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Cycling, walking in nature may improve your mental health




London, Oct 20: People who commute — walking or cycling — through natural environments are more likely to develop better mental health than those who commute less, according to a new study.

Natural environments included all public and private outdoor spaces that contain ‘green’ and/or ‘blue’ natural elements such as street trees, forests, city parks and natural parks/reserves and all types of water bodies.

“Mental health and physical inactivity are two of the main public health problems associated with the life in urban environments. Urban design could be a powerful tool to confront these challenges and create healthier cities. One way of doing so would be investing in natural commuting routes for cycling and walking,” said Mark Nieuwenhuijsen from the University of Barcelona.

For the study, published in the journal, Environment International, the research team examined nearly 3,600 participants who answered a questionnaire about their commuting habits and their mental health.

The findings showed that respondents commuting through natural environments on a daily basis had on average a 2.74 point higher mental health score compared to those who commuted through natural environments less frequently.

This association was even stronger among people who reported active commuting, the team said.

“From previous experimental studies we knew that physical activity in natural environments can reduce stress, improve mood and mental restoration when compared to the equivalent activity in urban environments,” said first author Wilma Zijlema from the varsity.

“Although this study is the first of its kind to our knowledge and, therefore, more research will be needed, our data show that commuting through these natural spaces alone may also have a positive effect on mental health.”



Delhi’s Covid testing 4K short of actual capacity, says High Court



Arvind Kejriwal Delhi

New Delhi, Oct 1 : The Delhi High Court yet again pulled up the city government for not using its actual testing capacity, noting that Delhi can conduct 15,000 RT-PCR tests per day while actual number of tests being done is still around 11,000.

“Delhi has the capacity of conducting 15,000 tests per day through RT-PCR mode… 4,000 RT-PCR tests per day are not being utilised, which does not make any sense when cases of Covid-19 infection during the period between September 14, 2020 to September 27, 2020, remain in the range of 3,500-4,000 cases per day with only one exception on September 20 when the positive cases reported were 2,548,” said a division bench of Justices Hima Kohli and Subramonium Prasad.

The court further noted that the report of Sero Surveillance-3 reflects a reduction of the IgG antibodies’ seroprevalence from 28.7 per cent to 25.1 per cent.

“The seroprevalence has declined in northwest and central districts but has increased in west, south, northwest and east districts,” it said.

As per the report submitted to the court, the seroprevalence was found to be more in females during the three rounds of Sero Surveillance and least in those aged 18 to 49 years, as compared to those aged below 18 years and above 50 years.

“The conclusion in the Sero Surveillance-3 report is that there is a need to enhance the focus on sample representativeness of the survey in the central, northeast and north districts,” the court said.

In its report filed before the court, the city government said that Geospatial Delhi Ltd has incorporated the changes made in the draft map, in terms of the feedback received from various districts and the said map of available testing in Delhi was received by the Delhi government on September 28.

“The map mentions a total of 320 testing sites in Delhi. The said map has been shared with DMRC for being displayed at permanent locations/sites at all major Metro Stations. It has also been sent to the Delhi State Mission and uploaded on various websites of the Delhi Government,” the order noted.

The Delhi government also told the high court that providing access to Covid-19 testing through Mohalla Clinics and Community Centres is under the active consideration of the Expert Committee constituted by the Lt. Governor. “But no final decision on the way forward for capacity building and ramping up the overall testing strategy in Delhi has been taken,” the government, represented by Additional Solicitor General Sanjay Jain and Additional Standing Counsel Satyakam, submitted.

While posting the matter for further hearing on October 7, the high court has asked the ASG to inform the court of the date finalised for commencing the next Sero Surveillance in Delhi.

“Since we are informed that the Expert Committee is actively involved in re-strategising the testing capacity as also reviewing the overall strategy required to be followed by the Delhi government and request has been made to await the said recommendations, list on October 7, 2020,” said the court.

