Rep. Pramila Jayapal Highlights South Asian Heart Health Awareness and Research Bill, While Promising Full Support To AAPI In Its Efforts

“With your help and advocacy, we will pass this Bill in the Full House next month,” Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal told delegates of the American Association of Physcians of Indian Origin (AAPI) during the 40th annual Convention held in San Antonio, TX on Saturday, June 25th, 2022. While expressing gratitude and appreciation to the physical fraternity for being in the frontline, especially during the Covid Pandemic, the first ever woman Congress Representative of South Asian Origin, Rep. Jayapal, who is the Chair of Democratic Caucus said, “One of the legislations I have been very passionate about has been the Bill I had introduced in the Congress, South Asian Heart Health Awareness and Research Act,” which has now been  passed by the subcommittee of the US House Energy and Commerce Committee, and she was hopeful that will pass the full House next month.

“As the first South Asian American woman ever elected to the House of Representatives, I am fully committed to not only raising awareness and educating the South Asian community about the risk factors for heart disease but also ensuring that those living with heart disease receive the care, treatment, resources and support they need,” said Congresswoman Jayapal. “I am proud that this urgently necessary legislation passed committee and I won’t stop fighting until it becomes law.”

Heart disease is the number one Global Public Health problem. South Asians are at a four-times greater risk of heart disease than their western counterparts and have a greater chance of having a heart attack before 50 years of age, says a . Heart attacks strike South Asian Men and Women at younger ages, and as a result, both morbidity and mortality are higher among them compared to any other ethnic group. They tend to develop heart disease ten years earlier than other groups.” 

Dr. Ravi Kolli, the new President of AAPI, pointed out, “While South Asians make up only 23% of the global population, they account for 60% of all heart disease cases. And, tragically, the mortality rate for heart disease is a staggering 40% higher among South Asians. South Asian Americans are four times more likely to suffer from heart disease than most people, and experience heart problems nearly decade earlier on average.”

Among the many issues, AAPI has been focused on in recent times, Dr. Anupama Gotimukula, immediate past President of AAPI, said, “Creating awareness about this major health issue among South Asian Americans has been a major task undertaken by several not-for-profit organizations, including the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI), the largest ethnic medical organization in the United States.” 

Dr. Kolli thanked Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal for her efforts in introducing the critical legislation, South Asian Heart Health Awareness and Research Act, which has now passed the subcommittee of the US House Energy and Commerce Committee on May 11 and is now set to advance to the full House and for working with her colleagues to ensure its passage. 

The South Asian Heart Health Awareness and Research Act (H.R. 3131) is aimed at providing grants of up to $1 million per year to fund research and prevention of heart disease in South Asian communities. The bill establishes, or authorizes to be established, programs that support heart-disease research and awareness among communities disproportionately affected by heart disease, including the South Asian population of the United States.

As per the Bill, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention must award grants to states for awareness initiatives, educational materials, and research catalogs regarding the prevalence of heart disease, including the association of type 2 diabetes, with respect to the South Asian population and other at-risk populations. The bill would raise awareness about the alarming rate of heart disease in South Asian communities in the United States while investing in strategies to reverse this deadly trend. 

Studies have shown that South Asians in the United States—people who immigrated from or whose families immigrated from countries including India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal—are experiencing a dramatic rise in heart disease. South Asians make up 25 percent of the world’s population but 50 percent of global cardiovascular deaths. Additionally, South Asian Americans are four times more at risk of developing heart disease than the general population, have a much greater chance of having a heart attack before age 50 and have emerged as the ethnic group with the highest prevalence of Type 2 diabetes, which is a leading cause of heart disease.

Representative Jayapal’s legislation would do the following:

  • Direct the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary to create grants, such as South Asian Heart Health Promotion Grants at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to provide funding for community groups involved in South Asian heart health promotion and to develop culturally appropriate materials to promote heart health in the South Asian community.
  • Direct the HHS Secretary to fund grants through the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to conduct research on cardiovascular disease and other heart ailments among communities disproportionately affected by heart disease, such as South Asian populations living in the United States, and develop a clearinghouse and web portal of information on heart health research, such as South Asian heart health.

The bipartisan legislation—originally introduced in 2017 with Republican Congressman Joe Wilson (SC-02)—has 40 co-sponsors in the House and is endorsed by the American College of Cardiology, American Heart Association, American Medical Association, American Stroke Association, WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease, American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin, South Asian Public Health Association, Hindu American Foundation, Hindu American Physicians in Seva, South Asian Health Lifestyle Intervention, MASALA, AAPCHO, Mended Hearts, Bangladesh Medical Association of North America and South Asian Heart Center, and American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI).  

 For more information on AAPI, please visit: www.aapiusa.org. Please watch the Video Link at: (https://drive.google.com/file/d/1N_WzV9dcKPQuViGO5fNYul3TMn_C_4Zr/view )

Focusing On ‘Heal The Healers,’ AAPI’s Historic 40th Convention Concludes In San Antonio

The historic 40th annual convention organized by the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) concluded at the world-famous Riverwalk Henry B Gonzalez Convention Center in San Antonio in Texas on Saturday, June 25th, 2022 with a Gala Bollywood Nite, during which a new Leadership Team led by Dr. Ravi Kolli assumed charge of the four decades old premier Medical Organization, representing the strong and powerful 120,000 physicians of Indian heritage. 

The four days long annual convention and scientific assembly, attended by over 10,000 AAPI delegates, while celebrating the achievements of the Indian American Physicians, focused on the theme, “Physician Heal Thyself” with several unique and first-of-a-kind opportunities to help AAPI members self-care, especially in the context of Covid related physicians burn out, paid tributes and celebrated freedom and democracy, honoring India and its  75 years of Independence Day celebrations- co-sponsored by the Embassy of India & the Consulate General of India (CGI) – Houston.

“AAPI’s strength is its numbers and members. Our Sakthi is in our Samkhya and our Sabhyas,” Dr. Ravi Kolli stated in his inaugural address immediately after he assumed charge as the 41st President of AAPI. “You are that powerful threads of this colorful and strong fabric, and your participation and contributions are essential for its continued success. So, thank you all,” Dr. Kolli told AAPI delegates and distinguished guests who had packed the Ball Room at the Henry Gonzalez Convention Center during the Presidential Gala. 

Dr. Kolli  will work with Dr. Anjana Sammadar, President-Elect; Dr. Satheesh Kathula, Vice President; Dr. Meherbala Medavaram, Secretary and Dr. Sumul Raval, Treasurer of AAPI for the year 2022-23. Dr. V. Ranga will serve as the Chair, AAPI Board of Trustees. Giving representation and strengthening the voice of young physicians of Indian origin, Dr. Pooja Kinkhabwala will serve as the President, AAPI Young Physicians Section (YPS) and Dr. Ammu Susheela is the President of AAPI- Medical Student/Residents & Fellows Section (MSRF). Dr. Anupama Gotimukula will serve as the Immediate Past President of AAPI. 

Dr. Anupama Gotimukula, the Immediate Past President of AAPI said, “Our leadership team has worked diligently on so many wonderful projects and activities including educational, philanthropic, legislative, networking, and many more activities benefitting our members and communities. This has been possible because of the incredible work and support from the dedicated team of leaders, members, and our supporting office staff,” the only 4th woman President of AAPI in the four decades long history of AAPI, said. 

“Our physician members have worked very hard during the covid 19 pandemic. The 2022 convention is a perfect time to heal the healers with a special focus on wellness,” said Dr.  Jayesh Shah, Chair of AAPI Convention 2022. Dr. Shah praised the dedication and generosity of each member for giving their best, to make this Convention truly a memorable one for every participant.

Put together by a highly talented and dedicated team of Convention Committee members, the convention was filled with programs and activities that cater to the body, mind and soul. The Convention was a unique experience for everyone, Dr. Sathessh Kathula, Secretary of AAPI said. 

During the BOT luncheon chaired by Dr. Kusum Punjabi, the youngest ever to hold the position, handed over the office to the new Chair, Dr. Vishweshwar R. Ranga. In her address, Dr. Punjabi highlighted the many initiatives under her leadership. She said, “The Board of Trustees this year has launched the AAPI Medical Project Grant (MPG). The purpose of this grant is to financially support AAPI medical students/residents/fellows/young physicians in various medical projects such as observerships, community service projects, entrepreneurships, innovation developments, etc.:

Dr. V. Ranga in his address he said, “My goal in the coming year is to formalize and create AAPI leadership academy working with executives from American College of Physicians for the development of leadership roles for all AAPI members. I want to work hard to engage young physicians and attract them to AAPI. They are the future of AAPI.”

Dr. Surender Purohit, Chair of AAPI’s Charitable Foundation provided a brief summary of the many initiatives AAPI has undertaken in recent years, especially benefitting the remotest villages in the country.

Welcoming AAPI delegates to San Antonio, Ron Nirenberg, Mayor of San Antonio, declared June 24th as AAPI Day and International Yoga Day in the City of San Antonio. While praising AAPI and its members for their contributions, Nirenberg said, “We are honored to host the largest gathering of Indian American physicians in our vibrant city, home to some of the best healthcare facilities in the nation.”

AAPI delegates had a rare glimpse to the rich cultural heritage of India through a video presentation depicting the unique diversity of India and a variety of mesmerizing performances of Indian/Mexican Fusion Dances, ranging from Bharatnatyam, folk dances, and the traditional Indian dances in sync with Mexican pop dances, which were a treat to the hearts and souls  of everyone. National Spieling Bee Champion 2022 Harini Logan was recognized during the convention Gala. 

In his keynote address, Ambassador Taranjit Singh Sandhu lauded the several initiatves of AAPI over the past four decades and said, “Over the past four decades, AAPI has been doing an outstanding job in advocacy and health education. You play an important role, especially during the Covid Pandemic/” Speaking at length on the growing Indo-US relationship, the veteran diplomat said, “Over the last two decades, India and the United States have overcome the hesitations of history and fashioned a remarkable partnership, built on a bipartisan consensus in the U.S. and cross-party support in India.” Elaborating on the collaboration between India and the US, he said, “From the provision of active pharmaceutical ingredients to generic medicines that have lowered drug prices and created jobs and investments, India has demonstrated its reliability as a supply chain partner, especially as de-risking from single country supplies has become a priority.”

Aseem Mahajan, Consul General of India in Houston, referred to the significance of “India and the United States, the two most vibrant democracies, representing two great multicultural societies with shared values, who are natural partners” working together in several areas of interest to both the nations.

Dr. Jack Resneck, President of American Medical Association praised the contributions and achievements of Indian American physicians, who serve and provide best healthcare to every 7th patient in the United States. “It’s time our nation renews our commitment to you for the incredible services you provide to our nation,” he said. During a Plenary session, he provided a detailed description of the many steps AMA has been undertaking to root out the causes for physician burn out and enhance healthcare delivery in the nation through education and advocacy at the state and national levels. 

Keynote speaker, Little Master Sunil Gavaskar was introduced by Venky Adivi, Chief Executive Officer of the Convention. Gavaskar, a record holder of numerous international Cricket matches, in his address said, “Yours is the greatest of all professions in the world. You have put your lives at risk during the Pandemic to save the lives of others. Yours is the noble profession that I have admired always.” 

Dr. Rahul Gupta, the nation’s “drug czar” and top drug policy official, while conveying the greetings from President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris praised the contributions of Indian American Physicians. “The role of the Drug Czar has never been as critical as it’s today,” he told the AAPI delegates, who have been advocating for prize control of drugs to contain overall healthcare costs. “AS physicians of Indian Origin, we have learnt  to find simple solutions to complex problems. We need 21st century solutions to 21st century problems.” And he encouraged his colleagues to think and find ways to make a difference in the healthcare delivery in the country. 

Others who addressed the Convention included Dr. Bobby Mukamala, Chair of BOT at American Medical Association, Congressman Joaquin Castro from Texas, and Peter Jay Hortez,, who was part of the plenart session on “Covid Vaccination Globally and Vaccine Hesitancy.” 

In her spiritual discourse, Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati, PhD, Spiritual leader, teacher and author, while pointing to how we are creating a vicious negative health through fear, stress and anxiety in this country, her message today was to focus on the Synonym for HEALTH: Health, Embrace, Allow, Love, Time for yourself, and Help others. 

In his live video message, Paramaguru Sharath Jois, Lineage holder of Ashtanga Yoga, told AAPI leaders as to how “each of you have sacrificed your life. I congratulate the organizers for focusing on heal the healers and using Yoga our traditional method to help us in our daily lives.” Referring to the 7th anniversary of India’s Independence he said, “It must help us transcend all that divide us on the basis of caste, creed and status.” 

The much anticipated wellness package in collaboration with all the 10 City Council Districts of San Antonio, TX and Mayor Ron Nirenberg and iDoYoga San Antonio organized its flagship Free Yoga Classes and Education on the benefits and ways to make yoga a part of one’s daily life during the course of the entire convention. The convention was focused on themes such as how to take care of self and find satisfaction and happiness in the challenging situations they are in, while serving hundreds of patients everyday of their dedicated and noble profession. 

Led by internationally famed yoga gurus, including  Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati, PhD, Spiritual leader, teacher and author; Paramaguru Sharath Jois, Lineage holder of Ashtanga Yoga; and, Eddie Stern, Yoga teacher, speaker and author, the highly anticipated and popular Yoga on the famous Riverwalk was part of the global celebration of the 8th International Day of Yoga (IDY).

Some of the major themes at the convention included: Yoga and Meditation practices, Welcome kit with books & self-care supplies, A Personal Reflexology Session, Take home wellness routine, Ailment based yoga therapy sessions, Workshop on Spiritual well-being, Book talk with Yoga Gurus, including on the science of Yoga & Lifestyle medicine. Yoga gurus and experts leading the wellness sessions include Paramguru Sharatha Jois, Sadhvi Bhagawati, Saraswati Eddie Stern, Dr. Sat Bir Khalsa, Dr. Dilip Sarkar, Dr. Pankaj Vij, and Dr. Param Dedhia.

Dr. Anjana Sammadar, President-Elect , pointed out: “There was a sense of joy and relief on the faces of the over 1,000 physicians who have come together to celebrate their achievements, contributions, and to network and deepen their relationship even as the Covid Pandemic is waning and people are able to mingle freely and interact with one another cautiously.” 

 AAPI delegates attended a multidisciplinary CME conference that allowed specialists and primary care physicians to interact in an academic forum. World-renowned speakers discussed gaps between current and best practice of wide-ranging topics at the CME sessions. 

Dr. Satheesh Kathula, Vice President of AAPI said, as many as CME credit hours have been provided by outstanding speakers all year and provided cutting edge CMEs to members. He thanked the Chicago Medical Society, Dr. Vemuri Murthy, Dr. Amit Chakraborty, CME Chair  and Dr. Sagar Galvankar, & Co-Chair for their diligent efforts all the prominent speakers who shared their expertise with AAPI delegates. 

Dr. Meherbala Medavaram said, some of the major events at the convention included: Workshops and hands-on sessions on well-being, 10-12 hours of CMEs, Women’s Forum, CEOs Forum, AAPI Got Talent, Mehfil, Bollywood Nite, Fashion Show, Medical Jeopardy, Poster/Research Contest, Alumni and Young Physicians events and Exhibition and Sale of Jewelry, Clothing, Medical Equipment, Pharma, Finance and many more.

According to Dr. Sumul Raval, the convention offered a venue for Physicians and healthcare professionals from across the country and internationally to convene and participate in the scholarly exchange of medical advances, to develop health policy agendas, and to encourage legislative priorities in the coming year.

The panelists at the prestigious Women’s Forum included: Dr. Juby A. Jacob-Nara, a Public Health Physician, Vice President and Head of Global Medical Respiratory Allergy & Gastroenterology (Sanofi-Genzyme); Dr. Kalpalatha Guntupalli, Endowed Professor for Pulmonary Disorders, Baylor College of Medicine; Dr. Sowjanya Mohan, Group Chief Medical Officer, Texas Group/Tenet Health; and, Ms. Rosemary Hickman, Semmes Foundation Education Manager at the Mcnay Art Museum.

The CEOs Forum moderated by Dr. Joseph Chalil had a panel of Industry Leaders including: Dr. Juby A Jacob-Nara, Vice President, Head of Global Medical- Sanofi-Genzyme; Robert Mattchione, from NOVA; Dr. Monika Kapur; Ms. Rebecca Seidel. Medtronix; and Mario Ball. A pioneering AAPI Medical Leadership Council is being formed to collaborate with Industry leaders and to be the voice of healthcare providers, said Dr. Chalil. 

Mehfil gave AAPI members to showcase their skills. Dr. Satheesh Kathula in the incoming Vice President of API was declared the winner of the contest. During the popular Fashion Parade presented by world renowned fashion designer Archana Kochar had beautiful and handsome young men and women wearing handmade colorful apparel made by villagers in Madhya Pradesh, cat walked on the ramp.     

Dozens of local children from ages 8 to 16, trained by Yoga Masters in San Antonio by presenting and demonstrating multiple Yoga Aasanas to the tune of Vande Mataram provided valuable education on Yoga and its importance in life. Every evening the popular AAPI Got Talent and each day of the convention had a specific theme. On Thursday, the theme chosen is “Unity in Diversity” and the delegates showcased one’s own state dress code. Heritage India was the theme for Friday honoring and celebrating India’s rich culture and diversity. On Saturday, the focus was on the much loved Bollywood with special performance by popular Bollywood singer Shaan, The cuisine served each will day match the theme chosen for each day.

Dr. Jagan Ailinani was honored with Life Time Achievement Award. The Distinguished Physician Award was given to Dr. Vijay Yeldandi and AAPI’s Most Distinguished Award was given to Dr. Ravindra Nathan.  AAPI’s Most Distinguished YPS Award was given to Dr. Sejal Hathi and the AAPI’s Most Distinguished MSRF Award was given to Aaiswariya Gulani. r. Gotimukula honored Dr. Udaya Shivangi, Dr. Sujeeth Punnam, Dr. Dwarkanath Reddy and AAPI’s Legal Advisor with Presidential Awards for their dedication and support during her presidency.

“Welcome to Philadelphia for the 41st annual convention which will provide you all with extensive academic presentations, recognition of achievements and achievers, and professional networking at the al and evening social events,” Dr. Ravi Kolli announced. For more details, please visit:  www.aapiconvention.org  and www.aapiusa.org

 

By, Ajay Ghosh

Celebrating The Achievements Of Indian American Physicians, AAPI’s Historic 40th Convention Concludes In San Antonio

(San Antonio, Tx. June 26, 2022) The historic 40th annual convention organized by the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) concluded at the world-famous Riverwalk Henry B Gonzalez Convention Center in San Antonio in Texas on Saturday, June 25th, 2022 with a Gala Bollywood Nite, during which a new Leadership Team led by Dr. Ravi Kolli assumed charge of the four decades old premier Medical Organization, representing the strong and powerful 120,000 physicians of Indian heritage.

The four days long annual convention and scientific assembly, attended by over 10,000 AAPI delegates, while celebrating the achievements of the Indian American Physicians, focused on the theme, “Physician Heal Thyself” with several unique and first-of-a-kind opportunities to help AAPI members self-care, especially in the context of Covid related physicians burn out, paid tributes and celebrated freedom and democracy, honoring India and its  75 years of Independence Day celebrations- co-sponsored by the Embassy of India & the Consulate General of India (CGI) – Houston.

“AAPI’s strength is its numbers and members. Our Sakthi is in our Samkhya and our Sabhyas,” Dr. Ravi Kolli stated in his inaugural address immediately after he assumed charge as the 41st President of AAPI. “You are that powerful threads of this colorful and strong fabric, and your participation and contributions are essential for its continued success. So, thank you all,” Dr. Kolli told AAPI delegates and distinguished guests who had packed the Ball Room at the Henry Gonzalez Convention Center during the Presidential Gala.

Dr. Kolli  will work with Dr. Anjana Sammadar, President-Elect; Dr. Satheesh Kathula, Vice President; Dr. Meherbala Medavaram, Secretary and Dr. Sumul Raval, Treasurer of AAPI for the year 2022-23. Dr. V. Ranga will serve as the Chair, AAPI Board of Trustees. Giving representation and strengthening the voice of young physicians of Indian origin, Dr. Pooja Kinkhabwala will serve as the President, AAPI Young Physicians Section (YPS) and Dr. Ammu Susheela is the President of AAPI- Medical Student/Residents & Fellows Section (MSRF). Dr. Anupama Gotimukula will serve as the Immediate Past President of AAPI.

Dr. Anupama Gotimukula, the Immediate Past President of AAPI said, “Our leadership team has worked diligently on so many wonderful projects and activities including educational, philanthropic, legislative, networking, and many more activities benefitting our members and communities. This has been possible because of the incredible work and support from the dedicated team of leaders, members, and our supporting office staff,” the only 4th woman President of AAPI in the four decades long history of AAPI, said.

“Our physician members have worked very hard during the covid 19 pandemic. The 2022 convention is a perfect time to heal the healers with a special focus on wellness,” said Dr.  Jayesh Shah, Chair of AAPI Convention 2022. Dr. Shah praised the dedication and generosity of each member for giving their best, to make this Convention truly a memorable one for every participant.

Put together by a highly talented and dedicated team of Convention Committee members, the convention was filled with programs and activities that cater to the body, mind and soul. The Convention was a unique experience for everyone, Dr. Sathessh Kathula, Secretary of AAPI said.

During the BOT luncheon chaired by Dr. Kusum Punjabi, the youngest ever to hold the position, handed over the office to the new Chair, Dr. Vishweshwar R. Ranga. In her address, Dr. Punjabi highlighted the many initiatives under her leadership. She said, “The Board of Trustees this year has launched the AAPI Medical Project Grant (MPG). The purpose of this grant is to financially support AAPI medical students/residents/fellows/young physicians in various medical projects such as observerships, community service projects, entrepreneurships, innovation developments, etc.:

Dr. V. Ranga in his address he said, “My goal in the coming year is to formalize and create AAPI leadership academy working with executives from American College of Physicians for the development of leadership roles for all AAPI members. I want to work hard to engage young physicians and attract them to AAPI. They are the future of AAPI.”

Dr. Surender Purohit, Chair of AAPI’s Charitable Foundation provided a brief summary of the many initiatives AAPI has undertaken in recent years, especially benefitting the remotest villages in the country.

Welcoming AAPI delegates to San Antonio, Ron Nirenberg, Mayor of San Antonio, declared June 24th as AAPI Day and International Yoga Day in the City of San Antonio. While praising AAPI and its members for their contributions, Nirenberg said, “We are honored to host the largest gathering of Indian American physicians in our vibrant city, home to some of the best healthcare facilities in the nation.”

AAPI delegates had a rare glimpse to the rich cultural heritage of India through a video presentation depicting the unique diversity of India and a variety of mesmerizing performances of Indian/Mexican Fusion Dances, ranging from Bharatnatyam, folk dances, and the traditional Indian dances in sync with Mexican pop dances, which were a treat to the hearts and souls  of everyone. National Spieling Bee Champion 2022 Harini Logan was recognized during the convention Gala.

In his keynote address, Ambassador Taranjit Singh Sandhu lauded the several initiatves of AAPI over the past four decades and said, “Over the past four decades, AAPI has been doing an outstanding job in advocacy and health education. You play an important role, especially during the Covid Pandemic/” Speaking at length on the growing Indo-US relationship, the veteran diplomat said, “Over the last two decades, India and the United States have overcome the hesitations of history and fashioned a remarkable partnership, built on a bipartisan consensus in the U.S. and cross-party support in India.” Elaborating on the collaboration between India and the US, he said, “From the provision of active pharmaceutical ingredients to generic medicines that have lowered drug prices and created jobs and investments, India has demonstrated its reliability as a supply chain partner, especially as de-risking from single country supplies has become a priority.”

Aseem Mahajan, Consul General of India in Houston, referred to the significance of “India and the United States, the two most vibrant democracies, representing two great multicultural societies with shared values, who are natural partners” working together in several areas of interest to both the nations.

Dr. Jack Resneck, President of American Medical Association praised the contributions and achievements of Indian American physicians, who serve and provide best healthcare to every 7th patient in the United States. “It’s time our nation renews our commitment to you for the incredible services you provide to our nation,” he said. During a Plenary session, he provided a detailed description of the many steps AMA has been undertaking to root out the causes for physician burn out and enhance healthcare delivery in the nation through education and advocacy at the state and national levels.

Keynote speaker, Little Master Sunil Gavaskar was introduced by Venky Adivi, Chief Executive Officer of the Convention. Gavaskar, a record holder of numerous international Cricket matches, in his address said, “Yours is the greatest of all professions in the world. You have put your lives at risk during the Pandemic to save the lives of others. Yours is the noble profession that I have admired always.”

Dr. Rahul Gupta, the nation’s “drug czar” and top drug policy official, while conveying the greetings from President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris praised the contributions of Indian American Physicians. “The role of the Drug Czar has never been as critical as it’s today,” he told the AAPI delegates, who have been advocating for prize control of drugs to contain overall healthcare costs. “AS physicians of Indian Origin, we have learnt  to find simple solutions to complex problems. We need 21st century solutions to 21st century problems.” And he encouraged his colleagues to think and find ways to make a difference in the healthcare delivery in the country.

Others who addressed the Convention included Dr. Bobby Mukamala, Chair of BOT at American Medical Association, Congressman Joaquin Castro from Texas, and Peter Jay Hortez,, who was part of the plenart session on “Covid Vaccination Globally and Vaccine Hesitancy.”

In her spiritual discourse, Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati, PhD, Spiritual leader, teacher and author, while pointing to how we are creating a vicious negative health through fear, stress and anxiety in this country, her message today was to focus on the Synonym for HEALTH: Health, Embrace, Allow, Love, Time for yourself, and Help others.

In his live video message, Paramaguru Sharath Jois, Lineage holder of Ashtanga Yoga, told AAPI leaders as to how “each of you have sacrificed your life. I congratulate the organizers for focusing on heal the healers and using Yoga our traditional method to help us in our daily lives.” Referring to the 7th anniversary of India’s Independence he said, “It must help us transcend all that divide us on the basis of caste, creed and status.”

The much anticipated wellness package in collaboration with all the 10 City Council Districts of San Antonio, TX and Mayor Ron Nirenberg and iDoYoga San Antonio organized its flagship Free Yoga Classes and Education on the benefits and ways to make yoga a part of one’s daily life during the course of the entire convention. The convention was focused on themes such as how to take care of self and find satisfaction and happiness in the challenging situations they are in, while serving hundreds of patients everyday of their dedicated and noble profession.

Led by internationally famed yoga gurus, including  Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati, PhD, Spiritual leader, teacher and author; Paramaguru Sharath Jois, Lineage holder of Ashtanga Yoga; and, Eddie Stern, Yoga teacher, speaker and author, the highly anticipated and popular Yoga on the famous Riverwalk was part of the global celebration of the 8th International Day of Yoga (IDY).

Some of the major themes at the convention included: Yoga and Meditation practices, Welcome kit with books & self-care supplies, A Personal Reflexology Session, Take home wellness routine, Ailment based yoga therapy sessions, Workshop on Spiritual well-being, Book talk with Yoga Gurus, including on the science of Yoga & Lifestyle medicine. Yoga gurus and experts leading the wellness sessions include Paramguru Sharatha Jois, Sadhvi Bhagawati, Saraswati Eddie Stern, Dr. Sat Bir Khalsa, Dr. Dilip Sarkar, Dr. Pankaj Vij, and Dr. Param Dedhia.

Dr. Anjana Sammadar, President-Elect , pointed out: “There was a sense of joy and relief on the faces of the over 1,000 physicians who have come together to celebrate their achievements, contributions, and to network and deepen their relationship even as the Covid Pandemic is waning and people are able to mingle freely and interact with one another cautiously.”

AAPI delegates attended a multidisciplinary CME conference that allowed specialists and primary care physicians to interact in an academic forum. World-renowned speakers discussed gaps between current and best practice of wide-ranging topics at the CME sessions.

Dr. Satheesh Kathula, Vice President of AAPI said, as many as CME credit hours have been provided by outstanding speakers all year and provided cutting edge CMEs to members. He thanked the Chicago Medical Society, Dr. Vemuri Murthy, Dr. Amit Chakraborty, CME Chair  and Dr. Sagar Galvankar, & Co-Chair for their diligent efforts all the prominent speakers who shared their expertise with AAPI delegates.

Dr. Meherbala Medavaram said, some of the major events at the convention included: Workshops and hands-on sessions on well-being, 10-12 hours of CMEs, Women’s Forum, CEOs Forum, AAPI Got Talent, Mehfil, Bollywood Nite, Fashion Show, Medical Jeopardy, Poster/Research Contest, Alumni and Young Physicians events and Exhibition and Sale of Jewelry, Clothing, Medical Equipment, Pharma, Finance and many more.

According to Dr. Sumul Raval, the convention offered a venue for Physicians and healthcare professionals from across the country and internationally to convene and participate in the scholarly exchange of medical advances, to develop health policy agendas, and to encourage legislative priorities in the coming year.

The panelists at the prestigious Women’s Forum included: Dr. Juby A. Jacob-Nara, a Public Health Physician, Vice President and Head of Global Medical Respiratory Allergy & Gastroenterology (Sanofi-Genzyme); Dr. Kalpalatha Guntupalli, Endowed Professor for Pulmonary Disorders, Baylor College of Medicine; Dr. Sowjanya Mohan, Group Chief Medical Officer, Texas Group/Tenet Health; and, Ms. Rosemary Hickman, Semmes Foundation Education Manager at the Mcnay Art Museum.

The CEOs Forum moderated by Dr. Joseph Chalil had a panel of Industry Leaders including: Dr. Juby A Jacob-Nara, Vice President, Head of Global Medical- Sanofi-Genzyme; Robert Mattchione, from NOVA; Dr. Monika Kapur; Ms. Rebecca Seidel. Medtronix; and Mario Ball. A pioneering AAPI Medical Leadership Council is being formed to collaborate with Industry leaders and to be the voice of healthcare providers, said Dr. Chalil.

Mehfil gave AAPI members to showcase their skills. Dr. Satheesh Kathula in the incoming Vice President of API was declared the winner of the contest. During the popular Fashion Parade presented by world renowned fashion designer Archana Kochar had beautiful and handsome young men and women wearing handmade colorful apparel made by villagers in Madhya Pradesh, cat walked on the ramp.

Dozens of local children from ages 8 to 16, trained by Yoga Masters in San Antonio by presenting and demonstrating multiple Yoga Aasanas to the tune of Vande Mataram provided valuable education on Yoga and its importance in life. Every evening the popular AAPI Got Talent and

Each day of the convention had a specific theme. On Thursday, the theme chosen is “Unity in Diversity” and the delegates showcased one’s own state dress code. Heritage India was the theme for Friday honoring and celebrating India’s rich culture and diversity. On Saturday, the focus was on the much loved Bollywood with special performance by popular Bollywood singer Shaan, The cuisine served each will day match the theme chosen for each day.

Dr. Jagan Ailinani was honored with Life Time Achievement Award. The Distinguished Physician Award was given to Dr. Vijay Yeldandi and AAPI’s Most Distinguished Award was given to Dr. Ravindra Nathan.  AAPI’s Most Distinguished YPS Award was given to Dr. Sejal Hathi and the AAPI’s Most Distinguished MSRF Award was given to Aaiswariya Gulani. r. Gotimukula honored Dr. Udaya Shivangi, Dr. Sujeeth Punnam, Dr. Dwarkanath Reddy and AAPI’s Legal Advisor with Presidential Awards for their dedication and support during her presidency.

“Welcome to Philadelphia for the 41st annual convention which will provide you all with extensive academic presentations, recognition of achievements and achievers, and professional networking at the al and evening social events,” Dr. Ravi Kolli announced. For more details, please visit:  www.aapiconvention.org  and www.aapiusa.org

AAPI’s 40th Convention Inaugurated In San Antonio, TX

(San Antonio, TX. June 25, 2022) The historic 40th annual convention organized by the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI)  was officially inaugurated with ribbon cutting and lighting of the traditional lamp at the Henry B Gonzalez Convention Center in San Antonio in Texas on Friday, June 24th, 2022, celebrating the achievements of Indian American Physicians and focusing on the theme, “Physician Heal Thyself” with several unique and first of a kind opportunities to help AAPI members self-care, especially in the context of Covid related physicians burn out.

Describing it to be a “historic 40th annual convention celebrating 40 years of AAPI and India’s 75 years of Independence in collaboration with the Indian Consulate in Houston and Indian Embassy with invited dignitaries from the US and India,” Dr. Anupama Gotimukula, the only 4th woman President of AAPI in the four decades-long history of AAP,  expressed gratitude to “the entire AAPI leadership and members for their participation in AAPI activities, making AAPI stronger.”

Dr. Jayesh Shah, Convention Chair and Past President of AAPI said in Texan style. “It is with great pleasure that I, along with the San Antonio -2022 Convention Team, welcome you to the 40th AAPI Annual Convention in San Antonio, the 8th largest city in the US. I still have vivid memories of inviting you to San Antonio in 2014. This is going to be the 4th convention in Texas.”

Welcoming AAPI delegates to San Antonio, Ron Nirenberg, Mayor of San Antonio, whom Dr. Jayesh Shah called as the next Governor of Texas, declared June 24th as AAPI Day and International Yoga Day in the City of San Antonio. While praising AAPI and its members for their contributions, Nirenberg said, “We are honored to host the largest gathering of Indian American physicians in our vibrant city, home to some of the best healthcare facilities in the nation.”

Addressing the evening gala, Aseem Mahajan, Consul General of India in Houston, referred to the significance of “India and the United States, the two most vibrant democracies, representing two great multicultural societies with shared values, who are natural partners” working together in several areas of interest to both the nations.

He pointed to the immense opportunities for collaboration in healthcare between the US and India, as India is working towards “Expanding on the MedTech sector for global presence and position India as a global hub for medical devices.”

By encouraging manufacturing, innovation, and R&D based on emerging technological landscapes, and transforming India into a hub for medical devices, India may emerge as the “diagnostic capital of the world,” Mahajan said.

Dr. Jack Resneck, President of American Medical Association praised the contributions and achievements of Indian American physicians, who serve and provide best healthcare to every 7th patient in the United States. “It’s time our nation renews our commitment to you for the incredible services you provide to our nation,” he said. During a Plenary session, he provided a detailed description of the many steps AMA has been undertaking to root out the causes for physician burn out and enhance healthcare delivery in the nation through education and advocacy at the state and national levels.

Keynote speaker for the noon luncheon event, Little Master Sunil Gavaskar was introduced by Venky Adivi, Chief Executive Officer of the Convention. Gavaskar, a record holder of numerous international Cricket matches, in his address shared with the audience about his own personal life story of how his life was “transformed” at birth. He said, “It’s a unique honor to be part of the important AAPI convention in Texas.”

Gavaskar said, he had wanted to be a Doctor as a youth, after he was a witness to how his aunt, a Doctor by profession had touched so many lives by the care she had provided. “Yours is the greatest of all professions in the world. You have put your lives at risk during the Pandemic to save the lives of others. Yours is the noble profession that I have admired always.”

He eloquently described the similarities between Cricketers and Physicians, especially for the need for preparations in cricket matches and surgery, the need for focus and concentration in  both the professions, the need for physical and mental fitness, choosing the right kind of movements and actions in both the fields, and so forth. However, a physician needs to have empathy with the patients, while a cricketer wants to achieve and win the game. Doctors serve for a very long time, the life span of a cricket’s professional life is very limited. A doctor’s work schedule is 24/7 – 365 days, while a cricketer’s professional life is seasonal. Gavaskar referred to his association with the Heart to Heart Foundation and how the Foundation is “touching many hearts around the world”.

In her spiritual discourse, Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati, PhD, Spiritual leader, teacher and author, said, “It’s such a joy to be here. Such a deep gratitude. Covid did not create you as heroes, but you have been heroes all along.” Sharing her own personal journey, she said, we all have only one life and how her coming to the banks of the Himalayas, transformed her own lifafter having experienced the unique culture and wisdom of India. While pointing to how we are creating a vicious negative health through fear, stress and anxiety in this country, her message today was to focus on the Synonym for HEALTH: Health, Embrace, Allow, Love, Time for yourself, and Help others.

Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati said, she flew in from the Banks of Mother Ganga where she celebrated International Yoga Day. “Let all of us together bring that practice of yoga and meditation into the practice of healthcare. Be the best for ourselves, for the community and for the universe,” she said.

In his live video message, Paramaguru Sharath Jois, Lineage holder of Ashtanga Yoga, told AAPI leaders as to how “each of you have sacrificed your life. I congratulate the organizers for focusing on heal the healers and using Yoga our traditional method to help us in our daily lives.” In his message, he said, “We all experience similar things in life, but respond from our inner self. How we tend to react to people and situations makes the difference.  When you abuse a situation it’s agitation, but when you use them effectively it’s liberation.” Referring to the 7th anniversary of India’s Independence he said, “It must help us transcend all that divide us on the basis of caste, creed and status.”

The Women’s Forum, organized by the Convention Committee led by Dr. Chaithanya Mallikarjun, Chair in association with the National AAPI Women Physicians Committee Chair, Dr. Seema Arora,  put together a galaxy of successful women, who shared with the AAPI delegates their own stories of growing up and facing challenges with conviction and courage, and have today become role models for other women around the world.

The panelists at the prestigious Women’s Forum included: Dr. Juby A. Jacob-Nara, a Public Health Physician, Vice President and Head of Global Medical Respiratory Allergy & Gastroenterology (Sanofi-Genzyme) who has been a part of over 50 new medicines successfully launched including vaccines in the US and globally; Dr. Kalpalatha Guntupalli, Endowed Professor for Pulmonary Disorders, Baylor College of Medicine; Dr. Sowjanya Mohan, Group Chief Medical Officer, Texas Group/Tenet Health; and, Ms. Rosemary Hickman, Semmes Foundation Education Manager at the Mcnay Art Museum.

Dozens of local children from ages 8 to 16, trained by Yoga Masters in San Antonio by presenting and demonstrating multiple Yoga Aasanas to the tune of Vande Mataram provided valuable education on Yoga and its importance in life. Every evening the popular AAPI Got Talent and Mehfil gave AAPI members to showcase their skills. Dr. Satheesh Kathula in the incoming Vice President of API was declared the winner of the contest. During the popular Fashion Parade presented by world renowned fashion designer Archana Kochar had beautiful and handsome young men and women wearing handmade colorful apparel made by villagers in Madhya Pradesh, cat walked on the ramp.

Some of the major themes at the convention include: Yoga and Meditation practices, Welcome kit with books & self-care supplies, A Personal Reflexology Session, Take home wellness routine, Ailment based yoga therapy sessions, Workshop on Spiritual well-being, Book talk with Yoga Gurus, including on the science of Yoga & Lifestyle medicine. Yoga gurus and experts leading the wellness sessions include Paramguru Sharatha Jois, Sadhvi Bhagawati, Saraswati Eddie Stern, Dr. Sat Bir Khalsa, Dr. Dilip Sarkar, Dr. Pankaj Vij, and Dr. Param Dedhia.

Each day of the convention has a specific theme. On Thursday, the theme chosen is “Unity in Diversity” and the delegates showcased one’s own state dress code. Heritage India is the theme for Friday honoring and celebrating India’s rich culture and diversity. On Saturday, the focus is on the much loved Bollywood with special performance by popular Bollywood singer Shaan, The cuisine served each will day match the theme chosen for each day.

Some of the major events at the convention include: Workshops and hands-on sessions on well-being, 10-12 hours of CMEs, Women’s Forum, CEOs Forum, AAPI Got Talent, Mehfil, Bollywood Nite, Fashion Show, Medical Jeopardy, Poster/Research Contest, Alumni and Young Physicians events and Exhibition and Sale of Jewelry, Clothing, Medical Equipment, Pharma, Finance and many more.

AAPI delegates have the opportunity to attend a multidisciplinary CME conference that allows specialists and primary care physicians to interact in an academic forum. World-renowned speakers discussed gaps between current and best practice of wide-ranging topics at the CME sessions.

“Physicians and healthcare professionals from across the country and from around the world have convened and are participating in the scholarly exchange of medical advances, to help develop health policy agendas, and encourage legislative priorities in the coming year. We are excited to have you in San Antonio!” said Dr. Gotimukula. “Representing the interests of the over 100,000 physicians of Indian origin, American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI), the largest ethnic organization of physicians is 40 years old.” For more details, please visit:  https://aapiconvention.org

Dr. Ravi Kolli, The Incoming President Of AAPI Pledges To Keep AAPI Focused On Its Core Mission In A Transparent, Accountable, And Responsible Manner

“I pledge to all AAPI members that we shall not rest on our laurels and become complacent,” says Dr. Ravi Kolli, who will assume charge as the President of the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) during the historic 40th annual Convention on June 25th, 2022, in San Antonio, Texas. “I will work hard to keep AAPI focused on its core mission and conduct all of its activities and business beyond reproach in a transparent, accountable, and responsible manner.”

Dr. Ravi Kolli, a Board-Certified Psychiatrist with specializations in Addiction, Geriatrics, and Forensic Psychiatry, serving as the Psychiatric Medical Director of Southwestern Pennsylvania Human Services, was a Clinical Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh and West Virginia University. Dr. Kolli has over four decades of experience in the healthcare field. He graduated from Rangaraya Medical College, NTR University of Health Sciences Medical School in 1981. He is affiliated with medical facilities at the Washington Health System Greene and Washington Hospital.

Dr. Kolli’s association with AAPI began over two decades ago. “My good friends, Dr. Prabir Mullick and Dr. Krishna Kasi first introduced me to the local chapter of AAPI, and I became very involved.” Initially, he used his web designing skills to develop and maintain the website of the local chapter, their publications, and email blasts, which he continues to do. He was involved with his Alumni Chapter of Rangaraya Medical College, which boasts of over 500 active members, and became its President. Later, he was elected as the President of the Telugu Medical Graduates of USA and has done similar tasks besides leading them to greater heights.

“As I started attending AAPI national meetings and annual conventions in the past decade, I got to know the national AAPI national leadership teams and was impressed by their dedication and commitment. So, I got involved more and was later elected as the Regional Director, then as the national AAPI Secretary and eventually as the Vice President and now the President of the national AAPI.”

Dr. Kolli understands the importance of assuming charge as the President of AAPI, “a very prestigious, dedicated, and powerful organization, representing over 120,000 physicians of Indian origin, with an active membership of at least 14,000 life members and in addition to the members of the more than 120 local chapters, chapters of Alumni and Specialty associations across the nation. Being a leader of this organization is a great honor and responsibility,” Dr. Kolli says, “With great power comes to a greater responsibility as well” and believes that “To whomever much is given, of him will much be required; and to whom much was entrusted, of him more will be asked.”

“In my role as the President of AAPI, I will be working closely with my executive committee, BOT, leaders, and all the members of AAPI to make It a more dynamic and vibrant organization playing a meaningful and relevant part in advocating for health policies and practices that best serve the interests of all patients and promoting the physician’s role as the leaders of the team-based health care delivery,” Dr. Kolli says. “I will also be promoting the mission and vision of AAPI by working closely with AAPI’s 120 + patron Chapters to align all of our goals and activities and also bring in new Chapters into AAPI fold.”

Dr. Kolli has previously served as the Chair of the IT committee of AAPI, Convention AV Co-Chair, and a member of several Committees of AAPI including Endowment fundraising, Geriatric, IT, GME Liaison, South Asian CVD and Childhood obesity awareness and Obesity awareness programs and Adopt a Village Plan and more. As the Chair of the AAPI Membership Committee, Dr. Kolli worked diligently to recruit new members especially the younger physicians and recent graduates.

He had previously served as the Secretary, Vice President, and eventually as the President of Pittsburgh TAPI in 2012-13 and has been involved in organizing several annual meetings of the TAPI and AAPI-CF fundraiser dinners for over a decade.

Being a Psychiatrist by profession and among the many goals Dr. Kolli has set for himself and something that is very dear to him, is to “focus on battling the stigma of mental illness and access to quality mental health care broadly and widely. I will be forming liaisons with mental health professionals in India and globally and bring awareness of various biopsychosocial therapeutic options to promote wellness and recovery from mental illness and substance use disorders. We will also actively promote physician wellness and self-care to address the challenges of physician burnout and suicide.”

Empowering physicians as the leaders in the delivery of evidence-based health care by engaging with policymakers, governmental agencies at all levels and the private sector is a major area where Dr. Kolli wants to direct the efforts for AAPI. Some of the other areas, he wants AAPI to focus on under his leadership include: Connect with the next generation physicians for their participation in all areas of organizational leadership and activities; Advocate for expediting the GC Backlog for physicians through legislation; Promotion of mental health awareness, tackling mental illness, substance abuse and suicide devastating the nation; Planning International Medical Missions with our AAPI physicians to serve communities globally.

Realizing the early challenges and struggles faced by the pioneering leaders of AAPI, Dr. Kolli says, “We are eternally thankful to our senior AAPI leaders who fought hard to end discrimination against IMG and achieved parity of having the same USMLE for all medical graduates for state medical licensures as well as for residency training program requirements. Our senior AAPI leaders have been a great source of reliable support and encouragement and every conversation and interaction with them has been educational and inspirational. I pledge to build upon their legacy to keep AAPI relevant and in the forefront in fighting any semblance of discrimination, microaggressions, and inequity across all walks of health care and medical education opportunities.”

While acknowledging the contributions of the pioneers, who have started AAPI and made it a formidable organization, Dr. Kolli says, “my passion for service has been enhanced by my association with so several AAPI leaders who have dedicated their time and efforts and lives working for AAPI. I am really impressed by the past leaders and I take inspiration from them. I respect them, and I value their guidance.”

Having clarity of mind and purpose and very clear about what he wants to carry out as the President of this prestigious organization, Dr. Kolli says, “I have clear goals. I have a collaborative leadership style and have sustainable and sincere plans to make AAPI better and brighter.” He wants to work with teams, reaching out to leaders and members, from top to bottom and center to periphery of the organization, with open communication and inclusive leadership.

Looking back to his childhood about, what inspired him to become a physician Dr. Kolli says, “I come from a family of physicians,” “Among my five brothers, 3 of us are physicians and I was the youngest. My father’s two brothers were physicians as well as their spouses. We have a long tradition of being a family of physicians. Counting all together, we have about 40 physicians and counting, among our cousins, nieces, and nephews in my family of three generations. So, it was a natural course for me to be a physician as well” Dr. Kolli explains.

Growing up in a family where his dad was a state government official in the Andhra Pradesh state transportation department, Dr. Kolli and his family traveled from place to place every three years with the transfer of his dad, which was a huge challenge. However, “That gave me a wider and unique perspective on life, with the opportunity to meet new people, in new places and environments. It was an enriching experience in some ways and though we didn’t have any roots in one place, we had a wider network of friends and associates all around the state.”

Dr. Kolli and his siblings loved sports both indoor and outdoor, he explains, “All of us were very athletic. We played tennis and cricket and we were all good at it. We played for colleges, and universities, and one of my brothers played for the state. So, we were sought out to play for the local teams and clubs wherever we lived at.”

“Psychiatry was my passion from my medical college days. That was a profession by choice not by default. It was my chosen vocation.” says Dr. Kolli. “I had developed an interest in psychology, behavioral health, and medicine right from the medical school. There were not that many opportunities in India at that time for psychiatric training, which was my career goal.” And therefore, seeking educational and training opportunities, Dr. Kolli immigrated to the United States in 1983 following his elder brother Dr. Prasad Kolli, his earliest role model, who moved to the US in 1974.

Acknowledging that being the president of AAPI is a unique opportunity,” Dr. Kolli says, “My goals are to help the physicians find more balance in their career and fulfillment, and gain empowerment to overcome many of the challenges that they are facing with covid and post-covid and financial and personal strains they have gone through over the years.” I want to address physicians’ wellness and help them to be more autonomous and able to influence the policies and future direction of healthcare as well as our own careers. Many of our next generation children are going into medicine as well and we must make sure that the future generations of physicians have many more opportunities for their professional growth and leadership.”

“AAPI is very young, dynamic, and active,” Dr. Kolli says. “Every year nearly 500 -1000 new members are joining AAPI. My goal is to bring as many like-minded people as possible who are loyal and committed to AAPI goals and values, on one page, one theme, and on one track to solve the problems collectively. It is important for us not to stay apart and fall apart but come together and stand together and make AAPI strong.”

Dr. Kolli believes that AAPI should be able to “help solve public health issues, professional challenges, and provide members with a sense of accomplishment and a sense of belonging. The purpose is to bring everyone together. Being a psychiatrist, I think I have the right kind of temperament and the capability to communicate with emotional intelligence, calm attitude, and openness and empathy for me to be able to do that.”

Dr. Kolli understands the diversity of AAPI and its members. With a broader vision, inclusive ideology, and openness to people of varied views, backgrounds, and regions, Dr. Kolli is confident that he can collaborate well with members, who may have different views and perceptions, for the common good of AAPI and its growth. “We all come from diverse backgrounds and have different goals, but at the same time, we have to find some mutual interests and ideals and work towards realizing those common objectives based on our cherished values,” Dr. Kolli says.

Having played cricket and being a team captain, Dr. Kolli understands the importance of teamwork. “Being a team leader means we must help each other to realize our full potential and stand by each other during challenging times. You need to inspire other team members. You have to be the role model and the hardest-working member of the team. We must make everyone feel confident in their own abilities and have faith in you as a leader.”

Describing himself as “fairly calm, balanced, non-judgmental, kind, open-minded, respectful of other people,” Dr. Kolli says, “I believe in being empathic, I try to look at different points of view. I do not think one is always right and has all the answers and others are wrong and vice versa. There are different perspectives and ways of looking at any problem. Very often things are not black and white, and one size does not fit all. But if we all follow the same set of rules and norms, we are likely to have a more sustainable and successful outcome. So, it is essential to make sure ground rules are fair, clear, and consistent, follow them diligently, and help AAPI move forward smoothly.”

Despite his busy schedule, Dr. Kolli makes time available to play Rummy and socialize with three diverse groups of friends regularly for over a quarter-century. “We have a Kannada group of friends. I have a Telugu group of friends and a group of friends from all over India, from Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Telangana, and Karnataka as well as other regions with whom I play cards on some weekends, which is great opportunity to connect, belong, socialize and relax.”

Dr. Kolli earnestly believes “I am a positive person and I try not to look for ways to find fault and criticize other people just to score a point. I don’t make harsh judgments on others, because I believe, everyone is trying and working hard to make AAPI stronger and better. I am fully aware that it takes a lot of dedication and passion, often sacrificing personal, professional, and family times to work on the goals of AAPI. All of those who served and serving AAPI deserve respect and acknowledgment for their dedication and commitment.”

During his presidency, Dr. Kolli wants “to focus on physician well-being and breaking the barriers of mental health stigma, connect with Indian Diaspora here and back home and with the Indian professionals, students and to promote good learning experiences and opportunities and to make it better for the future generation in every way.” Dr. Kolli assures that “We will work together to promote our values of professionalism, collegiality, excellence in patient care and enhance AAPI’s reputation as a premier professional organization offering educational programs and advocacy.”

AAPI Will Celebrate 8th International Yoga Day With Focus On “Heal the Healers” In San Antonio, TX

American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) in collaboration with all the 10 City Council Districts of San Antonio, TX and Mayor Ron Nirenberg and iDoYoga San Antonio is organizing its flagship Free Yoga Classes and Education on the benefits and ways to make yoga a part of one’s daily life during the 40th annual convention.

Led by internationally famed yoga gurus, including  Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati, PhD, Spiritual leader, teacher and author; Paramaguru Sharath Jois, Lineage holder of Ashtanga Yoga; and, Eddie Stern, Yoga teacher, speaker and author, the highly anticipated and popular Yoga on the famous Riverwalk is part of the global celebration of the 8th International Day of Yoga (IDY), founded in 2014 by the United Nations General Assembly, establishing June 21st (summer solstice) of each year to be a day of celebrating yoga in nations around the world. It was ratified by 175 nations and is now being celebrated each year by millions of people around the world.

A major theme during the 40th annual convention is “Physician, heal thyself,” acknowledging and seeking to respond to the growing signs of burnout among physicians, by offering positive remedial resources as part of the first-ever Wellness Program being offered to participants at the 40th annual Convention of AAPI to be held in san Antonio from June 23rd to 26th, 2022 at Henry B Gonzalez Convention Center.

AAPI is the largest ethnic physician organisation in the USA, representing the interests of over 100,000 physicians of Indian origin. The convention is focussed on themes such as how to take care of self and find satisfaction and happiness in the challenging situations they are in, while serving hundreds of patients everyday of their dedicated and noble profession, Dr. Anupama Gotimukula, President of AAPI said.“We do acknowledge that these are challenging times, more than ever for us, as physicians, who are on the frontline to assess, diagnose and treat people are affected by this deadly pandemic with Physician burnout post COVID-19. Our colleagues have sacrificed their lives in order to save those impacted by this pandemic around the world,” Dr. Gotimukula added.

Accordingly, the wellness sessions at the convention include: Yoga and Meditation practices, welcome kit with books & self-care supplies, personal Reflexology Sessions, take home wellness routine, ailment based yoga therapy sessions, workshop on Spiritual well-being, book talk with Yoga Gurus, including on the science of Yoga & Lifestyle medicine, and a unique opportunity to visit first of its kind in San Antonio, Aum Ashram.

“Our physician members have worked very hard during the covid 19 pandemic. The 2022 convention is a perfect time to heal the healers with a special focus on wellness,” said Dr.  Jayesh Shah, Chair of AAPI Convention 2022. Dr. Shah praised the dedication and generosity of each member for giving their best, to make this Convention truly a memorable one for every participant. Put together by a highly talented and dedicated team of Convention Committee members, the 4 days long event will be filled with programs and activities that cater to the body, mind and soul. The Convention is going to be a unique experience for everyone, he added.

