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FDA Approves Trials to Test the Effectiveness of Anti-Malarial Drugs Against COVID-19

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As touted by President Donald Trump, on Sunday, an emergency authorization was issued by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in Washington. It was regarding the use of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine – both anti-malaria drugs, for experimental coronavirus treatments, despite the inconclusive clinical proof of their efficacy.

However, on Sunday, the Department of Health and Human Services had announced that distribution of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine products can be done by doctors, and they may prescribe these drugs to hospitalized teen and adult patients that are infected with COVID-19, as appropriate, in the situation where the availability or feasibility of a clinical trial are not seen.

According to HHS, 30 million doses of hydroxychloroquine has already been given by Germany’s Sandoz, to the Strategic National Stockpile – the inventory of medical supplies for public health emergencies, of the Federal Government. Meanwhile, Bayer has reported having donated a million doses of chloroquine, according to the international media.

HSS further added that the issuance of the emergency authorization was due to the potential benefits of the product that seemed to outweigh the risks. HHS further acknowledged that some benefit in the treatment of hospitalized COVID-19 patients may be offered by these drugs, as suggested by the anecdotal reports. However, HSS cautioned the need for clinical trials, so that the effectiveness of these treatments can be backed up with scientific evidence.

Amidst the ambiguity, some Americans have attempted to seek over-the-counter replacements. An example was the man from Arizona who had bought a nonpharmaceutical form of chloroquine phosphate – a common chemical used for the cleanliness of fish tanks, which ultimately killed him, landing his now-widow in intensive care.

Consumption of non-pharmaceutical chloroquine phosphate without a prescription and supervision of a certified health care provider is warned by the CDC due to the dangers of it causing serious health consequences, including death.

While President Donald Trump continues his support and praise for anti-malarial drugs in daily press briefings, Fox news has released separate segments specifically devoted to the drugs’ potential benefits. Chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine as coronavirus cures have been further promoted by others, including the President’s personal lawyer Rudy Guiliana, and Turning Points USA founder Charlie Kirk.

Furthermore, a tweet by Giuliani was removed by Twitter, since Giuliani had falsely claimed hydroxychloroquine to have a 100% effective treatment rate for COVID-19, despite no scientific proof.

However, scientists hope the decade-old drugs – chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, may show effectiveness as a treatment for COVID-19, despite early studies providing mixed evidence regarding their effectiveness, due to the potential associated risks such as vision problems or cardiac arrest.

Prescription limiting rules have been issued by some state pharmacy boards including Texas, Louisiana, Ohio, and North Carolina.

A nationwide trial is underway to test the effectiveness of the drug hydroxychloroquine as a vaccine for COVID-19, while a second trial will test the effectiveness of the drug in the treatment of COVID-19.

David Boulware, an infectious disease scientist at the University of Minnesota, is currently running trials. According to Boulware, the rationale for trying it as a vaccine for COVID-19 is based on laboratory studies that would have shown the capability of the drug of keeping COVID-19 from entering cells. Boulware and his team are currently looking for people that have recently been in contact with a COVID-19 infected case, such as health workers or people living with an infected person, and are recruiting online.

To avoid the placebo effect, the trial will be double-blind. Furthermore, Boulware says the trial is approved by the FDA.

An initial look at the results will be taken next week by a committee of independent experts known as the data safety and monitoring board.

Masters in Biotechnology, the author loves to write about health and fitness in her spare time.

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General News

3 Coronavirus Myths Debunked

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The global pandemic has caused a global lockdown and turned every one to their phones, and therefore social media. However, social media hasn’t been presenting the most reliable information about the COVID-19 pandemic, with its misleading posts.

Protective badges

There are “protective badges” that are marketed around the world, with the claims that it will ward off viruses. Many of the badges also highlight a white cross design. These specific badges are erroneously sold as “virus stoppers” in Russia. A few members of the Russian parliament were also seen wearing it at a recent conference of the State Duma.

The US Federal Drug Administration (FDA) however, has called all claims regarding the badges as a safeguard against COVID-19, “fraudulent”. BBC News Russian questioned MP Andrei Svintsov, why he wore the badge. He reportedly said that despite being uncertain about the effectiveness of the badge, he hasn’t contracted any virus. He further added that he has been following all guidelines on the internet (Vitamin C and chewing ginger), true or not, just to be safe.

