Health: How probiotics can boost the immune system and help battle those bugs

Health: How probiotics can boost the immune system and help battle those bugs

  • April 30, 2021

A healthy immune system is vital for keeping us well, and one proven way to support it is with probiotics.

Many studies have found these “good bacteria” can help balance gut flora and produce protective substances that may “turn on” the immune system to fight off bugs. But probiotics have other benefits too.

Professor Glenn Gibson, a professor of food microbiology at Reading University, who’s studied probiotics and prebiotics extensively, and Dr Carrie Ruxton, a dietitian for the Health and Food Supplements Information Service, tell us more about the friendly bacteria that live in our intestines, stomach and gastrointestinal tract.

What are probiotics?

The World Health Organisation defines probiotics as “live microorganisms which, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host”. Ruxton says:“Probiotics are live ‘friendly’ bacteria in food or supplement form that can alter the balance of our own gut bacteria – assuming they reach the gut intact.”

What are the health benefits of probiotics?

“Lots,” says Gibson. “There are now over 26,000 research articles on their use. These include improved protection against gastroenteritis, reduced inflammation (hence the link to Covid), and boosting immunity. Being harmless microbes, they’re good at stimulating non-specific immunity in the gut. Specific diseases like irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease have been looked at and there’s currently immense interest in obesity and gut-brain interactions (cognitive function).”

In addition, research by Plymouth University last year found probiotic bacteria could help control the development and progression of colorectal cancer. There’s also evidence probiotics are helpful for reducing cholesterol, Gibson says.

Ruxton adds: “Many chronic health conditions, including type 2 diabetes, obesity, inflammatory bowel disease and bowel cancers, have been linked with an imbalance of gut bacteria and optimal immune function – giving us defences against viruses such as coronavirus – depends on having the right bacteria in our gut.”

© University of Reading/PA
Professor Glenn Gibson

Who should take probiotics?

Ruxton says: “People eating their five-a-day fruit and veg, and getting two to three daily servings of fibre-rich foods like wholegrain bread, pasta and rice, or high-fibre breakfast cereal, plus a few servings of fermented foods a week, should have a healthy gut microbiota. Everyone else should consider adapting their diets, or taking a probiotic supplement.”

Do you need to take supplements to get enough probiotics?

Gibson says yes, but Ruxton says it’s easy to get enough in the diet by including natural sources, boosting them with prebiotic foods, and ensuring you eat plenty of dietary fibre from wholegrains, fruit, vegetables, legumes and yoghurt.

“Fibre helps keep the gut in good condition,” she explains. “Supplements, or probiotic drinks, can be useful if your diet isn’t perfect, or if your gut needs extra support – for example, if you’ve had a recent course of antibiotics or a viral illness.”

What probiotics should you take?

Gibson says probiotics containing lactobacilli and bifidobacteria are the most well researched and have the best safety and efficacy records. “I like, and take, Multibionta and Actimel,” he says. “Other good ones are Yakult, Proven Probiotics, Protexin and Bio-Kult.”

While Ruxton agrees key species include bifidobacteria and lactobacilli, she says: “There’s no need to focus on particular types or strains. However, focusing on lactobacillus strains is a good start. And make sure the product guarantees most of the bacteria will survive the journey through your gut and reach the large intestine intact.”

Are there any potential problems that can be caused by probiotics?

Ruxton says people who are immunosuppressed, for example if they’re taking immunosuppressant drugs linked to organ transplants, should avoid probiotics because even “good” bacteria, which would be harmless in most people, has the potential to cause infection in those with a suppressed immune system. “Apart from that, probiotics don’t cause harm, even in young children,” she says.

Gibson confirms authentic probiotics are unlikely to cause problems.

© HSIS/PA
Dr Carrie Ruxton

Power up on probiotics

Probiotics are essential to good gut health and there are many foods rich in probiotics that you can simply add to your diet.

As well as yoghurt, probiotics are found in many fermented foods, including kefir (fermented milk), kimchi (spicy fermented cabbage), tempeh (fermented soya bean patties), miso (fermented soya bean paste), sauerkraut (fermented cabbage) and kombucha (fermented sweet tea). While kombucha might sound exotic, you can source this probiotic-packed sweet drink across Scotland.

Small-batch, Scottish kombucha makers include Leftfield Kombucha in the Berwickshire, Bad Gal Boocha in Fife, Ave Kombucha in the Cairngorms and Clever Kombucha in Glasgow.

“Probiotics can also be found in supplements and special drinks such as Yakult,” added Dr Carrie Ruxton, who says we should try to combine probiotics with prebiotics, which act like “fertilisers for live probiotic microbes already in the gut”.

“Prebiotics are dietary substances that boost numbers of ‘friendly’ bacteria and promote their activity,” she said. “The most accessible prebiotics are tea, onions, garlic and leeks. These have been proven to help rebalance our gut microbiota.”

Texas House Approved Bill Involving Medical Cannabis System

Texas House Approved Bill Involving Medical Cannabis System

  • April 30, 2021

It seems like Texas has been the last state to get with the medical cannabis program. But after the latest news, it seems like Texans can rejoice now about the latest vote. Medical marijuana has been known to help people with different medical conditions.

People who have used medical cannabis that suffer from anxiety, cancer, some sort of pain, epilepsy, and other conditions found it useful. I know some people who suffer from PTSD and they mentioned how much medical cannabis has helped them out tremendously. Well, Texans who need medical cannabis for whatever their symptoms may be, can look forward to the recent outcome.

Yesterday Marijuana Moment shared some news that some Texans have been waiting for quite a while. Marijuana Moment shared the news about the Texas House of Representatives approved bills regarding the decriminalization of possession and expansion of the medical cannabis program. So possession of one ounce of cannabis would be a class C misdemeanor without having to do jail time.

Now as for the expansion of the medical cannabis program made it to the Senate after the 134-12 vote. Earlier this month the bill was approved by the House Public Health Committee. Despite the latest news, there is still more work that needs to be done involving the medical cannabis program.

But one thing for sure is some people should be relieved about the latest outcome of medical cannabis. By expanding the medical cannabis system it can help out so many people in Texas who are struggling with their health issues. Let’s be hopeful that more good news can come about involving the medical cannabis programs for Texas.

KEEP READING: See 25 natural ways to boost your immune system

Keravita Pro Reviews: Obvious Scam or Ingredients That Work?

Keravita Pro Reviews: Obvious Scam or Ingredients That Work?

  • April 30, 2021

Keravita Pro is an all-natural supplement meant to support healthy hair and nails. Its all-natural herbal extracts are designed to nourish your hair and nails with essential nutrients needed for healthy growth. It’s also formulated to reduce the inflammation and fungus infections that can lead to itchiness, irritation, and odors.

If you’re someone who suffers from frequent hair and nail infections, has weak or damaged nails or hair, or wants to lengthen your hair, then Keravita Pro may be right for you.

What Is Keravita Pro & How Does it Work?

Unfortunately for most people, they overlook the health of their nails and hair. It’s just not something we really think about every day. Overlooking these aspects of our health can, unfortunately, lead to weak, damaged hair and poor nail health. Sometimes, it can even lead to irritating and painful nail infections.

Keravita Pro is an advanced hair & nail supplement designed to support stronger, healthier hair and nails. Its’ all-natural ingredients consist of a blend of vitamins, minerals, and the most powerful herbal extracts known to help support hair and nail health.

In addition to supporting your hair and nails, Keravita Pro may also improve your skin health, strengthen your cardiovascular system, and prevent future fungal infections. It can accomplish this by working in nine essential steps.

These nine steps include the fast penetration stage, massive fungus build-up extermination, blood purification stage, dry skin reconstruction, hands, feet, nail rejuvenation, anti-fungal defense army, anti-fungal lung shield activator, double up the anti-fungal defense, and ultimate toxic fungus cleanse up. All nine of these steps are essential to the process of improving your hair and nails.

Fast penetration stage: The initial stage, known as the fast penetration stage, is designed to flood the body with essential nutrients needed for strong hair and nails.

Massive fungus build-up extermination: Once the ingredients in Keravita Pro enter the body, they quickly clean out pathogens and fungal material that may have built up over the many years.

Blood purification stage: During this stage, fungal material that may be in your bloodstream is quickly eliminated.

Dry Skin Reconstruction: In this stage, numerous herbal extracts and vitamins re-hydrate and repair your skin, so it has excellent elasticity and is properly hydrated.

Hands, Feet, & Nail Rejuvenation: Keravita Pro is designed specifically to target the nails and hair, and during this stage, both of these parts of the body are supplied with adequate nutrients to heal years of damage.

