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Irresponsible Statement from Health Secretary: US Healthcare Workers Aren’t Infected With COVID-19

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healthcare workers

The United States has been struggling against the COVID-19 pandemic. While some countries have been able to gain some control over the situation, things seem a little bleak for the United States. 

The United States is closing in on 3,500,000 coronavirus cases and the graph seems to be ascending only. The government wants to proceed with opening schools and other institutions, but is it safe really? 

A close look into the mistakes made by the US over the course of the pandemic shows that almost all of them could be averted. The attitude of the Trump administration has been quite below the mark.

In a recent statement, Alex Azar, Trump Health Secretary, falsely claimed that healthcare workers don’t get infected with COVID-19. He justified it saying that it is because healthcare workers take proper precautions. The statement intended to make a case for reopening schools this fall. However, it didn’t go as planned perhaps.

Azar says that good personal hygiene, social distancing, and using facial masks are good enough to stop people from getting infected with the coronavirus. However, it is a misleading statement. It is true that these precautions are necessary, but they’re precautions nonetheless.

According to an estimate, more than 760 healthcare workers have lost their lives to the deadly virus. In times like these, when the virus is surging and seems to be out of the administration’s control, such statements not only mislead the masses but also breed mistrust in the government. 

Also read: Cannabis Rendered Helpful in Saving Lives of COVID-19 Patients 

However, Trump administration has made a lot of blunders regarding COVID-19. Here’s a recap to when the President of the United States asked whether disinfectant could be injected into bodies of people to kill the COVID-19 virus.

The reaction

The medical community raised a lot of objections to the statement issued. They insisted that the precautionary measures implemented in a medical setting cannot be reproduced in schools. 

This statement brought a lot of criticism to the Health Secretary. To cool down the situation HHS spokesperson Michael Caputo took to twitter and made it look like the Health Secretary was taken out of context.

He further added:

Things don’t seem to be going so well for the Trump administration. Moreover, this statement shows how difficult the COVID-19 situation is for the government right now. Right now, problems are surrounding American leadership from all sides. A lot of controversies have followed the government as well. Moreover, the government has not compensated healthcare workers the way they should have been. Moreover, researchers believe that the lack of necessary equipment and PPEs added salt to injury.

In short, it is statements like these in times of crisis that further worsen the situation. The Health Secretary hasn’t made any comments about his statement to clear the tension as well.

Whether or not schools open this fall, statements like this do more harm than good. Hopefully, the Trump administration has learned this lesson from its mistakes. 

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General News

Study: Cannabis Terpene Treatment For COVID-19

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Cannabis Terpene NT-VRL

A recent Israeli study has found a possible treatment for COVID-19 complications in cannabis. The chemical CBD (cannabidiol) has been studied in a combination with a cannabis terpene (NT-VRL). This CBD is one of the key ingredients in cannabis sativa. Meanwhile, the cannabis terpene NT-VRL (patent of Ebyna) is an aromatic chemical from the flowers of the plant. When administered in combination, there has been a noticeable positive effect on ‘cytokine storm’, a feared complication of COVID-19.

Cytokine storm is a dangerous reaction to COVID-19 by the body’s immune system

The term ‘cytokine storm’ refers to a chain reaction of immune cells, causing increasing levels of inflammation. Because the body is responding the the coronavirus infecting the patient, it secretes small proteins called ‘cytokines’. Usually, these have small but important roles in helping kill off the virus by creating inflammation and fever. However, when this reaction goes unchecked, it can be deadly if untreated. The patient would undergo very high levels of fever, fatigue, inflammation and in worst-cases, respiratory failure.

This is why the recent discovery that COVID-19 can lead to cytokine storm was so shocking. It meant that even young, healthy people with strong immune systems would be susceptible to potential deaths from this disease. Furthermore, the most widely-used drug of choice for treating this, dexamethasone, is undergoing global shortage.

The company, Ebyna, had patented the cannabis terpene, NT-VRL

The study was a collaboration between Ebyna, the terpene company, and Cannasoul, a cannabis research entity. Thus, Ebyna and Cannasoul’s joint venture led to the formation of an inhalant drug. This contained NT-VRL, to be administered with or without CBD. The aim of the study was to investigate the effects they had on treating cytokine storm from COVID-19.

Long just dismissed as simply useful in the flavor/smell of cannabis products, terpenes were shown to be very effective in this case. When combined with the CBD, which has also been shown to have positive health effects, it was remarkable. The combined therapy of both CBD and NT-VRL significantly improved symptoms of cytokine storm from COVID-19.

“This type of delivery [inhaled, rather than ingested] method is a game-changer enabling us to achieve therapeutic qualities from these unique phytochemicals like never before,” said Nadav Eya, the CEO of Ebyna. He was referring to the unexpected efficacy of the NT-VRL therapy in this COVID-19 complication.

Other studies confirm Ebyna-Cannasoul’s findings

Outside of Israel, several studies report similar findings. More and more researchers are turning to cannabis byproducts to battle the COVID-19 pandemic.

Igor and Olga Kovalchuck, researchers from Canada, were both developing a new strain of cannabis. Their aim was to extract anti-cancer drugs from it. However, the new COVID-19 pandemic caused them to shift focus towards combating the coronavirus. Their strain is hoped to be able to produce a drug that could reduce the communicability of SARS-CoV2. It would do so by restricting the ACE-2 receptors in the body.

All in all, Ebyna and Cannasoul’s NT-VRL terpene may just be revolutionary. The existence of terpene as an anti-cytokine storm drug is still debatable, and more research is still required. However, their study and that of corroborators have shown that cannabis is even more useful a plant than we had ever suspected. For more news and updates on the state of the CBD-terpene therapy, stay tuned. In the meanwhile, check out other recent studies on CBD here.

