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Ontario Cannabis Stores Close – No Longer Deemed Essential

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While the COVID-19 had caused panic and chaos due to the increasing number of infected cases and deaths, many cannabis dispensaries were relieved when their businesses were deemed as “essentials” during the nationwide lockdown due to this global pandemic. However, it was short-lived as the provincial government of Ontario has removed cannabis stores from their list of essential businesses. The cannabis stores are consequently being legally ordered to close as of Saturday night.

52 cannabis retail stores in the province were allowed to remain open and operate after being labeled as “essential businesses” by the provincial government of Ontario. Meanwhile, at-risk workplaces were ordered to close on March 24, in the attempt to the prevention of the spread of COVID-19 during the nationwide lockdown. Cannabis and Liquor stores have remained open while the government ordered closed down many non-essential businesses in the province since March 24.

According to Ontario Premier Doug Ford, mental health and addicted experts had voiced how it was absolutely critical for these stores to remain open, at the time of the initial list of opened and closed stores during the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, new closures were announced on Friday by the government in an attempt to flatten the curve.

A revised list of essential businesses was released by the provincial government on Friday, thus stating the end of the classification of cannabis stores as essential. The cannabis stores were further ordered by the government to close by 11:59 pm on Saturday. Furthermore, they shall remain closed for at least the next 14 days.

Although beer and wine and liquor stores are still deemed as essential and will continue to remain open, Ontarians who want to purchase legal recreational cannabis come Sunday will have to resort to online Ontario Cannabis Store (OCS) – the only remaining licensed cannabis retailer that remains open.

The Ontario Cannabis Store manages the province’s wholesale pot business and online sales. Daffyd Roderick, the director of communications has said in an email to BNN Bloomberg, that in an attempt to increase the capacity for the maintenance of a larger volume of online orders that the organization has received during this pandemic, the organization has taken several steps.

According to Daffyd Roderick, one of the steps that have been taken is working with the organization’s service providers, so that extra shifts may be added at the distribution center. Roderick further added that the organization is working on the operation of a 24/7 basis, along with the addition of shipping capability, in an attempt to offer expedited direct to door delivery service. The organization is committed despite the difficult challenges of the situation, to provide exceptional service, said Roderick.

Due to the increasing demand for recreational cannabis during the pandemic, OCS had previously ended same-day delivery. According to the OCS on March 20, despite experiencing a “marked increase” in sales, they had sufficient inventory to meet the rising demand.

According to BNN Bloomberg, a senior Ontario government official had confirmed the closing of cannabis retail stores due to their classification as “non-essential” businesses. The official further added that cannabis producers will continue to remain official due to the need for cannabis medical products.

Same day delivery of legal cannabis has been launched by the OCS in Southern Ontario through a partnership with Pineapple Express Delivery, last year. Although there is the availability of the service in other provinces such as Manitoba, privately-owned delivery services are not permitted for the shipping of cannabis from non-government retailers to customers in Ontario.

Various liquor stores have attempted to avoid crowding to better manage the customer traffic flow, by reducing their usual working hours, after the essential Friday’s announcement.

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Coronavirus measures may curb the impact of the flu season

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With the fast approaching flue season, will SOPs be enough to ward off the burden on the healthcare system?

The United States may not necessarily see a ‘double whammy’ this fall, says Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Despite of fearing a setback to the healthcare system due to the concurrence of the flu season with the novel coronavirus, the scenarios observed in Australia are giving hopes to experts in the United States.

Australia usually experiences its flu season starting from April, with a peak arriving in August. This year however, due to numerous preemptive measures, the country was successful in curbing the impact of the flu season. According to the reports of WHO, flue cases in the country ‘virtually dropped off to baseline or negligible levels’.

CDC officials see vaccines as being mainly responsible for this major decline of flu cases in the country. The demand for flue vaccines in the region was at a record breaking high, resulting in about 18 million vaccinations.

Let’s take a look at what these results could mean for the United States.

Coronavirus and its preventative measures

The SOPs put in place for coronavirus might be also be warding of other diseases in the background. This trend was observed by researchers in March, whereby flu circulations got controlled after widespread social lock-downs. A similar tendency was seen in summers where the flu cases stood at historically low levels in the region.

