Better Living Through Well Being
This summer brings many reasons to celebrate - that a majority of our U.S. population is now fully vaccinated (60%) , our economy is more fully opening up with people frequenting restaurants, shops and recreation centers again, and people are able to feel the joy of gathering with friends and families - yet there are still good reasons to remain vigilant in guarding against the COVID-19 disease.
Vaccination coverage is not equal across the country with some states and counties with fairly low protection, and we are still 20-25% short of reaching herd immunity. The highly transmissible and potentially lethal Delta variant has now become the dominant mutation of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus here. Efforts continue to make COVID-19 vaccinations freely available and accessible to anyone, both here in the U.S. and globally in countries where rates of protection against the virus are still very low.
In this global fast-moving society where a powerful virus can continue to migrate and mutate into more powerful variations indefinitely, no one will be completely safe until everyone is safe. The COVID-19 pandemic will not be over until it is really over, and it is within our reach, helped by science and public health wisdom, to keep it, and other yet-to-be-discovered threats, safely eradicated.
When it comes to forces of nature there are limits to what humans can do to change things, but now is a time when we can all hope that common sense will prevail, and we will each act responsibly to do what is in our power to do. Then, true healing and recovery can happen for the whole world.
Research scientists have discovered distinctive features of SARS-CoV-2-specific T-cells that can help predict patients’ recovery from severe COVID-19. These unique T-cell signatures may help them understand why some patients succumb to severe COVID-19 while others recover. In this clinical study the scientists were able to examine blood samples taken at different times during the patients’ stay in the ICU. In order to understand the cause of fatalities, they were able to compare fatal to non-fatal cases. Using a technique that distinguishes the many types of T-cells circulating in the body, the scientists found profound differences between the ICU patients’ T-cell response to the virus.
Based on these findings as outlined in the study, doctors might be able to predict the course of illness and better effect recovery from severe COVID-19. However, the scientists caution that the findings show correlations, not causes. The immune system is complex, with many moving parts and possible interactions between them. Proving the cause of fatality will require further studies.
Concerned that widespread unwillingness to receive the COVID-19 vaccine is threatening herd immunity in countries like the United States, the United Nations Institute for Training and Research has formed a public/private alliance with businesses and local government entities in a toolkit supporting local vaccine uptake promotion efforts. Vaccine hesitancy threatens to delay the resumption of the daily activities that would lead to much-needed economic recovery globally. This toolkit will help clarify what government entities can offer, from knowledge of the communities they serve, to public outreach, to event support, as well as how they can begin the public-private partnership process.
COVI-VAC, a new COVID-19 vaccine candidate created to be administered intranasally, has just completed its Phase 1 clinical trial. Early results show promise in the efficacy of this novel vaccine in the degree of its synthetic genetic match with the wild SARS-CoV-2 virus in all structural ways that matter for the immune system response, including all the proteins of the target and not just the spike protein. It will be capable of stimulating a complete, robust humoral and cell-mediated response and increased likelihood of covering variants.
New data showing the efficacy of the Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine show that a single dose generated neutralizing antibodies against a range of SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern, which increased over time, including against the increasingly prevalent and more transmissable Delta variant, the partially neutralization-resistant Beta, the Gamma variants and others, including the original strain. Data showed that T-cell responses - including CD8+ T-cells that seek out and destroy infected cells - persisted over the eight-month timeframe examined.
Other articles of interest in this TMIS eNewsletter for Summer 2021:
* New unconventional approach to carbon sequestration will help mitigate climate change by capturing carbon as a solid form and recycling it back into the earth across U.S. farmland, simultaneously addressing global warming and bolstering crops.
* Leadership consultants respond to a potential mass exodus of employees from the workplace following on the past year’s opportunity to rethink what is valuable.
* Businesses may need to step up to the challenge to meet the new hygiene expectations of post-pandemic work life.
* Global chemical company accomplishes milestone in closing the loop for a circular economy designed for recycling used plastics and also certified renewable products from bio-based feedstock.
* Trends in electric vehicle market demand more effective thermal management systems, solutions, and materials.
* ‘National Warrior Call Day’ resolution is presented to Congress.
* Aromatherapy calming mist relaxes even the most restless infants and relieves parents of stress.
