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Air pollution may lower your sperm quality

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Hong Kong, Nov 22 : Men who regularly get exposed to air pollution may be at an increased risk of having poorer quality sperm, resulting in a spell of infertility for a “significant number of couples”, researchers warned.

Increased exposure to fine particulate matter (PM2.5) — fine inhalable particles that have diameters of 2.5 micrometres or less — have been previously found to reduce growth of working memory in kids, stroke, respiratory problems, kidney, bladder and colorectal cancer besides causing lung cancer.

In the new study, researchers from the Chinese University of Hong Kong found a strong association between PM2.5 exposure and abnormal sperm shape.

For every five micrograms per cubic meter air or µg/m3 increase in PM2.5 across two-year average was associated with a significant drop in normal sperm shape/size of 1.29 per cent.

And it was associated with a 26 per cent heightened risk of being in the bottom 10 per cent of normal sperm size and shape.

However, it was also associated with a significant increase in sperm numbers, possibly as a compensatory mechanism to combat the detrimental effects on shape and size, the researchers said.

“Although the effect estimates are small and the significance might be negligible in a clinical setting, this is an important public health challenge,” said Xiang Qian Lao, from the varsity.

“Given the ubiquity of exposure to air pollution, a small effect size of PM2.5 on sperm normal morphology may result in a significant number of couples with infertility,” Lao warned.

For the study, published in the journal Occupational & Environmental Medicine, the team examined nearly 6,500 men aged 15 to 49 year old in Taiwan.

The researchers called for global strategies to minimise the impact of air pollution on reproductive health.

IANS

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AIIMS Director Pins Hopes On Five Covid-19 Vaccine Candidates

At least one locally-tested vaccine could get emergency use authorisation by the end of this month or early 2021, Dr Guleria says.

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COVID-19 Vaccine

AIIMS director Dr Randeep Guleria on Thursday pinned his hopes on the five Covid-19 vaccine candidates which are in advanced stages of clinical trial in India, stating they are logistically feasible for distribution in both urban and rural areas.

His assertion comes amid Pfizer-BioNTech’s anti-coronavirus vaccine getting emergency clearance in the UK, paving the way for mass vaccinations against the deadly novel coronavirus from as early as next week.

Dr Guleria expressed hope that by the end of this month or early next month, at least one of the five vaccines being locally-tested should get emergency use authorisation from the drug regulator to be administered to the public starting with priority groups.

According to sources, global pharma giant Pfizer had talks with the Indian government late August, but since then there has been no development.

During a briefing last month, NITI Aayog member (Health) Dr V K Paul, who also heads the National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration, said that sufficient doses of the Pfizer vaccine as required for the Indian population will not be available but the government is examining the possibilities and will work out a strategy (for its procurement and distribution) in case the vaccine gets regulatory approvals.

The requirement of extremely low temperature of -70 degree Celsius for storing the Covid-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer poses a big challenge for its delivery in a developing nation like India, especially in its smaller towns and rural areas where maintaining such cold chain facilities would be very difficult, Guleria said.

“Five vaccine candidates are in advanced stages of clinical trial in India and no significant serious adverse effects have been seen so far. Also, they are logistically feasible for distribution in a large country like India, both in its urban and rural parts.

“Hopefully, by the end of this month or early next month, at least one of them should get emergency authorisation from the Indian drug regulator for its distribution among Indian population,” he said.

The five vaccines are under different phases of clinical trials in India with the Serum Institute of India conducting phase-3 trial of the Oxford-Astrazeneca Covid-19 vaccine, while the indigenously developed vaccine by Bharat Biotech in collaboration with ICMR has already started the phase-3 clinical trial.

Another indigenously-developed vaccine by Zydus Cadila has also completed phase -2 clinical trial in the country.

Dr Reddy’s Laboratories and the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) on Tuesday announced the start of adaptive phase 2 and 3 clinical trials for Covid-19 vaccine Sputnik V in India.

Also, Biological E. Ltd has started early phase 1 and 2 human trials of its Covid-19 vaccine candidate.

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Criminal networks could try to sell fake COVID vaccines physically and on internet, warns Interpol

The Interpol has asked police organisations to ensure “the safety of the supply chain” and said “identifying illicit websites selling fake products will be essential”.

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Vaccine

New Delhi, December 3: The Interpol has warned law enforcement agencies across the globe that organised criminal networks could try to advertise and sell fake COVID-19 vaccines physically and on the internet.

In an Orange notice issued to all 194 member countries on Wednesday, the Lyon-based international police cooperation body warned agencies to prepare for potential criminal activity in relation to “the falsification, theft and illegal advertising of COVID-19 and flu vaccines”.

“It also includes examples of crimes where individuals have been advertising, selling and administering fake vaccines,” a statement from the Interpol said.

The Interpol issues an Orange notice to warn of an event, a person, an object or a process representing a serious and imminent threat to public safety.

The CBI, which is the national central bureau for India, is tasked with coordination with the Interpol.

The warning came on the day the UK became the first Western nation to approve a COVID-19 vaccine, vaulting past the US and the European Union in the race to approve a vaccine.

The Interpol has asked police organisations to ensure “the safety of the supply chain” and said “identifying illicit websites selling fake products will be essential”.

“Criminal networks will also be targeting unsuspecting members of the public via fake websites and false cures, which could pose a significant risk to their health, even their lives,” Interpol Secretary General Jurgen Stock said in a statement.

“It is essential that law enforcement is as prepared as possible for what will be an onslaught of all types of criminal activity linked to the COVID-19 vaccine, which is why INTERPOL has issued this global warning,” the official said.

The Interpol cybercrime unit has analysed that of 3,000 websites associated with online pharmacies suspected of selling illicit medicines and medical devices, around 1,700 contained cyber threats, especially phishing and spamming malware making such operators even more potent of causing financial and health harms.

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Russia: Putin orders mass COVID-19 vaccinations; health minister claims one lakh already received Sputnik V

Museums, theatres and concert halls would be closed to the public in the city of more than 5 million people for the duration of Russia’s New Year holidays, from December 30 to January 10.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin

Russian Health Minister Mikhail Murashko on Wednesday said more than 100,000 people had already been vaccinated against COVID-19, as Moscow presented its Sputnik V vaccine to the United Nations over video link.

President Vladimir Putin earlier ordered authorities to begin mass voluntary vaccinations next week. Russia will have produced two million vaccine doses within the next few days, Putin said.

Russia said last month that its Sputnik V jab was 92% effective at protecting people from COVID-19 according to interim results.

“Let’s agree on this – you will not report to me next week, but you will start mass vaccination…let’s get to work already,” Putin told Deputy Prime Minister Tatiana Golikova.

Golikova said large-scale vaccination could begin on a voluntary basis in December.

The rise in infections has slowed since reaching a high on November 27, with 25,345 new cases reported on Wednesday.

Russia has resisted imposing lockdowns during the second wave of the virus, preferring targeted regional curbs.

With 2,347,401 infections, Russia has the fourth-largest number of COVID-19 cases in the world behind the United States, India and Brazil. It has recorded 41,053 deaths related to COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic.

The Kremlin earlier gave assurances that Russians were first in line to be vaccinated, with Moscow also discussing supply deals with other countries.

“The absolute priority are Russians,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said. “Production within Russia, which is already being developed, will meet the needs of Russians.”

Authorities in St Petersburg, which reported 3,684 new infections on Wednesday, ordered bars and restaurants to close from December 30 until January 3, to combat the rise in cases there, the RIA news agency reported.

Museums, theatres and concert halls would be closed to the public in the city of more than 5 million people for the duration of Russia’s New Year holidays, from December 30 to January 10.

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