covid-19 infection spread via airborne viral particles, has become the new normal, prolonged wearing of masks can develop hydration issues or other nagging breathing troubles, health experts said on Wednesday.
There has been enough evidence through the pandemic to show the importance of masks for effective pandemic control. At the start of the pandemic, it was seen that countries (primarily Asian nations) which enforced early masking had lesser mortality rates as compared to countries in the West where compulsory mask wearing was introduced quite late.
"Prolonged mask wearing can be associated with certain problems the most common being headaches, dehydration, acne and difficulty in breathing," Radhika Banka, Consultant Pulmonologist at P.D. Hinduja Hospital & MRC, Mumbai, told IANS.
Breathing issues are "usually seen in mouth breathers and in people with underlying respiratory problems such as COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease)", she added.
According to Ravi Shekhar Jha, Additional Director and HOD, Pulmonology, at Fortis Escorts Hospital, Faridabad, wearing double mask for long hours can also lead to dryness.
"It is because natural humidification of nasal mucosa gets impaired," Jha said.
There are various masks available in the market, including cloth masks, surgical masks and respirators such as N-95s.
The cloth mask has the least protection and the US Centre of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends wearing a disposable surgical mask along with a cloth mask for additional protection. For surgical masks, the knotted technique (that is knotting the ear loops to provide better fit and prevent leakage from the sides) is recommended.
But with full vaccination rolled out in most countries, are double masks still required?
"Even after double dose vaccination, people can get breakthrough infections and can still be asymptomatic carriers and spread the infection. Hence masking is important even after double vaccination," Banka said.
The health experts stated that for people living in India, double masks become more important as vaccination of children has not yet begun in the country, and asymptomatic transmission is the highest from children. Added to this is a high population density, where social distancing is not practically possible in many cases.
Most of the countries which have made masks voluntary are those in the West with low population density, where social distancing is feasible. These countries have managed to vaccinate more than 80 per cent of their population with two doses. Also, masks in these countries are still recommended in enclosed spaces, public transports, healthcare facilities etc.
"With only 48 per cent of our population being vaccinated with one dose and 25 per cent being vaccinated with two doses, I do not think India can yet take the risk of removing the mandatory use of masks," Banka said.
However, according to Jha, "A single mask, if worn properly, is sufficient."
"People who wear double masks, have this tendency of adjusting their masks repeatedly due to breathing issues, and that way the whole purpose of wearing a mask is defeated," he said.
Jha added that for someone like a healthcare worker, who is in an area with high concentration of Covid viral droplets, an N-95 mask should be worn all the time. For other situations, a normal surgical mask (single) is sufficient.
"We need to ensure that masks are worn properly, with proper seal at nose. Improperly worn masks are more dangerous. It is also important to keep in mind that a mask alone may not protect. One needs to follow hand hygiene as well as maintain social distancing," Jha advised.
Although several countries have loosened mask restrictions citing vaccine efficacy, various studies and health experts have stressed on the need for continuing wearing masks, even after being fully vaccinated, including booster shots; and following other protective measures such as physical distancing and handwashing.
A recent study led by researchers from the Monash University and the University of Edinburgh analysed more than 30 studies from around the world and found a statistically significant 53 per cent reduction in the incidence of Covid with mask wearing, and 25 per cent reduction with physical distancing. Handwashing also indicated a substantial 53 per cent reduction in Covid incidence.
Most people are able to wear masks fairly well for a few hours, but if your job requires you to wear masks for a prolonged period, it is essential to take adequate breaks to hydrate oneself and prevent any skin problems, Banka suggested. (Agency)
Read More► 4 Ways Psoriasis Can Worsen If Not Managed Well
Some people believe that psoriasis is just a common cosmetic, skin problem. Many believe it is contagious, making it one of the most stigmatized of all skin conditions and cannot be managed. So, which is it?
Psoriasis occurs when one's immune system is overactive and attacks healthy skin tissue, causing inflammation and speeding up skin cell growth. As a result, the skin becomes itchy, painful and scaly, with inflamed red plaques (patches) or silvery scales. These can appear across the body, often on the scalp, knees, back or elbows. Still, many believe these patches cannot hurt them.
Shrichand G. Parasramani, Dermatologist, Anisha Clinic, Mumbai said, "Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease which can be controlled but has no cure. It can go into remission. Patients and their families have several misconceptions of the disease, such as it are infectious in nature and they have to live with it lifelong.
It affects the patient's quality of life to a large extent which increases his level of stress. Many patients are drawn towards alternative medicine such as Ayurveda or homoeopathy due to the failure of conventional therapy and at times high cost of treatment. This leads to irregularity in treatment, resulting in a flare-up of the disease or treatment failure.
However, patients must understand the importance of addressing the disease so as to avoid the progression of psoriasis and its underlying complications. They must be told that with newer treatment options patients can lead an almost near-normal life."
Here are 4 ways Psoriasis can worsen if not managed:
Inflammation: Psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune disease that causes inflammation. What's especially important to note is that even mild psoriasis can be a sign of significant inflammation in the body. This inflammation, in turn, can contribute to other associated health conditions.
