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Breast milk boosts heart development in ‘preemies’

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Breastfeeding

London, June 15 : Breastfeeding premature babies — often born with an abnormal heart — can improve heart structure as well as functioning in adulthood, finds a new study.

The findings showed that people who had been exclusively fed on breast milk had less reduction in heart volumes and function compared to those fed only on formula milk.

“The study shows that even in people whose premature birth has inevitably affected their development, breastfeeding may be able to improve heart development,” said Adam Lewandowski from Oxford University.

Previous studies have shown that, in adult life, the hearts of people who were born very preterm have smaller chambers, thicker walls and reduced function.

“Even the best baby formula lacks some of the growth factors, enzymes and antibodies that breast milk provides to developing babies,” Lewandowski added in the paper published in the journal Pediatrics.

The change in the heart emerges only in the first few months after birth. Thus, the team explored whether the way the baby was fed during this time might be able to alter how the heart develops.

For the study, the team followed 102 individuals, 30 of whom had been randomised to being fed exclusively human milk and 16 to being fed exclusively formula milk.

As a comparison group, an additional 102 individuals born term to uncomplicated pregnancies were also recruited.

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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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UK Approves Pfizer-BioNTech Covid Vaccine For Use, First In The World

The country has ordered up to 40 million doses of the vaccine that is said to offer 95 per cent protection.

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COVID-19 Vaccine

Pfizer and BioNTech say they’ve won permission Wednesday for emergency use of their Covid-19 vaccine in Britain, the world’s first coronavirus shot that’s backed by rigorous science — and a major step toward eventually ending the pandemic.

The move makes Britain one of the first countries to begin vaccinating its population as it tries to curb Europe’s deadliest Covid-19 outbreak.

Other countries aren’t far behind: The U.S. and the European Union also are vetting the Pfizer shot along with a similar vaccine made by competitor Moderna Inc.

Pfizer said it would immediately begin shipping limited supplies to the U.K. — and has been gearing up for even wider distribution if given a similar nod by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, a decision expected as early as next week.

But doses everywhere are scarce, and initial supplies will be rationed until more is manufactured in the first several months of next year.

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla called the U.K. decision “a historic moment.”

“We are focusing on moving with the same level of urgency to safely supply a high-quality vaccine around the world,” Bourla said in a statement.

While the U.K. has ordered enough Pfizer vaccine for 20 million people, it’s not clear how many will arrive by year’s end and adding to the distribution challenges is that it must be stored at ultra-cold temperatures.

Two doses three weeks apart are required for protection. First in line, the U.K. government says, are frontline health care workers and nursing home residents, followed by older adults.

British regulators also are considering another shot made by AstraZeneca and Oxford University. But Prime Minister Boris Johnson has warned “we must first navigate a hard winter” of restrictions to try to curb the virus until there’s enough vaccine to go around.

Every country has different rules for determining when an experimental vaccine is safe and effective enough to use. Intense political pressure to be the first to roll out a rigorously scientifically tested shot coloured the race in the U.S. and Britain, even as researchers pledged to cut no corners. In contrast, China and Russia have offered different vaccinations to their citizens ahead of late-stage testing.

The shots made by U.S.-based Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech were tested in tens of thousands of people. And while that study isn’t complete, early results suggest the vaccine is 95% effective at preventing mild to severe Covid-19 disease. The companies told regulators that of the first 170 infections detected in study volunteers, only eight were among people who’d received the actual vaccine and the rest had gotten a dummy shot.

“This is an extraordinarily strong protection,” Dr. Ugur Sahin, BioNTech’s CEO, recently told The Associated Press.

The companies also reported no serious side effects, although vaccine recipients may experience temporary pain and flu-like reactions immediately after injections.

But experts caution that a vaccine cleared for emergency use is still experimental and the final testing must be completed. Still to be determined is whether the Pfizer-BioNTech shots protect against people spreading the coronavirus without showing symptoms. Another question is how long protection lasts.

The vaccine also has been tested in only a small number of children, none younger than 12, and there’s no information on its effects in pregnant women.

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Corona Virus (COVID-19) Live Data

COVID-19 affects different people in different ways. Most infected people will develop mild to moderate illness and recover without hospitalization.