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Endocanna Health Aims To Increase Genetic Risk Awareness For COVID-19

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COVID-19

This pandemic is practically unprecedented in terms of how mysterious its risk factors are. While the mode of transmission is known, the exact factors that make a person susceptible to severe complications aren’t. Experts all agree that COVID-19 may either pass the infected with no symptoms, cause mild respiratory effects or in worst-cases deaths.

However, what still remains unclear is who is vulnerable and why. That’s why Endocanna Health, a cannabinoid DNA-research company based in California, has stepped up. They are offering a free DNA test for genetic factors in their consumers. This test is meant to scan for known genetic markers that could lead to susceptibility. While the gesture is generous, it must be cautioned such a test is not meant to be a reliable tool to assess this.

DNA research works by looking for known markers

The aim of Endocanna Health’s test is to examine possible vulnerable genes. Such genes could make a person’s immune system weaker to infection, or allow them to develop worse symptoms.

However, if you’re wondering why you haven’t been prescribed this test before, there’s a reason. Most healthcare providers and experts don’t rely on such tests because they only indicate correlation. There is no way to prove the causation. What that means, simply, is that certain genes can make COVID-19 more severe, not always. Factors like age, diet, health conditions and mental health are important too, though.

Endocanna Health’s research is most notable for its work on the human endocannabinoid system. This system includes the way certain cannabinoid neurotransmitters work to regulate mood, sensation, memory, metabolism and immunity.

The system was discovered by scientists investigating the effects of THC in marijuana on the body. While we did just mention immunity back there, it must be kept in mind that this is only part of it (more on that later).

The company’s Chief Science Officer, Dr Chris Spooner, recently claimed that the work they were doing would be useful for understanding the immune system. He mentioned the presence of cannabinoid receptors in the immune cells, that affected the strength of immune response to COVID-19. While the role of cannabinoids on the cells is clear, the message behind the aims should be scrutinized.

Your genes are not the most important factor in beating COVID-19

If Endocanna Health’s aim is to combat COVID-19, then that’s commendable. But if they think that it will significantly contribute to flattening the curve, their hopes are a tad misplaced. Major health experts, from Dr Anthony Fauci to the WHO, all assert that the number one rule to follow is to stay healthy and socially distance. If you’re worried about COVID-19, or another similar disease, then eat healthy, sleep well and stay home. DNA tests can be helpful, truly, in the case of congenital disease (think cystic fibrosis or hemophilia). But to cause misinformation about them is deliberately harmful. Let’s look at the real unsung heroes in the body’s immune system.

To fight infection, circulating white blood cells (called leucocytes) detect and attack germs. They also signal the release of chemicals like prostaglandins to create inflammation and fever, which can be beneficial.

Other cells, like mast cells, help signal the response to rest of the system. Then, from the antigens of the germs, ‘B-Cells’ create antibodies. Antibodies are basically drugs to kill off any other germs left, from bacteria to coronaviruses. This whole process is wonderfully self-regulated. And knowing your genes will just make you more paranoid than actually help, it seems.

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Airborne Coronavirus is Infectious, Scientists Say

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Previously, it was believed that coronavirus can only spread through microdroplets released during a cough or sneeze. However, a recent study has shown that the tiny droplets released during talking or breathing can also be infectious.

Coronavirus has been on the rise for almost a year now. The epidemic started in China and has now spread to over 100 countries worldwide. Currently, the virus has affected over 15 million people and caused more than 600k deaths.

Despite numerous efforts, the virus is still spreading, with thousands of new cases emerging every day. Several governments have pushed their countries into lockdown and numerous precautionary measures have been made mandatory. These include wearing a mask at all times, maintaining a minimum distance of 6 feet from other humans and washing face and hands several times a day.

Also read: Two Coronavirus Vaccines Prove Effective in Human Trials

The Study

Coronavirus was believed to spread through droplets released during a cough or sneeze. However, a recent study has shown that even breathing and talking can release microdroplets that are infectious. They can actively play a role in the spread of the infection.

The study was conducted by researchers at University of Nebraska and was published in an online medical site. The group observed coronavirus obtained from microdroplets and found that it was able to replicate in the laboratory environment.

This showed that the virus can easily travel past the 6 feet distance regulation employed by the governments as a part of their social distancing scheme. Further, it also gives weight to the theory that talking, or breathing can lead to the transmission of the virus.

Source: Twitter

The study was posted on the medrxiv website, which contains some cutting-edge papers for treating the virus, published since the beginning of the epidemic. However, the study is still in preliminary stage and needs to be peer-reviewed before it can be published in a more credible medical journal.

The same research team also compiled findings about the nature of the virus during its early stages. It is set to be published on an online forum as well. The study showed that the novel coronavirus has the tendency to stay airborne in hospital rooms even after the COVID patients have been discharged.

According to Joshia Santarpia, the lead author of the study, the sample collection process for the studies is extremely difficult. The concentration of the virus in the samples are generally really low, which makes it very hard to recover any valuable information.

Results

The research team used a small device, similar to a cell phone, to collect the samples. Specimens were taken from about a foot above the bed, in 5 rooms with bedridden COVID patients.

Also read: Spain Orders Killing of 100,000 Minks After They Contract Coronavirus

The aerosols produced by the patients during talking were collected and had a typical diameter of about one micron. The specimens were placed in a culture to see if the virus was able to thrive. Three out of the 18 samples showed virus growth.

This proves that even breathing or talking around coronavirus patients can significantly increase the risks of developing an infection. The 6 feet rule is not very effective and complete isolation of the COVID patient should be practiced in order to minimize the chances of infecting the people around.

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