Convention Committee members include Mr. Venky Adivi, Chief Executive Officer of the Convention; Dr. Aruna Venkatesh, Convention Treasurer; Dr. Vijay Koli, Past President of AAPI & Convention Advisor; Dr. Rajam Ramamurthy, Convention Advisor; Chief Operating Officers, R. Reddy Yeluru and Ram Joolukuntla; Dr. Rajeev Suri, President of TIPS & Co-Chair of the Convention, and the other Co-Chairs of the Convention, including Dr. Shankar Sanka, Dr. Hetal Nayak, and Kiran Cheruku.

The Convention will honor India and its  75 years of Independence Day celebrations- co-sponsored by the Embassy of India & the Consulate General of India (CGI) – Houston.

Dr. Ravi Kolli, President-Elect of AAPI said, “This is the first time in the AAPI convention we offer these exclusive wellness packages geared towards the well-being of Physicians and their families by bringing the essence of science and spirituality of yoga and lifestyle medicine into our self-care routine. As we all are aware, a calm mind and a refined intellect are essential for making right choices. We promise to leave you empowered with the tools required.”

Dr. Kusum Punjabi, Chair of AAPI BOT said, “AAPI being the largest ethnic medical association in the nation, we are proud, we have been able to serve every 7th patient in the country. We serve in large cities, smaller towns and rural areas, sharing our skills, knowledge, compassion and expertise and caring millions of people.”

“Leading up to the festivities, we will be accepting donations for 2 local non-profits, including
Yoga Day Foundation and the Veteran’s Yoga Project, said Dr. Hetal Nayak, Founder of I Do Yoga San Antonio. “These organizations exist to provide yoga and mindfulness training to families in San Antonio through schools, hospitals, military installations and community partnership to improve services. They believe access to these tools improves physical, mental, and emotional health and empowers families to navigate their communities and lives in a more positive way.  iDoYoga San Antonio, is a grassroots community project under the Sewa International, she added.

Each day of the convention will have a specific theme. On Thursday, the theme chosen is “Unity in Diversity” and the delegates will showcase one’s own state dress code. Heritage India is the theme for Friday honoring and celebrating India’s rich culture and diversity. On Saturday, the focus is on the much loved Bollywood with special performance by popular Bollywood singer Shaan, The cuisine served each will day match the theme chosen for each day, he added.

Some of the major events at the convention include: Workshops and hands-on sessions on well-being, 10-12 hours of CMEs, Women’s Forum, CEOs Forum, AAPI Got Talent, Mehfil, Bollywood Nite, Fashion Show, Medical Jeopardy, Poster/Research Contest, Alumni and Young Physicians events and Exhibition and Sale of Jewelry, Clothing, Medical Equipment, Pharma, Finance and many more.

“A huge thank you to all of the doctors, physicians, and other healthcare professionals for your dedication and commitment to service during this uncertain time,” Dr. Anjana Samadder, Vice President of AAPI said. “This is a unique opportunity for all of us, the front-line physicians who are putting our lives at risk to the save the lives of others,” Dr. Satheesh Kathula, Secretary of AAPI said. “Thank you for fighting selflessly against this virus and helping keep everyone healthy and safe,” Dr. Krishan Kumar, Treasurer of AAPI added.

During the annual convention, physicians and healthcare professionals from across the country and internationally will convene and participate in the scholarly exchange of medical advances, to develop health policy agendas, and to encourage legislative priorities in the coming year.

AAPI delegates will have a multidisciplinary CME conference that allows specialists and primary care physicians to interact in an academic forum. World-renowned speakers will discuss gaps between current and best practice of wide-ranging topics at the CME sessions.

Planned to have a limited number of attendance due to the ongoing Covid pandemic and the taking into account the safety of the participants, including Physicians, Healthcare Leaders, Academicians, Researchers and Medical Students, “the annual convention offers extensive academic presentations, recognition of achievements and achievers, and professional networking at the alumni and evening social events,” Dr. Gotimukula added. For more details, and sponsorship opportunities, please visit:  www.aapiconvention.org  and www.aapiusa.org

AMA Unveils Recovery Plan For America’s Physicians

Telehealth, Medicare payments, scope creep, prior authorizations and burnout are keys to a new roadmap to renew the nation’s commitment physicians, said American Medical Association President Gerald E. Harmon, M.D. in a speech to physician and medical student leaders from across the country. Described as an ambitious roadmap to renewing our country’s commitment to physicians—and ensuring their needs are met, AMA’s plan is to ensure that patients can receive the high-quality care they deserve.

Envisioned and built against the backdrop of COVID-19 challenges that stretched our health care system to the brink, including increased physician burnout, unabated and onerous prior authorization requirements, and no permanent fix to ensure telehealth coverage for patients, the Recovery Plan for America’s Physicians focuses on five key goals to re-build health care so that it works better for physicians and all those they serve:

Citing the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, gun violence and government interference in medicine, Harmon emphasized how physicians “are rising to this moment. Day after day. Hour after grueling hour.”

There are five priority areas AMA will focus on.

Telehealth

Telehealth boomed during the COVID-19 pandemic. “And then a funny thing happened: Doctors and patients discovered that this wasn’t such a bad idea in many circumstances,” Harmon said.

The method is not appropriate for suturing a wound or setting a broken bone, but it is “hugely beneficial” in areas such as chronic disease management, care coordination and psychiatry, Harmon said. The nation needs updated laws and regulations once the COVID-19 public health emergency is over.

Medicare

Medicare payment reform is needed because physician payments have fallen by 20%, adjusted for inflation, since 2001, Harmon said. AMA pressured Congress to avert a 10% cut in Medicare payments this past January, but a permanent solution is needed.

Scope creep

Teamwork is necessary for quality, affordable health care, Harmon said, and he credited the work of nurses, physician assistants and office workers. But physicians must lead those teams.

Harmon compared the situation to the airline industry – ground crews and flight attendants are critical to get airplanes off the ground and safely landed. “But no one suggests they fly the planes or that we use them to fill the expected shortage of airline pilots,” he said.

Prior authorizations

Harmon cited an AMA survey that found 93% of physicians reported hurdles with prior authorization for medication, tests and procedures resulted in care delays for patients. In the survey, four out of five doctors said those processes led patients to abandon treatments.

Health insurers have done little to comply with improvements they agreed to four years ago in the “Consensus Statement on Improving the Prior Authorization Process,” which AMA developed. “It’s time to hold them accountable,” Harmon said.

Burnout

Harmon praised the federal Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act, named for the physician who took her own life during the pandemic. Breen was concerned the stigma of reaching out for mental health help, would damage her career.

Physicians must be able to address mental health needs without fear of negative repercussions, Harmon said. AMA supports reforms to outdated language on applications for medical licensing, employment and credentials, he said.

Finding new doctors

Focusing on the recovery plan will make it easier to bring talented young people to avoid a predicted physician shortage looming in the United States, Harmon said. He called for removing barriers for new physicians, especially from underrepresented communities, by:

  • Reducing medical school debt
  • Expanding the number of residency training slots
  • Creating new schools and programs in historically Black colleges and universities, Hispanic-serving institutions and tribal colleges and universities

“It’s physicians our nation turns to. For answers – for treatment – for help,” Harmon said in his prepared remarks published by AMA. “You’ve taken care of our nation – at great personal sacrifice … and it’s time our nation renews its commitment to you.”

The American Medical Association is the physicians’ powerful ally in patient care. As the only medical association that convenes 190+ state and specialty medical societies and other critical stakeholders, the AMA represents physicians with a unified voice to all key players in health care.  The AMA leverages its strength by removing the obstacles that interfere with patient care, leading the charge to prevent chronic disease and confront public health crises and, driving the future of medicine to tackle the biggest challenges in health care.

Indian American Leads Mrna Vaccine Trial For Pancreatic Cancer

World’s first trial, led by an Indian American doctor, on a mRNA-based vaccine for pancreatic cancer has shown promise for remission.

The new shot is developed by BioNTech based on the same technology used by the German biotech company along with its US partner Pfizer to develop vaccines against Covid-19.

The groundbreaking trial led by Dr Vinod Balachandran at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK) in New York, showed that half of the patients remained cancer-free 18 months after having their tumours removed and receiving the jabs.

The key to these vaccines appears to be proteins in the pancreatic tumours, called neoantigens, which alert the immune system to keep the cancer at bay, according to MSK. The promising results were also presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology conference in Chicago.

In 8 of 16 patients studied, the vaccines activated T cells that recognise the patient’s own pancreatic cancers. These patients also showed delayed recurrence of their pancreatic cancers, suggesting the T cells activated by the vaccines may be having the desired effect to keep pancreatic cancers in check.

According to Balachandran, mRNA vaccines could stimulate the immune system to recognise and attack pancreatic cancer cells.

“Unlike some of the other immunotherapies, these mRNA vaccines do appear to have the ability to stimulate immune responses in pancreatic cancer patients,” Balachandran said of the promising preliminary results.

“So we’re very excited about that, and the early results suggest that if you have an immune response, you may have a better outcome.”

Balachandran added the results should be welcome news for other cancer patients too, as pancreatic cancer has been very difficult to treat with traditional chemotherapies and immunotherapies.

The phase-I trial was also heralded as “encouraging” by BioNTech.

“We are committed to taking up this challenge by leveraging our long-standing research in cancer vaccinology and are trying to break new ground in the treatment of such hard-to-treat tumours,” BioNTech co-founder and chief medical officer Prof Ozlem Tureci said.

The Science Behind The Cancer Cure, And The Therapy’s Future In India

In a medical trial, 12 patients in the US were completely cured of rectal cancer without requiring any surgery or chemotherapy. A look at the study, and its results

In a medical trial, results of which were published in The Indian Express on Wednesday, 12 patients in the United States were completely cured of rectal cancer without requiring any surgery or chemotherapy.

The trial used a monoclonal antibody called dostarlimab every three weeks for six months for the treatment of a particular kind of stage two or three rectal cancer. The study was done by doctors from the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Centre in New York, and its results have been published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The trial showed that immunotherapy alone – without any chemotherapy, radiotherapy, or surgery that have been staples of cancer treatment – could completely cure the patients with a particular kind of rectal cancer called ‘mismatch repair deficient’ cancer”.

All 12 patients had completed the treatment and were followed for six to 25 months after. “No cases of progression or recurrence had been reported during the follow-up,” the study said. The response too was rapid, with symptoms resolving in 81% of the patients within nine weeks of starting the therapy.

What is this deficiency, and how was it cured?

‘Mismatch repair deficient’ cancer is most common among colorectal, gastrointestinal, and endometrial cancers. Patients suffering from this condition lack the genes to correct typos in the DNA that occur naturally while cells make copies.

The immunotherapy belongs to a category called PD1 blockades that are now recommended for the treatment of such cancers rather than chemotherapy or radiotherapy. PD1 is a type of protein that regulates certain functions of the immune system, including by suppressing T cell activity, and PD1 blockade therapy looks to release the T cells from this suppression.

“The anomalies in the DNA result in cancerous growths in patients with mismatch repair deficient cancers. If you imagine the immune system to be a car, PD1 acts as the brakes for the T cells of the immune system. By giving the PD1 blockades, we release the brakes and allow the T cells to destroy the cancerous growth,” said Dr P K Julka, former professor of radiotherapy at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi and the current chairman for Max Oncology Daycare Centre. Dr Julka did the first immunotherapy treatment in India while at AIIMS in 2015. He was not involved in the US study.

India has a couple of PD1 blockades available, although not the one used for this study. If PD1 therapy was already in use, what’s new in the trial? Earlier, this therapy was used post-surgery, but the study has shown that a surgery may not be required.

“Although the therapy is usually used for cancers that have metastasised (spread to locations other than where the cancer formed), it is now recommended for all mismatch repair deficient cancers as they result in quicker improvement and lesser toxicity as compared to traditional chemo and radiotherapy. So far, we have been using the therapy after a patient undergoes surgery; it is used for 10 to 15 indications. This study shows that even the surgery was not needed in these patients,” Dr Julka said.

Speaking about his own practice, Dr Julka said that in all tumours, they now look for mismatch repair deficiency to see whether immunotherapy can be used. Eliminating other treatments can improve a patient’s quality of life by preserving fertility, sexual health, and bladder and bowel functions.

Also read |New study recommends next-generation sequencing for extending lung cancer treatment to more patients

When can such a treatment be accessible in India?

Cost is believed to be a major hurdle. Dr M D Ray, professor of surgical oncology at AIIMS-Delhi, who disagrees with the immunotherapy approach, said: “These patients can be well managed with chemotherapy and radiotherapy as well. Around 10 to 15% of cancer patients actually do not need surgeries. The problem with immunotherapies is that they are expensive and unaffordable for most people in India, and certainly for those coming to AIIMS. A genetic test can also cost up to Rs 30,000, the patients here cannot afford all this.”

He added that precision medicine, such as using particular immunotherapy drugs for particular types of cancers, is still at a nascent stage in India. “Precision medicine for cancer treatment is happening in India, but it is still in nascent stages. It would take at least ten years for it to become commonplace,” he said.

An immunotherapy treatment can cost around Rs 4 lakh per month, with patients needing the treatment for six months to a year.

“People may end up using their life-savings for the treatment. We usually end up giving the treatment only to those who can bank on schemes such as CGHS for sponsoring their treatment or receive free doses from the companies as part of their assistance programme,” said Dr Julka.

However, he added: “One day, cancer will be like any other chronic disease. Like people with diabetes go to work after taking a tablet, cancer patients would too. The future of cancer treatment is molecular oncology – you find a mutation in one gene, you give a particular medicine for it; you find it in another, you give another medicine.”

Your Guide To A Good Night’s Sleep

New Delhi– Most of us today, idolise the ones working on 3 to 4 hours of sleep. It’s all cool but I’m sure you remember the sweet taste of sleep? Oh no, I’m not tempting you to sleep for long hours and forget all your responsibilities. I know we’re living in a fleet-footed world and 24 hours just don’t seem enough.

When you don’t have something in adequate amounts you should always try and optimise it rather than disrupting everything, especially your sleep. Let me explain with an example – when you leave for a trip, you pack your stuff in a nice and organised manner but when you start packing for your return journey, what happens? You know that very well!

When your responsibilities seem to overpower you, stop, take a deep breath and make those 24 hours your slave.

How can you do that?

First of all, find out what works for you. People need a different amount of sleeping hours to boost their energy levels. You need to find your optimum level. After that, start scheduling your work and leisure timings accordingly.

Do you feel sleepy but still keep tossing around even after getting in bed at the right time?

If yes, this is probably because of your environment and poor pre-sleep discipline. To have the sleep that you are looking for, you need to work hard. Create an environment, which works best for you.

Pre-sleep discipline: Keeping all the distractions aside mentally and physically, dim the lights and start preparing for your bed. This will allow your mind to know it’s time to sleep and till the time you get to bed, your head would be light as a feather.

Set your Bedroom Temperature Body and bedroom temperature can profoundly impact sleep quality. Studies reveal that high or low temperatures in the sleeping area can deteriorate sleep quality. Depending on your body’s preferences, you need to find what suits your body for a good and comfortable sleep. In most cases, the bedroom should be cool (between 60 and 67 degrees) for optimal sleep.

Take a relaxing shower A relaxing warm shower is another popular way to sleep better. According to studies, a hot bath before bed improves sleep quality and helps people get more sound sleep. Alternatively speaking, if you don’t want to take a bath at night, simply dip your feet in lukewarm water for relaxation for improved sleep.

Invest in a comfortable bed, mattress, and pillow Some people wonder why they always sleep better in the hotel. Apart from having a relaxed environment, bed quality can also affect your sleep. The best mattress and bedding is extremely subjective. If you plan on upgrading your bedding, base your choice on personal preferences.

Sleep hygiene is important Blue light from cell phones, TV screens, and laptops can make it difficult for you to fall asleep, so make sure you turn them off at least half an hour before you sleep. Even the bright light from a lamp or the window can affect your pattern; consider using blackout curtains, eye-masks, white noise machines, and other accessories for a good night’s sleep.

The bottom line Sleep plays a crucial role when it comes to our health. Common sleep disorders such as sleep apnea can cause sleep loss; people with sleep apnea characteristically make periodic gasping or snorting noises, momentarily interrupting their sleep. These obstructions during sleep can pose serious complications and should be sought from a medical professional. Also, sleep loss and sleep disorders are linked with hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol, depression, anxiety, obesity, mental distress, and adverse health behaviors such as cigarette smoking, physical inactivity, and heavy drinking.

Additionally, sleep medicines aren’t the solution and even lead to addiction. If you are interested in optimal health and wellbeing, then you should make sleep your topmost priority and start incorporating some of the tips above.

Firearms Are Leading Cause of Death Among U.S. Youth

Newswise — Firearms are now the leading cause of death for children and adolescents 0-19 years of age, with a staggering 83 percent increase in youth firearm fatalities over the past decade, according to a commentary published in Lancet Child and Adolescent Health. Nearly two-thirds of youth firearm deaths were from homicides. Strikingly, Black youth had an unprecedented 40 percent increase in firearm fatalities between 2019 to 2020.

These tragic statistics come in the wake of the elementary school shooting in Texas earlier this week, pointing to the urgent need to take action to prevent more youth from dying by firearms.

“We must reverse this deeply troubling and unacceptable trend in youth firearm fatalities, especially among youth of color,” said co-author Karen Sheehan, MD, MPH, Pediatric Emergency Medicine physician and Medical Director of Patrick M. Magoon Institute for Healthy Communities at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, and Professor of Pediatrics, Medical Education and Preventive Medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “We need more funding allocated to research-based prevention efforts so that we can save young lives before it’s too late.”

The authors also note that although firearm fatality rates started to rise in 2014, the dramatic societal upheaval of the COVID-19 pandemic likely accelerated this increase with the escalation of mental health stressors and existential despair experienced by youth. The seismic shift in youths’ lives during the pandemic occurred in the context of a decades’ long void of prevention efforts to decrease firearm injuries and deaths.

After Congress passed the Dickey Amendment in 1996, federal funding of firearm research was effectively halted, until 2019 when $25 million in research funding was appropriated. This pales in comparison to research funding for other pediatric diseases and does not meet the current needs to advance the field. Congress has continued to fund firearm research at this same level for the last three years, while studies estimate that $600 million should be appropriated in fiscal years 2022-2026 for data infrastructure and research funding for firearm injury prevention research.

“In addition to better understanding the risk and protective factors for firearm injuries and deaths, more funding is essential to develop, implement, and evaluate firearm injury prevention interventions at the individual, hospital, community, and policy levels,” said co-author Samaa Kemal, MD, MPH, Pediatric Emergency Medicine Fellow at Lurie Children’s.

Research at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago is conducted through Stanley Manne Children’s Research Institute. The Manne Research Institute is focused on improving child health, transforming pediatric medicine and ensuring healthier futures through the relentless pursuit of knowledge. Lurie Children’s is ranked as one of the nation’s top children’s hospitals by U.S. News & World Report. It is the pediatric training ground for Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. Emergency medicine-focused research at Lurie Children’s is conducted through the Grainger Research Program in Pediatric Emergency Medicine.

Parag Mehta, MD Elected President of the Medical Society of the State of New York

Internist Parag Mehta, MD, was elected as 196th President of the Medical Society of the State of New York (MSSNY) on May 21, 2022. Dr. Mehta is the Senior Vice Chairman of the Department of Medicine and the Chief Medical Information Officer, Interim Chief Medical Officer at New York-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital (NYPBMH). In addition, he is an Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine.

A graduate of NHL Medical College in Ahmedabad, India, Dr. Mehta did his residency in Internal Medicine at New York-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital in Brooklyn, New York. He is Board Certified in Internal Medicine, Hospice and Palliative Care, and Integrative and Holistic Medicine. He has taken courses in Health Information Technology from Cornell University and Artificial Intelligence from MIT Sloan School of Management.

Dr. Mehta has served as Governor of the New York American College of Physicians and President of the Medical Society of County of Kings. He received numerous awards for his extraordinary contributions to advocacy, education, quality, research, and policy. He has been included in Castle Connelly’s Top Doctors list for many years and has been recognized as a power player in Healthcare by amNew York/PoliticsNY in 2021. He is an astute clinician, an excellent educator, and an inspirational leader. As a Wellness Champion, he promotes the importance of mindfulness, gratitude, and forgiveness. As CMIO, he is cognizant of the burden of EMR and continuously works on improving usability and clinical decision support.

He will succeed Dr. Joe Sellers, and as the 196th President of MSSNY, he strives to work with principles addressing harmony, wellness, equity, and enabling members with knowledge. He plans to achieve that goal by creating appropriate programs, products, and services.

Dr. Art Fougner, Chair of the Board of Trustees and past president of MSSNY, quotes Henry Kissinger – “The task of the leader is to get his people from where they are to where they have not been. I have come to know that Dr. Parag Mehta is that leader.”

Dr. Mehta lives in Nassau County with his wife, Isha Mehta, MD, Chief of Gynecology at Elmhurst Hospital, and founder of “A Stitch in Time,” an organization that treats gynecological conditions at no cost to women around the world. They have two daughters, Ruju, an engineer, and Setu, a recent graduate of Harvard College who plans to study medicine.

Founded in 1807, the Medical Society of the State of New York is the state’s principal non-profit professional organization for physicians, residents, and medical students of all specialties. Its mission is to represent the interests of patients and physicians to assure quality healthcare services for all.

Dr. Jagdish K. Gupta, President of Medical Society of County of Kings, NY Leads Year-Long Bicentennial Celebrations

“I am very humbled, truly privileged, and extremely honored to welcome you all to our 201st Bicentennial Stated Meeting by the Medical Society of The County of Kings and the Academy of Medicine of Brooklyn,” said Dr. Jagdish K. Gupta, a committed and highly regarded physician with a history of professional achievement and humanitarian philanthropy, who was inducted as the 174th President of the Medical Society of County of Kings (MSCK) on May 25th, 2022.
Dr. Gupta was addressing the delegates at the 201st Annual Stated Meeting of MSCK as a Bicentennial Event in person, after two years hiatus due to COVID Pandemic at El Caribe Country Club in Brooklyn, NY with full regalia. “The COVID-19 pandemic upended the rhythms of our personal and professional lives. Traditional workings of our medical society came to a screeching halt,” Dr. Gupta pointed out. “However, as an organization, we persevered, reimagined our operations, and implemented new strategies.  Overall, the organization was renewed and brought into the 21st century.”
Dr. Gupta expressed gratitude to “Dr. Valluru, Dr. Prasad Gudavalli & Dr. Larry Melniker, and everyone in our leadership team for all their hard work during possibly the most challenging time in our organization’s history.”
Dr. Gupta on behalf of the Team 2022-2023,  promised “to continue this progressive transformation. The central focus during my presidency will be to bring harmony to our efforts, empower ourselves to increase membership, enhance membership benefits, create programs for wellness, end disparities inpatient care, and bring equity in healthcare to all, irrespective of caste creed or financial status.”
Dr. Sanjiv Chopra, Professor of Medicine and the past Faculty Dean for Continu­ing Medical Education at Harvard Medical School for 12 years, serving as a Marshall Wolf Distinguished Clinician Educator at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and the author of more than 170 publications and ten books to his credit, was the keynote speaker at the gala. In his address, he pointed out to “The Two Most Important Days: Reflections on Lasting Happiness and Living with Purpose.”  He received a full-throttled standing ovation from the audience. Dr. Chopra is Editor-in-Chief of the Hepatology Section of “UpToDate”, the most widely used electronic textbook in the world subscribed to by more than 1.5 million physicians in 195 countries.
He is a sought-after inspirational speaker across the United States and abroad, addressing diverse audiences on topics related to medicine, leadership, happiness, and living with purpose.
Recognizing the contributions and accomplishments of the Medical Society of the County of Kings, the New York State Assembly commemorated the Bicentennial Stated Meeting of the Medical Society of the County of Kings on May 25, 2022 with a Proclamation sponsored by Assembly Woman Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn and Co-sponsored By Assemblyman Michael Tannousis.
Among the several distinguished guests who joined in and addressed the celebrations were Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez who spoke passionately about the need for Gun Control and on ways to prevent the violence in the City. Messages and proclamations were sent in by New York City Council Woman Ms. Mercedes Narcisse 46th Council District; Congresswoman Nicole Malliotakis from 11th District; President of SUNY Downstate Medical School, Dr. Wayne Riley who spoke about the contribution of Medical Society of County of Kings and Long Island College over 200 years; State Assemblyman Michael Tannousis; Dr. Ravi Kolli, President Elect, American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin- the largest ethnic physician organization in America; and, Multiple Citations for 50 years Medical School Graduates serving the Brooklyn Community.
The annual event also highlighted and honored the achievements and outstanding contributions of an impressive and inspirational set of honorees representing 50 years of continuous, diligent, and impartial services to the Brooklyn community. “These 12 esteemed honorees have distinguished themselves in the fields of community service, patient advocacy, medical innovation, and clinical practice. These honored physicians have saved countless lives and brought relief to thousands of patients over the last 50 years.
Their influence extends far beyond those in their direct care.  They have served as role models for numerous students, residents, and fellows for over five decades,” Dr. Gupta pointed out. Reflecting on the last 200 years of the most prestigious professional organization, Dr. Gupta said, “I am amazed at the caliber, intelligence, and forward-thinking ideas of all my great predecessors. They left indelible marks with their achievements and accomplishments in the fields of research, education, innovation in medical and surgical technology, and patient care. I am humbled to follow in their footsteps and am grateful to each of them.”
The Medical Society of the County of Kings (MSCK), the oldest scientific organization in Brooklyn, New York was established on March 2nd, 1822 by a group of doctors gathered at Auld Lang Syne Tavern on Fulton Street in Brooklyn Heights, with the lofty mission  “to foster progress in the science and art of medicine and to promote, preserve and enforce the highest of standards of ethical and proficient medical care”. In 1900, the Society opened its grand new colonial revival building at 1313 Bedford Avenue, the geographical center of Brooklyn and It was headquartered there until 1996.
The Society had hosted numerous Scientific Conferences at the McNaughton Auditorium where local, national, and international luminaries in medicine presented important and often original scientific works. The Medical Society grew exponentially to more than 3,500 members by the mid-20th century and according to the Directing Librarian for the Society, for some time boasted as the 5th largest medical library in the country.
The concept of Continuing Medical Education (CME) was developed in Brooklyn in 1922 and the Society published the Brooklyn Medical Journal from 1888 until it was succeeded by the Long Island Medical Journal in 1907. The Medical Society continues to serve the people of Brooklyn through the thousands of practicing physicians in the borough. MSCK through its various committees and in collaboration with other specialty organizations have been supporting Brooklynites for their healthcare needs uninterrupted — through political, economic, and various health crises — over the past 200 years.
MSCK represents the most populous County in the New York State and as such has the largest delegation to the Medical Society of the State of New York (MSSNY). It continues to provide leadership to organized medicine. Following the footsteps of its great predecessors, more than 11 Kings County leaders, who became President of the MSSNY, a matter of great pride for all members of the Society, its past president and current member, Dr. Parag Mehta, has become the first Asian American President of MSSNY on May 21st. 2022.
Born and raised in Hissar, Haryana, India, Dr. Gupta graduated from All-India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi in 1972 with distinction, and after coming to the United States, had his residency and fellowship at Long Island College Hospital (LICH). A diplomat of the American Board of Internal Medicine and the American Board of Gastroenterology, Dr. Gupta is an Assistant Clinical Professor at SUNY Health Science Center in Brooklyn, and has served as a role model and a mentor for a generation of young physicians who aspire to combine his clinical excellence with sensitivity and compassion towards patients and their families.
Dr. Gupta has been serving the Brooklyn Community for the last 45 years. He has been actively involved in Organized Medical Societies leadership at the Kings County and New York state Medical Society level for a long time. Through innovative research exploring the links between gastrointestinal and neurological diseases, Dr. Gupta has made his mark upon medical literature. In addition to his many contributions to peer review journals, he has co-authored chapters in many medical textbooks. As a researcher dedicated to the detection, prevention and treatment of GI disorders including cancer, he has been recognized and awarded numerous teaching awards. He has been on the TOP DOCTORS list of Castle Connolly for more than twenty years, consecutively and also has been designated as SUPER DOC by New York Times magazine for three years.
Dr. Gupta has served as President of the Medical staff of LICH and as a member of its Board of Regents. For his commitment to teaching, professional achievements, community services and leadership, the Long Island College Hospital bestowed the Spring Ball Honoree 2002 Physician of the Year Award upon him. He is currently serving as the Chairman, Board of Trustees of AAPI-QLI, and is very active in National AAPI and AAPI Charitable Foundation and serves on the Board of Trustees and is the Treasurer.

In his desire to serve the Indian American community Dr. Gupta has been a member of the Board of Nargis Dutt Memorial Foundation and has been privileged to serve as its President, fundraising large amounts during his tenure to sponsor many charitable projects in India. He was recognized  for his contributions with a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006. He has been very actively involved with many community organizations in Long Island. He has served as President of India Association of Long Island (IALI) in 2010. He also serves on the Board of Trustees of the Hindu Center. He has been recognized several times for his outstanding services to the community. Most recently he was appointed an Honorary Police Surgeon for his patriotic dedication to the New York’s finest.  Above all, Dr. Gupta is a loving husband to his wife Meena and father of three children, Drs. Anu, Srishti and Vishal and grandfather to Sia, Kabir, Som and Sai.

WHO Honors 1 Million ASHA Volunteers

India’s one million all-women ASHA volunteers were honored by the World Health Organization on Sunday, May 21st for their “crucial role” in providing direct access to healthcare facilities in rural areas and their indefatigable efforts to rein in the coronavirus pandemic in the country. They were praised for their contributions in providing basic health care services to the rural population of India.

WHO Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, announced the group of over a million government volunteers, as one of the six recipients of the World Health Organization Director-General’s Global Health Leaders Awards recognizing their outstanding contributions to advancing global health, demonstrated leadership and commitment to regional health issues.

Dr Tedros decides on the awardees for the World Health Organisation Director-General’s Global Health Leaders Awards. The ceremony for the awards, which were established in 2019, was part of the live-streamed high-level opening session of the 75th World Health Assembly.

“Among the honorees is ASHA, which means hope in Hindi. The more than 1 million female volunteers in India were honored for their crucial role in linking the community with the health system, to ensure those living in rural poverty get access to primary health care services, as shown throughout the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said. PM Modi also hailed the selfless service of the Asha Volunteers and congratulated them as their efforts were recognized by WHO.

Accredited Social Health Activists — or ASHA volunteers — are Indian government’s affiliated health-care workers who are the first point of contact in rural India. Most of them gained spotlight during the peak of the pandemic in India for conducting door-to-door checks to trace coronavirus patients. ASHA – means ‘hope’ in Hindi. These health workers provide maternal care & immunization for children against vaccine-preventable diseases; community health care; treatment for hypertension & tuberculosis & core areas of health promotion for nutrition, sanitation & healthy living.

Americans’ Views On Abortion, 1995-2022

While public support for legal abortion has fluctuated some in two decades of polling, it has remained relatively stable over the past several years. Currently, 61% say abortion should be legal in all or most cases, while 37% say it should be illegal in all or most cases.

Views on abortion by religious affiliation, 2022

About three-quarters of White evangelical Protestants (74%) think abortion should be illegal in all or most cases.

By contrast, 84% of religiously unaffiliated Americans say abortion should be legal in all or most cases, as do 66% of Black Protestants, 60% of White Protestants who are not evangelical, and 56% of Catholics.

Views on abortion by party identification, 2022

Six-in-ten Republicans and those who lean toward the Republican Party (60%) say abortion should be illegal in all or most cases. By contrast, 80% of Democrats and those who lean toward the Democratic Party say abortion should be legal in all or most cases.

Views on abortion by political party and ideology, 2022

Conservative Republicans and Republican leaners are far more likely to say abortion should be illegal in all or most cases than to say that it should be legal (72% vs. 27%). Among moderate and liberal Republicans, 60% say abortion should be legal, while 38% say it should be illegal.

The vast majority of liberal Democrats and Democratic leaners support legal abortion (90%), as do seven-in-ten conservative and moderate Democrats (72%).

Views on abortion by gender, 2022

Majorities of both men and women express support for legal abortion, though women are somewhat more likely than men to hold this view (63% vs. 58%).

Views on abortion by race and ethnicity, 2022

Majorities of adults across racial and ethnic groups express support for legal abortion. About three-quarters of Asian (74%) and two-thirds of Black adults (68%) say abortion should be legal in all or most cases, as do 60% of Hispanic adults and 59% of White adults.

Views on abortion by age, 2022

Among adults under age 30, 74% say abortion should be legal in all or most cases, as do  62% of adults in their 30s and 40s. Among those in their 50s and early 60s, 55% express support for legal abortion, as do 54% of those ages 65 and older.

Views on abortion by level of education, 2022

Two-thirds of college graduates (66%) say abortion should be legal in all or most cases, as do 63% of those with some college education. Among those with a high school degree or less education, 54% say abortion should be legal in all or most cases, while 44% say it should be illegal in all or most cases.

Source:  The PEW Survey conducted March 7-13, 2022. Trend lines show aggregated data from polls conducted in each year. Data from 2019 and later come from Pew Research Center’s online American Trends Panel; prior data from telephone surveys. See report for more details on changes in survey mode. Question wording can be found here, and information on the Pew Research Center’s polling methodology can be found here. White, Black and Asian adults include those who report being one race and are not Hispanic. Hispanics are of any race. Estimates for Asian adults are representative of English speakers only.

Indians Rank High In UK’s Top Source Of Nurses

Nearly half of Britain’s newly-hired nurses and midwives were recruited from abroad, figures revealed last week.  Forty-eight per cent of the 48,436 staff who joined the UK’s nursing and midwifery workforce came from different countries in 2021/22 — a record high.

The vast majority of the overseas-trained joiners (66 per cent) hailed from India and the Philippines. India has contributed to the rise of the highest registered professionals in the UK’s National Health Service (NHS), according to the annual report released in London on Wednesday. Around 7.6 lakh professionals including nurses and midwives were accounted for as on March 31, 2022. “That’s around 30,000 more than there were a year earlier and is the highest level it has ever been,” according to the report.

The UK government says that the NHS follows ethical recruitment practices by not recruiting from a red list of countries. Concerns have been raised about the UK’s overreliance on overseas nurse, with top medics questioning how sustainable it is to ‘recruit half of new nurses from around the world’.

Meanwhile, nurses are leaving their jobs at an alarming rate. Leavers complained the job put them under ‘too much pressure’.  In another warning sign, one fifth of the workforce are currently at retirement age, risking a further exodus next year.

The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) statistics suggest there has been a slight increase in the number of staff – with some 758,300 now registered to work across Britain. However, concerns have been raised about the rising number of people leaving the register.

A total of 27,133 nurses and midwives left the NMC register in 2021/22 – 13 per cent more than the year before. Nursing leaders have voiced concern over a rising reliance on overseas trained nurses and midwives in the UK with them now accounting for nearly half of newly registered professionals, a huge increase compared to previous years. The vast majority of these were nurses, some 25,000, and almost 1,500 midwives.

Among 6,500 nurses and midwives who responded to a ‘leavers’ survey’, the top reasons for quitting the register was retirement (42.9 per cent). Personal circumstances were mentioned by a fifth (21.7 per cent), while ‘too much pressure’ was cited by a similar amount (18.3 per cent). The report states that stress and poor mental health are factors in ‘many people’s decision to stop practicing’. Midwives were the most likely to cite this reason, closely followed by mental health nurses.

One nurse who left due to workplace pressures told the NMC: ‘Pressure at work and the change of working practice didn’t allow me to provide the care I wanted to give. ‘Covid restrictions compounded this. I was becoming stressed, tired and not sleeping well.’

Additionally, 36.5 per cent of leavers reported their experience of working during the pandemic had influenced their decision to quit the register. One midwife told the NMC it was not the virus itself but the associated workplace pressures that led to them leaving.

‘Regularly caring for two, three, four women who should have been one-two-one was terrifying and exhausting,’ they said. ‘Wearing the same mask all day because there were no others, begging for sterile gowns for crash sections, holding pee in all day because you are so short staffed, the list goes on.’

The figures also suggest one in five nurses and midwives (21 per cent) working in the UK are ‘of potential retirement age’. Andrea Sutcliffe, NMC chief executive, said the total number of registrants was the highest level ever, however there were some concerning signs.

Why are nurses and midwives leaving the profession?

A total of 27,133 nurses and midwives left the NMC register in 2021/22 – 13 per cent more than the year before.

Of theses 5,927 British trained nurses told the NMC why they were leaving and these were the top reasons:

  • Retirement: 49.3 per cent
  • Change of personal circumstances: 23.2 per cent
  • Too much pressure at work: 20.1 per cent
  • Negative workplace culture: 14.3 per cent
  • The Covid pandemic: 11.5 per cent

‘The total number of people leaving the register has risen, after a steady and welcome fall over the previous four years,’ she said.

‘Another note of caution is that growth of the workforce has become more reliant on internationally trained professionals joining our register.

‘These professionals make a welcome and vital contribution to our nation’s health and wellbeing. But we can’t take them for granted.’

She said the pandemic had demonstrated the vulnerability of relying on overseas trained professionals.

‘Two years ago, we felt the pandemic’s impact on global travel; the number of international joiners to our register fell sharply,’ she said.

‘A future pandemic or other global disruption could see history repeat itself, but with an even bigger impact on the overall growth of the register.’

The figures also show the number of nurses coming from the EU has fallen for the fifth year in a row.

Commenting on the figures, Pat Cullen, general secretary and chief executive of the Royal College of Nursing, said: ‘The loss of 25,000 registered nurses last year is being felt profoundly by both patients and nurses alike.

‘When we have tens of thousands of vacant nurse jobs, a sharp rise in leavers should not be overlooked while we welcome new recruits.

‘Ministers should avoid overclaiming today – nursing staff tell us these shortages are biting more than ever.’ She also questioned the sustainability of recruiting ‘half of all new nurses from around the world.’

‘The UK’s health and care workforce is proudly diverse, but it must be done ethically and come at the same time as increased investment in education and domestic workers,’ she said.

Gill Walton, chief executive of the Royal College of Midwives, added: ‘We are already 2,000 midwives short in England, yet the number in the NHS continues to fall while demands on maternity services grow.

‘Other UK countries are also facing pressures.

‘This is not sustainable and is without doubt having an impact on the safety and quality of care for women, babies and their families.

‘It is also putting massive and unreasonable pressures on NHS midwives and maternity support workers – already battered by the pandemic – and many are starting to vote with their feet and leave the NHS.’

Saffron Cordery, deputy chief executive of NHS Providers, added: ‘It is concerning to see a rise in the number of nurses, midwives and nursing associates leaving the register, reversing the trend of recent years.

‘Workforce shortages across the NHS, with more than 110,000 vacancies, are a huge risk to patient safety by impacting the quality of care that overstretched staff can provide – ‘too much pressure’ is the third most common reason cited by leavers.’

Hindu’s Classical Texts Strictly Forbid Abortion. Here’s Why Many Hindus Don’t.

Since the 1973 landmark Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade legalized abortion in the U.S., legal abortions across the country have declined steadily. Public support for abortion has remained consistent, currently around 61%. And yet, a recent leaked draft opinion from the Supreme Court suggests that a majority of justices are considering overturning this decision and turning over abortion regulation to the states.

The opinion, in which its author, Justice Samuel Alito, makes room for some bizarre allusions to 13th-century British jurisprudence, suggests that abortion rights are the purview of the states’ legislatures and the court should not be involved. It also hints at the issue of religious freedom.

Alito’s draft opinion, of course, implicitly rebuts the notion that termination of a pregnancy is a fundamental right that must be recognized, not legislated. It means that anyone who becomes pregnant has fewer rights over their bodies than are proffered to a corpse or brain-dead person. In these situations, one cannot harvest an organ or remove tissue without prior written consent.

But Alito also overlooks the actual issue at stake. If Roe were overturned, it would abrogate the religious freedom and individual rights of several minority religious communities, including U.S. Jews, Muslims and Hindus. These communities support abortion rights in some or all cases in numbers equivalent to or much greater than the general public. That support is often rooted in their faith and the ethics of individual choice.

In many American Jewish communities, when the life of the mother is threatened, abortion isn’t just acceptable, it’s required.

Between 2017 – 2020, support for abortion rights among Black communities rose sharply, particularly among Black Protestants, of which 66% support abortion under most circumstances.

U.S. Muslims support abortion rights as well, though by a slimmer margin — 56%. While Catholic support for abortion rights shows a slim majority in favor, at 47%, among Catholic women that number jumps to 55%. But in the largest religious community in the U.S. — white Protestants — support for abortion rights reaches 63%, exceeding the nation as a whole.

Hindu traditions are more complicated. While U.S. Hindu communities express strong support for abortion rights at 68%, mirroring the numbers Pew Research catalogs for all Asian Americans, classical Hindu texts such as the Vedas and Shastras forbid abortion except when the life of the pregnant person is threatened or there are fetal abnormalities. Though the Garbha Upanishad suggests the soul doesn’t attach itself to the fetus until the seventh month, this interpretation is contested.

How does India, the largest country with a Hindu majority, view abortion rights? Abortion has been legal with limitations since 1971 through the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, which has been updated four times, most recently in 2021. Currently, abortions are permitted up to 20 weeks after conception with the approval of a certified health care provider.

Failed contraception is considered an acceptable reason for approving an abortion. Women may seek abortions at up to 24 weeks’ gestation in cases of sexual abuse, incest, fetal abnormalities, rape, disability or if the pregnant person is a minor. All abortions are covered by government health care and are performed in public and private facilities.

But the broad support for abortion rights among American Hindus seems to speak to an important aspect of Hindu faith: Individual ethical choice cannot be imposed on others. Although abortion may violate classical Hindu law, most Hindus believe such a position should not be legislated for the population at large.

It may also be an indicator of the social and religious preference for sons, which grounds India’s ban on amniocentesis to determine the sex of the baby. What is clear is that for Hindus, the freedom to make this choice is paramount.

What does all this tell us? People who identify as religious, by and large, support abortion rights as individual choice, even when it may violate tenets of their faith. It also suggests that Jews, Muslims and Hindus see abortion rights as a matter of personal ethics, even if it’s incompatible with their beliefs — a fact represented in an amicus brief to the Supreme Court by a diverse range of religious organizations supporting abortion rights.

So whose religious freedom is at stake for the court? White evangelical Christians, 77% of whom oppose abortion, have been the most active advocates for religious freedom in recent years. What’s more, they see this (and other issues) as a collective matter and a religious imperative that necessitates imposing their views on everyone, even those who don’t share them.

Now it’s evangelicals’ turn to take a back seat to religious freedom claims of others. Overturning Roe v. Wade would violate the religious freedom of the majority of Christians, Jews, Hindus and Muslims as well as of those who identify as religious “nones.”

Religious freedom means more than the freedom to practice one’s religion; it also affirms the right to be free from the imposition of religion. Removing the constitutional right to an abortion would not only deliver a devastating blow to gender equity, it would, in effect, center white evangelical Christian morality as a governing principle for everyone, fundamentally altering the meaning and impact of the First Amendment.

AAPI Convention Teaser Offers Glimpses of 40th Annual Convention in San Antonio, TX Focus On “Heal The Healers: Rejuvenate And Rekindle Your Mind And Your Spirits”

“It is with great pleasure that we want to welcome you to the 40th Annual Convention and Scientific Sessions of American Association of Physicians of Indian origin (AAPI), which will be held from June 23-26, 2022 in the historic city of San Antonio, Texas,” Dr. Anupama Gotimukula, President of AAPI said during the much anticipated Convention Teaser organized virtually on Sunday, May 15th. “We are  planning a historic convention in San Antonio to celebrate 40 years of AAPI that coincides with 75 years of India’s Independence, with excellent educational sessions and other programs.”

Dr. Gotimukula, the 4th woman President of AAPI in the history of AAPI, who has been leading AAPI to newer heights with her dynamic leadership, while thanking the Organizing Committee led by Dr. Jayesh Shah, praised the dedication and generosity of each member for giving their best, to make this Convention truly a memorable one for every participant.

“Bienvenidos a San Antonio, Tejas!” Dr. Jayesh Shah, Convention Chair and past President of AAPI said in Texan style. “It is with great pleasure that I, along with the San Antonio -2022 Convention Team, welcome you to the 40th AAPI Annual Convention in San Antonio, the 8th largest city in the US. I still have vivid memories of inviting you to San Antonio in 2014. This is going to be the 4th convention in Texas.”

The Convention Teaser provided a glimpse of the 40th annual Convention  with its theme, “Heal the Healers — Rejuvenate And Rekindle Your Mind And Your Spirits.” “Our physician members have worked very hard during the Covid 19 pandemic as the 2022 convention is a perfect time to heal the healers with a special focus on wellness,” said Dr. Jayesh Shah.

Put together by a highly talented and dedicated Team of Convention Committee members, the 4 days long event will be filled with programs and activities that cater to the body, mind and soul. The Convention is going to be a unique experience for everyone, he added.

Dr. Jayesh Shah introduced the strong and dedicated team of Convention Committee members, including Mr. Venky Adivi, Chief Executive Officer of the Convention; Dr. Aruna Venkatesh, Convention Treasurer; Dr. Vijay Koli, Past President of AAPI & Convention Advisor; Dr. Rajam Ramamurthy, Convention Advisor; Chief Operating Officers, R. Reddy Yeluru and Ram Joolukuntla; Dr. Rajeev Suri, President of TIPSSW  & Co-Chair of the Convention, and the other Co-Chairs of the Convention, including Dr. Shankar Sanka, Dr. Hetal Nayak, and Dr. Kiran Cheruku.

Honoring India, as she celebrates 75 years of India’s Independence is part of the convention, being co-sponsored by the Embassy of India & the Consulate General of India (CGI) – Houston.

Each day of the convention will have a specific theme. On Thursday, the theme chosen is “Unity in Diversity” and the delegates will showcase one’s own state dress code. Heritage India is the theme for Friday honoring and celebrating India’s rich culture and diversity. On Saturday, the focus is on the much loved Bollywood with a special performance by popular Bollywood singer Shaan, followed by Mehfil. The food served each will match the theme chosen for each day, he added.

Some of the major events at the convention include: Workshops and hands-on sessions on well-being, 10-12 hours of CMEs, Women’s Forum, CEOs Forum, “AAPI Got Talent”, Mehfil, Bollywood Nite, Fashion Show, Medical Jeopardy, Abstract Posters/Research Contest, Alumni and Young Physicians events and Exhibition and Sale of Jewelry, Clothing, Medical Equipment, Pharma, Finance and many more.

The convention will be held at the newly renovated Henry B. Gonzales Convention Center in San Antonio, TX located on the colorful and vibrant River Walk. This world-class facility will afford an intimate setting that will facilitate one’s ability to convey cutting-edge research and CME, promote business relationships, and display ethnic items. Vendor satisfaction and comfort are our top priorities.

Giving an overview of the programs for each day, Venky Adivi said, ““It takes a whole village to put together a fabulous convention, I am grateful to committee members, Chairs and Advisors. Special thanks to Ms.Vijaya Kodali for her expertise and skills.”

According to Dr. Rajeev Suri, President, TIPS SW, and Convention Co-Chair, Please get your Sombrero (Mexican Hat) ready for a special evening organized by Texas Indo- American Physician Society (SW Chapter) and culminate with Bollywood Dandiya Night,

Saturday Evening will begin with the Presidential Banquet, which will be followed by a live show by Bollywood’s one of the best “Shaan” Night. Sunday, we bid you “Hasta la Vista” with a closing ceremony,” said Dr. Vijay Koli, Advisor to the Convention.

Dr. Kiran Cheraku, Co-Chair of the Convention said, “On Friday, a popular Fashion Show, Abby V show and colorful Rajasthani dance is awaiting you.”  “On Saturday with the Celebration of International Day of Yoga on Riverwalk, imagine 100’s of people doing Yoga all around the Riverwalk,” pointed out Dr. Rajam Ramamurthy, Advisor for the Convention.

AAPI delegates will have a multidisciplinary CME conference that allows specialists and primary care physicians to interact in an academic forum. World-renowned speakers will discuss gaps between current and best practice of wide-ranging topics at the CME sessions.

Dr. Shankar Sanka, Co-Chair stated: “The 2022 exhibit hall is the vibrant nerve center of the convention. The unique layout offers maximum exposure to the pharmaceutical and commercial booth.”

Dr. Aruna Venkatesh, Treasurer of the Convention added: “The exhibition stage will have the performance to keep our audience in the exhibit hall to keep our booth supporters happy. The research pavilion will enable you to view the outstanding works of our students, residents, and fellows.”

Dr. Hetal Nayak stated, ‘the most unique part of the convention is our Yoga-based Wellness Package which is thoughtfully created with world-renowned speakers. The experience can transform and inspire you.” In addition to colorful entertainment, exquisite authentic Indian cuisine, esteemed yoga gurus and experts, who will share their wisdom and lead the Wellness Sessions include: Paramguru Sharatha Jois, Sadhvi Bhagawati, Saraswati Eddie Stern, Dr. Sat Bir Khalsa, Dr. Dilip Sarkar, Dr. Pankaj Vij, and  Dr. Param Dedhia.

“Our speakers are some of the best names in Wellness and Yoga- Dr. Akil Taher, Eddie Stern, Dr. Kaushik Reddy, Dr.Ajeya Joshi, Yog Guru Sharath Jois, Drs. P Vij & P. Dedhia, Sadhvi Saraswati, Dr, Smita Mehta, Dr. Sat Bir Khalsa. And do not miss the world-famous yoga workshop by Yog Guru Sharath Jois,” said Dr. Kiran Cheruku, Convention Co-Chair.

The confirmed Plenary Speakers are Dr. Jack Reseneck, AMA President, and Dr.Peter Hotez, Nobel Prize Nominee. Other confirmed guests are legendary Sunil Gavaskar and Dr. Rahul Gupta, Director, National Drug Control Policy, World-renowned spiritual leader Sadhvi Saraswati and Dr. Prem Reddy, CEO of Prime Health Services.

For the first time ever, AAPI is planning to organize an In-Person Plenary Session on India-USA Healthcare Partnership with the Health Minister Of India, Mansukh Mandaviya (invited but awaiting confirmation from his office) during the Convention on Saturday, June 25th.

“Little Master” Sunil Gavaskar praised AAPI members for being part of the “greatest profession in the world.” He said, “It’s a unique honor to be part of the important AAPI convention in Texas. I am looking forward to meeting you all in Texas.” Mr. Gavaskar referred to his association with the “Heart to Heart Foundation” and how the Foundation is touching many hearts around the world.

“Physicians and healthcare professionals from across the country and from around the world will convene and participate in the scholarly exchange of medical advances, to develop health policy agendas, and encourage legislative priorities in the coming year. We look forward to seeing you in San Antonio!” said Dr. Gotimukula. For more details, and sponsorship opportunities, please visit:  www.aapiconvention.org  and www.aapiusa.org

Abortion Ruling Leak Did Little To Change Americans’ Voting Intentions

When the leaked draft of a U.S. Supreme Court majority opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization hit the press, suggesting the court is likely to overturn the Roe v. Wade precedent guaranteeing women the right to abortions, much of the conversation focused on how such a ruling would give Democrats a boost in the 2022 congressional elections.

However, despite intense political discourse in the media, the leak does not appear to have changed the minds of voters about the importance of the abortion issue. The finding is part of a forthcoming study conducted by marketing researchers at Washington University in St. Louis and the University of California, Los Angeles.

The research also highlights how Democrats might better frame the abortion issue to attract new supporters and motivate their base ahead of elections.

Anticipating a controversial summer ruling in the Dobbs case, Raphael Thomadsen and Song Yao at WashU’s Olin Business School and Robert Zeithammer at UCLA’s Anderson School of Management, surveyed 350 potential voters — prior to the May 2 leak — about their support for hypothetical candidates based on salient issues including taxes, illegal immigration, climate change, health insurance, poverty and abortion. According to the authors, an advantage of this conjoint style of polling is that it reveals not only which candidate the respondent supports, but also how strongly the respondent feels about each issue.

Shortly after the leak, the team surveyed potential voters again — 300 in all — to see how the news had affected candidate preference. Even before the leak, abortion was an important issue to most voters. The polls showed that abortion had, on average, a 30% weight in respondents’ candidate preference.

Much to their surprise, though, the authors discovered the leak did not significantly increase the weight voters place on abortion in comparison with other issues the poll considered. For Democrats, that number remained steady at 32% following the leak. For Republicans, that number dipped modestly from 29% to 27% following the leak.

“While the average importance of abortion to voters was incredibly consistent, there is some evidence that abortion became slightly less important of an issue to Republicans after the leak, although the shift is still fairly small,” said Yao, associate professor of marketing at Olin Business School.

“Further, we see that abortion became a more important issue for voters who voted for someone other than Biden or Trump,” Yao said. “However, that group represents just under 2% of the voting population, so even if the Democrats captured these individuals’ votes, it would be hard to see the impact of this shift in the balance of power that would emerge this fall.”

According to Thomadsen, professor of marketing at Olin Business School, there are two issues with the way that Democrats are trying to frame the abortion debate to gain an electoral advantage.

“First, we see the Democrats trying to brand the Republicans as being anti-choice. However, this preference is already baked into the support that Democrats and Republicans are currently getting,” Thomadsen said.

“What would really change the abortion debate, however, is that Americans, as a whole, are strongly against abortion prohibitions in the case of rape, incest or to save the health of a mother. Even many Republicans would prefer abortion being legal for a short amount of time — we tested 12 weeks — to having no exceptions made to the law.”

The team’s most recent simulations suggest that if Democrats can paint the Republican-enacted laws as not allowing for these exceptions, they could increase their net electoral advantage by up to 6%.

“This 6% would reflect a small increase in Democratic votes, but a sizable shift in Republicans who would decide not to vote,” Thomadsen said.

‘Even many Republicans would prefer abortion being legal for a short amount of time — we tested 12 weeks — to having no exceptions made to the law.’

Democrats also need to include men in their abortion messaging, Thomadsen said.

“Abortion is framed as an issue for women. However, we find that men are nearly as passionate — and pro-choice — about abortion as women,” he said. “While abortion is an issue about women’s rights, it is important for Democrats to use the issue to rally both men and women, not just women.”

Finally, Thomadsen noted that Democrats also could make inroads with voters on economic issues.

