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Smoke pot in early age can cause memory loss

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Washington D.C. [USA], March 29: According to Canadian researchers, teenagers who begin smoking pot in the early age of 15 or less may suffer long-term cognitive deficit, memory loss, physical illness and respiratory diseases.

Those who did not smoke until 21 years of age, are unlikely to develop a lifelong habit, findings published in journal health.

“The task force outlines these benefits to take marijuana out of criminal hands, to tax it, to make sure that product quality is preserved,” said lead author Dr. James McIntosh.

“We need to start collecting data on it to see what the effects are on people of all ages,” McIntosh added.

To find out the effect of cannabis on physical and mental health, researchers from Concordia University in Montreal, Canada, looked at data from the 2013 Canadian Tobacco, Alcohol and Drugs Survey, and two others.

The result of the report was teenagers who begin to consume the drugs below age 15, was found to cause cognitive deficit, diminished IQ, limited educational success and mental illness.

One of the negative impact of consuming marijuana at the age 17 or younger, they had an average 62.5 percent lower chance of receiving a high school degree.

The performance of the school students also become worse by smoking high amounts of cannabis.

The worst effect on early users of absorbing cannabis is respiratory diseases and certain cancers.

The problem can be resolved by different educational programs, counseling services and a distribution system could help minimise use by young people, suggested by researchers.

Wefornews Bureau

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Saudi Arabia to make COVID-19 vaccine free for citizens and residents

As per Gulf News, Dr Asiri told Al Ekhbariya that Saudi Arabia will receive vaccines through COVAX facility as well as through companies outside of the consortium.

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Abu Dhabi: Saudi Arabia’s Health Ministry on Monday announced that it would make the coronavirus vaccine available for free to all citizens and residents.

“Those who have not tested positive for COVID-19 will be given priority in the vaccine campaign in the coming months,” said Dr Abdullah Asiri, the assistant undersecretary at the ministry.

He, however, added that those below 16 years of age will not be vaccinated unless research proves otherwise.

As per Gulf News, Dr Asiri told Al Ekhbariya that Saudi Arabia will receive vaccines through COVAX facility as well as through companies outside of the consortium.

“The Kingdom worked on two paths to obtain the vaccine, through the COVAX organisation, which the G20 had a role in creating and financing…Saudi Arabia will obtain a large number of vaccines through this facility, while the second track is directly contracting with the big companies to cover the gap that cannot be covered through COVAX,” Arab News mentioned Asiri as saying.

According to the World Health Organization, “the COVAX facility forms a key part of the COVAX pillar (COVAX) of the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, a ground-breaking global collaboration to accelerate the development, production, and equitable access to COVID-19 tests, treatments, and vaccines.”

The Saudi Health Ministry further expected that by the end of next year, the vaccines would cover 70 per cent of the Kingdom’s population.

“One of the most important goals set by the G20 during Saudi Arabia’s G20 presidency is to support all-inclusive and equitable access to vaccines, diagnostic and treatment tools,” said Dr Abdullah Asiri.

Dr Asiri added that a comprehensive plan for vaccine distribution will be ready “in the coming weeks”.

During the two-day G20 summit hosted virtually in Riyadh, Dr Abdullah Al Rabeeah, the supervisor general of the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre, on Friday said that his country would be among the first ones to get hold of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Dr Al Rabeeah added that Saudi Arabia has spent over USD 200 million on COVID-19 vaccine and drug development.

Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz had in March also ordered free coronavirus treatment for all citizens.

Meanwhile, WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Monday announced: “There is now real hope that vaccines, in combination with other tried and tested public health measures, will help to end the pandemic.”

His remarks came after drugmaker AstraZeneca announced that its COVID-19 vaccine was up to 90 per cent effective. With this, AstraZeneca has become the third major drug company after Pfizer and Moderna to have reported late-stage data for a potential COVID-19 vaccine.

“The significance of this scientific achievement cannot be overstated. No vaccines in history have been developed as rapidly as these. The scientific community has set a new standard for vaccine development,” added Tedros.

