Better Living Through Well Being
More than two years in, can we yet begin to comprehend how the COVID-19 pandemic has changed our lives? What did we give up during the pandemic that most people won’t return to doing, even when its safe to do so?
The proportion of remote workers in the U.S. declined from a peak of 80% in April 2020, but is holding steady now at 45%. Many people discovered the importance of finding work that does more than pay the bills, but brings personal satisfaction.
Because the SARS-CoV-2 virus has yet to become truly endemic, it will continue to mutate as it continues to spread. The state of the pandemic is dependent on global cooperation in the distribution of vaccines. COVID-19 is more severe and unpredictable than the flu, but the trend is evolving toward milder variants that will cause milder illness in humans.
Mask recommendations will remain in flux because the government has to adjust to emerging research and constantly-changing case counts. The habit of mask-wearing might take hold after the threat of COVID has subsided, to protect against other illnesses like the flu. But for most people in the U.S. it no longer is considered strange to be wearing one.
Virtual learning, while a safety precaution, created additional educational barriers for children in K-12 schools. Quickly enforced behavioral changes when the pandemic began, such as social distancing, masking and isolation from others were mitigation efforts resulting in weak social ties affecting communication and trust. A lot moved online during the pandemic, but social media networks have been shown to be especially vulnerable to spreading false information, especially related to health care. The misinformation that has been disseminated throughout the last two years has shaped society to be less trusting than before. It can be good to be critical, but society seems to have swung to a place where people tend to be more dismissive and cynical, especially of information provided by public health agencies and medical experts.
Lockdowns and quarantines caused many to be separated from their families, and with the unknowns of the economy, many Americans found themselves struggling with mental health. The fact that many more people are now aware of the importance of mental health is a silver lining of the pandemic, but unfortunately it is in part because people have been struggling with isolation, addiction, and grief.
All the challenges society has faced during the past two years is leading to a shift in available mental health care. The now widespread use of telehealth that has increased access for many patients, could change the way care is provided in the future.
As we get back to being together, we all have to find our own comfort levels. Some people will have an easy time integrating with others, but some will find it unsettling. The pandemic has changed us all. It has also fostered a deeper respect for how forces outside of our control can alter plans; a fact of life that has been made all so much more evident than before. As times change and the pandemic evolves, society must evolve to meet the needs of the people around us.
New findings highlight the growing youth mental health crisis in America. Half of parents in a nationwide survey believe that missing life milestones, such as participating in graduation ceremonies and birthday parties, has negatively impacted their children’s mental health. The survey finds that a majority of parents have seen their children face significant mental and emotional challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The survey of 2,000 American parents found that the majority are grappling with the mental health implications of the pandemic on their children and looking for solutions; 68 percent have seen their children face significant mental and emotional challenges involved in heading back to in-person school, adjusting to remote learning, and grieving the loss of a love one, and 63 percent of parents have sought a therapist for themselves, their children, or the entire family.
A Belgian randomized comparative clinical trial was conducted between April and October 2021 with two different groups of patients hospitalized for COVID-19. In addition to standard care, the first group received the dietary supplement Nasafytol, consisting of turmeric, quercetin, and vitamin D. The second group received vitamin D in addition to standard care.
The study showed that in the group receiving Nasafytol there was a significant reduction in the number of patients hospitalized on day 7 and day 14; there was a significant acceleration in recovery to a state of health which allowed a return home; there was a significant increase in the number of patients discharged from hospital on day 7, with an improvement in the clinical score of day 7; and no serious complications occurred (no ICU transfers of deaths). The results are unambiguous. The group who received the Nasafytol as a supplement to standard treatment showed significant progress for all evaluated parameters.
A team of researchers discovered how obesity can change the immune system and, potentially, how clinicians might be able to better treat allergies and asthma in obese people. A recent study estimated that about half of the adults in the United States will be classified as obese by the year 2030. Researchers also know that obesity, sometimes classified as a chronic inflammatory state, alters the immune system in myriad ways. Clinicians have reported that people with obesity often seem to have different courses of disease, from infections and allergies to cancer, and respond differently to some treatments.
The study revealed how different types of T cell respond differently in the immune systems of the obese than in those who are lean. T cells help protect the body against infections but also become overactive in autoimmune disease or allergies.
Other articles of interest in this TMIS eNewsletter for Spring 2022:
* Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit behind Sesame Street, launches new emotional health and wellbeing videos and resources for families grappling with effects of COVID-19.
* As cases of BA.2, the “Omicron variant of concern”, increase the world must reinvigorate its hygiene efforts or risk a springtime COVID-19 surge.
