Science and medicine were part of my life | Times Online

Dinner table chats with her scientist-parents and hospital ward rounds with her Puncha, these were what inspired her, says Dr. Maheshi N. Ramasamy, Principal Investigator for the Oxford COVID-19 Vaccine Trial, in this interview with Kumudini Hettiarachchi

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Totally relaxed, she comes on Zoom on Wednesday – at the appointed hour of 12 Greenwich Meantime Time (GMT) in Oxford, England, and 5.30 p.m. in Sri Lanka.

No one would imagine that pretty Dr. Maheshi N. Ramasamy, who is quick to smile and chats leisurely, has been having a “crazy” time since the COVID-19 pandemic hit the world.

Dr. Ramasamy delivering a lecture on vaccines at the International Medical Conference of the Sri Lanka Medical Association (SLMA) last year in Colombo

For, 43-year-old Dr. Ramasamy is the Principal Investigator for the Oxford COVID-19 Vaccine Trial. Dubbing these  “exciting” times, she promptly reiterates that the very promising potential vaccine in the Oxford University/AstraZeneca pipeline is “very much a product of teamwork”. The Oxford vaccine will be manufactured by the British pharmaceutical company, AstraZeneca which has made a commitment to making the vaccine on a non-profit basis throughout the pandemic so that it could be distributed globally.

As the Oxford Vaccine Group hopes to put out another strong research paper on their vaccine trials in a week, the Sunday Times looks at the life of this eminent Sri Lankan who loves to come back to her motherland to spend time with family, mainly her four “lovely” cousins who are like her siblings and her ‘Puncha’ (mother’s sister) who is well-known Consultant Physician Dr. Anula Wijesundere.

Out of the ordinary has been only-child Maheshi’s childhood, as her scientist-parents Prof. Ranjan Ramasamy and Prof. Manthri Samaranayake Ramasamy crisscrossed the globe. Born in Colombo, her early years had been spent in Saudi Arabia and Kenya, then back in Sri Lanka and onto California, United States of America, when the country was gripped by communal violence in 1983, then to Brisbane in Australia and finally back to Colombo in 1989.

Dr. Ramasamy says that her mother and aunt were both proud stalwarts and Head Girls of Visakha Vidyalaya, but she was there only briefly, just 10 months, as soon as she began her formal school education. When she returned from Brisbane, she joined Stafford International School – as her “Sinhala was not good enough” to attend Visakha – and did both her OLs and ALs from there. She was awarded the Felix R. de Zoysa Memorial Academic Scholarship and was also the Head Prefect at Stafford International.

Dr. Maheshi Ramasamy in her Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

“I had a great time at Stafford, with its wonderful teachers and amazing Principal Noreen Welikala,” she says, while her family in Colombo was also very close. She and her cousins would be dropped off at school by her aunt in the mornings and they would all go to their grandparents’ home for lunch after school. Family dinners were also a regular occurrence, usually ending on a high note

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Patients face two-year wait to see dentist after waiting times double during coronavirus pandemic

PATIENTS are facing a two-year wait for dental surgery as waiting times have doubled in the last year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Many people suffering with serious tooth problems have not been seen by specialists – months after being sent to hospitals by their high street dentists.

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Patients have been left in agony awaiting dentist appointments because of delays caused by the lockdown

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Patients have been left in agony awaiting dentist appointments because of delays caused by the lockdownCredit: Alamy

Dentist appointments had to be rescheduled because of the coronavirus lockdown, which pushed back surgeries and left tens of thousands in agony during the lengthy delays.

On top of routine checks, the delays have caused fears that people with early symptoms of serious mouth diseases may have been missed.

Matthew Garrett, of the dental faculty at the Royal College of Surgeons, said: “It is inevitable that planned dental surgery will be affected and these operations will be delayed. 

“Where it is safe to do so, we need to try to keep services going. 

“Already a considerable backlog has been created, and waiting lists will become insurmountable if we halt again, with disastrous consequences for patients.”

It’s been estimated that as many as 14million appointments have been missed across Britain – and it will take many more months to clear the backlog of check-ups, according to figures obtained by the DailyMail.

The average wait time at the Eastman Hospital in central London has almost doubled, from 16 weeks last October to 28 at the end of August. 

DENTIST DELAYS

The longest wait time, reaching nearly two years, soared from 60 weeks to 92 weeks for a patient needing corrective treatment to their teeth in the orthodontics department.

One of the victims of the long delays is a child, who has also been waiting 86 weeks to be seen by paediatrics specialists at the hospital.