“While the focus of this study was to see how Americans’ preferences shifted toward abortion, we also measured the preferences for many other policies,” he said.  

“We find that fixing health insurance by expanding Medicare to everyone who is not insured is fairly popular,” Thomadsen said. “Similarly, if the Democrats proposed cutting taxes, that would also bring a lot of support.

“This could be done in a very progressive way. For example, reducing each household’s taxes by $2,000, and providing refundable tax credits for those who owe less than a full $2,000 in taxes, is a very popular idea.” Republicans also gain from lowering taxes, Thomadsen noted, but that is baked into their status quo numbers.

Monkeypox Due To Risky Sexual Behavior, Expert Says

A leading adviser to the World Health Organization described the unprecedented outbreak of the rare disease monkeypox in developed countries as “a random event” that might be explained by risky sexual behavior at two recent mass events in Europe.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Dr. David Heymann, who formerly headed WHO’s emergencies department, said the leading theory to explain the spread of the disease was sexual transmission among gay and bisexual men at two raves held in Spain and Belgium. Monkeypox has not previously triggered widespread outbreaks beyond Africa, where it is endemic in animals.

“We know monkeypox can spread when there is close contact with the lesions of someone who is infected, and it looks like sexual contact has now amplified that transmission,” said Heymann.

That marks a significant departure from the disease’s typical pattern of spread in central and western Africa, where people are mainly infected by animals like wild rodents and primates and outbreaks have not spread across borders.

To date, WHO has recorded more than 90 cases of monkeypox in a dozen countries including Britain, Spain, Israel, France, Switzerland, the U.S. and Australia.

Madrid’s senior health official said on Monday that the Spanish capital has recorded 30 confirmed cases so far. Enrique Ruiz Escudero said authorities are investigating possible links between a recent Gay Pride event in the Canary Islands, which drew some 80,000 people, and cases at a Madrid sauna.

Heymann chaired an urgent meeting of WHO’s advisory group on infectious disease threats on Friday to assess the ongoing epidemic and said there was no evidence to suggest that monkeypox might have mutated into a more infectious form.

Monkeypox typically causes fever, chills, rash, and lesions on the face or genitals. It can be spread through close contact with an infected person or their clothing or bedsheets, but sexual transmission has not yet been documented. Most people recover from the disease within several weeks without requiring hospitalization. Vaccines against smallpox, a related disease, are also effective in preventing monkeypox and some antiviral drugs are being developed.

The disease can be fatal in about 10% of infections, but no deaths have been reported among the current cases.

WHO said the outbreak is “atypical” and said the fact that cases are being seen in so many different countries suggests the disease may have been silently spreading for some time. The agency’s Europe director warned that as summer begins across the continent, mass gatherings, festivals and parties could accelerate the spread of monkeypox.

Other scientists have pointed out that it will be difficult to disentangle whether it is sex itself or the close contact related to sex that has driven the recent spread of monkeypox across Europe.

“By nature, sexual activity involves intimate contact, which one would expect to increase the likelihood of transmission, whatever a person’s sexual orientation and irrespective of the mode of transmission,” said Mike Skinner, a virologist at Imperial College London.

On Sunday, the chief medical adviser of Britain’s Health Security Agency, Dr. Susan Hopkins, said she expected more monkeypox cases to be identified in the country “on a daily basis.” U.K. officials have said “a notable proportion” of the cases in Britain and Europe have been in young men with no history of travel to Africa and who are gay, bisexual or have sex with men. Authorities in Portugal and Spain also said their cases were in men who mostly had sex with other men and whose infections were picked up when they sought help for lesions at sexual health clinics.

Heymann, who is also a professor of infectious diseases at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said the monkeypox outbreak was likely a random event that might be traceable to a single infection.

“It’s very possible there was somebody who got infected, developed lesions on the genitals, hands or somewhere else, and then spread it to others when there was sexual or close, physical contact,” Heymann hypothesized. “And then there were these international events that seeded the outbreak around the world, into the U.S. and other European countries.” He emphasized that the disease was unlikely to trigger widespread transmission.

“This is not COVID,” he said. “We need to slow it down, but it does not spread in the air and we have vaccines to protect against it.”

Heymann said studies should be conducted rapidly to determine if monkeypox could be spread by people without symptoms and that populations at risk of the disease should take precautions to protect themselves.

Covid Has Claimed Over 1 Million Lives In US Alone

More than one million people have now died of Covid-19 in the US since the pandemic’s start, according to Tuesday data from Johns Hopkins University — a reminder the pandemic is not over even as much of the country pushes to move away from Covid-19 measures.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that the number of Covid-19 deaths in the US was about 32% higher than reported between February 2020 and September 2021. Provisional data from the CDC also shows the US surpassed the death milestone during the week ending on May 14, and a CNN analysis of data released by the agency shows that severe outcomes disproportionately affected older Americans and minority populations.

About three-quarters of all Covid-19 deaths have been among seniors, including more than a quarter among people 85 and older, according to CDC data. And while racial and ethnic disparities have lessened over the course of the pandemic, the risk of dying from Covid-19 has been about two times higher for Blacks, Hispanics and American Indians compared to Whites in the US.

Last week, President Joe Biden issued a proclamation marking a million deaths and ordered the American flag to fly half-staff, writing that the nation “must not grow numb to such sorrow.”

“To heal, we must remember,” the President said in a statement. “We must remain vigilant against this pandemic and do everything we can to save as many lives as possible.”

And it all comes as Covid-19 cases are rising again across the country, with reported infections more than doubling over the past month in the US overall. New York City reached the “high” Covid-19 alert level, indicating high community spread and “substantial pressure on the health care system,” officials said, and encouraged people to wear high-quality masks in all public indoor settings and crowded outdoor spaces, regardless of whether vaccination status is known.

Across the world, there have been more than 524 million cases reported of the virus since the pandemic’s start — more than 82 million of which have been in the US.

Grim milestones throughout the pandemic

The World Health Organization declared Covid-19 a pandemic on March 11, 2020.

  • The US reported its first 100,000 deaths about two and a half months later, by May 23, 2020, according to Johns Hopkins.
  • There had been 200,000 deaths reported about four months after that, by September 22, 2020.
  • There were 300,000 deaths reported less than three months after that, by December 12, 2020.
  • There were 400,000 deaths reported about a month later, by January 17, 2021.
  • There were 500,000 deaths reported about another month after that, by February 21, 2021.
  • There were 600,000 deaths reported about four months later, by June 16, 2021.
  • There were 700,000 deaths reported about three and half months after that, by October 1, 2021.
  • There were 800,000 deaths reported about two and a half months after that, by December 13, 2021.
  • Less than two months later on February 4, the US reported a total of 900,334 deaths.

Overall, death rates have been higher in the Northeast region of the country and lowest in the West, according to JHU data.

But at the state level, death rates have been highest in Mississippi, Arizona and Oklahoma — each with more than 400 total Covid-19 deaths for every 100,000 people — compared with Vermont and Hawaii, which have had about 100 deaths for every 100,000 people.

Globally, there have been more than 6.2 million reported Covid-19 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins data.

Vaccinations have saved millions of lives

Vaccinations for the virus have saved millions of lives, but about half of all Covid-19 deaths in the US have happened over the past year — when vaccines were already widely available for everyone age 5 and older.

And though the government has not shared an official estimate of how many vaccinated people have died of Covid-19, a CNN analysis of CDC data shows that deaths in recent months have been much more evenly split between vaccinated and unvaccinated people as highly transmissible variants take hold, vaccine protection wanes and booster uptake stagnates.

But the risk of dying from Covid-19 is still about five times higher for unvaccinated people than it is for vaccinated people, according to the CDC.

And evidence continues to build around the critical importance of booster shots.

Of those vaccinated people who died from a breakthrough case of Covid-19 in January and February, less than a third had gotten a booster shot, according to a CNN analysis of data from the CDC. The remaining two-thirds had only received their primary series.

AAPI Presents A Five-Week Webinar On Meditation Practices

American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) in collaboration with the Heartfulness Institute organized a five-week webinar, from March 20th to April 17th on Heartfulness Meditation Practices, guided by Revered Kamlesh D. Patel (DAAJI), who is the Heartfulness Global Guide, and initiated by Dr. Anupama Gotimukula President of AAPI and Dr. Ravi Kolli, President-Elect of AAPI. The Heartfulness Institute has held a series of wellness lectures that provide meaningful practices to AAPI physicians and continuing medical education credits.

AAPI members, including Dr. Chandra Koneru,  Dr. Murthy Gokula, Dr. Jayaram Thimmapuram, and Dr. Kunal Desai, who have been engaging in heart-based meditation for decades presented and led the hundreds of AAPI members who had joined in and participated in the webinars.

“The Covid pandemic has impacted all aspects of human life as never been before,” said Dr. Gotimukula.  “The past two years have been challenging to everyone, particularly those who are assigned with the responsibility of caring for the sick, especially as millions have been impacted by the big pandemic. There has been a noticeable rise in burn out among healthcare professionals,” she pointed out.

AAPI, the largest ethnic medical organization in the country, representing the interests of over 100,000 physicians of Indian origin, has been focusing on ways to help AAPI members, who have been in the forefront helping millions of patients around the nation, to take care of self and find satisfaction and happiness in the challenging situations they are in, while serving hundreds of patients everyday of their dedicated and noble profession, Dr. Anupama Gotimukula said.

In this context, in partnership with the Heartfulness Institute, AAPI has embarked on a mission to educate its members and provide opportunities to promote self-care, improve physician wellness, and reduce burnout.

“Our physician members have worked very hard during the covid 19 pandemic. The Heartfulness Meditation has allowed AAPI to serve these hard working members who are our COVID 19 Heroes.  It is a perfect time to heal the healers with a special focus on wellness as we rejuvenate and relax,” said Dr. Ravi Kolli, who, along with several AAPI members visited and experienced Heartfulness Meditation at the Kanha Shantivanam on the outskirts of Hyderabad, during the Global Healthcare Summit organized by AAPI in January this year.

The Heartfulness Institute is a not-for-profit organization established in 130 countries that provides meditation techniques that are proven to reduce stress and anxiety, improve sleep, enhance emotional intelligence, and explore the depth of human consciousness.

The Heartfulness Institute’s mission is “to offer all humanity a simple and effective set of practices for relaxation, meditation, regulating the mind, and building inner strength and attitudes to create a lasting sense of fulfillment and overall, wellbeing.”

“Our practices include heart-based meditation,” said Dr. Chandra Koneru, an Internal Medicine Professional, AAPI member, and Heartfulness Trainer. “Our values align with the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) mission to facilitate and enable Indian physicians to improve patient care and engage in research that brings distinctive contributions from India.”

The first webinar session led by Dr. Koneru was an introduction to Heartfulness practices: “A Program Overview: Why Meditate? Health, Happiness, and Harmony.”  Dr. Koneru said, “Meditation unleashes the potential within us that we never before knew.” He shared with the audience the values of meditation, how meditation translates to evidence-based health outcomes, and how the harmony and happiness that meditation can evoke in physicians can have a ripple effect on their patients.

Dr. Koneru explained the relaxation techniques physicians can practice to create restorative and refreshing energy boosts. He outlined what it means to connect with the heart, fix your thoughts, and allow divine energy to fill the heart through a practical demonstration. “Heartfulness relaxation techniques remove stress and tension from the body, calm the nervous system, and settle our breathing habits,” he said.

Dr. Koneru also discussed meditation methods, centering oneself, and finding inner stillness and contentment. Heartfulness meditation is supported by the ancient yogic technique of Pranahuti, which allows us to dive deeper into the heart from the outset., he added.

Dr. Murthy Gokula, M.D., C.M.D., DipABLM, Family Medicine, Geriatrics & Lifestyle Medicine, AAPI member, and Heartfulness Trainer, while leading the discussion on “Rejuvenation: Adding Lightness, Joy, and a Carefree Attitude to Life” spoke about the rejuvenation technique, which involves a well-established scientific methodology using guided imagery to remove the day’s stressful impressions and undesirable interactions.

Dr. Gokula said, “Cleaning purifies the mind of all its complexities and heaviness, allowing you to feel light in your approach to life. This 30-minute practice will detox your mind. After the rejuvenation technique, you will return to a simpler and more balanced state. Every cell of your body will emanate simplicity, lightness, and purity.”

Dr. Jayaram Thimmapuram, Internal Medicine, AAPI member, and Heartfulness Trainer, who spoke about “Inner Connect and Good Sleep and Cultivate Meditative Mind, Heartful Living” in two separate sessions, said, “Our quality of sleep and sleeping habits shape our physical and mental health. Our attention, intention, and attitude at bedtime play a significant role in transforming ourselves. With a proper attitude of humility, love, and openness to change, improving our sleeping habits can transform our lives.”

According to him, “Cultivating a meditative mindset is an outcome of meditative practices. A meditative mind is a dynamic state of inner stillness that progressively fills our life with contentment, calmness, compassion, courage, and clarity.”

Dr. Kunal Desai, an Infectious Disease Specialist, AAPI member, and Heartfulness Trainer, while addressing the participants on “Tips for Deeper Meditation Experience” stated that the best way to experience meditation and find purpose is to focus on health-related benefits like stress improvement, sleep quality improvement, and anxiety reduction. He suggested adopting an approach of sitting silently at your desk for a few minutes to focus inwardly. “This small practice can pave the way for more mindfulness and intentional acting. He also advocated for small moments of meditation before bed, prayer, and diary writing to focus on meditation,” Dr. Desai said.  “With interest and the right attitude, you can evaluate yourself to see that you will evolve to find the real purpose of your life,” he added.

Dr. Ranga Reddy, a Past AAPI President stated, “I have been with AAPI for over 25 years. This is the first time AAPI has collaborated with the Heartfulness program to bring awareness to physicians about the benefits of meditation in reducing stress and anxiety and improving patient care during these trying times. I hope AAPI will continue this collaboration to bring harmony and happiness to physicians, patients, and the public to create a healthy and peaceful society for the greater good.”

Dr. Rida Khan, who had attended the webinar, while sharing the impact it had on him, stated, “I have always been a meditation aficionado, so it was heartening to discover that it could be a continuing medical education activity. The practical meditation sessions taught the techniques in real-time and backed them with scientific, informative, and journal club-style didactics.”

Dr. Khan went on to state, “No doctor should battle the vicissitudes of the work of a physician alone. Introducing physicians to meditation provides a powerful tool to help alleviate stress, maintain stability, and enhance fulfillment in their lives.  It helps to meditate in groups to protect your practice from lapsing, receive regular feedback, and exchange intellectually stimulating ideas. Meeting like-minded people in your field broadens your perspective of how a physician should and could be. As a newly minted physician myself, I find it invaluable to have those role models in my life.”

What was begun as a five week series has been planned to be extended for a longer as the AAPI members have shared for the need and expressing as to how the sessions have helped them personally and professionally.

“Heartfulness meditation practices are offered free of cost. By connecting with a local trainer at one of our 6,000 global Heart Spots, you can dive deeper into meditation with free assistance from a certified Heartfulness trainer,” Dr. Gokula added. For more details, please visit: https://heartspots.heartfulness.org. To connect with a virtual trainer, download the Heart-In-Tune app at  https://www.heartintune.org.

For more information on AAPI and its several noble initiatives in the past 40 years, please visit: www.aapiusa.org

AAPI/CAPI CT Organizes Blood Donation Drive At Middletown Temple

The Connecticut Chapter of The American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (CAPI) in partnership with the local American Red Cross, Middle Town  Hindu Temple and the national American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) organized a Blood Donation Drive at the Middletown Hindu Temple on Saturday, April 30th.

Led by Dr. Sushil Gupta President of CAPI, the 2nd blood donation drive by CAPI in the past few months has been inspired by the call by Dr. Anupama Gotimukula, President of national AAPI, who is leading AAPI in its efforts to host Blood Donation Drive in as amnay as 75 cities across the United States, to commemorate India’s 75 years of Independence.

“In line with the national AAPI’s motto, we at CAPI are happy to join in several other AAPI Chapters and lead this noble initiative to donate blood with the objective of saving lives around the nation,” said Dr. Sushil Gupta, President of CAPI. “We plan to organize future blood drives in other parts of Connecticut in the near future.”

Dr. Gupta expressed gratitude to “Drs. Subbarao Bollepalli, Sujata Prasad, Jaya, Daptardar, Viji Kurup from CAPI, who had volunteered to organize this event and made it successful.” He also thanked Hari Krishna, President of the Middletown Hindu Temple Board and Kiran Pyneni, who had helped to provide the venue and made all the arrangements for the blood drive.

“It is a spot exemplar as a ‘team work’ dedicated to the social welfare and happiness of the community,” said Dr. Jaya Daptardar, an organizer of the event and had donated blood during the highly successful event. “The Blood Drive, while honoring India on her 75th year of Independence, has been dedicated to the Fallen Heroes, who have sacrificed their lives to save the lives of others infected with the deadly Covid pandemic,” Dr. Jaya Daptardar added.

Drs. Sushil Gupta, Jaya Daptardar and Prasad Sureddy, in addition to  coordinating the efforts and organized the successful Blood Drive, also donated Blood during the Drive.

“I am grateful to the dozens of local AAPI Chapters including CAPI for initiating and organizing the Blood Donation Drives and Stem Cell Registration across the nation, in honor of the Fallen Heroes of Covid-19, and as India is celebrating 75 years of our Independence. I am so proud that we have taken this initiative to organize AAPI Blood Donation Drives in 75 cities across the nation,” said Dr. Anupama Gotimukula, President of the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI,) the largest ethnic organization in the United States.

Each blood component of a whole blood transfusion can help up to three different people. Pointing to the fact that Blood cannot be manufactured despite medical and technological advances. The only way we can give blood to those who need it is through donation. It doesn’t cost us anything to donate but your donation saves lives. Blood is needed every two seconds, said Dr. Meher Medavaram, Chair of AAPI’s national blood donation drive.

CAPI was formed with the objective of promoting charitable and philanthropic activities; communicating with other Indian associations in North America to promote cultural and social events, and fostering a relationship with future generations of physicians of Indian Ancestry. For more details of CAPI membership please visit: https://capionline.com

India Regulates ‘Ayurveda Aahara’

The Centre, with the ‘Food Safety and Standards (Ayurveda Aahara) Regulations, 2022’, has brought certain checks on Ayurveda Ahara, the food prepared in accordance with the recipes or ingredients or processes as described in the authoritative books of Ayurveda.

Among the important regulations is that the labeling cannot claim to cure or treat any human disease, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) said.

This is applicable to food business operators who would be required to formulate Ayurveda Aahara in accordance with the categories and requirements as mentioned in the Regulations.

“However, this Ayurveda Aahara cannot be manufactured for infants up to 24 months age,” said an official from FSSAI about the Regulations put out in public domain by way of a notification late on Sunday night.

The government also clarified that packed food items used in day to day life for dietary purposes, such as pulses, rice, floor or vegetables etc. shall not be covered under this.

The Regulations also mention specific labeling and demand the manufacturer to use only that with specifications such as intended purpose, target consumer group and/or recommended duration etc.

It mentions a list of 32 additive items that are permitted in the Ayurveda Aahara. These include Guar Arabic/Acacia Gum, Konjac Flour, Jaggery, Mollasses, Paprika/Paprika Extract/Paprika Oleoresin and Caramel plain among others.

There are 71 authoritative books mentioned as part of the regulation, which also mentions the categories of Ayurveda Aahara and regulatory requirements. The Regulations also mention permissible contaminants and its maximum limits.

India’s Covid-19 Death Tally Estimated To Over 4.74 Million; WHO

A World Health Organisation (WHO) report on excess COVID-19 mortality has estimated 4.74 million deaths for India in 2020 and 2021, nearly 10 times higher than the country’s official coronavirus toll of 4.84 lakh during the two years.

India, according to the report, had the highest excess COVID-19 deaths, followed by Russia and Indonesia. Globally, the world health body has estimated that almost three times more people have died of COVID-19 than the official data.

As per the UN body, there were 14.9 million excess deaths associated with COVID-19 by end-2021. The official count of deaths directly attributable to COVID-19 and reported to WHO in that period — from January 2020 to the end of December 2021 — is slightly more than 5.4 million. This means that the estimated toll is 9.5 million higher than the recorded fatalities.

Health ministers of several Indian states, cutting across party lines, appear to be united in questioning the veracity of the World Health Organization (WHO) report on Covid-19 fatalities worldwide, with India’s fatality count pegged at 4.74 million between January 1, 2020 and December 31, 2021 — labelling it “fabricated” and “devoid of facts”.

But why is the death tally doubtful?

The WHO report isn’t the first to question the death tally due to Covid-19 in India. Earlier too, several reports have come out with estimates of India’s Covid-19 death toll that has been at wide variance with the official figures. According to a University of Washington’s Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation, India’s fatality count due to the pandemic between March 2020 and early May 2021 stood at 6.54 lakh. A New York Times analysis, based on sero surveys, put the figure at closer to 4.2 million, up to May 24 last year while another study by The Lancet pegged the number at 4.07 million, between January 2020 and December 2021.

The gaps: 8% of all deaths in India are never registered, according to government data with just 20% of deaths being medically certified. In certain states like Bihar, Nagaland and Manipur, the registration of deaths with the civil registration system (CRS) is less than 50%. In fact, just one state — Goa — has a 100% record in registering all its deaths with the CRS. The Centre and the states, while dismissing WHO’s report, cited the death registration figures from the CRS to buttress their claims that India’s official Covid-19 fatality count is up to date.

Counting methodology: In the initial days of the pandemic, in 2020, only those people who tested positive for Covid-19 and later succumbed to it were counted as pandemic casualties. All those who may have died without being tested, whether at home or in a hospital — testing facilities were limited leading to delays in getting test reports — but who may have shown clear symptoms of the disease, as also those who had underlying health conditions such as diabetes or weakened immune systems due to cancer treatments were not counted as Covid-19 fatalities.

Revised guidelines following a direction by the Supreme Court, to both the Centre and the states to be more liberal in recording Covid-19 deaths coupled with the apex court’s order for paying Rs 50,000 as compensation for Covid-19 deaths led to a surge in claims being filed, which were higher than the official death count in several states, such as Gujarat. Some states, such as Kerala, have in fact regularly carried out ‘reconciliation’ exercises to update their official fatality figures.

New York City Raises COVID-19 Alert Level To ‘Medium’

As new Omicron variants further infiltrate the U.S., a jumble of signals suggest the latest increase in Covid-19 infections hasn’t sparked a commensurate surge in severe illness even as risks remain.

Covid-19 virus levels detected in wastewater in the Northeast, the first region to see significant concentrations of the easily transmitted Omicron BA.2 variant, appear to have flattened out in the past two weeks. Covid-19 hospital admissions have risen in the region, but they remain far below levels during earlier surges that indicated widespread severe illness and taxed healthcare facilities.

New York City raised its COVID-19 alert level from “low” to “medium,” amid a rise in cases in the city. The move did not trigger any major new restrictions, but it is a sign of the continued risk from the virus and an uptick in cases that has also been seen on a national level.

If the alert level rises again, to “high,” then the city will consider bringing back its mask mandate for indoor settings, according to New York’s color-coded system.

“If you are at a higher risk for severe disease due to age, underlying health conditions or because you are unvaccinated, consider additional precautions such as avoiding crowded indoor gatherings,” New York City Health Commissioner Ashwin Vasan tweeted Monday in announcing the move.

“We continue to strongly recommend all New Yorkers wear a mask in public indoor settings,” he added.  Cases have ticked up in New York City to around 2,300 per day, according to a New York Times tracker, though there is no sign of a steep spike like there was over the winter.

Hospitalizations in the city have also ticked up but are still at relatively low levels.

Nationally, most of the country is in a “low” risk level, as classified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with small clusters of “high” risk in areas like upstate New York, meaning the metrics there call for mask-wearing indoors.

Cases nationally are also ticking up, but are not spiking like they did over the winter, and hospitalizations are at one of their lowest levels of the pandemic.

White House officials have pointed to booster shots and treatments like the Pfizer pill Paxlovid as allowing for a different phase of managing the virus, where cases much more rarely lead to severe disease.

The uptick in New York and nationally has been fueled by a more transmissible subvariant of omicron known as BA.2. New York health officials have also pointed to another subvariant, known as BA.2.12.1, as helping fuel cases there.

Dr. Vishweshwar R. Ranga Elected Chair, AAPI Board of Trustees

A practicing Internal Medicine Specialist from Las Vegas affiliated with multiple local area hospitals, Dr. Vishweshwar R. Ranga has been elected Chairman of Board of Trustees of American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin for the year 2022-23.

Dr. Ranga with more than 35 years of experience in the medical field, has been associated with AAPI since his early days as a Resident in New York. “Since moving to the United States to pursue my career as a physician I have been closely following the entire spectrum of health care in the world’s largest economy,” recalls Dr. Ranga.

A team player and dedicated to the growth of AAPI, Dr. Ranga says, he wants continue to work with the team and ensure that AAPI’s voice is heard wherever relevant decisions are made that impact the physician community.

“My initiation into the Association of Physicians of Indian Origin to work on the membership drive and its directory during my residency at Mount Vernon Hospital in New York helped me understand more deeply the importance of community involvement and practices dear to this noble profession,”  Dr. Ranga says, who has worked hard towards the growth of this organization under the leadership of various presidents.

A medical degree holder from the Medical Academy of Sofia, Bulgaria, Dr. Ranga says, “AAPI is very close to my heart and I want to see it as more of an inclusive outfit, making a clarion call to physicians of Indian origin serving in some of the remote areas of the country to be part of this great organization and be driving forces of change.”

Dr. Ranga, who is known for his organizational skills helped to put together various national and regional AAPI events.

He has worked on several AAPI Committees including: AAPI Bylaws Committee, Membership Committee, Awards Committee, and Publications Committee.

Dr. Ranga has been recognized for his kindness, medical skills and going beyond the call of duty. “I was in good hands with him. I almost died from a car hitting me in a crosswalk. This man visited me every single day for one month. That is something I will never forget. Thank you, Dr. Ranga. Mom misses you,” Mike Cappello, a former patient of Dr. Ranga wrote on Social Media.

A visionary, Dr. Ranga began to work closely and encourage the second-generation Indian American physicians to be an active part of AAPI. In appreciation of his efforts, contributions and enormous support, YPS/MSRF recognized Dr. Ranga by making him the mentor of the group.

“My goal in the coming year is to formalize and create AAPI leadership academy working with executives from American College of Physicians for the development of leadership roles for all AAPI members. I want to work hard to engage young physicians and attract them to AAPI. They are the future of AAPI.” the newly elected Chair of AAPI BOT, says.

India-USA Healthcare Partnership Planned During AAPI’s 40th Convention

Coming from India, a nation that has given much to the world, today physicians of Indian origin have become a powerful influence in healthcare across the world. Nowhere is their authority more keenly felt than in the United States, where Indians make up the largest non-Caucasian segment of the American medical community. The overrepresentation of Indians in the field of medicine is striking – in practical terms, one out of seven patients is seen by doctor of in of Indian Heritage in the United States. They provide medical care to the most diverse population base of over 40 million in the US.

Not satisfied with their professional growth and the service they provide to their patients around the world, they are at the forefront, sharing their knowledge and expertise with others, especially those physicians and leaders in the medical field from India.

Since its inception four decades ago, the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) has grown and is strong today and is the largest ethnic medical organization in the United States, representing the interests of over 100,000 physicians of Indian Origin in the US and is the powerful voice here in the US and back home in India.

Their contributions to their motherland and the United States have been enormous. Physicians of Indian origin are well known around the world for their compassion, passion for patient care, medical skills, research, and leadership. They have excelled in their fields of medicine and thus have earned a name for themselves through hard work, commitment, and dedication to their profession and the people they are committed to serving.

Through various projects and programs, AAPI has been leading healthcare initiatives and contributing significantly to offering education, training, and healthcare collaboration with Not-for-profit and government agencies across the nation. The flagship Global Healthcare Summit organized in India every year has been lauded for the tangible contributions AAPI continues to provide impacting almost every field of healthcare in India.

There is no instant solution for India’s myriad problems. But by collaborating with the governments both nationally and at state levels, and working with the government and NGOs, physicians of Indian origin can make a huge difference.

“AAPI in its unique way has made immense contributions to helping our motherland during the crisis and played a significant role in saving lives,” says Anupama Gotimukula, President, of AAPI. “Today, this esteemed panel is convened to nurture, and further, this collaboration between two of the world’s most challenging healthcare systems in the world’s two greatest democracies.”

Realizing this great mission, AAPI is for the first time organizing an In-Person Plenary Session on India-USA Healthcare Partnership With the Health Minister Of India, Mansukh Mandaviya (invited but awaiting confirmation from his office) during the 40th Annual Convention of AAPI on Saturday, June 25, 2022, at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, San Antonio, TX, said Dr. Jayesh Shah, Chair, AAPI Convention & Past President, AAPI.

The Panel Discussion is being moderated by Dr. Sweta Bansal and Dr. Rajeev Suri, Co-Chairs of the AAPI Convention Committees. The invited panelists include Dr. Rahul Gupta, US Drug Czar; Honorable Taranjit Sandhu, Ambassador of India; Hon. Aseem R Mahajan, Consul General of India in Houston; Senator John Cornyn;  Rep. Raja Krishnamurthy, US congressman; Rep. Joaquin Castro, US Congressman; Rep. Ami Bera, US Congressman; Dr. Dwarkanath Reddy, GHS 2022 India Chair; Navdeep S. Jaikaria, Ph.D., Founder, Chairman & CEO, SGN Nanopharma Inc., GAPIO President, BAPIO President, and All AAPI Alumni Chapter Presidents.

The role being played by the AAPI Charitable Foundation has been very significant, says, Dr. Surendra Purohit, Chair, AAPI Charitable Foundation. He will provide an update on the “Role of AAPI’s free clinics in India in the last 40 years.”

Recalling the many noble initiatives of AAPI, benefitting India during the Covid Pandemic, Dr. Sujeet Punnam, said, “Diseases do not have borders and collaboration in healthcare globally is necessary for the survival of humanity. It is this reality that the recent pandemic has engraved on our collective conscience.” The panel on “The Covid Crisis – AAPI physicians’ response during the largest global pandemic in over a century” will be led by Drs. Sujit Punnam, Amit Chakraborthy, & Raj Bhayani. Sewa International, which has been collaborating with AAPI in reaching the needed supplies to the neediest in India will be represented by Arun Kankani, President of Sewa International.

Dr. Lokesh Edara, Chair, Global Medical Education, who has been very instrumental in medical education, who is well recognized by NMC and medical education boards in India,  will share his persistent efforts in the past three years, and how every Medical School in India will have Emergency Medicine and Family Medicine at Post Graduate Medicine Program in India.

Dr. Thakor Patel will provide an update on AAPI Sevak Project, which has been serving millions of people across the many states in India. A new initiative under the current leadership of AAPI has been “Adopt 75 Villages” in India commemorating the 75th anniversary of India’s Independence and providing much-needed Healthcare Screening for chronic diseases, A Rural Health Project involving 75 Villages in several states. Dr. Satheesh Kathula, who has adopted his Village and believes “Over time, an improved village could lead to an improved region, state and country” will present this new program, whose focus is “prevention is better than cure.”

During the most recent Global Healthcare Summit in Hyderabad in 2022, AAPI had organized camps for Screening for Cervical Cancer and Vaccinations to prevent cervical cancer for 100 young women in Hyderabad. Dr. Meetha Singh, who has been part of the program will brief the audience on this new initiative, benefitting women.

TB Eradication Program by a committed team led by Dr. Manoj Jain in collaboration with USAID and now actively functioning in several states in India will be a topic for discussion during the plenary session.

Dr. Gotimukula, President of AAPI urges “AAPI members to consider joining this movement by participating and leading the India-US Healthcare Partnership. AAPI will work with you in coordinating the efforts and through the support system we have in several states, will help you achieve this goal of giving back to our motherland.” For more details, please do visit: www. aapiusa.org

FDA Approves COVID-19 Treatment Remdesivir For Young Kids

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Monday gave its first full approval for a COVID-19 treatment for children under 12.  The agency granted approval to the treatment remdesivir, also known as Veklury, made by Gilead Sciences, which has already been approved as a treatment for adults.

The treatment was earlier under emergency use authorization for children. Full approval from the FDA provides a more formal and higher level of endorsement than emergency authorization.

Still, the FDA stressed that remdesivir is not a replacement for vaccination, and there is still no authorized vaccine for children under 5, a source of stress and disappointment for some parents.

Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.), the chair of the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, earlier on Monday requested an FDA briefing on the agency’s progress on authorizing a vaccine for children under five.

Authorization for the Pfizer vaccine for young kids could come in June, though previous timelines have been pushed back before.

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While the virus is generally less dangerous in children, the FDA noted severe illness can still result.   “As COVID-19 can cause severe illness in children, some of whom do not currently have a vaccination option, there continues to be a need for safe and effective COVID-19 treatment options for this population,” said Patrizia Cavazzoni, director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “Today’s approval of the first COVID-19 therapeutic for this population demonstrates the agency’s commitment to that need.”

The approval covers children 28 days and older who weigh at least 3 kilograms and are either hospitalized or at high-risk of severe illness.

Tags also known as Veklury Coronavirus COVID-19 FDA Food and Drug Administration Gilead Sciences James Clyburn made by Gilead Sciences Pandemic Remdesivir The agency granted approval to the treatment remdesivir Veklury

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AYUSH Visa To Be Introduced By India

India is increasingly becoming a healthcare destination for millions of people seeking affordable, quality and effective healthcare services for people from around the world. Keeping in mind the rising demand of traditional medicine, the special AYUSH visa category has been introduced for foreign nationals who want to come to India for AYUSH therapy and invest in the sector.

During the inauguration of the Global AYUSH Investment and Innovation Summit at Gandhinagar in Gujarat, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that India is going to introduce a special AYUSH visa category for foreign nationals who want to come to the country to take advantage of traditional medicine.

The Prime Minister announced that the central government will implement a specific AYUSH hallmark that will be affixed to the best grade AYUSH items manufactured in India. He said that the manufacturing of AYUSH medications, vitamins, and cosmetics is already booming in India, and that the opportunities for investment and innovation in the sector of AYUSH are infinite.

“With this visa, it will make travel easier for accessing Ayush therapies (in India),” said PM Modi while speaking at the inaugural session of the Global Ayush Investment and Innovation Summit 2022 at Mahatma Mandir in Gandhinagar. He added that the Centre has a plethora of initiatives to encourage and promote the Ayush sector, including the establishment of a digital portal to connect medicinal plant farmers with Ayush product manufacturers.

World Health Organization (WHO) chief Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Mauritius Prime Minister Pravind Kumar Jugnauth, Union Ayush Minister Sarbananda Sonowal and Gujarat Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel were present at the session.

Adding that investment summits are key in taking any sector forward, Modi highlighted that the idea for an Ayush summit came to him during Covid-19 “when there was widespread panic across the world”. “We saw how ayurvedic medicines, Ayush kada and many such other products were aiding people to increase immunity. During the times of Covid-19, turmeric export from India increased manifold. Innovation and investment increase the capability of any sector manifold. It is time now to increase investment as much as possible in the Ayush sector,” said Modi.

Vision Improvement Is Long-Lasting With Treatment For Blinding Blood Vessel Condition

New research shows that a treatment for retinal vein occlusion yields long-lasting vision gains, with visual acuity remaining significantly above baseline at five years. However, many patients require ongoing treatment. Retinal vein occlusion is one of the most common blinding conditions in the United States; without treatment, central retinal vein occlusion (CRVO), the most severe type of retinal vein occlusion often leads to significant and permanent vision loss. A report on five-year outcomes of the Study of Comparative Treatments for Retinal Vein Occlusion 2 (SCORE2), was published April 21 in American Journal of Ophthalmology. SCORE2 was funded in part by the National Eye Institute (NEI), a part of the National Institutes of Health.

Retinal vein occlusion is caused by a blockage of the veins carrying blood away from the retina, the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye. This blockage can lead to macular edema where fluid becomes trapped within and under the retina, leading to rapid and severe loss of visual acuity. Without treatment, this condition typically leads to permanent loss of vision. The most effective treatment, injections of anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) drugs, helps control blood vessel leakage and swelling in the retina.

“While anti-VEGF therapy is associated with significant improvement in both retinal swelling and visual acuity in patients with central or hemi-retinal vein occlusion, our findings show that most of the patients followed still required treatment to control the macular edema for at least five years,” said Ingrid U. Scott, M.D., M.P.H., Penn State College of Medicine, Hershey, chair of the study. “This demonstrates the importance of continued monitoring of these patients.”

In 2017, SCORE2 clinical trial investigators reported that two types of anti-VEGF treatment were equally effective at improving visual acuity in people with macular edema due to CRVO or hemi-retinal vein occlusion (HRVO). CRVO affects the entire retina, while HRVO generally affects about half of the retina. Half of the study participants had been given Avastin (bevacizumab) while the other half received Eylea (aflibercept). Both drugs were administered by injection once per month for six months. At the six-month mark, the vision of participants in both groups had, on average, improved over three lines on an eye chart.

As detailed in this new report, the study investigators followed SCORE2 participants for five years, collecting information about their visual acuity, treatments, and whether their macular edema had resolved. After the initial 12-month study period, participants were treated at their physician’s discretion. Most physicians reduced the frequency of anti-VEGF injections and some switched their patients to the other anti-VEGF drug. At five years, many participants had lost some visual acuity when compared to their acuity at the 12-month mark; however, they retained on average three lines of improvement, compared to their acuity at the beginning of the study.

“It was surprising to us that despite many participants still needing treatment after five years, their visual acuity outcome remained very good,” said Michael Ip, M.D., co-chair of the study from Doheny Eye Institute, University of California Los Angeles. “In comparison to this treatment for wet age-related macular degeneration, where initial vision improvements fade over time, these results are quite favorable.”

“This five-year study tells us a lot about what’s happening with retinal vein occlusion patients in the real world,” said Scott. “Prior to this study, retinal vein occlusion was widely considered an acute illness. This study shows that RVO is a chronic disease. It also underscores the importance of disease monitoring and individualized treatment to achieve the best possible vision.”

“The SCORE2 study provides invaluable data to guide clinicians and their patients toward informed decisions regarding treatment for retinal vein occlusion,” said NEI Director Michael F. Chiang, M.D.

The SCORE2 study was funded by NEI and Research to Prevent Blindness. Study drugs were provided by Regeneron, Inc and Allergan, Inc. Clinical trial number: NCT01969708.

Reference: Scott IU, VanVeldhuisen PC, Oden NL, Ip MS, Blodi BA, for the SCORE2 Investigator Group. “Month 60 Outcomes after Treatment Initiation with Anti-VEGF Therapy for Macular Edema due to Central or Hemi-Retinal Vein Occlusion.” American Journal of Ophthalmology. April 21, 2022 DOI: 10.1016/j.ajo.2022.04.001

NEI leads the federal government’s research on the visual system and eye diseases. NEI supports basic and clinical science programs to develop sight-saving treatments and address special needs of people with vision loss. For more information, visit https://www.nei.nih.gov.

India-USA Healthcare Partnership with Health Minister Of India Planned During AAPI’s 40th Convention

Coming from India, a nation that has given much to the world, today physicians of Indian origin have become a powerful influence in healthcare across the world. Nowhere is their authority more keenly felt than in the United States, where Indians make up the largest non-Caucasian segment of the American medical community. The overrepresentation of Indians in the field of medicine is striking – in practical terms, one out of seven patients is seen by doctor of in of Indian Heritage in the United States. They provide medical care to the most diverse population base of over 40 million in the US.

Not satisfied with their professional growth and the service they provide to their patients around the world, they are at the forefront, sharing their knowledge and expertise with others, especially those physicians and leaders in the medical field from India.

Since its inception four decades ago, the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) has grown and is strong today and is the largest ethnic medical organization in the United States, representing the interests of over 100,000 physicians of Indian Origin in the US and is the powerful voice here in the US and back home in India.

Their contributions to their motherland and the United States have been enormous. Physicians of Indian origin are well known around the world for their compassion, passion for patient care, medical skills, research, and leadership. They have excelled in their fields of medicine and thus have earned a name for themselves through hard work, commitment, and dedication to their profession and the people they are committed to serving.

Through various projects and programs, AAPI has been leading healthcare initiatives and contributing significantly to offering education, training, and healthcare collaboration with Not-for-profit and government agencies across the nation. The flagship Global Healthcare Summit organized in India every year has been lauded for the tangible contributions AAPI continues to provide impacting almost every field of healthcare in India.

There is no instant solution for India’s myriad problems. But by collaborating with the governments both nationally and at state levels, and working with the government and NGOs, physicians of Indian origin can make a huge difference.

“AAPI in its unique way has made immense contributions to helping our motherland during the crisis and played a significant role in saving lives,” says Anupama Gotimukula, President, of AAPI. “Today, this esteemed panel is convened to nurture, and further, this collaboration between two of the world’s most challenging healthcare systems in the world’s two greatest democracies.”

Realizing this great mission, AAPI is for the first time organizing an In-Person Plenary Session on India-USA Healthcare Partnership With the Health Minister Of India, Mansukh Mandaviya (invited but awaiting confirmation from his office) during the 40th Annual Convention of AAPI on Saturday, June 25, 2022, at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, San Antonio, TX, said Dr. Jayesh Shah, Chair, AAPI Convention & Past President, AAPI.

The Panel Discussion is being moderated by Dr. Sweta Bansal and Dr. Rajeev Suri, Co-Chairs of the AAPI Convention Committees. The invited panelists include Dr. Rahul Gupta, US Drug Czar; Honorable Taranjit Sandhu, Ambassador of India; Hon. Aseem R Mahajan, Consul General of India in Houston; Senator John Cornyn;  Rep. Raja Krishnamurthy, US congressman; Rep. Joaquin Castro, US Congressman; Rep. Ami Bera, US Congressman; Dr. Dwarkanath Reddy, GHS 2022 India Chair; Navdeep S. Jaikaria, Ph.D., Founder, Chairman & CEO, SGN Nanopharma Inc., GAPIO President, BAPIO President, and All AAPI Alumni Chapter Presidents.

The role being played by the AAPI Charitable Foundation has been very significant, says, Dr. Surendra Purohit, Chair, AAPI Charitable Foundation. He will provide an update on the “Role of AAPI’s free clinics in India in the last 40 years.”

Recalling the many noble initiatives of AAPI, benefitting India during the Covid Pandemic, Dr. Sujeet Punnam, said, “Diseases do not have borders and collaboration in healthcare globally is necessary for the survival of humanity. It is this reality that the recent pandemic has engraved on our collective conscience.” The panel on “The Covid Crisis – AAPI physicians’ response during the largest global pandemic in over a century” will be led by Drs. Sujit Punnam, Amit Chakraborthy, & Raj Bhayani. Sewa International, which has been collaborating with AAPI in reaching the needed supplies to the neediest in India will be represented by Arun Kankani, President of Sewa International.

Dr. Thakor Patel will provide an update on AAPI Sevak Project, which has been serving millions of people across the many states in India. A new initiative under the current leadership of AAPI has been “Adopt 75 Villages” in India commemorating the 75th anniversary of India’s Independence and providing much-needed Healthcare Screening for chronic diseases, A Rural Health Project involving 75 Villages in several states. Dr. Satheesh Kathula, who has adopted his Village and believes “Over time, an improved village could lead to an improved region, state and country” will present this new program, whose focus is “prevention is better than cure.”

During the most recent Global Healthcare Summit in Hyderabad in 2022, AAPI had organized camps for Screening for Cervical Cancer and Vaccinations to prevent cervical cancer for 100 young women in Hyderabad. Dr. Meetha Singh, who has been part of the program will brief the audience on this new initiative, benefitting women.

TB Eradication Program by a committed team led by Dr. Manoj Jain in collaboration with USAID and now actively functioning in several states in India will be a topic for discussion during the plenary session.

Dr. Gotimukula, President of AAPI urges “AAPI members to consider joining this movement by participating and leading the India-US Healthcare Partnership. AAPI will work with you in coordinating the efforts and through the support system we have in several states, will help you achieve this goal of giving back to our motherland.” For more details, please do visit: www. aapiusa.org

FDA Grants Emergency Use Authorization To COVID-19 Breathalyzer Test

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced on Thursday that it had authorized the first test to detect COVID-19 through breath for emergency use.

The InspectIR COVID-19 Breathalyzer is able to identify five volatile organic compounds tied to the coronavirus in a person’s breath by using a technique known as gas chromatography gas mass-spectrometry, delivering results in less than three minutes, according to the FDA.

The agency said that in a study of 2,409 people, which included both people with and without symptoms, the test had a 99.3 percent specificity rate, which measures the percent of correctly identified negative test samples.

The FDA also noted that the InspectIR COVID-19 Breathalyzer had a 91.2 percent sensitivity rate, which measures the percent of correctly identified positive test samples.

Still, the health agency said that a molecular test should be used to confirm positive test results returned by the COVID-19 breath test.

“Today’s authorization is yet another example of the rapid innovation occurring with diagnostic tests for COVID-19,” Jeff Shuren, director of the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health, said in a statement.

Bloomberg (4/14, Muller) reports, “A COVID-19 breathalyzer test with the ability to provide diagnostic results in three minutes has won emergency-use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the agency announced Thursday.” The test made by InspectIR Systems “is authorized for those 18 and older and in settings where samples are both collected and analyzed, such as doctor’s offices, hospitals or mobile testing sites.” The FDA “said the test was validated in a study of 2,409 people, where it correctly identified 91.2% of positive samples and 99.3% of negative samples.”

COVID-19, Overdoses Made 2021 The Deadliest Year In U.S. History

2021 was the deadliest year in U.S. history, and new data and research are offering more insights into how it got that bad.

The main reason for the increase in deaths? COVID-19, said Robert Anderson, who oversees the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s work on death statistics.

The agency this month quietly updated its provisional death tally. It showed there were 3.465 million deaths last year, or about 80,000 more than 2020’s record-setting total.

Early last year, some experts were optimistic that 2021 would not be as bad as the first year of the pandemic — partly because effective COVID-19 vaccines had finally become available. “We were wrong, unfortunately,” said Noreen Goldman, a Princeton University researcher.

COVID-19 deaths rose in 2021 — to more than 415,000, up from 351,000 the year before — as new coronavirus variants emerged and an unexpectedly large numbers of Americans refused to get vaccinated or were hesitant to wear masks, experts said.

The coronavirus is not solely to blame. Preliminary CDC data also shows the crude death rate for cancer rose slightly, and rates continued to increase for diabetes, chronic liver disease, and stroke.

Drug overdose deaths also continued to rise. The CDC does not yet have a tally for 2021 overdose deaths, because it can take weeks of lab work and investigation to identify them. But provisional data through October suggests the nation is on track to see at least 105,000 overdose deaths in 2021 — up from 93,000 the year before.

New research released Tuesday showed a particularly large jump in overdose deaths among 14- to 18-year-olds.

Adolescent overdose death counts were fairly constant for most of the last decade, at around 500 a year, according to the paper published by the Journal of the American Medical Association. They almost doubled in 2020, to 954, and the researchers estimated that the total hit nearly 1,150 last year.

Joseph Friedman, a UCLA researcher who was the paper’s lead author, called the spike “unprecedented.”

Those teen overdose deaths were only around 1% of the U.S. total. But adolescents experienced a greater relative increase than the overall population, even though surveys suggest drug use among teens is down.

‘Experts attributed the spike to fentanyl, a highly lethal drug that has been cut into heroin for several years. More recently it’s also been pressed into counterfeit pills resembling prescription drugs that teens sometimes abuse.

The total number of U.S. deaths often increases year to year as the U.S. population grows. But 2020 and 2021 saw extraordinary jumps in death numbers and rates, due largely to the pandemic.

Those national death trends affect life expectancy — an estimate of the average number of years a baby born in a given year might expect to live.

With rare exceptions, U.S. life expectancy has reliably inched up year after year. But the CDC’s life expectancy estimate for 2020 was about 77 years — more than a year and a half lower than what it was in 2019.

The CDC has not yet reported its calculation for 2021. But Goldman and some other researchers have been making their own estimates, presented in papers that have not yet been published in peer-reviewed journals.

Those researchers think U.S. life expectancy dropped another five or six months in 2021 — putting it back to where it was 20 years ago.

A loss of more than two years of life expectancy over the last two years “is mammoth,” Goldman said.

One study looked at death data in the U.S. and 19 other high-income countries. The U.S. fared the worst.

“What happened in the U.S. is less about the variants than the levels of resistance to vaccination and the public’s rejection of practices, such as masking and mandates, to reduce viral transmission,” one of the study’s authors, Dr. Steven Woolf of Virginia Commonwealth University, said in a statement.

Some experts are skeptical that life expectancy will quickly bounce back. They worry about long-term complications of COVID-19 that may hasten the deaths of people with chronic health problems.

Preliminary — and incomplete — CDC data suggest there were at least 805,000 U.S. deaths in about the first three months of this year. That’s well below the same period last year, but higher than the comparable period in 2020.

“We may end up with a ‘new normal’ that’s a little higher than it was before,” Anderson said.

WHO To Set Up World’s First Global Center For Traditional Medicine In India

The global center will the first-of-its-kind institution in the world to combine scientific research with ancient traditional methods of medicine.

The World Health Organization(WHO) and Government of India signed an agreement to establish the WHO Global Centre for Traditional Medicine(GCTM) in Gujarat, India to promote traditional medicine backed by science and reasearch to improve the health of people all over the world.

With India set to establish WHO Global Centre for traditional medicine in Jamnagar, Gujarat, Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director, WHO South-East Asia Region has called it a “game-changer.”

Traditional medicines, she said have been around for millennia and pointed out that nearly 80 per cent of people, in 170 of 194 WHO member countries use them.

“Despite their widespread use, traditional medicine lack robust evidence, data and a standard framework preventing their integration into the mainstream healthcare delivery system,” Dr Singh said in an exclusive interview with ANI.

“WHOs Global Centre for traditional medicine could be a game-changer by focusing on evidence and learning, data and analytics, sustainability and equity, innovation and technology to help harness the ancient wisdom and power of traditional medicine, and to advance the SDG 3 target of ensuring health and promoting wellbeing for all of all ages,” she added.

The center backed by an investment of USD 250 million from the Government of India, will be located at Jamnagar, Gujarat. The groundbreaking ceremony for the GCTM will take place on April 19, 2022, in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Director-General of WHO Tedros Ghebreyesus.

Dr Singh said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus and expressed India’s keenness in establishing and hosting the GCTM in India so as to harness the potential of traditional medicine from across the world through modern science and technology to improve the health of people and the planet.

The Government of India last month signed the ‘Host Country Agreement’ with WHO for establishing WHO Global Centre for Traditional Medicine in India at Jamnagar, Gujarat, with its interim office at the Institute of Training and Research in Ayurveda in Gujarat. “Indian Government has generously agreed to support the setting up of the GCTM and its activities for the first ten years,” Dr Singh said.

Noting that the COVID-19 pandemic is stretching and impacting the health systems across the world, Dr Singh pointed out many countries felt the need to mobilize all available resources to recover from the pandemic and accelerate progress towards SDG 3 goals.

“The emerging burden of NCDs and mental illnesses have also created a demand for integrating evidence-based traditional medicine into the healthcare delivery system to promote health and wellbeing,” she said.

Dr. Joseph M. Chalil, MD, MBA, FACHE is appointed as the Chief Medical Officer of Novo Integrated Sciences, Inc. (NASDAQ: NVOS) and the New President of Novomerica Health Group

Dr. Joseph M. Chalil, MD, MBA, FACHE, Best Selling Author and Publisher of The Universal News Network, (www.theunn.com) has been appointed as the Chief Medical Officer of Novo Integrated Sciences, Inc. (NASDAQ: NVOS) and the New President of Novomerica Health Group, Inc on April 5th, 2022. In addition, Dr, Chalil will maintain his leadership of Clinical Consultants International LLC (CCI).

While announcing the appointment, Robert Mattacchione, Novo’s CEO and Board Chairman of Novo Integrated Sciences, Inc. stated, “Adding CCI and the impressive CCI team of highly respected, proven leaders in the medical community, led by Dr. Chalil, is a significant milestone intended to accelerate Novo’s expansion to both the U.S. and other global markets. As the healthcare sector worldwide is facing increasingly complex demands with incredible opportunities to leverage technology and new service models, Dr. Chalil and the CCI team are the perfect partner to accelerate the growth of Novo’s decentralized healthcare delivery business model.

Dr. Chalil and his team share Novo’s forward-thinking vision and combined with CCI’s exceptional talent undoubtedly make CCI a strong addition to the Novo portfolio of companies.” Novo Integrated Sciences, Inc. is pioneering a holistic approach to patient-first health and wellness through a multidisciplinary healthcare ecosystem of services and product innovation.

Under the terms of Novo’s acquisition, CCI will be a wholly owned subsidiary of the Company. CCI has an impressive international team of physician leaders, diplomats, hospital administrators, and regulatory/FDA experts.

“Working with Rob and the Novo team over the last year, I’ve witnessed firsthand Novo’s commitment to be a leader in the ongoing transformation of healthcare delivery worldwide,” said Dr. Chalil. “I cannot think of a better partnership for CCI and the CCI team and it is my honor to join the Novo team with this acquisition. I am excited to work closely with Rob and the Novo team to implement our shared vision for the path forward to improving access to high-quality healthcare services and products worldwide.”

Founded in 2006, the highly respected CCI senior strategic advisor team includes Ambassador Pradeep K. Kapur, IFS (IIT Delhi), former Indian Ambassador to several countries including Chile, Dr. Zach P. Zachariah, MD, Medical Director of  Health Cardiology, and the longest-serving member of the Florida Board of Medicine, Saju George, CEO for Garden City Hospital and Prime Healthcare’s midwestern region, and other professionals with extensive healthcare and hospital management experience.

Dr.Chalil served as Chairman of Novo’s Medical Advisory Board since April ‘2021. Dr. Chalil is an author of several scientific and research papers in international publications. He is also the Chairman of the Complex Health Systems Advisory Board, H. Wayne Huizenga College of Business and Entrepreneurship at Nova Southeastern University in Florida, and a member of Dr. Kiran C. Patel College of Allopathic Medicine Executive Leadership Council.

