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Young people more prone to negative effects of social distancing: Lancet

They believe that reduced face-to-face social contact with peers may interrupt this and might have long-term detrimental effects.

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London, June 13 : Adolescents could be more susceptible to negative effects of physical distancing during Covid-19, warn researchers, adding that they are in a period of vulnerability where peer interaction is a vital aspect of their social development.

In the study, published in The Lancet Child and Adolescent Health journal, the research team has urged policymakers to consider the effects of physical distancing measures introduced to tackle the spread of Covid-19 on young people”s social development and wellbeing.

“Owing to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, many young people around the world currently have substantially fewer opportunities to interact face-to-face with peers in their social network at a time in their lives when this is crucial for their development,” said study lead author Sarah-Jayne from the University of Cambridge in the UK.

“Even if physical distancing measures are temporary, several months represent a large proportion of a young person”s life. We would urge policymakers to give urgent consideration to the wellbeing of young people at this time,” Jayne added.

The authors” viewpoint is based on a review of peer-reviewed studies on social isolation and adolescence in animals, the social development of young people (aged 10-24), as well as studies of social media, use in adolescence and mental health.

Key findings from the animal studies looking at severe isolation suggest that even short periods of social isolation during adolescence (in mice or rats) can be associated with substantial and potentially long-term effects in the chemistry and structural development of the brain of these animals.

The authors, however, found few studies into the effects of social isolation on people. There was some evidence that extreme social isolation is associated with increased distress, depression, aggression and self-harm in adults, and these effects may be amplified in younger people, but, such studies have been conducted in situations of much more extreme isolation (such as solitary confinement in prisons) than the reduced social interaction associated with physical distancing.

Other studies suggest that acute social isolation in adult humans results in increased feelings of loneliness, craving for social contact, and decreased happiness, in addition to changes in brain activity.

The authors also note that adolescents” use of digital technologies and social media might mitigate some of the negative effects of physical distancing by helping young people maintain social ties even when they are unable to interact in person.

The authors warned that adolescence is a sensitive period in young people”s lives when their social environment and interactions with peers are important for brain development, mental health and developing a sense of self.

They believe that reduced face-to-face social contact with peers may interrupt this and might have long-term detrimental effects.

“Evidence suggests that the type of digital technology and how it is used are important for how beneficial it is to an adolescent”s wellbeing,” said study researcher Amy Orben.

Further research is urgently needed to understand how depriving young people of social interactions, especially with their peers, affects social development and mental health, the authors wrote.

They concluded that some aspects of digital communication might mitigate the consequences of physical distancing and recommend further research to explore this possibility.

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US strikes $1.5bn deal for 100mn doses of Moderna Covid vax

The US government has announced that consistent with its commitment to free access to Covid-19 vaccines, Americans will receive mRNA-1273 at no cost for the vaccine itself.

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Covid 19 Vaccine

New York, Aug 12 : The US government has entered into a $1.5 billion deal with biotechnology company Moderna for the manufacturing and delivery of 100 million doses of its potential Covid-19 vaccine, mRNA-1273.

With the previous award of up to $955 million for the development of the vaccine to licensure, the new announcement brings the US government’s commitments for early access to mRNA-1273 to up to $2.48 billion, Moderna said on Tuesday.

Under the terms of the agreement, the US government will also have the option to purchase up to an additional 400 million doses of mRNA-1273 from Moderna.

The US government has announced that consistent with its commitment to free access to Covid-19 vaccines, Americans will receive mRNA-1273 at no cost for the vaccine itself.

As is customary with all government-purchased vaccines, healthcare professionals could charge for the cost of administering the vaccine.

“We appreciate the confidence of the US government in our mRNA vaccine platform and the continued support,” Stephane Bancel, Moderna’s Chief Executive Officer, said in a statement.

A Phase 3 study of mRNA-1273, being conducted in collaboration with the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), began on July 27.

BARDA is part of the office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) within the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Enrollment for the study is on track to complete in September, Moderna said.

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Covid cases haven’t yet peaked or even plateaued: AIIMS Dir

The remarks come at a time when the infections are racing ahead with the country adding at least a lakh new cases every two days.

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Randeep Guleria AIIMS

New Delhi: All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) Director Randeep Guleria, one of India’s leading medical experts, has asserted that the coronavirus cases in the country have not yet hit their peak or even plateaued.

The remarks come at a time when the infections are racing ahead with the country adding at least a lakh new cases every two days. It has logged more than 23 lakh cases and over 46,000 deaths so far since the first case on January 30.

