Huge crowds gather at rallies, raising coronavirus fears

People look on as RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav leaves in a helicopter during an election campaign rally at Masaurhi on October 21, 2020 in Patna
Large crowds have been seen in political rallies in BIhar

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday asked people not to be complacent during the festive season, urging them to continue wearing masks and follow social distancing.

But the message doesn’t seem to have reached the northern state of Bihar where large crowds have massed at political rallies ahead of state elections, scheduled to begin on 28 October.

All parties, including Mr Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), have ramped up campaigning ahead of the elections.

Footage from some of the rallies shows people jostling to get a glimpse of politicians, and hardly anybody appears to be wearing masks.

Virologists and doctors called the large gatherings “callous” and said that such complacency could have devastating consequences, enabling the virus to spread much faster.

India has recorded more than seven million cases so far, but its daily case count has been steadily dropping in recent weeks even as testing has remained consistent. Although some have said this suggests that the worst of the pandemic is over, others have cautioned against celebrating too soon.

The Election Commission has also warned politicians against flouting Covid-19 safety rules. But it seems to have had little impact as crowds continue to gather at rallies.

Virologist Dr Shahid Jameel says political parties need to be more responsible and they need to educate their cadre.

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar addresses an election campaign rally ahead of Bihar Assembly election on October 22, 2020 in Hasanpur, India.
Social distancing has not been enforced in Bihar’s election rallies

“We see thousands of people in these rallies and hardly anyone with a mask. It is the responsibility of every political party to ask its followers to follow safety rules.

“That is the only way we know to prevent infection [from spreading],” he told the BBC.

The first phase of polling will be held on 28 October, and the other two phases will follow on 3 and 7 November. Results will be announced on 10 November.

The BJP-led coalition is seeking to be voted back into power – it’s facing opposition from an alliance of the Rashtriya Janata Dal and Congress party, and also from other regional parties.

The stakes are high for all political parties. Their initial campaigns were virtual but now they have moved offline.

Mr Modi is addressing three rallies on Friday and Congress party’s Rahul Gandhi is also holding campaign events.

A senior journalist in the state told the BBC that nobody “was really talking about coronavirus as a campaign issue”.

“It seems like the virus has disappeared from the state. People have become complacent and politicians are not doing enough to warn people,” he said.

The state government

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South Korean deaths spark flu vaccine safety fears

SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korean officials refused to suspend the country’s seasonal flu inoculation programme on Thursday, despite growing calls to do so following the deaths of at least 13 people who were vaccinated in recent days.

FILE PHOTO: A man gets an influenza vaccine at a hospital in Seoul, South Korea, October 21, 2020. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji

Health authorities said they have found no direct links between the deaths, which include a 17-year-old boy, and the vaccines being given under a programme to inoculate some 19 million teenagers and senior citizens for free.

“The number of deaths has increased, but our team sees low possibility that the deaths resulted from the shots,” Jeong Eun-kyeong, director of the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA), told parliament.

South Korea ordered 20% more flu vaccines this year to ward off what it calls a “twindemic” of people with flu developing potential COVID-19 complications, and overburdening hospitals over the winter.

“I understand and regret that people are concerned about the vaccine,” Health Minister Park Neung-hoo said on Thursday, while confirming the free programme would go ahead.

“We’re looking into the causes but will again thoroughly examine the entire process in which various government agencies are involved, from production to distribution,” he added.

The country’s free vaccine programme uses doses manufactured by local drug makers GC Pharma, SK Bioscience and Ilyang Pharmaceutical Co 007570.KS, along with France’s Sanofi SASY.PA and Britain’s Glaxosmithkline GSK.L. The vaccines are distributed by local companies LG Chem Ltd 051910.KS and Boryung Biopharma Co. Ltd., a unit of Boryung Pharm Co. Ltd. 003850.KS.

GC Pharma, LG Chem, SK Bioscience and Boryung declined to comment. Ilyang Pharmaceutical, Sanofi and GSK did not immediately reply to requests for comment.

It was not immediately clear if any of the South Korean-manufactured vaccines were exported, or whether those supplied by Sanofi and GSK were also being used in other countries.

Kim Chong-in, leader of the main opposition People Power party, said the programme should be halted until the exact causes of the deaths had been verified.

Health authorities said on Wednesday that a preliminary investigation into six deaths found no direct connection to the vaccines. No toxic substances were found in the vaccines, and at least five of the six people investigated had underlying conditions, officials said.

