The New Coronavirus Vaccine Is Changing The Future Of Medicine

While the vaccines for Covid-19 seem to have been created in record time, the technology making them possible has been decades in development. The two vaccine candidates produced by Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna are unlike any other vaccine that’s come before. Should they achieve commercial success, it could usher in a new era of medical science — not just for vaccines, but for cancer treatments, blood disorders, and gene therapy.

The two new vaccines are the first ever to use mRNA, which stands for “messenger RNA,” to generate immunity. Historically, vaccines have used dead or weakened viruses to imitate an infection, spurring the body to make antibodies against that virus without danger of getting sick. Measles, polio, and some seasonal flu shots are examples of vaccines made with whole virus particles.

Other vaccines use only certain fragments of the virus, called antigens, that provoke an immune response. To make this type of vaccine, the genetic code for the desired viral antigen molecule is put into yeast or bacteria cells. These microbes can be grown rapidly and inexpensively, and they can churn out massive quantities of antigen. Then the molecule must be purified to clinical standards so that it’s safe to inject into healthy people. Prevnar and Gardasil are examples of this type of vaccine.

These methods work well, but they require enormous research and development efforts. A laboratory could spend years optimizing the methods for producing one virus protein, but those methods wouldn’t automatically translate to mass-producing a different protein.

“For every new protein, you start over. It’s a brand-new procedure every step of the way,” explains immunologist Drew Weissman of the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. Weissman is one of the pioneering scientists behind the mRNA vaccine.

“The way I see it, the mRNA platform is much better, it’s much quicker, and it’s cheaper,” says Weissman. “That’s the trilogy of what you need to improve vaccines.” With mRNA, the steps are the same, no matter what virus the vaccine is targeting. This makes it easily customizable. Once an mRNA manufacturing facility is up and running, it can easily be deployed to make vaccines against any number of viral antigens.

How is that possible? Here’s how it works

A strand of mRNA carries the instructions for making one protein. Your cells normally make their own mRNA strands and use them as blueprints to manufacture all the proteins your body needs to function.

The vaccine slips a new strand of mRNA into the cell, like an extra page in the blueprint. This mRNA contains the instructions for making the coronavirus spike protein, and the cell reads it the same way it reads its own mRNAs, using it to build the viral protein. The immune system recognizes that protein as foreign, and starts making antibodies against it. Then, if you’re exposed

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How digital healthcare tools are changing medicine in Europe since COVID-19

Like in America, the healthcare industry is also making shifts to adopt new, safer hospital practices in response to Covid-19. Since physical contact and proximity present such risks, hospitals are turning to a variety of digital tools in order to meet their care priorities, such as risk reduction and better resource utilization. Having a better understanding of these priorities and what tools hospitals are using now will help us in the health tech industry know what to build for them next.

At Siilo, we believe that putting tried and true technology into the hands of healthcare professionals will result in a higher quality of care for patients down the line. Here are the three major categories of care currently being aided by digital tools: distance diagnoses, internal communications, and external collaborations.

Distance diagnoses
Covid-19 was not the start of the telehealth revolution, but it was certainly a major driver in its widespread adoption this year. While doctors and specialists could not and still cannot see their patients in person, that doesn’t mean people haven’t stopped needing consultations. Moving diagnoses online has been the only option to continue delivering care directly to patients.

Companies like Germany’s Klara are working to put these digital tools at the center of doctor-patient communication all across Europe. Telehealth services provide a variety of benefits: anything from patient portals, where individuals can email their doctors in a secure online environment, to mobile applications, allowing doctors to hold virtual appointments with patients via video call. They can also include the collection of health data, voluntarily given by patients, through the Internet of Things, such as smartwatches, in order to get a more holistic view of the patient’s wellbeing.

Advances in telehealth can certainly ease the burdens on healthcare professionals looking to safely diagnose their patients over digital platforms, but we need to make sure that we are providing products that prioritize data safety. That means designing for GDPR compliance incorporating key features, like passcode protection and device-only data storage.