* Medicare Part B will now cover up to eight over-the-counter COVID-19 tests each month.
* Annual healthcare indicators report shows telehealth utilization grew nationally 7,060 percent since start of pandemic.
* Earth Day campaign casts David Hasselhoff in his iconic lifeguard role to share how to save the lives of sea turtles.
* Spirits and technology company Endless West partners with One Tree Planted to aide in the mission of rebuilding forests that have been burned by wildfires in the U.S.
* China intensifies efforts to plant trees nationwide as it strives to honor its pledges to peak carbon emissions by 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2060.
* Martian Farms’ vertical-farming technology is changing traditional farming as we know it using its space-age technology.
I am grateful to be in a collaborative business with many talented and skilled professionals. Your feedback is always welcome.
- Mary Michele McLaughlin
From the Front Page of TMIS News
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LifeStance Survey Finds That 68% of Parents Have Seen Their Children Face Significant Mental and Emotional Challenges During the COVID-19 Pandemic
LifeStance Health, one of the nation's largest providers of outpatient mental health care, has released its State of Youth Mental Health Report, a nationwide survey by LifeStance with OnePoll that explores how parents are addressing their children's mental health. The survey of 2,000 American parents found that the majority are grappling with the mental health implications of the pandemic on their children and looking for solutions.
"When a child is experiencing a physical health condition, most caregivers don't think twice about reaching out to their pediatrician. Yet, emotional issues in children can be trickier to spot and, understandably, some parents may not know how or when to involve a mental health professional," said Dr. Anisha Patel-Dunn, Chief Medical Officer, LifeStance. "Mental health should be treated no differently than physical health -- they're incredibly intertwined, and both play a critical role in children's wellbeing and development."
New clinical trial shows major and positive effect of food supplement in hospitalized patients with COVID-19
Belgium has a long history of excellence in clinical research. This is due to the quality of its research centres, the innovative and specialist expertise of its researchers and access to state-of-the-art medical infrastructure.
Turmeric, quercetin and vitamin D were already known to have antiviral, antibacterial and immunomodulatory properties. Therefore, the researchers wanted to know what positive effects the combination of these three substances could have - not only on the virulence of COVID-19, but also on the development of the associated pneumonia.
For this centrally organized study - which allowed for homogeneity - 49 covid patients were enrolled and randomly separated into two groups. All patients were over 18 years old and hospitalised with a severe form of the disease. In the first one, the 'Nasafytol group', 25 patients received Nasafytol, consisting of turmeric, quercetin and vitamin D, for up to 14 days in addition to standard treatment. In the second one, the 'Vitamin D group', 24 patients on standard treatment received vitamin D (equivalent dose of 800 IU) for up to 14 days. Both groups had similar demographic characteristics in terms of age, gender, height, weight, ethnicity and BMI. In addition, both groups had a similar clinical score, based on the WHO classification (4 vs. 4), and a similar CRP level (57 vs. 58). Thus, the two groups were comparable. The only difference was their vaccination status, with a higher number of vaccinated patients (at least one dose) in the 'vitamin D group' than in the 'Nasafytol group' (9 vs. 2).
"For this study, we chose a combination of bioactive quercetin, a bioactive turmeric extract and vitamin D3, they help maintain the body's immune system and the effectiveness of the natural defences," says Prof. Yves Henrotin, founder and executive chairman of Artialis and professor at the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Liège. "By combining these three elements, we wanted to develop a natural preparation that would help patients with COVID-19. On the one hand, by reducing the risk of serious complications, and on the other hand, by reducing the number of transfers and avoiding overcrowding in ICUs as much as possible. These were the main factors we had to take into account during the pandemic. That is why we tested this combination (Nasafytol), as an addition to the standard treatment and in line with the WHO recommendations for clinical studies in relation to COVID-19."
How Obesity Can Rewire the Immune System and the Response to Immunotherapy and How to Change That
San Francisco, California
When mice with atopic dermatitis -- a common type of allergic skin inflammation -- are treated with drugs that target the immune system, their thickened, itchy skin generally heals quickly. But scientists have now discovered that the same treatment in obese mice makes their skin worse instead. That is because obesity changes the molecular underpinnings of allergic inflammation, both in mice and humans.
For the new study, researchers at Gladstone Institutes, the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, and UC San Francisco (UCSF) teamed up. Their findings, reported in the journal Nature, shed light on how obesity can change the immune system and, potentially, how clinicians might be able to better treat allergies and asthma in obese people.
"We're living in an era when the rate of obesity is increasing around the world," says Alex Marson, MD, PhD, director of the Gladstone-UCSF Institute of Genomic Immunology and a senior author of the study. "Changes in diet and body composition can affect the immune system, so we have to think about how diseases that involve the immune system might differ between individuals."