EARLIER SUSPENSION

The free programme has proved controversial from its launch last month. Its start was suspended for three weeks after it was discovered that some 5 million doses, which need to be refrigerated, had been exposed to room temperature while being transported to a medical facility.

Officials said 8.3 million people had been inoculated since the programme resumed on Oct. 13, with around 350 cases of adverse reactions reported.

The government is also offering a paid vaccine programme which, combined with the free programme, aims to inoculate about 30 million of the country’s 52-million population. Under the paid programme, the purchaser can select the vaccine provider from a larger pool that includes the

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Five South Koreans Die After Getting Flu Shots, Sparking Vaccine Fears | World News

SEOUL (Reuters) – Five people have died after getting flu shots in South Korea in the past week, authorities said, raising concerns over the vaccine’s safety just as the seasonal inoculation programme is expanded to head off potential COVID-19 complications.

Authorities said there was no reason to believe the deaths were linked to the vaccine but an investigation, including post mortems, was underway.

“It makes it hard for us to put out a categorical statement,” Vice Health Minister Kim Gang-lip told a briefing on Wednesday about the deaths, which include a 17-year-old boy and a man in his 70s.

Coming just weeks after the rollout of the national vaccine programme was suspended over safety worries, the deaths have dominated headlines in South Korea.

Officials last month announced plans to procure 20% more flu vaccines for the winter than the previous year to inoculate 30 million people in a bid to prevent the health system being overloaded by patients with flu and COVID-19 exposure.

However, the start of a free jab programme for around 19 million eligible people was suspended for three weeks after it was discovered that some 5 million doses, which need to be refrigerated, had been exposed to room temperature while being transported to a medical facility.

Boosting public trust in vaccines has become a major global challenge this year, as some countries rush to approve experimental COVID-19 vaccines before full safety and efficacy studies have been completed.

South Korea’s flu vaccines are supplied by different drugmakers, including LG Chem Ltd <051910.KS> and Boryung Biopharma Co. Ltd., a unit of Boryung Pharm Co. Ltd. <003850.KS>. A Boryung official told Reuters the company was aware of the reported deaths, but had no immediate comment. LG Chem said the company would follow government advice.

A 17-year-old boy who died on Friday was the first death noted by officials to follow receipt of the vaccine. The boy died two days after receiving the flu shot in Incheon, near the capital Seoul.

A man in his 70s, who had Parkinson’s disease and arrhythmia, was the most recent case. He died in Daegu on Wednesday, a day after receiving the flu vaccine. Daegu officials said the man had received vaccines since 2015 with no prior adverse reactions.

Officials said 8.3 million people have been inoculated with the free flu vaccine since it resumed on Oct. 13, with around 350 cases of adverse reactions reported. The highest number of deaths linked to the seasonal flu vaccination was six in 2005, according to Yonhap news agency.

Even before the coronavirus pandemic, trust in vaccines was a growing challenge for public health bodies. The World Health Organization named vaccine hesitancy as one of the top 10 global health threats for last year.

In South Korea, a poll earlier this month found that 62% of 2,548 respondents in Gyeonggi province, near Seoul, would not get vaccinated against COVID-19, even if a vaccine is approved, until all safety questions are fully answered.

(Reporting by Sangmi Cha; Editing by

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Pandemic Fears Tied to Surge in Gun Sales in California | Health News

By Amy Norton
HealthDay Reporter

(HealthDay)

TUESDAY, Oct. 20, 2020 (HealthDay News) — Citing fears over violence and chaos, more than 100,000 Californians have bought guns in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, a new study estimates.

Researchers said the findings add to evidence that the U.S. pandemic has sparked firearm “panic-buying.” Early on, federal figures showed a spike in background checks, while some online firearm retailers reported soaring sales, according to Giffords, a gun violence prevention group.

The new study went beyond numbers, asking gun buyers about their motivations, said lead researcher Nicole Kravitz-Wirtz, an assistant professor with the University of California, Davis, Violence Prevention Research Program.

And it found that fear of violence and societal breakdown was the main driver.

The findings come from an ongoing California survey on firearm ownership and exposure to violence. Among 2,870 adults statewide, about 2.5% said they’d bought a firearm due to the pandemic.