Anti-Fungal Defense Army: Keravita Pro helps support your immune system, so it has the ability to better fight off fungal infections. It also works to prevent them altogether in the future.

Anti-Fungal Lung Shield Activator: During this stage, Keravita Pro helps your immune system identify and eliminate pathogens that you may be inhaling in your lungs.

Ultimate Toxic Fungus Cleanse Up: During this final stage, any remaining fungal material that may have made it through so far is quickly identified and eliminated. Your immune system should be at its’ peak by now, and it can quickly identify and get rid of the harmful pathogens in your body.

These steps may have fancy names but essentially follows the normal path of elimination, nourishment, and strengthening. In other words, Keravita Pro works first to eliminate the pathogens and fungus causing infections and damaged nails and hair. It then nourishes your nails and hair with the essential nutrients needed to repair the damage. Finally, it strengthens and supports the immune system to prevent further damage & infections.

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Ingredients in Keravita Pro

The 1512mg Keravita Pro contains a blend of two vitamins, one mineral, and over twenty herbal extracts. These ingredients are essential to the nine-step process mentioned above and play a key role in eliminating nail fungus and strengthening your hair. Some of the important ingredients include:

Vitamin C: Vitamin C is a potent immune system booster that also helps to fight inflammation. It also supports skin hydration and skin elasticity and is vital to the dry skin reconstruction phase.

Vitamin E: Vitamin E has anti-fungal properties and helps eliminate nail fungus. It also helps repair and regenerates healthy nails. It also supports skin health and works with vitamin C to restore skin elasticity.

Selenium: Selenium is a trace mineral that supports the body’s metabolism and protects your body from stress-related damage.

Graviola Leaf: Studies have found Graviola leaf has natural anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties. It also helps the body heal from infections caused by fungi & bacteria.

Essiac Tea Complex: The essiac tea complex consists of Indian rhubarb, burdock, sheep sorrel, and slippery elm. Its’ primary function in Keravita Pro is to provide immunity support and reduce inflammation in the body.

Mushroom Complex: The mushroom complex found in Keravita Pro has shitake, reishi, and maitake mushrooms in it. Like the essiac tea complex, the mushroom complex strengthens your immune system, fights off inflammation, and provides anti-fungal support to help your body fight off infections.

Garlic Bulb Extract: Garlic bulb extract is one of nature’s most powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal ingredients. It also works with many of the other ingredients in Keravita Pro to support your immune system.

Cat’s Claw: Studies have found that Cat’s Claw can help prevent viral and fungal infections. It may also help support immunity and relieve stress.

Turmeric: Turmeric is one of nature’s most powerful anti-inflammatory compounds. It also helps support immunity and your cardiovascular system.

Pomegranate Seed: Pomegranate seed possesses several plant chemicals known as polyphenol compounds. These polyphenol compounds help support various bodily functions, including eliminating pathogens from the body.

In addition to these ingredients, Keravita Pro also includes Panax ginseng, Arabinogalactan, olive leaf, quercetin, pine bark, red raspberry, beta-glucan, and green tea leaf. These ingredients complement each other perfectly to eliminate nail fungus and strengthen your nails and hair.

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Benefits of Keravita Pro

Although Keravita Pro isn’t your typical supplement, it already has amassed thousands of reviews from satisfied customers and has been featured in Globe Newswire. There appear to be several benefits to taking Keravita Pro, which you can experience in as little as a few weeks:

Improved skin & nail health: Naturally, the main benefit to Keravita Pro is better skin and nail health. Keravita directly addresses damaged hair and nails and works to treat nail fungus and eliminate it. It also nourishes both with essential vitamins and minerals to heal and strengthen your hair and nails.

Improved immunity: Over a dozen individual ingredients found in Keravita Pro has proven immunity benefits. This supplement can strengthen your entire immune system so it can eliminate pathogens and prevent future damage and sickness.

Improved cardiovascular health: Turmeric, pine bark, and olive leaf extract have been proven to support cardiovascular health in clinical studies. Keravita Pro may help eliminate bad cholesterol, improve circulation, and strengthen your arterial walls.

Reduced inflammation: Inflammation is a large part of what causes weakened nails and hair. Many of the ingredients found in Keravita Pro help to eliminate inflammation and prevent further damage to your body.

Better skin elasticity and hydration: Vitamin C, Vitamin E, turmeric, and red raspberry are all said to improve skin elasticity and hydration. You may notice the decreased appearance in skin aging as well.

Side Effects of Keravita Pro

Normally, when a supplement has as many ingredients as Keravita Pro, there are bound to be some side effects. However, there haven’t been any reports of side effects or adverse health reactions resulting from taking Keravita Pro.

Therefore, while it isn’t to say you cannot experience any side effects while taking this product, there haven’t been any major reports yet. Therefore, you should have no problem while taking this product.

In addition, Keravita Pro:

  • Is manufactured in the United States in a facility that uses good manufacturing practices.
  • Routinely tests its’ raw ingredients for potency, purity, and quality.
  • Optimally dosed each ingredient to ensure both effectiveness and safety.
  • Sources ingredients from the highest quality suppliers for maximum effectiveness.

This commitment to safety is why Keravita Pro is overwhelmingly safe. Keep in mind that this product is not recommended for pregnant or nursing mothers or children under 18. However, the average healthy adult should have no doubts about the safety of this product.

If you feel unsure whether Keravita Pro may be right for you but still are interested in trying it, consult a doctor before using the product. He or she should be able to tell you whether or not the product is the right product for you.

How Long Does Keravita Pro Take to Work?

Keravita Pro does work quickly to restore proper nail and hair health, but it is not a miracle pill. If you expect it to work overnight, then you’re only going to be disappointed.

The manufacturer does note that most people see results within the first 30 days of use. Many users have reported feeling benefits in as little as two weeks. It really varies from person to person with Keravita Pro.

In general, it is recommended you give the product at least 30 days before you make a judgment on it. As you continue to take Keravita Pro, you’ll notice the benefits intensify and become more apparent each week. That’s why it might even be best to take it for 60 to 90 days, even though you may see benefits in as little as a few weeks.

How to Order Keravita Pro

If you’re ready to improve the health of your skin and want to get rid of nail fungus for good, then you should head over to the official website of Keravita today. There you’ll see several purchasing options to order this incredible product:

No matter what you order, you’ll receive an instant 60-day money-back guarantee on your order. If, for any reason, you are unsatisfied with Keravita Pro, don’t see the results you desire, or are not happy. You can return your bottle of Keravita Pro and receive a full refund for your purchase – no questions asked.

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Final Thoughts

If you suffer from nail fungus, cracked and damaged nails, or frail, damaged nails, then Keravita Pro can help you.

Thousands of people have already seen results with this product, and you can too. Visit the official website today and order your package today!

People Also Read: Okinawa Flat Belly Tonic Features & Benefits

Affiliate Disclosure:

The links contained in this product review may result in a small commission if you opt to purchase the product recommended at no additional cost to you. This goes towards supporting our research and editorial team and please know we only recommend high quality products.

Disclaimer:

Please understand that any advice or guidelines revealed here are not even remotely a substitute for sound medical advice from a licensed healthcare provider. Make sure to consult with a professional physician before making any purchasing decision if you use medications or have concerns following the review details shared above. Individual results may vary as the statements made regarding these products have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The efficacy of these products has not been confirmed by FDA-approved research. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

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Children's immune response more effective against COVID-19 -- ScienceDaily

How meningitis-causing bacteria may sense fever to avoid immune killing — ScienceDaily

  • April 30, 2021

Researchers at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden have discovered a mechanism through which meningitis-causing bacteria can evade our immune system. In laboratory tests, they found that Streptococcus pneumoniae and Haemophilus influenzae respond to increasing temperatures by producing safeguards that keep them from getting killed. This may prime their defenses against our immune system and increase their chances of survival, the researchers say. The findings are published in the journal PLoS Pathogens.

“This discovery helps to increase our understanding of the mechanisms these bacteria use to evade our normal immune defenses,” says co-corresponding author Edmund Loh, researcher in the Department of Microbiology, Tumor and Cell Biology at Karolinska Institutet. “It could be an important piece of the puzzle in examining what turns this usually harmless bacterium into a lethal killer.”

Meningitis is an inflammation of the membranes surrounding the brain and the spinal cord. It can be caused by viruses, bacteria, fungi and parasites.

Bacterial meningitis is one of the most severe types and a major cause of death and disability in children worldwide. Several kinds of bacteria can cause the infection, including the respiratory pathogens Streptococcus pneumoniae and Haemophilus influenzae, which can be attributed to some 200,000 meningitis-caused deaths annually.