One 7-year-old Jessica Brown was suffering from a wobbly baby tooth that was growing out of an extension to her gum back in March.

But instead of being treated by her local dental surgery in Norfolk, her father was told they would not seen anyone unless the patient was “bleeding or in agony.”

The tooth was removed in September after Jessica’s dad begged a specialist – who said that the 7-year-old’s gum “had thinned so much that the tooth came out in the dentist’s hand.”

In total, 10,303 patients are on the waiting list needing some form of oral surgery.

In total, 7,781 patients have been waiting more than 18 weeks between referral and treatment.

A spokesperson for University College London Hospital said: “[The trust] took a decision… to transform its services to be able to treat Covid-19 patients as well as the sickest patients in the community.

 “This meant that routine dental appointments were temporarily halted.”

Meanwhile, waiting times have almost tripled at both Liverpool University and Birmingham Dental Hospital.

Eddie Crouch, of the British Dental Association, said some patients waiting for hospital treatment will end up

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Fact check: Trump falsely claims California requires people to wear ‘special’ and ‘complex’ mask at all times

At a campaign rally in Arizona on Wednesday — at which there was no social distancing and most attendees did not wear masks — Trump started mocking what he claimed are the mask requirements in California.

“In California, you have a special mask. You cannot, under any circumstances, take it off. You have to eat through the mask,” the President said.

He continued: “It’s a very complex mechanism. And they don’t realize, those germs, they go through it like nothing. They look at you with that contraption and they say, ‘That’s an easy one. …’ “

Moments later, Trump joked that a meal of spaghetti and meat sauce would mess up a mask someone was forced to wear while eating. The crowd laughed. But the President sounded serious enough when he made his other assertions about California’s mask rules that his claims are worth fact-checking.

Facts First: Trump’s story was false. Californians are not required to wear “complex” or “special” masks; basic face coverings, even homemade ones, are acceptable there. Though Gov. Gavin Newsom has imposed a statewide mask order, Californians are not required to wear masks at all times; they can remove them when at home, when alone in a room outside their home, when outdoors more than 6 feet from others, and when eating or drinking. And while people can transmit the coronavirus or get infected with it while wearing masks, face masks have proven effective in reducing the chances of transmission; they are much better than “nothing.”
Trump’s comments about Californians being forced to eat through their masks appeared to be a reference to an early-October tweet from Newsom’s office that told people “don’t forget to keep your mask on in between bites” when going out to eat with members of their households. The tweet was widely mocked, particularly in conservative circles.

Despite the tweet, California does not have a requirement to wear a mask in between bites at a restaurant. Newsom played down the tweet, saying at a virtual news conference that it was posted by “a staff member” and that its intent was merely to say that “if you’re just gonna read a book at a dinner table, it might be good after a while to put on a mask.”

Top health officials in the federal government, including National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director Dr. Anthony Fauci and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Dr. Robert Redfield, have emphasized that the widespread use of masks is critical to the fight against the virus.

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Down syndrome: People with the syndrome face 10 times the risk of death from Covid-19

“This was after adjustment for cardiovascular and pulmonary diseases and care home residence, which our results suggest explained some but not all of the increased risk,” the researchers wrote.

Their analysis involved more than 8 million adults who were part of a coronavirus risk assessment project sponsored by the British government. Of the 8.26 million people in the tracking study, 4,053 had Down syndrome. Of those, 68 people with the disability died and 40% were killed by Covid-19. Seventeen died of pneumonia or pneumonitis and 35% died of other causes.

Those numbers compare with more than 41,000 people without Down syndrome who died, but just 20% died from the coronavirus, 14% from pneumonia or pneumonitis and 65% died of other causes.

Down syndrome is not included in any guidance from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the UK’s health ministry as a condition that would put people at increased risk for Covdi-19.

“However it is associated with immune dysfunction, congenital heart failure, and pulmonary pathology and, given its prevalence, may be a relevant albeit unconfirmed risk factor for severe COVID-19,” researchers concluded.

A community at risk

National Down Syndrome Society President and CEO Kandi Pickard said her group is grateful that the study has put a focus on the impact of Covid-19 on people with Down syndrome.

“From the beginning of the pandemic, we have been concerned about our community, especially given the complex medical histories of many of our loved ones,” Pickard said. “This recent study confirms our concerns.”