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From the Front Page of TMIS News
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Chasing the Cells that Predict Death from Severe COVID-19
San Francisco, California
While vaccines are doing a remarkable job of slowing the COVID-19 pandemic, infected people can still die from severe illness and new medications to treat them have been slow to arise. What kills these patients in the end doesn't seem to be the virus itself, but an over-reaction of their immune system that leads to massive inflammation and tissue damage.
By studying a type of immune cells called T cells, a team of Gladstone scientists has uncovered fundamental differences between patients who overcome severe COVID-19 and those who succumb to it. The team, working together with researchers from UC San Francisco and Emory University, also found that dying patients harbor relatively large numbers of T cells able to infiltrate the lung, which may contribute to the extensive lung deterioration that is a hallmark of fatal COVID-19.
The findings, published in the scientific journal Cell Reports, could pave the way for new treatments. Currently, patients who are hospitalized for severe COVID-19 mostly receive dexamethasone, a drug used to reduce inflammation. "Dexamethasone has been a life saver for many patients," says Gladstone Associate Investigator Nadia Roan, PhD, a senior and corresponding author of the study. "But it is not always sufficient. Our study suggests that it may also be beneficial to directly prevent excess immune cells, including inflammatory T cells, from entering the lung and causing further damage. This approach could be a good complement to anti-inflammatory treatments for COVID-19 patients in the intensive care unit."
Vaccination and education toolkit helps companies join the fight against COVID-19
Widespread misinformation regarding COVID-19 vaccines has generated public mistrust, resulting in vaccination hesitancy around the world. In an effort to promote protective behavior and maximize the uptake of the COVID-19 vaccines that are now coming on stream, the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) has partnered with the University of Brighton, the International Social Marketing Association, and Anheuser Busch InBev (AB InBev) to publish a series of toolkits designed to support public authorities and private companies in their COVID-19 vaccination communication strategies.
"All actors, including those in the private sector, can play a role in the fight against COVID-19 by bringing their expertise to the table," said Estrella Merlos, Global Head for the Road Safety Training Initiative at UNITAR. "The challenges we now face with respect to vaccines are diverse, from how to ensure the vaccine reaches all corners of the world (and not only developed nations) to how to convince populations of its efficacy and benefits. We must overcome these obstacles to advance, as a global community, in the fight against COVID-19."
Private companies can meaningfully contribute to increasing vaccine uptake around the world if they work in close collaboration with government actors and local public health organizations. UNITAR's latest toolkit provides companies wishing to contribute to vaccination campaign efforts with guidance on how to work with local, national, and international public health organizations and government stakeholders to develop effective COVID-19 communication strategies. This is especially relevant given that trust in companies has been shown to have risen significantly during the pandemic, favorably positioning businesses to make a difference in public education efforts.
Intranasal COVID-19 vaccine demonstrates single-dose efficacy in preclinical studies, in parallel with achievement of Phase 1 clinical milestone
Farmingdale, New York
Codagenix Inc., a clinical-stage synthetic biology company pioneering a novel platform for vaccines and oncolytic virus therapies, today announced preclinical data published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS) supporting the potential safety and efficacy of COVI-VAC, the company's intranasal live-attenuated COVID-19 vaccine. The publication coincides with the completion of dosing for the vaccine's Phase 1 clinical trial, where it was demonstrated to be safe and well-tolerated. The data underscore the promise of Codagenix' novel vaccine platform, which combines codon deoptimization technology with a proven live-attenuated vaccine approach, to build rational, safe, effective and readily deployable vaccines capable of addressing pressing global health needs.
"We are very pleased to see our novel vaccine approach validated in both preclinical and clinical environments, demonstrating safety in humans and preclinical efficacy against multiple strains of COVID-19 in animal models," said J. Robert Coleman, Ph.D., Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Codagenix. "We look forward to the anticipated immunogenicity data from our Phase 1 clinical trial later this year and continued clinical development of a safe, effective and importantly accessible option for global vaccination to contribute to the end of the COVID-19 pandemic."
Codagenix' COVI-VAC vaccine was developed through the company's novel platform, which leverages machine learning and computational biology to decode the genome of naturally occurring, wild-type viral targets and determine which codon changes will produce a rationally deoptimized version of the virus without changing its amino acid sequence. The new viral genome is delivered through a live-attenuated vaccine, which presents not just spikes, but all proteins of the virus to the immune system, enabling a broad response capable of variant protection. Live-attenuated vaccines can also plug and play in existing manufacturing infrastructure for rapid scaling and global distribution.