That, according to Kravitz-Wirtz, translated to an estimated 110,000 gun purchases for the whole state. And it included 47,000 by first-time buyers.

Most buyers pointed to fears over “lawlessness” (76%), prison releases (56%), the government “going too far” (49%), or the government “collapsing” (38%).

The rise in firearm access is concerning, Kravitz-Wirtz said, because “extensive research” shows that having a gun in the home increases the risks of accidents, suicide and homicide — particularly where a woman is the victim.

Those risks could be further heightened now, at a time of widespread anxiety, unemployment and social isolation, according to Kravitz-Wirtz.

For mental health experts, the big concern is suicide, said Debbie Plotnick, vice president of state and federal advocacy for the nonprofit Mental Health America.

Two-thirds of gun deaths are suicides, she said. And access to a firearm greatly raises the odds that a suicide attempt will end in death.

With the pandemic taking a widespread mental health toll, experts fear it will all result in an increase in suicides, Plotnick said.

Since January, she noted, the Mental Health America website has seen a surge in traffic to its free screening tools for conditions like anxiety and depression. And many visitors are young people under age 24.

“We’re finding that young people are having a harder time than adults who’ve had the chance to live through trying times before,” Plotnick said.

So it’s particularly concerning, she noted, when guns are in the same home as teenagers and young adults — especially if the weapons are not stored properly.

And that may be a common scenario, the survey found. In response to pandemic fears, some gun owners had begun keeping firearms loaded and within easy reach.

An estimated 55,000 California gun owners had switched to that unsafe practice, according to Kravitz-Wirtz. About half of them lived with children or teenagers.

With many children home all day, that increases the chances of an accident, Kravitz-Wirtz noted.

Plotnick said, “If you bought a gun to make your family safer, the result may be the opposite.”

Both she and Kravitz-Wirtz stressed the importance

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Pfizer says it will not have a coronavirus vaccine until late November, allaying fears of a rush for approval before Election Day

Chief executive Albert Bourla wrote in the letter that while the company projects it may have enough data to determine whether the vaccine is effective in October, there will not be sufficient safety follow-up to satisfy criteria laid out by the Food and Drug Administration until late November.

“A key point that I’d like to make clear is that effectiveness would satisfy only one of the three requirements and, alone, would not be enough for us to apply for approval for public use,” Bourla said. “Safety is, and will remain, our number one priority.”

The letter was welcomed by Eric Topol, a physician-scientist at Scripps Research Translational Institute who joined other experts in writing to Bourla in late September, asking the company not to seek authorization for a vaccine before late November. Topol recently had a virtual meeting with company executives to express his concerns and said he was frustrated they would not answer directly whether they would seek broader use of a vaccine before Nov. 3.

Bourla’s emphasis on having data in October “is what got many of us concerned, whether it was inadvertently playing into the political pressure or just because the incentives were aligned,” Topol said. “I thought [the letter] was very good. I wish it had been done potentially even earlier.”

Bourla made clear that while the company won’t seek approval until reaching the safety threshold, it could announce data on whether the vaccine candidate works before the election.

Pfizer’s trial will ultimately include 44,000 study subjects, with half receiving two shots of its experimental vaccine and the other half receiving placebo inoculations. Neither participants, study investigators nor company executives know who received a vaccine and who did not. But periodically throughout the trial, an independent committee is examining the data to see whether the vaccine is protecting participants from infection, as demonstrated by far fewer cases of covid-19, the disease caused by the virus, in those getting the shots than those receiving a placebo.

“In the spirit of candor, we will share any conclusive readout (positive or negative) with the public as soon as practical, usually a few days after the independent scientists notify us,” Bourla wrote.

The FDA in October issued guidance explaining the criteria for an emergency use authorization, saying a vaccine given to healthy people will be held to a higher standard than the typically low threshold that a medical product “may be effective” for emergency use. The agency put forth a requirement — despite White House objections — that vaccine candidates must have a minimum of two months of follow-up data on half of the participants in the study.

Pfizer will not have such data until the third week of November. Moderna, a biotechnology company, will not have enough safety data to apply for regulatory authorization until two days before Thanksgiving, according to spokesman Ray Jordan. Two other late-stage vaccine trials, from AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson, are paused because of potential safety concerns and have previously predicted readouts from their

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How To Combat Common Fears In Joining A Group Fitness Class

Group fitness classes are the ideal way to stay fit and healthy. They offer a wide variety of classes to fit the needs of the group and to meet a vast amount of fitness goals. So much can be said for the benefits of joining a fitness class. Group fitness classes are by far the most popular form of exercise, but for many people a group fitness class can also be intimidating.