These two bacteria often reside in the nose and throat of healthy people without making them ill. In some cases they spread into the bloodstream and cause invasive diseases, but the reasons for this remain largely unknown.

In this study, the researchers set out to investigate the connection between temperature changes and survival of these bacteria in a laboratory setting. The experiments were prompted by another recent finding that linked the temperature sensing abilities of the bacterium N. meningitidis to invasive meningococcal disease.

One of the signs of an infection is elevated temperatures and fever, which typically boost our immune system’s ability to fight illness. In this study, however, the researchers found that both S. pneumoniae and H. influenzae activated stronger immune protections when challenged with higher temperatures.

They did so through mechanisms involving four specific so-called RNA thermosensors (RNATs), which are temperature-sensitive non-coding RNA molecules. These RNATs helped boost the production of bigger protective capsules and immune modulatory Factor H binding proteins, both of which help shield these bacteria from immune system attacks.

“Our results indicate that these temperature sensing RNATs create an additional layer of protection that helps the bacteria colonize their normal habitat in the nose and throat,” says the paper’s first author Hannes Eichner, PhD student at the same department. “Interestingly, we saw that these RNATs do not possess any sequence similarity, but all retain the same thermosensing ability, which indicates that these RNATs have evolved independently to sense the same temperature cue in the nasopharynx to avoid immune killing.”

More research is needed to understand exactly what triggers these pathogens to breach from the mucous membrane into the bloodstream and further into the brain. Future studies encompassing in vivo infection model are warranted to characterize the role of these RNATs during colonization and invasion, the researchers say.

The work was supported by grants from the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation, the Swedish Foundation for Strategic Research, the Swedish Research Council, the Stockholm County Council and Karolinska Institutet.

Story Source:

Materials provided by Karolinska Institutet. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Covid-19 news: Prior infection boosts response to single Pfizer jab

Covid-19 news: Prior infection boosts response to single Pfizer jab

  • April 30, 2021
Pfizer vaccine

A nurse prepares a syringe with a dose of the Pfizer-BioNtech Covid-19 vaccine.

FRED TANNEAU/AFP via Getty Images

Latest coronavirus news as of 5pm on 30 April

Single dose of Pfizer vaccine may not generate sufficient immune response against coronavirus variants

Most people in the UK who have received a coronavirus vaccine have so far only gotten a single dose, which may not produce a sufficient immune response against new variants if the person hasn’t already had covid-19. 

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Danny Altmann at Imperial College London and his team studied blood samples from UK healthcare workers who had either received one dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, previously been infected with the coronavirus or both. They found that people who had previously had a mild or asymptomatic infection produced a stronger neutralising antibody response against the B.1.1.7 and B.1.351 variants after a single dose of vaccine, compared to people who hadn’t previously been infected but who had received one dose of vaccine. 

This suggests that people who have had their first dose of vaccine, and haven’t had a prior coronavirus infection, may not be fully protected against these variants, said Altmann at a press briefing on 30 April. “For a country like the UK, which has the majority of its vaccinated people on one dose and also has an eye on the horizon for variants of concern, that’s a potential vulnerability,” said Altmann. He said it will therefore be important to ensure that people in the UK get their second dose of vaccine. The results are published in the scientific journal Science.

Other coronavirus news

Coronavirus infections in England have fallen for the third consecutive week, according to the latest results from a random swab testing survey by the Office for National Statistics. An estimated one in 1010 people were infected in England in the week up to 24 April, down from one in 610 the previous week. “This continued decline is good news and should be celebrated,” said Rowland Kao at the University of Edinburgh in a statement. But Kao said it will be important to continue monitoring infections as it may still be too early to see the impact of easing restrictions and of new coronavirus variants on infections. In Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales the estimated incidences of infection during the same period were one in 940, one in 640 and one in 570 respectively. 

On 29 April, the UK’s medicines regulator released data on the incidence of a rare blood clotting disorder in people who received the Oxford/AstraZeneca covid-19 vaccine across different age groups. As of 21 April, there had been 23 cases among people aged 18 to 29, 27 cases among people aged 30 to 39, 30 among those aged 40 to 49, 59 cases in people aged 50 to 59 and 58 cases among people 60 and older. In total there had been 209 cases, including 41 deaths, among about 22 million people who had received a dose of the vaccine by the same point in time. It emphasised that the benefits of the vaccine continue to outweigh the risks in the majority of people.

All people over the age of 40 in England are now being invited to book covid-19 vaccine appointments. More than 34 million people across the UK had received a first dose of a covid-19 vaccine as of 29 April, and more than 14 million people about 20 per cent of the UK population had received two doses.

Coronavirus deaths

The worldwide covid-19 death toll has passed 3.16 million. The number of confirmed cases is more than 150.6 million, according to Johns Hopkins University, though the true number of cases will be much higher. According to Our World In Data, more than 587.6 million people globally have received at least one dose of a covid-19 vaccine.

Essential information about coronavirus

Everything you need to know about the pandemic

Where did coronavirus come from? And other covid-19 questions answered

What is covid-19?

You could be spreading the coronavirus without realising you’ve got it

What will it take to get a covid-19 vaccine to the world?

Covid-19: The story of a pandemic

What to read, watch and listen to about coronavirus

New Scientist Weekly features updates and analysis on the latest developments in the covid-19 pandemic. Our podcast sees expert journalists from the magazine discuss the biggest science stories to hit the headlines each week – from technology and space, to health and the environment.

The Jump is a BBC radio 4 series exploring how viruses can cross from animals into humans to cause pandemics. The first episode examines the origins of the covid-19 pandemic.

Why Is Covid Killing People of Colour? is a BBC documentary, which investigates what the high covid-19 death rates in ethnic minority patients reveal about health inequality in the UK.

Panorama: The Race for a Vaccine is a BBC documentary about the inside story of the development of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine against covid-19.

Race Against the Virus: Hunt for a Vaccine is a Channel 4 documentary which tells the story of the coronavirus pandemic through the eyes of the scientists on the frontline.

The New York Times is assessing the progress in development of potential drug treatments for covid-19, and ranking them for effectiveness and safety.

Humans of COVID-19 is a project highlighting the experiences of key workers on the frontline in the fight against coronavirus in the UK, through social media.

Belly Mujinga: Searching for the Truth is a BBC Panorama investigation of the death of transport worker Belly Mujinga from covid-19, following reports she had been coughed and spat on by a customer at London’s Victoria Station.

Coronavirus, Explained on Netflix is a short documentary series examining the coronavirus pandemic, the efforts to fight it and ways to manage its mental health toll.

COVID-19: The Pandemic that Never Should Have Happened, and How to Stop the Next One by Debora Mackenzie is about how the pandemic happened and why it will happen again if we don’t do things differently in future.

The Rules of Contagion is about the new science of contagion and the surprising ways it shapes our lives and behaviour. The author, Adam Kucharski, is an epidemiologist at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, UK, and in the book he examines how diseases spread and why they stop.

Previous updates

Feet on a scale

Feet standing on a weighing scale.

wutwhanfoto/Getty Images

29 April

Higher BMI linked to increased risk of severe covid-19, particularly in younger people

An analysis of health records from almost 7 million people in England indicates that increases in body mass index (BMI) are associated with increased risk of severe outcomes with covid-19, including hospitalisation, intensive care unit admission and death. The study, published in The Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology, found that the association was strongest for younger adults under 40 and stronger among Black people compared to white people. The risk of severe disease increased as BMI went up among those with a BMI of 23 or above. According to the NHS, a BMI of 25 or above is considered overweight and a BMI of 30 or above is in the obese range. Age remains the biggest risk factor for developing severe covid-19 and dying from it. 

The findings add to growing evidence that excess body weight is a risk factor for severe covid-19, said Naveed Sattar at the University of Glasgow, UK, in a statement. “Whether the findings mean people who are living with obesity should get vaccines earlier should be looked at by relevant authorities,” said Sattar. “The more important question is whether helping people lose weight will lessen their chances of severe complications in subsequent waves. The overwhelming evidence, aided by this study, suggests this would be the case.”

Other coronavirus news

The European Union parliament approved a proposal for a temporary “EU covid-19 certificate” to prove that a person has been vaccinated against covid-19, recovered from the disease or recently tested negative for the coronavirus. It said EU countries “should ensure universal, accessible, timely and free of charge testing” to avoid discrimination against unvaccinated individuals. The UK and other countries are also considering the use of so-called vaccine passports. In February, Israel rolled out a green pass in the form of a QR code that people can present as proof they have been vaccinated, which some businesses and places of worship ask for as a condition of entry. However, concerns remain about how long protection from vaccines will last and whether boosters will be necessary.