“These are trying times. It has tested the resilience of the nation. We have not reached the peak or started plateauing as far as cases are concerned,” Guleria, who is also the part of a core team monitoring the pandemic, said.

Shedding light on the vaccine development, he said that India has an advantage because it makes almost 60 per cent of the world’s vaccines.

“We have the capacity to manufacture a large number of vaccines and that is the commitment that the government and manufacturers have given — that we will be able to upscale our manufacturing capacity not only for our own country but for the entire world,” he added.

Three vaccine candidates are in different stages of human clinical trials in India — one developed by University of Oxford by Pune’s Serum Institute of India, the other inactivated virus vaccine by Bharat biotech and the third DNA vaccine by Zydus Cadila.

The country’s top pulmonologist further said that the vaccine development has moved so rapidly because of the collaborative work between various countries. “What the pandemic has shown is the resilience that the world has and the way researchers, manufactures and industries can come together to overcome any hardship we face as a planet.”

Guleria, however, advised caution with regards to the Russian vaccine, being touted as the world’s first coronavirus vaccine. Elaborating on the safety aspect, he said that the issue would be just to make sure that the vaccine is “safe and efficacious”.

“Any vaccine that is tried in a large number of people who are elderly or have comorbidities, safety is the most important thing and should of course be efficacious in terms of what degree of protection does it give and how long the protection lasts,” the AIIMS Director said.

The comments come in the backdrop of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s announcement about the approval of the coronavirus vaccine for public use. It is, however, marred by controversies and is yet to complete the final trials.

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Israel shares ground-breaking technology with AIIMS to tackle Covid

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AIIMS

New Delhi, Aug 11 : As a part of the Israel-India cooperation to fight the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, the Ambassador of Israel to India, Ron Malka, on Tuesday handed over the state-of-the-art equipment and technology solutions to the All Indian Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) to tackle the viral disease.

AIIMS Director Randeep Guleria thanked the Government of Israel and Ambassador Ron Malka for the gesture. “Both India as well as Israel are extending support to the international community by sharing their expertise, data, knowledge, medicines and collaborating in the areas of developing vaccine and research, thus leading by example and showing the true spirit of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ (whole world is one single family).”

He also informed that apart from patient care, AIIMS is actively involved in developing centres of excellence in many states and is regularly organising webinars, clinical grand rounds, e-ICU video consultations for dissemination of knowledge and expertise across the nation and abroad.

AIIMS is at the forefront in fighting the pandemic and also providing best quality patient care for both Covid and non-Covid patients. AIIMS has treated around 5,500 Covid patients till now.

Malka said that these technologies will further bolster India’s capabilities to tackle Covid-19. “Through cooperation and the combination of India and Israel’s medical prowess, we can find effective solutions that will help both countries, as well as the world.”

He added, “We are pleased to share the best medical technology from Israel with the most premier medical institute of India. Over the last few days, we have worked closely with AIIMS. We have been impressed by their brilliant ongoing response to the pandemic.”

The Secretary to Government of India in the Ministry of External Affairs, Sanjay Bhattacharya, was the chief guest at the function. He said, “When time gets tough, best of friends get together and India and Israel have established a sustainable and strategic partnership in various fields including the field of medicine.”

He also said that India has extended assistance to over 150 countries in the fight against Covid-19 and is committed in engaging and collaborating with the international community in the areas of diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines.

The technologies include an AI video-oriented, voice-operated autonomous personal AI assistant robot, an application that can be installed on any mobile phone of the Covid-19 staff which makes the work of the hospital staff inside the Covid-19 departments much more effective and easier.

Besides this, innovative products have been given which have been designed to give the clinicians constant contact free access to the patient’s vitals like heart rate and respiratory rate which improves patient safety with contact-free, continuous monitoring.

A 12-hour disinfection product called CPD that stays active and continuous to protect the surface against new attacks of contamination has also been presented.

A non-invasive remote patient monitoring system which aids as a preliminary screening tool of respiratory indicators of suspected Covid-19 and recovering patients and AI based software for Ultrasound use and designed especially for fighting Covid-19 was also handed over.

The cooperation between Embassy of Israel in India and AIIMS holds a long-term cooperation of more than a decade. In 2007, a delegation of 21 members, including senior doctors and nurses from AIIMS, participated in a training on “Trauma and Mass Casualty Management”.

The experience gained helped in the establishment of certain effective systems in the management of trauma care at the Jai Prakash Narayan Apex Trauma Centre, AIIMS.

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