The directions came as the court was hearing a PIL filed by advocate Rakesh Malhotra seeking increasing Covid-19 testing numbers in the national capital and getting speedy results.

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US hails India partnership as crucial for global recovery from Covid-19




Coronavirus India

New York, Oct 1 : The US on Wednesday hailed its partnership with India on protective equipment and medical supplies during the “desperate” early days of the Covid-19 pandemic as the “clearest example” of positive global collaboration rising from one of its “most important partnerships in the world”.

The current US outlook frames India as a crucial partner for bouncing back from the pandemic’s deadly blow.

“India has been an important partner for the United States since the early days of the pandemic when countries were desperate for factual information about the virus and searching for personal protective equipment and other medical supplies,” a senior US State Department Official said during a background briefing on the ‘US-India Comprehensive Global Strategic Partnership’.

“Looking forward to the next six months and beyond. We know that our continued close cooperation with India will be an important part of the global recovery from the pandemic,” the US official said.

The US-India “collaborative approach on therapeutics” is being underlined as an “excellent example” of positive global impact.

“American company, Gilead has granted voluntary non-exclusive licensing agreements to Indian pharmaceutical companies to produce a generic form of remdesivir,” according to the State Department official.

According to Gilead, these licensing agreements grant to Alkem Laboratories Ltd., Aurobindo Pharma Ltd., FDC Ltd., J.B. Chemicals and Pharmaceuticals Ltd., Matrix Laboratories Ltd., Medchem International, Ranbaxy Laboratories and Shasun Chemicals and Drugs Ltd. the rights to produce and distribute generic versions of tenofovir disoproxil fumarate (tenofovir DF) to 95 low-income countries around the world, including India.

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while addressing the UN General Assembly last week, pledged to help the world produce and deliver potential coronavirus vaccines.

India is the world’s largest vaccine producer. Serum Institute of India, the world’s largest maker of vaccines by volume, is mass-producing a vaccine for low and middle-income countries. The company is deep into late-stage studies of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate.

Against a tumultuous backdrop of an ongoing pandemic and global economic ruin, the US is highlighting the “enormous strengths” of the US-India relationship.

“Every time we look at these problems we find another area or solution we’re working together makes us both stronger, and the United States and India both see the danger of missing the opportunity to link our great societies and economies more closely,” the US official told reporters.

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Moderna COVID-19 vaccine appears safe, shows signs of working in older adults – study

Moderna is already testing the higher dose in a large Phase III trial, the final stage before seeking emergency authorization or approval.



COVID-19 Vaccine

Results from an early safety study of Moderna Inc’s MRNA.O coronavirus vaccine candidate in older adults showed that it produced virus-neutralizing antibodies at levels similar to those seen in younger adults, with side effects roughly on par with high-dose flu shots, researchers said on Tuesday.

The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, offers a more complete picture of the vaccine’s safety in older adults, a group at increased risk of severe complications from COVID-19.

The findings are reassuring because immunity tends to weaken with age, Dr. Evan Anderson, one of the study’s lead researchers from Emory University in Atlanta, said in a phone interview.

The study was an extension of Moderna’s Phase I safety trial, first conducted in individuals aged 18-55. It tested two doses of Moderna’s vaccine – 25 micrograms and 100 micrograms – in 40 adults aged 56 to 70 and 71 and older.

Overall, the team found that in older adults who received two injections of the 100 microgram dose 28 days apart, the vaccine produced immune responses roughly in line with those seen in younger adults.

Moderna is already testing the higher dose in a large Phase III trial, the final stage before seeking emergency authorization or approval.

Side effects, which included headache, fatigue, body aches, chills and injection site pain, were deemed mainly mild to moderate.

In at least two cases, however, volunteers had severe reactions.

One developed a grade three fever, which is classified as 102.2 degrees Fahrenheit (39°C) or above, after receiving the lower vaccine dose. Another developed fatigue so severe it temporarily prevented daily activities, Anderson said.

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