Pfizer and BioNTech plan to apply for EU approval of their covid-19 vaccine for use in children aged 12 to 15 next week. The vaccine has already been approved for such use in the US. 

India reported 379,257 new coronavirus cases on 29 April and 3645 new deaths from covid-19, a new record for deaths in a single day. Elections in India are going ahead despite the current crisis

Turkey will enter its first full nationwide lockdown in the evening of 29 April in an effort to combat rising coronavirus cases. 

Coronavirus deaths

The worldwide covid-19 death toll has passed 3.15 million. The number of confirmed cases is more than 149.7 million, according to Johns Hopkins University, though the true number of cases will be much higher. According to Our World In Data, more than 577.8 million people globally have received at least one dose of a covid-19 vaccine.

Latest on coronavirus from New Scientist

Measuring immunity: Researchers are searching for a simple measure of the entire immune response that tells you whether somebody is protected against covid-19, in order to develop a true immunity test.

Lockdown impact: As some parts of Australia see a delayed surge of respiratory disease in children, there are concerns that young immune systems may be suffering due to lockdowns and social distancing.

funeral pyres India

Funeral pyres burn as the last rites are performed of the patients who died of the Covid-19 coronavirus at a cremation ground in Allahabad

SANJAY KANOJIA/AFP via Getty Images

28 April

Covid-19 deaths in India exceed 200,000

India continues to be engulfed by its second wave of covid-19, with cumulative deaths hitting a sobering milestone of 201,187. The country is fourth only to Mexico, Brazil and the United States for the highest numbers of deaths.

India again broke a global record for the highest number of cases in a day, with 360,960 reported in the past 24 hours. The figures are believed to be an underestimate, despite ramped-up testing. Hospitals and crematoriums are still struggling with the surge, with reports of oxygen shortages continuing despite aid by companies and other countries.

Doctors in an open letter in the BMJ journal today said that “mass gatherings need to stop urgently” in India, and the country’s government should consider whether to delay elections in favour of a lockdown. The authors said the “scale of need is almost immeasurable”.

In response to the crisis, the Indian government today opened registrations for everyone aged 18 and up to receive vaccination doses from Saturday. India has lagged behind other countries in the roll-out of its vaccination programme, with just 10.5 vaccine does given per 100 people, compared to 18.7 in Brazil and 69.3 in the UK. 

Other coronavirus news

India’s surge is driving the pandemic’s growth, with the World Health Organization reporting new cases have now increased worldwide for the ninth week in a row. Nearly 5.7 million new cases were reported last week, and more than 87,000 deaths, according to a new WHO report.

Vaccination programmes continue to create international tensions. Yesterday Brazil’s health regulator rejected imports of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine, on the grounds there was a lack of data on its safety and efficacy. That sparked an angry response from Russia’s sovereign wealth fund, which markets the vaccine – the Russian Direct Investment Fund called the decision “politically motivated.”

The EU had more positive news, with European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen today announcing a new contract with Pfizer/BioNTech would be agreed in the “next few days” to deliver 1.8 billion doses between 2021 and 2023. The UK has also ordered 60 million more doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine in preparation for a booster programme in the autumn. The European Commission took the step this week of starting legal action against AstraZeneca over the rate at which it has supplied vaccines.

Meanwhile, new research published today by Public Health England found one dose of either the Pfizer or AstraZeneca vaccine reduced household transmission of covid-19 by between 40 and 50 per cent. The cut in transmission was detected at 14 days after vaccination, and follows “real world” evidence of how effectively the vaccines cut symptomatic infection and severe illness. The UK government also confirmed a National Health Service covid-19 app will be used for international travellers to demonstrate their testing and vaccination status.  

Coronavirus deaths

The worldwide covid-19 death toll has passed 3.13 million. The number of confirmed cases is more than 148.8 million, according to Johns Hopkins University, though the true number of cases will be much higher. 

coronavirus india

Patients breath with the help of oxygen masks inside a banquet hall converted into a Covid-19 ward in New Delhi.

Money Sharma/AFP via Getty Images

27 April

Ventilators and oxygen concentrators arrive in India from the UK

International aid has started arriving in India, including a flight from the UK carrying vital medical supplies. Ventilators and oxygen concentrators from the UK landed in Delhi on 27 April but India is still in need of far more supplies, with many hospitals overwhelmed with covid-19 patients amid a devastating second wave. Six oxygen containers will be flown to India from Dubai on 27 April, and the US and European Commission have both said they would send oxygen and medicine. Zarir Udwadia, a health adviser to the government in India, told the BBC’s Today programme he is currently seeing “ward after ward full of patients struggling to breathe”. Udwadia said that during the crisis demand for covid-19 vaccines in India has risen, with long lines of people outside medical centres trying to get shots. On 26 April, the Biden administration said that the US will share up to 60 million doses from its Oxford/AstraZeneca covid-19 vaccine supply globally as they become available. India expects to secure the majority of the doses, two Indian government sources told Reuters.

India reported 323,144 new coronavirus cases on 27 April, down only slightly from a peak of 352,991 the previous day. In Delhi, makeshift pyres are being constructed in crematoriums as the city is running out of space to cremate its dead. Delhi reported 380 deaths on 26 April, although the true figures are likely to be significantly higher. An investigation by broadcaster NDTV found at least 1150 additional deaths that were not included in Delhi’s official tally in the week up to 24 April.

Other coronavirus news

Weekly deaths from covid-19 across England and Wales have fallen to their lowest level since October, according to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics. There were 362 deaths mentioning covid-19 on the death certificate in the week up to 16 April, a decrease from 345 the previous week. It is the lowest number of weekly covid-19 deaths recorded in England and Wales since the week ending 2 October, when 321 deaths were recorded. “This emphasises the impact of vaccines on covid-19 deaths,” said Kevin McConway at the Open University in the UK in a statement. More than 33.7 million people across the UK had received a first dose of a covid-19 vaccine as of 26 April and more than 12.8 million people had received two doses of vaccine.

The B.1.617 coronavirus variant first identified in India has been detected in Fiji. The country has managed to avoid significant community transmission of the coronavirus so far, recording a total of 109 cases and two deaths among its population of about 930,000 people. But James Fong, Fiji’s health secretary, warned that the presence of the new variant could result in a “tsunami” of cases. Fiji, the Philippines and Australia are among the latest countries to announce restrictions on travel from India.

All people aged 42 and over in England are now able to book covid-19 vaccination appointments, in a further extension of the vaccine rollout.

Coronavirus deaths

The worldwide covid-19 death toll has passed 3.12 million. The number of confirmed cases is more than 147.9 million, according to Johns Hopkins University, though the true number of cases will be much higher. According to Our World In Data, more than 562.3 million people globally have received at least one dose of a covid-19 vaccine.

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Previous updates

Coronavirus india

A patient wearing an oxygen mask looks on as his wife holds a battery-operated fan while waiting inside an auto-rickshaw to enter a COVID-19 hospital for treatment, amidst the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Ahmedabad, India, April 25, 2021.

REUTERS/Amit Dave

26 April

Countries deploy medical supplies to India amid critical oxygen shortages

Foreign governments are deploying resources to India in an effort to help the country cope with oxygen shortages amid surging coronavirus infections, hospitalisations and deaths. India reported a record increase in daily new coronavirus cases for the fifth consecutive day on 26 April, with a rise of 352,991 cases. The UK has begun sending ventilators and oxygen concentrator devices to India, and the US and European Commission both said they planned to send oxygen and medicine. European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said the commission was “pooling resources to respond rapidly to India’s request for assistance”. Neighbouring Pakistan is also sharing medical equipment and supplies. 

The director of India’s Institute of Medical Sciences has appealed to people not to hoard medical supplies in private homes. “Hoarding of injections like remdesivir and oxygen in homes is creating a panic and this hoarding is causing a shortage of these medicines,” Randeep Guleria said in a statement released by India’s ministry of health on 25 April. 

On 24 April, Twitter confirmed it had complied with requests from India’s government to censor 52 tweets, many of which were critical of its handling of the country’s second wave. The move prompted further criticism of the government on social media.

Other coronavirus news

The European Union has launched legal action against AstraZeneca, which it alleges breached a contract concerning its supply of covid-19 vaccines to the bloc. “The European Commission has started last Friday legal action against the company AstraZeneca on the basis of breach of the advanced purchase agreement,” said a spokesperson from the European Commission on 26 April. In response, AstraZeneca said it “has fully complied with the advance purchase agreement with the European Commission and will strongly defend itself in court”.