A veteran of the U.S. Navy Medical Corps, he is board certified in healthcare management. He has been awarded a Fellowship by the American College of Healthcare Executives, an international professional society of more than 40,000 healthcare executives who lead hospitals, healthcare systems, and other healthcare organizations. Dr.Chalil has held roles of increasing responsibility at DBV Technologies, Boehringer Ingelheim, Abbott Laboratories, and Hoffmann-La Roche.

Additionally, Dr.Chalil is the former Chairman of the Indo-American Press Club. He is an expert in U.S. healthcare policy and a strong advocate for patient-centered care. A strong proponent of providing healthcare access to everyone, Dr. Chalil’s new book, Beyond the COVID-19 Pandemic: Envisioning a Better World by Transforming the Future of Healthcare, is on Amazon’s Best Sellers List.

AAPI Elects New Leaders For 2022-23 And Beyond

(Chicago, IL: April 10, 2022) “We have successfully concluded our elections for the year 2022-23 for AAPI leadership positions,” Dr. Anupama Gotimukula, current President of AAPI, and Dr. Sajani Shah, AAPI’s Chief Election Officer and Immediate Past Chair BOT, jointly announced here today. “We thank the election officers Dr. Seema Arora, Dr. Sharad Lakhanpal, Dr. Sunita Kanumury, Dr. Arun Pramanik, Dr. Ashok Jain, and all of you for participating in the Election.”

While thanking the tens of thousands of Indian American physicians, who are actively holding membership at the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI), and participated in the election process, Dr. Gotiumukula said, “I want to thank AAPI members who enthusiastically participated in the AAPI’s electronic voting process that was held over a period of nearly a month and have elected a new and dynamic team to lead AAPI, the largest ethnic medical organization in the United States in the coming year and beyond.”

While announcing the results of the election after months-long campaigning for several offices to the national body and regional chapters, Dr. Sajani Shah, Chief Election Officer, 2022 said, Dr. Satheesh Kathula has been elected as the Vice President of AAPI, Dr. Meherbala Medavaram was elected as the Secretary and Dr. Sumul Raval was elected Treasurer of AAPI for the year 2022-23. Dr. Kavita Gupta, Dr. Sunil Kaza, and Dr. Malti Mehta have been elected to AAPI’s Board of Trustees for a two-year term.

Dr. V. Ranga will serve as the Chair, AAPI Board of Trustees for the year, 2022-23. Giving representation and strengthening the voice of young physicians of Indian origin, AAPI members elected Dr. Pooja Kinkhabwala as the President, AAPI Young Physicians Section (YPS) and elected Dr. Ammu Susheela as the President of AAPI- Medical Student/Residents & Fellows Section (MSRF).

“I feel very satisfied that the election committee has been able to do well in providing a very FAIR election to everyone, following all bylaws, while dealing with big challenges in implementation of this electronic process, taking extra security precautions, anti-hacking measures, fixing glitches, resolving disputes, anxieties, and concerns of the members,” Dr. Seema Arora, Immediate Past Election Officer, during whose term, the new electronic voting was introduced a year ago, said.

Dr. Sudhakar Jonnalagadda, Immediate Past President of AAPI thanked the election committee members, and the entire Executive Committee led by Dr. Gotimukula for making this election smooth and transparent. Dr. Suresh Reddy, former President of AAPI congratulated the winners in the AAPI elections, and wished the new team under the leadership of Dr. Kolli the very best.

“As the incoming President of AAPI, I would like to congratulate my incoming new team for the fiscal year 2022-23,” said Dr. Ravi Kolli, who will assume charge as the President of AAPI during the 40th annual convention in San Antonio, TX in June this year. “I’m very honored, and consider myself fortunate to be bestowed with the responsibility of leading the four decades old strong organization with the cooperation and collaboration of an excellent group of dedicated, hardworking, and loyal officers and executive committee members who are with me to take AAPI to newer heights,” he added. Dr. Kolli did not have to contest the election this year, as he has been serving as the President-Elect during the past year.

Dr. Anjana Sammadar, who has been serving AAPI as the Vice President in the current year also did not face elections, as she automatically becomes the President-Elect of AAPI for the coming year. In addition to Dr. Samaddar, Dr. Ravi Kolli will have a dynamic and diverse team comprising of Dr. Satheesh Kathula as Vice President; Dr. Meherbala Medavaram as the Secretary; Dr. Sumul Raval as the Treasurer; Dr. V. Ranga – as the Chair, Board of Trustees; Dr. Pooja Kinkhabwala – President, Young Physicians Section; and, Dr. Ammu Susheela, President, Medical Student/Residents & Fellows Section. Dr. Gotimukula will continue to guide AAPI as the Immediate past President of AAPI.

“I am looking forward to working towards strengthening the goals and mission of AAPI and to help make AAPI a healthcare leader in US and globally and work in the best interests of our Physicians and our community here in the US and server our motherland, India,” added Dr. Kolli.

While congratulating the newly elected leaders to the Executive Committee, Dr. Anjana Samaddar, the President-Elect in 2022-23 said here in a statement: “I want to congratulate all the winners of the election. I want to especially thank all the candidates for their passion and dedication to serving AAPI and regardless of the outcome, we need you as a valuable team member of our beloved AAPI.  ”

Dr. Satheesh Kathula, who won the election to be the next Vice President of AAPI, said, “I am humbled and honored to be bestowed with this responsibility and will work to the greatest of my abilities to reach our goals, addressing the challenges, and advance the issues important to our members. We will work together to promote our values of professionalism, collegiality, and excellence in patient care and enhance AAPI’s reputation as a premier professional organization offering educational programs and advocacy.”

Dr. Meherbala Medavaram, Secretary-Elect of AAPI said, “I would like to thank all AAPI members from the bottom of my heart for this honor and assure that I will sincerely work for the betterment of our beloved organization, AAPI. Once again, I thank everyone for the opportunity to serve.” She expressed gratitude to the Election Committee, who “successfully organized this election, with great participation from AAPI members.”

Dr. Sumul Raval, the newly elected Treasurer of AAPI said, “I am honored to be elected as the Treasurer of national AAPI. I appreciate and thank all of you for your trust in me. I will try everything in me to unite AAPI. Your guidance, support, and vote made this possible. This win belongs to all our members for trusting our vision of growth & progress. I hope to receive your continued support and love.”

Dr. Kusum Punjabi, the outgoing BOT Chair thanked the Election Committee for their meticulous planning and organizing the elections with integrity and fairness. She said, “I congratulate the winners and the new leadership who are entrusted with the responsibility of leading it in the year 2022-23 and beyond. I wish them the very best and my whole-hearted support.”

While conceding the election to Dr. Medavaram to be the next Secretary of AAPI, Dr. Krishan Kumar said, “Thank you so much for supporting me all these years.  I am glad to see the healthy spirit of all candidates (winners or not) for the association.  I will continue to serve this great association, AAPI, until my last breath. AAPI is a big family and full of talented people.  I cherish every moment of being part of it.”

In his message, Dr. Amit Chakrabarty, who was the past Secretary and conceded the election to Dr. Kathula, said, “I am thankful to my Supporters who gave me their precious vote honoring my 25 years of service for AAPI. Next year we will work harder and show the world that dedication and hard work for the betterment of AAPI, will eventually prevail and we will succeed. I congratulate all the winners. I wish Satheesh the best of luck as he moves forward with his new responsibility.”

The growing influence of physicians of Indian heritage is evident, as increasingly physicians of Indian origin hold critical positions in the healthcare, academic, research and administrative positions across the nation. We the physicians of Indian origin are proud of our great achievements and contributions to our motherland, India, our adopted land, the US and in a very significant way to the transformation of the Indo-US relations.

Serving 1 in every 7 patients in the US, AAPI members care for millions of patients every day, while several of them have risen to hold high flying jobs, shaping the policies and programs and inventions that shape the landscape of healthcare in the US and around the  world.

Dr. Gotimukula, while reminding the members of AAPI said, “Since its inception in 1982, AAPI has been in the forefront, representing a conglomeration of more than 100,000 practicing physicians in the United States, seeking to be the united voice for the physicians of Indian origin. I hope and wish that the new Team under Dr. Ravi Kolli will continue the noble mission and strengthen our efforts to make AAPI reach greater heights.”  For more details, please visit: www.appiusa,org

AAPI ELECTIONS 2022 – RESULTS

The following are the Executive Committee and Board of Trustees & Regional Directors for the year 2022-23.

President Dr. Ravi Kolli
President-Elect Dr. Anjana Samadder
Vice President Dr. Satheesh Kathula
Secretary Dr. Meherbala Medavaram
Treasurer Dr. Sumul Raval
Immediate Past President Dr. Anupama Gotimukula
Chair, AAPI Board of Trustees Dr. V. Ranga
President, AAPI YPS Dr. Pooja Kinkhabwala
President, AAPI MSRF Dr. Ammu Susheela
Regional Director, Pacific Region Dr. Vandana Agarwal
Regional Director, Mountain Region Dr. Harnath Singh
Regional Director, NW Central Region Dr. Raghuveer Kura
Regional Director, SW Central Region Dr. Anil Tibrewal
Regional Director, NE Central-I Region Dr. Rama Medavaram
Regional Director, NE Central-II Region Dr. Suresh Sharoff
Regional Director, SE Central Region Dr. Pavankumar Panchavati
Regional Director, New England Region Dr. Saraswathi Muppana
Regional Director, Mid Atlantic-I Region Dr. Rakesh K, Mehta
Regional Director Mid Atlantic-II Region Dr. Hetal Gor
Regional Director, South Atlantic Region TBA
Regional Director, South Region Dr. Vijay Maurya
Board of Trustee Dr. V. Ranga (Chair)
Board of Trustee Dr. Jagdish Gupta
Board of Trustee Dr. Raghu Lolabhattu
Board of Trustee Dr. Sapna Aggarwal
Board of Trustee Dr. Lokesh Edara
Board of Trustee Dr. Srinagesh Paluvoi
Board of Trustee Dr. Kavita Gupta
Board of Trustee Dr. Sunil Kaza
Board of Trustee Dr. Malti Mehta
Immediate Past BOT Chair Dr. Kusum Punjabi
YPS Representative on Board Dr. Soumya Neravetla
MSRF Representative on Board Dr. Ayesha Singh

AAPI, IMA, And Tanvir Foundation Hold HPV Vaccination Camp In Hyderabad To Prevent Cervical Cancer

Hyderabad: April 11th, 2022: American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI), in collaboration with the Indian Medical Association (IMA) Telangana and Tanvir Foundation in mutual collaboration administered free HPV vaccines to the poor and deserving girls and women at the local Tanvir Hospital in Srinagar Colony, Hyderabad in India on Sunday, April 3rd, 2022 with the objective of preventing cervical cancer, a leading cause of cancer deaths among women in India. This is the second stage of the two part vaccine campaign administered as part of AAPI’s efforts to create awareness and provide tangible support on this preventable illness for young women in India.

“We at AAPI, in keeping with our efforts and initiatives to educate, create awareness and provide support on disease prevention, AAPI is happy to be part of the Cervical Cancer Vaccine Awareness Program,”  Dr. Anupama Gotimukula, President said. “The initial camp was organized on January 9th at Tanvir Hospital in Hyderabad as part of APPI’s 15th annual Global Healthcare Summit (GHS) 2022 held Avasa in Hyderabad, India,” and was inaugurated in person by Dr. Gotimukula and several other AAPPI leaders. Nearly 100 women were given the first dose. However, Dr. Gotimukula inaugurated the Free Vaccination Camp virtually from the United States on March 3rd.

The 2nd phase of the free vaccination camp was inaugurated with the lighting of the traditional lamp by IMA’s Telangana President Sampath Rao, IMA North President Raghunandan, Secretary Surendranath, Dr. Meeta Singh, and Dr. Naunihal Singh. AAPI Advisor Dr. Dwarakanatha Reddy inaugurated the vaccination camp. ““If vaccination programs are effectively implemented, approximately 90 percent of invasive cervical cancer cases worldwide could be prevented, in addition to the majority of precancerous lesions,” Dr. Dwarakanatha Reddy said.

“In coordination with the local organizers, AAPI donated the funds for the HPV Vaccination, a total of 200 doses for the vaccine for 100 children from the state of Telangana,” said Dr. Meher Medavaram, an organizer of the program, and the newly elected Secretary of AAPI. “AAPI’s this new initiative through education and awareness programs is aimed at helping save millions of lives in India,” she added.

Usually, cervical cancer develops slowly over time, and another powerful preventive measure is Pap test screening, a procedure during which cells are collected from the surface of the cervix and examined. The Pap test can both detect cancer at an early stage, when treatment outcomes tend to be better, and detect precancerous abnormalities, which can then be treated to prevent them from developing into cancers.

Dr. Ravi Kolli, President-Elect of AAPI, said, “Cervical Cancer is preventable through Vaccination and Early Pap smears and cervical examinations. Justifiably so, one of our preventive campaign goals this year has been to provide education and prevention of Cervical Cancer in India.”

Dr. Anjana Samaddar, current Vice President of AAPI said, “Cervical cancer could be the first cancer EVER in the world to be eliminated, if: 90 % of girls are vaccinated; 70% of women are screened; and, 90% of women with cervical disease receive treatment. This is an important step towards reaching goal,” she pointed out.

While elaborating the objectives of the Summit, Dr. Satheesh Kathula, the newly elected Vice President of AAPI, said, “In addition to Cervical cancer, GHS 2022 has provided education  on: Chronic diseases which can be prevented- notably diabetes, cardiovascular, hypertension, COPD, oncology, maternal and infant mortality, lifestyle changes,  geriatrics, management of neurological emergencies, ENLS, a certification course”.

According to The American Cancer Society, Cervical Cancer was once one of the most common causes of cancer death for American women. The cervical cancer death rate dropped significantly with the increased use of the Pap test for screening. Cervical cancer is among a number of cancers that can be caused by infections with pathogens – bacteria, viruses, and parasites.

“Through Continuing Medical Education and non-CME seminars by experts in their fields, AAPI provides comprehensive and current reviews and guidelines for the diagnosis and treatment of various disease states to reduce morbidity and mortality and achieve cost effective quality care outcomes.”

Once a leading cause of cancer death for women in the United States. Today, screening and prevention have greatly reduced the impact of this form of cancer. Increasing screening and prevention are key components of the effort to eradicate cervical cancer. Since almost all cases of the disease are caused by human papillomavirus (HPV) infection, vaccines that protect against the virus could prevent the vast majority of cases. Moreover, regular Pap tests can catch – and lead to treatment of – the disease at the precancerous stage.

Describing some of the other ongoing initiatives by AAPI for prevention of illness in India, Dr. Sujeeth R. Punnam, Chair of AAPI’s Covid Relief Committee, pointed to the second in a series of Chemoluminescence Immunoanalyzer (CLIA) donated by AAPI, that has been commissioned last month in Stanley Medical College Hospital in Chennai, India.

“Chemoluminescence Immunoanalyzer (CLIA) and Beckman Coulter UniCel Dxl 800 access Immunoassay system has a throughput of 200 tests/hour and will make point of care testing like covid antibody tests, Ferritin, D Dimer, troponin, IL6, procalcitonin, CRP etc. easy. Each of these costs around $80,000. We are grateful to several AAPI members who have generously contributed to AAPI’s Covid Relief efforts, helping us raise over $5 Million.” A CME meeting was organized by the Biochemistry department to the staff as part of the event.

Expressing confidence, Dr. Gotimukula, the 4th ever Woman President in the four decades long history of AAPI, the largest ethnic medical organization in the United States, said, “Together we can all bring the awareness in the community to prevent Cervical Cancer in India which is 2nd leading cause of cancer deaths in women!” For more information, please visit www.aapiusa.org/ https://summit.aapiusa.org

COVID Cases Rise Nationwide

A burst of high-profile COVID-19 cases in Washington, D.C., is highlighting the lingering threat of the virus, media reports here stated. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Cabinet members including Attorney General Merrick Garland, and a string of lawmakers, have all tested positive in recent days.

The cases are reminders that the virus is still circulating even as much of America moves forward from the pandemic. In fact, experts are bracing for cases to increase in the coming weeks, given an even more highly transmissible subvariant of omicron, known as BA.2, that is circulating widely.

“I do think we’re going to see an uptick nationally,” said Crystal Watson, senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. “The question is really how high it will get.”  Washington, as well as New York and other parts of the northeast, are already seeing upticks in cases.

The high-profile DC cases, “may be a reflection” of a new spike, Watson said, though she noted it is “hard to tell” exactly how wide a conclusion to draw from them.  “I do think we’re generally seeing an uptick in cases in D.C.,” she said.

Still, there are important ways in which any coming increase in cases will likely not be as bad as previous surges. People who are vaccinated, especially those who are boosted, have strong protection against severe disease, meaning that while they may still get infected, the symptoms are likely to be mild.

In addition to the protection offered by vaccination, many people across the country were infected during the first omicron wave over the winter, which means much of the population still has additional immunity.

“We now have a lot of immunity both from vaccines and from infection,” said Jennifer Nuzzo, an epidemiologist at Brown University. “It’s hard to imagine we will see quite the levels of severe illness that we saw in earlier phases.”

Some experts now say that hospitalizations are a more important metric than sheer case numbers. With a highly transmissible virus and vaccines that protect against severe disease, the goal has shifted more towards preventing hospitals from being overwhelmed, rather than trying to prevent mild cases from occurring.

Notably, even as cases have gone up in Washington, D.C., and New York City, hospitalizations continued to decrease, though they tend to lag behind cases.

Anthony Fauci, President Biden’s chief medical adviser, said on Bloomberg TV this week that he hopes the higher levels of immunity in the population help blunt the worst effects of any coming increase in cases.

“I would not be surprised if we see an uptick in cases, whether that uptick becomes a surge where there are a lot more cases is difficult to predict,” Fauci said. “But the one thing that I hope, and I believe there’s reason that this will not happen, is that we won’t get a very large increase proportionately in hospitalizations because of the background immunity.”

Many of the high-profile D.C. cases have appeared to stem from the Gridiron Dinner, a gathering of many top officials. Gridiron organizers said Friday that 53 attendees had been infected.

Leana Wen, a public health professor at George Washington University, argued in a Washington Post op-ed this week that events like the dinner can still go on in this new phase of “living with COVID-19,” especially if they use safeguards like proof of vaccination and rapid testing beforehand.

“There are those who would argue it’s irresponsible to hold parties that could turn into super-spreader events,” Wen wrote. “That was true before vaccines were widely available, but it’s no longer realistic. We need to use a different paradigm — one that’s based on individuals being thoughtful about their own risks and the risks they pose to others.”

Even for President Biden, the White House acknowledged on Friday that he might get the virus, but stressed the protection from he has vaccines and boosters, saying the country is “in a very different place.”

“It is possible he will test positive for COVID at some point and we’re in a very different place than we were…which is to say we have vaccines, we have treatments,” White House Communications Director Kate Bedingfield said on CNN. “The president is vaccinated and double boosted so, you know, protected from severe COVID.”

While there is a risk of a new uptick, the current situation is also greatly improved. Cases, at about 29,000 per day, according to a New York Times tracker, are at their lowest point since last summer.

Hospitalizations have plummeted to about 15,000, and are at their lowest point since the early days of the pandemic in 2020.  There are still about 500 people dying every day from the virus, concentrated among the unvaccinated.

While treatments and vaccines have put the country in a far better place, experts warn that Congress’s failure to provide more funding to fight the virus risks the progress.

The White House says testing capacity will decline in the coming months, and treatments will run out, if more funding is not provided. And if fourth vaccine doses are needed for all Americans, there is not currently enough money to purchase them.

The United States is also lagging other developed countries in its rates of booster doses.   “We have not done a good enough job on that front,” Nuzzo said, noting there should be a particular focus on reaching the remaining elderly who are not boosted.

About half of eligible adults and a third of eligible seniors are not boosted, according to CDC data.   Making sure people are boosted and protected is key, Nuzzo said, because “this virus isn’t going away.”

Highly Accurate 30-Second Coronavirus Test Developed

Newswise — With any highly infectious disease, time can be a killer. It is crucial to get a test result for a pathogen quickly, lest someone continue in their daily lives infecting others. And delays in testing have undoubtedly exacerbated the COVID-19 pandemic.

Unfortunately, the most accurate COVID-19 test often takes 24 hours or longer to return results from a lab.

At-home test kits offer results in minutes but are far less accurate or sensitive.

Researchers at the University of Florida, however, have helped developed a COVID-19 testing device that can detect coronavirus infection in as little as 30 seconds as sensitively and accurately as a PCR, or polymerase chain reaction test, the gold standard of testing. They are working with scientists at National Yang Ming Chiao Tung University in Taiwan.

The device, researchers said, could transform public health officials’ ability to quickly detect and respond to the coronavirus — or the next pandemic.

UF has entered into a licensing agreement with a New Jersey company, Houndstoothe Analytics, in hopes of ultimately manufacturing and selling the device, not just to medical professionals but also to consumers.

Like PCR tests, the device is 90% accurate, researchers said, with the same sensitivity, according to a recent peer-reviewed study published by the UF group.

“There is nothing available like it,” said Josephine Esquivel-Upshaw, D.M.D., a professor in the UF College of Dentistry’s Department of Restorative Dental Sciences and member of the research team that developed the device. “It’s true point of care. It’s access to care. We think it will revolutionize diagnostics.”

The device is not yet approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. First, researchers said, they have to ensure that test results are not thrown off by cross-contamination with other pathogens that might be found in the mouth and saliva. These include other coronaviruses, staph infections, the flu, pneumonia and 20 others. That work is ongoing.

The hand-held apparatus is powered by a 9-volt battery and uses an inexpensive test strip, similar to those used in blood glucose meters, with coronavirus antibodies attached to a gold-plated film at its tip. The strip is placed on the tongue to collect a tiny saliva sample.

The strip is then inserted into a reader connected to a circuit board with the brains of the device.

If someone is infected, the coronavirus in the saliva binds with the antibodies and begins a dance of sorts as they are prodded by two electrical pulses processed by a special transistor. A higher concentration of coronavirus changes the electrical conductance of the sample. That, in turn, alters the voltage of the electrical pulses.

The voltage signal is amplified a million times and converted to a numerical value — in a sense, the sample’s electrochemical fingerprint. That value will indicate a positive or negative result, and the lower the value, the higher the viral load. The device’s ability to quantify viral and antibody load makes it especially useful for clinical purposes, researchers said.

The product can be constructed for less than $50, Esquivel-Upshaw said. In contrast, PCR test equipment can cost thousands.

The research team also is studying its ability to detect specific proteins that could be used to diagnose other illnesses, including cancer, a heart attack and immune health. 

Fan Ren, Ph.D., a distinguished professor in the Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering’s Department of Chemical Engineering, and his team had been developing semiconductor-based sensor devices long before COVID-19 for nonmedical purposes.

He noted that he is inspired in his work by the recent death of his wife, which was unrelated to COVID-19. He connects his grief to the mourning of the world at large.

“Almost a million people have died of COVID” in the United States, Ren said. “Those are so many tragedies. Old people. Young people. You name it. I said, ‘No, that’s it.’ That is too much.”

He said several institutions have worked on devices using a field effect transistor, or FET, like that found in the COVID-19 testing device his team is developing. But those devices are basically one-offs — a sample is applied directly to the FET, which means the transistor is not reusable and must be discarded.

That makes those devices expensive and impractical for mass testing, Ren said. Then he hit on the idea of separating transistor from sample, like blood glucose meters that use test strips to collect a drop of blood after a lancet pierces a finger. This innovation, Ren said, makes the UF device unique, affordable and easy to use.

Ren said the device could be used for venues with large crowds, such as concerts, sporting events, classrooms, in addition to medical settings. Researchers say the unit would also provide access to accurate, inexpensive testing in rural areas or in developing nations.

And the personal uses, researchers say, are limitless — parties, baby showers and other small gatherings. “Yes or no. You’re infected or not infected. You get the answer right away,” said Ren.

Value-Driven US Healthcare System Continues, But More Work Remains

Newswise —Value in Health, the official journal of ISPOR—The Professional Society for Health Economics and Outcomes Research, announced today the publication of a report showing that 4 years after the 2018 ISPOR Special Task Force on US Value Assessments published its recommendations meant to advance value assessment methods, researchers have provided more rigorous theoretical and mathematical foundations for some novel value elements while others continue to lag behind. The report, “The History and Future of the ‘ISPOR Value Flower’: Addressing Limitations of Conventional Cost-Effectiveness Analysis,” was published in the April 2022 issue of Value in Health.

In 2018, the ISPOR Special Task Force on US Value Assessments published recommendations intended to help broaden the view of value in healthcare and spur new research on incorporating additional elements of value in traditional cost-effectiveness analyses. The members of the Special Task Force leadership group were Peter J. Neumann, ScD, Center for the Evaluation of Value and Risk in Health at the Institute for Clinical Research and Health Policy Studies, Tufts Medical Center, Boston, MA, USA; Louis P. Garrison, PhD, University of Washington School of Pharmacy, Pharmaceutical Outcomes Research and Policy Program, Seattle, WA, USA; and Richard J. Willke, PhD, Chief Science Officer, ISPOR, Lawrenceville, NJ, USA.

Specifically, the Special Task Force identified and considered 12 potential elements of value, including 2 core elements (net costs and quality-adjusted life years), 2 common but inconsistently used elements (productivity and adherence-improvement) and 8 potentially novel ones (reduction in uncertainty, fear of contagion, value of insurance, severity of disease, value of hope, real option value, equity, and scientific spillovers). These 12 elements came to be known as the “ISPOR Value Flower.” In the past few years, the value flower, with its petals highlighting elements that may be overlooked or underappreciated in conventional drug value assessments, has been discussed and debated widely.

Now, years after the Special Task Force published its recommendations, the leadership group—Drs Neumann, Garrison, and Willke—have authored this important update describing recent developments and considering implications for future value assessments.

“Our review of conceptual and empirical papers published in the past 4 years shows that researchers have provided more rigorous theoretical and mathematical foundations for certain novel value elements (eg, severity of disease, value of insurance, value of hope) through generalized risk-adjusted cost-effectiveness analysis, which incorporates risk aversion in people’s preferences and uncertainty in treatment outcomes,” said the authors. “Empirical estimates are also emerging to support key elements, such as value of insurance, real option value, value of hope, and value of knowing.” 

While health technology assessment bodies have applied, or are considering certain elements as described above, other elements have yet to gain traction. The authors note that in part, the lack of uptake may simply reflect the recency of the Special Task Force report and other research. But it may also reflect other factors: a relative dearth of empirical estimates to support novel elements, the difficulties of changing established practices, the absence of strong incentives for US payers to consider non-health effects and externalities, an unwillingness of health insurers to consider elements such as option value or scientific spillovers because they rely on yet undiscovered innovation, or skepticism in the field. 

“Five years after the Special Task Force began its work, the development of novel value measures continues to evolve,” the authors note. “While it is encouraging to see supporting empirical studies emerging, more are needed. Additional efforts are also needed to illustrate how the estimates can be used in the deliberative processes that are integral to health technology assessments. Finally, it would be worth revisiting the design of the ISPOR value flower itself. Considerable discussion of value frameworks has continued without a consensus on any one specific parsing and identification of all the potential elements. Including novel elements will not solve all issues related to value measurement in healthcare. But they can help us think more clearly and comprehensively about the tradeoffs that individuals and societies are willing to make in their choices.” 

Additional information on ISPOR’s work on value assessment can be found on the Society’s Value Assessment Frameworks webpage.

ABOUT ISPOR
ISPOR, the professional society for health economics and outcomes research (HEOR), is an international, multistakeholder, nonprofit dedicated to advancing HEOR excellence to improve decision making for health globally. The Society is the leading source for scientific conferences, peer-reviewed and MEDLINE®-indexed publications, good practices guidance, education, collaboration, and tools/resources in the field.
Website  | LinkedIn  | Twitter (@ispororg)  |  YouTube  |  Facebook  |  Instagram  

 ABOUT VALUE IN HEALTH
Value in Health (ISSN 1098-3015) is an international, indexed journal that publishes original research and health policy articles that advance the field of health economics and outcomes research to help healthcare leaders make evidence-based decisions. The journal’s 2020 impact factor score is 5.725 and its 5-year impact factor score is 6.932. Value in Health is ranked 4th of 98 journals in health policy and services, 9th of 108 journals in healthcare sciences and services, and 24th of 376 journals in economics. Value in Health is a monthly publication that circulates to more than 10,000 readers around the world.
Website  | Twitter (@isporjournals)

COVID-19 Cases Rise, But Americans Are Eager To Move On

The nation’s capitol, Washington, D.C., has been hit with a string of high-profile cases in Congress and the administration, and cases in the city overall are on the rise. New York and other areas in the Northeast are also seeing increases, with Philadelphia announcing on Monday that it will reintroduce a requirement that people wear masks in indoor public places.  

But there are important ways that any coming spike in COVID-19 cases, fueled by a subvariant of omicron known as BA.2, is likely to be less damaging than previous surges, experts say. And that may lead the nation to treat a new rise in cases different.

First, it is not clear how steep any spike will be. While there are now upticks in the Northeast, there are not yet signs of the massive spike that hit over the winter. That omicron variant-fueled spike already infected many people, helping provide them some immunity against the current outbreak, in addition to the immunity provided by vaccines and booster shots.  

Second, people who are vaccinated and boosted still have strong protection against severe illness, even if it is possible they will get a milder infection. A new treatment, the Pfizer pill known as Paxlovid, cuts the risk of hospitalization or death by about 90 percent for people who do get infected.  

That combination of vaccines, booster shots and treatments means that even if cases rise, the hope is that hospitalizations and deaths will not rise by as sharp a degree.  

The White House is counting on booster shots and treatments to fight any new increase for the moment, rather than blunter tools like mask mandates or business closures. 

“We don’t have to let it dictate our lives anymore,” Ashish Jha, the new White House COVID-19 response coordinator, said on MSNBC on Monday. “If you’re vaccinated, boosted, you’re going to be highly protected. We have a lot of therapy now that’s widely available now for people who are at all higher risk, so even if you have a breakthrough infection, you can get treatments. That means that the virus should not control our lives anymore.” 

Fitting this new approach, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) at the end of February issued new guidance saying that people do not need to wear masks unless hospitalizations increase markedly, not just cases.  

“As long as hospitals do not become overwhelmed again, restrictions should not need to return,” said Leana Wen, a public health professor at George Washington University. “Restrictions should not come back just to prevent infection.” 

President Biden’s chief medical adviser, Anthony Fauci, gave some support to Wen’s position in an interview with ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday.  

“We’re at that point where in many respects she’s correct, that we’re going to have to live with some degree of virus in the community,” Fauci said when asked about Wen’s views.  

As cases tick up, he added, “what we’re hoping happens, and I believe it will, is that you won’t see a concomitant comparable increase in severity, in the sense of people requiring hospitalizations and deaths.” 

There is still debate among experts about the new approach of focusing more on hospitalizations than cases.  

An example is the return of Philadelphia’s indoor mask mandate. The city cited rising cases in bringing the mandate back, even though the CDC metrics, which are based more on hospitalizations, say the city is at a “low” COVID-19 level that does not require masks for all.  

Asked about differing with the CDC, Philadelphia Health Commissioner Cheryl Bettigole said at a press conference: “We’ve all seen here in Philadelphia how much our history of redlining, history of disparities has impacted particularly our Black and brown communities in the city.” 

“And so it does make sense to be more careful in Philadelphia than perhaps in an affluent suburb,” she added.  

People who are immunocompromised are still at higher risk even with vaccines. Asked about more vulnerable people, Wen said that people could test as an extra layer of precaution before seeing an elderly relative, for example, but that it is “unreasonable” to expect all of society to keep its activities restricted for a third year with vaccines now available.  

Even if people are not hospitalized, there is also the risk of “long COVID,” lingering symptoms like fatigue and difficulty concentrating even months after one first gets ill. An American Medical Association fact sheet puts the risk of long COVID at 10 percent to 30 percent of patients, while noting that being vaccinated can help reduce the risk.   

First Post-Covid Convention With Fashion Show, Dandiya Night, Rajasthani Dance, Celebration of International Day of Yoga on Riverwalk, To Make AAPI’s 40th Convention In San Antonio Unique

“Bienvenidos a San Antonio, Tejas!” Dr. Jayesh Shah, Convention Chair and past President of the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) welcomes the over 1,000 AAPI delegates in Texan style. “It is with great pleasure that I, along with the San Antonio -2022 Convention Team, welcome you to the 40th AAPI Annual Convention in San Antonio, one of the top 8th largest cities in the US, with a population of 1.3 million. I still have vivid memories of inviting you to San Antonio in 2014. This is going to be the 4th convention in Texas.”

Describing that the Convention is unique in many ways, Dr. Anupama Gotimukula, President of AAPI said, “This is going to be the first AAPI convention post-Covid Pandemic (Optimistic view from my vantage point). All of you are aware of the challenges of doing a Convention during Covid Times. But our convention team is working very hard to make sure that event is enjoyable and safe at the same time. The registration is happening as per expected. Alumni and specialty groups are encouraged to come. Besides cutting-edge CME by outstanding speakers, there are various non-CME lectures. Enjoy Tex-Mex and Indian Cuisine.”

“The Convention this year is one day short. It begins on Thursday, June 23rd with the Texas Style boots and belts with TexMex Theme,” informed Venky Adivi, Chief Executive Officer. “Please get your Sombrero (Mexican Hat) ready for a special evening organized by Texas Indo- American Physician Society (SW Chapter),” said Dr. Vijay Koli, Advisor to the Convention.

Dr. Kiran Cheraku, Co-Chair of the Convention says, “On Friday, a popular Fashion Show, Bollywood Dandiya Night, and colorful Rajasthani dance is awaiting you.”  “On Saturday with the Celebration of International Day of Yoga on Riverwalk, imagine 100’s people doing Yoga all around the Riverwalk,” pointed out Dr. Rajam Ramamurthy, Advisor for the Convention.

According to Dr. Rajeev Suri, President, TIPS SW, and Convention Co-Chair, “Saturday Evening will begin with the Presidential Banquet, which will be followed by a live show by Bollywood’s one of the best “Shan” Night. Sunday, we bid you “Hasta la Vista” with a closing ceremony.”

Dr. Shankar Sanka, Co-Chair stated: “The 2022 exhibit hall C is the vibrant nerve center of the convention. The unique layout offers maximum exposure to the pharmaceutical and commercial booth.” Dr. Aruna Venkatesh, Treasurer of the Convention added: “The exhibition stage will have the performance to keep our audience in the exhibit hall to keep our booth supporters happy. The research pavilion will enable you to view the outstanding works of our students, residents, and fellows.”

Dr. Hetal Nayak stated, ‘The most unique part of the convention is our Yoga-based Wellness Package which is thoughtfully created with world-renowned speakers. This will be equally valuable for an advanced practitioner of yoga as well as a novice!!. This truly is a once-in-a-lifetime experience with the theme of “Heal the Healers,” Convention Committee noted.

“Our speakers are some of the best names in Wellness and Yoga- Dr. Akil Taher, Eddie Stern, Dr. Kaushik Reddy, Dr.Ajeya Joshi, Yog Guru Sharath Jois, Drs. P Vij & P. Dedhia, Sadhvi Saraswati, Dr, Smita Mehta, Dr. Sat Bir Khalsa. And do not miss the world-famous yoga workshop by Yog Guru Sharath Jois,” said Dr. KIRAN CHERUKU, Convention Co-Chair.

The confirmed Plenary Speakers are Dr. Jack Reseneck, AMA President, and Dr.Peter Hotez, Nobel Prize Nominee. Other confirmed guests are legendary Sunil Gavaskar and Dr. Rahul Gupta, Director, National Drug Control Policy, World-renowned spiritual leader Sadhvi Saraswati and Dr. Prem Reddy, CEO of Prime Health Services.

“I want to express my heartfelt gratitude to my Co-chairs, Kiran Cheraku, Shankar Shanka, Rajeev Suri, and Hetal Nayak, and unwavering administrative support from Venky Adivi, Convention CEO, Reddy Yelaru, and Ram Joolukuntla, Convention COO and Vijaya Kodali in AAPI office. My admiration and thanks to Anupama Gotimukula whose vision, engagement, and enthusiasm kept the team going. It was indeed a team effort by many more, to all, my heartfelt gratitude,” added Dr. Jayesh Shah.

“Physicians and healthcare professionals from across the country and internationally will convene and participate in the scholarly exchange of medical advances, to develop health policy agendas, and encourage legislative priorities in the coming year. We look forward to seeing you in San Antonio!” said Dr. Gotimukula. For more details, and sponsorship opportunities, please visit:  www.aapiconvention.org  and www.aapiusa.org

Did India Ask WHO To ‘Hide’ Its Covid-19 Death Estimates For 10 Years?

The official global total of Covid deaths around the world is far below the real tioll the pandemic has claimed. Everyone agrees the true toll is far greater than what has been officially reported.  A study released last year looked at how much of a disparity there may be in India, one of the epicenters of the pandemic.

The analysis, from the Center for Global Development, a think tank in Washington, D.C., looked at the number of “excess deaths” that occurred in India between January 2020 and June 2021 — in other words, how many more people died during that period than during a similar period of time in 2019 or other recent years.

The study found that between 3.4 and 4.7 million more people died in that pandemic period than would have been predicted. That’s up to 10 times higher than the Indian government’s official death toll of 414,482 at that point of time in the pandemic period in history.

The researchers looked at India in particular because, says study co-author Justin Sandefur, the country was hit so hard by COVID-19. “The second wave in particular led to heart-wrenching stories from friends and colleagues — and a sense that official numbers are not capturing the true scale of that toll.”

Not surprisingly, a technical advisory group (TAG) of the World Health Organization (WHO) has told Devex, an independent news and development platform that the Indian government asked the global health body to publish its estimates of the country’s pandemic death toll “10 years later.”

According to the TAG report, authored in collaboration with the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, India’s actual Covid-19 death toll is at least four times higher than its official count of over 5.2 lakh. Interestingly, the TAG team includes Dr Anand Krishnan, professor of community medicine at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, apart from two other Indian-origin doctors.

The WHO is expected to publish the report in early April as scheduled as “it would be irresponsible to say let’s wait until the pandemic is over, then we will reflect.” The upward revision, says the WHO’s TAG, is based on a count of both direct and indirect impacts of the pandemic. According to Devex, which quoted a WHO spokesperson, “the excess mortality estimates associated with Covid-19 provide a more comprehensive measure of the impact of the pandemic” since “the direct measure (deaths directly attributable to Covid) provides only a limited, and in many cases problematic measure.”

A spat in the making?
India, which has often bristled at previous independent studies, including by the medical journal Lancet, that have pegged its official Covid-19 death toll as a gross undercount, has hotly contested the WHO’s estimate, with the global health body’s report expected to double the worldwide death toll due to the pandemic from the current 6.14 million.

When counting “excess deaths,” the cause of death is not part of the data set. But during a health crisis like the pandemic, the assumption is that these additional deaths are part of the COVID-19 toll, said Ali Mokdad of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME). They reflect not only those who died of the virus but those who might have died, say, of heart disease or diabetes because they were afraid to seek treatment during lockdowns, and those who killed themselves due to pandemic stresses, he added.

India’s official Covid-19 death toll has also come under scrutiny from the Supreme Court while fixing the compensation amount to be paid to next of kin of the deceased as several states have paid the ex-gratia to more number of people than the official death count. That apart, some states have also carried out ‘reconciliation’ exercises between actual and official fatalities.

US Govt. Website Helps Locate COVID-19 Tests, Treatments, Vaccines, and Masks

Two years into the pandemic, the Biden Administration has launched a virtual hub to help Americans find COVID-19 prevention and treatment resources—including masks, tests, and vaccines—in their communities.

The website, COVID.gov, consolidates several existing initiatives into what President Joe Biden described during a press briefing on March 30 as a “one-stop shop.” The site includes links for ordering free at-home rapid tests; locating free, high-quality N95 masks; finding vaccines and treatments; and assessing current COVID-19 risk levels in specific counties, based on U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention metrics.

“The bottom line: no longer will Americans need to scour the internet to find vaccines, treatments, tests, or masks,” Biden said during the briefing. “It’s all there.”

One of the website’s central features is its promotion of Biden’s “test-to-treat” program, which is designed to improve access to antiviral drugs that can reduce the severity of disease for high-risk people. In theory—though not always in practice—the program enables someone who tests positive at a pharmacy or health center to receive treatment on the spot, for free. COVID.gov includes a site locator for facilities taking part in the test-to-treat program, including retail pharmacies, community health centers, and clinics affiliated with Veterans Affairs and the Indian Health Service.

COVID.gov is available in English, Spanish, and Simplified Chinese. The same resources are also available in additional languages through the Administration’s telephone hotline at 1-800-232-0233.

While announcing the website’s launch, Biden again implored Congress to authorize extra pandemic funding. A Congressional spending bill passed in March did not include additional money for COVID-19 relief, and the shortfall has forced the Biden Administration to cut back on treatment and vaccine purchases, Biden said. The government has also had to curtail a program that reimburses providers who test or treat people without insurance, meaning some uninsured people now have to pay out-of-pocket for COVID-19 tests. Barring extra funding, the same will soon be true of some fees associated with getting COVID-19 vaccines.

Biden warned during the press briefing that supplies of COVID-19 drugs, vaccines, and tests may run out in the coming months without more money. “We’re already seeing the consequences of Congressional inaction,” he said. “This isn’t partisan; it’s medicine.”

After his remarks, Biden received a fourth COVID-19 vaccine, just a day after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized second mRNA boosters for adults ages 50 and older and certain immunocompromised individuals. “It didn’t hurt a bit,” he said.

New Device Helps Sperm to ‘Go Against the Flow’ Benefitting Those With Infertility

Newswise — The female genital tract can be a hostile environment for conception. Out of about 100 million sperm, only a few hundred make it to the fallopian tubes. Guided by a directional movement called rheotaxis, sperm cells swim against the cervical mucus flow to reach the egg for fertilization. This journey, however, is even more critical when considering infertility. Sperm motility – the ability to swim the right way – is key.

By taking advantage of this natural rheotaxis behavior of sperm, researchers from Florida Atlantic University’s College of Engineering and Computer Science have developed a microfluidic chip for sperm sorting that is fast, inexpensive, easy to operate and efficiently isolates healthy sperm directly from semen. Importantly, it effortlessly collects sorted sperm cells from the collecting chamber while minimizing contamination by deformed or dead sperm cells.

Assisted reproductive technologies such as in vitro fertilization (IVF), intrauterine insemination and intracytoplasmic sperm injection all require healthy sperm cells for a successful outcome. Current centrifugation methods for sperm sorting require multiple steps, multiple types of equipment and take about two hours to isolate sperm cells. These methods damage sperm during processing and induce significant DNA fragmentation and oxidative stress.

Results of the study, published in the journal Analyst of the Royal Society of Chemistry, showed that sperm cells isolated from the collecting chamber in this microfluidic chip exhibited significantly higher motility (almost 100 percent), a higher number of morphologically normal cells and substantially lower DNA fragmentation, which is a crucial parameter for the fertilization process. In addition, the developed chip provides more than enough cells required for a successful intracytoplasmic sperm injection due to the amount and quality of sperm cells isolated using the chip.

“Operating our chip is very easy. Once the semen is loaded into the sample inlet chamber, the competent sperm cells start moving against the fluid flow toward the collecting chamber from where they can easily be collected,” said Waseem Asghar, Ph.D., senior author, an associate professor in FAU’s Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, and a member of the FAU Institute for Human Health and Disease Intervention (I-Health) and FAU Institute for

Sensing and Embedded Network Systems Engineering (I-SENSE). “Furthermore, this chip offers a one-step, one-hour operational benefit, which an operator can use with minimal training.”

The study also validates that rheotaxis selects the healthy, motile, and higher velocity sperm cells for the fertilization process.

“The assembly of the microfluidic chip is low-cost, and the reagents used in the chip to separate sperm cells are only a few milliliters, therefore, the commercial cost of the chip would be less than $5,” said Asghar. “Moreover, this technology will considerably reduce the economic burden of fertility implementations and both the chip and the sperm cells isolated from it offer great clinical significance and applicability.”

The microfluidic chip consists of four cylindrical chambers that are connected through the microchannels. The four chambers are the fluid inlet chamber, collecting chamber, sample inlet chamber, and waste collection chamber. The channel between the collecting chamber and sample inlet contains microgrooves to guide the sperm cells in addition to the fluid flow for the rheotaxis movement of the sperm cells towards the collecting chamber.

The shear stress inside the device is generated by fluid flow using a syringe pump. A raw semen sample is then added to the sample inlet chamber from where functional sperm cells will swim towards the collecting chamber, effectively separating themselves from dead and immotile sperm.

“Conventional centrifugation often compromises the integrity of sperm cells. This research study demonstrates that the microfluidic chip developed by professor Asghar and his colleagues eliminates this issue,” said Stella Batalama, Ph.D., dean, College of Engineering and Computer Science. “This novel technology offers a platform where the sperm cells experience different shear stress in different parts of the chip, which facilitates the isolation of competent sperm cells without impacting their integrity.”

In the United States, an estimated 15 percent of couples have trouble conceiving. Globally, approximately 48.5 million couples experience infertility. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 12 percent of women of childbearing age have used an infertility service. All treatment costs for infertility can range from $5,000 to $73,000. The average patient goes through two IVF cycles, bringing the total cost of this procedure, including medications, between $40,000 and $60,000. An estimated 85 percent of IVF costs are often paid out-of- pocket.

Study co-authors are Sandhya Sharma and Md. Alam Kabir, Ph.D. candidates in the Asghar Laboratory, Micro and Nanotechnology in Medicine, FAU Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. The FAU College of Engineering and Computer Science is internationally recognized for cutting edge research and education in the areas of computer science and artificial intelligence (AI), computer engineering, electrical engineering, biomedical engineering, civil, environmental and geomatics engineering, mechanical engineering, and ocean engineering.

You Do Not Need Biopsies Anymore

Newswise — A Columbia Engineering team has developed a technology that could replace conventional biopsies and histology with real-time imaging within the living body. Described in a new paper published today in Nature Biomedical Engineering, MediSCAPE is a high-speed 3D microscope capable of capturing images of tissue structures that could guide surgeons to navigate tumors and their boundaries without needing to remove tissues and wait for pathology results.

For many medical procedures, particularly cancer surgery and screening, it is common for doctors to take a biopsy, cutting out small pieces of tissue to be able to take a closer look at them with a microscope. “The way that biopsy samples are processed hasn’t changed in 100 years, they are cut out, fixed, embedded, sliced, stained with dyes, positioned on a glass slide, and viewed by a pathologist using a simple microscope. This is why it can take days to hear news back about your diagnosis after a biopsy,” says Elizabeth Hillman, professor of biomedical engineering and radiology at Columbia University and senior author of the study.

Hillman’s group dreamed of a bold alternative, wondering whether they could capture images of the tissue while it is still within the body. “Such a technology could give a doctor real-time feedback about what type of tissue they are looking at without the long wait,” she explains. “This instant answer would let them make informed decisions about how best to cut out a tumor and ensure there is none left behind.”

Another major benefit of the approach is that cutting tissue out, just to figure out what it is, is a hard decision for doctors, especially for precious tissues such as the brain, spinal cord, nerves, the eye, and areas of the face. This means that doctors can miss important areas of disease. “Because we can image the living tissue, without cutting it out, we hope that MediSCAPE will make those decisions a thing of the past,” says Hillman.

Although some microscopes for surgical guidance are already available, they only give doctors an image of a small, single 2D plane, making it difficult to quickly survey larger areas of tissue and interpret results. These microscopes also generally require a fluorescent dye to be injected into the patient, which takes time and can limit their use for certain patients.

Over the past decade, Hillman, who is also Herbert and Florence Irving Professor at Columbia’s Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute, has been developing new kinds of microscopes for neuroscience research that can capture very fast 3D images of living samples like tiny worms, fish, and flies to see how neurons throughout their brains and bodies fire when they move. The team decided to test whether their technology, termed SCAPE (for Swept Confocally Aligned Planar Excitation microscopy) could see anything useful in tissues from other parts of the body.

“One of the first tissues we looked at was fresh mouse kidney, and we were stunned to see gorgeous structures that looked a lot like what you get with standard histology,” says Kripa Patel, a recent PhD graduate from the Hillman lab and lead author of the study. “Most importantly, we didn’t add any dyes to the mouse –everything we saw was natural fluorescence in the tissue that is usually too weak to see. Our microscope is so efficient that we could see these weak signals well, even though we were also imaging whole 3D volumes at speeds fast enough to rove around in real time, scanning different areas of the tissue as if we were holding a flashlight.”

As she “roved around,” Patel could even stitch together the acquired volumes and turn the data into large 3D representations of the tissue that a pathologist could examine as if it were a full box of histology slides.

“This was something I didn’t expect — that I could actually look at structures in 3D from different angles,” says collaborator Dr. Shana Coley, a renal pathologist at Columbia University Medical Center who collaborated closely on the study. “We found many examples where we would not have been able to identify a structure from a 2D section on a histology slide, but in 3D we could clearly see its shape. In renal pathology in particular, where we routinely work with very limited amounts of tissue, the more information we can derive from the sample, the better for delivering more effective patient care.”

The team demonstrated the power of MediSCAPE for a wide range of applications, from analysis of pancreatic cancer in a mouse, to Coley’s interest in non-destructive, rapid evaluation of human transplant organs such as kidneys. Coley helped the team get fresh samples from human kidneys to prove that MediSCAPE could see telltale signs of kidney disease that matched well to conventional histology images.

The team also realized that by imaging tissues while they are alive in the body, they could get even more information than from lifeless excised biopsies. They found that they could actually visualize blood flow through tissues, and see the cellular-level effects of ischemia and reperfusion (cutting off the blood supply to the kidney and then letting it flow back in).

“Understanding whether tissues are staying healthy and getting good blood supply during surgical procedures is really important,” says Hillman. “We also realized that if we don’t have to remove (and kill) tissues to look at them, we can find many more uses for MediSCAPE, even to answer simple questions such as ‘what tissue is this?’ or to navigate around precious nerves. Both of these applications are really important for robotic and laparoscopic surgeries where surgeons are more limited in their ability to identify and interact with tissues directly.”

A critical final step for the team was to reduce the large format of the standard SCAPE microscopes in Hillman’s lab to something that would fit into an operating room and could be used by a surgeon in the human body. Post-doctoral fellow Wenxuan Liang worked with the team to develop a smaller version of the system with a better form factor, and a sterile imaging cap. PhD candidate Malte Casper helped to acquire the team’s first demonstration of MediSCAPE in a living human, collecting images of a range of tissues in and around the mouth.

These results included rapidly imaging while a volunteer literally licked the end of the imaging probe, producing detailed 3D views of the papillae of the tongue.

Eager to take this technology to the next level with a larger clinical trial, the team is currently working on commercialization and FDA approval. Hillman adds, “We are just so amazed to see what MediSCAPE reveals every time we use it on a new tissue, and especially that we barely ever even needed to add dyes or stains to see structures that pathologists can recognize.”

Hillman and her team hopes that MediSCAPE will make standard histology a thing of the past, putting the power of real-time histology and decision making into the surgeon’s hands.

India faces pressure over close ties with Moscow

INANY Invites Essays And Scholarship Applications

Indian Nurses Association of New York (INA-NY), the voice and representative organization of professional nurses of Indian origin and heritage in New York State is inviting participation in its annual essay competition, scholarship and nursing excellence awards.

The essay contest is open for all nurses of Indian origin or heritage in New York state.  The theme for this year is “Nurses make a difference”.  Grace Alexander, the chair of the Awards and Scholarship Committee said that the essay must not be longer than two pages, must be double spaced and without any identifiable information of the author.  A separate cover page with author’s name, credentials, contact phone number(s) and email address is to be submitted with the essay.  The submission is to be sent to [email protected].  The winner will be honored at the Nurses’ Day celebration of INANY on May 7th.

The Association also invites application for Undergraduate Scholarship from student members of INANY that reside in New York state.  Students must be enrolled in a basic nursing program with at least one more semester to complete.

Nominations are invited for Annual Student Scholarship for undergraduate and Associate degree nursing students of Indian origin.  The student must be a member of INA-NY. Application form for Graduate Nursing Student Scholarship can be obtained from inany.org.

Nominations for ‘INA-NY Nurse Excellence Award 2022’ are also accepted from INANY members.  The selected candidate will exemplify the very best attributes of Nursing profession, excelled in giving high quality patient care and demonstrated a commitment to professional nursing practice.

Dr. Anna George, the president of INANY cited that the Nurses’ Day celebration provides a forum for promoting and celebrating the nursing profession, nurses, higher education, health and wellness of individuals, families and the community.  She noted that the Association’s leadership and members have been vibrant in its mission through engagement in promoting continuing education, organizing community events and community services, as well as local and international charity initiatives.

Application forms for Scholarship and Nurse Excellence Award can either be obtained from [email protected] or from its website inany.org. For details, please contact: Paul D Panakal at: 347 330 0783.

Top US Scientist Says, India’s Covid Vaccine Rollout Has ‘Rescued The World’

The rollout of the Covid-19 vaccines by India in collaboration with leading global institutions has “rescued the world” from the deadly coronavirus and the contributions by the country must not be underestimated, a top American scientist has said.

India is called the pharmacy of the world during the Covid-19 pandemic with its vast experience and deep knowledge in medicine. The country is one of the world’s biggest drug-makers and an increasing number of countries have already approached it for procuring coronavirus vaccines.

Dr Peter Hotez, Dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine (BCM) in Houston during a recent webinar said that the two mRNA vaccines may not impact the world’s low- and middle-income countries, but India’s vaccines, made in collaboration with universities across the world such as BCM and the Oxford University, have “rescued the world” and its contributions must not be underestimated.

During the webinar, “Covid-19: Vaccination and Potential Return to Normalcy – If and When”, Dr Hotez, an internationally-recognised physician-scientist in neglected tropical diseases and vaccine development, said that the Covid-19 vaccine rollout is “India’s gift” to the world in combating the virus.