President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov was reported wearing alike merchandise. However, he confirmed that he was infected with COVID-19 and is currently hospitalized.

A biochemist and Associate Professor at Nottingham University, Dr. Wayne Carter also had something to say. He stated that the badges are ineffective as a protection against COVID-19. He further added that the infection is caused primarily by the inhaled or ingested infected droplets from sneezes.

Cannabis as a treatment

While thousands of articles have been published online regarding cannabis as a treatment, many have made misleading deadlines. It is true that many trials are currently taking place around the world. This includes Canada, Israel, and the UK. All these countries are trying to investigate the effectiveness of cannabis as a treatment.

Medical cannabis is already known to reduce inflammation. This useful property could potentially treat cytokine storms that are the deadly immune response sometimes shown by the most infected COVID-19 patients.

However, it is important to recognize that these trials are still at an initial stage. Hence, it would be too soon to form conclusions regarding the effectiveness of cannabis as a treatment for coronavirus.

Facebook flagged one of the articles about one Canadian research, due to some misleading information. One of the authors of this research had spoken to the PolitiFact website. The author stated that the headline claiming cannabis as protection against the virus was “an overstatement”.

The potential of cannabis to be used as a treatment for several conditions has gained popularity over recent years, with mixed evidence.

The origin of the virus

There has been speculation online regarding where did the coronavirus first emerge. A Chinese state media outlet recently posted a video. The video suggests that China is not necessarily the origin of the virus solely because the first infected case was reported there.

The video referenced an Italian scientist’s statements n a US radio interview. The interview was regarding the unexplained pneumonia cases in Northern Italy, at the end of last year. The narrator stated that the virus was possibly circulating in Italy before the eventual outbreak in China.

BBC’s China Media Analyst, Kerry Allen stated that the way China has recently increasingly ramped up the rhetoric, it could imply that it is not the origin of the virus. However, there is no scientific evidence for this idea.

It is possible to track genetic information and its course of mutation over time, to date and confirm the origin of the coronavirus.

A molecular epidemiologist at the University of Basel, Dr. Emma Hodcroft had spoken about this matter. She stated that despite the proven possibility of samples in the US and Europe linking back to the initial genetic sequencing in China, these versions have further mutations. She says that there is currently no evidence to support an alternate origin of the virus.

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Massachusetts – Recreational Cannabis Stores to Reopen on May 25

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Under a plan that was released by Gov.Charlie Baker on Monday, regarding the gradual restart of the economic activity in the state, sales could resume in cannabis dispensaries in Massachusetts, as early as next week.

The reopening plan is a four-phase plan and a variety of establishments will be allowed to offer curbside pick-up, beginning from May 25.

This announcement is a major development for cannabis store owners who either feared that the reopening of their stores would be delayed for a long period, or suffered from lost sales, ongoing rent payments, and other business expenses, while also unable to be allowed to file for federal small business assistance.

On March 24, a sweeping statewide shutdown went into effect for non-essential businesses, in an attempt to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Ever since then, the pot shops that were given the restriction to only sell medical cannabis, are now included in the list.

Despite the closure of recreational cannabis stores, medical cannabis dispensaries were allowed to continue sales by the curbside pickup, with the compulsion of following social distancing guidelines between employees and customers.

Previously, the idea of keeping dispensaries open for the sales of recreational cannabis during the shutdown was dismissed by Gov. Charlie Baker. He held an argument that doing so, would lead to attracting visitors from around the region which could potentially worsen the situation by furthering the spread of the disease.

According to The Associated Press, Gov. Charlie Baker had reportedly said last month that there were significant numbers of customers who were not Massachusetts residents and would obtain cannabis from recreational dispensaries in Massachusetts. He further added that if the government were to make those sites available to anybody from the northeast, it would ultimately lead to going against the entire strategy that the government is trying to pursue.

In New England, Massachusetts is the only state that has allowed the opening of recreational cannabis dispensaries. Due to the statewide shutdown, the closure was forced on more than 40 licensed retail cannabis establishments.