Given that dermatologists are the key medical experts responsible for treating psoriasis, it is important to consult one to understand the condition and suitable and advanced treatment options such as biologics
Increased Risk of Health Complications: People living with psoriasis are at a higher risk of developing associated conditions or comorbidities. The most common of these is psoriatic arthritis which affects 30 per cent of psoriasis patients. It is a chronic and inflammatory disease of the joints, resulting in stiffness, pain, throbbing, swelling and tenderness in joints. If this is not treated, long-term joint damage can result.
People with psoriasis, particularly in more severe cases, are also more likely to have other inflammatory conditions, including heart attack, stroke, type-2 diabetes, and inflammatory bowel disease. Other related health issues can also include obesity, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, metabolic syndrome, hypertension, kidney or liver disease uveitis, and sleep apnea.
Treatment to Prevent Flare-Ups: If unmanaged, psoriasis can lead to plaques and scales that continue to build and spread. Over time, these can become quite painful, causing severe itching. Without adequate treatment to prevent flare-ups, these can increase in severity and frequency. This can even happen to patients who begin medication but suddenly discontinue adhering to their recommended prescription.
It's important to remember that psoriasis can be treated. By adopting advanced therapies, such as biologics, the disease, as well as flare-ups, can be effectively managed.
Mental Health & Quality of Life: Another long-term effect of psoriasis is its effects on an individual's mental health and across one's overall quality of life. Physical symptoms, especially in commonly visible areas like the face or hands can lead to distress and affect one's self-esteem. Psoriasis, which is highly stigmatized, can be isolating or even affect social relationships.
It is also associated with psychological conditions, including depression and anxiety. These place an individual in a vicious cycle increased plaques can lead to anxiety or depression, and such stressors act as common triggers for a psoriasis flare.
By striving to address one's psoriasis, while also attempting to manage stress such as through counselling or lifestyle changes or community support groups individuals may begin noticing improvements in their overall health and well-being.
What Steps You Should Take
First and foremost, consult a dermatologist. Typically, psoriasis can be diagnosed with a simple physical examination with the doctor taking a look at one's skin, scalp and nails.
Once diagnosed, adopting a holistic treatment plan depending on the severity of one's psoriasis is key. If previously taking medication for psoriasis with limited effects, this responsiveness to treatment may also be used to find an approach more suited to the individual, especially considering recent advancements in psoriasis treatment.
It is important to remember to treat psoriasis as a chronic condition with longer-term implications, as opposed to one with temporary treatment solutions. The main aim of psoriasis treatment is to reduce inflammation and plaques. Currently, there are newer, advanced and innovative treatments, including biologics to safely and effectively treat and manage psoriasis. These work by blocking reactions in the body that cause psoriasis and its symptoms.
Biologics are important treatment options, particularly for people with moderate-to-severe psoriasis. While they may believe their condition cannot be improved or are distressed about other treatments failing, biologics can have life-changing impacts, especially in controlling one's symptoms. (Shrichand G. Parasramani, Dermatologist, Anisha Clinic, Mumbai)
Read More► Common Menstrual Problems
Rashes, dry and flaky patches of skin are some of the most prevalent skin issues during winter. As the intake of fluid decreases during the winter, dehydrated skin becomes a battleground for various skin issues. Therefore, it's essential to prepare our skin well ahead of the harsh winters. Homemade DIY treatments might work, but they are not all that helpful in solving all your winter skin problems.
Let's put a focal point on what our skin needs during winters:
In winter, we often feel that our skin does not need exfoliation because we haven't stepped out much. But, in reality, winters give rise to dead skin cells. This in turn clogs the follicles and acts as a barrier to the radiance of the skin. Therefore, exfoliate your skin twice a week to get rid of the dead skin buildup. Exfoliation also helps to boost the effectiveness of serums and moisturisers, thereby helping to maintain the perfect level of hydration.
Look for The Right Moisturizer
Beating the chilly winter air is equally as tough as escaping the summer heat. You have to find the right moisturiser that locks in the essential oils in your skin for a longer period of time. Ensure that you are applying that moisturiser twice a day. If you have extremely dry skin and hands, you can opt for an oil-based moisturiser during the winter. Water-based moisturisers are great for summer, but in winter they are not effective as they dry up your skin too often. You can select from shea butter to rich green tea and even rejuvenating fruit butters for intense hydration.
As hyaluronic acid comes with truck loads of benefits, including skin hydration, anti-wrinkle agency, healing agent, and antioxidant, skincare experts across the globe suggest that hyaluronic acid is the best way to maintain hydration during winter. It is suited for all skin types, and skin experts recommend that one should look out for hyaluronic acid-based products when their skin requires hydration. Profhilo has added a new and popular treatment that has gained popularity in recent times. It works by injecting hyaluronic acid into the skin's layers, resulting in visibly hydrated, healthy, and rejuvenated skin.
DIY Facemask for Winters
Face masks can hydrate your skin, remove the dirt and help in improving the pores of the skin. Applying honey and malai (milk cream) facemask is one of the best natural moisturising creams that you can apply on your skin to make it supple and soft. Honey helps to clear your skin off the bacteria that are responsible for the growth of pimples and acne on your face. Mix a tablespoon each of milk cream and honey in a bowl and mix them well. Apply the mixture on your face and skin and leave it for about 15 minutes before rinsing it off with lukewarm water. Pat dry your skin and see the result. (Dr. Chiranjiv Chabra, Cosmetic Dermatologist, Director Skin Alive Clinics)
Read More► Thin Line Between Depression And Feeling Depressed