Kids struggle with Covid-19 and its months of aftermath
The society and other Down syndrome organizations worked together to issue the “Q&A on COVID-19 and Down Syndrome” resource guide to help caregivers and others. People with Down syndrome often communicate and understand information in different ways, and they may have trouble understanding social distancing, masking and other ways to prevent infection.

“People with Down syndrome may also have a hard time telling others when they don’t feel well,” according to the coalition. “They may have trouble knowing they have symptoms or how to describe them. For these reasons, they may not raise concerns or seek medical care quickly. Therefore, it is necessary to pay close attention and be watchful.”

Down syndrome is the most common genetic condition diagnosed in the United States every year, according to the CDC, with more than 6,000 babies born with the disability every year. Down syndrome occurs in one in every 700 babies.

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Coronavirus deaths 5 times higher than flu in hospitalized patients, CDC says

Hospitalized coronavirus patients were five times more likely to die than those hospitalized with the flu, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Study authors analyzed health records for nearly 4,000 COVID-19 patients and over 5,400 flu patients from the Veterans Health Administration and compared the complications for each. 

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“The percentage of COVID-19 patients who died while hospitalized (21.0%) was more than five times that of influenza [flu] patients (3.8%), and the duration of hospitalization was almost three times longer for COVID-19 patients,” the authors wrote. Also, the percentage of coronavirus patients who were sent to the intensive care unit more than doubled flu patients.

Further, they found that coronavirus patients were at a higher risk for 17 other complications, including respiratory and neurologic issues.

Hospitalized coronavirus patients were five times more likely to die than those hospitalized with the flu, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.<br>
(iStock)

Hospitalized coronavirus patients were five times more likely to die than those hospitalized with the flu, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.<br>
(iStock)

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After adjusting for variables like age and comorbidities among coronavirus patients, those from minority groups had a higher risk of nine complications, including respiratory and neurologic issues.

“The higher risk for certain complications among racial and ethnic minority patients provides further evidence that certain racial and ethnic minority groups are disproportionally affected by COVID-19 and that this disparity is not solely accounted for by age and underlying medical conditions,” authors wrote.

The coronavirus patients in the study were on average “slightly older” than the flu patients (70 vs. 69 years old, respectively), the study noted, but the flu patients had more underlying health issues.

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The CDC said health care providers need to be diligent about looking for symptoms to improve patient mortality and lower long-term disability.

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There are enough homeless students in California to fill Dodger Stadium 5 times, study says

There were 269,269 K-12 students experiencing homelessness in California at the end of the 2018-2019 school year, according to a new study from UCLA. That’s enough students to fill the entire Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles about five times.

The report, released Wednesday by UCLA’s Center for the Transformation of Schools, found the number of homeless students has risen by 50% in the last 10 years. With the number of homeless students surpassing 269,000, researchers hope the report will highlight the inadequacy of current programs for homeless youth and emphasize additional funding for programs and new policies on both the federal and state level. 

“Dodger Stadium is empty these days but can hold some 56,000 people for a big game. California could fill the stadium with students experiencing homelessness almost five times and still probably need to use the parking lot for overflow,” the study’s lead author, Joseph Bishop, said in a statement.”But our students are not in Dodger Stadium. We are talking about young people who may be sleeping on the streets, in cars, or in shelters. This is a crisis that deserves immediate action.”

The report also shines a light on cracks within federal laws such as the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, which provides funding for homeless shelters. Researchers found that only 106 of 1,037 school districts in California received funding from the law and two out of three homeless students do not attend schools that receive funds. 

The authors of the report said the coronavirus pandemic is likely to bring more hardships for students and families experiencing homelessness. The UCLA report found that students experiencing homelessness were disproportionately Black and Latinx, making up 9% and 70% percent of students respectively.

“Homelessness impacts Latinx and Black students most with real and negative consequences,” said Lorena Camargo Gonzalez, a UCLA researcher and co-author of the report. “The prevalence of Latinx and Black youth experiencing homelessness requires more racially and culturally responsive strategies in education practice and policy.”

With this data, researchers hope to bridge the gap between available federal and state programs and students who have yet to receive aid. As homeless and housing instability has been proven to contribute to low attendance, poor grades, absentee rates, and graduation percentages, researchers hope the report can encourage schools to prioritize their at-risk students while still providing them with the learning experience they need to thrive.

“Even in these tense and difficult times, the large and growing number of students experiencing homelessness in our state is a crisis that should shock all of us,” said Tyrone Howard, faculty director of the school.  “We hope this report will create greater awareness of student homelessness, the racial disparities that exist with students experiencing homelessness, and provide policymakers with meaningful insight and information. Aggressive, immediate and effective action is needed by leaders at every level of government and in our community to dismantle this unacceptable crisis.”