India’s drugs regulator gave emergency use authorisation to Covishield, produced by Pune-based Serum Institute of India after securing licence from British pharma company AstraZeneca, and Covaxin, indigenously developed jointly by Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech and Indian Council of Medical Research scientists.

50% Of Women Face False Positive Mammograms After 10 Years Of Annual Screening

Newswise — A study led by UC Davis Health has found that half of all women will experience at least one false positive mammogram over a decade of annual breast cancer screening with digital breast tomosynthesis (3D mammography). The risk of false positive results after 10 years of screening is considerably lower in women screened every other year. A false positive is when a mammogram is flagged as abnormal, but there is no cancer in the breast. The study was published today in JAMA Network Open.

It also showed that repeated breast cancer screening with 3D mammography only modestly decreases the chance of having a false positive result compared with the standard digital 2D mammography. Other factors more strongly linked to a lower false positive risk included screening every other year and having non-dense breasts. Older women were also less likely to have a false positive result.

“The screening technology did not have the largest impact on reducing false positives,” said Michael Bissell, epidemiologist in the UC Davis Department of Public Health Sciences and co-first author of the study. “Findings from our study highlight the importance of patient-provider discussions around personalized health. It is important to consider a patient’s preferences and risk factors when deciding on screening interval and modality.”

False positive mammograms are common

Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related death for women in the U.S. Early detection using screening mammography is a key strategy to lower the risk of advanced breast cancer and death from this disease.

A false positive result is a positive screening mammography assessment that leads to more diagnostic work-up but no diagnosis of breast cancer. When abnormalities are found on a mammogram, the patient is recalled for additional imaging and follow-up tests. If found to be cancer-free at the end of diagnostic evaluation and for one year after her recall, the patient is considered to have received a false positive result.

“Despite the important benefit of screening mammography in reducing breast cancer mortality, it can lead to extra imaging and biopsy procedures, financial and opportunity costs, and patient anxiety,” said Diana Miglioretti, professor and division chief of biostatistics at the UC Davis Department of Public Health Sciences, UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center researcher and senior author of the study.

False positive results are common. While around 12% of 2D screening mammograms are recalled for more work-up, only 4.4% of those recalls, or 0.5% overall, conclude with a cancer diagnosis.

“To detect breast cancer early, we need to be careful and investigate any potentially abnormal findings. So, women should not be worried if recalled for additional imaging or biopsy. The vast majority of these results are found to be benign,” said Thao-Quyen Ho, radiologist at the University Medical Center in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam, research fellow at UC Davis School of Medicine and co-first author on the study.

Analyzing mammograms for false positive results

The researchers analyzed data collected by the Breast Cancer Surveillance Consortium on 3 million screening mammograms for 903,495 women aged 40–79 years. The screenings were performed between 2005-2018 at 126 radiology facilities.

The study evaluated screening modality, screening interval, age and breast density. It estimated the cumulative risk that a woman would receive at least one false positive recall over 10 years of annual or biennial (every other year) screening. It also assessed the risks of a false positive that resulted in a recommendation to repeat imaging within six months (short interval follow-up) and separately, in a biopsy recommendation.

Mammography versus tomosynthesis for breast cancer screening

The study found that the probability of receiving at least one false positive recall over a 10-year period was slightly lower with 3D than 2D digital mammography. The decrease in false positives with 3D vs. 2D mammography was greatest for women with non-dense breasts and those who had annual screenings.

The researchers estimated that over 10 years of annual tomosynthesis screening, 50% of women will experience at least one false positive recall, 17% a false positive short-interval follow-up recommendation, and 11% a false positive biopsy recommendation. This is compared to 56% of women screened with 2D digital mammograms having a false positive recall, 18% a short-interval follow-up recommendation, and 12% a biopsy recommendation.

Regardless of the type of screening, false positive results were substantially lower for older than younger age groups and women with entirely fatty versus extremely dense breasts.

Annual versus biennial breast cancer screening

The study also estimated 10-year risks for annual vs. biennial screenings. It found that screening every other year showed a considerably lower probability of at least one false positive result than annual mammograms over ten years of screening. This finding was observed for both 3D and 2D mammography.

“We were surprised that the newer 3D technology in breast cancer screening does not substantially reduce the risk of having a false positive result after 10 years of screening; however, chances of false positives are much lower with repeated biennial vs. annual screening,” said Ho.

For short-interval follow-up recommendations, 17% of women undergoing annual 3D mammography are estimated to have at least one false positive over 10 years, compared to just 10% of those undergoing biennial screening. False positive benign biopsy recommendations are estimated to occur in 11% of women receiving annual 3D mammograms but in only 7% of those screened every two years.

After 10 years of annual screening, the risk of a false positive result was lower in 3D than 2D mammography for all outcomes. For biennial screening, the risk of a false positive recall was lower with 3D mammography. There was no difference in short interval follow-up or biopsy recommendations.

The other authors on this study are: Karla Kerlikowske and Jeffrey A. Tice at the University of California, San Francisco; Rebecca A. Hubbard at the University of Pennsylvania; Brian L. Sprague at the University of Vermont; Christoph I. Lee at the University of Washington and Hutchinson Institute for Cancer Outcomes Research; and Anna N. A. Tosteson at Dartmouth College and Norris Cotton Cancer Center.  Miglioretti is also an affiliate investigator with UC Davis Center for Healthcare Policy and Research and Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research.

9th Annual Winter Medical Conference (WMC) Of Indian American Young Medical Professionals Held

The 9th annual Winter Medical Conference (WMC) was held March 17 -20 at the Grand Hyatt in Tampa, FL and was an overwhelming success!  Filled with interactive sessions to promote career growth, leadership, networking, and more, WMC 9 embraced our theme, “Achieving Excellence” in every facet.   The sessions were designed to go beyond motivating the audience to arming attendees with tools to “Achieve Excellence”.

The feedback from the conference has been overwhelmingly positive with higher than projected attendance and record number of new attendees.  A few highlights include Dr. Latha Ganti’s research workshop which taught members how to maximize their publication productivity.  Dr. Bobby Mukkamala empowered physicians.

Dr. Kiran Patel (Dr. K) inspired attendees and Dr. K. Srinath Reddy educated attendees on the current state of heart disease amongst Indians.  Former Navy SEAL Kevin Stark taught the group breathing techniques to optimize performance.  A historic 5.5 hrs of CME was included.  For the first time, multiple simulators were brought on site for attendees to experience.  Registrants also received “Pearls of Wisdom” with tips from various speakers.

Attendees also enjoyed getting to know each other at social events including a sunset cruise, HOLI games, and various mixers.   We also celebrated MSRF’s Silver Jubilee and there was a record number of poster presentations.  This was also the first year oral presentations were done at WMC.

In addition, the Inaugural Kakani Foundation Award was bestowed on the very deserving Bhavana Patil.  We thank AAPI EC, BOT, the Kakani Foundation, and all our sponsors, without whom this event would not have been possible.

12 CME Credit Hours On Healthcare Issues & Advances In Med Technology During 40th Annual AAPI Convention

“During the 40th American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) Annual Convention and Scientific Sessions planned to be held from June 23-26, 2022 in the beautiful city of San Antonio, Texas, AAPI delegates will have a multidisciplinary CME conference that allows specialists and primary care physicians to interact in an academic forum. World-renowned speakers will discuss gaps between current and best practice of wide-ranging topics at the CME sessions,” Dr. Anupama Gotimukula, President of AAPI announced here today. 

The annual convention this year is being organized by AAPI’s Texas Chapter, headed by Dr. Jayesh Shah, who said, “The 2022 AAPI Annual Convention & Scientific Assembly offers an exciting venue to interact with leading physicians, health professionals, experts in healthcare, academicians, and scientists of Indian origin. The CME Committee, chaired by Dr. Shweta Bansal with Dr. Deepak Kamat, Dr. Dharam Kaushik, and Dr. Jayasree Pillarisetti as members have done an excellent job in putting together an expert panel of speakers for the CME program.” 

“The CME sessions will provide comprehensive and current reviews and guidelines for the diagnosis and treatment of various disease states to reduce morbidity and mortality and achieve cost-effective quality care outcomes, said Dr. Bansal. “At the end of the activity, it is expected that attendees will gain an understanding of the causation, diagnosis and the best clinical practices for the management of the diverse group of diseases discussed during this program.”

Dr. Rajeev Suri, Co-Chair of the Convention explained the planning and preparations being done by the committee.  “San Antonio has a rich tradition in AAPI Convention history of amalgamating academia with fun and wellness. Our CME committee has strived hard to plan an exceptional series of topics presented by leaders in the academic arena. We invite you to San Antonio to rejoice, to learn, to rejuvenate and rekindle your mind and your spirits.”

Dr. Amit Chakrabarty, Chair, AAPI CME Committee, said, “While providing physicians of Indian origin an opportunity to come together in an atmosphere of collegiality, it will enable them to retrace and appreciate their common roots, culture and the bond that unites them as members of this large professional community.”

“Physicians and healthcare professionals from across the country will convene and participate in the scholarly exchange of medical advances, to develop health policy agendas, and to encourage legislative priorities in the coming year,” Dr. Ravi Kolli, President-Elect said.  

“Many of the physicians who will attend this convention have excelled in different specialties and subspecialties and occupy high positions as faculty members of medical schools, heads of departments, and executives of hospital staff,” Dr. Kusum Punjabi, Chair of AAPI BOT.

“AAPI Convention offers an opportunity to meet directly with these physicians who are leaders in their fields and play an integral part in the decision-making process regarding new products and services,” Venky Adivi, Chief Executive Officer of the Convention added.

At the Plenary sessions, Dr. Jack Reseneck, President of American Medical Association will address the audience on “How to prevent Physician burnout – AMA STEPS Program,” while Dr. Peter Hotez, a pioneer in inexpensive Covid vaccine program will speak on “COVID 19 Vaccination Globally and Vaccine Hesitancy.”

“Healthcare Equity and Ethics” will be the major theme on the inaugural day of the Convention. Dr. Sivashanker will share his thoughts on “How to make health equity a routine practice and process”. Chiquita Collins, PhD will discuss on “Achieving equity by diversity in workforce.” Colleen Bridger, MPH, PhD will shed her insights on “Improving child health addressing inequities/disparities.” At the end of this session. Dr. Courand guide us with  “Developing resilience in current environment of inequities.”

Latest in The Chronic Diseases Management is yet another major topic that will be extensively covered during the discussion.  “New horizons for DM and cardiorenal medicine” will be covered by Dr. Eugenio Cersosimo. It’s a well-known fact that people of South Asian origin are more prone to cardiac disease. Accordingly, Dr. Alka Kanaya will share her expertise on “South Asian cardiometabolic health: New findings from the MASALA Study.” Dr. Eric Lawitz will address the delegates on “Fatty Liver Disease: A silent epidemic.” In addition, light will be shed on: “Chronic pain management during opioid epidemic.”

Contemporary/Digital Medicine will be covered during the CME on Friday. “Telemedicine: novel practices and policy changes” will be the topic led by Dr. Zeke Silva, while Dr. Satish Misra will enlighten the delegates about “Are we ready for Smart Apps assisted care.” “Artificial intelligence in Medicine” will be covered by Dr. Rajendra Singh, and Dr. Zeke Silva will educate the participants on “Reimbursement/Approval challenges with digital medicine.”

Breakthroughs in Medicine is other major area that the AAPI delegates will learn from the experts. Dr. Poonam Malik will enlighten the participants on “Gene editing and therapy: Success story for Hemoglobinopathies.” Dr. Sudha Sheshadri will focus her discussions on “A step forward in Alzheimer’s and Multiple Sclerosis care.” “Lipid management: present & future” will be discussed by Dr. Anand Prasad. “Immunologics in cancer and beyond” will be the topic covered by Dr. Shanmuganathan Chandrakasan.

Covid has brought the world to a standstill, impacting almost all areas of human life, and just as humanity is emerging out of this major health crisis, our CME session called “Aftermath of COVID Pandemic” is designed to help AAPI delegates prepare for uncertain future.  Dr. Thomas Patterson will discuss “Post-Acute Sequelae of COVID/Long COVID- what we need to know” while Dr. Theresa Barton will speak about “Long COVID in children.” The delegates will also be educated on crucial topics such as “Impact on future health care system and delivery” and “Preparing for future pandemic” by Dr. Ruth Berggren.

With the ever-changing trends in healthcare, AAPI delegates will be provided with education in the session called “Navigating Successful Medicine Practice in the US.” This session includes topic like “Physician Employment Contracts and Non-Competes: What you really need to know”. “Navigating ACOs: Regulations, Payment and Compliance” will be covered by Dr. Jay Bhatt. “Crucial conversations: supervising midlevel providers” will be addressed by Dr. Robert Leverence.

It’s a well-known fact that physicians of Indian origin excel in their respective areas of work and continue to play key roles in patient care, administration, academics, and medical research.  “The essence of AAPI is educational,” Dr. Anjana Samadder, Vice President of AAPI, while describing the purpose of CME said. 

According to Dr. Satheesh Kathula, Secretary of AAPI, “That translates into numerous Continuing Medical Education and non-CME seminars by experts in their fields.” Dr. Krishen Kumar, Treasurer of AAPI, “Giving them a platform to celebrate their accomplishments, to be attended by over 1,000 physicians of Indian origin, the Convention will also provide a forum to renew their professional commitment through continuing medical education.”

AAPI represents more than 100,000 Indian American Physicians, who represent the range of physician specialties seen in the physician community at large with 61% in Primary Care, 33% in Medical sub-specialties and 6% in surgical sub-specialties. Medical specialty representation includes pediatrics, psychiatry, anesthesiology/pain management, cardiology, family medicine, obstetrics and gynecology, oncology, gastroenterology, pathology, endocrinology, nephrology, rheumatology along with many other fields.

AAPI is an umbrella organization that has nearly 200 local chapters, specialty societies and alumni organizations. For nearly 40 years, Indian physicians have made significant contributions to health care in this country, not only practicing in inner cities, rural areas and peripheral communities but also at the top medical schools and other academic centers. Almost 10%-12% of medical students entering US schools are of Indian origin. Headquartered in Oak Brook, Illinois, AAPI represents the interests of all Indian American physicians, medical students, and residents of Indian heritage in the United States. It is the largest ethnic medical organization in the nation. For more details and registration for the convention, please visit:  www.aapiconvention.org and www.aapiusa.org

Dr. Ashish Jha Appointed By Biden To Lead US Efforts On Covid

President Joe Biden announced on March 17, 2022 that he is appointing Indian-American physician, Dr. Ashish Jha as the “perfect person” to lead the White House Covid national initiative. Jeff Zients, who currently leads the effort is stepping down.

“To lead this effort, I am excited to name Dr. Ashish Jha as the new White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator. Dr. Jha is one of the leading public health experts in America, and a well-known figure to many Americans from his wise and calming public presence. And as we enter a new moment in the pandemic – executing on my National COVID-19 Preparedness Plan and managing the ongoing risks from COVID – Dr. Jha is the perfect person for the job,” Biden said in a statement which also announced the departure of Zients.

“I appreciate both Jeff and Dr. Jha for working closely to ensure a smooth transition, and I look forward to continued progress in the months ahead,” the President said. According to Brown University, where Dr. Jha is the Dean of the School of Public Health, he will be taking a short-term leave for the temporary special assignment.

A globally recognized expert on pandemic preparedness and response as well as on health policy research and practice, Jha is the dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, and is one of the most popular experts that the media reaches out to for explaining the Covid pandemic and the efforts to control it.

Dr. Jha has taken up the new position at the request of President Biden, a press release from Brown University noted. Jha was born in Pursaulia, Bihar in 1970. He went to Canada when he was 9, and then to the U.S. in 1983. He has a bachelor’s degree in economics from Columbia University and an M.D. from Harvard Medical School.

In a series of tweets, Jha noted, “On a personal note – For a poor immigrant kid who left India not speaking a word of English And found in America a nation willing to embrace me as one of her own I am deeply honored for this chance to serve this country I love And grateful to a President for the opportunity.”

Always a cautious voice on numerous media outlets where he was interviewed over the last two years, Jha Tweeted after his White House appointment, “So, as they say… Some news – For all the progress we’ve made in this pandemic (and there is a lot) We still have important work to do to protect Americans’ lives and wellbeing So when @POTUS asked me to serve, I was honored to have the opportunity.”

Jha also warned, “We are not done We are very likely to see more surges of infections We may see more variants We can’t predict everything with certainty But we have to prepare to protect the American people whatever Mother Nature throws at us.”

In succeeding Zients, Jha will lead the response of the entire U.S. government to the COVID-19 pandemic, while also advancing the nation’s global health priorities and policies.

“For all the progress we’ve made in this pandemic (and there is a lot). We still have important work to do to protect Americans’ lives and well being. So when @POTUS asked me to serve, I was honoured to have the opportunity,” Jha said in a tweet.

He will be joining Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, National Drug Control Policy Director Rahul Gupta, and Center for Medicare Director Meena Seshamani at the higher echelons of US health care system.

Jha succeeds Jeff Zients, who is leaving the White House after 14 months during which two variants, Delta and Omicron, fueled a surge in Covid cases that the US struggled to contain. Zients leaves office with 65 per cent of Americans having received at least one dose of a Covid vaccine and nearly 77 per cent have been fully vaccinated with the seven-day average of infections plummeting from 806,851 in mid-January to 30,570 in mid-March.

Jha came to Brown from Harvard, where he was the director of the Harvard Global Health Institute and the dean for Global Strategy at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. He had also served as the co-chair of the Independent Panel on the Global Response to Ebola, which examined the failure of the international community’s response to the disease.

Even while he was heading the Brown University’s School of Public Health, he continued to practice medicine at a hospital for ex-military members. During the Covid pandemic, he made frequent appearances on TV, wrote op-eds for leading newspapers and was often quoted by reporters.

The medical news website, STAT, called him “network TV’s everyman expert on Covid” with the qualities of a “telegenic phenom” and a “great communicator”. Zients was a businessman and a bureaucrat, unlike Jha who is a doctor.

The changeover to a doctor marks an inflexion point in the pandemic where the logistics of mass vaccination and testing are in place and the future task is to monitor and prepare for new variations or other developments.

After Two Long Years, COVID-19 Is No Longer #1 Concern For Americans

For what is likely the first time in two years, COVID-19 is no longer the primary concern among Americans, as the economy, inflation, and jobs (90%) and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine (87%) are a higher concern than the virus (68%). Here what they are thinking:

Today, Americans find many daily activities not too, or not at all, risky anymore, such as eating or drinking inside a restaurant/bar (48%), working in-person without a mask (43%), shopping indoors with a mask (41%), and exercising maskless in a gym or a sports team (38%).

Replacing COVID in the news: (87%) of Americans consider Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as the biggest news story in America right now, surpassing the COVID-19 news coverage of the past two years (v. COVID-19 being the biggest story: 13%).Replacing COVID in the news: (87%) of Americans consider Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as the biggest news story in America right now, surpassing the COVID-19 news coverage of the past two years (v. COVID-19 being the biggest story: 13%).

Taking a mental break from COVID because, well, there could be another pandemic before we die: (69%) of Americans think it is likely that they will live through another pandemic in their lifetime (Gen Z: 56%, Millennial: 73%, Gen X: 78%, Boomer: 62%) and (27%) believe that COVID-19 news will dominate the news cycle again and (58%) could see it occur if something major happens such as a new, deadly variant arises.

Takeaway: After a roller-coaster of emotion, Americans have reached similar levels of pre-Delta optimism that the worst of COVID-19 is behind us (64%), however, diminishing news coverage and COVID-19 fatigue may prove concerning as European COVID-19 cases have begun rising again–such as in the UK two weeks after dropping mitigation measures.

In The Harris Poll Tracker (Week 107) fielded March 11th to 13th, 2022 among 2,000 U.S. adults, look at how Americans’ concerns have shifted away from COVID-19 and from Week 106 how younger consumers are engaging with international brands regularly. In addition, we cover other Harris Poll data detailing how Americans are packing their bags for summer vacations, how men are more interested in the future of the metaverse, and an industry snapshot of the health and personal care sector.

Sleeping With Even A Small Amount Of Light May Harm Your Health, Study Says

Sleeping for only one night with a dim light, such as a TV set with the sound off, raised the blood sugar and heart rate of healthy young people participating in a sleep lab experiment, a new study found.

The dim light entered the eyelids and disrupted sleep despite the fact that participants slept with their eyes closed, said study author Dr. Phyllis Zee, director of the Center for Circadian and Sleep Medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

Heart rate typically drops at night, slowing down as the the brain is busy repairing and rejuvenating the body. An elevated heart rate at night has been shown in numerous studies to be a risk factor for future heart disease and early death.

High blood sugar levels are a sign of insulin resistance, where the body stops using glucose properly and the pancreas goes into overdrive, flooding the body with extra insulin to overcompensate until it eventually loses its ability to do so. Over time, insulin resistance can ultimately lead to Type 2 diabetes.

Sleeping with eyes closed

Prior research has shown an association between artificial light at night and weight gain and obesity, disruptions in metabolic function, insulin secretion and the development of diabetes, and cardiovascular risk factors.

“Why would sleeping with your lights on affect your metabolism? Could that explain why there is a higher prevalence of diabetes or obesity (in society)?” Zee asked.

Zee and her team took 20 healthy people in their 20s and had them spend two nights in a sleep lab. The first night was spent in a darkened room where “you wouldn’t be able to see much, if anything, when your eyes were open,” Zee said.

All of the study participants were connected to devices monitoring a number of objective measures of sleep quality. So data could be gathered with minimal interference, they slept with an IV with long tubes that snake across the room and through a hole to the researcher’s side of the lab. The blood was drawn without ever touching the slumbering participants.

“We recorded the brainwaves and could tell what sleep stage the person was in,” Zee said. “We recorded their breathing, their heart rate, their EKG, and we also drew blood from them to measure melatonin levels while they were sleeping.” Melatonin is a hormone that regulates the body’s circadian rhythm, or sleep and wake body clock.

A randomized portion of the group repeated that same light level for a second night in the lab, while another group slept with a dim overhead light with a glow roughly equivalent to “a very, very dark, cloudy day or street lights coming in through a window,” Zee said.

“Now these people were asleep with their eyelids closed,” she explained. “In the literature the estimation is that about 5% to 10% of the light in the environment would actually get through the closed lid to the eye, so this is really not a lot of light.”

Yet even that tiny amount of light created a deficit of slow wave and rapid eye movement sleep, the stages of slumber in which most cellular renewal occurs, Zee said.

In addition, heart rate was higher, insulin resistance rose, and the sympathetic (fight or flight) and parasympathetic (rest and relax) nervous systems were unbalanced, which has been linked to higher blood pressure in healthy people.

The light was not bright enough, however, to lower levels of melatonin in the body, Zee added. The study was published Monday in the journal of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

What to do?

What advice would Zee give people based on her study and existing research in the field? Close your blinds and curtains, turn off all the lights, and consider using a sleep mask.

“I think the strength of the evidence is that you should clearly pay attention to the light in your bedroom,” she said. “Make sure that you start dimming your lights at least an hour or two before you go to bed to prepare your environment for sleep.”

Check your bedroom for sources of light that are not necessary, she added. If a night light is needed, keep it dim and at floor level, “so that it’s more reflected rather than right next to your eye or bed level,” she suggested.

Also be aware of the type of light you have in your bedroom, she added, and ban any lights in the blue spectrum, such as those emitted by electronic devices like televisions, smartphones, tablets and laptops.

“Blue light is the most stimulating type of light,” Zee said. “If you have to have a light on for safety reasons change the color. You want to choose lights that have more reddish or brownish tones.”  LED lights can be purchased in any color, including red and brownish tones.

Kal Penn, Winner of AALDEF Justice In Action Award, Tapped To Star In ‘The Santa Clause’

The Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF) presented this year’s Justice in Action Awards to Hollywood actor Kal Penn and to Thomas S. Kim, Chief Legal Officer and Company Secretary at Thomson Reuters on March 9th.

Penn was honored for his advocacy for representation in media and his service on behalf of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, a press release from AALDEF said.

In a video, award-winning filmmaker Mira Nair, who cast Penn as the lead in her 2006 film “The Namesake,” said, “As an activist and an artist, Kal has never shied away from his roots. He is unapologetic about who he is, and yet is an incredible bridge builder, creating a strong sense of allyship and solidarity with other communities.”

The awards ceremony, held at the Lighthouse at Chelsea Piers in New York City,  was the highlight of AALDEF’s 2022 Lunar New Year Gala, celebrating the Year of the Tiger.

Penn is venturing into Bollywood in a big way. He is the Executive Producer of “Hot Mess Holiday” to be released soon, and is quoted in media reports saying he is interested in doing more in Bollywood.

Penn, known for his role in the ‘Harold and Kumar’ film franchise, is set to star as a lead opposite Tim Allen and Elizabeth Mitchell in Disney Plus’s upcoming limited series, ‘The Santa Clause’, from creator Jack Burditt.

According to Deadline, Allen will be reprising his role as Scott Calvin from the Walt Disney Pictures holiday franchise. The sequel series will show Scott on the brink of his 65th birthday and realizing that he cannot be Santa forever. He has suddenly started to lose his Santa magic, and more importantly, he’s got a family, who could benefit from a life in the normal world, especially his two kids who grew up in the North Pole.

Accompanied by a lot of elves, children and family to please, Scott sets out to find a suitable replacement Santa while preparing his family for a new adventure in a life south of the pole.

Penn will portray an ambitious game inventor and product developer and a devoted single father named Simon Choksi. He’s capable of talking the tech-mogul talk but is unable to walk the walk, and his dreams of being the next Bezos falls drastically short. However, after a visit to the North Pole, all that changes.

Mitchell would be reprising her role as Mrs Clause from the films, as was previously announced.

As per Deadline, this project will be directed and executive produced by Jason Winer along with Jon Radler for Winer’s Small Dog Picture Company. Burditt will executive produce and serve as showrunner.

Allen will also executive produce with Kevin Hench, Richard Baker and Rick Messina. The Disney Branded Television series is a production of 20th Television, a part of Disney Television Studios.

India Ranks High In Cumulative Excess Covid-Deaths: Lancet Report

A Global Report Looking At Excess Deaths During The Pandemic Period Put India In A Harsh Light

India recorded the highest estimated number of cumulative excess Covid-19 deaths beating the USA, Russia, Mexico, Brazil, Indonesia and Pakistan, reported a Lancet report on March 10, 2022. The paper that looked at deaths due to Covid-19 between January 1, 2020, and December 31, 2021 also estimated that nearly 18.2 million people died globally as opposed to the official figure of 5.94 million.

With a goal to estimate excess mortality during the pandemic period, the Lancet published a paper wherein researchers searched various government websites, the World Mortality Database compendia, the Human Mortality Database, etc. and identified 74 countries and an additional 266 subnational locations where either weekly or monthly all-cause mortality data were reported for the required period. Further the paper used empirical assessments of excess mortality for 12 states of India.

The study found that the number of excess Covid-related deaths was largest in regions of South Asia, North Africa, the Middle East and Eastern Europe. However, in all this, India estimated the highest cumulative excess deaths at 4.07 million deaths, way ahead of the US, where the estimate stood at 1.13 million deaths. In Russia, estimates stood at 1.07 million deaths, Mexico suffered around 7,98,000 deaths. An estimated 7,92,000 deaths took place in Brazil while the estimated figure for Indonesia was 7,36,000 deaths and for Pakistan it was  6,64,000 deaths.

It may be noted that of these countries, Russia had the highest excess mortality rate at 374.6 deaths per 1,00,000 followed by Mexico (325.1 deaths per 1,00,000), Brazil (186.9 deaths per 1,00,000) and the USA (179.3 deaths per 1,00,000). The global all-age rate of excess mortality due to the Covid-19 pandemic was 120·3 deaths per 1,00,000 of the population. It exceeded 300 deaths per 1,00,000 of the population in 21 countries.

Estimated deaths much higher than reported in India

As per the report, excess mortality rates due to Covid-19 in some Indian states were similar to those of some high-income countries in the northern hemisphere. The report also computed the ratio of excess mortality rate to reported Covid-19 mortality rate to measure the undercounting of the true mortality impact of the pandemic. Accordingly, it found that the national-level ratios in south Asia ranged from 8·33 in India to 36·06 in Bhutan. The most extreme ratios in the region were found in the states and provinces of India and Pakistan, ranging from 0·96 in Goa, India to 49·64 in Balochistan, Pakistan.

Using data from the civil registration system data for 12 states, and the mean reported deaths during the relevant periods in 2018 and 2019, the report obtained excess mortality estimates for select periods during the first and second waves. It also calculated a country-level residual using the residual from the 12 states.

Specifically, the report found that at the national level, India had an estimated 152·5 excess deaths (95 percent UI 138·6–163·3) per 1,00,000 of the population. This number is much higher than the data that was reported during the two Covid-waves. Covid-19 mortality rate was 18·3 deaths per 1,00,000 over the same period.

Further, heterogeneity in excess mortality among the 30 states of India was extremely high. From January 1, 2020, to December 31, 2021, as many as 8 Indian states had excess mortality rates higher than 200 per 1,00,000 population, a level only exceeded by 50 other countries in the world. These states were: Uttarakhand, Manipur, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, and Karnataka.

Meanwhile, Arunachal Pradesh, Telangana, Sikkim, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, West Bengal, and Goa had excess mortality rates that were lower than the global average of 120.6 deaths per 1,00,000 population (although 95% UIs overlap). Similarly, sub-national heterogeneity was evident in the excess death counts. Seven states had excess deaths higher than 2,00,000 as of December 31, 2021, namely: West Bengal (2,20,000 deaths), Madhya Pradesh (2,23,000 deaths), Tamil Nadu (2,60,000 deaths), Karnataka (2,84,000 deaths) Bihar (3,23,000 deaths), Uttar Pradesh (5,17,000 deaths) and Maharashtra (6,16,000 deaths).

“Although the excess mortality rates due to the Covid-19 pandemic among Indian states are not the highest in the world, because of India’s large population, the country accounted for 22.3 percent of global excess deaths as of December 31, 2021. Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, and Maharashtra had excess deaths higher than South Africa (3,02,000 deaths), with South Africa ranking tenth among all countries,” said the Lancet report.

States with ambiguous mortality data

Earlier, Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) and The Wire published data about Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh that showed huge data discrepancies in death-related data during the Covid-19 pandemic. As per the 2019 Sample Registration System (SRS) bulletin, the actual crude death rate (CDR) for the state as a whole was to be 6.5 percent. Based on the rural-urban make-up of the surveyed population, the study expected the CDR in the surveyed areas to be around 6.7. However by 2019, the recorded CDR of 6.4 percent in this population was close to state-level expectations. There was not much room for further improvement in reporting to push the numbers up.

But in 2020 the CDR rose to 15-20 percent higher than expected either from 2019 data or from the state-wide CDR estimates from the annual SRS. In fact, the death rate during January-August 2021 was, over double the expectation. Even assuming the SRS significantly underestimated pre-pandemic yearly deaths but improved record-keeping to perfection during the pandemic, the deaths during the pandemic period were greatly above expectations.

The surveyed area had 55-60 percent more deaths during the 20 months from January 2020 to August 2021 than expected during that time. Across UP, this surge would amount to around 14 lakh excess deaths.

As per SRS and civil registration data, the state expects around 15 lakh deaths in a normal year. Further 14 lakh people also account for 0.6 percent of the state’s estimated 2021 population of around 23 cr people. Thus, the study claimed that the pandemic excess death toll amounted to almost a full year’s deaths.

Similarly, the report talked about Gujarat as a state with lower excess mortality rate than the global average. Yet, in May 2021, CJP reported data that estimated great under-reporting during the pandemic. On April 27, of the same year local newspaper Sandesh set aside five pages for obituaries in the Rajkot edition alone, while the state’s Covid-19 dashboard recorded only 14 deaths in the previous 24 hours. On the same day, the newspaper stated that 87 bodies were cremated following Covid protocol over the last two days while the government only recorded two Covid deaths.

This showed that despite Lancet report’s efforts to get official data, even the comparatively better surviving states in India were under great duress. Newspaper obituaries made for better indicators of death count in the area rather than official data, said CJP.

The Lancet report concluded that the full magnitude of COVID-19 was much greater in 2020 and 2021 than was indicated by reported deaths. It still called for further research and increased availability of ‘cause of death’ data for distinguishing the proportion of excess mortality directly caused by Covid-19. However, the study, coupled with previous reports of CJP show that there was great discrepancy especially in areas with a considerable Hindutva influence.

To verify this to certainty, the study stresses for ways to strengthen death reporting systems and mitigate political barriers to accurately track and monitor the continuation of the Covid-19 and future pandemics.

Boditech Med, Global Point-Of-Care Testing Leader Expands Operations To North America

Boditech Med, a global leader in point-of-care testing with more than 90 biomarker products, has announced its plans to expand its operations in North America. Boditech’s expansion begins with plans to open a new manufacturing site in the Miami, Florida, area. The company is also considering opportunities in other states, along with a partnership in Canada.

“In the U.S., it takes as long as three days for a patient to get diagnostic test results. During that time, informed decision making comes to a standstill, even while costs mount,” said Boditech Med co-founder and CEO Eui-Yul Choi, Ph.D. “At Boditech, we develop and manufacture point-of-care tests that deliver actionable results in 12 to 15 minutes. Our goal in the U.S. is to flip the diagnostic industry on its head so that patients get timely, quality care while the healthcare system minimizes waste.”

Founded in South Korea in 1998, Boditech Med markets and sells more than 90 biomarker products in 120 countries. Through its North American expansion, the publicly-traded company aims to improve the health and safety of patients and the effectiveness and workflows of clinicians in the U.S. and beyond.

Boditech offers highly reliable in-vitro diagnostic solutions that empower clinicians and patients to improve health through quick and reliable tests, available anywhere and anytime. Along with venous blood and plasma testing, Boditech’s product line includes technologies that enable accurate, thorough capillary blood tests, based on a small amount of blood from a finger prick.

Boditech is currently seeking approvals from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for several diagnostic solutions in cardiac, cancer, hormone, infectious disease, and other therapeutic areas. Timelines and precise locations remain in the works. Boditech intends to hire hundreds of Americans to support its efforts.

Boditech intends to bring lower-cost, rapid testing that covers many critical areas of medicine, from cardiac health to cancer, to the country. Boditech also produces COVID-19 antibody and over-the-counter rapid antigen tests.

Boditech Med is a global leader in point-of-care testing with a decades-long track record of improving health and quality of life through innovative in-vitro diagnostic solutions. Since its launch in 1998, Boditech has developed 85 biomarkers, which support capillary blood, venous blood, and plasma testing, to meet customers’ evolving needs. Listed as a public company on the KOSDAQ, Boditech’s products aid patients and clinicians in 120 countries. Learn more about Boditech Med and how its in-vitro diagnostic are improving health worldwide: https://www.boditech.co.kr/en

Inflation, War Push Stress To Alarming Levels At Two-Year COVID-19 Anniversary

Newswise — Two years after the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic, inflation, money issues and the war in Ukraine have pushed U.S. stress to alarming levels, according to polls conducted for the American Psychological Association.

A late-breaking poll, fielded March 1–3 by The Harris Poll on behalf of APA, revealed striking findings, with more adults rating inflation and issues related to the invasion of Ukraine as stressors than any other issue asked about in the 15-year history of the Stress in AmericaTM poll. This comes on top of money stress at the highest recorded level since 2015, according to a broader Stress in America poll fielded last month.

Top sources of stress were the rise in prices of everyday items due to inflation (e.g., gas prices, energy bills, grocery costs, etc.) (cited by 87%), followed by supply chain issues (81%), global uncertainty (81%), Russia’s invasion of Ukraine (80%) and potential retaliation from Russia (e.g., in the form of cyberattacks or nuclear threats) (80%).

These stressors are coming at a time when the nation is still struggling to deal with the prolonged pandemic and its effects on our daily lives, with close to two-thirds of adults (63%) saying their life has been forever changed by the COVID-19 pandemic. While a majority (51%) reported this change as neither positive nor negative — simply different — the long-lasting implications of the pandemic are clear. The survey also revealed continued hardships for vulnerable populations, concerns for children’s development among parents and entrenched, unhealthy coping habits.

“The number of people who say they’re significantly stressed about these most recent events is stunning relative to what we’ve seen since we began the survey in 2007,” said Arthur C. Evans Jr., PhD, APA’s chief executive officer. “Americans have been doing their best to persevere over these past two tumultuous years, but these data suggest that we’re now reaching unprecedented levels of stress that will challenge our ability to cope.”

A year ago, APA’s first pandemic anniversary survey found COVID-19-related stress was associated with unhealthy weight changes and increased drinking. The most recent survey confirmed that these unhealthy behaviors have persisted, suggesting that coping mechanisms have become entrenched — and that mental and physical health may be on a continuing decline for many as a result. Close to half of adults (47%) said they have been less active than they wanted to be since the pandemic started, and close to three in five (58%) reported experiencing undesired weight changes.

Among those who gained more weight than they wanted, the average amount of weight gained was 26 pounds, with a median of 15 pounds. On the other hand, the average amount of weight lost among those who lost more than they wanted to was 27 pounds, with a median of 15 pounds. More than one in five Americans (23%) said they have been drinking more alcohol during the COVID-19 pandemic, with those who have been drinking more consuming an average of 10 drinks per week (and a median of six drinks per week) compared with an average of two drinks (and a median of one drink) per week among those who did not report drinking more.

Adults also reported separation and conflict as causes for straining and/or ending of relationships. Half of adults (51%, particularly essential workers at 61%) said they have loved ones they have not been able to see in person in the past two years as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Strikingly, more than half of all U.S. adults (58%) reported experiencing a relationship strain or end as a result of conflicts related to the COVID-19 pandemic, including canceling events or gatherings due to COVID-19 concerns (29%); difference of opinion over some aspect of vaccines (25%); different views of the pandemic overall (25%); and difference of opinion over mask-wearing (24%).

Strained social relationships and reduced social support during the pandemic make coping with stress more difficult. In fact, more than half of respondents (56%) said that they could have used more emotional support than they received since the pandemic started. “We know from decades of research that healthy and supportive relationships are key to promoting resilience and building people’s mental wellness,” said Evans. “Particularly during periods of prolonged stress, it’s important that we facilitate opportunities for social connection and support.”

The majority of parents reported concerns regarding child(ren)’s development, including social life or development (73%), academic development (71%) and emotional health or development (71%). More than two-thirds of parents reported concern about the pandemic’s impact on their child’s cognitive development (68%) and their physical health/development (68%).

“Living through historic threats like these often has a lasting, traumatic impact on generations,” said Evans. “As a society, it’s important that we ensure access to evidence-based treatments and that we provide help to everyone who needs it. This means not only connecting those in distress with effective and efficient clinical care, but also mitigating risk for those more likely to experience challenges and engaging in prevention for those who are relatively healthy.”

More information on the findings and how to handle stress and trauma related to Ukraine is available at www.stressinamerica.org. APA psychologists are available for media interviews to discuss these findings and provide science-based recommendations on how to address this mental health crisis.

METHODOLOGY

The 2022 Pandemic Anniversary Survey was conducted online within the United States by The Harris Poll on behalf of the American Psychological Association between Feb. 7–14, 2022, among 3,012 adults age 18+ who reside in the U.S. Interviews were conducted in English and Spanish. Data were weighted to reflect proportions in the population based on the 2021 Current Population Survey (CPS) by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Weighting variables included age by gender, race/ethnicity, education, region, household income, and time spent online. Latino adults were also weighted for acculturation, taking into account respondents’ household language as well as their ability to read and speak in English and Spanish. Country of origin (U.S./non-U.S.) was also included for Latino and Asian subgroups.

Weighting variables for Gen Z adults (ages 18 to 25) included education, age by gender, race/ethnicity, region, household income, and size of household, based on the 2021 CPS. Propensity score weighting was used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online. Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris’ surveys. The sampling precision of Harris online polls is measured by using a Bayesian credible interval. For this study, the sample data is accurate to within + 2.9 percentage points using a 95% confidence level.

This credible interval will be wider among subsets of the surveyed population of interest. All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to other multiple sources of error, which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including but not limited to coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments.

The March late-breaking survey was conducted online within the United States between March 1–3, 2022, among 2,051 adults (age 18 and over) by The Harris Poll on behalf of the American Psychological Association via its Harris On Demand omnibus product. Data were weighted where necessary by age, gender, race/ethnicity, region, education, marital status, household size, household income, and propensity to be online, to bring them in line with their actual proportions in the population. The sampling precision of Harris online polls is measured by using a Bayesian credible interval. For this study, the sample data is accurate to within + 2.8 percentage points using a 95% confidence level.

Possible New Treatment For COVID-19 Found

Newswise — Investigators at Cedars-Sinai have identified a potential new therapy for COVID-19: a biologic substance created by reengineered human skin cells.   Scientists found the substance stopped SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, from reproducing itself and also protected infected cells when tested in human lung cells. Although still in the early stages, the findings open the possibility of having a new therapy for COVID-19 patients. The details of the potential therapy are published in the journal Biomaterials and Biosystems.

“We were surprised to find this potential therapy shuts down a novel pathway for viral replication and also protects infected cells,” said Ahmed G. Ibrahim, PhD, MPH, assistant professor in the Smidt Heart Institute at Cedars-Sinai and first author of the study.

Few treatments currently exist for COVID-19 and the ones that do primarily focus solely on preventing the virus from replicating. This new potential treatment inhibits replication but also protects or repairs tissue, which is important because COVID-19 can cause symptoms that affect patients long after the viral infection has been cleared.

The potential therapy investigated in this study was created by scientists using skin cells called dermal fibroblasts. The investigators engineered the cells to produce therapeutic extracellular vesicles (EVs), which are nanoparticles that serve as a communication system between cells and tissue. Engineering these fibroblasts allowed them to secrete EVs—which the investigators dubbed “ASTEX”—with the ability to repair tissue.

In previous experiments, the investigators demonstrated that ASTEX can repair heart tissue, lung tissue and muscle damage in laboratory mice. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020, the investigators turned to studying whether ASTEX could be used as treatment against SARS-CoV-2.

The study was done through a collaboration with investigators at UCLA who tested ASTEX by applying it to human lung epithelial cells, cells that line the pulmonary tract and are the targets of SARS-CoV-2 infection.

They discovered that ASTEX prevented cells from launching an inflammatory process that could lead to cell death. Cells treated with ASTEX also made fewer of a type of protein called ACE that SARS-CoV-2 may use to infect cells.

The team then compared the potential treatment with remdesivir, a drug currently used to treat COVID-19, and found that remdesivir did not inhibit production of ACE. Instead, remdesivir stops the virus from latching on to a protein called ACE2. ASTEX, therefore, may present another way to prevent the virus from entering cells.

“Viruses don’t have their own machinery to get into cells, so they use proteins,” Ibrahim said. “We believe targeting ACE proteins is just one way SARS-CoV-2 infiltrates cells, hijacks their genetic information and replicates itself in the body.”

ASTEX appears to have stopped this hijacking process.

“This potential anti-COVID-19 biological therapy is novel in that it has two facets: It protects infected cells, which remdesivir does not do, and also inhibits viral replication,” said senior author Eduardo Marbán, MD, PhD, executive director of the Smidt Heart Institute and the Mark S. Siegel Family Foundation Distinguished Professor at Cedars-Sinai.

Investigators are planning future studies.

Rural Hospitals In U.S. Face Wipeout With 800 At Risk Of Shutdown

Pummeled by the pandemic, at least 40% of rural U.S. hospitals are in danger of shutting down and leaving millions of people in smaller and less affluent communities without a nearby emergency and critical care facility.

That’s the conclusion of the Center for Healthcare Quality and Payment Reform, whose recent study sees 500 hospitals at immediate risk for closing within two years and more than 300 others at high risk within five years. The grim assessment by the policy center found the problems spread across the country, and that the threats will persist even if the pandemic ends because rising costs are outrunning revenue.

All told, there are about 38 million Americans in the at-risk areas; they’d have to drive at least 20 minutes farther if their local hospitals close, with half adding at least 30 minutes, said Harold Miller, the center’s chief executive and author of the report. Many of the facilities are in sparsely populated but important farming, mining or ranching communities.

Hospital Emergency

Negative margins are putting smaller hospitals at high risk of failure

“The myth is that these are hospitals that should no longer exist in communities that should no longer exist,” Miller said in an interview. Keeping those facilities open would cost $3.4 billion, or less than 1% of total annual spending on hospitals, said Miller, an adjunct public policy and management professor and former associate dean at Carnegie Mellon University.

Fifteen states have more than half of their rural hospitals at risk of closing because of persistent losses, including Texas and a large swath of the South and Midwest such as Kansas and Mississippi, the study shows. But rural hospitals in New York, Connecticut and Washington State are also in trouble.

More than 130 rural hospitals have closed in the last decade, according to the University of North Carolina’s Sheps Center, and they’re often the only option for health care in their communities.

Higher costs for labor and supplies and lower revenue have trounced hospitals as they shut down elective procedures to care for critically ill Covid-19 patients. Even with billions in federal money, operating margins at U.S. hospitals were negative 3.3% in January, health-care consultancy Kaufman Hall said, and that’s including the strongest operators. Meanwhile, they’re facing pending cuts in Medicare payments along with repayments of funds advanced earlier in the pandemic.

Sick and Struggling: States with highest percentage of hospitals at high risk of closing

What’s really hurting the smaller providers, Miller said, is a longstanding inability to negotiate the same rates as their larger counterparts for the roughly half of their patients who have private insurance. Bigger facilities rely on higher payments from private insurers to offset lower reimbursements from Medicare and Medicaid. On top of that, the sparser populations mean costs per patient are higher so the hospitals can’t always count on a flow of patients to finance essential services like emergency care.

“The problem is, they don’t get paid if you don’t go,” Miller said. This means that state and local governments — and their taxpayers — pick up more of the tab, he said. His research shows margins declining with hospital size.

A representative for health-insurance trade group AHIP didn’t provide an immediate comment.

Emergency Rooms

Some rural hospitals do get federal reimbursements that cover their costs, and a new program that takes effect next year will increase payments to qualifying facilities that eliminate in-patient beds, which often sit empty. But Miller said most of the hospitals aren’t losing money on in-patient services, but rather on their emergency rooms and clinics.

Increasing payments can help, but the system also needs more coordinated planning to ensure all communities have care, said Kenneth Kaufman, Kaufman Hall’s chair. “We have a reimbursement problem of course, but we also have a structural problem,” he said in an interview. “There’s just not enough patients to sustain a lot of these hospitals.”

A handful of states like California are experimenting with different methods of financing struggling hospitals, Kaufman said. “There’s nothing likely to get done at the federal level.”

The hospital study examined finances over a three-year period using publicly available data and didn’t rely on commercial funding, according to Miller.  Miller suggests that insurers fund rural hospitals through monthly payments in addition to reimbursement for services in a manner similar to other public services. “We don’t pay the fire department based on the fire,” he said.

India To Get WHO Global Center For Traditional Medicine

The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday approved the establishment of the WHO Global Centre for Traditional Medicine (WHO GCTM) in Jamnagar, Gujarat. This would be the first and only global outposted Centre (office) for traditional medicine across the globe.

The cabinet signed the Host Country agreement between the Central government and the World Health Organization (WHO) to approve the establishment of GCTM.

The WHO GCTM will be established in Jamnagar under the Ministry of AYUSH. A Joint Task Force (JTF) is constituted for coordination, execution and monitoring of activities for the establishment of this Centre.

JTF comprises representatives from the government of India, Permanent Mission of India, Geneva and the World Health Organization.

Under the ambit of this, an interim office is being established in Jamnagar to execute the identified technical activities and planning of fully functional WHO GCTM.

Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghbereyesus, WHO Director General, had announced the establishment of WHO GCTM in India on the occasion of 5th Ayurveda Day on November 13, 2020.

“WHO GCTM would emerge as a centre of global wellness, bolster evidence-based research, training and awareness for Traditional Medicine,” said Modi.

The WHO GCTM would provide leadership on all global health matters related to traditional medicine as well as extend support to member countries in shaping various policies related to traditional medicine research, practices and public health.

The Ministry of AYUSH has collaborated with WHO on many fronts including developing benchmarks documents on training and practice of Ayurveda and Unani System, introducing a second module in the Traditional Medicine Chapter of the International classification of Diseases-11, developing apps like M-yoga, supporting the work of International Pharmacopeia of Herbal Medicine (IPHM) and other research studies etc. (IANS)

Mississippi Chapter of AAPI Organizes Spring Blood Drive

“The Mississippi Chapter of American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI,) held its Spring Blood Donation Drive at Renaissance Colony Park in Ridgeland, MS on March 5th.  “The event was quite a success and donors included AAPI members and their supporters as well as medical students and members of the local community,” said Dr. Udaya Shivangi, President of AAPI Missisippi. “ AAPI Mississippi’s partnership with Mississippi Blood Services is one of the many ways we serve our local community and help,” she added.

Dr. Shivangi thanked her leadership , including Vice President, Dr. Indira Veerisetty; Secretary, Dr. Vani Vijayakumar; Treasurer, Dr. Leena Gupta and dozens of other volunteers who made the event very successful.

While expressing appreciation and gratitude to dozens of AAPI Chapters, including the Mississippi Chapter for regularly holding blood F donation drives across the nation, Dr. Anupama Gotimukula, President of AAPI said, “As we celebrate the 75thIndependence Day of India, the nation  has made us to be what we are today,  AAPI, the largest ethnic organization in the United States, representing nearly 100,000 physicians and Fellows of Indian origin in the United States, is proud to lead this unique and noble initiative ‘AAPI Blood Donation in 75 cities.”

A major initiative of Dr. Gotimukula-led Executive Team, the Blood Donation campaign  is in response to the national crisis for blood products  especially as the Covid Pandemic ravages the world.

“I want to thank the dozens of AAPI Chapters and in cities and towns across the United States, who have confirmed and have started planning to organize the event in several states,” said Meher Medavram, Chair of AAPI’s Blood Donation Initiative said. The launch event will be held in Chicago on August 7th, Dr. Medavaram announced.

Dr. Kusum Punjabi, the Chair of Board of Trustees of AAPI, serving patients in the Emergency Department, said “As the pandemic has exhausted all the resources, especially the lifesaving and much needed Blood across the nation and the world, AAPI is in the forefront, once again, spreading the message for the need to donate blood and save lives.”

Dr. Ravi Kolli, President-Elect of AAPI, a Board Certified Psychiatrist with additional qualifications in Addiction, Geriatric and Forensic Psychiatry, and serving as the Psychiatric Medical Director of Southwestern Pennsylvania Human Services, urged “potential blood donors to donate blood to help ensure lifesaving blood products are available for patients. Your donation is needed now to prevent delays in patient care. Help overcome the severe blood shortage!”

Dr. Anjana  Samadder, Vice President of AAPI, said, who herself has experienced the ordeal with Covid -19, and has come out stronger,  resilient and tenacious, quoting Red Cross said,

“Every two seconds someone in the U.S. needs blood. It is essential for surgeries, cancer treatment, chronic illnesses, and traumatic injuries. Whether a patient receives whole blood, red cells, platelets or plasma, this lifesaving care starts with one person making a generous donation.”

“With the ongoing pandemic, the United States and the world need the help of blood and platelet donors and blood drive hosts to meet the needs of patient care,” said Dr. Satheesh Kathula, Secretary of AAPI, a board certified hematologist and oncologist from Dayton, Ohio, practicing Medicine for nearly two decades. Dr. Kathula also said, “It is very difficult to find a matched stem cell donor for Southeast Asians should they need a bone marrow or stem cell transplant and this drive will help increase the number of potential donors.”

Dr. Krishan Kumar, a pediatric emergency medicine physician in East Meadow, New York and is affiliated with multiple hospitals in the area, quoting studies done on the need and usefulness of Blood said, “Blood donation helps save lives. In fact, every two seconds of every day, someone needs blood. Since blood cannot be manufactured outside the body and has a limited shelf life, the supply must constantly be replenished by generous blood donors.”

The growing influence of physicians of Indian heritage is evident, as increasingly physicians of Indian origin hold critical positions in the healthcare, academic, research and administrative positions across the nation. We the physicians of Indian origin are proud of our great achievements and contributions to our motherland, India, our adopted land, the US and in a very significant way to the transformation of the Indo-US relations.

Serving 1 in every 7 patients in the US, AAPI members care for millions of patients every day, while several of them have risen to hold high flying jobs, shaping the policies and programs and inventions that shape the landscape of healthcare in the US and around the  world.

“As we all know our blood banks are deprived of products and another wave of COVID is rapidly increasing,” Pointed out Dr. Gotimukula, who has vowed to make AAPI a premium  healthcare leader, primarily focusing to improve and reform the current healthcare system and help towards making a better healthcare model for the patients.

“It’s a humble and a noble initiative by AAPI to help save lives. Please let us know if you are interested to take the lead in your town and help in AAPI’s blood donation drive. Thank you and truly appreciate your support in helping our blood banks.”  For more details to organize Blood Donation Drive in your city/town/region, please contact: Vijaya Kodali, AAPI Office Manager at: [email protected]. For more details on AAPI

12th Annual Conference of Global Association of Physicians of Indian Origin Held

Leading experts and delegates from 53 countries took part in the recent 12th Annual Conference of physicians of Indian origin, GAPIO (Global Association of Physicians of Indian Origin).

The GAPIO Conference took place virtually Feb. 26-27, and fielded well-known speakers from United States, Canada, Australia, United Arab Emirates and India who covered different aspects during the sessions on Cardiac Sciences, Endocrinology, Gastroenterology, Neurology, Nephrology, Omicron (COVID-19)- Global Perspective, Interventional Radiology, Transplant, Orthopedics & Rheumatology, Integrative Medicine, Oncology, Paediatrics, Leadership Mantras, Capacity Building in Healthcare in India, Patient safety and Quality/Accreditation and Role of Allied Healthcare Professionals in Healthcare.

India’s Minister for Health & Family Welfare and Chemicals and Fertilizers, Mansukh Mandaviya, was the Chief Guest during the awards function which was held on Feb. 26. The awards were presented to young clinicians and presided over by Minister Mandaviya.