In the opinion of a recent study, “If extensive community mitigation measures continue throughout the fall, influenza activity in the United States might remain low and the season might be blunted or delayed.”

These findings were published in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. This means that avoiding crowds, wearing masks and frequently washing hands can help take the edge off the flu season.

In addition to this, Dr. Anthony Fauci has also urged Americans to get vaccinated against the flu. This is mainly because the healthcare system is not in a position to deal with any escalations in patient numbers. Healthcare providers are wary of combating an unknown number of flu cases if the virus spirals out of control.

He is seeing the flu season as an opportunity to educate the masses about the importance of vaccines. This is specially important for those individuals who have certain misconceptions about COVID-19. According to a poll conducted by Kaiser Family Foundation, about one in five respondents believed wearing masks could harm them. In addition to this, it was found that 1 in 4 participants believed that hydroxychloroquine is helpful in treating COVID-19. Ironically, this drug has been praised by Donald Trump, who claims to have used it himself. There is no scientific evidence of its efficacy for coronavirus whatsoever.

All of these misconceptions have stressed the need of educating the public about important issues relating to virus protection measures.

COVID-19 Vaccine

The question of whether or not people will get themselves vaccinated if a coronavirus vaccine is made available soon is getting mixed responses. According to latest research findings, a majority of Americans now believe that an increased political pressure may rush its approval by the FDA.

The numbers of these dubious individuals has risen from what it was a few months ago. About 54% of respondents of a poll conducted by KFF said that they would not get the vaccine even if it was available for free before the November 3 elections.

“Public skepticism about the FDA and the process of approving a vaccine is eroding public confidence even before a vaccine gets to the starting gate,” says KFF president and CEO Drew Altman.

Anthony Fauci sees a huge risk in this type of mindset. He believes that if a lesser number of people get themselves vaccinated, it is not going to stop the spread of the virus. “If you have a vaccine that is highly effective and not enough people get vaccinated, you’re not going to realize the full, important effect of having a vaccine.”

Cases of outbreaks have still continued to happen during long-weekends or personal gatherings of people. A vaccine for COVID-19 might be the only viable solution, but politicizing it as an opportunity to win big in elections is raising skepticism among the public. This has created an environment where misinformation can be easily created and widely shared.

 

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Russian COVID-19 Antiviral Drug To Be Released Next Week

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The USSR often makes headlines for all the wrong reasons. This may just attribute itself to its controversial leader, aggressive foreign policy and remarkably cold climate. After all, the nation is no stranger to strife, turmoil and resilience in its rich history. However, one thing that Russia often gets overlooked for is its advancements in medicine. More specifically, the fact that it has a COVID-19 antiviral drug on the horizon.

The COVID-19 pandemic, as known by the world, started off as a poorly contained outbreak in Wuhan, China. From there, the situation escalated as the coronavirus spread across the globe. Now, entire global economies lay shattered and decrepit. COVID-19 also incurred hundreds of thousands of casualties. Schools, businesses and social settings remain indefinitely on hold in most parts of the world.

Russia aims to release its new antiviral medication by next week

Yes, you didn’t read that wrong. The Russian company behind the new drug, based in the town of Yaroslavl, claimed to be on shelves as early as next week. R-Pharm, the name of the company, announced its completion of Stage III trial status recently. The Stage III clinical trial refers to the comparison of viability compared to the usual standard drug of choice. In this case, the drug, coronavir, will compare and contrast with dexamethasone. Dexamethasone became the standard drug therapy in the UK recently after clearing Phase IV and works to reduce inflammation.

Coronavir, the drug in question, also gets to share the spotlight with its cousin, avifavir. Both coronavir and avifavir come from the same precursor drug, favipiravir. Favipiravir comes from Japan, where it initially gained approval as an anti-influenza drug. This drug can produce coronavir and afivavir depending on requirements.

