The coronavirus or COVID-19 has caused global panic, as it continues to spread across countries. While the general public is panic buying and practicing self isolation in quarantine, all health workers and health authorities are trying to battle the global pandemic. As health workers risk their lives to treat their patients everyday, researchers are trying to come up with a vaccine to provide immunity or protection to some extent, from the virus.
While a vaccine for COVID-19 is much awaited, certain drugs may provide some protection. Use of live vaccines is encouraged, to increase the recipient’s immune response. However, as new drugs are being tested for the COVID-19 vaccination, non traditional uses of existing drugs are explored as well – one of them being BCG
The Bacillus Calmette- Guérin vaccine – BCG, has been used against tuberculosis long enough. Research shows that BCG causes the immune system responds better to infections – not limited to TB. Two studies in adults (age group – 60-75) have reported a decrease in respiratory infections by 70 to 80 percent. Meanwhile, two studies in children reported a decrease by 15 to 40 percent.
Another study was later on conducted on infants in countries with severe health challenges. When combined with a revitalized immunization scheme, BCG was able to decrease the death rates by just under a third. However, studies have also suggested that the time period of the protective effect is temporary, until an inactivated vaccine – such as an influenza vaccine, is given.
The World Health Organization (WHO) had commissioned a systematic review, due to the promising research, which was then published in 2016. Further research was encouraged due to the conclusion of the BCG vaccine having beneficial, but off target effects.
A trial of BCG vaccine has begun in the Netherlands and a larger trial of over 4000 health workers is expected to start next week in Australia. Meanwhile, countries like Greece, Britain, Germany, Denmark, and the United States, are also considering BCG vaccine trials.
Despite the benefits of a BCG vaccine, the protection is not expected to be perfect. Although a targeted vaccination for COVID-19 is not the same as a BCG vaccination, it is expected to reduce the severity of the illness and death rates among the recipients of the BCG vaccination. If BCG vaccinations could prove to be effective, an immediate relief system could be started to provide the particularly vulnerable people – the elderly or people with underlying health conditions, with the BCG vaccine.
Additionally, countries with weak health care systems, could highly benefit from these BCG vaccines. While the vaccine is safe and cheap, the availability for testing is immediate. While health care workers, and the vulnerable population are the priority, it can be soon be available to the general public as well.
Despite all this, big public health institutions aren’t too keen in investigating BCG, despite WHO’s recommendation. Moreover, the crucial research isn’t actively funded by global health foundations such as Gates. The lack of interest of big pharmaceutical companies points towards the little profit that an established vaccine such as BCG could bring.
Enough research has been conducted on BCG, proving it to be a potential vaccination. While it may be an unconventional use of the drug, it still shows a lot of potential to give at least partial protection.
Considering the nature of the global crisis currently, even partial protection could majorly impact the increasing number of infected cases globally. It could reduce risks of health workers substantially, and also lessen the risk of collapse of our health systems. But as for now, there is an urgency to keep trials to test it’s beneficial effects for COVID-19.
lllinois: Largest Recreational Marijuana Dispensary Opens in South Beloit
Illinois is one of the states where the use of recreational marijuana is legal. People of Illinois can have up to 5 plants at home for medical use. They can also have commercially licensed plants for recreational use as well.
This Monday, Illinois saw the opening of its largest recreational marijuana dispensary. The dispensary is located at about 5000 feet from a proposed casino. It is the wonderful location of the dispensary that could improve a lot of sales prospects and also bring new ones. However, it is also only a 1000 feet south of the Wisconsin border, a state where cannabis consumption is illegal.
What it means to the state
According to the city’s mayor, the development prospects that come with the store are to write home about. Moreover, the sales tax revenue from the dispensary will be like icing on a cake.
Visible from heavily used Interstate 90, the Sunnyside South Beloit dispensary (7,208-square-foot) is located at 7000 First Ranger Road. Mayor Ted Rehl is very optimistic about the prospects that come with the dispensary. He’s called this dispensary ‘a gift to South Beloit’ at 12 various levels.
Mayor Rehl’s humble estimate is that the dispensary would generate sales tax revenues of about $100,000 per year, for at least the first 7 years. Then depending on the situation, if recreational marijuana is still a no-go for Wisconsin, the revenue could climb up to $700,000 a year.
The dispensary employs 35 full-time workers and is open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day. While smokable flower cannabis is the dispensary’s number one product, edibles and vaporizers get their due share of popularity too.
The main reason why the dispensary is so important is its demographics. With Wisconsin not so far away and a casino to be made, the dispensary promises to be a major attraction for people, pouring in from all over Illinois and Wisconsin. Mayor Rehl says that a lot of restaurants have already approached him regarding opening their businesses in the acreage. This not only opens up new doors of income to the state, it also promises to be a prime business hub.
Marijuana and its recreational use
The recreational use of marijuana in Illinois has been legal since the 1st of January. However, medical use was approved way back in 2015. Since then, more than 131,000 residents have acquired medical marijuana cards.
When recreational use of marijuana became legal in the state, the Rockford store was stormed by people from all over Illinois. People waited for hours in lines to get legal recreational marijuana.
However, over time the sales process became more and more fluid. With the opening of the new dispensary in South Beloit, one can go in and make a purchase in just about 5 minutes.
In May 2020, Illinois made $44 million through the sale of recreational pot alone. This not only marked record sales but also generated a lot of revenue for the state in the form of sales tax.
