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Coronavirus – Researchers Focus on Genetics After Deaths of Twins and Siblings

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In the middle of the steady stream of stories regarding the deaths of COVID-19, that is significantly high in number. In the past month, however, at least two pairs of twins, and two pairs of brothers had died in Britain, with a gap of a few hours or days. The question that arises is if the deaths point towards genetic factors that increase the likelihood of some to succumb to the disease, more than others.

According to most scientists, genes can indeed play a big role in the response of people to infections. Furthermore, the receptors that the COVID-19 uses to invade human cells are likely to be influenced by a person’s genetic makeup. However, the resilience of a person to infection, their general health, and the reaction of their immune system will all have at least some degree of the genetic component.

Prof Tim Spector, head of twin research and genetic epidemiology at King’s College London, led a team that reported that the symptoms of COVID-19 seem to be 50% genetic. However, Spector has said that more research will be needed to understand the involvement of specific genes and the difference that they make to the course of the disease.

According to Spector, there is still ambiguity regarding if genes are linked to the receptors or to how the infection presents.

Last month, identical twins Katy and Emma, aged 37, were reported dead at Southampton general hospital. The sisters had underlying health problems and were living together. They had been ill for quite some time before they were infected with the virus.

Another set of twins was Eleanor Andrews and Eileen, aged 66. The sisters died earlier this month, also had underlying health conditions, and lived together.

Another case was of two brothers from Newport, Ghulam Abbas, aged 59, and Raza Abbas, aged 53. They died with a gap of hours of each other, at the Royal Gwent Hospital. Furthermore, another pair of brothers, Olume Ivowi, aged 46, and Isi Ivowi, aged 38, from Luton, died within a gap of days of each other.

According to Spector, these deaths have alerted people regarding the possible genetic factor, especially during a time when people are living together and have a shared environment.

Spector added that the outcome is that twins that live together, are likely to have similar lifestyles and habits, from diet to exercise, and also on how quickly they respond and seek medical care, and are hence not generally less healthy than the remaining population.

Twin deaths gained popularity in headlines before the COVID-19 pandemic, when twins, Julian and Adrian Riester, died on the same day in 2011, in Florida. The cousin of the twins claimed that this was a confirmation of God’s favor over them. However, Spector has seen the statistic and says that twins dying at the same time are a rare occurrence. Furthermore, he added that while the population exists in billions on this planet, only 70 is a twin and one in 200 is an identical twin.

A professor of biological psychiatry at Bristol University, Marcus Munafo, has said that there must be caution in the interpretation of the reports of twin deaths. Munafo added that twin deaths are unusual and rare, which is why they make it to the news, but a distortion of perceptions can be caused by coverage. Munafo continues that the “salience bias” which refers to the fact that people end to notice the information that stands out the most irrespective of relevancy, can be unhealthy and it would be better to be careful when coming across news and realize what we should focus on.

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General News

Tear Gas on Protestors is increasing Coronavirus Cases

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Recent protests in the Unites States have led to a lot of unrest in the country. The police are using tear gas as a means to keep the crowds under control. However, experts have said that the use is only increasing the number of coronavirus cases.

Coronavirus has been actively spreading for the past 8 months. The United States saw one of the worst waves of the virus in the past 30 days. It affected thousands of people, killing hundreds in the span of just a few days. The governments have put majority of the nations in lockdown to control the transmission. However, with every passing day, the cases seem to be increasing.

The recent George Floyd incident was an act of white supremacy. This significantly worsened the situation. Hundreds of protestors came out on the streets to fight for the colored community. The hashtag “#BlacklivesMatter” was trending and numerous people across the globe rose for their support.

Via Stars and Stripes

 

Also read: New York passes a bill to legalize Marijuana

To keep the masses in control, police has been using tear gas and pepper spray. There is a range of side effects of using these compounds. It causes extreme cough and sneezing. Further, it also irritates the eyes, causing temporary blindness.

Side effects of Tear Gas

While, the protests were bad enough for the coronavirus, the use of tear gas has added more risk of contracting the disease. Since, the virus is transmittable through air, the protests alone have caused a drastic increase in the number of new cases per day. Additionally, due to excessive cough caused by the sprays, infectious droplets are released into the air. These are then inhaled by the neighboring protestors, causing an increase in the number of effected people.

Dr. Peter Chin Hong brought this issue to the public. He is a professor of medicine and an infectious disease specialist at University of California in San Francisco.  He said that the use of these harmful sprays cause people to take off their protective masks. It also makes them rub their face and eyes to counter the extreme irritation. Further, the compounds in the sprays also cause inflammation of the lung tissues, making the people more susceptible to infection.

Dr. Hong and more than 1000 other health experts have signed a petition to stop the use of these sprays. Hong said, “It’s easier to spread because people don’t know they’re sick.” According to statistics by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, around 20 to 50 percent of the coronavirus patients are asymptomatic.

Therefore, it is extremely important that the government takes immediate measures to control the further spread of the disease. Currently, the officials have advised the public to wear face masks, use sanitizers and stay at least 6 feet away from each other.

Also read: Good news for Sciatica patients: CBD oil relieves the pain

About the George Floyd Incident

George Floyd was a 46 year old, black man who died in police’s custody in Minnesota. Derek Chaivin, a white police officer was kneeling on Mr. Floyd’s neck as he gasped for air. Floyd was constantly pleading to let him go since he could not breath. He was also unarmed and was constantly complaining of chest pains. Due to lack of empathy from the police officer, Floyd passed away on the spot.

 

via Vietnam Times

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Cannabis

Who owns the Suspicious Marijuana Farm Near Middleton Home?

