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Syringe

Sputnik V launched: Russia dispatches first batches of pioneering Covid-19 vaccine to all of its 85 regions

vaccine Russia
© Sputnik/Russian Healthcare Ministry
Packs with the world's first vaccine against COVID-19 registered in Russia.
Russia has sent out the initial batches of the world's first registered coronavirus vaccine to all parts of its vast territory, as authorities test the delivery system of the much-needed drug.

The formula is expected to be delivered on Monday, said Russia's Health Minister Mikhail Murashko.

"The first small batches have already been shipped," Murashko said, explaining that the government is testing the supply chain to ensure a robust delivery system across the country's 85 regions. As well as testing the efficacy and safety of the vaccine itself, the government believes it is paramount to ensure the efficient distribution to citizens, especially to those at high risk.

Russia's homegrown Covid-19 formula is currently in the third and final stage of clinical trials, in which 40,000 Muscovites will take part. While three-quarters will receive the jab, another quarter will be given a placebo. On Wednesday, Moscow's Deputy Mayor Anastasia Rakova announced that testing had begun, and over 35,000 residents had applied.

"Clinical trials have begun in Moscow," Murashko said, adding that the ministry had also created "the world's first mobile application" that allows participants to "report on their condition" throughout the lengthy trial period.

Syringe

Will new COVID vaccine make you transhuman?

carrie madej human 2.0
Two years ago, in October 2018, Forbes contributor Neil Sahota, a United Nations artificial intelligence adviser and UC Irvine professor, warned that transhumanism is fast approaching — likely faster than you think.1
"In the past few years, there has been considerable discussion around the idea we are slowly merging with our technology, that we are becoming transhuman, with updated abilities, including enhanced intelligence, strength, and awareness," Sahota writes.
The goal of the transhumanist movement, or "Human 2.0," is to transcend biology into technology. Or, as Dr. Carrie Madej explains in the video [below], to meld human biology with technology and artificial intelligence.

Comment: See also:


Life Preserver

How the 'lost art' of breathing can impact sleep and resilience

breathing, relaxation response

Breathing slowly and deeply through the nose is associated with a relaxation response, says James Nestor, author of Breath. As the diaphragm lowers, you're allowing more air into your lungs and your body switches to a more relaxed state.
Humans typically take about 25,000 breaths per day — often without a second thought. But the COVID-19 pandemic has put a new spotlight on respiratory illnesses and the breaths we so often take for granted.

Journalist James Nestor became interested in the respiratory system years ago after his doctor recommended he take a breathing class to help his recurring pneumonia and bronchitis.

While researching the science and culture of breathing for his new book, Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art, Nestor participated in a study in which his nose was completely plugged for 10 days, forcing him to breathe solely through his mouth. It was not a pleasant experience.

"I went from snoring a couple minutes a night to, within three days, I was snoring four hours a night," he says of the forced mouth-breathing. "I developed sleep apnea. My stress levels were off the charts. My nervous system was a mess. ... I felt awful."

Nestor says the researchers he's talked to recommend taking time to "consciously listen to yourself and [to] feel how breath is affecting you." He notes taking "slow and low" breaths through the nose can help relieve stress and reduce blood pressure.

Comment: More on the many benefits of deep breathing: And if you haven't yet seen or tried it: Éiriú Eolas - The revolutionary breathing and meditation program:




Syringe

Will safety and effectiveness be ignored due to political pressure for COVID vaccine?

protest south africa covid-19 vaccine
The pressure is mounting for a COVID vaccine to be approved. Will there be transparency on its safety and effectiveness? Action Alert!

There have been a number of federal actions around the issue of a COVID vaccine in recent weeks. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released technical guidelines to states, telling them to be prepared to store, distribute, and administer a COVID vaccine as early as late October or early November. Lawmakers have also introduced a bill aimed at instilling public confidence in an eventual COVID vaccine, but the bill does anything but. These actions underscore the need for transparency and freedom of choice when it comes to the issue of vaccination.

Public health experts say that the CDC guidance is meant to prepare states for the monumental task of vaccinating millions of people, but the timing is ominous. We've been told, almost since the pandemic began, that the earliest a vaccine could be expected was in 18 months; now we're told that a vaccine could be mere weeks away — and right before an election. Dr. Anthony Fauci has even said in interviews that vaccine trials could end prematurely if a certain level of safety and effectiveness is demonstrated.

Presumably to dispel fears of political tampering to get a vaccine approved before the election, a group of lawmakers have introduced a bill that would, in short, ensure that the normal procedures for vaccine approval take place and that the recommendations of the CDC and FDA are made public.

The "normal procedures" for vaccine approval hardly instill confidence that a vaccine will be safe. We need only consult the historical record: to date, the US Vaccine Court, in which it is notoriously difficult to win cases, has paid out more than $4 billion to families who have been injured by vaccines.

Comment: More on the dubious Covid vaccine:


Syringe

After reliability of trial data questioned, creators of Russia's Covid-19 vaccine send 'detailed responses' to Lancet questions

russian coronavirus vaccine laboratory lab
© Sputnik / Vladimir Pesnya
A researcher works inside a laboratory of the Gamaleya Scientific Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology where the world's first coronavirus vaccine registered in Russia was developed.
Moscow's Gamaleya Institute, which created the world's first Covid-19 vaccine, has sent "detailed responses" to the questions posed by British medical journal The Lancet, after a group of scientists criticized the Russian data.

On September 7, an open letter signed by twenty-six analysts, mainly based in Italy, cast doubt on Russia's vaccine, noting the discovery of "potential data inconsistencies" in the published research. The group claimed that the article had significant statistical anomalies. Following the letter, the journal's editorial board asked the developers of the Russian vaccine, dubbed Sputnik V, to reply.

