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One Crore Frontline Healthcare Workers To Receive Covid-19 Vaccine In First Leg

Five vaccine candidates are in advanced stages of development in India, out of which four are in Phase II/III and one is in Phase-I/II trials.

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An estimated one crore frontline health workers will receive the first dose of Covid-19 vaccine whenever it becomes available, with around 92 per cent of government hospitals and 55 per cent of private hospitals across all states and UTs providing data identifying the workers, official sources said.

Five vaccine candidates are in advanced stages of development in India, out of which four are in Phase II/III and one is in Phase-I/II trials.

States have been asked to accelerate the process of identifying frontline healthcare workers including doctors, MBBS students, nurses and ASHA workers etc, so that the exercise gets completed in another one week.

It has asked states to do planning and mapping of vaccination sessions where healthcare workers will be vaccinated during the 1st phase and mapping human resources across departments that could be deployed for vaccination sessions for verification of beneficiaries, crowd management and overall coordination.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will meet with chief ministers and other representatives of states and union territories via video conferencing on Tuesday to discuss the vaccine distribution strategy, sources said.

“Around 92 per cent of all government hospitals and 55 per cent of all private hospitals from across all states and UTs have provided data. The rest of the details will come in another one week. We have asked the states to accelerate the process,” an official source said.

The anti-coronavirus vaccine, once available, would be distributed under a special Covid-19 inoculation programme, using the processes, technology and network of the existing Universal Immunisation Programme (UIP). It would run parallel to the UIP.

The Centre, with the help of state and UT governments, has started the process of identifying around 30 crore priority beneficiaries who would be given vaccine dose in the initial phase, sources had said.

The government has demarcated four categories which include around 1 crore healthcare professionals including doctors, MBBS students, nurses and ASHA workers etc, around two crore frontline workers including municipal corporation workers, personnel of the police and armed forces, about 26 crore people aged above 50 and a special category of those below 50 with co-morbidities and requiring specialised care.

Health Ministry’s existing digital platform eVIN which is being used for the UIP is being enhanced for the Covid-19 vaccine distribution and delivery, through which SMSs would be sent to recipients informing the time, date and venue to get the shots and digitally connect them and also track them, sources had earlier said.

Each person in the immunisation list would be linked with their Aadhar cards to avoid duplication and to track beneficiaries. However, in case a person doesn’t have an Aadhar card, a government photo identity can be used, the sources said.

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 Bharat Biotech and ICMR vaccine has already started the phase III clinical trial.

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

Dr Reddy’s Laboratories will soon start combined phase 2 and 3 clinical trials of the Russian Covid-19 vaccine Sputnik V in India.Biological E. Ltd has started early phase 1 and 2 human trials of its Covid-19 vaccine candidate.

Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan had said that a Covid-19 vaccine is likely to be available by the first quarter of 2021.

He had said that the Centre estimates to receive and utilise 40-50 crore doses of Covid-19 vaccine covering around 25 crore people by July next year.

“The prioritisation of groups for Covid-19 vaccine shall be based on two key considerations — occupational hazard and risk of exposure to infection, and the risk of developing severe disease and increased mortality,” he had said.

Health

The goodness of Argan oil

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Argan oil has traditionally been used topically to improve the health of skin, hair, and nails. It contains a number of different beneficial properties and vitamins that form a powerful combination to boost skin health.

Dr Geeta Grewal – cosmetic surgeon, beauty and health wellness expert explains some prominent uses of the oil for health, skin and hair.

Night Moisturiser

Argan oil absorbs quickly and does not leave an oily residue. In the winter months you may need a second drop but remember to use sparingly. This oil is safe and gentle to use around your eyes. Vitamin A and Vitamin E present in the oil can help to reduce fine wrinkles and keep this delicate area moisturized.

Skin Toner

Toning is an important step in your skin care routine. For an all-over glow, add 3-4 drops of your favourite toner, make your own chemical-free, natural toner at home.

Exfoliant

To experience the argon oil benefits while exfoliating, pay special attention to acne-prone areas and areas that are dry.

Regular exfoliation helps to remove dead skin cells and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, while giving you a younger, fresher complexion. With the aid of the brown sugar, argon oil’s nutrients are more readily absorbed into your skin. Use this exfoliator for more than just your face. If you have dry elbows or heels, mix up a bit more to massage the dry and dead skin away.