All people aged between 35 and 39 are now eligible for covid-19 vaccination in Northern Ireland. In England, the covid-19 vaccine rollout has been extended to all 44-year-olds. Across the UK, more than 33.6 million people had received a first dose of covid-19 vaccine as of 25 April and more than 12.5 million people had received two doses of vaccine. The gap in covid-19 vaccine uptake between white people and people from ethnic minority groups in England remains but has fallen slightly in recent months, the Financial Times reported. 

On 23 April, France became the first country to donate covid-19 vaccine doses from its domestic supply to the World Health Organization-led COVAX platform, a global platform for sharing vaccines equitably.

Coronavirus deaths

The worldwide covid-19 death toll has passed 3.11 million. The number of confirmed cases is more than 147.2 million, according to Johns Hopkins University, though the true number of cases will be much higher. According to Our World In Data, more than 555.1 million people globally have received at least one dose of a covid-19 vaccine.

Latest on coronavirus from New Scientist

India’s Oxygen Express: “Oxygen Express” trains are re-routing supplies across India to meet a severe shortage of medical-grade oxygen, as the country’s coronavirus cases hit a record peak for the fifth day in a row.

Malaria and covid-19: Efforts to make malaria history have had huge success in recent years, although the covid-19 pandemic has threatened existing anti-malarial interventions in Africa. Now, there’s hope that a long-awaited malaria vaccine can go the last mile.

People wait to cross a street before a screen showing Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga speaking during a press conference to announce a new coronavirus state of emergency covering Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto and Hyogo regions, in Tokyo on April 23, 2021. (Photo by Philip FONG / AFP) (Photo by PHILIP FONG/AFP via Getty Images)

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga speaking during a press conference to announce a new coronavirus state of emergency covering Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto and Hyogo regions.

PHILIP FONG/AFP via Getty Images

23 April

Japan to declare a state of emergency in big cities to try to halt a rise in cases ahead of the Olympics

With coronavirus case numbers rising three months before the Olympics are due to begin, Japan will declare a state of emergency in big cities including Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto between 25 April and 11 May. This will allow the government to impose restrictions such as a ban on the sale of alcohol at all venues and the closure of many entertainment venues such as cinemas. People will be asked to work from home but schools will remain open. The restrictions cover the Golden Week holiday period when many people usually travel.

“If the Olympics are really going to be held in July, I think the infections need to settle down by late May or early June,” Haruka Sakamoto, a public health researcher at the University of Tokyo told the The Japan Times. “Therefore, the government is making stronger interventions relatively early on.”

Japan has been more successful at limiting the spread of the virus than many other countries. It has reported around 550,000 cases and 10,000 deaths, compared with 4.4 million cases and 130,000 deaths in the UK. It is currently reporting 36 cases per million people per day, compared with 37 in the UK, 200 in India, 250 in Germany and 700 in Turkey. However, new variants are spreading despite some local restrictions imposed after another state of emergency ended earlier this year. 

Other coronavirus news

Australia is imposing a three-day lockdown in Perth and the adjoining Peel region after a person who tested positive for covid-19 visited various sites in the region. The individual had been in hotel quarantine and tested negative at the end of it. But another test done five days later was positive.

A single dose of either the Oxford/AstraZeneca or Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine reduces the risk of infection by two-thirds, according to an analysis of the test results of 350,000 people in the UK in the past few months. From 21 days after the dose, people were 57 per cent less likely to get asymptomatic infections and 72 per cent less likely to get symptomatic infections compared with those who had not been vaccinated.

India has reported 332,730 new daily coronavirus cases, setting a new global record for a second successive day. Hospitals in New Delhi are pleading with the government for more oxygen supplies and saying they may not be able to admit new patients.

Some mass vaccination sites in the US are being closed down as demand falls, according to The New York Times. More than half of adults in the US have now had at least one vaccine dose. “We got about 50 per cent of our people vaccinated,” the chief public health officer in Galveston County, Texas, told the paper. “We recognise that next 25 per cent is going to be a lot harder than the first.”

Coronavirus deaths

The worldwide covid-19 death toll has passed 3.08 million. The number of confirmed cases is more than 144.9 million, according to Johns Hopkins University, though the true number of cases will be much higher. According to Our World In Data, more than 534 million people globally have received at least one dose of a covid-19 vaccine.

Latest on coronavirus from New Scientist

Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine researchers have developed a malaria vaccine shown to be 77 per cent effective in trials – the highest level ever achieved – offering hope of controlling a disease that kills an estimated 400,000 people each year.

india Covid surge

Nigambodh Ghat crematorium during the cremation of multiple Covid-19 victims, on April 21, 2021 in New Delhi, India.

Amal KS/Hindustan Times/Shutterstock

22 April

The 314,835 new cases reported by India on Thursday is the highest daily rate ever in any country

India reported 314,835 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, the highest daily number reported by any country since the pandemic began. According to the New York Times, the previous record was 300,669, reported by the US on 8 January. The true number of cases could be 20 to 30 times higher than the reported figures, meaning up to 9 million people are being infected in India every day. Last week, Gautam Menon at Ashoka University in India told New Scientist that he expected case numbers to keep increasing for another two or three weeks at least.

While India’s reported case numbers are the highest in the world, in terms of reported cases per million people it is only now overtaking countries such as the US, Germany and Canada, with around 200 cases per million per day. Turkey is reporting more than 700 cases per million per day, and Cyprus nearly 900. In October and January, Czechia reported around 1200 per million per day.

Other coronavirus news

The global scheme for sharing vaccines equitably, Covax, has so far delivered only a fifth of the doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine it estimated countries would have by May, according to an analysis by the Guardian newspaper. Some countries, such as Bangladesh and Pakistan, have not received any doses via Covax so far. The problem is that the Serum Institute of India has produced fewer vaccine doses than it projected, which it blames on US export bans on key ingredients. India has also restricted vaccine exports as case numbers surge.

Covid-19 is no longer the leading cause of death in England and Wales, according to the UK’s Office of National Statistics. In England, 10 per cent of deaths in March were due to dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. In Wales, 12 per cent of deaths were due to heart diseases. Covid-19 caused only 9 per cent of deaths in both nations. Case numbers continue to fall in England, according to Public Health England.

A study claiming that smokers are 23 per cent less likely to get covid-19 than non-smokers has been retracted by the European Respiratory Journal after it emerged that two of the authors had undeclared links with the tobacco industry. “It was brought to the editors’ attention that two of the authors had failed to disclose potential conflicts of interest,” the journal states.

covid vaccination

Julie Fletcher administers a dose of AstraZeneca/Oxford Covid-19 vaccine to housebound patient Gillian Marriott

OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images

21 April

Research shows vaccines are working well at preventing hospital admissions in UK 

Further encouraging results have emerged on the effectiveness of the coronavirus vaccines used in the UK. Only 32 people have been admitted to hospital with covid-19 more than three weeks after receiving at least one dose of either the Pfizer/BioNTech or Oxford/AstraZeneca jabs, a study has found. The research, which looked at more than 74,000 hospital admissions between September and early March, found that nearly 2000 of these people had received a covid-19 vaccine. But for the vast majority of these, the vaccine would not have had time to kick in, as the three weeks thought necessary for maximum immunity to develop had not elapsed. 

The research was carried out by the UK’s Coronavirus Clinical Characterisation Consortium. “This is really good real-world data showing that this vaccine works and that one dose works really well,” Calum Semple, a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), told Radio 4’s Today Programme. The findings are significant because most of those who received a vaccine initially were frail and elderly people, in whom the jab is expected to work less well.

Other coronavirus news

India is experiencing oxygen shortages at hospitals as covid-19 cases continue to surge. At least 22 patients died when their oxygen supply was interrupted as a result of a leak from an oxygen tanker at Zakir Hussain Hospital in Nashik, a city in the western state of Maharashtra. There has also been looting of oxygen at a hospital in Madhya Pradesh, and in the state of Haryana, oxygen tankers are being given police protection.

Vaccine hesitancy in the UK in people in their thirties has only risen slightly since authorities said the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab is linked to a rare blood clotting syndrome. A survey by the University of Stirling found 85 per cent of 30-to-40-year-olds were planning to get the vaccine, compared with 87 per cent in a previous poll.

Counterfeit Pfizer/BioNtech covid-19 vaccines have been found in Mexico and Poland, says manufacturer Pfizer. The substance in vials seized in Poland contained an anti-wrinkle treatment.