"Our findings demonstrate how differences in our individual metabolic states can have a major impact on inflammation, and how available drugs might be able to improve health outcomes," says Ronald Evans, PhD, senior author of the study, and director of Salk's Gene Expression Laboratory and the March of Dimes Chair in Molecular and Developmental Biology at Salk.
Sesame Workshop and Viatris Launch New Emotional Health and Wellbeing Resources for Families Grappling with Effects of COVID-19
Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit behind Sesame Street, is launching new bilingual resources made possible by Viatris Inc. to support the social and emotional needs of families and caregivers across generations as they collectively continue to adapt to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Building on previous global resources addressing key emotions felt during the pandemic, launched in 2020, the new phase includes five new videos featuring beloved Sesame characters like Elmo and Grover, as they learn to handle big changes, hold mindful moments, take care of themselves and their loved ones, and so much more. In one video, Grover and Elmo learn the different ways families say goodbye as kids are going back to school and parents are returning to work, like giving each other big hugs or doing a special "goodbye dance." Additional videos and resources will be released on a rolling basis over the coming months.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, people around the world are facing increased stress, pressure, and other challenges. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, mental health-related emergency department visits in the US rose 24% for children between the ages of five and 11 and 31% for those between the ages of 12 and 17 beginning in April 2020 in comparison to the year before.
The BA.2 subvariant is a reminder that hygiene can't fall by the wayside
Parsippany, New Jersey
As cases of what the World Health Organization calls the "Omicron variant of concern," BA.2, increase the world must reinvigorate its hygiene efforts or else risk a springtime COVID-19 surge.
Since the start of the pandemic, handwashing, mask wearing, sanitizing, social distancing and social isolation have become commonplace in a bid to keep COVID-19 infections at a minimum. While certain countries, including the United Kingdom, have since relaxed the rules and regulations surrounding such measures, the latest variants and subvariants highlight the criticality of maintaining such hygiene habits.
"Over the past two years, people have become more aware of their hygiene habits in a way they probably weren't before. It's now extremely clear how important good hygiene is for our overall health and just because the COVID-19 rules have relaxed, it doesn't mean our hygiene habits should too," said Simon Sinclair, RGHI Executive Director, adding that with these improved hygiene behaviors the world is now far better equipped to stave off other illnesses and infections.
Rite Aid Offers Free COVID-19 Tests to Medicare Beneficiaries
People with Medicare Part B can visit any Rite Aid location and receive up to eight over-the-counter COVID-19 tests every month at no cost.
As part of the Medicare COVID-19 Over-the-Counter Test Initiative, people covered by Medicare Part B can bring their red, white, and blue Medicare card to any Rite Aid location to receive their no cost tests. Beneficiaries can get up to eight free, over-the-counter tests, or Flow Flex tests, per calendar month through the end of the COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE).
Rite Aid customers with Medicare Part B can also access their free, over-the-counter COVID-19 tests online at www.riteaid.com/pharmacy/services/covid-19-testing. Medicare beneficiaries can request their tests online, using our ordering tool, which will be processed by Rite Aid and then available for pick-up at their local store. Rite Aid pharmacists will also have tests available for anyone who presents their card in-store.
Fifth Annual FAIR Health Report Captures Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic on Healthcare System
New York, New York
Telehealth utilization grew nationally 7,060 percent from 2019 to 2020, an increase driven by the COVID-19 pandemic and the limits imposed on certain in-office services, coupled with the greater risk of infection from in-person encounters.1 This is among the findings in a new FAIR Health white paper containing the fifth annual edition of FH Healthcare Indicators and FH Medical Price Index. Like the previous editions, this year's edition of FH Healthcare Indicators and FH Medical Price Index is intended to provide clarity to all healthcare stakeholders in a rapidly changing healthcare environment.
FH Healthcare Indicators reveal trends and patterns in the places where patients receive healthcare. Focusing on alternative places of service -- retail clinics, urgent care centers, telehealth and ambulatory surgery centers (ASCs) -- as well as emergency rooms (ERs), FH Healthcare Indicators evaluate changes in utilization, geographic and demographic factors, diagnoses, procedures and costs.
In Honor of Earth Day, SodaStream Commits to Saving 1 Million Sea Turtles During the Month of April
Kfar Saba, Israel
SodaStream launched its 2022 Earth Day campaign featuring Baywatch star David Hasselhoff. SodaStream remains true to its environmental DNA and light-hearted tone, sharing another important message for the planet while humorously paying tribute to the iconic Baywatch series. Similar to his role in the series, David Hasselhoff plays a lifeguard, but this time he shares how to save sea turtles lives in reality.