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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.

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More Than Half Of 20-Year-Olds In India’s Metros Likely To Develop Diabetes In Lifetime

As many as 134 million people in India, with more women at risk, could be afflicted with diabetes by 2045 due to reduced physical activity and poor diet.

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More than half of men and nearly two-thirds of women currently aged 20 years in India could develop diabetes in their lifetime, with most of those cases likely to be type 2 diabetes, according to a new study.

The research, published in the journal Diabetologia, estimated the probability of a metropolitan Indian of any age or body mass index (BMI) developing diabetes in their lifetime.

According to the scientists, including those from the Centre for Chronic Disease Control (CCDC) in New Delhi, the country already has a significant health burden caused by diabetes with more than 77 million adults currently afflicted by the condition, and the number expected to almost double to 134 million by 2045.

As urban centres continue to grow rapidly across India, they said decreasing diet quality, and decreased levels of physical activity are all contributing to this hidden epidemic.

In the study, the researchers assessed age-, sex- and BMI-specific incidence rates of diabetes in urban India based on data from the Centre for Cardiometabolic Risk Reduction in South Asia (2010-2018).

They also analysed the age-, sex- and urban-specific rates of mortality from period lifetables reported by the Government of India (2014), and the prevalence of diabetes reported by the Indian Council for Medical Research India Diabetes Study (2008-2015).

Based on the analysis, the scientists said the lifetime risk of developing diabetes in 20-year-old men and women free of diabetes today is 56 and 65 per cent, respectively.

Women generally had a higher lifetime risk across the lifespan, the study noted.

According to the researchers, for those currently aged 60 years and currently free of diabetes, around 38 per cent of women and 28 per cent of men would go on to develop diabetes.

They cautioned that obesity had a substantial impact on these projections, with the lifetime risk highest among obese metropolitan Indians — 86 per cent among 20-year-old women, and 87 per cent among men.

People with lower BMI had considerably higher diabetes-free life expectancy and obese 20-year-olds were estimated to have around half of their remaining life years free from diabetes.

However, those with normal or underweight BMI were projected to live out most of their remaining years diabetes-free, the scientists said.

“The remarkably high lifetime risk of developing diabetes and the low diabetes-free life expectancy in India’s metropolitan cities, especially for individuals with high BMI, implies that interventions targeting the incidence of diabetes may be of paramount importance moving forward,” the researchers noted in the study.

They noted that metropolitan Indians at every age and BMI have an alarmingly high probability of developing diabetes compared with results from high-income countries, and that proactive efforts to prevent diabetes in cities are urgently needed.

According to the scientists, this is particularly needed given the rapid increase in “urban obesogenic environments” across the country.

In addition to these risk factors, the scientists said Indians already have a relatively high predisposition to developing the condition at both lower ages and lower BMIs when compared with white European populations.

“Such high probabilities of developing diabetes will have severely negative implications for India”s already strained health system and also out-of-pocket expenditure on diabetes treatment by patients, unless diabetes is immediately acknowledged for what it is,” said study co-author Shammi Luhar from the University of Cambridge in the UK.

“Despite these very high predicted lifetime risks of diabetes, it is possible to prevent or postpone diabetes by effective lifestyle modification, such as following a healthy diet, by increasing physical activity and reducing body weight in those who are obese or overweight,” added Viswanathan Mohan, another co-author of the research from the Madras Diabetes Research Foundation in Chennai.

The scientists believe the need of the hour is policy and investment with clearly spelt out targets and commitments to meet by 2030.

“Perhaps an aspirational target of ’90-90-90′ (90 per cent of people with diabetes detected, 90 per cent of those detected treated, and 90 per cent of those treated controlled), is imminently needed,” said study co-author Nikhil Tandon from the Department of Endocrinology and Metabolism, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in New Delhi.

“Such a target could operate in the same way as the 90-90-90 targets introduced some years ago for HIV, which has since been replaced by even more ambitious 95-95-95 targets,” Tandon added.

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