Positive New Data for Johnson & Johnson Single-Shot COVID-19 Vaccine on Activity Against Delta Variant and Long-lasting Durability of Response
New Brunswick, New Jersey
Johnson & Johnson has announced data that demonstrated its single-shot COVID-19 vaccine generated strong, persistent activity against the rapidly spreading Delta variant and other highly prevalent SARS-CoV-2 viral variants. In addition, the data showed that the durability of the immune response lasted through at least eight months, the length of time evaluated to date. The two preprint study summaries have been submitted today to bioRxiv.
"Today's newly announced studies reinforce the ability of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine to help protect the health of people globally," said Paul Stoffels, M.D., Vice Chairman of the Executive Committee and Chief Scientific Officer at Johnson & Johnson. "We believe that our vaccine offers durable protection against COVID-19 and elicits neutralizing activity against the Delta variant. This adds to the robust body of clinical data supporting our single-shot vaccine's ability to protect against multiple variants of concern."
"Current data for the eight months studied so far show that the single-shot Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine generates a strong neutralizing antibody response that does not wane; rather, we observe an improvement over time. In addition, we observe a persistent and particularly robust, durable cellular immune response," said Mathai Mammen, M.D., Ph.D., Global Head, Janssen Research & Development, Johnson & Johnson. "With each new dataset, we build on our solid foundation of evidence that our single-shot COVID-19 vaccine plays a critical role in ending the pandemic, which continues to evolve and pose new challenges to global health."
Verde Resources Provides An Unconventional Approach To Carbon Sequestration
According to data from the Malaysian Palm Oil Board, 20.6 million tons of empty fruit bunch (EFB) was discarded by the palm oil mills of Malaysia in 2019. In Indonesia, the estimate was higher, at 59.5 million tons of discarded EFB. Most often, the waste is left to decay.
Verde Resources intends to recycle the organic waste into renewable resources. The Company recently raised $3.1 million seed funding, a significant commitment towards the green initiative. The initiative involves establishing a business office in Seattle, and a processing facility in Missouri. Verde Resources understands the importance of converting palm biomass as part of a progressive approach towards carbon sequestration and reducing greenhouse gases.
Earlier this year, Verde Resources announced the acquisition of BioFraction technology. This technology involves an advanced proprietary, modified catalytic vacuum pyrolysis, and temperature controlled thermochemical process which converts palm waste into four renewable byproducts; biochar, bio-oil, bio-syngas and wood vinegar.
When wood vinegar is applied to biochar, it activates the biochar, and when reintroduced back into the earth, the biochar becomes a sustainable form of carbon sequestration and an economical way to improve cropland. Research conducted with activated biochar during Verde Resources' pilot project in Borneo, displayed impressive results, successfully converting an acre of wasteland into an eggplant producing farm. Biochar is regarded as a resourceful soil amendment that improves soil pH, reduces erosion, improves water retention, provides a host for microbial activity and improves crop size. Environmental experts such as Mark Hertsgaard, mentions in an article published at the Yale School of The Environment, advocates that adding biochar to 10% of global croplands could sequester the equivalent of 29 billion tons of CO2.
Response to the Potential Mass Exodus of Employees from the Workplace
Marlboro, New Jersey
Loeb Leadership's Chief Talent Strategist, David Robert, recently posted two blogs in response to growing concerns from organizations about how the changing needs of employees is adversely impacting the return to the office. The blogs are striking a chord among employees, leadership and business owners alike. "The blogs are indicative of our current reality," says the Chief People Officer at one of Loeb's client organizations. "We've changed," states Robert. "Many of us have used the last year as an opportunity to rethink what is valuable to us and this will likely have real implications on the workforce. Leaders need to be prepared for resistance and a change in how their business operates."
The first blog, HOW COVID HAS CHANGED US: Rethinking the Return to Work, focuses on the need for leaders to demonstrate empathy and care as they invite their people back to the office. "The return to the office is not a logistics problem," says Robert. "It's a people paradox that needs to be balanced." Rather than focusing on solving the problem, leaders should proactively listen to their people's needs in an effort to build trust and strengthen relationships. Adding to the complexity, Loeb Leadership's recent research showed that nearly 70% of workers want to remain remote at least one day per week, suggesting that leaders may need to be more flexible and accommodating to reduce employee turnover.