Transmission of the coronavirus has taken place within a quarantine hotel in Perth. Two guests staying in rooms opposite each other tested positive for the virus. Initially they were thought to have caught the virus abroad, but genetic testing showed they caught it at the hotel.

Latest on coronavirus from New Scientist

3 million deaths: As the world passes 3 million deaths from covid-19, New Scientist explores the pandemic’s trajectory and discovers many reasons for hope that the worst will soon be over.

20 April

Sweden adds another layer of restrictions to the AstraZeneca jab in younger people

Sweden has said people under 65 who have had an initial dose of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine should get a different jab for their second dose, due to the small chance of blood clots. France also has this rule, although there the upper age limit is 55.

Many other countries have restricted use of this vaccine to people over a certain age, as a rare syndrome of blood clots coupled with low levels of platelets – particles in the blood that stick together to form clots – has mainly been seen in younger people. The syndrome is called vaccine–induced immune thrombotic thrombocytopenia or VITT. Most other countries, however, say those who have had one dose of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine should also get the second, due to the unknown effectiveness and safety of mixing vaccine types. That would be “voyaging into an evidence-free zone,” Anthony Harnden, deputy chair of the UK’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation said in a press conference. Several trials where vaccine types are being mixed across the two doses are ongoing. 

Sweden’s move comes as the European Medicines Agency says it has found a possible link between eight cases of a similar blood clot syndrome after people in the US had the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The same mechanism may be responsible, as both the J&J and the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccines work by delivering  the coronavirus spike protein within a DNA-based adenovirus. The Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines use mRNA, a different kind of genetic material.

Other coronavirus news

The UK is to set up a taskforce to develop antiviral drugs against the coronavirus that could be taken at home by people who test positive for covid-19, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced today. Such medicines could also be taken by people who live with someone who has tested positive to prevent them catching the virus. “There might be a tablet you can take at home that will stop the virus in its tracks and reduce the likelihood of severe disease,” said Johnson. An inhaled asthma medicine called budesonide has already been found to shorten duration of illness with covid-19 if taken by people at higher risk due to age or health conditions. 

Cleaning surfaces to try to reduce coronavirus transmission is often a waste of time and may even be harmful, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). That’s because the virus is spread most often through tiny droplets in the air, rather than by people touching contaminated surfaces. The CDC’s Vincent Hill said in a briefing on Monday that frequent cleaning and disinfecting surfaces is merely “hygiene theatre” and could give people a false sense of security. There has been a long-running debate over the relative importance of airborne and surface transmission of the virus.

UK officials are visiting Israel to study the country’s covid-19 vaccine passport scheme, which is used to determine entry to venues such as gyms, restaurants and theatres. Cabinet office minister Michael Gove and England’s deputy chief medical officer Jonathan Van-Tam are investigating how coronavirus certification could work in the UK. Israel’s “green pass” scheme allows entry to people who have been vaccinated, have recently been infected with covid-19 or who have had a recent negative test. UK trials of vaccine passports are due to start next month at specific events, including the FA cup final.

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Covid-19

Coronavirus COVID-19 computer generated image.

Yuichiro Chino/Getty Images

19 April

Volunteers will be exposed to the coronavirus to learn which immune components confer protection

Young adults who have recovered from covid-19 will have live coronavirus sprayed into their noses to see whether they can be reinfected as part of a new trial. The study, which is being run by  the University of Oxford, is one of two “challenge” trials in the UK. It is designed to reveal, among other things, the elusive “correlates of protection” against SARS-CoV-2– which means the levels of antibodies, T-cells and other immune system components that are required to protect people against infection. This is currently a significant gap in our understanding of the virus, and knowing the correlates of protection could lead to even more rapid vaccine development. That’s because some vaccines are approved based on whether they elicit these measures of protection, bypassing lengthy clinical trials. The other study, using volunteers who have not had covid-19, is already under way at Imperial College London.

Other coronavirus news

More people were diagnosed with covid-19 during the past seven days than any other week since the start of the pandemic, totalling more than 5.2 million globally for the week. The infection count was 12 per cent higher than the previous week. 

The Russian-made Sputnik V vaccine has shown efficacy of 97.6 per cent in real-world data from 3.8 million people who have received two doses, according to the Gamaleya National Center of Epidemiology and Microbiology in Moscow. The results have not yet been published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.

A week-long lockdown has been imposed in Delhi, India. Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal said the measures were necessary to “prevent a collapse of the health system”. India’s rate of new infections is continuing to climb, with over 270,000 cases and 1619 deaths reported today. The UK will add India to the “red list” for travel from Friday, and prime minister Boris Johnson has cancelled a planned trip to India next week because of the country’s coronavirus situation.

Health officials in the UK are investigating whether a covid-19 variant first found in India spreads more easily and evades vaccines, after more than 70 cases were identified in England and Scotland.

The World Health Organization’s Emergency Committee has recommended that proof of vaccination should not be required as a condition of international travel. The panel cited limited evidence on whether vaccination against covid-19 reduces people’s ability to transmit the virus and “the persistent inequity in global vaccine distribution”.

Everyone aged 16 and over is now eligible for a vaccine in the US, president Joe Biden announced on Twitter. Almost 130 million people – just over half of adults in the US – have now had at least one covid-19 vaccine dose. The nationwide suspension of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is likely to end by Friday, White House chief medical adviser Anthony Fauci told ABC News.

Climate change activist Greta Thunberg says her foundation will donate 100,000 euros to COVAX, the global initiative aiming to ensure vaccines are shared fairly between rich and poor nations.

Coronavirus deaths
As of 16 April, the worldwide covid-19 death toll has passed 2.98 million. The number of confirmed cases is more than 139.2 million, according to Johns Hopkins University, though the true number of cases will be much higher. According to Our World In Data, more than 478.1 million people globally have received at least one dose of a covid-19 vaccine.

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People sit in a restaurant on the roof of the Selfridges department store on Oxford street, as the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) restrictions ease

REUTERS/Henry Nicholls

16 April

An estimated one in 480 people in England had covid-19 in the week up to 10 April

Coronavirus infections in England have fallen to their lowest level since September, according to the latest results of a random swab testing survey by the Office for National Statistics. An estimated one in 480 people in communities in England had covid-19 in the week up to 10 April, down from about one in 340 the previous week. It is the lowest prevalence rate recorded since the week up to 24 September, during which an estimated one in 500 people had covid-19. Equivalent prevalence estimates for Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales were one in 500, one in 710 and one in 920 people, respectively, during the week up to 10 April. 

These numbers for England are “encouraging”, said James Naismith at the University of Oxford in a statement. “The lockdown has worked as expected as has the vaccination campaign,” he said, adding that robust testing and sequencing to identify coronavirus variant cases remain vital.

A total of 77 cases of a new coronavirus variant first detected in India were recorded in the UK as of 14 April, according to Public Health England. The new variant, called B.1.617, contains two types of mutation, each of which have been found separately in other coronavirus variants. These mutations may make the variant more infectious and boost its ability to escape the body’s immune responses.

Other coronavirus news

The world is seeing a “worrying” rise in coronavirus infections, World Health Organization director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on 16 April. “Globally, the number of new cases per week has nearly doubled over the past two months. This is approaching the highest rate of infection that we have seen so far during the pandemic,” he said at a briefing. More than 139.2 million coronavirus cases have been confirmed worldwide since the start of the pandemic, with the global covid-19 death toll approaching 3 million, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Pfizer’s CEO, Albert Bourla, has said it is likely that people will need a third covid-19 vaccine dose within six to 12 months after they are first vaccinated, with a requirement for annual jabs also a possibility. “Variants will play a key role,” he said.

Germany’s chancellor Angela Merkel urged lawmakers on 16 April to approve new powers that would enable her to impose coronavirus lockdowns and curfews on areas with high infection rates. Daily new case numbers in Germany are rapidly approaching those seen during the peak of its second wave in January.

Coronavirus deaths

The worldwide covid-19 death toll has passed 2.98 million. The number of confirmed cases is more than 139.2 million, according to Johns Hopkins University, though the true number of cases will be much higher. According to Our World In Data, more than 478.1 million people globally have received at least one dose of a covid-19 vaccine.