Dr. Prathap C. Reddy, founder and president of GAPIO, and chairman of Apollo Hospitals Group was the Guest of Honor. A non-profit organization, GAPIO is a leading association for the Indian medical diaspora and the annual conference has become an important event in the medical calendar for physicians and other medical personnel around the globe.

Dr. Reddy noted how COVID-19 had again shown the potential of Indian-origin physicians during a global health crisis. He also informed the gathering that during the pandemic, GAPIO held 23 sessions dealing with the pandemic during which “valuable lessons” were learned from leaders around the world facing the challenge of the coronavirus.

“The need for innovation and cross-systemic learning is more important than ever before.  Apart from the COVID-19 pandemic, India and the world at large are facing an epidemic of non-communicable diseases – NCDs like diabetes, heart disease and cancer. We seek involvement of everyone to overcome this biggest challenge to mankind posed by COVID-19 and NCDs,” Dr. Reddy said.

“The Indian diaspora has a wealth of talent. Experts based in more than 50 countries can contribute to enhancing the healthcare delivery in India as no matter where they work, they want to give back to their motherland. We hope to evolve a consensus on the contemporary health challenges through this conference,” said Dr. Anupam Sibal, president of GAPIO and Group Medical Director at Apollo Hospitals, Senior Consultant Pediatric Gastroenterologist and Hepatologist.

Highlighting the Congress’ relevance for Indian healthcare, Dr. Nandakumar Jairam, vice president of GAPIO said, “Research and innovation can improve the delivery of quality healthcare in India to the last mile. As the country braces to overcome its myriad health challenges, this conference will help identify methodologies most suitable to skill and scale the healthcare workforce in the country.”

Dr. Sudhir Parikh, secretary general of GAPIO and Chairman and Publisher of Parikh World Wide Media and ITV Gold 24×7 TV Channel in USA, said “Global health challenges need global solutions, and we believe through GAPIO we will evolve constructive and tangible ways of ensuring that healthcare becomes more accessible to all citizens.”

GAPIO was founded in 2011 by Padma Vibhushan recipient Dr. Prathap C Reddy, along with Dr. Sanku Rao, past-president of the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin, and Ramesh Mehta, president of  the British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin, BAPIO, UK. The goal of the organization is to bring together 1.4 million physicians of Indian origin in the world on one professional platform.

GAPIO Excellence Awards Presented At 12 Global Conference

During the two-day 12th Global Conference held on a digital platform Feb. 26 and 27, 2022, the Global Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (GAPIO) presented the annual GAPIO awards for 2021 to doctors who have made noteworthy contributions to improving healthcare.

The award winners in the Distinguished Category are:

  • GAPIO Lifetime Achievement Award – Jatin P Shah, Former Chairman, Head and Neck Service, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York
  • Prathap C Reddy Philanthropy Award – Dr. Srinivas Gosla Reddy, Plastic Surgeon, GSR Institute of Craniofacial Plastic Surgery, Hyderabad and Director, Hyderabad Cleft Society.
  • Dr I A Modi Award – Dr. Mahesh Kumar Goenka, Director & Head, Institute of Gastrosciences, Apollo Hospitals, Kolkata, President, Indian Society of Gastroenterology, 2022 -2023
  • GAPIO Surgical Excellence Award – Dr. A A Shetty, Emeritus Professor, Orthopaedics, Trauma and Regenerative Medicine Cell therapy, Christ Church University, UK
  • GAPIO Excellence in Diagnostics – Dr. Arvind Lal, Chairman, Dr Lal PathLabs Ltd, New Delhi, Managing Trustee, ALVL Foundation
  • GAPIO Excellence in Radiology/ Radiation Therapy Awards – Harsh Mahajan,  Founder & Chief Radiologist, Mahajan Imaging, Chairman, Department of Nuclear Medicine & PET-CT, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, New Delhi.

Each winner receives Rs. 100,000, a citation and a trophy.

GAPIO Special Appreciation Award – Dr. J. S. Tuteja, Pediatrician and Adolescent Health specialist, Indore, for his path breaking work in delivering Pediatric and Adolescent care.

The award winners in Young Category are:

  • Dr I A Modi Award – Dr. Harsh Vardhan, Assistant Professor, Nephrology, AIIMS, Patna.
  • GAPIO Surgical Excellence Award – Dr. Vishal Kumar, Associate Professor, Orthopedics, PGI, Chandigarh
  • GAPIO Excellence in Diagnostics – Dr. Swapnil Rane, Associate Professor, Tata Memorial Centre Advanced Centre for Treatment, Research and Education in Cancer, Mumbai.
  • GAPIO Excellence in Radiology/ Radiation Therapy Awards – Dr. Binit Sureka, Associate Professor, Interventional Radiology, AIIMS, Jodhpur.

Each winner receives Rs. 50,000, a citation and a trophy.

Mansukh Mandaviya, India’s Minister for Health & Family Welfare and Chemical and Fertilizers of India Government of India, was the Chief Guest and Dr. Prathap C Reddy, founder President of GAPIO and Chairman Apollo Hospitals Group was the Guest of Honor.

Dr. Anupam Sibal, President of GAPIO and Group Medical Director, Apollo Hospitals Group and Senior Consultant Pediatric Gastroenterologist and Hepatologist said, “The awardees through their immense contribution in clinical care, academics, research in different medical and surgical specialities exemplify the highest standards that Indian physicians have become synonyms with.”

Remarking on the young physicians category, Dr. Nandakumar Jairam, Vice President GAPIO said, “The awardees in the Young category represent the aspirations of the Young Indian Physician who is willing to take on challenges to improve delivery of care, while excelling in academics and research.”

 Dr. Sudhir Parikh, Secretary General of GAPIO and Chairman and Publisher of Parikh World Wide Media and ITV Gold 24×7 TV Channel in USA said, “With a presence in 53 countries, GAPIO serves to establish collaborations, bringing 1.4 million physicians of Indian origin on one platform. In the coming year our activities will be enhanced to build a stronger well connected physician community.

Dr. Prathap C Reddy, Founder President of GAPIO and Chairman Apollo Hospitals Group said, “The exemplary work by the awardees is an inspiration for others to emulate. The spirit of  the physicians of Indian origin to excel in India and overseas is what we hope to recognize. There are countless examples of path breaking work across the globe that would make every Indian proud”.

U.S. Surgeon General Investigates Covid-19 Misinformation Dr. Vivek Murthy Says It’s ‘About Protecting The Nation’s Health’

An investigation into health misinformation on COVID-19 has been launched by U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy. “Misinformation has had a profound impact on COVID-19 and our response,” Murthy told CNN. “Studies have demonstrated that the vast majority of the American public either believes common myths about COVID-19 or thinks those myths might be true. And many of those include myths around the COVID-19 vaccine, so we’ve seen firsthand how misinformation is harming people’s health when it comes to COVID.”

Murthy has requested input and data from tech companies, health care providers and community organizations to learn more about the scope and impact of misinformation on COVID-19.

This is the first time the Biden administration has asked tech companies to divulge certain data publicly, including major sources of misinformation, its extent, and who may have been more targeted, CNN reported.

“We’ll be looking forward to whatever information they have to share. We’re certainly approaching this with an open mind,” Murthy said. “Many of the new technology platforms have also been talking about solutions that they are trying to implement, but what we want to understand is what data do they have on whether these solutions are actually working or not.”

Equally important is input from health care workers, teachers and families on coping with misinformation, he said.

Health misinformation is making the jobs of health care workers much harder at a time where our health care work force is strained,” Murthy told CNN. “I hear from health care workers that they are battling COVID in the hospitals during the day, and they’re going home and battling health misinformation at night.”

Dr. Gerald Harmon, president of the American Medical Association (AMA), released a statement applauding the Surgeon General’s effort to root out COVID-19 misinformation online.

“The AMA has called out the junk science and misinformation about this virus that have proliferated on social media and sewn distrust in medicine, cost us lives, and driven families apart,” Harmon said.

“Collecting and understanding this data is critical to reversing its deadly impact and future spread,” Harmon added.

The surgeon general, Dr. Vivek Murthy, wants to know “exactly how many users saw or may have been exposed to instances of Covid-19 misinformation.” In his notice, he also asked for aggregate data on demographic groups that may have been disproportionately affected by the misinformation, the New York Times reported.

With a deadline of May 2, Murthy also demanded the Big Tech companies provide information about the major sources of COVID-19 “misinformation,” including those selling “unproven” products, services and treatments.

“Technology companies now have the opportunity to be open and transparent with the American people about the misinformation on their platforms,” Murthy said in an emailed statement to the Times.

“This is about protecting the nation’s health.”

The Times noted that denying a request for information “does not carry a penalty, but the notice represents the first formal request from the Biden administration of the tech companies to submit Covid-19 misinformation data, according to the surgeon general’s office.”

The White House has stepped into the controversy over top-rated podcaster Joe Rogan’s interviews with prominent medical scientists Dr. Robert Malone and Dr. Peter McCullough, essentially calling for censorship. Press secretary Jan Psaki has declared that flagging “misinformation” contrary to the government’s narrative is not enough, and social media platforms must do more.

In an interview with MSNBC in January, Murthy said the social media “platforms still have not stepped up to do the right thing, and do enough, I should say, to reduce the spread of misinformation.”

Six months ago, Murthy issued a first formal advisory accusing Big Tech of failing to do its public duty, calling misinformation “an urgent threat to public health.”

In February, as WND reported, the Department of Homeland Security issued a bulletin naming “proliferation of false or misleading narratives” regarding COVID-19 and the 2020 election as among the top terror threats. The National Terrorism Advisory System Bulletin warned of a heightened threat of terror due in part to “an online environment filled with false or misleading narratives and conspiracy theories, and other forms of mis- dis- and mal-information (MDM) introduced and/or amplified by foreign and domestic threat actors.”

When ‘misinformation’ becomes consensus

The Times on Thursday reported Murthy’s request for information is part of Biden’s Covid National Preparedness Plan, which the White House detailed on Wednesday after the State of the Union address.

Murthy also is seeking information from health care providers and the public on how COVID-19 “misinformation” has influenced patients and communities.

“We’re asking anyone with relevant insights — from original research and datasets, to personal stories that speak to the role of misinformation in public health — to share them with us,” he said.

The charge of spreading “misinformation,” however, has come as top health officials and scientists walk back their stances on masks, lockdowns, vaccines and other efforts to combat COVID-19, confirming the claims of esteemed scientists they have dismissed as “fringe” and conspiracy theorists.”

AAPI’s Covid Relief Efforts In India Continue

The deadly Corona virus has claimed millions of lives and it has placed the entire healthcare sector both in India and the United States under tremendous stress. While the Indian American medical fraternity has been at the front lines of the fight against the pandemic, the American Association of Physicians of Indian origin (AAPI), the largest ethnic medical organization in the USA representing the interest of more than 100,000 physicians in the USA, has been in the forefront to help India, their motherland deal with the crisis of India.

Under the able leadership of Dr. Anupama Gotimukula, President of AAPI, and Dr. Sujeeth R. Punnam, Chair, COVID Relief Committee, AAPI has carried out several initiatives to help India cope with the unprecedented impact of the deadly virus. Other members of this important committee include: Dr. Ravi Kolli, President-Elect, AAPI;  Dr. Satheesh Kathula, Secretary, AAPI; Dr. Tarak Vasavada, MD, Member, AAPI BOT: and, Dr.  Himansh Pandya.

“The generosity of the members of AAPI has been unprecedented,” says Dr. Anupama Gotimukula, President of AAPI. “I want to thank the AAPI fraternity, for not only contributing $5.5 Million towards Covid Relief Funds for India, but has spent hundreds of hours in coordinating and disbursing the vital medical supplies to the most needed hospitals across India.”

“Thanks to the overwhelming support of its members that AAPI has raised almost $5 million in the past few months,” said Dr. Ravi Kolli, President-Elect of AAPI said.  “We have been working very hard in sending oxygen concentrators and ventilators to India, to deal with the calamity in India and are in the process of helping to set up oxygen generator plants in different hospitals in India,” added, Dr. Ravi Kolli.

Dr. Sujeeth Punnam, AAPI’s Regionals Director and Chair of the Covid Relief Committee, said, “Thus far, AAPI has provided 3,200 Concentrators, 100 Ventilators and 100 High Flow Nasal Canula Machines To 45 Hospitals In India as part of the Covid Pandemic Relief Efforts.”

Even as the pandemic is waning in many parts of the world, AAPI has been collaborating with several agencies and the government of India to help reach the much needed care and supplies to the remotest places in India.  Dr. Satheesh Kathula, Secretary of AAPI said, “AAPI has been coordinating several efforts, including the provision of oxygen plants and necessary lab equipment. Thanks to the overwhelming support of its members that AAPI has raised over $5.5 million.” “The outbreak of Covid 19 has caused significant health-related social, political and economic consequences worldwide. AAPI executive committee, board of trustees and members have been working very hard in sending medical equipment to India,” Dr. Kathula pointed out.

“We continue to coordinate efforts to make available the much needed vaccines in the Slum areas in major cities where compliance is very low and apart from life-saving equipment for severe Covid patients management in ICUs,” said Dr. Tarak Vasavada, who has been in the forefront leading AAPI’s efforts to help India during the Covid.

“As AAPI cannot direct its resources to specific areas and relies on the government of India to distribute its supplies, AAPI has been working outside of the umbrella of AAPI for direct transfer of the essential material, focusing mainly on the peripheral hospitals who do not get aid readily” , added. Dr. Himanshu Pandya.

In continuation of its efforts, during the recently concluded Global Healthcare Summit in Hyderabad, on January 7th this year, AAPI donated immunoanalyzer at AIIMS, Bibinagar, Telangana, which does hundreds of tests every day. This is part of Covid relief efforts AAPI has taken over during the second wave of pandemic.

Dr. Anupama Gotimukula, president of AAPI along with Dr. Satheesh Kathula, AAPI secretary, and Dr. Sujeeth Punnam, Chair, Covid relief committee participated in the inauguration of biochemistry lab/Immunoanalyzer at AIIMS, Bibinagar, Hyderabad. Later on they planted trees in AIIMS Vatika, Bibinagar and named one of them “AAPI”.

AAPI has been collaborating with Sai Sanjeevani Hospitals, while the cost of the oxygen plants were shared equally by AAPI and Rotary International. Chemiluminescence Immunoanalyzers (CLIA), Beckman Coulter UniCel Dxl 800 access Immunoassay system. This equipment has a throughput of 200 tests/hour and will make point of care testing like covid antibody tests, Ferritin, D Dimer, troponin, IL6, procalcitonin, CRP etc. easy. Each of these costs around $80,000.

Some of the other major institutes that benefitted from AAPI’s contributions included:  Stanley Medical College Hospital, Chennai, Tamilnadu, where the inauguration was done virtually by the AAPI team and in person by Health Minister of Tamilnadu; Sadbhavana Trust Hospital, a non-profit organization in South Gujarat and treats completely rural population; and Shrimad Rajchandra Hospital, a non profit organization serving rural Gujarat area of Dharampur is building a 250 bed hospital and AAPI is contributing $100,000 towards central monitoring equipment for the ICU.

“AAPI has sent more than 2300 oxygen concentrators, 100 ventilators, 200 high flow oxygen devices since 2021 to various parts of India. We are working to help AIIMS across the country which have been opened recently that haven’t secured the full funding yet from the government. After our initial donation to AIIMS, Bibinagar, Telangana AAPI is planning to donate immunoanlysers to all AIIMS across the country. As you may remember, AAPI had donated ventilators and high flow oxygen equipment to AIIMS in the past,” Dr. Satheesh Kathula, Clinical Professor of Medicine and AAPI Secretary said.

“As you may know, with a wonderful support by members and non-members, AAPI has raised $5,500,000 in the year 2021 for covid relief activity. Since that time the Covid Relief Committee has been working relentlessly to help the motherland. The committee has a strict criteria to send the equipment only to non profit or charity hospitals after careful reviewing. AAPI has donated oxygen plants, immunoassay analyzers to numerous hospitals. The work is still on going,” added Dr. Punnam.

“The past year, while posing major challenges have also provided opportunities for AAPI to continue to work together in helping realize the mission of AAPI,” said Dr. Gotimukula. “We are proud that several Indian American physicians are recognized globally for their contributions to combat the deadly pandemic. AAPI will continue our efforts and give our best to our Motherland in the fight against the deadly pandemic.” For more information on AAPI, please visit: www.aapiusa.org

Omicron Wave Declines, Giving Hope For A World Longing To Be Free Of Pandemic

The U.S. has experienced a brutal winter wave of COVID-19, driven by the highly transmissible Omicron variant. Daily deaths are higher today than they were during the peak of last fall’s Delta wave, and have plateaued at about 2,500 per day. Many hospitals are still under huge strain and are postponing elective surgeries to free up beds for patients with COVID-19. Daily cases have been higher than during the Delta surge, despite multiple eager predictions in the past that we had reached herd immunity and that the pandemic was over.

Nevertheless, there are promising signs that we are turning a corner. New daily cases are falling rapidly—they are down by over 75% from the peak of the Omicron wave. Hospitalizations are also falling. While we are not out in the clear yet, especially in poorly vaccinated regions of the U.S., the sharp downturn in cases is cause for optimism.

The fall in cases is also an opportunity for fundamental preparation, given the high chance of a future wave. To prevent being overwhelmed again, we should be proactive now in putting a preparedness system in place.

Instead, in the face of these receding cases, some pundits are calling for an end to pandemic control measures, such as indoor masking and testing of people with no symptoms. And several states have rolled back mask mandates, even though indoor masks mandates remain popular in public polling (the Biden Administration is being more cautious about easing masking). We fully understand the frustration and impatience behind these calls. Pandemic fatigue is real. Yet this yearning for ‘normal’ ignores the reality that our society before COVID-19 was anything but normal. If it had been, we may not have suffered as devastating a pandemic as we have. Instead it was those very conditions that allowed for terrible inequities and outsized impacts on America’s poor, which still continue today.

We are concerned that the Biden Administration is not taking preparedness seriously enough. It was a welcome step to see the Administration making 400 million N95 masks available for free at pharmacies and community health centers, and we are delighted that Americans can now go online and order four free rapid tests per household. But four rapid tests and a mask will not be enough to end the pandemic. These measures are not commensurate with the size of the problem, and they must be coupled with actual public health strategies for effective roll-out and sustained uptake.

Perhaps the biggest problem is that there is still a huge amount of viral transmission, with around 175,000 new daily cases. Less than two thirds of Americans are fully vaccinated—defined as two doses of Pfizer or Moderna or one dose of Johnson & Johnson—which does not provide as much protection as it did before Omicron. Only a quarter of Americans have received a booster dose, which provides the highest level of protection against infection, hospitalization, and death. There are ongoing inequities in vaccination, including racial inequities, with Black and Hispanic populations being vaccinated at a lower rate compared to white populations. Only 24% of children aged 5-11 and 57% of those aged 12-17 are fully vaccinated. Hospitalizations among the under 5 hit record levels during the Omicron surge, yet vaccines are not yet licensed for this age group.

There is also what the New York Times calls a “pandemic of the forgotten.” Around 7 million Americans have weakened immune systems from transplants, cancer treatment, rheumatoid arthritis medications, or other medical conditions, and they could get very ill if they get COVID-19. Yet this push toward returning to normal seems to matter-of-factly ignore them. And, there is the growing number of people who are suffering from long-term morbidity after surviving infection—the condition now known as Long Covid—which we are only just beginning to understand.

One recurring problem when it comes to pandemics is that we suffer from short term memory. We cross our fingers and hope that this wave is the last. Many of us were surprised when Vice President Kamala Harris said that the Biden Administration “didn’t see Delta coming….didn’t see Omicron coming.” That’s absurd. Viral mutations were entirely expected. There is a serious risk of further variants arising, especially with inequitable and low vaccination coverage in much of the world due to supply hoarding. Distributing a few rapid tests and masks and hoping that this wave disappears and will be the end of the U.S. pandemic is not a sound approach.

Even with the current variants in circulation, we could see further waves, such as was seen in the South in past summers, especially in poorly vaccinated states, and as people move indoors to escape the heat and humidity. We could similarly see future winter waves as we have witnessed in the northeast. With cases of Omicron receding, now is the time to put in place a proper infrastructure, resilient enough to handle further surges. Instead of declaring “mission accomplished,” we must declare a considerable effort toward true preparedness.

In addition to driving up vaccination coverage, what would true preparedness look like?

Instead of a one-off distribution of N95 masks, the government should replenish the stockpile enough to deploy them again in the face of future outbreaks. These should be ubiquitously available, and in different shapes and sizes, placed outside any high-risk venues including public transport or crowded indoor sites of congregation (grocery stores, malls, retail, movie theaters, gyms, offices) during surges.

Serial rapid tests are needed, and they need to reach those unable to order them online. A single test is a snapshot in time—so after a known exposure, having enough tests for daily testing prior to leaving the home is what would actually be needed for 5 to 7 days. Rapid tests identify contagious people before they get symptoms, allowing people to avoid spreading the infection, thus breaking the cycles of transmission. One of us presented similar arguments for both Ebola and Zika in the past. Such rapid tests for SARS-CoV-2 can help keep schools and workplaces open, and they can protect vulnerable people in nursing homes, jails, prisons, and other high-risk congregate settings. High quality masks and rapid tests are particularly critical for protecting front line workers.

With the arrival of new antiviral drugs, such as Paxlovid, and data showing early antiviral use with Remdesivir is more effective, universal access to free tests has become even more urgent. These medicines can reduce your chances of being hospitalized or dying if they are taken soon enough after symptoms begin, but this requires access to testing for early enough diagnosis. Greater access to testing needs to be combined with fair and equitable access to these medications—especially for communities that traditionally have low access to care.

A joined-up preparedness plan would also include paid sick leave. During the 2009 swine flu pandemic, an estimated 3 in 10 people with symptoms in the U.S. went to work, infecting up to 7 million others. The U.S. is the only high-income nation without mandatory federal sick pay, and this will continue to be a huge barrier to controlling COVID-19.

Another way to curb transmission of SARS-CoV-2 is to improve ventilation and air filtration in all buildings, including schools. Congress has allocated up to $170 billion for school infrastructure improvements, including improving air quality. Unfortunately, too much of this money has been left on the table. In some cases, as Joseph Allen and Celine Gounder note, some schools are “already under attack by parents who are opposed to other pandemic-related public health measures, like masking.” Other school districts lack the know-how to make the upgrades—they need better guidance and standards. Some schools say they struggle to pay for upgraded ventilation systems even with federal aid.

Instead of being caught flat-footed by the next wave or variant, we need more comprehensive data and surveillance systems, including wastewater sampling, as well genomic surveillance to identify and track new variants. With better data, we can know when to titrate public health protections up and down. As Megan Ranney, professor of emergency medicine and academic dean of public health at Brown University says, we need “investments in better data systems, now, to signal when a surge is on its way and to provide clear metrics of when to increase protections (like masks)—and clear lines about when these protections can be relaxed.”

With so many people worldwide still unvaccinated, and many Americans without boosters, we should prepare ourselves for future pandemic ebbs and flows. To end the pandemic, the U.S. should do much more to boost global vaccine access including donating several-fold more doses, sharing vaccine technology more urgently, and funding massive global production. Domestically, an important guiding principle is that our policies should be driven by data and not dates—for example, we believe it is better to base the end of mask mandates on metrics such as vaccination coverage, hospitalization rates, and ICU capacity rather than picking an arbitrary end date. Unlike the start of the pandemic, we now have a remarkable array of science-based tools that can turn COVID-19 into something akin to a cold or flu, but to get there we’ll need higher vaccination rates, better data and surveillance systems, data-driven policies on masks and rapid tests, improved ventilation in shared public spaces, and a more resilient preparedness system.

Dr. Vivek Murthy And His Family Diagnosed With COVID

U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy announced last week that he and the rest of his immediate family have tested positive for COVID-19. In a tweet shared Friday, the nation’s top doctor said he, his wife and his 5-year-old son all tested positive for the virus. His 4-year-old daughter, who first tested positive for the virus last weekend, is doing “ok” — saying she’s still congested and is hoarse from coughing.

Murthy says he and his wife Alice have mild symptoms, experiencing muscle aches, chills, and sore throat. His son has a runny nose and low-grade fever, but says is otherwise fine.

“Whether you’ve had COVID or not, whatever your beliefs may be, I wish for you the love of family & friends,” Murthy said in his tweet. “I know it feels like we’re in endless conflict. But we are brothers and sisters first with common hopes and common concerns. May we all find healing in the days ahead.”

“She’s doing OK. She’s congested, she’s having intermittent fevers still, and she’s telling us her throat is hurting her a lot,” he told NPR on Wednesday. “But thankfully, she’s breathing OK and she’s still smiling often, which makes us happy as her parents.”

Murthy’s daughter is four years old and not yet eligible for a vaccine. When he first revealed the news on Twitter on Tuesday, he wrote that while he wished a vaccine was available for kids under five, more data was still needed from clinical trials for that to happen.

Murthy spoke with All Things Considered about vaccines, parenting during the pandemic, and whether this experience had made him rethink how he talked to parents of young children in his role as surgeon general.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Interview highlights

On what went through his mind when he saw the positive test

I’ve been certainly thinking about COVID and talking to people about COVID for the better part of two years, even before I was surgeon general. But when it hits home, it always feels a bit different.

I just had this sinking feeling, thinking, ‘Oh my gosh, she’s four years old, she’s not vaccinated because there is no vaccine available for her age group.’ And as a parent, my questions were: Is she going to be OK? Could I have done something else to have prevented her from getting sick?

We have her wearing a mask in school, we take as many precautions as we can, but you know, my wife and I did feel some guilt, wondering if we maybe did something wrong that may have created more exposure for her. So that’s what was going through our heads.

On whether he feels frustration at how hard it is, even as the surgeon general, to keep very young kids who still cannot be vaccinated safe

In that moment, especially, but even in the many months prior to that, I had wished that we had a vaccine for kids under five. Thankfully, we’ve got a vaccine for children five and up, and for all adults. These under kids under five, like my daughter, are the ones who still don’t have that protection. I wish we had that. But I also know that we need to make sure we have good data and that data is thoroughly assessed by the FDA.

I do think they’re moving as quickly as they possibly can. They, in fact, took this step which is unusual of proactively asking [Pfizer-BioNTech] to look at the data for two shots, even though there’s a trial ongoing for three shots, because they wanted to know if there’s even a chance that the two shots had a good result for kids. They wanted to make that vaccine available as soon as possible. But the data wasn’t good enough to meet their threshold, which is why they now need to wait for three doses.

So they’re being proactive, like you’ve got to do during a pandemic. But the most important thing is we’ve got to make sure that vaccine is safe and effective, and they won’t compromise on that standard.

On whether this has made him rethink how he is talking to other parents of young children in his role as surgeon general

This emphasizes to me just how important the job of parenting is and how hard it’s been during this pandemic. It’s not like parenting was a walk in the park prior to the pandemic, but parents have just really had an incredibly difficult time during these last two years. And even though, you know, I’m the one whose daughter got sick on Sunday, there are millions of parents who have gone through this exact experience and had to navigate these issues, make decisions with limited information.

My hope is coming out of this that we can also do more as a society to support parents. You know, I can work from home, for example, my wife has a flexible work situation, but many parents don’t. And more broadly, I just hope we can recognize that while parenting may not generate a paycheck, it is incredibly important work and it’s hard for me to think of a job that’s more important than raising the next generation.

Dr. Peter Jay Hotez, Scientist, Researcher, Author, & Science Explainer To Deliver Keynote Address During AAPI’s 40th Convention In San Antonio, TX

“We are excited and honored to have Dr. Peter J. Hotez, an internationally-recognized physician-scientist in tropical diseases and vaccine development will deliver the keynote address during the 40th American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) Annual Convention and Scientific Sessions planned to be held from June 23-26, 2022 in the beautiful city of San Antonio, Texas,” Dr. Anupama Gotimukula, President of AAPI announced here today.

Millions of doses of a new, cheap coronavirus vaccine will soon be available in India, thanks to the efforts and generosity of Dr. Hotez, Dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine and Professor of Pediatrics and Molecular Virology & Microbiology at Baylor College of Medicine, where he is also the Co-director of the Texas Children’s Center for Vaccine Development (CVD) and Texas Children’s Hospital Endowed Chair of Tropical Pedi, and his team of researchers, who have made the new CORBEVAX inoculation, which was developed in Texas with decades-old technology and little support from the U.S. government, received emergency use authorization last month from India’s drug regulation agency.

Unlike other vaccines in the market, Dr. Hotez and his team “don’t own any intellectual property.” While describing it the “World’s Coronavirus Vaccine” Dr. Hotez and colleagues say CORBEVAX is cheap and stable and could be relatively easy to scale — will be key to addressing global equity gaps. “That’s all we know how to do is make durable, low-cost vaccines for global health,” Hotez said.

“The presence of Dr. Hotez, a University Professor at Baylor University, Fellow in Disease and Poverty at the James A Baker III Institute for Public Policy,  Senior Fellow at the Scowcroft Institute of International Affairs at Texas A&M University, Faculty Fellow with the Hagler Institute for Advanced Studies at Texas A&M University, and Health Policy Scholar in the Baylor Center for Medical Ethics and Health Policy, and a True Friend of India at the AAPI Convention is a way for us, Physicians of Indian Origin to honor a legendary and celebrated champion of vaccines, who has developed vaccines for tropical diseases that afflict the world’s poorest people as he has devoted his skills, knowledge and experiences to help the world defeat COVID-19,” said Dr. Jayesh Shah, past President of AAPI and Chair of AAPI Convention 2022.

“AAPI is planning a historic convention in San Antonio to celebrate 40 years of AAPI that coincides with 75 years of India’s Independence. Excellent sessions and programs are planned!,” said Venky Adivi, Chief Executive Officer of the Convention.

“Our physician members have worked very hard during the Covid 19 pandemic, and the 2022 convention is a perfect time to heal the healers with a special focus on wellness,” said Dr. Vijay Kolli, Advisor for the Convention. Accordingly, “some of the major themes at the convention include: Yoga and Meditation practices, Welcome kit with books & self-care supplies, A Personal Reflexology Session, Take home wellness routine, Ailment based yoga therapy sessions, Workshop on Spiritual well-being, Book talk with Yoga Gurus, including on the science of Yoga & Lifestyle medicine, as well as a unique opportunity to visit first of its kind in San Antonio, Aum Ashram as part of the Wellness session,” said Dr. Rajam Ramamurthy, Advisor for the Convention.

Dr. Aruna Venkatesh, Convention Treasurer pointed out: “In addition to colorful entertainment, exquisite authentic Indian cuisine, esteemed yoga gurus and experts, who are planned to share their wisdom and leading the Wellness Sessions include: Paramaguru R. Sharath Jois, Sadhvi Bhagawati, Saraswati Eddie Stern,  Dr. Sat Bir Khalsa, Dr. Dilip Sarkar, Dr. Pankaj Vij, and  Dr. Param Dedhia.”

Dr. Hotez has authored more than 600 original papers and is the author of five single-author books, and has served previously as President of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. In 2011, he was awarded the Abraham Horwitz Award for Excellence in Leadership in Inter-American Health by the Pan American Health Organization of the WHO.  In 2017, he was named by FORTUNE Magazine as one of the 34 most influential people in health care, while in 2018 he received the Sustained Leadership Award from Research! America.   In 2019 he received the Ronald McDonald House Charities Award for Medical Excellence.

An ardent champion of vaccines going up against a growing national “antivax” threat, in 2019, he received the Award for Leadership in Advocacy for Vaccines from the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene.  In 2021 he was recognized by scientific leadership awards from the AAMC and the AMA. Dr. Hotez appears frequently on television (including BBC, CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC), radio, and in newspaper interviews, including the New York Times, USA Today, Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal.

The American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin Convention offers an exciting venue to interact with leading physicians, health professionals, academicians, and scientists of Indian origin. The physicians and healthcare professionals from across the country will convene and participate in the scholarly exchange of medical advances, to develop health policy agendas, and to encourage legislative priorities in the coming year.

Planned to have a limited number of attendance due to the ongoing Covid pandemic and taking into account the safety of the participants, including Physicians, Academicians, Researchers, and Medical students, “The annual convention offers extensive academic presentations, recognition of achievements and achievers, and professional networking at the alumni and evening social events,” Dr. Gotimukula added.   For more information, please visit: www.aapiconvention.org  and www.aapiusa.org

Covid Has Claimed 900,000 American Lives

The U.S. has crossed yet another tragic landmark in the battle against COVID-19. On Friday, the country surpassed 900,000 deaths from the disease, two years after the first COVID-19 cluster was reported in Wuhan, China. Public health experts say coming close to the 1 million death mark from the coronavirus is “inevitable.”

“It’s absolutely staggering,” said Jennifer Nuzzo, an epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins University, which has tracked the number of COVID-19 deaths during the pandemic. “It’s unreal, frankly. And what makes it an even … greater heartbreak — as if the loss of 900,000 souls weren’t enough of a heartbreak — is the fact that it’s probably an undercount of the number of people that we’ve lost.”

University of Texas at Austin professor and epidemiologist Lauren Ancel Meyers said the “horrible milestone” didn’t have to happen.

\”It was not inevitable. There are things that we could have done and should have done … to protect those who were most vulnerable,” she said. “It’s a very sad day.”

President Joe Biden marked the “tragic milestone,” recognizing the “emotional, physical and psychological weight of this pandemic” and urged Americans to do their part.

I urge all Americans: get vaccinated, get your kids vaccinated, and get your booster shot if you are eligible,” Biden said in a statement. “It’s free, easy, and effective — and it can save your life, and the lives of those you love.”

Daily deaths remain high even as overall case numbers dip

The rolling seven-day average for daily COVID-19 deaths has been above 2,000 since Jan. 23, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s nearly three times higher than in November, when the agency was reporting a seven-day average of 700 daily deaths.

Vaccines are preventing most severe disease and death

As COVID-19 vaccines have become widely available for Americans, the number of those who have received at least one dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccine continues to increase.

However, the percentage of fully vaccinated Americans is still relatively low at approximately 64%. Amid the most recent surge of the now dominant omicron variant, unvaccinated people were 97 times more likely to die compared with those who were boosted, according to data cited this week by CDC Director Rochelle Walensky.

Public health experts note that broader vaccination and boosting would have reduced the number of deaths. “We would have at least 300,000 fewer deaths. Probably more … than that,” if the early pace of vaccination had been sustained, said Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health. “But at least 300,000 Americans who have perished would still be with us. It’s tragic.” According to the latest CDC data, 42% of eligible Americans have received a booster.

Experts Open The Door To Lifting Last Mask Mandates

As the spike in coronavirus cases caused by the omicron variant wanes, some experts say it is time to start lifting more restrictions, setting up a heated debate, particularly over mask mandates in schools.

People are exhausted with the pandemic after roughly two years, and health advocates warn that pandemic rules cannot last forever.

“We cannot remain in a perpetual state of emergency,” said Leana Wen, a public health professor at George Washington University. “People burn out.”

Many aspects of life have already returned to something like normal. Bars and restaurants are open and packed across the country, and countless travel restrictions have been lifted.

But some locations, including New York and Washington, D.C., still have mask mandates for the general public, and in schools, mask requirements are more common.

Vaccinations remain as the key source of protection. People who are vaccinated and boosted have strong protection against severe disease, even if there is still a chance they get mild illness.

Wen noted that school-age children 5 and up can now all be vaccinated.

And Pfizer last week began the application for its COVID-19 vaccine for children as young as six months.

Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, said that restrictions in general should be lifted as cases come down, but not just yet, given that cases are still high.

“I’ve been saying for weeks that as cases recede we can soon relax public health restrictions,” Jha tweeted. “I think of this like the weather. When it is bucketing rain umbrella, rain coat, boots, are all essential. When the storm turns into a drizzle, those become less critical.”

The possibility of a future variant that has greater ability to evade the vaccines’ protection, or that causes more severe disease, leads some experts to call for loosening restrictions during the coming lull to give people a respite in case they need to return later.

“If we don’t take the off-ramps, nobody will listen when we need to have an on-ramp,” tweeted Jeremy Faust, a professor at Harvard Medical School.

Cases in the U.S. have fallen significantly from the peak during the omicron wave in mid-January, from approximately 800,000 new cases per day to about 350,000 per day, which is still quite high. More experts are putting a focus on hospitalizations, which have now peaked nationally, though again are still at the high level of around 123,000 a day, according to a New York Times tracker.

Asked about people returning to more normal activities, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Rochelle Walensky on Wednesday cautioned that hospitalizations “are still quite high and [we are] certainly having hospital capacity challenges in many parts of the country still.”

“We really do have to look to our hospitalization rates and our death rates to look to when it is time to lift some of these mitigation efforts,” she said. “We will continue to reevaluate, and we know people are anxious.”

The matter of lifting restrictions has received a new burst of political attention as Republicans push to scale back measures such as mask mandates.

Virginia’s new Republican governor, Glenn Youngkin, has drawn controversy and an American Civil Liberties Union-backed lawsuit from parents over an order making masks optional in schools in the state.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) more broadly said Wednesday that “it is time for the state of emergency to wind down.”

On the Democratic side, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock this week lifted the city’s mask mandate and proof of vaccination requirement for businesses.

“This virus is something we’re going to have to manage and learn to live with,” Hancock said.

A Monmouth University poll this week found that a large majority of Americans, 70 percent, agreed that “it’s time we accept that Covid is here to stay and we just need to get on with our lives.”

Republicans continue to fight hard against President Biden’s vaccine mandates, which many public health experts have praised as a crucial way to get more people vaccinated and help return to normal.

Advocates have also been pushing the Biden administration and Congress for more funding for global vaccination efforts, which can help prevent new variants from emerging.

Some experts are pushing back against the calls for returning to normal, pointing to more vulnerable people.

“The great, white middle — stretching right and left across the political spectrum and the op-ed pages of the Times — is ready to move on,” Gregg Gonsalves, a professor at the Yale School of Public Health, wrote in The Nation. “The thing is: Those left behind don’t have the choices or the resources that those with privilege do, whether they are poor, living with disabilities or chronic medical conditions — or just too old to matter.”

Wen, a former health commissioner for the city of Baltimore, said the CDC should at least set new benchmarks for under what circumstances masks would no longer be needed.

“It’s precisely because of the threat of future variants that we need to let up on restrictions now,” she said. “I’m not trying to sound the all-clear at all … I’m saying we need to take advantage of the lull that we have coming up.”

Strained US Hospitals Seek Foreign Nurses Amid Visa Windfall

With American hospitals facing a dire shortage of nurses amid a slogging pandemic, many are looking abroad for health care workers. And it could be just in time.

There’s an unusually high number of green cards available this year for foreign professionals, including nurses, who want to move to the United States — twice as many as just a few years ago. That’s because U.S. consulates shut down during the coronavirus pandemic weren’t issuing visas to relatives of American citizens, and, by law, these unused slots now get transferred to eligible workers.

Amy L. Erlbacher-Anderson, an immigration attorney in Omaha, Nebraska, said she has seen more demand for foreign nurses in two years than the rest of her 18-year career. And this year, she said, it’s more likely they’ll get approved to come, so long as U.S. consular offices can process all the applications.

“We have double the number of visas we’ve had available for decades,” she said. “That is kind of temporarily creating a very open situation.”

U.S. hospitals are struggling with a shortage of nurses that worsened as pandemic burnout led many to retire or leave their jobs. Meanwhile, coronavirus cases continue to rise and fall, placing tremendous pressure on the health care system. In California alone, there’s an estimated gap of 40,000 nurses, or 14% of the workforce, according to a recent report by the University of California, San Francisco.

Hospitals are filling the gap by hiring traveling nurses, but that can be expensive. And hospital administrators say not enough nurses are graduating from U.S. schools each year to meet the demand.

Some hospitals have long brought nurses from the Philippines, Jamaica and other English-speaking countries, and more are now following suit. And both longtime recruiters and newcomers are trying to take advantage of the green card windfall before the fiscal year ends in September.

The U.S. typically offers at least 140,000 green cards each year to people moving to the country permanently for certain professional jobs, including nursing. Most are issued to people who are already living in the United States on temporary visas, though some go to workers overseas. This year, 280,000 of these green cards are available, and recruiters hope some of the extras can be snapped up by nurses seeking to work in pandemic-weary hospitals in the United States.

The Biden administration, which has made moves to reverse Trump-era policies restricting legal immigration, has taken some steps to try to help foreign health care workers so they can assist with the pandemic. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services said it would speed the renewal of work permits for health care workers, which could help keep some foreign citizens already in the United States on the job. The State Department told consulates last year to prioritize applications for workers at facilities that are responding to the pandemic, an agency official said.

Faith Akinmade, a 22-year-old nurse from Nigeria, is among those hoping for a quick solution. After completing college in the U.S., Akinmade has been working as an ICU nurse for University of Louisville Hospital in Kentucky. But her work permit is set to expire in March. She said she needs it renewed, or her green card approved, to stay on the job.

“At this point and time, I just feel like I have faith that at the end of March something is going to show up to continue to work,” Akinmade said. She said the issue affects many of her international colleagues as well as domestic ones, who may be pressed to take on shifts for colleagues if their immigration paperwork doesn’t come through.

Dr. Roxie Wells, president of Cape Fear Valley Hoke Hospital in Raeford, North Carolina, said she started trying to bring over foreign nurses before the pandemic, but it wasn’t until last year that these recruits started getting consular interviews in larger numbers. So far, about 150 were approved to come work, but Wells said they’re still waiting on another 75.

“Obviously it has become more necessary during the pandemic,” she said. “The 150, if we didn’t have them, we would be in a precarious situation.”

The surge in the omicron variant in the United States has made the strained staffing situation even more apparent in hospitals as health care workers, like so many others, have been sickened by the highly contagious virus and sidelined from work at a time when more patients are coming in.

Sinead Carbery, president of International Nurse Staffing Solutions for AMN Healthcare, said the demand for international nurses has risen between 300% and 400% since the pandemic began. The number of nurses that can be brought into the United States even with the additional green cards won’t be enough to meet demand, and many more recruiters are now seeking to hire nurses overseas because there are immigrant visas available, she said.

“This is a window of opportunity,” she said. “Because everything is flowing so well, there’s a lot of competition for that talent.”

National Nurses United, a union representing 175,000 registered nurses, said more scrutiny should be given to international recruitment to ensure foreign nurses aren’t brought in and subjected to unsafe working conditions. The union contends hospitals drove away U.S. nurses by keeping staffing levels so low — and this was well before concerns arose about worker safety and protections during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Michelle Mahon, the union’s assistant director of nursing practice, said many foreign nurses sign yearslong contracts with employers, which can make it hard for them to speak up about labor or patient safety concerns. She said hospitals that saw nurses quit during the pandemic are turning to an overseas workforce to replace them.

“This kind of dynamic is particularly attractive right now to employers who have not made any of the changes necessary to ensure patient and nursing safety during this COVID-19 pandemic,” Mahon said. “Instead of them addressing the actual problem, they want to go and pivot to this other really fake solution.”

Hospital administrators, however, contend there simply aren’t enough U.S.-trained nurses to go around. Patty Jeffrey, president of the American Association of International Healthcare Recruitment, said the United States should expand nursing education programs to train more nurses domestically, as well as let more nurses come in from overseas. But she acknowledged bringing in a much larger number of nurses would require legislation.

“The calls are every day ringing off the hook: We need 100, we need 200, we need all these nurses,” Jeffrey said.

Jorge Almeida Neri, a 26-year-old nurse from Portugal, arrived in the United States late last year, though he began the process before the pandemic. He said a required international nursing exam was delayed due to the virus and it took four months to get a consular interview, though other international nurses he’s met waited much longer. He interviewed for his current job at a Virginia hospital, which he got through a staffing agency, about a year ago.

“After getting everything certified, the immigration process started, and I was like, ‘Oh, this is going to be quick.’ I was wrong,” he said.

Almeida Neri said many Portuguese nurses seek work overseas since wages are low, though many go elsewhere in Europe, which doesn’t take as long as the United States.

Despite the demand, there’s no guarantee hospitals will in fact snap up more visas. Greg Siskind, an immigration attorney, said U.S. consular offices aren’t required to issue visas solely because they’re available, and are hampered by limits on remote work and video interviews. He said most employment-based green cards tend to go to professionals already in the United States, not overseas, though more could be done to speed these up, too.

“Under their current policies, if they don’t make any changes, it is going to be hard,” he said of the likelihood the U.S. government will issue all the available visas, “but there’s a lot of things they could do.”

Alzheimer’s-Like Changes Found In COVID Patients’ Brains; Flu Shot, Mrna Booster Safe Together

The following is a summary of some recent studies on COVID-19. They include research that warrants further study to corroborate the findings and that has yet to be certified by peer review.

Alzheimer’s-like changes seen in COVID-19 patients’ brains

People who die of severe COVID-19 have brain abnormalities that resemble changes seen in Alzheimer’s disease – accumulation of a protein called tau inside brain cells, and abnormal amounts of the protein beta-amyloid that accumulates into amyloid plaques – small studies have found.

At Columbia University, Dr. Andrew Marks and colleagues studied the brains of 10 COVID-19 patients and found defects in proteins called ryanodine receptors that control the passage of calcium into cells. In Alzheimer’s disease, defective ryanodine receptors are linked to accumulation of tau into so-called neurofibrillary tangles. These tangles were present in high levels in the COVID-19 patients’ brains, the Columbia team reported on Thursday in Alzheimer’s & Dementia. Other research teams have looked for – and found – abnormal amyloid levels in brains of COVID-19 patients, according to reports posted online ahead of peer review on bioRxiv and on The Lancet’s preprint server.

In all the studies, patients had experienced the most severe forms of COVID-19. If similar changes are occurring in the brains of patients with milder illness, that might help explain the “brain fog” associated with long COVID, Marks said. Patients with severe COVID-19 might be at higher risk for dementia later in life, but it is too soon to know, he added. His advice: Get a booster vaccine and avoid the virus. “If you get COVID-19, you probably won’t die, but we still don’t know a lot about the long-term effects.”

Seniors can get flu shot, mRNA COVID-19 booster together

Seniors can safely get the high-dose flu vaccine and an mRNA COVID-19 booster dose at the same time, a new study confirms.

The study’s 306 participants, all older than 65, were randomly assigned either to receive Sanofi’s Fluzone High-Dose Quadrivalent influenza vaccine and a third shot of Moderna’s mRNA vaccine at the same time, or either of the vaccines alone. Blood samples obtained before and 21 days after vaccination showed that giving the two vaccines together did not affect the resulting immune response, with similar antibody levels generated in participants in each of the three groups, according to a report published on Tuesday in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine.

A spokesperson for Sanofi said combined administration of the COVID-19 and influenza vaccines “did not raise any safety concerns and the study team is continuing to follow study participants through 6 months after vaccination.”

Fluid in some rapid COVID tests could be deadly for kids

In some COVID-19 rapid test kits, the small bottle of “reagent” fluid contains sodium azide, a powerful poison that is particularly dangerous for small children, experts warn.

In adults, small amounts can quickly cause dangerously low blood pressure, dizziness, fainting, or even heart attacks or strokes, said Dr. Kelly Johnson-Arbor, Co-Medical Director of the National Capital Poison Center in Washington, D.C. Higher doses can be fatal, she and her colleagues wrote in The American Journal of Emergency Medicine. Sodium azide levels in COVID-19 rapid test kits are not always high enough to cause low blood pressure in adults, and the iHealth kits being sent out by the U.S. government do not contain any sodium azide at all, Johnson-Arbor said. “However… since children are typically much smaller than adults, they are at a higher risk of experiencing poisonous effects after swallowing any amount,” she said.

Poison control hotlines have been getting reports of accidental exposures to the reagent fluid. “Some people have swallowed the solution, some have spilled it onto their skin, and others have put it in their eyes,” mistaking the bottle for eye drops, Johnson-Arbor said. “If you or a loved one swallows the reagent fluid or gets the fluid in their eyes or on the skin, contact Poison Control right away.” (In the U.S., at www.poison.org or 1-800-222-1222; in the UK at https://www.npis.org/).

Cricket Legend Sunil Gavaskar To Address AAPI’s 40th AAPI Convention In San Antonio, TX

San Antonio, TX: February 7th, 2022: “Legendary Cricket Star Sunil Gavaskar, well known around the world as an inspirational speaker, philanthropist, and the chairman of H2H Foundation will be a keynote speaker during the 40th Annual Convention of AAPI to be held in San Antonio, TX from June 23rd to 26th, 2022,” Dr. Anupama Gotimukula announced here.

Confirming his presence at the Convention, “The Little Master” Sunil Gavaskar told AAPI members who are part of the “greatest profession in the world,” and said, “It’s a unique honor to be part of the important AAPI convention in Texas. I am looking forward to meeting you all in Texas.” Mr. Gavaskar referred to his association with the “Heart to Heart Foundation” and how the Foundation is touching many hearts around the world.

According to Dr. Jayesh Shah, Chair of the Convention 2022, “While the theme for the historic convention is ‘Physician, heal thyself,’ especially when there are growing signs of burnout among physicians, by offering positive remedial resources as part of a first-ever Wellness Program being offered to participants, the special and unique once in a lifetime interactive session with the Cricket legend will allow the AAPI delegates to listen firsthand to the stories of his glorious cricket days, and the stories that tug at the hearts of the audience.”

“During A Meet & Greet Luncheon event with Sunil Gavaskar, recipient of Padma Shri and Padma Bhushan awards for his contributions to Indian cricket will inspire the hearts and souls of AAPI delegates by telling us how India remains the world capital for Congenital Heart Disease (CHD), with 300,000 children born each year,” Dr. Ravi Kolli, President-Elect of AAPI said.

Without medical/surgical care, over 25% of children die before their 1st birthday, contributing to over 10% of the Infant Mortality Rate and resulting in 250+ children dying every day; many more die in infancy or the preschool ages. Only a small fraction of children with CHD can afford the cardiac surgery, which can cost over $100,000 in the United States.

With frugal innovations in CHD care H2H Foundation has reduced the average cost of an open-heart surgery to only $2000$  per patient, which would otherwise be $75,000 to $125,000 in the United States and $5,000 to $9,000 in India. Gavaskar has personally sponsored 34 surgeries to match his 34 test centuries. The legendary cricket master is touring the United States to raise awareness and funds to support the cause.

Heart to Heart (H2H) Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to saving the lives of children born with CHD, by providing FREE pediatric cardiac surgeries in collaboration with the group of Sai Sanjeevini Hospitals in India. Since February 2014, these hospitals have also been providing primary, secondary, and tertiary healthcare exclusively to children with CHD and over 10,000 surgeries have been performed free of cost. 10,000 is also the number of innings played by Gavaskar. Additionally, for every test century, he has scored he has personally funded the same number of surgeries.

Dr. Kusum Punjaabi, Chair of AAPI BOT said, “At AAPI, the largest ethnic medical association in the nation, we are proud, we have been able to serve every 7th patient in the country. We serve in large cities, smaller towns and rural areas, sharing our skills, knowledge, compassion and expertise and caring for millions of people.”

“A huge thank you to all of the doctors, physicians, and other healthcare professionals for your dedication and commitment to service during this uncertain time,” Dr. Anjana Samadder, Vice President of AAPI said. “This is a unique opportunity for All of us, the front-line physicians who are putting our lives at risk to save the lives of others,” Dr. Satheesh Kathula, Secretary of AAPI said. “Thank you for fighting selflessly against this virus and helping keep everyone healthy and safe,” Dr. Krishan Kumar, Treasurer of AAPI added

Organized by the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI), the largest ethnic medical organization in the country, representing the interests of over 100,000 physicians of Indian origin, the historic 40th Annual Convention will offer a valuable platform for physicians and healthcare thought leaders from across the country and globally to convene and participate in the scholarly exchange of ideas on medical advances, and will help develop health policy agendas and recommend legislative priorities in the coming years.

The convention will be held at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in San Antonio, TX located on the RiverWalk. This world-class facility will afford an intimate setting that will facilitate our ability to convey cutting-edge research and CME, promote business relationships, and display ethnic items. Vendor satisfaction and comfort are our top priorities, added Dr. Shah.

A dedicated Convention Committee Team led by Dr. Jayesh Shah including Mr. Venky Adivi, Chief Executive Officer of the Convention; Dr. Aruna Venkatesh, Convention Treasurer; Dr. Vijay Koli, Past President of AAPI & Convention Advisor; Dr. Rajam Ramamurthy, Convention Advisor; Dr. Rajeev Suri, President of TIPS & Co-Chair of the Convention, Dr. Shankar Sanka, Co-Chair of the Convention; Dr. Hetal Nayak, Co-Chair of the Convention; Kiran Cheruku, Co-Chair of the Convention; and Chief Operating Officers, Mr.  Reddy Yeluru and Me. Ram Joolukuntla, are working hard for the past several months to make the Convention truly historic.

Some of the major themes at the convention include: Yoga and Meditation practices, Welcome kit with books & self-care supplies, A Personal Reflexology Session, Take home wellness routine, Ailment based yoga therapy sessions, Workshop on Spiritual well-being, Book talk with Yoga Gurus, including on the science of Yoga & Lifestyle medicine, as well as an unique opportunity to visit first of its kind in San Antonio, Aum Ashram as part of the Wellness session.

Esteemed yoga gurus and experts, who are planned to share their wisdom and leading the Wellness Sessions include: Paramguru Sharatha Jois, Sadhvi Bhagawati, Saraswati Eddie Stern, Dr. Sat Bir Khalsa, Dr. Dilip Sarkar, Dr. Pankaj Vij, and Dr. Param Dedhia.

Besides Lifestyle medicine and wellness, There is an outstanding lineup of CME speakers to provide AAPI members education in all areas of medicine.

