COVID -19 Vaccine Does Well in Phase 1 Study

July 29th, 2020

ShotA Covid-19 vaccine developed by biotechnology company Moderna in partnership with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has been found to induce immune response in all of the volunteers who received it in a Phase 1 study.

Potential COVID-19 Vaccine

The Phase 1 study included 45 healthy adults ages 18 to 55, who received vaccinations of the mRNA-1237 vaccine candidate 28 days apart.

Volunteers were separated into groups where they either received the vaccine at a dose of 25, 100 or 250-micrograms.  They received the first vaccination between March 16 and April 14.

Researchers found “no trial-limiting safety concerns” after volunteers received their first two doses of the vaccine. There were some mild to moderate side effects, such as pain at the injection site and there were more of those the higher the dose of vaccine.

After the first vaccination, adverse events were reported by five participants in the 25-microgram group, 10 in the 100-microgram group and eight in the 250-microgram group. Then after the second vaccination, such events occurred in seven of 13 participants in the 25-microgram group, all 15 in the 100-microgram group and all 14 in the 250-microgram group.

Some of the reactions are similar to coronavirus symptoms, but they’re temporary, lasting about a day and occur right after vaccination, researchers noted.

The study data showed that the vaccine induced an antibody response. Specifically, all participants developed neutralizing antibodies to the virus at levels similar to those seen in people who’ve naturally recovered from COVID-19, according to the study. Neutralizing antibodies bind to the virus, disabling it from attacking human cells.

For the Phase 3 study, researchers plan to enroll 30,000 adult participants, including people whose location or circumstances put them at high risk of infection. One group will be injected with 100-micrograms of the vaccine on day one and again on day 29. A second group will be injected with two doses of a placebo for comparison. Fourteen days after the participants get their second dose, the researchers will be looking at whether they developed COVID-19. The participants will be followed for two years after receiving their second dose.  

The vaccine is expected to begin later this month, a large Phase 3 trial—the final stage before regulators consider whether to make the vaccine available.

The results were published in the “New England Journal of Medicine” on July 21. This is the first U.S. vaccine candidate to publish results in a peer-reviewed medical journal.

Signs and Symptoms of Coronavirus

Symptoms of coronavirus may appear two to 14 days after exposure. Signs and symptoms include:

  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Cough
  • Fatigue
  • Fever or chills
  • Headache
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Sore throat

Keep yourself and your loved ones safe by washing your hands and maintaining social distancing.

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Blood Test Could be Diagnostic Tool for Concussions

July 22nd, 2020

Vials of bloodA blood test may predict the severity of a concussion as accurately as a spinal tap, researchers report.

Nerve Proteins Detected in Blood

Researchers focused on a biomarker called neurofilament light chain. This nerve protein can be detected in the blood and cerebrospinal fluid when nerve cells are injured or die, according to the study.

When a person’s brain is injured, neurofilament light chain levels are higher in blood and spinal fluid.

Researchers looked at 104 professional Swedish hokey players and a control group of 14 healthy non-athletes.  Of the hockey players, 45 had suffered a concussion within the past week, 31 had multiple concussions and 28 had no recent concussions or symptoms.

The players with multiple concussions had an average of 18 pg/mL of the protein biomarker in their blood. Those with recent concussions had 12 pg/mL and those with no recent concussions or symptoms had 10 pg/mL. The control group had 9 pg/mL. These levels correlated with the levels in the participants’ spinal fluid.

Researchers also found that the levels in the hockey players’ blood were strongly associated with more concussions and more severe concussions, even a year after the injury.

The study also included 162 people with brain injuries and a control group of 68 healthy people. People with head injuries had an average of 12.8 pg/mL of the biomarker in their blood, while the control group had 6.3 pg/mL. These levels were similar to levels detected by more sophisticated tests such as brain imaging.

The level of biomarker in the blood actually distinguished among mild, moderate and severe concussions. The difference in biomarker levels between people with concussions and the control group was evident up to five years after concussion, according to the researchers.     

The study was published online on July 8 in the journal “Neurology.”

Signs and Symptoms of a Concussion

A concussion is a traumatic brain injury that affects your brain function. Signs and symptoms of a concussion can be subtle and may not show up immediately. Symptoms can last for days, weeks or even longer. Signs and symptoms include:

  • Amnesia surrounding the traumatic event
  • Blurry vision
  • Confusion or feeling as if in a fog
  • Dizziness or “seeing stars”
  • Fatigue or drowsiness
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Ringing in ears
  • Vomiting

Witnesses may observe the following:

  • Dazed appearance
  • Delayed response to questions
  • Forgetfulness, such as repeatedly asking the same question 
  • Slurred speech
  • Temporary loss of consciousness

Some symptoms can occur days after the injury, such as irritability and other personality changes.

What IAA has to Say

Insurance Administrator of America wants to keep you up-to-date on the world of health. Stay tuned to this blog to learn more. Remember, with IAA one call does it all.

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Following Exercise Recommendations Could Cut Risk of Early Death

July 15th, 2020

Apple sitting next to small weightsGetting the recommended amount of exercise could lower your risk of early death, a new study indicates.

Following Guidelines can Make a Difference

The United State’s guidelines suggests at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity or at least 75 minutes of vigorous intensity aerobic activity a week. The guidelines also recommend adults do moderate or greater intensity muscle-strengthening exercises at least two days a week.

To assess the benefit guidelines, researchers analyzed data from nearly 480,000 U.S. adults ages 18 to 85, who were followed for an average of nearly nine years. During that time, only 16 percent of the participants fully met the recommended activity levels and nearly 60,000 died.