Virus Outbreak Tokyo Olympics, Suita, Japan - 14 Apr 2021 The last Olympic torch relay runner for the Osaka leg concludes the event in Suita, north of Osaka, western Japan

Virus Outbreak Tokyo Olympics, Suita, Japan – 14 Apr 2021 The last Olympic torch relay runner for the Osaka leg concludes the event in Suita, north of Osaka, western Japan

Hiro Komae/AP/Shutterstock

15 April

As Japan battles fourth wave of infections, official says cancelling the Olympics is still an option

An official from Japan’s ruling party has said that cancelling the Olympics, scheduled to take place in Tokyo at the end of July, remains an option and will depend on the coronavirus situation. “If it seems impossible [to host the Olympics] anymore, then we have to stop it, decisively,” Toshihiro Nikai, a member of Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party, told broadcaster TBS. He added: “If the Olympics were to spread infection, then what are the Olympics for?” Government and organising officials have previously said the postponed event would go ahead, but without international spectators.

The fresh doubts about hosting the Olympics come as Japan is grappling with a fourth wave of coronavirus infections. Japan’s western region of Osaka reported a record daily increase of 1099 infections on 13 April, with the surge thought to be driven largely by the B.1.1.7 coronavirus variant first identified in the UK. “The situation, with pressure on hospital beds, is severe. I have a strong sense of crisis about it,” Japan’s economy minister, Yasutoshi Nishimura, who is overseeing the country’s pandemic response, told Reuters.

Other coronavirus news

Approximately 4.7 million people were waiting for routine operations and procedures in England in February, which is the highest number since 2007, according to NHS England figures. Almost 388,000 people had been waiting for more than a year for a non-urgent surgery compared with just 1600 people before the pandemic. “We’re going to make sure that we give the NHS all the funding that it needs – as we’ve done throughout the pandemic to beat the backlog,” said UK prime minister Boris Johnson during a visit to Britannia Royal Naval College in Dartmouth on 15 April. NHS England recently announced a £1 billion fund to go towards helping trusts to restore operations and other services.

The number of positive coronavirus tests in England fell by 34 per cent in the week up to 7 April, according to the latest figures from NHS Test and Trace. 19,196 people tested positive for the virus, continuing a downward trend in positive tests observed since the week up to 6 January, NHS Test and Trace said in its report. 

Mass testing for the B.1.351 coronavirus variant, first identified in South Africa, is being carried out in six London boroughs as well as in parts of Smethwick in the West Midlands in England, after a new case was detected there.

More than 200,000 new coronavirus cases were reported in India on 15 April, the highest daily case rate in the country since the pandemic began. Some hospitals, including those in the state of Maharashtra, have reported shortages of beds and oxygen supplies. India’s second wave of infections appears to be driven mainly by the more transmissible B.1.1.7 coronavirus variant.

Coronavirus deaths

The worldwide covid-19 death toll has passed 2.97 million. The number of confirmed cases is more than 138.4 million, according to Johns Hopkins University, though the true number of cases will be much higher. According to Our World In Data, more than 468 million people globally have received at least one dose of a covid-19 vaccine.

Latest on coronavirus from New Scientist

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People rest in the waiting area after receiving the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine at a vaccination centre in Salisbury Cathedral

NEIL HALL/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

14 April

A single dose of Pfizer or AstraZeneca covid-19 vaccine produced strong immune responses among over-80s in a preliminary study

Both the Pfizer/BioNTech and Oxford/AstraZeneca covid-19 vaccines produced a strong immune response after a single dose in people aged over 80 in a preliminary study. It showed that 93 per cent of people had produced coronavirus-specific antibodies after receiving the Pfizer vaccine and 87 per cent of people after receiving the AstraZeneca jab. This was the first study to compare the performance of the two vaccines.

Those who received the AstraZeneca vaccine showed a greater T-cell response, which forms another important arm of the body’s immune response to viruses. Just 12 per cent of people who had the Pfizer vaccine developed T-cells against the coronavirus spike protein compared with 31 per cent of those who had received the AstraZeneca jab. 

Overall immune responses were much higher in people who had previously had covid-19, compared with those who hadn’t. The study was carried out by Helen Parry at the University of Birmingham, UK, and her colleagues who analysed immune responses in a group of 165 volunteers aged 80 and over, each of whom had received a single dose of either the Pfizer or AstraZeneca vaccine five to six weeks earlier. 

Other coronavirus news

The US, the European Union and South Africa are pausing rollouts of the Johnson & Johnson covid-19 vaccine, following a small number of reports of rare blood clots in people who had received it. In the US, six cases of rare blood clots had been reported among 6.8 million people who had received the vaccine as of 13 April. The European Medicines Agency (EMA) said it is working closely with the US Food and Drug Administration and other international regulators to investigate all the cases reported and it expects to issue a recommendation next week. “While its review is ongoing, EMA remains of the view that the benefits of the vaccine in preventing COVID-19 outweigh the risks of side effects,” it said in a statement on 14 April. 

Denmark has become the first country to completely stop using the AstraZeneca vaccine, after the EMA concluded on 7 April that unusual blood clotting events should be listed as very rare side effects of the vaccine. However, the country’s health agency has not ruled out the possibility of resuming use of the vaccine in future if another wave of infections hits. Several European countries suspended use of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine in March over blood clot concerns, but many have since resumed use of the vaccine for certain age groups.

About half of people in the UK may have antibodies against the coronavirus. An estimated 54.9 per cent of people in England had antibodies against the coronavirus in the week up to 28 March, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). The equivalent proportions for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland were 46 per cent, 49.1 per cent and 54.5 per cent, respectively. “There is a clear pattern between vaccination and testing positive for COVID-19 antibodies but the detection of antibodies alone is not a precise measure of the immunity protection given by vaccination,” the ONS said in its report.

Coronavirus deaths
The worldwide covid-19 death toll has passed 2.96 million. The number of confirmed cases is more than 137.5 million, according to Johns Hopkins University, though the true number of cases will be much higher. According to Our World In Data, more than 459.7 million people globally have received at least one dose of a covid-19 vaccine.

Latest on coronavirus from New Scientist

Back to the office: Returning to work in offices brings concerns over office socialising and using public transport, but working together brings mental health benefits too.

Staying safe indoors: Good ventilation is one of the most effective measures offices can take to stop the spread of coronavirus, while relying on people to change their behaviour should be a last resort.

Rare clot concerns: Johnson & Johnson covid-19 vaccines have been paused in the US after rare reports of blood clots, similar to those linked with the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine in other countries. Could the cause of the clots be the same?

India’s second wave: India’s daily coronavirus cases are currently the highest in the world, with modelling suggesting the country’s total tally could be close to 450 million.

See previous updates from March 2021, February 2021, January 2021, November/December 2020, and March to November 2020.

More on these topics:

Sadhguru Offers Simple Yogic Practices To Increase Oxygen Levels Boost Immunity

Sadhguru Offers Simple Yogic Practices To Increase Oxygen Levels Boost Immunity

  • April 30, 2021

The three-minute yogic practice can be performed by anyone, including pregnant women and those suffering from chronic ailments or medical conditions like asthma, migraine, diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.

In the midst of the country’s calamitous COVID-19 crisis, Sadhguru, Founder-Isha Foundation, has offered simple yogic practices as a tool to increase oxygen levels and strengthen the body’s immunity.

With over 3 lakh cases reported in India on Wednesday, the second wave of COVID-19 infections has overwhelmed the healthcare industry, leaving many patients without proper care and treatment. Having a strong immune system and a well-functioning respiratory system is critical at this time as those infected by Covid are experiencing shortness of breath with moderate to severe symptoms of the virus.

In a video shared on Sadhguru’s YouTube channel, the founder of Isha Foundation teaches some simple yogic practices like Sashtanga, Makarasana and Simha Kriya for enhancing the oxygen levels and the immune system.

Sashtanga is an asana, or a yogic posture, in which the body is balanced on eight points in contact with the ground. “In this asana, the entire pulmonary system of the body functions in a unique way…. In this process, the forehead, chest, both hands, both knees, and the big toes touch the ground,” Sadhguru explains.

“If you follow this regimen 4-5 times a day, your oxygen levels will definitely go up. Follow this with Simha Kriya so that your immune system functions much better,” the spiritual master adds.

Simha Kriya, according to Sadhguru, strengthens one’s respiratory and immune systems, enhances lung capacity and prepares one to deal with the present crisis in a positive manner. The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs recently recommended the “powerful” Simha Kriya to its staffers.

The three-minute yogic practice can be performed by anyone, including pregnant women and those suffering from chronic ailments or medical conditions like asthma, migraine, diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.

According to a research published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine (JACM), most participants who practised Simha Kriya reported feeling more at peace, hopeful, and relaxed after the practice.