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Homeless California students could fill Dodger Stadium 5 times, study says

There were 269,269 K-12 students experiencing homelessness in California at the end of the 2018-2019 school year, according to a new study from UCLA. That’s enough students to fill the entire Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles about five times.



a group of people riding skis on a snowy surface: California homelessness


© FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty
California homelessness

The report, released Wednesday by UCLA’s Center for the Transformation of Schools, found the number of homeless students has risen by 50% in the last 10 years. With the number of homeless students surpassing 269,000, researchers hope the report will highlight the inadequacy of current programs for homeless youth and emphasize additional funding for programs and new policies on both the federal and state level. 

“Dodger Stadium is empty these days but can hold some 56,000 people for a big game. California could fill the stadium with students experiencing homelessness almost five times and still probably need to use the parking lot for overflow,” the study’s lead author, Joseph Bishop, said in a statement.”But our students are not in Dodger Stadium. We are talking about young people who may be sleeping on the streets, in cars, or in shelters. This is a crisis that deserves immediate action.”

The report also shines a light on cracks within federal laws such as the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, which provides funding for homeless shelters. Researchers found that only 106 of 1,037 school districts in California received funding from the law and two out of three homeless students do not attend schools that receive funds. 

The authors of the report said the coronavirus pandemic is likely to bring more hardships for students and families experiencing homelessness. The UCLA report found that students experiencing homelessness were disproportionately Black and Latinx, making up 9% and 70% percent of students respectively.

“Homelessness impacts Latinx and Black students most with real and negative consequences,” said Lorena Camargo Gonzalez, a UCLA researcher and co-author of the report. “The prevalence of Latinx and Black youth experiencing homelessness requires more racially and culturally responsive strategies in education practice and policy.”

With this data, researchers hope to bridge the gap between available federal and state programs and students who have yet to receive aid. As homeless and housing instability has been proven to contribute to low attendance, poor grades, absentee rates, and graduation percentages, researchers hope the report can encourage schools to prioritize their at-risk students while still providing them with the learning experience they need to thrive.

“Even in these tense and difficult times, the large and growing number of students experiencing homelessness in our state is a crisis that should shock all of us,” said Tyrone Howard, faculty director of the school.  “We hope this report will create greater awareness of student homelessness, the racial disparities that exist with students experiencing homelessness, and provide policymakers with meaningful insight and information. Aggressive, immediate and effective action is needed by leaders at every level of government and in our community to dismantle this unacceptable crisis.”

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Dr. Benjamin Emery, Dentist in Casper, WY, Completes Seven Times the Continuing Education Hours Required by the State of Wyoming

Dr. Benjamin Emery completes over 300 hours of continuing education. Dr. Emery and his team in Casper, WY raise awareness of the importance of seeing a dentist trained in the latest techniques to receive lasting and effective dental care.

CASPER, Wyo. (PRWEB) October 21, 2020

Respected Casper, WY dentist, Dr. Benjamin Emery has now completed over 300 hours of continuing education courses over the last five years. As the first year that Wyoming has required dentists to receive any continuing education, Dr. Emery and his team are raising awareness of the importance of choosing a clinician with knowledge of the latest trainings and techniques. In constant pursuit of breakthrough research and findings in the field of dentistry, Dr. Emery and his associates, Drs. Stuart Youmans, Melissa Youmans, and Austin Baker emphasize the importance of this accomplishment.

Dental continuing education includes trainings and courses completed after dental school. These courses help clinicians stay up to date on the latest discoveries and ensures they retire outdated techniques after more minimally invasive ones are proven. Each state requires a minimum number of continuing education hours or credits to be completed by each dentist during every renewal period in order to practice in that state. Until this year, Wyoming was the only state that did not have a set requirement for dentists.

For reference, Arizona requires 72 hours be completed every three years and South Dakota requires 100 hours every five years. Starting this year, Wyoming requires just 16 hours of continuing dental education be completed every two years.

This puts Dr. Emery’s 300 hours over the last five years into better perspective. Dedicated to his craft and his community, he devotes so much of his time to furthering his education because he refuses to offer outdated care when better solutions are available. He strives to provide his patients with dental care that not only improves their health but offers a comfortable experience and lasting results.