 The drug underwent stringent inspections and trials to gain approval

Coronavir, named after the very virus it combats, seems an exceptionally good drug. It, considered tried and tested with good patient outcomes, works well. While originally approved for uses in hospital settings back in July, it quickly gained support for domestic cases. To investigate any side effects or patient distress, a study was conducted to check. This check means to verify the extensive testing on volunteers that federal regulations require.

Out of 168 COVID-19 patients in the study, most responded well to treatment. Thus, if it passes Stage III trials, then Stage IV, coronavir would check all the boxes. Thus, it very well could be able to hit shelves as soon as next week. Research shows that coronavir is most effective in minor or moderately serious cases of COVID-19.

Russia may yet make a reputation for itself as a medically progressive nation

In recent times, the country truly stepped forward to help battle the ongoing coronavirus situation. The upcoming Sputnik-V vaccine, also expected to release soon, garnered praise and skepticism alike. This vaccine holds the potential to be a true game changer. It is easy enough to administer, has few toxic interactions and will not be prohibitively expensive. However, recent lab findings for Sputnik-V  showed that around one in seven of the volunteers developed minor side effects. So while it may not be totally innocuous, the hope will certainly involve ironing out some wrinkles.

Therefore, the advent of coronavir or Sputnik-V simply means that the pandemic may finally die down. There definitely is no need to panic or doubt the system. With any luck, only the most authentic get published.

 

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Trump Claims COVID-19 Vaccine Ready By Next Month

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Trump claims COVID-19 vaccine coming next month

In a surprising new press conference, the POTUS Donald Trump has announced a vaccine for the novel coronavirus will be ready by mid-October. The news came as a shock to most, seeing that as of now, no vaccine has even been approved by the FDA. Nonetheless, the President, running for reelection this November, claims that all is running smoothly. The president did not shy from saying that his opposition would not be nearly as capable as his administration in fighting the virus.

It’s hard to take the President at his word. While it seems unlikely that he would make so huge an overstatement so close to the elections, we have reason to doubt him. This is still the same person who offhandedly suggested injecting disinfectants would cure the disease, after all. Let’s take a look at the situation in more depth, to help measure our expectations better.

America leads the world in COVID-19 cases at the moment, under Trump

The US has a huge lead in terms of the number of cases of COVID-19, and the death toll too. The situation is truly dire in many places with hospitals past capacity and things are only going to get worse. The number of uninsured Americans exceeded twenty seven million back in April, and following the large increase in unemployment since then, that number could have tripled. Without healthcare, the average person is already at a disadvantage against COVID-19.

Furthermore, Trump has increased resentment against the wearing of masks and preventative measures against the spread of the coronavirus. Anti-mask sentiment is a large contributor to the high infection rates in the US, and Trump personally ascribes to this mindset. He said so as much in the press conference, mocking Democrat presidential candidate Joe Biden for wearing a mask. Trump suggested it had more to do with covering facial features out of shame than it did with stopping the spread of the virus.

Still, vaccines have made tremendous strides in recent months

The POTUS has a point, though. The COVID-19 vaccine that everyone is talking about has made more progress on a rushed schedule than any other vaccine ever. Scientists have pulled overtime to ensure the response to the virus be as quick as possible. And the results are promising, with more than one vaccine already having entered the final test phase. In Russia, a vaccine is already being distributed.

Another partial truth Trump spoke was saying that masks are nowhere near as effective as a vaccine. Which is obviously true, because if they were, why would we bother spending billions on a vaccine? However, to suggest that masks are useless is not logically sound. Mask wearing has led to countries like France and Italy come back from the brink of collapse. Where people are responsible in social distancing, the results speak for themselves.

What will happen in regards to vaccination in the next few months, even after Trump?

It’s most likely that Trump is over promising to farmer votes for the election. The head of the Center for Disease Control stated earlier that in no way would a vaccine program be possible nationally before next year. Yet Trump dismissed his expert advice, with typical Trump swagger.

It won’t be the first time a politician lied to the public to get votes, but the matter is complex. It technically might be possible for a vaccine to be out by October, but without insurance, most Americans likely won’t be able to afford it. And until October rolls around, how many will get sick because Trump supporters refuse to cover up? Wear a mask, stay safe at home.

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