Compared to those who didn’t meet the recommended activity levels, the risk of death from any cause was lower among those who engaged in sufficient muscle –strengthening exercises. It was 29 percent lower among those who did sufficient aerobic exercise and 40 percent lower among those who did both sufficient muscle-strengthening and aerobic activities.

Researchers also found that adults who did sufficient aerobic exercise had a lower risk of death from these specific causes:

  • Accidents and injuries
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Cancer
  • Chronic lower respiratory tract diseases
  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease

Those who did sufficient strengthening exercises had a lower risk of death from heart disease, cancer and chronic respiratory tract disease.

U.S. Guidelines

According to the 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2nd Edition, adults need two types of physical activity each week to improve their health—aerobic activity and muscle strengthening.

Adults should do the following:

  1. Moderate intensity aerobic activity for 150 minutes every week or;
  2. Vigorous intensity for 75 minutes every week or;
  3. An equivalent mix of moderate and vigorous intensity aerobic activity on two or more days a week.

In conjunction with the above, adults should also do muscle strengthening activities on two or more days a week that work all major muscle groups.

Both diet and physical activity play a critical role in maintaining a healthy body weight, losing excess body weight or maintaining successful weight loss.

What IAA has to Say

Insurance Administrator of America understands that the pressures of work and family life can mean that there is little time to fit in exercise, but it is important to find the time. IAA wants you to lead a healthy and active life and exercise is a key factor.

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No Healthy Alternative to Smoking, New Study Finds

July 8th, 2020

Electronic cigarettesThe only truly healthy way out for nicotine addicts is quitting, researchers have found.

Only One Healthy Option

Smoking is terrible for your heart and lungs, and simply switching to e-cigarettes won’t do much good, a major new analysis finds.

Smoking cessation will remain the most powerful approach to prevent smoking-induced cardiovascular and respiratory disease, concluded researchers.  The team found that both smoked and vaped nicotine was tied to worsening health of the heart and lungs.

In the new study, the research team reviewed data from a range of studies. They found that compared to not smoking, tobacco cigarettes and e-cigarettes boosted the odds of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) by about eightfold and threefold respectively.

Compared to not smoking, tobacco cigarettes increased the risk of lung cancer by more than 13-fold, the study found. Because lung cancer takes years to develop, the level of evidence for the impact of e-cigarettes on lung cancer risk is not ready to draw a reliable conclusion from.

There is also evidence for vaping’s damage to the heart. Compared to not smoking, tobacco cigarettes increase artificial stiffness by 10 percent, while e-cigarettes upped the risk by seven percent, research shows. 

For every smoking-related death, at least 30 Americans live with a smoking related illness.

Just Quit

If you are trying to quit, here are some tips on resisting those cravings:

  1. Avoid triggers: Urges for tobacco are likely to be strongest in the situations where you smoked most often. Identify your trigger situations and have a plan in place to avoid them or get through them without using tobacco.
  2. Delay: If you feel like giving into your tobacco craving, tell yourself that you must first wait 10 more minutes—and then distract yourself for that time.
  3. Chew on it: Give your mouth something to do to fight a tobacco craving.
  4. Don’t have “just one”: You might be tempted to have just one cigarette to satisfy a craving. But don’t fool yourself into believing that you can stop there. More often than not, just one leads to another one.
  5. Get physical: Physical activity can help distract you from cravings and reduce their intensity.
  6. Practice relaxation techniques: Resisting a tobacco craving can itself be stressful. Take the edge off stress by practicing relaxation techniques.
  7. Call in reinforcements: Touch base with a family member or support group for help in your effort to resist a craving.
  8. Remind yourself of the benefits: Write down or say out loud the reasons you want to stop smoking and resist cravings.

Smoking remains the leading cause of preventable death and disease in the United States, killing more than 480,000 Americans each year. 

What IAA has to Say

Insurance Administrator of America wants you to make healthy lifestyle choices. Even small changes can lead to big improvements! Remember, with IAA one call does it all.

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American Academy of Pediatrics’ New Policy Targets Digital Ads

July 1st, 2020

Little boy has hands over little girl's eyes. They are in front of a laptop.To help protect kids from the harmful effects of digital advertising and data collection, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is urging lawmakers to take action.

AAP Releases New Policy

The AAP is calling on Congress to update the 1998 Children’s Online Privacy and Protection Act. The law regulates the type of information that websites can collect from children. It protects kids ages 13 and younger. The AAP has said that these protections should be expanded to young people under the age of 17. 

The AAP is looking to lawmakers to ban all advertising targeted to children under age seven. The group is urging limits to advertising aimed at those under 17. It is also advocating for the end of online tobacco sales because the products can easily be purchased by children.

The AAP’s new policy also urges parents to keep an eye on the privacy settings in devices and apps in the home.

Ads can be correlated to the use of tobacco products and electronic cigarettes, as well as alcohol and marijuana. 

The AAP released its new policy on digital advertising and its effects on kids on June 22 in the “Journal of Pediatrics.”

Children and Advertising

Research on TV commercials suggests the following:

  • Children ages six years and under have a hard time identifying ads
  • Children seven through 13 can identify ads with the help of an adult, but cannot think critically about persuasive content
  • Teenagers, although more savvy about identifying marketing—struggle to resist ads

Children who are exposed to these ads are more likely to consume high-calorie, low-nutrient food and beverages, studies have shown.

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