According to Alexey Kuznetsov, an assistant to Russia's Minister of Health, the vaccine's creators have sent "detailed responses to the editor of The Lancet magazine."

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Health

Coronavirus: What do we know about the artemisia plant?

Artemisia plants Madagascar
© Getty Images
Artemisia plants being grown in Madagascar.
Madagascar attracted a lot of attention in April when the African island nation announced it was using a local plant to combat coronavirus.

A drink using artemisia plant extracts was promoted by its leader, President Andry Rajoelina.

There's no evidence so far that this plant - whose compounds do work against malaria - can combat Covid-19, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

So what do we know about the plant and its properties?

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Pills

Drugs that block acetylcholine speed up cognitive decline - study

Acetylcholine pathway
© Bruce Blaus/Wikimedia Commons
Acetylcholine (ACh) pathway
Anticholinergic medications may increase Alzheimer's risk, a new study reports

Anticholinergic medications block acetylcholine (i.e., "vagusstoff") and inhibit parasympathetic nerve impulses by binding with this neurotransmitter's receptors. Over 600 medications are known to trigger some degree of anticholinergic activity (Ghossein, Kang, & Lakhkar, 2020).

Anticholinergics are a common class of drugs prescribed by doctors — or purchased over-the-counter (OTC) without a prescription — for the treatment of allergies, asthma, common cold symptoms, COPD, hay fever, hypertension, overactive bladder, Parkinson's disease as well as psychiatric disorders, depression, and a host of other ailments.

What Is Acetylcholine and Why Is It Also Called "Vagusstoff"?

Acetylcholine (ACh) was the first neurotransmitter ever discovered by scientists. In 1921, a German-born psychobiologist and pharmacologist, Otto Loewi (1873-1961), identified a substance secreted by the vagus nerve that slowed heart rate. He named this stuff "vagusstoff," which is German for "vagus nerve substance." (See "How Does 'Vagusstoff' (Vagus Nerve Substance) Calm Us Down?")

Syringe

COVID-19 vaccine candidate from Oxford University and AstraZeneca on hold after 'unexplained illness'

tech and vials
© Chandan Khanna/AFP/Getty Images
In large-scale Phase 3 clinical trials, patients receive either an active vaccine or a placebo.
AstraZeneca, one of the companies racing to develop a vaccine against the coronavirus, seems to have hit a stumbling block.

The company put a hold on its COVID-19 clinical trials worldwide while it investigated an adverse reaction in a trial participant in the United Kingdom.

It's not clear how long the stoppage will last. Sometimes reactions happen during a trial that are purely coincidental, but if they are serious enough, research is put on hold until they can be fully investigated.

AstraZeneca said in a statement late Tuesday that the company is testing a vaccine originally developed at Oxford University.
"We are working to expedite the review of the single event to minimize any potential impact on the trial timeline. This is a routine action which has to happen whenever there is a potentially unexplained illness in one of the trials, while it is investigated, ensuring we maintain the integrity of the trials."

Comment: U.S. infectious disease 'expert' Anthony Fauci offers his opinion on the efficacy of rapid-testing of vaccine candidate:
Fauci, Director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said the pause was not uncommon.

"This particular candidate from the AstraZeneca company had a serious adverse event, which means you put the rest of the enrollment of individual volunteers on hold until you can work out precisely what went on. It's really one of the safety valves that you have on clinical trials such as this, so it's unfortunate that it happened. Hopefully, they'll work it out and be able to proceed along with the remainder of the trial but you don't know. They need to investigate it further."

The vaccine, which AstraZeneca is developing with the University of Oxford, has been described by the World Health Organization as probably the world's leading candidate and the most advanced in terms of development. Tuesday's move was seen as dimming prospects for an early rollout.



Brain

Low-dose electrical stimulation reduces dyslexia deficits, study finds

low dose electrical stimulation brain
Restoring normal patterns of rhythmic neural activity through non-invasive electrical stimulation of the brain alleviates sound-processing deficits and improves reading accuracy in adults with dyslexia, according to a study published September 8, 2020 in the open-access journal PLOS Biology by Silvia Marchesotti and Anne-Lise Giraud of the University of Geneva, and colleagues.

Dyslexia is a frequent disorder of reading acquisition that affects up to 10% of the population, and is characterized by lifelong difficulties with written material. Although several possible causes have been proposed for dyslexia, the predominant one is a phonological deficit, i.e., a difficulty in processing language sounds. The phonological deficit in dyslexia is associated with changes in rhythmic or repetitive patterns of neural activity, specifically the so-called "low-gamma" (30-Hz) oscillations, in a sound-processing region of the brain called left auditory cortex. But a causal relationship between these oscillations and the ability to process phonemes had not been established in previous studies.

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Syringe

HealthPartners pauses enrollment in COVID-19 vaccine trial while AstraZeneca investigates reported illness

astrazeneca
© Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 19: A general view of AstraZeneca is seen during Prime Minister Scott Morrison's visit on August 19, 2020 in Sydney, Australia.
HealthPartners is pausing enrollment in the COVID-19 vaccine trial after AstraZeneca announced it is putting its study on temporary hold to investigate if a report of patient's serious side effect is linked to the shot.

In a statement issued Tuesday evening, AstraZeneca said its "standard review process triggered a pause to vaccination to allow review of safety data."

AstraZeneca didn't reveal any information about the possible side effect except to call it "a potentially unexplained illness." The news site STAT first reported the pause in testing, saying the possible side effect occurred in the United Kingdom.

Comment: After announcing a possible side effect, they're giving the reader instructions on how to enroll in the trial. Is this what they call 'bad optics'?

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