While encouraging AAPI members to register for the Convention, Dr. Gotimukula urged them to “Come, engage in a freewheeling conversation with the cricket legend where he will share interesting anecdotes and inspiring experiences. Interact with Sunil Gavaskar and tap into his wealth of wisdom on leadership, career, and life and take away insights on how to learn, lead, and live. Each delegate can get to take away cricket bats and other memorabilia signed by Gavaskar as souvenirs of a memorable event if you sponsor a child for congenital heart surgery!  For more information, please visit: www.aapiconvention.org  and www.aapiusa.org

FDA Fully Approves Moderna Vaccine

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Monday, January 31st granted full approval to Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine, giving an additional vote of confidence in its safety and effectiveness.

The full approval for people ages 18 and older was based on follow-up data showing “high efficacy and favorable safety approximately six months after the second dose.”

The vaccine had already been available since December 2020 under an emergency use authorization, but full approval provides an extra emphasis.

Acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock said she hoped the move gives some people additional confidence in the vaccine.

“The public can be assured that Spikevax meets the FDA’s high standards for safety, effectiveness and manufacturing quality required of any vaccine approved for use in the United States,” she said in a statement. “While hundreds of millions of doses of Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine have been administered to individuals under emergency use authorization, we understand that for some individuals, FDA approval of this vaccine may instill additional confidence in making the decision to get vaccinated.”

Pfizer’s vaccine already received full approval in August.

“Our COVID-19 vaccine has been administered to hundreds of millions of people around the world, protecting people from COVID-19 infection, hospitalization and death,” Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel said in a statement. “The totality of real-world data and the full [approval] for Spikevax in the United States reaffirms the importance of vaccination against this virus. This is a momentous milestone in Moderna’s history as it is our first product to achieve licensure in the U.S.”

A booster shot of the Moderna vaccine is also recommended five months after the second shot.

About 74 percent of adults are now fully vaccinated, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data. The numbers are much lower for boosters, which are crucial for achieving higher protection against the omicron variant, with 44 percent of fully vaccinated adults having received a booster, according to the public health agency.

In the other big COVID-19 vaccine news, Maryland-based Novavax finally applied for emergency use authorization for its vaccine in adults.

The request was based in part on results from two large clinical trials of approximately 30,000 participants in the U.S. and Mexico. The company said two doses of the vaccine given three weeks apart demonstrated an overall efficacy of approximately 90 percent, though the trials took place before the omicron variant became dominant.

Novavax was one of the six companies the U.S. invested in as part of Operation Warp Speed. The company originally wanted to ask the FDA for authorization by May 2021, but had to delay the request multiple times due to numerous development and manufacturing setbacks.

The protein-based vaccine could provide an alternative to the mRNA shots available from Pfizer and Moderna, as there is a small risk the mRNA vaccines cause heart inflammation in certain adults.

The authorization process from FDA could take several months, though the vaccine is available under emergency use from the European Commission, and the World Health Organization.

The Novavax vaccine is given in two doses spaced 21 days apart; the company recently announced plans to test a booster shot.

House Democrats Push For ‘Swift’ Action To Lower Drug Prices

A group of 40 House Democrats is pressuring party leadership to act quickly on measures to lower prescription drug prices, highlighting the importance of the issue to the party, especially in an election year.

Lowering drug prices is a long-held policy goal for Democrats and a crucial aspect of their campaign messaging.

But the proposal is stalled in Congress along with a slew of other measures included in President Biden’s Build Back Better agenda, given concerns from Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) about other parts of the package.

The group of Democrats, led by Rep. Susan Wild (Pa.), is pushing to jumpstart action.

“We write today urging you to take legislative action as swiftly as possible to lower drug prices,” the Democrats, many of whom represent competitive seats, wrote to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.). “For years, people have sent us to Washington on the promise that we end Big Pharma’s monopoly control over prices and provide patients with much needed relief. We must make good on that promise — and we have the ability to do so.”

Democrats already have an agreement on drug pricing legislation that they reached in November after negotiations with a handful of moderate members.

That agreement would allow Medicare to negotiate lower prices for certain older drugs that are no longer on their period of “exclusivity,” where they are protected from competition. The measure would also limit drug price increases to the rate of inflation and cap patients’ costs for insulin at $35 per month.

But the proposal is facing a murky path forward, given the obstacles for the larger Build Back Better package of which it is a part. Manchin supports action to lower drug prices, but he has concerns about other parts of the package related to spending and the possibility of causing more inflation.

Drugmakers raise list prices for prescription medicines by 6.6% this year

The Wall Street Journal (1/30, Walker, Subscription Publication) reports drug makers raised list prices for diabetes, cancer, and other prescription medicines by an average of 6.6% during the first weeks of 2022. An analysis by Rx Savings Solutions found that through January 20, nearly 150 drug makers raised prices for 866 products in the United States.

The letter from the 40 Democrats, which was first reported by Politico, does not specify a path forward for the drug pricing legislation, but it is possible that a deal could be reached with Manchin on a slimmed-down overall package.

“President Biden supports this plan,” they write. “We support this plan. Every Democratic member of the U.S. Senate supports this plan. And most importantly, the American people support this plan. It is time to enact it into law.”

CDC Urged To Provide Clear Path To Endemic Status

Experts say that Covid will likely lose its “pandemic” status sometime in 2022, due largely to rising global vaccination rates and developments of antiviral Covid pills that could become more widespread next year.

Instead, the virus will likely become “endemic,” eventually fading in severity and folding into the backdrop of regular, everyday life. Various strains of influenza have followed a similar pattern over the past century or more, from the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918 to the swine flu pandemic in 2009.

Covid will probably remain dangerous once the pandemic ends — much like the flu, which killed as many as 62,000 people in the U.S. between October 2019 and April 2020, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) has urged the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to provide clear guidance that will allow states to transition out of the COVID-19 pandemic and into endemic status.

“We need the CDC to help us to have the right standards to end this pandemic and move to more endemic status,” Hutchinson said during a meeting with President Biden, Vice President Harris and other governors as part of a meeting of the National Governors Association.

“And so that’s an important element that we as governors, in a bipartisan way, hope that the CDC can be helpful to define that more clearly,” added Hutchinson, who chairs the association. “We want to go from today to more normal.”

The governors had met earlier with Jeff Zients, the head of the White House COVID-19 response team. “We got a way to go on that, in my view, but we’re moving,” Biden said of the pandemic. “I think it’s all about making sure we have the same standards we’re applying across the board.”

Biden said the administration would “try like the devil to keep schools open,” something Hutchinson had thanked the president for supporting so clearly.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters at a Monday briefing that the current state of the pandemic and accompanying restrictions are not “the new normal,” noting that the country is still seeing high levels of infections and hospitalizations.

Hutchinson’s call for a clear set of guidelines to help Americans ease back into normal life comes as recent polls have shown much of the public is fatigued and frustrated by the pandemic two years after the first cases were detected in the United States.

The Arkansas governor has been a consistent partner for the White House on pandemic messaging, as he has urged vaccinations in a conservative state and praised Biden for his efforts to depoliticize the pandemic.

As COVID-19 Numbers Improve, Experts Are Optimistic

For at least the third time in the past two years, Connecticut finds itself moving past a devastating COVID-19 surge and hoping its coronavirus nightmare may finally be reaching an end.

But just like the previous two times, experts say there’s cause for encouragement — and also reasons to hold off on the victory parade.

First, the good news: The state’s test positivity rate has dipped dramatically in recent weeks, and its rate of new cases is the lowest it has been in more than a month. The number of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 in Connecticut has declined steadily as well, easing the burden on health care institutions.

Experts say there’s no obvious reason those promising trends won’t continue in the near future. Pedro Mendes, a computational biologist at UConn Health, said Friday that his models project Connecticut will be down to 530 COVID-19 hospitalizations by Feb. 19 — less than half the current total.

“We’re past the peak, so that’s really good news,” Dr. Scott Roberts, associate medical director for infection prevention at Yale New Haven Hospital, said. “I think there’s reason to be optimistic looking ahead.”

Now the question is, what comes next? Will recent trends continue? Will summer in Connecticut be free of COVID-19? Are further surges on the way? What role might a new variant play?

Experts note that Connecticut continues to see high levels of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations and caution against easing precautions too soon. They also warn that a new strain could disrupt all progress at any time, just as delta and omicron have done previously.

“The obvious question people are asking is, ‘Can I make plans for this summer?’” Dr. Peter Hotez, a Hartford native, Baylor University professor and vaccine scientist, said. “And I think the answer is, yes you can, but be prepared that nature could throw us a curveball and bring us a new variant.”

A COVID-free summer?

Each of the past two summers, Connecticut has experienced dramatic drops in COVID-19 transmission, permitting major steps toward pre-pandemic normalcy for many residents. Early last summer — before the delta variant caused a moderate spike — the state’s positivity rate fell below 0.5%, leaving as few as 25 patients hospitalized statewide in early July.

This experience has led some experts to believe COVID-19 waves are largely seasonal, with the Northeast experiencing surges when the weather is coldest and residents are spending time together indoors — followed by dips in transmission when the weather is warmest and people can socialize outside.

“We saw COVID really plummet this summer, so I don’t see a reason that wouldn’t happen again,” Roberts said. “I am predicting that things will continue to improve, if not reach this low-level steady state of infection and hopefully only continue to get better as warmer months come about.”

Dr. David Banach, hospital epidemiologist at UConn Health, noted that most respiratory viruses, including many other coronaviruses, recede in the summer before returning each winter.

“I think there’s reason to be optimistic that we’ll see that low level of transmission during the summer months,” Banach said. “Based on what we know about the virus spread here in the Northeast, there is still reasonable expectation that the community level rates in the summer will likely be low, barring any surprises like new variants that may pop up.”

Of course, summer isn’t here yet.

As of Thursday, Connecticut was still averaging more than 3,7000 COVID-19 cases a day, more than at almost any time last year.

“We have to be careful not to be overly optimistic,” Hotez said, on a call organized by Hartford HealthCare. “Because we have seen situation where it starts to go down very quickly and then people assume we’re out of it and then it gets stuck halfway down and plateaus for a while.”

“The obvious question people are asking is, ‘Can I make plans for this summer?’ And I think the answer is, yes you can, but be prepared that nature could throw us a curveball and bring us a new variant.”

After two years of pandemic, many Americans are looking for a sign that things are OK again, that COVID-19 is no longer an acute concern. When can they stop wearing masks in public? When can they safely gather in large groups?

In Banach’s view, that point won’t arrive all at once but will instead play out incrementally over several months.

“It’ll be a gradual transition. I don’t think it’ll be an on-and-off switch,” Banach said.

“As rates start to get lower, people in the community will have increasing comfort with gathering in small groups, potentially without masks, and that’ll be a more gradual process,” he said.

Road to endemicity

Given the degree to which the delta and omicron variants have managed to evade vaccine-induced immunity, experts say it’s highly unlikely that the state, the nation or the world can stamp out COVID-19 entirely.

The new best-case scenario, they say, is that COVID-19 shifts from its pandemic stage to an endemic stage, meaning it remains present but at levels that can be more easily controlled.

“When we’re thinking about ‘endemic,’ we’re not thinking about eradication. We’re thinking about something that is predictable and more manageable,” Banach said.

“For instance, with the flu, we know that there are going to be … waves of flu activity, we know generally when they’re going to occur, and we can prepare for them accordingly and react when we start to see them.”

Crucially, endemic doesn’t mean harmless. Malaria and tuberculosis, for example, are endemic diseases that nonetheless cause hundreds of thousands of deaths each year worldwide. But when a disease is endemic, there is less likelihood of a devastating surge that strains hospitals and necessitates dramatic control measures.

“Endemic may still mean seeing waves in which a substantial number of cases occur,” Banach said. “The key is to be able to predict when that is going to happen and respond in a way that is going to decrease the impact without causing the level of disruption to society that we’ve seen.”

Just as the flu kills tens of thousands of Americans — and hundreds of Connecticut residents — most winters, COVID-19 will likely cause some level of sickness and death even once the pandemic officially ends.

“We see that surge every winter with a lot of the respiratory diseases,” said Dr. Ulysses Wu, chief epidemiologist at Hartford HealthCare. “We still worry about everything that happens when [a disease] is endemic.”

Of course, Connecticut hasn’t yet reached the endemic stage. For now, the pandemic continues to smolder, one new variant away from igniting again.

The variant variable

All optimism about the coming months of the pandemic come with a notable caveat: A new strain can change Connecticut’s outlook at barely a moment’s notice. It happened last summer with the delta variant and again this winter with the omicron variant.

Experts say the next prominent strain could be less severe than omicron, potentially helping to facilitate the endemic stage, but that it could also be more severe.

“There’s always the outstanding question of, ‘What’s the next variant around the corner?’” Roberts said.

Hotez, who has become a go-to national voice on COVID-19 over the past two years, said he thinks some in the medical community are overly optimistic about the coming months of the pandemic and are failing to account for the possibility of a new, highly threatening variant.

Though Hotez said he’s not overly concerned about the new omicron subvariant, BA.2, recently detected in Connecticut, he warned that more strains could be on the way, particularly if vaccination rates were to remain low across large segments of the global population.

“Mother Nature is pretty much telling us what she has in store for us,” Hotez said. “As long as we refuse to vaccinate the Global South, meaning the world’s low and middle-income countries …. she’s going to continue to hurl variants of concern at us.”

And so most experts aren’t ready to make assurances about the coming year. Maybe the omicron wave will prove to have been Connecticut’s last and the state will have a manageable time ahead — or maybe another variant will prolong the pandemic even further.

“I don’t know that we really have a lot of evidence to know what the next variant of concern might be,” Hotez said. “In some ways we got lucky: Can you imagine if omicron … was causing as severe illness as delta? As bad as things are, it could be much worse.”

The Ayurvedic Kitchen Launched

With the idea behind the book to present Ayurveda in a simplified, contemporary and relatable manner to ensure that the reader can incorporate Ayurvedic principles in their daily cooking and food habits to achieve optimum health, authors Dr. Asghar and Sonal Chowdhary say that this system considers food as the first medicine, and in these times of the Pandemic, it has become even more important to stay healthy.

The duo, whose book ‘The Ayurvedic Kitchen’ (Westland Publishers) recently hit the stands stresses that recent times have proven that the best defense against the virus is immunity.

“There is a lot of buzz, curiosity and a variety of readily available information on the internet regarding the same. People try different ways to boost their immunity but unfortunately, the information available on the web gives a blanket approach for everyone. With this book, we want the reader to have an individualised approach as per their own constitution and genotype (which they can know using the Dosha Quiz in the book ) and help them understand ways to include immunity-enhancing foods in their diet,” Dr. Asghar tells IANS.

They say the book is for anyone who is looking to reset their food habits which are in sync with their own body, mind and health.

“It will be useful to ayurvedic consultants, nutritionists, dieticians, therapists, as they can guide their patients towards a healthier food approach as the recipes and food items scientifically connotes calories, effects on doshas, seasons and also their nutritional benefits,” says Chowdhary.

Both believe that contrary to popular perception, the young are getting more inclined towards natural ways of healing.

“Millennials are increasingly getting aware that natural forms of healing are better as they have minimal or no side effects. They are happiest when diseases are cured with fewer medicines or by practising proper diets or regimens,” asserts Chowdhary.

Dr. Asghar adds that when one looks at the pathology of diseases, many of them occur owing to incorrect diets and skewed daily regimes — something which Ayurveda sheds much light on.

“Well, the result of wrong eating habits are quite visible to everyone. Lifestyle disorders are on a rise and they are directly linked to incorrect eating habits. The result of these habits have started to build fear in most people and they have started taking more interest towards natural ways to combat the present condition.”

Chowdhary adds that fitness is becoming important for this experimental generation who are keen to try alternative natural ways and work more towards prevention than looking for cures.

The authors also say that in this time and age, it is paramount to think about the integration of different medical systems that can instrumental in making people healthier.(IANS)

Are Scientists Being Fooled by Bacteria?

For decades, a small group of cutting-edge medical researchers have been studying a biochemical, DNA tagging system, which switches genes on or off. Many have studied it in bacteria and now some have seen signs of it in, plants, flies, and even human brain tumors. However, according to a new study by researchers at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, there may be a hitch: much of the evidence of its presence in higher organisms may be due to bacterial contamination, which was difficult to spot using current experimental methods. 

To address this, the scientists created a tailor-made gene sequencing method which relies on a new machine learning algorithm to accurately measure the source and levels of tagged DNA. This helped them distinguish bacterial DNA from that of human and other non-bacterial cells. While the results published in Science supported the idea that this system may occur naturally in non-bacterial cells, the levels were much lower than some previous studies reported and were easily skewed by bacterial contamination or current experimental methods. Experiments on human brain cancer cells produced similar results.

“Pushing the boundaries of medical research can be challenging. Sometimes the ideas are so novel that we have to rethink the experimental methods we use to test them out,” said Gang Fang, PhD, Associate Professor of Genetics and Genomic Sciences at Icahn Mount Sinai. “In this study, we developed a new method for effectively measuring this DNA mark in a wide variety of species and cell types. We hope this will help scientists uncover the many roles these processes may play in evolution and human disease.”

The study focused on DNA adenine methylation, a biochemical reaction which attaches a chemical, called a methyl group, to an adenine, one of the four building block molecules used to construct lengthy DNA strands and encode genes. This can “epigenetically” activate or silence genes without actually altering DNA sequences. For instance, it is known that adenine methylation plays a critical role in how some bacteria defend themselves against viruses.

For decades, scientists thought that adenine methylation strictly happened in bacteria whereas human and other non-bacterial cells relied on the methylation of a different building block—cytosine—to regulate genes. Then, starting around 2015, this view changed. Scientists spotted high levels of adenine methylation in plant, fly, mouse, and human cells, suggesting a wider role for the reaction throughout evolution.

However, the scientists who performed these initial experiments faced difficult trade-offs. Some used techniques that can precisely measure adenine methylation levels from any cell type but do not have the capacity to identify which cell each piece of DNA came from, while others relied on methods that can spot methylation in different cell types but may overestimate reaction levels.

In this study, Dr. Fang’s team developed a method called 6mASCOPE which overcomes these trade-offs. In it, DNA is extracted from a sample of tissue or cells and chopped up into short strands by proteins called enzymes. The strands are placed into microscopic wells and treated with enzymes that make new copies of each strand. An advanced sequencing machine then measures in real time the rate at which each nucleotide building block is added to a new strand. Methylated adenines slightly delay this process. The results are then fed into a machine learning algorithm which the researchers trained to estimate methylation levels from the sequencing data.

“The DNA sequences allowed us to identify which cells—human or bacterial—methylation occurred in while the machine learning model quantified the levels of methylation in each species separately,” said Dr. Fang.

Initial experiments on simple, single-cell organisms, such as green algae, suggested that the 6mASCOPE method was effective in that it could detect differences between two organisms that both had high levels of adenine methylation.

The method also appeared to be effective at quantifying adenine methylation in complex organisms. For example, previous studies had suggested that high levels of methylation may play a role in the early growth of the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster and of the flowering weed Arabidopsis thaliana. In this study, the researchers found that these high levels of methylation were mostly the result of contaminating bacterial DNA. In reality, the fly and the plant DNA from these experiments only had trace amounts of methylation.

Likewise, experiments on human cells suggested that methylation occurs at very low levels in both healthy and disease conditions. Immune cell DNA obtained from patient blood samples had only trace amounts of methylation.

Similar results were also seen with DNA isolated from glioblastoma brain tumor samples. This result was different than a previous study, which reported much higher levels of adenine methylation in tumor cells. However, as the authors note, more research may be needed to determine how much of this discrepancy may be due to differences in tumor subtypes as well as other potential sources of methylation.

Finally, the researchers found that plasmid DNA, a tool that scientists use regularly to manipulate genes, may be contaminated with high levels of methylation that originated from bacteria, suggesting this DNA could be a source of contamination in future experiments. 

“Our results show that the manner in which adenine methylation is measured can have profound effects on the result of an experiment. We do not mean to exclude the possibility that some human tissues or disease subtypes may have highly abundant DNA adenine methylation, but we do hope 6mASCOPE will help scientists fully investigate this issue by excluding the bias from bacterial contamination,” said Dr. Gang. “To help with this we have made the 6mASCOPE analysis software and a detailed operating manual widely available to other researchers.”

This work was supported by the National Institutes of Health (GM139655, HG011095, AG071291); the Icahn Institute for Genomics and Multiscale Biology; the Irma T. Hirschl/Monique Weill-Caulier Trust; the Nash Family Foundation; and the Department of Scientific Computing at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. Methods validation using Mass Spectrometry was supported by the collaborators at the Chinese Academy of Sciences (XDPB2004) and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (22021003).

About the Mount Sinai Health System

The Mount Sinai Health System is New York City’s largest academic medical system, encompassing eight hospitals, a leading medical school, and a vast network of ambulatory practices throughout the greater New York region. Mount Sinai advances medicine and health through unrivaled education and translational research and discovery to deliver care that is the safest, highest-quality, most accessible and equitable, and the best value of any health system in the nation. The Health System includes approximately 7,300 primary and specialty care physicians; 13 joint-venture ambulatory surgery centers; more than 415 ambulatory practices throughout the five boroughs of New York City, Westchester, Long Island, and Florida; and more than 30 affiliated community health centers. The Mount Sinai Hospital is ranked on U.S. News & World Report’s “Honor Roll” of the top 20 U.S. hospitals and is top in the nation by specialty: No. 1 in Geriatrics and top 20 in Cardiology/Heart Surgery, Diabetes/Endocrinology, Gastroenterology/GI Surgery, Neurology/Neurosurgery, Orthopedics, Pulmonology/Lung Surgery, Rehabilitation, and Urology. New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai is ranked No. 12 in Ophthalmology. Mount Sinai Kravis Children’s Hospital is ranked in U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Children’s Hospitals” among the country’s best in four out of 10 pediatric specialties. The Icahn School of Medicine is one of three medical schools that have earned distinction by multiple indicators: ranked in the top 20 by U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Medical Schools,” aligned with a U.S. News & World Report “Honor Roll” Hospital, and No. 14 in the nation for National Institutes of Health funding. Newsweek’s “The World’s Best Smart Hospitals” ranks The Mount Sinai Hospital as No. 1 in New York and in the top five globally, and Mount Sinai Morningside in the top 20 globally.

For more information, visit https://www.mountsinai.org or find Mount Sinai on FacebookTwitter and YouTube.

Europe Could Be Headed For Covid Pandemic “Endgame”: WHO

The Omicron variant has raised long-awaited hopes that Covid-19 is starting to shift from a pandemic to a more manageable endemic illness like seasonal flu.

The Omicron variant has moved the Covid-19 pandemic into a new phase and could bring it to an end in Europe, the WHO Europe director said Sunday.

“It’s plausible that the region is moving towards a kind of pandemic endgame,” Hans Kluge told news agency AFP in an interview, adding that Omicron could infect 60 percent of Europeans by March.

Once the current surge of Omicron currently sweeping across Europe subsides, “there will be for quite some weeks and months a global immunity, either thanks to the vaccine or because people have immunity due to the infection, and also lowering seasonality.”

“We anticipate that there will be a period of quiet before Covid-19 may come back towards the end of the year, but not necessarily the pandemic coming back,” Kluge said. Top US scientist Anthony Fauci expressed similar optimism on Sunday.

He told ABC News talk show “This Week” that with Covid-19 cases coming down “rather sharply” in parts of the United States, “things are looking good”.

While cautioning against over confidence, he said that if the recent fall in case numbers in areas like the US’s northeast continues, “I believe that you will start to see a turnaround throughout the entire country”.

The WHO regional office for Africa also said last week that cases of Covid had plummeted in that region and deaths were declining for the first time since the Omicron-dominated fourth wave of the virus reached its peak.

The Omicron variant, which studies have shown is more contagious than Delta but generally leads to less severe infection among vaccinated people, has raised long-awaited hopes that Covid-19 is starting to shift from a pandemic to a more manageable endemic illness like seasonal flu.

But Kluge cautioned that it was still too early to consider Covid-19 endemic. “There is a lot of talk about endemic but endemic means…that it is possible to predict what’s going to happen. This virus has surprised (us) more than once so we have to be very careful,” Kluge said. With Omicron spreading so widely, other variants could still emerge, he warned.

Focus On ‘Minimising Disruption’

The European Commissioner for Internal Markets, Thierry Breton, whose brief includes vaccine production, said Sunday that it will be possible to adapt existing vaccines to any new variants that may emerge.

“We will be able to better resist, including to new variants”, he told French television LCI.

“We will be ready to adapt the vaccines, especially the mRNA ones, if necessary to adapt them to more virulent variants”.

In the WHO Europe region, which comprises 53 countries including several in Central Asia, Omicron represented 15 percent of new cases as of January 18, compared to 6.3 percent a week earlier, the health body said.

Omicron is now the dominant variant in the European Union and the European Economic Area (EEA, or Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein), the EU health agency ECDC said last week.

Because of the very fast spread of the variant across Europe, Kluge said emphasis ought to be on “minimising disruption of hospitals, schools and the economy, and putting huge efforts on protecting the vulnerable”, rather than measures to stop transmission.

He, meanwhile, urged people to exercise personal responsibility. “If you don’t feel well, stay home, take a self test. If you’re positive, isolate,” he said.

Kluge said the priority was to stabilise the situation in Europe, where vaccination levels range across countries from 25 to 95 percent of the population, leading to varying degrees of strain on hospitals and health-care system.

“Stabilising means that the health system is no longer overwhelmed due to Covid-19 and can continue with the essential health services, which have unfortunately been really disrupted for cancer, cardiovascular disease, and routine immunisation.”

Dr. Fauci Says U.S. Omicron Outbreak ‘Going in the Right Direction’

President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser expressed optimism that the omicron surge that has pushed Covid-19 infections and hospitalizations to records will soon peak, though that decline won’t be uniform throughout the U.S.“Things are looking good,” Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday. “We don’t want to get overconfident, but they look like they’re going in the right direction right now.”

Infections are “starting to come down rather sharply” in the U.S. Northeast and Midwest, Fauci said, in line with the variant’s trajectory in South Africa and other places. He said he expected that states in the South and West where cases are still rising will soon follow the same downward path, depending in part on vaccination rates.

“I believe that you will start to see a turnaround throughout the entire country,” he said. “There may be a bit more pain and suffering with hospitalizations in those areas of the country that have not been fully vaccinated or have not gotten boosters.”

Fauci sketched out two longer-term scenarios for Covid-19 as the pandemic enters its third year.

The first is that Covid-19 becomes “less virulent” and can be controlled.

“You’re not eradicating it but it gets down to such a low level, that it’s essentially integrated into the general respiratory infections that we have learned to live with,” he said.

The worst-case scenario is the emergence of a still-more dangerous variant, he said. He said this possibility is more reason for people to get vaccinated and receive booster shots, and to make testing and medical treatment more widely available.

Anthony Fauci, top US infectious disease expert, has said he is confident that most states in the country will reach a peak of Omicron infection cases by mid-February.

“You never want to be overconfident when you’re dealing with this virus,” Fauci added on Sunday in an interview with ABC News.

“Things are looking good. We don’t want to get overconfident, but they look like they’re going in the right direction right now,” he said.

Fauci added that there are states in the northeast and in the upper midwest where cases have already peaked and declined “rather sharply.” But cases are still rising in southern and western states, Xinhua news agency reported.

“There may be a bit more pain and suffering with hospitalisations in those areas of the country that have not been fully vaccinated or have not gotten boosters,” he warned.

The recent Covid-19 surge in the US driven by the Omicron variant is leading to record high cases, hospitalisations and critical shortage of healthcare staff.

The country has recorded over 70 million Covid-19 cases and nearly 866,000 deaths as of Sunday afternoon, according to real-time data from Johns Hopkins University.(IANS)

Harvard Immunologist Pillai Says, Omicron Could Replace Other Covid Variants, Survive As Common Cold

Harvard Medical School professor Dr Shiv Pillai says India’s third wave likely to subside by March, and suggests that the country’s response to the pandemic was a mixed bag.

The current Covid-19 surge in India is likely to subside by March. Over the long term, given its high transmissibility, it’s possible that Omicron will edge out all other variants of SARS-CoV-2 and survive as a relatively mild virus for which only the elderly need to be vaccinated.

That’s Harvard immunologist Dr Shiv Pillai’s “optimistic” take on the future at a time when an Omicron wave is sweeping the world.

In an exclusive conversation with ThePrint, he said it’s possible that Omicron will stay on as a fifth common cold coronavirus. These don’t confer immunity to those infected — it’s possible to catch the same virus multiple times in a year.

Dr Pillai added, however, that there’s also an alternative possibility of another wave caused by a resurgent Delta variant.

He also said that governments around the world didn’t tackle the pandemic as well as they could have — with India’s performance being a mixed bag — and emphasised that the flu vaccine gives no protection whatsoever against Covid.Dr Pillai is a professor of medicine and health sciences and technology at Harvard Medical School. He is the director of Harvard’s PhD and MMSc Immunology programmes. His research group studies T cell-B cell collaboration and its relevance to autoimmune and inflammatory diseases.

He grew up in India, studied medicine at Christian Medical College, Vellore, and went on to receive a doctorate in biochemistry from the University of Calcutta. He also has a unique poetic take on immunology.

Two future scenarios

Dr Pillai painted two possibilities for the future. He called the first an “overly optimistic scenario”, saying, “If Omicron replaces all other variants and takes over the population — which it’s doing quite well now — then it may be the only SARS-Cov-2 variant left. There would be immunity among the vaccinated against it, less among the unvaccinated. So, after seven-eight months, people who never got the vaccine would get Omicron.”

He added, “We currently have four known common cold coronaviruses that share similarities with Omicron. What might happen is that Omicron might become the fifth common cold coronavirus. It mutates but never gets highly pathogenic. We will then develop vaccines targeted at it, maybe get the elderly vaccinated. Nothing is a slam dunk in this situation. But there is a history of similar things happening in animals.”

Evolutionally, he said, the purpose of a virus is to replicate itself, not to kill its host — so any virus that does the former as well as Omicron has a fair chance of out-surviving other variants.

However, he added that there’s also an alternative possibility, that the Delta variant, surviving somewhere in the “Amazon forests”, will resurface and, taking advantage of the limited immunity Omicron confers against the other variant — “about 40 per cent of what you want” — unleash a virulent new wave.

India’s response varied

India’s response to the pandemic has varied, and sometimes lacked adequate information in policy decisions, said Dr Pillai. But there’s also a strong element of public education that seems to be missing, with people still shunning masks or not wearing them properly.

Large gatherings, including religious ones, were held in the open, and led to surges when the participants returned home, he said.

“All over the world, governments did not do as good a job as they could have. These things have to be rooted in science,” he said, adding, “I think people (in India) are not as serious as they should be. People don’t wear masks, or wear them in a way that will do nothing for them.”

“I am concerned about people not having information. I understand people are tired and life will go on. The issue of public education is a broader issue for a longer time,” he said.

He added, however, that “India did a great job in vaccinations.”

Expert CEO Forum at 15th AAPI Global Healthcare Summit 2022 in Hyderabad Urges Modi Govt. to Appoint an Indian Preventive Task Force (IPTF) and Conduct Annual Preventive Healthcare Screenings Nationwide.

Hyderabad: January 18th, 2022: The Healthcare industry in India and worldwide is rapidly changing, leading to many describing the healthcare environment as dynamic, complex, and highly uncertain. How the health care environment is perceived and characterized is vital for several reasons.  In this context, continuing with the traditions on the successful experiences of the past Global Health Summits, the largest ethnic medical organization in the United States, The American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) organized the next edition of the influential Healthcare CEOs Forum on January 7th in Hyderabad during the 15th annual Global Healthcare Summit 2022.
During the much anticipated CEOs Forum, a panel of healthcare experts, health industry leaders, opinion makers, and community organizers discussed the significance of promoting Preventive healthcare in India.
The CEO Forum Unanimously approved “An Appeal by AAPI to the Government of India to initiate efforts for creating an Indian Preventive Task Force (IPTF) and conduct annual preventive healthcare screenings nationwide,” benefitting the 1.4 billion people in India.
“We are excited to welcome you to the 15th Global Healthcare Summit and this elite panel of experts and physicians and healthcare industry leaders from India and the United States, offering an excellent platform to brainstorm and explore ways to focus on the theme, “Transformation of Healthcare through Telehealth and Technology usage during this post-Covid Era,” and to have an opportunity to recommend possible ways to plan and implement preventive medicine that will save resources and precious human lives,” said Dr. Anupama Gotimukula, President of AAPI.
Prof. Joseph Chalil, Chair of AAPI’s CEO Form, who organized such an elite panel of healthcare leaders, said, “AAPI, under the guidance of President Dr. Anupama Gotimukula, would like to collaborate with the Healthcare leaders in proposing the creation of an Indian Preventive Task Force (IPTF). IPTF guidelines should be promoted and implemented as part of the annual physical exam or telemedicine visit at government hospitals and primary care centers. We envision a great future for our country with the direct result of complex interactions at this forum with your assistance, guidance, and experience.”
Analyzing and assimilating the diverse and expert views expressed by the renowned speakers at the CEO Forum regarding the current state of healthcare in India, the CEO Forum provided a great stage to interact with a varied and distinct group of individuals and corporations, and comprehend the complex dynamics of the commerce of health care enterprise.
“At the CEO forum, AAPI is excited to perceive, debate, and walk towards a common goal of “Preventive medicine is better than Cure.”  We intend to promote preventive care guidelines in India by collaborating with Indian Physicians, Pharmaceutical companies, modern diagnostic labs, medical device companies, robust hospital chains, and public health experts,” Prof (Dr) Joseph M. Chalil, Chair of the Complex Health Systems advisory board at Nova Southeastern University’s School of Business; Chairman of the Indo-American Press Club and The Universal News Network publisher, added.
In her eloquent keynote address, Dr. Sangita Reddy, a Global Healthcare Leader, Indian Entrepreneur, and Humanitarian, is the Joint Managing Director of Apollo Hospitals Enterprise Limited – Asia’s largest and most trusted healthcare group, shared her passion for the care of the masses, using technology to reach out. Her conviction in using the Internet for patient management was substantiated by an MOU signed between Apollo Hospitals and AAPI for Telemedicine for Second Opinions. “Healthcare is in the center stage as never been before. Let us work together to bring about the transformation in healthcare. Technology is the great growling engine of change and transformation. It transforms quietly and silently,” she said.
Attended by a record 17 senior leaders from the healthcare industry, several challenges were addressed by multiple renowned speakers from the healthcare field, deliberating on the healthcare delivery system in India. Expert panelists who were part of the CEO Forum included: Prof. MD Nalapat, Vice-Chair of Manipal Advanced Research Group; Prof. (Dr.), Joseph M Chalil Global Healthcare Strategist & Best Selling Autor; Dr. Sangita Reddy, Joint Managing Director of Apollo Hospitals Enterprise Limited; Dr. Juby A Jacob-Nara, Vice President, Head of Global Medical- Respiratory Allergy & Gastroenterology (Sanofi-Genzyme); Dr. Anuj Maheshwari, the current Governor of the American College of Physicians India Chapter and the Vice President of Research Society for Study of Diabetes in India (RSSDI);
Dr. Gurava Reddy, Founder & Chairman, Sunshine Hospitals; Dr. Karthik Anantharaman Chief Operating Officer, Karnataka cluster of Roche India; Dr. Vikas Bhatia, Director of All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Hyderabad, and the founder, Dean of AIIMS Bhubaneshwar; Gaurav Agarwal, Managing Director of IITPL and co-founder of Involution Healthcare Pvt. Ltd; Shekhar Sattiraju, Senior Director – Takeda Pharmaceuticals, USA; Dr. Aarti Shah, Trustee, SRLC-USA; former senior VP of Eli Lilly; Dr. Neyas Mohammed, Chairman, AEC GROUP; Dr. Murthy Gokula, CEO & Founder, Global Tele Clinics; Dr. Venkat Ramana Sudigali, Founder-Director Excell Multispeciality Hospital, Hyderabad; Mr. Narayana Rao Sripada, Founder/CTO, Salcit Technologies Pvt. Ltd; and Ravi Gopalan, President & CEO of Argusoft India Ltd.
The CEO Forum unanimously approved “An Appeal by AAPI to the Government of India to initiate efforts for creating an Indian Preventive Task Force and conduct annual preventive healthcare screenings nationwide.” And an appeal was signed by the panelists to be submitted to the Honorable Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi, and India’s Ministry of Health.
“We urge the Government of India to appoint an expert panel of nationally recognized experts in the disciplines of preventive medicine and primary care,  including Internal medicine, Family medicine, Geriatrics, Pediatrics, Preventive medicine, Behavioural, Critical Care medicine, public health, mental health, obstetrics and gynecology, and nursing to create an Indian Preventive Task Force (IPTF),” the Panelists on the CEO Forum wrote to the Government of India.
Urging the Government of India to encourage private hospitals and insurance companies to provide Annual Physical exams, or Telehealth visits at an affordable cost to patients, the CEO Forum members stated, “many routine lab tests, vaccinations, blood pressure checks, and some cancer screenings like self-breast examination can be done remotely and even at patients’ homes with the help of Asha workers.”
“ We believe, the largest democracy in the world needs urgent investment in the preventive health of all its citizens and grassroots level reforms of the public healthcare system,” the letter to the Government of India, pointed out. “AAPI will be happy to collaborate with the appropriate authority of the Government of India to support India in its efforts to provide one of the best healthcare systems in the world.”
With the changing trends and statistics in healthcare, both in India and US, we are refocusing our mission and vision, AAPI would like to make a positive and  meaningful impact on the healthcare delivery system both in the US and in India,” said Dr. Gotimukula.
American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI), the largest ethnic physician organization in the United States, representing over 100,000 Indian American Physicians, has initiated preventive healthcare screenings in 75 Indian villages to diagnose any silent diseases, which are causing premature deaths from Diabetes, Hypertension, Renal disease,  Coronary heart disease and cancers like Breast cancer, cervical cancer, which are preventable if diagnosed early through these annual screenings.
For more information on Global Health Summit, please visit: https://summit.aapiusa.org/ceo-forum/  CEO Forum Video: https://youtu.be/t1cw1toalAQ

Over 10 Million Perform ‘Surya Namaskar For Vitality’ Globally On Makar Sankranti

Over 10 million people are reported to have joined the first ever Global Sury Namaskar event, organized by the Ministry of AYUSH under ‘Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav’ celebrations on the occasion of Makar Sankranti on Friday, January 14. The global Surya Namaskar demonstration was done to mark the occasion of Makar Sankranti.

The Surya Namaskar’s significance is all the more critical on the auspicious occasion of Makar Sankranti. It is celebrated to worship the Sun God and is the beginning of the harvest season for farmers. In light of this, the Ayush Ministry organised an event dedicated to the transitional movement of the sun as it moves towards the North. “Surya Namaskar has a profound impact on the physical, mental and spiritual well-being of humans,” Sarbananda Sonowal, India’s Minister for AYUSH said.

The sun will rise a little to the north on Makar Sankranti, January 14, bringing along many messages of cultural, spiritual and agricultural significance for the country. The word “sankranti” signifies transitional movement, the movement for betterment within and without, transitions on a cosmic level and in the zodiac signs.

The Ministry of Ayush has decided to utilize this occasion to reach out to humanity with a special and topical message of rejuvenation through the surya namaskar — the set of yoga asanas used to “salute” the sun.

Thirteen rounds were conducted on the DD National channel between 7 and 7:30 am. Many leading Yoga gurus and institutes like the Indian Yoga Association, National Yoga Sports Federation participated. In his address, Sonowal highlighted the advantages, “Scientifically, the Surya Namaskar has been known to develop immunity and improve vitality, which is significant to our health during the pandemic conditions.”

Calling the sun as the primary source of energy, it provides essential Vitamin D in the body and has been recommended by several medical experts around the world. The minister also added that the initiative sends a special message. “The demonstration also intends to carry the message of climate change and global warming. In today’s world where climate consciousness is imperative, the implementation of solar energy will reduce carbon emissions that threaten the planet.”

Sarbananda Sonowal addressed the audience during the festival and explained the same benefits. A statement issued by the Ministry said, “On the auspicious day of Makar Sankranti and during the celebrations of Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, the Ministry of AYUSH is hosting the first-ever global Surya Namaskar demonstration programme.” ‘Surya Namaskar For Vitality’ Around one crore people globally took part in the demonstration that took place virtually. Under the hashtag ‘Surya Namaskar for Vitality’, Twitter was buzzing with activity as many shared videos of them in action.

Considering the importance of yoga, the Ministry of AYUSH has dedicated due resources towards its growth and development — along with naturopathy — under the ambit of Indian traditional medicine systems. Furthermore, in a bid to popularise yoga at the global level, it has also been recognised as a competitive sport. The International Yoga Sports Federation (IYSF) has been constituted by the ministry and concrete steps are being taken to promote it as a sport at the international level.

Since 2014, when the International Day of Yoga was recognised, the event has grown each year, with greater international participation. As a part of its commitment to promote yoga on a grand scale, the ministry is in the process of setting up a centre of excellence for Ayurveda and yoga in the United Kingdom. In order to further boost professional activity in the domain, the Ministry of AYUSH has constituted the yoga certification board for yoga professionals and  accreditations to the institutions.

Building upon the “whole of government” approach of PM Narendra Modi, a surya namaskar demonstration program is being launched in line with the tribute to 75 years of India’s independence, Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav. The AYUSH ministry has not only engaged other ministries and state governments but has involved all major stakeholders in the global yoga fraternity in this mass demonstration program.

The universal appeal of yoga is embodied in the surya namaskar. As the sun is the source of vitality for all living beings, the surya namaskar is a sure-shot dose of vitality for humans without any side effects. The world is realising that vitality and strong immunity from within are the most pressing requisites to battle the re-resurfacing Covid-19 infection. For this reason, the surya namaskar becomes even more important.

Surya namaskar is a combination of eight asanas performed in 12 steps. The beauty of these asanas is that all age groups can perform them without much difficulty and their regular practice makes the whole system resilient. I will not go into the details of the benefits of performing regular surya namaskars here but would just like to remind the reader that a practitioner, like myself, is bound to feel energised, with overall well-being, throughout the day, thus saving personal and national expenditure on health-related issues to a great extent.

I am sure that this Makar Sankranti will herald the beginning of a novel resolve from the global community in making natural resources of energy, like the sun and the surya namaskar, our best and most dependable friends. This will help our planet in more ways than one.

Biden Admn. Announces Free At-Home COVID Test Kits To Every American

The Biden Administration announced that it is buying 1 billion COVID-19 rapid tests to give to Americans for free. The online ordering begins on Wednesday, Jan. 19, but is limited to four rapid tests per household.

Beginning Wednesday, Jan. 19, Americans will be able to order tests online at COVIDTests.gov, and tests will typically ship within 7-12 days of ordering, according to a press release from the White House.

Public health experts and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that Americans use at-home tests if they begin to have symptoms, at least five days after coming in close contact with someone who has COVID-19, or are gathering indoors with a group of people who are at risk of severe disease or unvaccinated.

The tests will be mailed directly to American households.

There will be free tests available for every household, and to promote broad access, the initial program will allow 4 free tests to be requested per residential address.

Biden free COVID tests plan

The Biden administration will launch a website where Americans can order free COVID-19 tests Wednesday, Jan. 19.

The tests, part of the administration’s purchase of 500 million tests last month to help tackle a record surge in infections, will be mailed to homes within seven to 12 days, according to an official who briefed reporters.

Biden announced earlier this week the administration would double its order with the purchase of an additional 500 million at-home COVID-19 tests amid a shortage of tests nationwide that’s led to long lines at testing locations and overburdened hospitals.

Insurance now covers at-home COVID testing kits. How to get free tests or reimbursement

Americans with health insurance can get up to eight at-home COVID-19 tests for free thanks to a new requirement. Starting Saturday, private health plans are required to cover the over-the-counter tests at up to $12 per test. Consumers can either purchase the testing kits at no cost or submit receipts for reimbursement from the insurance company.

A family of five could be reimbursed for up to 40 tests per month under the plan. PCR tests and rapid tests ordered or administered by a health provider will continue to be fully covered by insurance with no limit.

President Joe Biden announced the federal requirement for insurance companies in December and officials said Monday that it would begin Jan. 15.

“This is all part of our overall strategy to ramp up access to easy-to-use, at-home tests at no cost,” Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said in a statement Monday. “By requiring private health plans to cover people’s at-home tests, we are further expanding Americans’ ability to get tests for free when they need them.”

The administration is trying to incentivize private insurers to cover the tests up-front and without a cumbersome reimbursement process.

Health insurance industry groups have said insurers would carry out the administration’s order, but cautioned consumers that it won’t be as easy as flipping a switch.

Health Care Service Corporation or HCSC, an independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, told USA TODAY that if a member uses a pharmacy in its pharmacy benefit manager’s network, Prime, “they do not need to submit a separate claim for reimbursement.”

Aetna updated its website Friday with new frequently asked questions about the new requirement. The site said more information on how members can submit claims will soon be available.

How do I get a free at-home COVID-19 test with insurance?

According to the government’s frequently asked questions, starting Jan. 15, “most people with a health plan can go online, or to a pharmacy or store to purchase an at-home over-the-counter COVID-19 diagnostic test authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) at no cost, either through reimbursement or free of charge through their insurance.”

How much is the COVID home test reimbursement?

Insurance companies are required to reimburse up to $12 per individual test or the cost of the test if it is less than $12. If the price of the test is more than $12 each, the consumer will have to pay the difference.

Can I get reimbursed for past COVID test purchases?

Most likely, no. This will vary by insurance but plans and issuers are not required by federal law to “provide such coverage for at-home over-the-counter COVID-19 tests purchased before January 15,” the government FAQ said, suggesting consumers contact their health plans to ask about reimbursement for previous test purchases. Some states also already require coverage of the at-home tests.

What about COVID tests at testing sites? Will they stay open?

Insurers are required to pay for coronavirus tests administered at testing sites and medical offices, which can cost $100 or more, based on previous legislation passed by Congress to address the pandemic. Home tests, which consumers can buy without a prescription at retail stores or online, are less expensive.

How long will it take to receive test reimbursements?

“Health plans are encouraged to provide prompt reimbursement for claims for at-home tests, and consumers can find out directly from their plan how their claims process works and ask questions about reimbursement timing,” the government FAQ said.

Will Medicare pay for home COVID tests?

Americans on Medicare won’t be able to get at-home tests reimbursed through the federal insurance plan, but some Medicare Advantage Plans may cover and pay for over-the-counter COVID-19 tests. The Medicare website says to check with your Advantage Plan to see if it will cover and pay for the tests.

Will Medicaid and other government plans cover the tests?

As part of the American Rescue Plan, state Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) programs are required to cover FDA-authorized at-home COVID-19 tests. Coverage rules may vary by state, the federal government said.

Can the uninsured get free tests?

Those who are not on a covered insurance plan can receive free tests through the forthcoming federal website or from some local community centers and pharmacies.

How can I order free COVID tests from the government?

“Every home in the U.S. can soon order 4 free at-⁠home COVID-⁠19 tests. The tests will be completely free – there are no shipping costs and you don’t need to enter a credit card number,” according to a message on the government website.

What is the website to order free COVID tests?

The website for ordering free COVID tests is Covidtests.gov

Conservative US Supreme Court Justices Block Vaccine And Testing Mandate

The Conservative Justices in the US Supreme Court on Thursday, January 13th  blocked President Joe Biden’s vaccine and testing requirement aimed at large businesses, but it allowed a vaccine mandate for certain health care workers to go into effect nationwide.

The decision is a huge hit to Biden’s attempts to use the power of the federal government to fight the Covid-19 pandemic.

The President has emphasized the necessity of getting vaccinated against the virus for months and eventually decided to use the mandate on large employers as his main vehicle for convincing hesitant Americans to get their shots.

In freezing a lower court opinion that allowed the regulation to go into effect nationwide, the majority sent a clear message the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, charged with protecting workplace safety, overstepped its authority. In contrast, the justices said that a separate agency could issue a rule to protect the health and safety of Medicare and Medicaid patients.

“Although Congress has indisputably given OSHA the power to regulate occupational dangers, it has not given that agency the power to regulate public health more broadly. Requiring the vaccination of 84 million Americans, selected simply because they work for employers with more than 100 employees, certainly falls in the latter category,” the unsigned opinion in the businesses case says.

Biden issued a statement praising the ruling on health care workers but criticized the ruling on businesses that will have the much wider effect.

“I am disappointed that the Supreme Court has chosen to block common-sense life-saving requirements for employees at large businesses that were grounded squarely in both science and the law,” Biden said.

Moving forward, Biden said “it is now up to States and individual employers to determine whether to make their workplaces as safe as possible for employees, and whether their businesses will be safe for consumers during this pandemic by requiring employees to take the simple and effective step of getting vaccinated.”

Liberal Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan issued a blistering dissent.

“When we are wise, we know not to displace the judgments of experts, acting within the sphere Congress marked out and under Presidential control, to deal with emergency conditions,” they wrote. “Today, we are not wise. In the face of a still-raging pandemic, this Court tells the agency charged with protecting worker safety that it may not do so in all the workplaces needed. As disease and death continue to mount, this Court tells the agency that it cannot respond in the most effective way possible.”

The rule would impact some 80 million individuals and requires employers with 100 or more employees to ensure that their employees are fully vaccinated or undergo regular testing and wear a face covering at work. There are exceptions for those with religious objections.

The agency said that it had the authority to act under an emergency temporary standard meant to protect employees if they are exposed to a “grave danger.”

The Biden administration defended the regulation and argued that the nation is facing a pandemic “that is sickening and killing thousands of workers around the country” and that any delay in implementing the requirement to get a vaccine or submit to regular testing “will result in unnecessary illness, hospitalizations and death.”

During oral arguments, the Biden administration had asked that at the very least, if the court says employers can’t require the employees to get the vaccine, it should leave in place an alternate requirement for masking and frequent testing. The majority rejected that request Thursday.

Why the Supreme Court decided against vaccine mandate

Steve Vladeck, CNN Supreme Court analyst and professor at the University of Texas School of Law, said the ruling on the business mandate could have wide-reaching effects in future cases about the power of government.

“These cases were not referenda on vaccine mandates — which can still come from states, local governments, and private businesses — they were referenda on whether these kinds of expert policy decisions are better made by agency experts accountable to the President or by judges accountable to no one,” Vladeck said. “And if the answer is the latter, that’s going to be true long after, and in contexts far beyond, the immediate response to the Covid pandemic.”

Mandate for health care workers

Although the justices have been receptive to past attempts by states to mandate vaccines, the new disputes centered on federal requirements that raised different legal questions. The cases come to the Supreme Court in an unusual posture, because the justices are only being asked to block the requirements while the legal challenges play out.

The court allowed to take effect the vaccine policy rolled out in November by the US Department of Health and Human Services’ Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, which sought to require the Covid-19 vaccine for certain health care workers at hospitals, nursing homes and other facilities that participate in Medicare and Medicaid programs.

According to government estimates, the mandate regulates more than 10.3 million health care workers in the United States. Covered staff were originally required to get the first dose by December 6 and the mandate allows for some religious and medical exemptions.

Two lower courts had blocked the mandate in 24 states.

Justice Samuel Alito, joined by conservatives Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch and Amy Coney Barrett, dissented.

“Neither CMS nor the Court articulates a limiting principle for why, after an un-explained and unjustified delay, an agency can regulate first and listen later, and then put more than 10 million healthcare workers to the choice of their jobs or an irreversible medical treatment,” Alito wrote.

Study Identifies Predictors Of Severe Outcomes In Children With COVID-19

A new international study offers a clearer picture of the impact of COVID-19 infection and the risk of severe outcomes on young people around the world.

The study was co-led by a team of researchers from the University of Calgary’s Cumming School of Medicine (CSM), Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, and University of California-Davis Medical Center.  It followed more than 10,300 children at 41 emergency departments in 10 countries including Canada and United States, Italy, Spain and Australia.

Researchers followed more than 3,200 children who visited hospital emergency departments and tested positive for COVID-19. Approximately 3 percent (107 total) of those diagnosed with COVID-19 experienced severe outcomes within two weeks of their visit to an emergency room. In addition, 23 percent (735 total), were hospitalized for treatment. Severe outcomes included cardiac or cardiovascular complications, such as myocarditis (inflammation of the heart), as well as neurologic, respiratory, or infectious problems. Four children died. The study was published in JAMA Network Open.

“The study sought to quantify the frequency of and risk factors for severe outcomes in children with COVID-19,” says study co-lead Stephen Freedman, MD, a paediatrician and professor at the CSM.  “We found that older age, having a pre-existing chronic condition and symptom duration were important risk factors for severe outcomes.”

Researchers also found children deemed healthy at an initial emergency department visit rarely deteriorated significantly after the first visit.

“Fortunately, the risk of developing severe disease in children with COVID-19 discharged from the emergency department is very low,” says study co-lead Todd Florin, MD, MSCE, director of Research in Emergency Medicine at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago and associate professor of Pediatrics at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “Our findings can provide reassurance to parents and clinicians for children well enough to be managed in the community, while also providing important insights on which children may be at particular risk for severe outcomes.”

Although asthma has previously been suggested as a risk factor for severe outcome, this study was not able to confirm a link. It also did not find that very young infants were at a higher risk for severe outcomes.

“With emergency departments across the world seeing an influx of patients due to the COVID-19 pandemic and stressing capacity, this study will help address the surge by providing an estimate of the risk among pediatric COVID-19 patients screened in emergency department,” said Nathan Kuppermann, MD, MPH, chair of Emergency Medicine at University of California Davis Medical Center and co-lead of the study. “It will support emergency physicians triage of pediatric patients more efficiently by knowing who has risk factors for severe outcomes and focus advanced level care to those who do.”

The study occurred within the Pediatric Emergency Research Network, a global consortium of the world’s major pediatric emergency care research networks. It received support from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Alberta Innovates, Alberta Health Services and the University of Calgary. It also received COVID grant funding from the University of California Davis, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. Dr. Anna Funk, PhD, an epidemiologist and UCalgary postdoctoral fellow, was lead author of the study.

“There are no specific evidence-based treatments and therapies for children at this time and detailed research data describing outcomes in young people with COVID-19 has been lacking, so this study offers important insights that we believe will be helpful to front-line care providers treating children with COVID-19,” adds Freedman.