The second blog, "I QUIT": Likely the Most Uttered Phrase at Workplaces Right Now, addresses the tribalism that is appearing within organizations as a result of employees and leaders trying to negotiate what the return to the office should look like. "When parties are unwilling to negotiate, the focus then becomes on winning the fight," says Robert. "What we hope to see instead is a good-faith effort on both sides to listen and understand." Our research shows that people have invested heavily in their personal and professional development over the last year, which is likely to increase the productivity and effectiveness of their team and organization. Why give them a reason to leave? How leaders act now, as it pertains to demonstrating care, welcoming employees back and the degree to which they invest in creating a culture of inclusion will have a lasting impact on worker morale, engagement, and loyalty.
Concerns About Office Cleanliness And Hygiene Measures Weigh On American Workers As Many Begin Returning To The Office
Essity, a leading global hygiene and health company, today announced the results of its "Return to Workplace" survey, conducted online on its behalf by The Harris Poll to better understand the hygiene issues that are of greatest concern to employees as they transition back to the office after more than a year of working remotely during the pandemic. In addition to providing insights on the changes in attitudes and behaviors when it comes to personal and workplace hygiene, sanitation and cleanliness, the survey specifically offers businesses a look into what people expect at work and other public places to facilitate office-wide adherence to hygiene protocols.
While "COVID fatigue" has Americans eager to put the pandemic behind them, survey results show that actions to increase health safety through better hygiene are here to stay. Essity's survey revealed that 84% of Americans intend to continue the enhanced hygiene practices they adopted during the pandemic such as more frequent hand washing and use of hand sanitizer, even as more Americans become vaccinated against COVID-19. However, employees question whether their workplace will maintain cleanliness protocols —- with 65% of employed Americans who went into an office prior to COVID-19 expressing concern about the cleanliness and hygiene of the space before going back to the office. Moreover, as 59% of employed Americans who worked in an office prior to COVID-19 have at least some concern about being around coworkers, they also have heightened expectations of their employers when it comes to hygiene protocols in the office, and would like to see employers and building operators provide resources such as hand sanitization stations (58%), more frequent cleaning and sanitizing (58%), hands-free restroom fixtures (48%) and higher capacity paper towel dispensers in common areas and in bathrooms (35%).
"As the world continues to open up and people resume interacting and living life in a more regular way, the role of hygiene will certainly remain more top-of-mind in the workplace and other public spaces than it was in the past, and this prioritized mindset comes across clearly in the research," said Amy Bellcourt, Vice President Communications, Professional Hygiene, Essity North America. "We undertook this survey to prompt employers to ask themselves, 'Are we ready?' to welcome employees back by addressing their concerns, and then provide the insights needed to fully assess back-to-work plans so that there can be time to implement changes to ensure employees are in a consistently safe and healthy environment."
SABIC Applauded for Sustainability and a Circular Economy in the Plastic Recycling Market with Its TRUCIRCLE Portfolio
Based on its recent analysis of the global market for sustainability and the circular economy of used plastics and resource recovery, Frost & Sullivan recognizes SABIC with the 2021 Global Company of the Year Award. SABIC's TRUCIRCLE portfolio and services provide customers with highly sustainable solutions and, at the same time, supports efforts to close the loop and prevent valuable used plastic from becoming waste. SABIC weaves the economic, environmental, and social dimensions of sustainability into its technology, operations, and collaborations across the value chain. In addition, the company has established a network of cutting-edge innovation hubs, where expert teams develop new patents and certifications to provide smarter product design and functionality.
"SABIC leads the way through alliances with upstream and downstream collaborators to ensure closed-loop recycling of plastic," said Fredrick Royan, Vice President. "Committed to driving the uptake of recycled plastic, SABIC was the first in the industry to commit to investments in advanced recycling, and a world-first commercial plant is currently under construction at its Geleen site in the Netherlands.."