As one of only a few dentists in Casper and Wyoming to offer full mouth reconstruction, he provides truly life-changing care with this transformative treatment all from the comfort of one practice. Dedicating over a decade of experience perfecting his craft, he restores smiles worn-down from teeth-grinding, incomplete from tooth loss, or tarnished by cosmetic imperfections by strategically blending a comprehensive list of treatments. With training from prestigious organizations such as the OBI Foundation for Bioesthetic Dentistry, he combines services like crowns, bridges, Invisalign®, and dental implants, with modern technology including precise and comfortable digital scanning. By doing so, Dr. Emery and his award-winning team create functioning, lasting, and natural-looking smiles that rebuild proper health and restore self-confidence.

When choosing a dentist for care, from regular teeth cleaning to full mouth reconstruction, Dr. Emery and his team at Aspen Ridge Dental encourage patients to consider how much time the clinician has dedicated to continuing education. As uncompromising with his training and education as he is with his patients’ care, Dr. Emery and his team welcome new patients to

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Hospitalized COVID-19 patients are five times more likely to die than patients hospitalized with flu, CDC says

Coronavirus patients are five times more likely to experience complications and die in the hospital than hospitalized flu patients, a report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Tuesday says. 

The CDC assessed data from the national Veterans Health Administration that included health records of nearly 4,000 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 between March and May 31 and 5,453 patients hospitalized with influenza between Oct. 1, 2018 and Feb. 1, 2020. 


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Researchers found 21 percent of COVID-19 patients died in the hospital compared with 3.8 percent of those who died while hospitalized with the flu. 

“Findings from a large, national cohort of patients hospitalized within the VHA illustrate the increased risk for complications involving multiple organ systems among patients with COVID-19 compared with those with influenza, as well as racial/ethnic disparities in COVID-19-associated complications,” the CDC report said. 

COVID-19 patients were hospitalized nearly three times longer than flu patients and had a higher risk of 17 respiratory and nonrespiratory complications — including more than twice the risk of pneumonia. They were also twice as likely to need intensive care and 19 times more likely to experience acute respiratory distress syndrome. 

Influenza patients were more likely to experience worsened asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. 

Coronavirus patients were slightly older on average and flu patients had more underlying conditions. Researchers said Black and Hispanic patients were at higher risk for respiratory, neurologic and kidney complications than white patients. 

“Compared with influenza, COVID-19 is associated with increased risk for most respiratory and nonrespiratory complications. Certain racial and ethnic minority groups are disproportionately affected by COVID-19,” the CDC said. 

The CDC estimates there were about 22,000 influenza deaths last flu season with 38 million infections. As of Tuesday, more than 220,000 people have died from COVID-19 in the U.S. since the outbreak began earlier this year and more than 8.2 million have been infected. 


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In Medieval Times, Plagues ‘Sped Up’ With Each New Outbreak | Health News

By Cara Roberts Murez, HealthDay Reporter

(HealthDay)

MONDAY, Oct. 19, 2020 (HealthDay News) — Medieval plague outbreaks in England picked up frightening speed in the 17th century, Canadian researchers report.

Their analysis of historical documents covering 300 years showed that outbreaks of the plague doubled every 11 days in London during the 1600s, compared to every 43 days in the 14th century.

“It is an astounding difference in how fast plague epidemics grew,” said lead author David Earn, an investigator with the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario.

No published death records were available for London before 1538.

So statisticians, biologists and evolutionary geneticists analyzed personal wills, parish registers and data used to monitor burials in London to estimate death rates. During medieval times, people typically wrote wills because they were dying or feared imminent death, so those were “a good proxy for the spread of fear and of death itself,” Earn said in a university news release.

Previous genetic studies identified the pathogen that causes plague, including the Black Death of 1348, which killed more than one-third of Europe’s population, and the Great Plague of 1665. But little was known about how the disease was transmitted.

This research suggests that it was not spread by human-to-human transmission. Growth rates for both epidemics are more consistent with bubonic plague, which is transmitted by bites of infected fleas, the researchers said.

They suspect population density, living conditions and cooler temperatures could explain the rapid acceleration.

“From genetic evidence, we have good reason to believe that the strains of bacterium responsible for plague changed very little over this time period, so this is a fascinating result,” said study co-author Hendrik Poinar, a professor of anthropology at McMaster.

Earn, Poinar and their colleagues said lessons of the past can be applied to modern-day pandemics like COVID-19. They developed a digitized archive that provides a way to analyze past patterns in search of new information about the spread of infectious disease.

The findings were published Oct. 19 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Copyright © 2020 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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