Research at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago is conducted through the Stanley Manne Children’s Research Institute. The Manne Research Institute is focused on improving child health, transforming pediatric medicine and ensuring healthier futures through the relentless pursuit of knowledge. Lurie Children’s is ranked as one of the nation’s top children’s hospitals by U.S. News & World Report. It is the pediatric training ground for Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

5 Supplements That All Adults Should Be Taking

Supplements are an important part of a healthy lifestyle. Even when adhering to a nutrient-rich diet, there are common vitamins and minerals that are deficient in most adults. Thankfully, there are many companies that make high-quality supplements that can help adults get the nutrients they need to be healthy and strong. In this article, we will share the five supplements that all adults should be taking to improve their well-being.

Vitamin B Complex

Vitamin B supplements are an important part of a healthy lifestyle. There are eight different vitamins that fall under the umbrella of vitamin B, and each one does something unique for your body. If you are deficient in any of these vitamins, which can easily happen, it can lead to major issues with energy levels, immune function, and metabolism. By taking a daily dose of a quality vitamin B complex, more adults will experience the benefits of proper energy levels and superb immune functionality.

Vitamin D3

In addition to being crucial for building strong bodies, calcium also plays an important role in brain function. In order to get enough calcium from the foods you eat, make sure you’ve got adequate vitamin D as well. Vitamin D helps improve the absorption of calcium in the body. While there is quite a bit of  vitamin D in foods like salmon, there are numerous other sources that people may not be consuming on a regular basis. Vitamin D3 is recommended for most adults who want to continue improving their brain function and bone health.

Multivitamin

In most cases, people want to take steps to better their nutrition. Yet, many of us aren’t sure what supplements we need and which nutrients would benefit us. A high-quality multivitamin should be essential on everyone’s daily schedule. Take time to research a multivitamin that will benefit you based on your unique situation.

It is important to conduct research to make sure the brand is consistent, high-quality and trustworthy. Thankfully, there are companies like Steel Supplements that have 75,000+ reviews from individuals who loved their product. Multivitamins provide an easy way to make up for any deficiencies you might have in your diet.

Omega-3

Omega-3 is an essential fatty acid that is important for heart health, and it cannot be produced by the body naturally. It needs to come through alternative sources such as pills or foods. For some people, including more omega-3 supplements in their diet can make a world of difference when it comes to mental well-being, specifically related to depression and anxiety.

Magnesium

Magnesium supplements are an important part of maintaining healthy muscle function. Although magnesium occurs naturally in many foods, there are many adults who still have deficiencies. By taking an additional dose, adults can ensure they’re getting enough to relax the muscles in their body and reduce symptoms related to stress and anxiety. Physical discomforts such as strains, spasms, and tensions  can all be improved by working more magnesium into your daily regimen.

Summary

If you want to improve your health and fitness levels, supplemental nutrition is a great place to start. Try integrating these vitamins and see how much better you feel by simply improving on some small things. Remember, these supplements will not replace nutrient-rich meals; continue to eat well-balanced meals to see maximum results.

AAPI Inaugurates Biochemistry Lab/Immunoanalyzer At AIIMS, Bibinagar, Telangana

American Association of Physicians of Indian origin (AAPI) has been in the forefront, especially during the Covid pandemic with its numerous initiatives to address and help communities  in the United States and in India to overcome the impact of the deadly pandemic. The deadly pandemic, COVID-19 that has been instrumental in the lockdown of almost all major programs and activities around the world, could not lockdown the creative minds of AAPI leadership and its thousands of dedicated members.

In continuation of its efforts, during the recently concluded Global Healthcare Summit in Hyderabad, AAPI donated immunoanalyzer at AIIMS, Bibinagar, Telangana, which does hundreds of tests every day. This is part of Covid relief efforts AAPI has taken over during the second wave of pandemic.

“The generosity of the members of AAPI and Indian community has been unprecedented,” says Dr. Anupama Gotimukula, President of AAPI. “I want to thank the AAPI fraternity, for not only contributing $5 Million towards Covid Relief Funds, but has spent hundreds of hours in coordinating and disbursing the vital medical supplies to the most needed hospitals across India. Thanks to the overwhelming support of its members that AAPI has raised almost $5 million in the past few months and has sent much needed medical supplies to India during the peak of the pandemic in India.”

Taking the lockdown and the social isolation as a challenge, AAPI leadership has creatively worked with the members to plan programs in educating and sharing knowledge on various timely issues affecting the healthcare sector and the people at large. In its efforts to help patients and medical professionals across the nation to receive the required support, training and supplies to protect and heal those infected with the deadly COVID-19 virus that continues to impact the entire nation, AAPI created a Help Line and had physicians participate and run COVID helpline.

AAPI coordinated with dozens of physicians including primary care physicians, ER, critical care and ID physicians, who see these patients on a constant basis, to help during this crisis. Questions are being sent by email and physicians answer them at the earliest convenience.

“AAPI has also collaborated with other national international and government organizations such as, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Indian Embassy in Washington, DC, National Council of Asian Indian Americans (NCAIA), GAPIO, BAPIO and Australian Indian Medical Graduates Association, in its efforts to educate and inform physicians and the public about the virus, to prevent and treat people with the affected by corona virus,” said Dr. Ravi Kolli, President-Elect of AAPI.

“As always, AAPI has been in the forefront, rising to the need of the hour. After our initial donation to AIIMS, Bibinagar, Telangana AAPI is planning to donate immunoanlysers to all AIIMS across the country. As you may remember, AAPI had donated ventilators and high flow oxygen equipment to AIIMS in the past,” Dr. Satheesh Kathula, Clinical Professor of Medicine and AAPI Secretary said.

Dr. Anupama Gotimukula, president of AAPI along with Dr. Satheesh Kathula, AAPI secretary, and Dr. Sujeeth Punnam, Chair, Chair, Covid relief committee participated in the inauguration of biochemistry lab/Immunoanalyzer at AIIMS, Bibinagar, Hyderabad. Later on they planted trees in AIIMS Vatika, Bibinagar and named one of them “AAPI”.  For more details, please visit: www.aapiusa.org

AAPI’s Historic 15th Annual Global Healthcare Summit In Hyderabad Concludes With A Commitment To Continue Efforts For Preventive Healthcare In India

AAPI Urges Government Of India To Appoint An Expert Panel Of Nationally Recognized Experts In The Disciplines Of Preventive Medicine And Primary Care

(Hyderabad: January 7, 2022) The 15th edition of the annual Global Healthcare Summit organized by the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) USA concluded here today with a commitment to continue efforts to preventive care in India and to collaborate with the federal, state and local governments, healthcare and technological industries, as well as with several not for profit organizations to help India make health delivery accessible, affordable and efficient.

“During the 15th annual Global Healthcare Summit, organized in Hyderabad, India from January 5th to 7th, 2022, physician leaders from the United States and India had an opportunity to brainstorm and explore ways to focus on the theme, “Transformation of Healthcare through Telehealth and Technology usage during this post-Covid Era,” and have recommended possible ways to plan and implement preventive medicine that will save resources and precious human lives,” said Dr. Anupama Gotimukula, President of AAPI.

Towards this end, while offering to collaborate with the Government Authorities, “AAPI is urging the Government of India  to appoint an expert panel of nationally recognized experts in the disciplines of preventive medicine and primary care,” she added.

The GHS 2022 was inaugurated by Shri Venkaiah Naidu, Vice President of India, who addressed virtually the hundreds of participants from the United States and India at Avasa Hotel in Hyderabad on January 5th.

“With numerous initiatives, AAPI has come a long way since its inception and has proved to be beneficial not only to Indian-origin American Physicians, but to Indian healthcare as well,” Mr. Naidu observed. He urged the medical fraternity and told them, “as you seek excellence in human health and well-being, do not forget the power of a kind human touch when treating your patients.”

Expressing regrets for not being able to be present in person due to the ongoing pandemic, Mr. Naidu told the hundreds of delegates in a recorded inaugural message stated that the Indian origin physicians in the United States have gained a formidable reputation and that several of them occupy the top administrative positions in the country. “They are among the most successful ambassadors of India’s value systems.” he said.

The Vice President complimented AAPI for its services in India – for raising $5 million during the second wave of the pandemic, for its ‘Adopt a Village’ program among its other initiatives.

The groundbreaking Global Healthcare Summit (GHS) organized by AAPI in collaboration with the Government of India, BAPIO & GAPIO, as well as Host Alumni Chapters, including OGKTMA, ATMGUSA, KAMCOSA, and GMCGA, was packed with programs that were treat to the hearts and souls of every participant.

In her opening remarks, Dr. Udaya Shivangi, Chair of AAPI GHS 2022, said, “This GHS held in amid the fears of Covid pandemic, and following strict Covid restrictions, has promised to be one with the greatest impact and significant contributions towards harnessing the power of international Indian diaspora to bring the most innovative, efficient, cost effective healthcare solutions to India.”

“We thank all the AAPI Members who are sparing their valuable time to come over to Hyderabad in order to attend this event, despite the ongoing situation of the existence of Omicron and travel restrictions. We really appreciate this gesture of courage and confidence displayed by you on behalf of Local Organizing Committee, for braving odds and attending the 15th Annual AAPI GHS, Hyderabad. This is highly admirable,” said Dr. D. Dwarakanatha Reddy, India Chair, AAPI GHS 2022.

Dr. Ravi Kolli, President-Elect f AAPI said, “We have made great strides in helping people to live longer, however, people are spending too many years in poor health, and these gains in health not felt equally across society. We need to focus on the rising levels of obesity, mental illness, addictions, age-related conditions like dementia, and a growing, ageing, and diverse populations, We also need to be aware of cyberbullying, pervasive misinformation and other harmful social media influences affecting our youth.”

“AAPI is collaborating with Global Teleclinics (GTC) to carry out this project in 5 states including Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Telangana,” said Dr. Satheesh Kathula, Secretary of AAPI. “It will be expanded to other states in India eventually. The tests will include CBC, HbA1C, lipid profile, creatinine, pulse oximetry, measurement of blood pressure, height and weight. 150-200 people are screened in each village in one day. There is an opportunity to screen a total of up to 15,000 people in 75 villages across 5 states,” he added.

Dr. Krishan Kumar, Treasurer of AAPI, pointed out, “India, thus needs to redouble and continue its efforts and dedicate resources to tackle these perennial challenges. Many of these projects and programs need regular funding, and management of resources. We are grateful to dozens of AAPI members who have committed to serve India with an ongoing commitment.”

“AAPI is here 365 days a year with the launch of the AAPI India Foundation. With the goal that every Medical student in India should have a Post Graduate seat and that every family in India  is under the care of a Post Graduate Family Medicine Physician,” Dr. Lokesh Edara, Chair, AAPI Global Education Committee and AAPI Board of Trustee said.

Dr. Sujeeth Punnam, US Coordinator of the GHS said, “An excellent 3 hour CME sessions with renowned speakers from around the world, Poster/Research contest and Med Quiz that was attended by a record 1,500 Medical students from several states in India, breath taking cultural events, interactive roundtables, clinical practice workshops, and meet-the-expert sessions, Women’s Forum by internally acclaimed successful women from India and the US, were only some of the major highlights of the Healthcare Summit.”

The topics for CMEs broadly covered the recent advances in Medicine. Workshops on Medical Education and Reforms in India, Psychiatry, Palliative Care and Diabetes as well the seminar on Lifestyle Medicine led by world renowned leader and founder of Life Style Medicine, Dr. Neil Bernard were educative and offered new awareness on trends in medicine and healthier living. The Tuberclosis Awareness Seminar focused on recent advances in the TB epidemic.

Dr. Seema Arora, the Chair of AAPI National Women’s Committee, along with Dr. Meher Medavaram, Dr. Malati Mehta and Dr. Uma Jonnalagadda organized the Women’s Forum with a panel of “Women Who Inspire” from all walks of life who have achieved extraordinary feats in each of their phenomenal lives.

Dr. Tejaswini Manogna, Miss India-Earth 2019 and the title of Divine Miss Earth India 2019, who was the keynote speaker and part of the much popular Women’s Forum said, “Woman is defined by her courage and self-confidence.” She told her fellow women to “Speak up. Do not suffer in silence. Be bold and brave to voice your opinion. If a woman can lead at home, she can lead the world.”

The CEO Forum, chaired by Dr. Joseph Chalil had a galaxy of CEOs from India and the United States, who shared their insights into the challenges and opportunities for making healthcare affordable, using modern technology and scientific research, Sangita Reddy, Joint MD of Apollo group of hospitals and incoming Chairman of FICCI shared her passion for the care of the masses, using technology to reach out. She praised AAPI’s efforts to help India through its Healthcare Summits in making policies in healthcare delivery more effective.

“AAPI, under the guidance of President Dr. Anupama Gotimukula, would like to collaborate with the Healthcare leaders in proposing the creation of an Indian Preventive Task Force (IPTF). We envision a great future for our country with the direct result of complex interactions at this forum with your assistance, guidance, and experience,” said Dr. Joseph Chalil.

“January is #CervicalCancer Awareness Month! In coordination with the local organizers of the GHS, AAPI is donating funds for the HPV Vaccination, a total of 200 doses of the vaccine for 100 children from the state of Telangana on January 9th,” said Dr. Meher Medavaram, an organizer of the program. “AAPI’s this new initiative through education and awareness programs, is aimed at help save millions of lives in India,” she added.

Indian Idol Keshav Kumar entertained the audience on Jan 5thnight during the gala.

The grand finale was the colorful rendition of the classical Indian dance forms, representing several states in India brilliantly choreographed by Mona Lisa, an internationally acclaimed Indian Dance Maestro. Dr.  Amit Chakrabarty, past Secretary of AAPI delighted the audience with his impromptu live music extravaganza.

The Pre-Tour of the GHS 2019 took the delegates to the serene Kanha Shanti Vanam, located in the suburbs of Hyderabad. Magnificent in its conception and design, tranquil in its atmosphere, Kanha, blending the beauty of nature with sprawling facilities gave an inspiring experience to AAPI members an opportunity to learn to relax and meditate, through the Heartfulness movement.

AAPI delegates and local GHS organizers had a unique and once in a lifetime experience, when they were treated to a royal reception at the fabulous Falanama Palace of the Nizam of Hyderabad.

The guided tour of the royal palace built in 1897, live Qawali by local artists at the palace for AAPI delegates and a memorable sit down royal dinner at the world’s largest Dining Table  with 101 Guests were some of the most amazing moments in life for the participants.

During his address to the AAPI delegates on Jan 6th, DAAJI inspired the audience with his enriching address focusing on modern day life, the stressors and the challenges, while offering insights into how stress relaxation, meditation and cleansing would help human beings lead a peaceful life.

“The next edition of the Global Healthcare Summit 2023 will be held in Vishakapatnam in Andhra Pradesh in the first week of January in 2023,” Dr. Ravi Kolli, President-Elect of AAPI announced.

“With the changing trends and statistics in healthcare, both in India and US, we are refocusing our mission and vision, AAPI will continue to make a positive meaningful impact on the healthcare delivery system both in the US and in India,” Dr. Gotimukula said.  “AAPI has made significant contributions towards addressing several issues affecting the healthcare system in India,” she added. “AAPI is pleased to announce that the National NMC of India has communicated to the World Federation of Medical Education (WFME) of its intent to be the national agency for accreditation of all the medical colleges in India,” Dr. Gotimukula said.

Appealing to the Government of India to appoint a panel of nationally recognized experts in the disciplines of preventive medicine and primary care; Adopt A Village Program in 75 villages, Cervical Cancer Vaccine Camp for 100 girls in Hyderabad, Establishing AAPI India Foundation; Efforts by AAPI Global Education Committee Advocacy of National Medical Commission (NMC) on WFME accreditation for ECFMG eligibility for Indian Medical graduates and successfully mobilizing NMC leadership and engaging and motivating Medical students in India through research contest and Med Quiz as well as the CMEs by highly acclaimed international speakers are only some of the tangible outcomes from the GHS 2022,  Dr. Gotimukula stated with pride. For more details, please visit:  www.aapiusa.org

India’s Vice President Naidu Lauds Indian American Physicians For Being ‘Ambassadors Of Indian Value Systems’

“With numerous initiatives, AAPI has proved to be beneficial not only to Indian-origin American Physicians, but to Indian healthcare as well,” Mr. Naidu tells AAPI Delegates at 15th annual Global Health Care Summit in Hyderabad

(Hyderabad, India: January 5th, 2022) The Vice President, Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu praised Indian origin medical professionals for “making their mark in every corner of the world” and being the “personification of our nation’s civilizational value of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam.”

Mr. Naidu was addressing the international delegates from the United States and India during the 15th Annual Global Healthcare Summit 2022 being organized by American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) at the AVASA Hotel in the historic city of Hyderabad on January 5, 2022.

“With numerous initiatives, AAPI has come a long way since its inception and has proved to be beneficial not only to Indian-origin American Physicians, but to Indian healthcare as well,” Mr. Naidu observed. He urged the medical fraternity and told them, “as you seek excellence in human health and well-being, do not forget the power of a kind human touch when treating your patients.”

Expressing regrets for not being able to be present in person due to the ongoing pandemic, Mr. Naidu told the hundreds of delegates in a recorded inaugural message stated that the Indian origin physicians in the United States have gained a formidable reputation and that several of them occupy the top administrative positions in the country. “They are among the most successful ambassadors of India’s value systems.” he said.

The Vice President complimented AAPI for its services in India – for raising $5 million during the second wave of the pandemic, for its ‘Adopt a Village’ program among its other initiatives.

The Vice President of India noted that “AAPI, founded in 1982, is one of the largest groups that represent the interests of more than 80,000 practicing Indian-origin physicians in the United States and 40,000 medical students, residents and fellows of Indian origin.”

In her welcome address, Dr. Anupama Gotimukula, President of AAPI, said, “This year’s Summit is focused on the theme: “Prevention is better than cure” through Technology, Telemedicine, and Transformation from the current disease-care system to a preventive healthcare system.” Dr. Gotimukula, who has chosen to focus on the “Adopt a Village” Rural Preventive Healthcare screening initiative, stated that “AAPI has brought to the attention of the Government of India the need for preventive health care screening to help detect diseases at an early stage and our purpose of the Global health summit is to interact and collaborate with Government of India and emphasize the need of annual preventive healthcare screening and have the healthcare accessible and affordable.”

She thanked Dr. Udaya Shivangi, Chair GHS, Dr. Dwarakanatha Reddy, Convener India, Dr. Sujeeth Punnam, US Coordinator, Dr. Lokesh Edara, Chair Global Medical Education, Ms. Vijaya Kodali, AAPI Office Manager, and my entire planning committees for dedicating their personal time and spending countless hours in shaping the conference well.” The official GHS Souvenir was presented to the leadership by Dr. Anupama Gotimukula.

In her introductory remarks, Dr. Udaya Shivangi said, “This annual tradition is a way of sharing, caring and giving back our medical expertise to our motherland. The theme of this year’s summit is “Prevention is Better than Cure”. Using Technology and Telemedicine as a platform we can make healthcare more accessible, Transforming the healthcare approach from Disease Care to Preventive Care.”

“We thank all the AAPI Members who are sparing their valuable time to come over to Hyderabad in order to attend this event, despite the ongoing situation of the existence of Omicron and travel restrictions. We really appreciate this gesture of courage and confidence displayed by you on behalf of Local Org. Committee, for braving odds and attending the 15th Annual AAPI GHS, Hyderabad. This is highly admirable,” said Dr. D. Dwarakanatha Reddy, India Chair, AAPI GHS 2022.

Dr. Ravi Kolli, President-Elect f AAPI said, “We have made great strides in helping people to live longer, however, people are spending too many years in poor health, and these gains in health not felt equally across society. We need to focus on the rising levels of obesity, mental illness, addictions, age-related conditions like dementia, and a growing, ageing, and diverse populations, often living with multiple and chronic conditions such as diabetes, asthma, and arthritis. We also need to be aware of cyberbullying, pervasive misinformation and other harmful social media influences affecting our youth.”

“Continuing with our magnificent efforts to help our motherland, members of AAPI, the premier medical organization in the United States has initiated Adopt-A-Village, a Rural Health Initiative in India, with plans to adopt 75 villages to commemorate 75 years of India’s independence,” said  Dr. Satheesh Kathula, the Secretary of AAPI and the Chair of AAPI’s Adopt A Village Program.

Dr. Krishan Kumar, Treasurer of AAPI, pointed out, “India, thus needs to redouble and continue its efforts and dedicate resources to tackle these perennial challenges. Many of these projects and programs need regular funding, and management of resources. We are grateful to dozens of AAPI members who have committed to serve India with an ongoing commitment.”

Mr. Naidu lauded the contributions of API, stating, “I am happy to know that  during the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, AAPI members had raised $5 million in a short time to support relief activities including sending life-saving equipment such as oxygen concentrators and ventilators” and that “AAPI team is working on installing oxygen plants in hospitals serving rural India, with some of these units having been commissioned already.”

He commended “this initiative because improving the infrastructure for rural healthcare is the pressing need of the hour in our country.” He expressed appreciation as “AAPI has started an ‘Adopt a Village’ pilot program to provide free health screening camps in villages across five states—Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Karnataka and Telangana. I am told they are planning vaccination camps in India with the help of local doctors, to address the issue of vaccine hesitancy. These are commendable initiatives indeed.”

Calling it an important initiative, he praised AAPI for its “awareness program for CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation). At a time of increasing share of Non-Communicable Diseases, especially those related to the heart, we need greater awareness among people to apply CPR as a lifesaving first-aid technique and save lives during heart attacks or near drowning. I believe school children, at least at higher secondary level, and in fact, every citizen, must be taught CPR along with other basic aspects of first-aid,” her added.

“Apart from being the ‘pharmacy to the world’ with path-breaking innovations in the pharmaceuticals industry, India has over the years, become a much sought after ‘medical tourism destination of the world’. Data reveals that nearly 7 lakh foreign tourists came for medical treatment in India in the year 2019 alone,” Mr. Naidu pointed out.

Mr. Naidu stated that “Indian medical professionals—doctors, nurses and technicians have been making their mark in every corner of the world and have been offering invaluable services for many decades now. It is estimated that there are 1.4 million physicians of Indian origin all over the world.”  Several of them occupy the top administrative positions in the medical field in the country, including Dr Vivek Murthy, the present Surgeon-General of the United States, among others.

These Indian-origin physicians are a personification of our nation’s cherished civilisational value of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’. They are among the most successful ambassadors of India’s value systems and propagators of our mission to ‘Share and Care’ for all the people of the world, irrespective of their nationalities. We are indeed proud of them and their services.

Noting that Indian firms have collaborated with US-based organizations to produce the recently approved vaccines — Corbevax and Covovax, the Vice President said “this experience clearly shows India-US collaboration in healthcare can reap great benefits not only for our countries, but for the entire world”.

In the midst of a possible 3rd wave of Covid infections, Naidu called for a sense of urgency in dealing with the new surge in COVID cases and to apply the lessons of the past waves of the pandemic. “We must consider it our ‘Dharma’ and ‘Kartavya’ to follow the COVID protocol at all times – wearing a mask, maintaining physical distancing and getting vaccinated, and secure ourselves and our community.”

He called upon public-minded individuals, social advocacy groups, medical professionals and the government to reach out to as many people as possible and get rid of any vaccine hesitancy that may be stopping India in its collective fight against the pandemic.

To bridge the gap between urban and rural communities, the Vice President suggested seriously exploring the use of telehealth and other technological solutions in reaching out better to rural and remote areas. “This will expand the utilization of our limited manpower and health infrastructure to reach the last mile,” he said.

Pointing to the many health-tech start-ups in India, Mr. Naidu suggested scaling up their healthcare services for rural areas, so that the geographical barriers may be overcome and out-of-pocket expenditures are rationalized. He observed that Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission, with a digitized record of the patient’s medical history, will boost these efforts.

The historic Global Healthcare Summit, especially during the challenging C ovid situation around the world, organized by AAPI in collaboration with the Government of India, BAPIO & GAPIO, as well as Host Alumni Chapters, including OGKTMA, ATMGUSA, KAMCOSA, and GMCGA, will have participation from some of the world’s most well-known physicians, and industry leaders.

Offering education to First Responders, a CEO Forum by a galaxy of CEOs from around the world, inauguration of AAPI-sponsored clinic, CMEs, Research contests, Med Quiz, cultural events, interactive roundtables, clinical practice workshops, scientific poster/research session and meet-the-expert sessions, Women’s Forum by internally acclaimed successful worm from India, a session on Public-Private Partnership featuring AAPI Healthcare Charitable showcase & innovation, are only some of the major highlights of the Healthcare Summit.

“With the changing trends and statistics in healthcare, both in India and US, we are refocusing our mission and vision, AAPI would like to make a positive meaningful impact on the healthcare delivery system both in the US and in India,” Dr. Gotimukula said. For more information on Global Health Summit, please visit www.aapiusa.org

AAPI-QLI Celebrates Silver Jubilee Gala

Nearly 500 people from across the country came together to celebrate the contributions, achievements and growth of the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin of QUEENS and LONG ISLAND (AAPI-QLI) during the 25th annual convention here at the Hilton Huntington, Long Island, NY on Saturday, December 4th, 2021.

Entertainment, CME lectures, Exhibition, Business Forums, Networking, Recognition of five distinguished physicians for their achievements and contributions, Gala and Dinner were some of those made the convention historic on this colorful and eventful day.

The United States Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, chief guest at the event, in his address, praised the contributions of Indian Americans to the larger American society. He lauded the great contributions of the largest AAPI Chapter with over 850 Member Physicians, who serve the state of New York in various capacities. “For 25 years, members of AAPI QLI has worked tirelessly to support Indian American physicians excel in patient care , teaching and research,” he said.

Kathy Hochul, the Governor of New York, lauded the great contributions of Indian American physicians, especially during the pandemic, putting your lives at the forefront, making New York stronger and vibrant. She praised the dedication, hard work and their contributions to the state of New York with their strong membership of over 3,000 member physicians of Indian Origin in the Queens Long Island region. “Our entire state of New York befits from the great contributions of Indian American physicians, who work in all areas of healthcare, and we appreciate their commitment to ensuring quality care for our people,” she said.

In his welcome address, Dr. Rajendra Bhayani, who was the President of AAPI-QLI, during the Jubilee year and as the Chair of Jubilee Committee, describing of AAPIQLI as “One of most prestigious organizations in the country today,” gave an overview of how the organization, and its trajectory of growth over the past 25 years and how it has become today to be one of the most powerful ethnic Physician organizations in the country.

“I am grateful  anmd stand here with adeep sense of gratitude and appreciation. You all esteemed members of AAPI QLI have given me tremendous opportunity to be your president during the very special year a silver jubilee year of AAPIQLI and to serve as the Chair of the Jubilee Celebrations. It has been  my pleasure and very special privilege to serve as your president during silver jubilee year of AAPIQLI.”

Dr. Abhay Malhotra, President of AAPI QLI in his address, enumerated some of the major achievements of the Chapter. He said, “AAPI-QLI has been providing a forum for monthly meetings for Continuing Medical Educations on Sunday, monthly sessions with discussions on current trends and changes on a range of topics in healthcare, wealth management, and practice management issues on Wednesday. AAPI-QLI is also engaged in charitable activities for the benefit of our community at large in the form of donations to several charitable organizations every year.

Dr. Jagdish K Gupta, past President of AAPI QLI, called upon the AAPI members to “stand united, in order to be able to fight for our rights,” while pointing to the fact that Indian American Physicians service every 7th patient in the nation and contribute immensely to the healthcare industry in the nation.”

Dr. Rakesh Dua, Chair of AAPI QLI BOT lauded the many achievements of the Indian Americans. “Tonight, as proud members of the AAPI-QLI, the largest and most active Chapter of national AAPI, we are celebrating the achievements of our community and our many contributions to the diverse society in New York and Long Island area.”

AAPIQLI, one of the largest chapters of national AAPI, has been serving 800 member physicians since 1995, providing continuing medical education, charity, and discussing the state of the art topics in healthcare, wealth management and practice management.

AAPI QLI has grown rapidly in membership and has been well accepted and appreciated by all local and national professional organizations. From the very beginning the leadership put heavy emphasis on transparency and the democratic process, which is the main ingredient for its enormous success.

The Mission of AAPI Queens and Long Island has been to represent the interests of all physicians of Indian Origin in the area including providing Continuous Medical Education (CME) and engaging in charitable activities for the benefit of the larger community in the New York region. For information, please visit: http://aapiqli.org/about-aapiqli/

“Heart Health Awareness And Community Bystander CPR” Program Organized By Indian Consulate in Chicago

During the Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav (AKAM) week, the Chicago Indian Consulate organized a Heart Health Awareness and Community ‘Saving Lives’ Bystander Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) program at the Indian Consulate in Chicago on December 15,2021.

The Indian American community-focused program was jointly developed by Dr. Vemuri S Murthy, Chairman of the Board of  Chicago Medical Society and Founder of the Chicago Medical Society Community Bystander CPR project “SMILE” (Saving More Illinois Lives through Education) in association with Dr. Srinivas Ramaka, an eminent Cardiologist from Telangana, India. The program was attended by several members of the Indian diaspora, leaders of Medical Organizations, and Diplomats of the Indian Consulate, staff, and families.

Inaugurating the program, Honorable Consul General Amit Kumar spoke on the importance of Indo-US healthcare partnerships to reduce morbidity and mortality due to heart disease and the major role of the Indian diaspora in strengthening these affiliations through jointly developed innovative projects. As an example, he referred to the Heart Rescue India (HRI) project, recently implemented successfully with Indo-US collaboration, involving the University of Illinois College of Medicine and UI Health, Chicago, and Ramaiah Medical College in Bengaluru with a grant from Medtronic. He congratulated the Indian Physician community for their ongoing contributions to the Indian and US Healthcare sector.

In his address, Hon’ble Member of Congress Danny K. Davis stressed the importance of taking care of one’s health. He commended the significant role of the Indian American doctors in contributing to the general health and well-being of US communities. In a virtual message, Honorable Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi congratulated the Indian Consulate and Dr. Vemuri Murthy for organizing the program and their efforts to enhance outcomes after cardiac arrests among the communities.

Consul General Amit Kumar, Congressman Danny K Davis, PBSA Dr. Bharat Barai and Dr. Vemuri Murthy released the community bystander CPR Informational brochure in three languages – English, Gujarati, and Spanish for the Indian and US communities. Brochures in other Indian languages will be available soon.

Dr.Murthy gave a presentation on Global Heart Disease, Heart Attacks and Sudden Cardiac Arrests with a special focus on Indians and Indian diaspora in the USA. He spoke of the  programs needed to improve the survival and outcomes during cardiac emergencies via. community awareness, prevention, early recognition, and timely intervention. He also brought to the attention of audience the need to seriously address “Women’s Heart Health” issues. A Hands-only CPR demonstration and training of the participants followed.

Efforts to raise awareness of heart disease and promote “Healthy Heart” lifestyles is essential. Heart disease is the number one Global Public Health problem. South Asians are at a four-times greater risk of heart disease than their western counterparts and have a greater chance of having a heart attack before 50 years of age. Heart attacks strike South Asian Men and Women at younger ages, and as a result, both morbidity and mortality are higher among them compared to any other ethnic group. They tend to develop heart disease ten years earlier than other groups.

Dr. Vemuri S. Murthy, an Adjunct Faculty in the Department of Emergency Medicine @ The University of Illinois College of Medicine, Chicago, Illinois, USA and Visiting Professor in India, is an Advocate of Resuscitation education, training and research in USA and India.His current work involves Cardiac Arrest Registries and Cardiac Health-promoting Projects with Indo-US collaborations.

Biden Resists Shutdowns As Omicron Threat Rises

President Joe Biden is resisting school closures and other shutdown measures in the face of the highly transmissible omicron variant as the public grows increasingly weary about a seemingly never-ending pandemic and confusion over mixed messages from health officials.

Biden is trying to urge people to take precautions, but his speech on Tuesday represented a shift from earlier messaging. No longer is he endorsing strict mitigation measures, such as nonessential business closures, and the concept of social distancing is hardly mentioned.

But Biden is facing the limits of what he can accomplish. The administration is pushing testing and vaccines, which it cites as part of the reason for not needing stricter pandemic measures, but there is no political appetite for anything stronger.

Biden’s new tone instead reflects the reality that COVID-19 is here to stay and that Americans should not be expected to completely upend their lives once again.

The U.S. never had a nationwide lockdown like other nations did. Even during the height of the pandemic in the spring of 2020, each governor made his or her own decisions about the level of restrictions to enact state by state.

Still, health experts and administration officials generally agree that widespread shutdowns of businesses and other in-person settings are unnecessary because the U.S. has widespread coronavirus vaccines that protect against serious illness.

“This moment is much different than March 2020. We have tools to keep people safe and will continue using them to do so,” White House coronavirus coordinator Jeff Zients said during a White House briefing Wednesday.

Further restrictions would also be massively unpopular, and Biden is already dealing with sagging poll numbers and a country exhausted by the seemingly never-ending cycle of exploding case numbers. The prolonged closures and restrictions last year had a damaging effect on the economy that the country has only partially bounced back from.

“The public is thoroughly disillusioned and past the point that they will accept a closure of society or that their kids are going to go home and learn remotely again,” said Lawrence Gostin, a public health law professor at Georgetown University.

“From a public health point of view, what we’ve seen from lockdowns is that every time we lock down, we do dampen down the virus, but as soon as we open up again, it roars back,” Gostin said. “We haven’t demonstrated any long-term benefit from lockdowns.”

But even if it’s not on the same level as 2020, the U.S. is starting to see some signs of disruption to operations it did not experience during the delta variant wave that began hitting the U.S. in the summer.

Some Broadway shows have been postponed, or even closed for good, after outbreaks. Restaurants are also shutting their doors due to infections or exposures among staff.

In the Washington, D.C., area, dozens of schools have resorted to virtual learning for the rest of the year; Prince George’s County schools in Maryland said they will be virtual until at least mid-January.

The NHL became the first U.S. professional sports league to pause its season after a rash of outbreaks among teams. The league also withdrew its athletes from the Winter Olympics in February.

But the White House is not endorsing any closures or pauses, especially in schools. With vaccines widely available for children as young as 5, Biden is leaning into policies such as mandates as a way to force the issue.

“We can keep our K-through-12 schools open, and that’s exactly what we should be doing,” Biden said.   Once a school or district announces plans to go remote, it puts pressure on others to follow suit. Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, said there’s no reason for anyone not to be learning in person, at any level.

“I think it’s irresponsible at this point to do that,” Jha said in an MSNBC interview Monday.  “We have all the tools to keep schools open and safe: vaccinations, testing, improvements in ventilation. Tens of billions of dollars have gone to schools. … If I hear of a single school district that goes remote but keeps bars open, what that says to me is they don’t care about kids and they don’t care about COVID,” Jha said.

Republicans tried to make school reopenings a major political issue at the start of 2021, accusing the Biden administration of bending to teachers unions. A recent White House memo distributed to Democrats about progress in Biden’s first year said that 99 percent of schools are currently open, compared with 46 percent before Biden took office.

Biden also recently endorsed “test-to-stay” programs that allow kids who have been exposed to COVID-19 to avoid quarantining as long as they test negative.

The federal government largely does not control whether businesses, sporting venues or schools close due to the threat of the virus or whether they implement mask or vaccine mandates. Those decisions mostly fall on state and local officials.

But Biden can use his bully pulpit to make a recommendation one way or another, as he did when he needled Republican Govs. Ron DeSantis of Florida and Greg Abbott of Texas for barring mask mandates in schools.

Bill Galston, chair of the Brookings Institution’s governance studies program and former Clinton domestic policy aide, said that Biden recommending further lockdowns would be a “grave step” that could further divide the country and inspire opposition from Republicans.

“It will just give them another opportunity to emerge as faces of the resistance,” Galston said.  That doesn’t mean there aren’t other aggressive, potentially politically fraught steps that health experts think Biden should take.

Leana Wen, professor of health policy and management at George Washington University, said the administration should institute a national vaccine passport program to make it easier for businesses that want to require proof for indoor activities. She said the administration should stay away from any mention of closures or lockdowns.

“Lockdowns are the ultimate blunt instruments. That is what you use when you have no other choice. There are so many steps you could take before reaching that point. And also, once you use that blunt instrument, it’s very difficult to use it again,” Wen said.

Gostin said that Biden should require proof of vaccination for domestic flights, something the White House has said is on the table. But he noted that Biden has met resistance to his other vaccine-or-test mandates for businesses and health workers.

David Dowdy, an epidemiologist at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, said it’s important to be realistic about the impact of any potential policy changes.

“I think empowering people to test themselves is a good thing. I think encouraging and even mandating vaccination is also likely to have an important effect,” Dowdy said.

Still, any major change would probably take too long to implement, and given the signs from South Africa, cases may start falling as soon as in the next month. “So I think the key is, what can we do to support people to make the right decisions right now, like today and tomorrow, to take the edge off this wave?” Dowdy said.

Dr. Akash Patel Assumes Office As IMANE’s New President, Deepa Jhaveri Is The President-Elect

The Indian Medical Association of New England, known as IMANE, installed Dr. Akash Patel, MD as its new president for the year 2022 and selected Dr. Deepa Jhaveri, DPM as its president-elect. Dr. Patel replaces Dhrumil Shah, MD, whose term expired this year.

Dr. Patel earned his medical school degree from Pramukhswami Medical College at Sardar Patel University in Gujarat, India. He completed his Family Medicine Residency at University of Medicine & Dentistry of New Jersey/Hoboken University Medical Center in Hoboken, NJ. Dr. Patel is Board Certified in Family Medicine. His clinical interests include hypertension, cardiovascular health and preventive medicine.

Dr. Jhaveri is a board certified surgical podiatrist. She earned her undergraduate degree at University of Maryland and podiatric medical degree at Temple University. She is credentialed and works at Beth-Israel Lahey Hospital, Massachusetts General Hospital and Boston Medical Center.

Dr. Pramod Shah, MD, Chair of the Board of Trustees of IMANE, said that 2020 and part of 2021 were dead years because of the COVID19 pandemic.

“Board of Trustees congratulate Dr. Dhrumil Shah for his leadership during these trying times. He kept the communication going and activities going using zoom meetings, emails and telephone calls. His continued efforts and constant prodding and reminders kept the organization functioning well and achieving a lot,” said Dr. Pramod Shah.

“Life of a healthcare professional in today’s environment is full of challenges and uncertainties we have never faced in the past. While we are not going back to yesterday, we have to embrace our past irrespective of our desires and work together to build a better future for generations to come,” outgoing IMANE President Dr. Dhrumil Shah said. “I am really thankful for members and our community partners who showed us in 2021 despite all uncertainties, how we can all do our part in making the difference.”

He said that IMANE closely collaborated and worked with network of its alliance partners in 2021 to facilitate fundraisers and campaigns geared towards helping underserved communities in India.

“Empowering our community through new partnerships and facilitating activities with common objectives has been at the center of our new normal in 2021,” added Dr. Shah. “Please join me in welcoming the 2022 IMANE Leadership team as we continue our journey together to further IMANE mission and goals.”

Dr. George M. Abraham, MD, MPH, FACP, FIDSA, Chief of Medicine at Saint Vincent Hospital, Worcester, Massachusetts, a Professor of Medicine at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, and Adjunct Professor at the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (MCPHS), served as the Chief Guest during the IMANE annual gala.

Three members of IMANE were also honored by IMANE President’s awards. D.. Sapna Agarwal was recognized for her contributions towards IMANE Leadership & Excellence. Dr Manju Sheth was honored  for her work in making a global impact, and Dr Paul Mathew was honored for leading IMANE’s CME efforts.

The 43rd general body meeting of IMANE also elected new members to its executive committee and it Board of Trustees. Here is the complete list of all IMANE officers:

President: Akash Patel, MD

Past-President: Dhrumil Shah, MD

President-elect: Deepa Jhaveri, DPM

Secretary: Sonali Khond, MD

Treasurer: Shikha Merchia, MD

Members at Large:

Paul Mathew, MD

Monnie Malhotra, MD

Gita Trivedi, MD

Sanjay Aurora, MD

Smita Patel, MD

Board of Trustees:

Pramod Shah, MD

Rajendra Trivedi, MD

Sapna Agarwal, MD

Vikas Desai, MD

Kishore Mehta, MD

Chairman of Nominating Committee: Devila Shah, MD

ByLaws Chair: Pramod Shah, MD

YPS Representative: Tej Shah, DMD.

Omicron Less Likely To Put You In The Hospital, Studies Say

Two new British studies provide some early hints that the omicron variant of the coronavirus may be milder than the delta version. Scientists stress that even if the findings of these early studies hold up, any reductions in severity need to be weighed against the fact omicron spreads much faster than delta and is more able to evade vaccines. Sheer numbers of infections could still overwhelm hospitals.

Still, the new studies released Wednesday seem to bolster earlier research that suggests omicron may not be as harmful as the delta variant, said Manuel Ascano Jr., a Vanderbilt University biochemist who studies viruses. “Cautious optimism is perhaps the best way to look at this,” he said.

An analysis from the Imperial College London COVID-19 response team estimated hospitalization risks for omicron cases in England, finding people infected with the variant are around 20% less likely to go to the hospital at all than those infected with the delta variant, and 40% less likely to be hospitalized for a night or more.

That analysis included all cases of COVID-19 confirmed by PCR tests in England in the first half of December in which the variant could be identified: 56,000 cases of omicron and 269,000 cases of delta.

A separate study out of Scotland, by scientists at the University of Edinburgh and other experts, suggested the risk of hospitalization was two-thirds less with omicron than delta. But that study pointed out that the nearly 24,000 omicron cases in Scotland were predominantly among younger adults ages 20-39. Younger people are much less likely to develop severe cases of COVID-19.

“This national investigation is one of the first to show that Omicron is less likely to result in COVID-19 hospitalization than Delta,” researchers wrote. While the findings are early observations, “they are encouraging,” the authors wrote.

The findings have not yet been reviewed by other experts, the gold standard in scientific research.

Ascano noted the studies have limitations. For example, the findings are specific to a certain point in time during a quickly changing situation in the United Kingdom and other countries may not fare the same way.

Matthew Binnicker, director of clinical virology at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, said that in the Scottish study, the percentage of younger people was almost twice as high for the omicron group compared with the delta group, and that “could have biased the conclusions to less severe outcomes caused by omicron.”

He nonetheless said the data were interesting and suggest omicron might lead to less severe disease. But he added: “It’s important to emphasize that if omicron has a much higher transmission rate compared to delta, the absolute number of people requiring hospitalization might still increase, despite less severe disease in most cases.”

Data out of South Africa, where the variant was first detected, have also suggested omicron might be milder there. Salim Abdool Karim, a clinical infectious disease epidemiologist in South Africa, said earlier this week that the rate of admissions to hospitals was far lower for omicron than it was for delta.

“Our overall admission rate is in the region of around 2% to 4% compared to previously, where it was closer to 20%,” he said. “So even though we’re seeing a lot of cases, very few are being admitted.”

A New South African Study

A new South African study found the omicron variant could be significantly less severe than previous strains of the novel coronavirus.

The study found people with omicron infections had an 80 percent lower chance of being hospitalized, compared to other COVID-19 cases.

The researchers cautioned, though, that it is unclear to what extent omicron is intrinsically less severe than earlier strains, and to what extent the drop is due to more immunity in the population, from both prior infection and vaccination, than there was in earlier waves.

“It is difficult to disentangle the relative contribution of high levels of previous population immunity versus intrinsic lower virulence to the observed lower disease severity,” the study, which has not yet been peer-reviewed, states.  Still, the findings could provide some good news.

“New pre-print from South Africa suggests that, at least among those vaccinated and/or previously infected, Omicron is much less severe than Delta,” tweeted Tom Frieden, former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Will that hold true in the US with an older population? We’ll find out in the coming weeks.” The South African study adds to earlier indications that omicron could be less severe, though researchers are still gathering data.

US-Authorizes Pfizer Pill For COVID Treatment

U.S. health regulators on Wednesday authorized the first pill against COVID-19, a Pfizer drug that Americans will be able to take at home to head off the worst effects of the virus.  The long-awaited milestone comes as U.S. cases, hospitalizations and deaths are all rising and health officials warn of a tsunami of new infections from the omicron variant that could overwhelm hospitals.

The drug, Paxlovid, is a faster way to treat early COVID-19 infections, though initial supplies will be extremely limited. All of the previously authorized drugs against the disease require an IV or an injection.

An antiviral pill from Merck also is expected to soon win authorization. But Pfizer’s drug is all but certain to be the preferred option because of its mild side effects and superior effectiveness, including a nearly 90% reduction in hospitalizations and deaths among patients most likely to get severe disease.

“The efficacy is high, the side effects are low and it’s oral. It checks all the boxes,” said Dr. Gregory Poland of the Mayo Clinic. “You’re looking at a 90% decreased risk of hospitalization and death in a high-risk group — that’s stunning.”

The Food and Drug Administration authorized Pfizer’s drug for adults and children ages 12 and older with a positive COVID-19 test and early symptoms who face the highest risks of hospitalization. That includes older people and those with conditions like obesity and heart disease, though the drug is not recommended for patients with severe kidney or liver problems. Children eligible for the drug must weigh at least 88 pounds (40 kilograms).

The pills from both Pfizer and Merck are expected to be effective against omicron because they don’t target the spike protein where most of the variant’s worrisome mutations reside.

Pfizer currently has 180,000 treatment courses available worldwide, with roughly 60,000 to 70,000 allocated to the U.S. The company said it expects to have 250,000 available in the U.S. by the end of January.

Federal health officials are expected to ration early shipments to the hardest hit parts of the country. Pfizer said the small supply is due to the manufacturing time — currently about nine months. The company says it can halve production time next year.

The U.S. government has agreed to purchase enough Paxlovid to treat 10 million people, and it will be provided free to patients. Pfizer says it’s on track to produce 80 million courses globally next year, under contracts with the U.K., Australia and other nations.

President Joe Biden said the pill marks a “significant step forward in our path out of the pandemic” and said his administration will work with states to ensure equitable distribution.

Health experts agree that vaccination remains the best way to protect against COVID-19. But with roughly 40 million American adults still unvaccinated, effective drugs will be critical to blunting the current and future waves of infection.

The U.S. is now reporting more than 140,000 new infections daily and federal officials warn that the omicron variant could send case counts soaring. Omicron has already whipped across the country to become the dominant strain, federal officials confirmed earlier this week.

Against that backdrop, experts warn that Paxlovid’s initial impact could be limited. For more than a year, biotech-engineered antibody drugs have been the go-to treatments for COVID-19. But they are expensive, hard to produce and require an injection or infusion, typically given at a hospital or clinic. Also, laboratory testing suggests the two leading antibody drugs used in the U.S. aren’t effective against omicron.

Pfizer’s pill comes with its own challenges.

Patients will need a positive COVID-19 test to get a prescription. And Paxlovid has only proven effective if given within five days of symptoms appearing. With testing supplies stretched, experts worry it may be unrealistic for patients to self-diagnose, get tested, see a physician and pick up a prescription within that narrow window.

“If you go outside that window of time I fully expect the effectiveness of this drug is going to fall,” said Andrew Pekosz, a Johns Hopkins University virologist.

The FDA based its decision on company results from a 2,250-patient trial that showed the pill cut hospitalizations and deaths by 89% when given to people with mild-to-moderate COVID-19 within three days of symptoms. Less than 1% of patients taking the drug were hospitalized and none died at the end of the 30-day study period, compared with 6.5% of patients hospitalized in the group getting a dummy pill, which included nine deaths.

Pfizer’s drug is part of a decades-old family of antiviral drugs known as protease inhibitors, which revolutionized the treatment of HIV and hepatitis C. The drugs block a key enzyme which viruses need to multiply in the human body.

The U.S. will pay about $500 for each course of Pfizer’s treatment, which consists of three pills taken twice a day for five days. Two of the pills are Paxlovid and the third is a different antiviral that helps boost levels of the main drug in the body.

U.S. Life Expectancy Dropped Nearly 2 Years in 2020

It’s clear that 2020 was a terrible year for health in the U.S., but just how terrible is now coming into focus. New mortality data from the National Center for Health Statistics finds that life expectancy dropped by 1.8 years in 2020 compared to 2019, and more than 528,800 more U.S. residents died in 2020 than in 2019. It is the largest single-year increase in annual mortality since 1933, when data for the entire country first became available.

COVID-19 is the primary reason for this shift. The virus was the cause of 10.4% of all deaths last year and became the third-most common cause of death in the country. However, the report also reflects the shock waves the pandemic sent through the U.S. healthcare system. “The report card for the year was an F,” says Samuel Preston, professor of sociology at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Arts and Sciences (who was not involved with the study). “It’s a very dismal portrait of what happened in the United States. And what happened in the United States is worse than what happened in other developed countries.”

Death rates rose from various causes, including heart disease (up 4.1%), strokes (up 4.9%) and Alzheimer’s disease (up 8.7%) as COVID-19 stretched the entire health care system to its limit. Mark Hayward, a demographer and a professor of sociology at the University of Texas at Austin, says that increases in these particular diseases is striking. “They’re the kinds of deaths that are likely to occur because you can’t access hospitals or you can’t access care,” he says. “The overall consequence of COVID is broader than just COVID-related deaths. It’s because we can’t provide care to people with other conditions.”

Access issues during the pandemic were reported across the health care system: ambulances bounced from one overwhelmed emergency room to another; short-staffed nursing homes struggled to contain the deadly infection; and hospitals were forced to postpone non-emergency surgeries to cope with the influx of COVID-19 patients. Check-ups, during which doctors might have prescribed cholesterol-lowering drugs, were canceled, and those unprescribed drugs did not prevent heart attacks. Many care providers also left the profession because of burnout and exhaustion.

Even these high numbers are likely an underestimate. About 17% to 20% more deaths should have been attributed to COVID-19, says Preston, who is studying COVID-19 and 2020 mortality rates as part of a collaboration between the University of Pennsylvania and Boston University. “We have concluded, as others have, that COVID itself was under-reported as a cause of death,” says Preston. “There are areas of the country where, compared to the changes in death rates overall, there are clearly insufficient numbers of deaths being assigned to COVID.” While undercounting was likely a bigger issue early in the pandemic, problems persisted, Preston says. For instance, areas with coroners (who are typically elected) instead of medical examiners (who are generally appointed medical officials) are more likely to assign COVID-19 deaths to other causes.

The pandemic also contributed to increased deaths caused by another type of illness: drug-use disorders. Recent government data found that between April 2020 and 2021, more than 100,000 people died from drug overdoses, the highest number ever recorded in a 12-month period. This record high was at least partially the result of the pandemic, as the virus not only disrupted treatment programs and affected patients’ mental health, but likely accelerated the spread of the dangerous synthetic opioid fentanyl. In the new NCHS report, overdoses are included in the category of unintentional injuries, which rose 16.8% year over year.

What’s also clear from the report is that while no part of American society was untouched by the pandemic, some groups experienced worse effects. Death rates rose among all age groups over the age of 15, and among white, Black and Hispanic people alike. The increase was particularly steep for Hispanic and non-Hispanic Black people: death rates rose by 42.7% for Hispanic men, 32.4% for Hispanic women, 28% for Black men, and 24.9% for Black women in 2020 compared to 2019. The gap between men and women’s life expectancy also widened. Men’s life expectancy fell by 2.1 years, to age 74.2, and dropped 1.5 years to age 79.9 for women.

The racial disparities are likely due to the fact that more people of color are frontline workers who aren’t able to avoid being exposed to the virus, says Hayward, who studies mortality and inequality. As more data become available, he anticipates seeing inequalities across educational lines. “The college educated could work at home and avoid exposure,” says Hayward. “​​You’re going to see a very dramatic widening of educational differences in life expectancies…driven in part because of absolute decline in life expectancy among the most socially disadvantaged groups in this country.”

Covid Claims Over 800,000 Deaths In US

The U.S. death toll from COVID-19 topped 800,000 on Tuesday, a once-unimaginable figure seen as doubly tragic, given that more than 200,000 of those lives were lost after the vaccine became available practically for the asking last spring.

The number of deaths, as compiled by Johns Hopkins University, is about equal to the population of Atlanta and St. Louis combined, or Minneapolis and Cleveland put together. It is roughly equivalent to how many Americans die each year from heart disease or stroke.

The United States has the highest reported toll of any country. The U.S. accounts for approximately 4% of the world’s population but about 15% of the 5.3 million known deaths from the coronavirus since the outbreak began in China two years ago.

The true death toll in the U.S. and around the world is believed to significantly higher because of cases that were overlooked or concealed.

A closely watched forecasting model from the University of Washington projects a total of over 880,000 reported deaths in the U.S. by March 1. President Joe Biden on Tuesday noted what he called a “tragic milestone.” He again called on unvaccinated Americans to get shots for themselves and their children, and urged the vaccinated to get booster shots.

“I urge all Americans: do your patriotic duty to keep our country safe, to protect yourself and those around you, and to honor the memory of all those we have lost,” Biden said. “Now is the time.” Health experts lament that many of the deaths in the United States were especially heartbreaking because they were preventable by way of the vaccine, which became available in mid-December a year ago and was thrown open to all adults by mid-April of this year.

About 200 million Americans are fully vaccinated, or just over 60% of the population. That is well short of what scientists say is needed to keep the virus in check. “Almost all the people dying are now dying preventable deaths,” said Dr. Chris Beyrer, an epidemiologist at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “And that’s because they’re not immunized. And you know that, God, it’s a terrible tragedy.”

When the vaccine was first rolled out, the country’s death toll stood at about 300,000. It hit 600,000 in mid-June and 700,000 on Oct. 1. The U.S. crossed the latest threshold with cases and hospitalizations on the rise again in a spike driven by the highly contagious delta variant, which arrived in the first half of 2021 and now accounts for practically all infections. Now the omicron variant is gaining a foothold in the country, though scientists are not sure how dangerous it is.

Beyrer recalled that in March or April 2020, one of the worst-case scenarios projected upwards of 240,000 American deaths. “And I saw that number, and I thought that is incredible — 240,000 American deaths?” he said. “And we’re now past three times that number.” He added: “And I think it’s fair to say that we’re still not out of the woods.”