Internal Communications
The influx of telehealth and digital solutions for communicating with patients has also resulted in a professional counterpart for members of medical institutions, organizations, and associations all across Europe. Beyond the EHRs and secure email servers typically found in hospitals or physicians’ offices, technology is being developed to make communication by modern healthcare professionals more efficient, more secure, and more informative.

People bring their smartphones to work with them, and as such, we see professionals increasingly seeking out mobile tools and applications to simplify their workflows. In particular, professionals are looking for ways to quickly exchange information with each other and their departments at large. My company, Siilo works in this space.

This integration is not seamless, however. Bring-your-own-device policies, such as those found in Germany and France, have been put in place to limit the chances of cross-contaminating patient data and personal information, and increasing digital literacy amongst professionals can be a difficult and time-consuming endeavor. Nevertheless, hospitals and public health institutions should be prepared

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Obamacare Open Enrollment Starts Nov 1. Here’s What’s Changing This Year : Shots

Open enrollment is about to start for those buying private insurance off state or federal exchanges.

PhotoAlto/Frederic Cirou/Getty Images/PhotoAlto


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PhotoAlto/Frederic Cirou/Getty Images/PhotoAlto

Open enrollment is about to start for those buying private insurance off state or federal exchanges.

PhotoAlto/Frederic Cirou/Getty Images/PhotoAlto

Facing a pandemic, record unemployment and unknown future costs for COVID-19 treatments, health insurers selling Affordable Care Act plans to individuals reacted by lowering rates in some areas and, overall, issuing only modest premium increases for 2021.

“What’s been fascinating is that carriers in general are not projecting much impact from the pandemic for their 2021 premium rates,” said Sabrina Corlette, a research professor at the Center on Health Insurance Reforms at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.

Although final rates have yet to be analyzed in all states, those who study the market say the premium increases they have seen to date will be in the low single digits — and decreases are not uncommon.

That’s good news for the more than 10 million Americans who purchase their own ACA health insurance through federal and state marketplaces. The federal market, which serves 36 states, opens for 2021 enrollment Nov. 1, with sign-up season ending Dec. 15. Some of the 14 states and the District of Columbia that operate their own markets have longer enrollment periods.

The flip side of flat or declining premiums is that some consumers who qualify for subsidies to help them purchase coverage may also see a reduction in that aid. Subsidies are determined by a mix of a consumer’s income and the cost of a benchmark plan.

Here are a few things to know about 2021 coverage:

It might cost about the same this year — or even less.

Despite the ongoing debate about the ACA — compounded by a Supreme Court challenge brought by 20 Republican states and supported by the Trump administration — enrollment and premium prices are not forecast to shift much.

“It’s the third year in a row with premiums staying pretty stable,” said Louise Norris, an insurance broker in Colorado who follows rates nationwide and writes about insurance trends. “We’ve seen modest rate changes and influx of new insurers.”

That relative stability followed ups and downs, with the last big increases coming in 2018, partly in response to the Trump administration cutting some payments to insurers.

Those increases priced out some enrollees, particularly people who don’t qualify for subsidies, which are tied both to income and the cost of premiums. ACA enrollment has fallen since its peak in 2016.

Charles Gaba, a web developer who has since late 2013 tracked enrollment data in the ACA on his ACASignups.net website, follows premium changes based on filings with state regulators. Each summer, insurers must file their proposed rates for the following year with states, which have varying oversight powers.

Gaba said the average requested increase next year nationwide is 2.1%. When he looked at 18 states for which regulators have approved insurers’ requested rates, the percentage is lower

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Three fitness apps to help with managing stress and changing behaviour

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I’m a simple man. I like my coffee black, my whisky neat and my workouts free of superfluous distractions. I’ve never cared much for the marriage of app-based technology and strength training. I don’t even like listening to music while exercising. I prefer to focus on the task at hand rather than trick my brain into thinking it’s having a good time.