SABIC serves customers in diverse end markets through its extensive infrastructure, including manufacturing plants, distribution facilities, research and technology centers, and sales offices worldwide. Top-tier brand owners, such as Tupperware Brands and Unilever, have launched consumer products leveraging SABIC's TRUCIRCLE portfolio to enhance the sustainability credentials of their products and increase their brand equity by working towards corporate social responsibility goals.
Key Trends That Are Turning Up The Heat In The EV Market
The electric vehicle (EV) market is growing rapidly and has even proved resilient to COVID-19 related shutdowns, seeing year-on-year growth throughout 2020. Within the EV market, increases are being seen in battery capacity, range, charging rates, wide bandgap semiconductors, and high-performance traction motors. Additionally, EV fires and related recalls have brought the concept of thermal runaway detection, prevention, and protection to the fore. All of these trends demand more effective thermal management systems, solutions, and materials.
The latest report from IDTechEx on "Thermal Management for Electric Vehicles 2021-2031" details the OEM strategies, trends, and emerging alternatives around the thermal management of Li-ion batteries, electric traction motors, and power electronics. This information is gathered from primary and secondary sources in combination with an extensive model database of over 250 EV models sold between 2015 and 2020, giving a comprehensive overview of the topic. Emerging alternatives like immersion cooling are also addressed and discussed for their suitability in future applications along with adoption forecasts.
Fast charging is a key trend in the EV market and range anxiety becomes less of an issue if a vehicle can be charged in less than 30 minutes. Several vehicles have entered the market with this capability. More examples are emerging for 800 V systems too with the likes of the Porsche Taycan/ Audi e-tron GT platform as well as the new Hyundai E-GMP architecture. These higher voltages also help enable faster charging. However, thermal management is a key consideration for fast charging, keeping the batteries cool during this process helps increase the longevity of the cells but is also a major safety feature to prevent thermal runaway. For this reason, interest has also been seen in more novel technologies like immersion cooling.
Leaders Of Suicide Prevention Effort Call On Congress To Adopt 'National Warrior Call Day' Resolution
The Troops First Foundation has called on Congress to approve a congressional resolution designating Nov. 21, 2021, as "National Warrior Call Day," a coast-to-coast effort to reach veterans and service members who may be dangerously disconnected from others.
Led by Reps. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) and Elaine Luria (D-Va.), both of whom serve on the House Armed Services Committee, the resolution (H. Res. 512) helps raise awareness about the need for much greater connection to service members and veterans in order to slow the troubling number of suicides in their ranks. The resolution still must be passed by Congress. The need for a 'National Warrior Call Day' has never been greater to save lives and help our servicemembers and vets.
Among active-duty service members, a total of 377 died by suicide in 2020. That number is up from 348 in the previous year. Active-duty suicides have been steadily increasing since 2016 when there were 280 deaths.
Among veterans -- after adjusting for sex and age -- veteran suicide was 27.5 per 100,000 individuals in 2018, up from 25.8 per 100,000 in 2016. By comparison, among all U.S. adults, the suicide rate per 100,000 was 18.3 deaths. The problem is particularly pronounced among the newer generation of veterans, with new research from the Watson Institute at Brown University conservatively estimating that four times as many post-9/11 veterans have died by suicide than through military deployments.
A mix of factors, including isolation and disconnection from battle buddies, friends, family and support systems, as well as undiagnosed brain injuries or psychological injuries, drives much of this tragic trend.
Earth Baby is Taking The Fuss out of Parenting
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Earth Baby is a health and wellness innovator that has been turning heads ever since it was relaunched in 2019 and 2020. Throughout the following, pandemic-stricken year, the brand's Aromatherapy Calming Mist + spray has helped countless consumers and their newborns let go of some of their stress. The product serves as a perfect example of the burgeoning business's ability to create innovative, effective health and wellness solutions for parents and children alike.
Babies can be fussy. Whether it's after a diaper change or before going down for a nap, there are times when the natural lack of communication can make it difficult for a newborn to settle down. This was the inspiration behind Earth Baby's best-selling Aromatherapy Calming Mist +. Designed to calm fussy infants and help their families relax, the spray is formulated to relax the senses through a blend of naturally extracted essences of plants, including lavender and chamomile.
The product is designed to be used in a number of different ways. It can be sprayed on bedding before a nap. It can also be used as a healthy, safe air freshener in a nursery and can even be applied directly on a baby's body by hand.
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