So much can be said for the benefits of joining a fitness class. Group fitness classes are by far the most popular form of exercise, but for many people a group fitness class can also be intimidating.

Group Fitness Class

Group fitness is a craze that is sweeping across the country. These classes are for anyone and everyone, even you! With hundreds of different types of fitness classes to choose from you are sure to find one that is right for you.

Feeling the group's energy will help you to stay focused and energized as you workout, it really is an amazing feeling to participate in a group exercise setting.

Here are some types of classes that you might be interested in:

Yoga and Pilates – Yoga and Pilates are great for increasing your balance, flexibility and strengthening your core. A group class is a great way to learn the proper techniques and correct form that is required for each pose.

Zumba – Zumba is an aerobic type class that is ideal for burning calories, strengthening the heart and getting your blood flowing. Zumba is a dance style aerobics class where you will dance to music and have fun. Group classes, like Zumba are very popular and lots of fun, especially because they are in a group setting where the all-around energy is highly contagious. The more the merrier!

CrossFit – CrossFit is an all-around workout class that will push your fitness level to new heights. This class uses a variety of different functional movements, lots of strength training and offers wide variety in classes that change daily with the infamous CrossFit WOD (workout of the day).

It is also one of the most popular group classes out there that can help you lose weight, get strong, improve your functionality in everyday life and build lean muscle tone.

Other Classes

There are many other types of classes available at gyms, studios, community centers and universities across the country. Decide what your fitness goals are and let that guide you to a class. Don't be afraid to try a few of them out and see which one works best for you.

Dealing With Fear

The most common type of fear is the fear of the unknown. When we allow our fears to control us it can prevent us from experiencing new things and from growing in unique ways. Fear can also keep people from being proactive in their fitness goals and staying away from exercises classes.

Fear not! Keep reading to learn some of the most effective ways to …

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How Preventative Dentistry Can Help Treat Dental Fears

If you have been putting off seeing the dentist out of fear, you're not alone. In fact, many patients, both old and young are afraid of the dentist. There are many causes behind people dental fears including unpleasant past experiences, the fear of their poor oral hygiene habits being found out, the fear of the dentist finding something wrong or the unpleasant smells and sounds. Adults can also dread the bill they may be hit with if they don't have good dental insurance and something bad is found.

You may have heard from someone at one time or another to "face your fears" and that the more you do which is uncomfortable for you, the more likely you'll get use to it and it will no longer be scary. The same logic can be applied to visiting the dentist. The more frequently you visit the dentist, the better you'll know your dentist and staff and the more accustomed you'll get to the look, feel, sounds and smells of the dental office.

Patients are highly encouraged to see their dentist at least twice a year, or every six months, for a routine dental examination and professional teeth cleaning. These types of routine appointments are quick, inexpensive (many dental insurance plans cover these check-ups) and don't cause any pain or discomfort or the patient. Sticking to this regular dental office visitation schedule will help you gradually calm the fears and concerns you may have had about going to the dentist. They will also help inform you and your dentist about possible oral health issues that can be easily and effectively treated while in its early stage.

Many dental patients who cave into their fears and don't regularly see their dentist are at a higher risk of having oral health issues that require more intensive, uncomfortable, long, expensive treatment. This can, in turn, reinforce the patient's fear of the dentist by once again giving him or her a negative, unpleasant experience.

Some patients think that because their teeth and gums look and feel great that they don't need to see their dentist. This is a common misconception that often results in patients putting their oral health at unnecessary risks. While some dental issues such as tooth decay and gum disease have symptoms that can be easily noticed by someone with no dental knowledge, other oral conditions such as Bruxism and oral cancer often don't exhibit any noticeable symptoms. Without the examination of the trained eyes of a dental professional, a patient can very well have a potentially life-threatening condition that requires immediate treatment. Even if nothing serious is detected, a dentist can observe and anticipate the growth and development of various oral conditions, something an untrained eye would easily miss. Proactive and preventative dental treatment can then be carried out, sparing the patient from additional pain, discomfort, complications, and costs.

As the old adage goes "prevention is the best medicine." Catching oral health issues early and getting a deep-cleaning teeth cleaning to prevent …

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