But resistance to technology’s pull is futile. Even old-school gym culture has been seduced. Check out the Google Play store and you’ll find apps to analyze lifting form, apps to measure bar speed, even apps that count your reps. In certain situations, I can see some value: If you’re into Olympic lifting, where speed and explosiveness take a back seat only to form and technique, then knowing how fast that barbell flies off the floor is important. For everyone else? Not so much.

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This is not to say I have no room in my heart for health and fitness apps. A few have become essential to either my own well-being or that of my clients. These are ones that help with stress management, behaviour change and nutrition – each an important aspect of health that enhance the results promised by a steady diet of strength training.

Waking Up

It’s good sense to ensure your mental muscles get the TLC they deserve. Plenty of science-backed evidence supports the many benefits of simply sitting still with the unquiet mind, and over the years I’ve dabbled with all sorts of meditation programs. My favourite is Waking Up, a subscription-based app created by neuroscientist, author and podcast star Sam Harris.

I love it for many reasons. Number one is, the default length of the daily meditation is 10 minutes. Everyone has 10 minutes to spare, I don’t care how busy your schedule is. Next, the program begins with a 28-day introductory course to help newbies. And, finally, the paid version offers a much deeper and more beneficial experience, but if you’re not ready to drop $100 for an annual subscription, free memberships are offered on a request basis, with 100 per cent being honoured.

Carrot Rewards

The myth of motivation (or, what we mistakenly understand motivation to be) is responsible for more failed attempts at getting fit than anything else. After the initial enthusiasm of taking charge of your health fades – and believe me, it will fade – all you’re left with is yourself. This is why it’s so important to cultivate genuine behaviour change: Once you rewire your brain to actually value a process, you no longer have to channel artificial means to psych yourself up.

Enter Carrot Rewards. The premise couldn’t be more basic: Give people a financial incentive to make healthy decisions and that behaviour will eventually become automatic. Hit your daily step goal? You get a reward!

At its peak popularity, this Canadian-made app had more than one

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Acne Medicine is Not As Effective As Changing Your Diet For Healing Acne

Acne medicines only treat the symptoms of acne. They do not remove the cause of acne. Acne is caused from toxins being eliminated through your skin. Some acne medicine can have very harsh side effects.

Are you willing to risk damaging your skin with these sometimes dangerous drugs?

The good news is that you can cure your acne by changing your diet like I have, without using any type of acne medicine at all. Years ago I tried using different types of acne medicines to try and fix my skin, but they didn't work.

At the time I believed it when I read that eating an unhealthy diet does not cause acne. I now know that eating foods that are not compatible with your genetics definitely causes acne. When you are on the proper non-allergenic diet, you will not need to buy any more expensive acne medicine.

Acne medicine will not change your genetics. Not all people are the same. Some people might digest certain foods well without causing acne. Other people might be slightly allergic to that same food, and it can cause them to break out with acne. Remember: people have different genetics and come from different parts of the world.

Trains planes and automobiles have mixed up the food supply of the world and made it possible for people to have almost any food from any part of the world available to them.

Just because you can eat a food without it instantly killing you, does not mean that it is the best food for you with your unique genetics. Every animal on the planet has its own species-specific diet.

If you want to fix your skin without using acne medicine, than you will have to stop eating the foods that are causing your acne in the first place. Also certain combinations of foods can react with each other and form substances that your body will react negatively to.

Remember back in high school in chemistry class? When we would mix a bunch of chemicals together? Sometimes they would have a dramatic chemical reaction, and turn into a totally different substance. Have you seen the Mentos and Diet Coke experiments on Youtube, where the combination of the two makes an explosive reaction and sprays soda way up into the air? If you haven't already, you should see it. Just Google it.

What do you think happens if you eat Mentos and Diet Coke at the same time? If you have gas pains, then you are probably eating the wrong combinations of foods at the same meal.

There are many other foods and food additives that people eat on a regular basis that are turning into toxic chemicals when mixed together, that the body then has to get rid of. If your body has to, it will just send the toxins strait through your skin for rapid elimination, and taking acne medicine is not going to stop the toxins from being eaten in the first place.

Acne medicines …

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