However, Gov. Charlie Baker was sued by a group of dispensary owners, last month. They argued that the authority was exceeded by the governor, and there were violations of the constitutional rights of cannabis users due to the classification of the pot shops as non-essential, especially when similar regulated businesses, such as liquor stores, were granted permission to stay open. However, a superior court judge later sided with Gov. Charlie Baker.

Under the new guidance of the governor, in case of reopening, the development of a written plan is essential for the businesses that were not already deemed essential, in an attempt for the prevention of the spread of COVID-19. Furthermore, posters on hygiene and social distancing for the customers and workers are important and must be displayed.

In the first phase of the plan, retail establishments are included. Moreover, In the second phase o the plan, shops could expand their operations. However, the governor has further warned that a spike in new COVID-19 infected cases could cause the state’s progress to slow down, or possibly reverse.

A cease and desist order was previously issued to adult-use cannabis operators in the state by the Cannabis Control Commission of the state, for the enforcement of the governor’s non-essential businesses shutdown.

While the order was amended last month, it allowed adult-use facilities to sell their products to medical cannabis shops during the public health emergency, which in turn was responsible for a 158% increase in patient applications.

There was no immediate response from the CCC to a request for comment from NBC10 Monday on the reopening plan of the governor.

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WHO Warns of Mental Health Crisis – COVID-19 “May Never Go Away”

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While there have been gradual ease in the lockdown restrictions in some countries, that were originally imposed in an attempt to stop the novel coronavirus from spreading, the WHO has warned that the virus may never be wiped out entirely.

It was warned by the World Health Organization (WHO) that the coronavirus “may never go away” with the prediction by experts about un upcoming global mental health crisis that will be caused by the pandemic.
On Wednesday, predictions of the expected duration of the circulation of coronavirus were warned by the global health body and further called for a “massive effort” to overcome it.

According to the WHO’s emergencies chief, Michael Ryan, this is a new virus that is entering the human population for the first time and consequently, it is incredibly hard to predict how long will it last. He continued that it is important to focus on and understand that it may never go away and be another endemic virus in our communities. He further added that dates and promises cannot be announced for this, and there is ambiguity regarding the virus settling into a long problem.

Another looming crisis was warned, according to a report by the WHO’s mental health department to the UN. According to the department’s director, Devora Kestel, psychological distress could be potentially caused due to the isolation, fear, uncertainty, and the economic turmoil surrounding us.

She further added that an upsurge in the severity of mental illness, with the inclusion of children, young people, and healthcare workers, could be expected due to the present crisis. She continued that due to the severe impact on the mental health and wellbeing of whole societies, owing to the crisis, there is consequently an urgent need to address this.

These statements came in after Russia had 242,271 confirmed COVID-19 cases, making it the second country in the world with the highest number of infections, behind the US with just under 1.4 million. While there are 2,212 COVID-19 deaths in Russia, authorities have ascribed over 60% of COVID-19 deaths in April to other causes. The center of the country’s outbreak being Moscow has held 1,232 of those deaths. However, any falsification of the statistics was denied by Russia’s health minister, Tatyana Golikova.

In the US, according to President Donald Trump, warnings from his top infectious diseases expert were “not acceptable”, regarding the dangers of lifting the restrictions too soon. Furthermore, Anthony Fauci’s caution o the reopening of the economy and schools too soon was indeed surprising for Trump.

According to Trump, he felt that it was an unacceptable answer, especially regarding schools, and that the country has to resume its normal state as soon as possible and it will not if the schools are closed. He further added that the only acceptable situation would be if classes were not held by professors or teachers “over a certain age”.

With the prediction of a “significantly worse” US recession in comparison to any downturn since the second world war, along with present record job losses and wore ahead, by the head of the Federal Reserve, Jerome Powell, the apparent widening gap between the two men came on a day of more sobering economic warnings.

According to Powell’s statement in a webcast speech, the path ahead seems to hold uncertainty and is also subject t significant downside risks. Powell has also rejected the suggested use of negative interest rates to aid recovery, by Trump.

It was cautioned by the US Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin, how waiting too long for the reopening of the economy, could give rise to severe economic damage, along with the created health impact. Moreover, global infections from the virus have almost reached 4.36 million, which accounted for nearly 300,000 deaths.

 

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