Dr PV Ramana from the Department of Neurosurgery and Spine at Seven Hills Hospital, Visakhapatnam, shared his experience of doing Simha Kriya. “I’ve been practising Simha Kriya since the COVID-19 crisis began. Regular practice of the process will lead to improvement in lung capacity, oxygen saturations and immunity. The most important benefit I experienced is reduction in mental stress. I recommend you to practice Simha Kriya regularly.”

Dr Shruti Gairola from All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), shares how Simha Kriya helped with her respiratory function. “Immediately after completing the Kriya, I felt a soothing effect. Now I feel that my respiratory tract is much clearer,” she said.

Watch the demonstration video of the Yogic Practices:

Immunity: This Expert Recommended Kadha Recipe Helps Boost Immune System

Immunity: This Expert Recommended Kadha Recipe Helps Boost Immune System

  • April 30, 2021

By now, we all know the importance of immunity for healthy living. It is the first line of defence in a human body. A strong immunity not only helps prevent several infections but also lowers the effects. Since last year (2020), experts around the world have been stressing on the importance of strong immunity system amidst the ongoing pandemic. And we are trying every way out – from yoga to healthy eating – to nourish us from within. Several ‘nuskas’ have also made their way back into our lives – kadha (or herbal tea) being the most popular one. We are resorting to various herbal concoctions made with herbs and kitchen spices for our overall health. Cinnamon, garlic, ginger, mint leaves and more – these herbs and spices are enriched with several essential nutrients and have been a part of Ayurveda for centuries. But it is always recommended to consult an expert before deciding on the dosage of the ingredients. Always remember, too much of nothing is good.

During our search for a healthy concoction, we came across this kadha recipe by celebrity nutritionist and life coach Luke Coutinho. He recently took to his Instagram handle to share a post featuring the recipe of his immunity-boosting kadha. “Make this powerful immune-boosting concoction at home. Use it for kids over 2 and everyone else to strengthen the lungs and break down mucus,” he wrote in the post.

Also Read:  

Luke Coutinho’s Immunity-Boosting Kadha Recipe:

The kadha includes one lemon, one cinnamon stick, 3-4 garlic cloves, a knob of ginger and 7-8 Tulsi leaves.

Step 1. Add all the ingredients in 2-litre water and boil (except lemon juice).

Step 2. Then simmer for 3-4 minutes.

Step 3. Squeeze lemon juice and sip it warm. You may also store it at room temperature for a day.

The celebrity nutritionist also mentioned that you may add 1 tbsp of methi seeds to boil as well. And “consume at least 250 ml twice a day,” Luke Coutinho further suggests.

Find The Post Here:

Also Read: 

About Somdatta SahaExplorer- this is what Somdatta likes to call herself. Be it in terms of food, people or places, all she craves for is to know the unknown. A simple aglio olio pasta or daal-chawal and a good movie can make her day.

Nestlé’s vitamin push is $5.8 bln placebo

Nestlé’s vitamin push is $5.8 bln placebo

  • April 30, 2021

An illustration photo shows pills in Brussels, Belgium, August 9, 2019.

Nestlé (NESN.S) is ramping up its M&A dosage. The Swiss food giant is buying brands such as Solgar and Puritan’s Pride from supplement maker The Bountiful. The desire to boost immunity during Covid-19 pepped up sales. Chief Executive Mark Schneider needs consumers to keep swallowing the hype that such pills actually work.

KKR (KKR.N) bought Bountiful from fellow private equity group Carlyle in 2017, just in time for last year’s jump in spending on vitamins and other immune-system tonics. Euromonitor estimates worldwide sales grew 7% to $116 billion. Bountiful outpaced that with 10% top-line growth in the year to September. That explains why Schneider is paying almost 17 times EBITDA for the 12 months to March. By contrast, Carlyle (CG.O) took the group private on an 8 times multiple in 2010.

Schneider will have to work hard to ensure a healthy return. Nestlé hasn’t disclosed operating profit for the brands it’s buying. However, it’s safe to assume those brands account for the lion’s share of Bountiful’s earnings, given that they make up the bulk of the U.S. group’s top-line. Assume, generously, that Nestle is swallowing all Bountiful’s operating profit, and that it grows 10% this year, in line with last year’s revenue growth. That equates to $217 million of operating profit. Ignoring any synergies and after Nestlé’s average 21% tax rate, that yields a 3% return on investment, below the 4.6% cost of capital for healthcare product groups as estimated by NYU Stern analysts.

On the plus side, the so-called “wellness trend” means consumers are happy to pay through the nose for health and beauty products. That paints Bountiful in a more attractive light – at least superficially. The scientific evidence is mixed. A 2020 study from the British Medical Journal, for example, found dietary supplement consumption was largely unnecessary.

Besides needing to convince people that they actually work, Nestlé has its work cut out persuading them its pricey pills are superior to cheaper ones. Bountiful’s sales, general and administrative expenses were almost 30% of revenue in the year to September, according to its U.S. initial public offering filing. The document also cited consumer perceptions as the top risk factor. Schneider will have to splash the cash to keep punters hooked.

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CONTEXT NEWS

– Swiss food giant Nestlé on April 30 said it had agreed to buy some health-related brands from supplement maker The Bountiful for $5.75 billion.

– The acquisition includes Nature’s Bounty, Solgar, Osteo Bi-Flex and Puritan’s Pride, as well as the company’s U.S. private label business. The brands will be integrated into Nestlé’s Health Science unit, which includes peanut-allergy treatment specialist Aimmune Therapeutics.

– Bountiful’s Pure Protein, Body Fortress and MET-Rx sports and active nutrition brands, as well as Dr. Organic and its Canadian over-the-counter business, are not included in the deal, Nestlé said.

– Bountiful is majority-owned by private equity firm KKR, which acquired a majority stake from buyout group Carlyle in 2017.

– Nestlé shares were up 0.7% at 109.88 Swiss francs at 0801 GMT on April 30.

Reuters Breakingviews is the world’s leading source of agenda-setting financial insight. As the Reuters brand for financial commentary, we dissect the big business and economic stories as they break around the world every day. A global team of about 30 correspondents in New York, London, Hong Kong and other major cities provides expert analysis in real time.

Sign up for a free trial of our full service at https://www.breakingviews.com/trial and follow us on Twitter @Breakingviews and at www.breakingviews.com. All opinions expressed are those of the authors.

How to boost your immunity against Covid 19? Try these 5 zinc-rich foods

How to boost your immunity against Covid 19? Try these 5 zinc-rich foods

  • April 30, 2021

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Best Immunity Boosting Supplements

Best Immunity Boosting Supplements

  • April 30, 2021

The cases are at an all-time high and taking precautions isn’t enough, we also need to take care of our diet and immune health.

While there are many herbs, fruits and foods that you can eat for immunity, keeping a track of it is not as easy as it seems. 

This is why we suggest you stock up on multi-vitamins and immunity supplements. Not only will these supplements make your life easier, but will also ensure you meet your daily requirements easily. 

Here are seven immunity boosting supplements that we should all stock up on. 

1. Ayurveda’s Goodness 

Ayurvedic herbs like Giloy and Ashwagandha have become increasingly popular ever since the pandemic hit us. These immunity booster capsules are formulated using Giloy, Ashwagandha, Amla and Tulsi. You can consume two tablets after breakfast per day to get the most out of these supplements. 

2. A Blend Of Science & Ayurveda 

These immunity boosting capsules provide a blend of Vitamin C, D Tulsi, Amla and Turmeric. Combining the goodness of science and Ayurveda, this supplement derives its vitamins from natural sources like strawberries, oranges and lemons. Take one or two of these capsules once a day to boost your immunity. 

3. Natural Multivitamins 

Vitamins and minerals are extremely important for boosting immunity. These naturally derived multivitamins help in improving immune functions, boost metabolism and also help in strengthening your bones. Take one or two tablets daily or as recommended by a physician for best results. 

4. Vitamin C Chewable Tablets 

These Vitamin C supplements not only provide 500 mg of Vitamin C but also come in a delicious orange flavour. Taking two of these chewable tablets will help you strengthen your immune system and fight free radicals as effectively as possible. 

5. Triple Immune Vitamin C Tablets 

Lastly, we have these immunity boosting tablets for you, enriched with Vitamin A, E, D, B6 and C. Along with these essential vitamins, it’s also infused with minerals like Zinc and Selenium. Together, all these ingredients help in boosting your body’s functions and improve immunity. 

The Bottomline 

Give your body the strength it needs with these immunity boosters. Remember to take these supplements regularly and consistently for best results. 

The last few weeks have only proved that there’s no room for slagging, so continue taking precautions and stay safe. 

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