As part of SodaStream's long-time mission to reduce single-use plastic waste and stopping it from ending up in the sea, SodaStream has partnered with SEE Turtles, an NGO that works to protect sea turtles worldwide. Sea turtles are key species in the oceans and without them, the natural order in the ocean may be disrupted. Through this initiative, SodaStream commits to saving a baby sea turtle for every SodaStream sparkling water maker sold worldwide during the month of April, by contributing proceeds from each and every sparkling water maker sold worldwide to SEE Turtles.
"As part of SodaStream's environmental responsibility and obligation to the planet, we are always looking for ways to do better", commented SodaStream's Global CMO, Karin Schifter-Maor. "This year we took another step in this direction with our biggest Earth Day campaign to date, which will last for the entire month of April, so at SodaStream we are actually celebrating "Earth Month." With this 360° campaign, we are engaging people to not only keep the oceans clean from single-use plastic waste, but also giving them the opportunity to save endangered baby sea turtles around the world."
Endless West Partners with Non-Profit One Tree Planted to Rebuild US Forests and Positively Impact the Environment
San Francisco, California
Spirits and technology startup Endless West has announced its newest partnership with One Tree Planted to aide in the mission of rebuilding forests that have been burned by wildfires throughout the US. Endless West will pay to plant one tree for every bottle of Glyph -- the brand's award-winning whiskey inspired molecular spirit -- that is sold in April 2022. Glyph can be purchased online and in-app through delivery and can be found in stores using the site's locator feature.
Founded in 2015 by scientists Alec Lee and Mardonn Chua, Endless West uses a revolutionary, technology-driven process to create molecular spirits. Its products have dramatically improved sustainability and scalability to mitigate many of the industry's supply chain challenges. Endless West is the first company to launch this technology in spirits, identifying key flavor and aroma molecules (or notes), then extracting them for use from more efficient sources in nature, including plants, fruits and yeasts."
Endless West was founded in California as a more sustainable spirits company. Our new partnership with One Tree Planted is a natural step toward bettering our environmental impact," said Alec Lee, CEO and co-founder of Endless West. "Glyph is a product that consumers can already feel great about because it uses 94% less water, 92% less agricultural land and emits 87% less CO2 emissions than traditional whiskey making processes. Now they can feel even better knowing that every bottle they purchase is further helping the environment."
According to One Tree Planted, planting trees is one of the best ways to combat the damaging effects of climate change. Trees help clean the air we breathe, filter the water we drink, and provide habitat to over 80 percent of the world's terrestrial biodiversity. One Tree Planted trees are planted by local partner organizations and community volunteers in areas where there has been deforestation.
China steps up tree-planting efforts to reduce carbon emissions
China is intensifying efforts to plant trees nationwide as it strives to honor its pledges to peak carbon emissions by 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2060.
Chinese President Xi Jinping and other senior officials have taken the lead in afforestation. When attending a tree-planting activity in Beijing on Wednesday, Xi said forests have the capacity to conserve water, bring in economic benefits, boost grain production, and also serve well as a carbon sink. Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, has participated in tree-planting activities for 10 consecutive years since the 18th CPC National Congress in 2012. '
China designated March 12 as the National Tree-Planting Day in 1979. The National People's Congress, China's top legislature, launched a nationwide voluntary tree-planting campaign in 1981, stipulating that every able-bodied citizen above 11 should plant three to five trees each year. "I want to do my bit for the Beautiful China initiative, and also to sow the seeds of ecological conservation in the entire society, among Chinese youth in particular," Xi said during this year's activity at an urban recreation park in Huangcun Town in Beijing's Daxing District.
He planted saplings of Chinese pine, flowering peach, magnolia, crab apple and Chinese ash.
Martian Farms Mission to Feed the World
With their proprietary technology originally intended for use in outer space (on space stations), Martian Farms is turning farming upside down using up to 99% less land and 98% less water than traditional methods. And they are doing it with a vertical-farming, LED-light technology that has blockchain traceability; and, according to available information, 73% improved productivity; and 80% less labor than other vertical farms. These results are based on 26 years of research and testing by the company under the guidance of some of the best scientists who have done similar work for NASA, ESA (European Space Agency) and the CSA (Canadian Space Agency).
A key component of this mission is to find people to join their community as like-minded supporters who want to bring nutritious, organic produce to every corner of the Earth -- including urban areas that are traditionally scarce in natural resources. They have launched a new website, Martian Farms.co, including informative updates to highlight progress and innovation, and a call to action to help stay connected. Soon to come is Martian merchandise.
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