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Natural antioxidants can keep heart, cancer diseases at bay

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If you want to keep your immune system strong for fighting cardiovascular diseases or cancer, start taking natural antioxidants as health experts on Sunday stressed that it helps in improving overall health by providing many other health benefits.

According to experts, antioxidants are substances that may protect your cells against free radicals, which play a role in heart disease, cancer and other diseases.

Free radicals are molecules produced when your body breaks down food or when you’re exposed to tobacco smoke or radiation.

The latest antioxidant which is produced for the first time in India is gamma oryzanol, which is very quickly gaining popularity as a super antioxidant.

It is a substance that is taken out of rice bran oil. It is also found in wheat bran and some fruits and vegetables.

The experts said that gamma oryzanol is used for high cholesterol, symptoms of menopause and many other conditions.

“Gamma oryzanol is useful for controlling elevated cholesterol and triglyceride levels, supporting cardiovascular health along with controlling menopausal symptoms. Gamma oryzanol helps lower cholesterol because it helps decrease cholesterol absorption and increase cholesterol elimination. Along with this, it is also known to boost metabolic rate and may help with weight loss,” Swapna Chaturvedi, senior dietician, Department of Dietetics, AIIMS told IANS.

As gamma oryzanol is found to be effective in controlling high cholesterol level in the body, it is registered in Japan and the US as a natural medicine to treat hyperlipidemia/dyslipidaemia (elevated cholesterol levels/unhealthy cholesterol levels.

Most research shows that taking natural antioxidants decreases total cholesterol, “bad” low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, and blood fats called triglycerides in people with high cholesterol.

“It also helps in preventing heart attack by preventing platelet aggregation, a system where platelets blood gets stuck together and form clots that block arteries,” said Praveen Chandra, Head of Department, Interventional Cardiology, Medanta, The Medicity in Gurugram.

The experts mentioned that gamma oryzanol is also used for increasing testosterone and human growth hormone levels, as well as improving strength during resistance exercise training.

Gamma oryzanol also helps to inhibit different cancers in the body and builds immunity to fight cancer cells.

“Many of the antioxidants have proven beneficial in inhibiting the cancers at various stages. Gamma oryzanol has been found out to be effective antioxidant which comes from rice bran and helps in preventing cancer if taken for a long period,” said Rahul Bhargava, Director, Institute of Blood Disorder and BMT, Fortis Hospital, New Delhi.

Gamma oryzanol is basically activator of NK cells which gives the cancer cells a check.

It not only works through NK cells but also inhibits angiogenesis. It means it cuts the supply for the cancer cells to grow and increases your body’s own immunity to gather the strength to kill cancers.

“Gamma oryzanol also prevents cancers and studies show it helps in regressing the prostate cancer cells,” Bhargava noted.

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Health

No benefit from arthritis drug for severe Covid patients: Study

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Contrary to a few studies that earlier suggested benefits from an arthritis drug for patients with severe or critical Covid-19 infection, a new study indicates that it is not better than standard care alone.

According to the researchers, including Regis G Rosa from Hospital Moinhos de Vento in Brazil, there was an increased number of deaths at 15 days in patients receiving an arthritis drug — tocilizumab — that resulted in the trial being stopped early.

These results contradict earlier observational studies suggesting benefit from tocilizumab. However, observational effects are limited by a high risk that they may be due to other unknown (confounding) factors — and some studies have not yet been peer reviewed or published in a medical journal, the researchers said in a paper published in The BMJ journal.

Tocilizumab blocks a specific part of the immune system (interleukin 6) that can go into overdrive in some patients with Covid-19.

According to the team, doctors think this might help lessen the body’s inflammatory response to the virus and avert some of the more dire consequences of the disease, but its effects are not well defined.

To test this theory, researchers conducted a randomised controlled trial involving 129 Covid-19 patients with an average age of 57 years and compared tocilizumab plus standard care with standard care alone.

Patients were receiving supplemental oxygen or mechanical ventilation and had abnormal levels of at least two chemicals linked to inflammation in their blood.

The study participants were randomly divided into two groups — 65 received tocilizumab plus standard care and 64 received standard care alone. All patients were monitored for 15 days.

By day 15, 18 (28 per cent) patients in the tocilizumab group and 13 (20 per cent) in the standard care group were receiving mechanical ventilation or had died.

Death at 15 days occurred in 11 (17 per cent) patients in the tocilizumab group compared with 2 (3 per cent) in the standard care group.

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