However, cannabis has been a taboo topic until recent times. Now, cannabis has numerous medical uses. In fact, cannabis has been found effective in treating some COVID-19 patients. Moreover, cannabis also helps in pain-relieving as well. Some studies have also revealed that smoking marijuana boosts memory as well.
With the opening of the Sunnyside marijuana dispensary, it looks like things will start to get even better for the state of Illinois as it attracts more and more investment.
Industrial Cannabis: Uzbek-French Company to Launch Cultivation Project
The cannabis market is ever-growing despite facing many hurdles including the stigma attached to it. With countries worldwide currently battling with the deadly coronavirus, the cannabis industry has undergone its share of struggles. This included the delay of multiple decisions and plans for the expansion of cannabis businesses. However, Uzbekistan took a step towards the case of industrial cannabis.
Dunyo News Agency has reported that ABM ORGANICS LLC, an Uzbek-French business, has planned the launch of its cultivation project with cannabis. They have planned to launch this project in the Khorezm region.
The company has planned to focus on the technical hemp, in the cannabis cultivation project that they are planning to launch. The technical hemp is a kind derived from the plant species, Cannabis sativa.
The agreement held 2 authorities
- Marafon Finlex – The Uzbek company
- Opal & Co – The French company
The two distinct companies signed the agreement for the organization of this company. Following this agreement, they became stockholders, on July 12.
Moreover, the signing ceremony which consisted of the respective documents of the organization was held in Paris, France. The new company is now on the hunt for further growth points in the current economy.
Furthermore, the Uzbekistan government had declared previously, the growth of cannabis for industrial purposes. However, in the declaration, they included the addition of specific drug content in cannabis.
The drug content was up to 0.2% tetrahydrocannabinol. This specific substance can be addictive, which is why the Uzbekistan government set a specific ration, in their previous declaration.
Industrial cannabis in the green economy
Researchers believe for cannabis to potentially be a major part of the green economy in the upcoming years, with the inclusion of France. The cannabis plant has its own benefits and requires almost 5 times less hydration in comparison to cotton. Moreover, studies acknowledge cannabis as a wasteless material.
The growth and cultivation of such plants can be a state monopoly in Uzbekistan. Many of the types of cannabis are currently used in paper, pharmaceutical, light, and several other industries.
COVID-19 in Uzbekistan
Recently, the government announced its plans for the reopening of many businesses during the mid of the previous month. The businesses included cafes and restaurants, kindergartens, and clothing retailers. Moreover, the government announced the resumption of bus routes in a few provinces. These provinces had a lesser risk of the coronavirus, with the least active cases.
Moreover, the government divided the nation into color-coded zones
The government labeled these 3 regions as such on the basis of the rate of the active COVID-19 cases. However, even these regions entertained the resumption of soccer games and domestic tourism. Nevertheless, the declaration allowed no spectators to be present during soccer games. The government also resumed domestic flights and train transportation.
The Uzbekistan government had started to ease its lockdown restrictions to a large extent last month. This allowed many businesses to resume their operations as well. A month later, they took a step towards the cultivation of industrial cannabis, to expand the present cannabis industry.
While this is still an initial stage and much is yet to be done, it is a big step towards the eventual launch. The government has dealt with the coronavirus situation and lockdown very effectively.
The global lockdown has effectively caused an economic shutdown worldwide and Uzbekistan is no exception. However, many reporters also consider this launch to be a potential attempt to regain the lost economy. If so, many news agencies are waiting for the next step of this project and what it could mean for the cannabis industry in Uzbekistan.
Long Term Use of Cannabis Could Affect Your Social Behavior, Here’s Why
While there’s no denying the fact that cannabis has tons of medical benefits, extended exposure to it could have serious social behavioral repercussions.
In a nutshell, long term use of cannabis affects the ability of astrocytes to manufacture food for neurons from glucose. This reduced food production compromises on the neural function, which appears to have adverse effects on the person’s behavior.
The way long term cannabis use alters behavior appears to have a direct link with the cannabinoid function. While it is mostly observation and researchers know of no concrete mechanism yet, cannabis consumption could lead to reduced social interactions and withdrawal.
A deeper understanding of the cannabinoid receptors could prove fruitful in determining the relationship between cannabis and social behavior.
The role of cannabinoids
The role cannabinoids play is much more important than ever since some of these receptors are also present on the mitochondrial membrane. ‘Mitochondrion is the powerhouse of the cell’, is a statement almost everyone is well familiar with. If something were to happen to the mitochondria inside the cells, it could very well reflect on the person’s behavior.
Mitochondria metabolize glucose into lactate, which neurons use as food. The main psychoactive compound in cannabis is THC. A better understanding of the relationship between the two could open doors to new possibilities.
Observations in mice reveal that if astrocytes are exposed to THC for an extended period of time, the cannabinoid receptors present in them start a chain of reactions that in turn lead to glucose metabolism dysfunction.
Therefore, there’s less available ‘food’ for astrocytes. This is like operating some heavy machinery with dry cells from a TV remote. Observations made suggest that this lack of ‘food’ has a direct impact on the subject’s behavior.
Moreover, in extreme cases, exposure to THC hampered social interactions for up to 24 hours.
While uncontrolled use of cannabis could be dangerous, controlled use with appropriate observations could very well be used to deal with some behavioral problems more easily and effectively.
The debate over therapeutic cannabis is yet again a hot topic. A better understanding of cannabis’ effects on the human body could help in finding the optimal solution.
However, for now, a simple rule to keep in mind, excess of everything is bad.
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