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The Police discovered a Marijuana Farm near Kate Middleton’s family home in Buckleberry in Berkshire. A power outage led to the discovery of the illegal farming of marijuana right next to Middleton’s 18 acrea estate, on Thursday.

The Middleton Estate

Kate Middleton’s parents, Carole and Michael Middleton, own a £4.7 million Grade II Manor house in Buckleberry in Berkshire. The purchased this property back in 2012 after moving from their £1.5 million house in the same village of Berkshire. The 18-acre estate consists of 7 bedrooms and 5 reception rooms. Carole and Michael moved here due to the better privacy and security this house offered.

Image Credits: Zimbio.com

The Middleton Family House holds great importance for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. The Duke and Duchess have spent a lot of fun moments at ‘The Manor’. All the sweet memories make The Manor a strong fort to hold.

Image Credits: express.co.uk

Discovery of the Marijuana Farm

Upon calling, people from the electricity board came to solve the electricity power situation. The workers from the electricity board discovered the Marijuana Farm on the Wednesday night. They immediately brought this to the attention of the police. The police raided the area on Thursday and found an empty Cannabis factory.

 Also read: House Fire exposes illegal marijuana operation

A witness reported that about 6 vans collected the content inside the potential cannabis factory. The police has taken all the evidence for further investigation. The Police is investigating this case under the top priority badge. They have found some evidence that the empty and abandoned factory was previously being used as a safe space to make drugs from cannabis.

Until now, no arrests have been made and people are clueless about the owner of the factory. The police has asked the public to contact police if they have any information regarding the suspicious factory hidden in the barns. The investigating officer told the media that they are still carrying out an investigation. They are confident that they will soon get to the bottom of this matter.

Also read: WHO – New Study Suggests Face Mask Could Reduces the Risk of COVID-19 by 85%

Baseless Rumors

As suspicious as it might sound, there is no confirmation to it. Kate Middleton is the Queen of Grace and her family is an epitome of class. The rumors about the Cannabis Factory being owned by the Middletons are circulating however, it seems nothing but a rumor. Royal family has always been subjected to such fake news every now and then. Previously rumors about Kate’s fourth pregnancy were also in the air and Kate having marital issues with Prince William also surfaced.

While the Police and CID are working hand in hand to solve the mystery of the Cannabis factory and marijuana farm right next to the Middleton Family House, people are looking forward to get their hands on the latest gossip.

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General News

WHO – New Study Suggests Face Masks Could Reduce Risk of COVID-19 by 85%

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The World Health Organization (WHO) recently approved a new review. The review emphasizes the importance of social distancing, face masks, and eye protection to decrease the spread of COVID-19. However, this applied to both health care settings and the general public. Furthermore, the review also mentioned that a safe distance of at least 3 feet (1 meter) between individuals would decrease the chances of infection by 82%. Moreover, the review has encourages a more effective distance of 6 feet (2m).

Why are face masks important?

Face Masks Covid-19

The New York Times

Face masks and cloth face coverings can potentially protect the general public and health care workers from COVID-19. However, the researchers emphasized that N-95 masks are more effective than other masks, especially in the health care industry. Due to the method of transmission, individuals are focusing on protecting their nose and mouth. However, the authors stated that eye protection might be just as beneficial as masks, and provide further protection.

However, the authors have acknowledged the limitations of the evidence regarding face masks and eye protection. Furthermore, none of the above ways are guaranteed 100% protection from COVID-19. Lead author and clinician-scientist in the Department of Health Research Methods, Evidence and Impact, and Department of Medicine at McMaster University Ontario, Dr. Derek Chu, had given a statement. He explained that while all measures were essential, none excluded the possibility of infection completely. He added that consequently, hand hygiene is essential to further reduce the risk of infection.

The review

A new review was published in the journal, The Lancet, on June 1. Chu and his team examined existing research on COVID-19 ad relevant conditions SARS and MERS. In totality, the researchers examined 7 studied on COVID-19, 26 on SARS, and 11 on MERS. This summed up to 44 pieces of research conducted on over 25,000 participants in 16 different nations.

The studies focused on the impact of social distancing, face masks, and eye protection on the spread of COVID-19. The researchers focused on each of them and their degree of protection separately. However, the examination of the impact of the span of potential exposure on the prospect of infection was unsuccessful.

With social distancing and quarantine, however, the risks of infection were decreased. The risks were reduced to 3% with a distance of 3 feet, and to 13% with a distance of fewer than 3 feet. Furthermore, the risk of infection decreased further with added distance.

Risk of transmission

The risk of transmission decreased with added distances and further safety protocols, such as

  • With a face mask – 3%
  • Without a face mask – 17%
  • With eye protection – 6%
  • Without eye protection – 16%
  • Social distancing of up to 3 feet – 3%
  • Social distancing of fewer than 3 feet – 13%

Every extra 3 feet of social distancing reduced the risk by half.

The study’s senior author, and a professor at McMaster University, Holger Schünemann, gave a statement. The author explained how their findings are the first to study direct knowledge of COVID-19, SARS, and MERS. Consequently, this resulted in the best obtainable proof of the optimal use of these safety measures in order to flatten the curve.

In terms of protection, further research in the health care industry has concluded a 96% effectiveness in N95 respirators. Meanwhile, other masks with the inclusion of surgical masks showed 77% efficiency.

However, the review had made its room for error and improvement. No randomized control trials were included in the review. Instead, the review focused on observational studies. In such studies, researchers assign no treatment to participants and merely observe them, to conclude results. However, there is a need for randomized controlled trials, particularly on the impact of face masks on the rate of transmission. Thankfully, the authors have stated that two trials are ongoing in Denmark and Canada.

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