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.”

Omicron Spreading At Unprecedented Rate, WHO Warns

The new coronavirus variant Omicron is spreading across the globe at an unprecedented rate, the World Health Organization (WHO) has warned. Cases of the heavily mutated variant have been confirmed in 77 countries.

But at a press conference, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said it was probably in many others that had yet to detect it. Dr. Tedros said he was concerned that not enough was being done to tackle the variant.

“Surely, we have learned by now that we underestimate this virus at our peril. Even if Omicron does cause less severe disease, the sheer number of cases could once again overwhelm unprepared health systems,” he said.

The WHO’s latest data suggests the variant – first detected in South Africa in November – can better evade existing vaccines and carries a higher risk of re-infection, leading the organisation to say the level of risk remains very high.

A number of countries have introduced travel bans affecting South Africa and its neighbours following the emergence of Omicron, but this has failed to stop it from spreading around the world.

In other developments

  1. More than 800,000 Americans have now died from the coronavirus – the highest recorded national death toll from the global pandemic
  2. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson won backing for Covid passes in England, despite the biggest revolt by members of his own party since he became PM
  3. The UK government also announced on Tuesday that all 11 countries on its travel red list would be taken off, with Health Secretary Sajid Javid saying the Omicron variant had spread so widely the rules no longer had much purpose
  4. Italy has extended a state of emergency until 31 March 2022, citing concerns over Omicron. The measures, which were due to expire at the end of December, give the government more power to limit travel and public gatherings
  5. The Netherlands says it will close primary schools a week before the Christmas holidays are due to start, in a pre-emptive bid to tackle infections
  6. Norway has announced a ban on serving alcohol in bars and restaurants, among other measures

In a news conference, Dr. Tedros reiterated concerns about vaccine inequity, as some countries accelerate rollouts of a booster shot in response to Omicron.

Recent studies of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine showed it produced far fewer neutralising antibodies against Omicron than against the original strain, but that this deficit could be reversed by a third, booster, jab. Dr. Tedros said boosters could play an important role in curbing the spread of Covid-19, but that it was “a question of prioritization”.

“The order matters. Giving boosters to groups at low risk of severe disease or death simply endangers the lives of those at high risk who are still waiting for their primary doses because of supply constraints,” he said. Supplies to the global vaccine-sharing program Covax have increased in recent months.

However, world health officials fear a shortfall of tens of millions of doses – like the one which occurred in the middle of this year when India suspended its vaccine exports – could happen again. In poorer countries, some vulnerable people are yet to receive a single dose.

This information is regularly updated but may not reflect the latest totals or vaccines administered for each location. Total vaccinations refers to the number of doses given, and may include booster doses in addition to those required for full vaccination. The definition of full vaccination varies by country and vaccine type and is subject to change over time.

New Jersey Physicians Donate $300,000 To Food Bank, Indian Cultural Center

The Monmouth Ocean County Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (MOCAAPI) in the state of New Jersey announced that it has donated $300,000 of which $150,000 to the Fulfil Food Bank, and another $150,000 to the Indian Cultural & Community Center in Toms River, making good on its pledge to help the community.

According to a Dec. 11, 2021 press release, MOCAPPI, a non-profit, 501(c)(3) charitable organization, was established in 2003, and has raised more than $500,000 over the years through annual charitable galas, popular golf outings, and other events, will continue to work for the betterment of society through its impactful donations.

“It was a long-time dream of MOCAAPI members to make an impactful donation which is being fulfilled today by making a $150,000 donation to Fulfill Food Bank of Monmouth Ocean Counties and $150,000 to the Indian Cultural & Community Center to build a much-needed Community Hall in Toms River,” MOCAAPI President Dr. Avinash Gupta is quoted saying in the press release.

“With everyone’s participation, generosity, and thanks to our past presidents’ efforts, we have been able to raise over $500,000 over the years,” Gupta added.

The physicians’ organization has also partnered with OCHD (Ocean County Health Department) to vaccinate thousands of its residents during the peak of COVID-19, distributed hot meals to health care workers in local hospitals and vaccination centers, and distributed blankets to the homeless.

For their volunteer work with OCHD, the physicians of MOCAAPI were presented with a proclamation from the New Jersey state senate and general assembly. It was awarded Healthcare Hero Award by the CMC Board of Trustees.

Fulfill’s new CEO and President Triada Stampas, along with Fulfill’s Director of Development Linda Kellner, attended the event where the donations were made.

Stampas said this donation will provide 450,000 meals. Currently, Fulfill provides meals to 215,000 residents of Monmouth Ocean counties out of which 70,000 are children. They even pack meals in the backpacks of 1,000 children to go, and last the weekend.

Ocean County Sheriff Michael Mastronardy and Commissioner Virginia Haines praised the MOCAAPI doctors for their outstanding service to the community during the pandemic.

 Dr. Bankim Shah, co-chairman of Shri Siddhivinayak Temple USA, (SSVT), and Pravin Parekh among several others from ICCC expressed their appreciation and said it will fulfill the need of the growing Indian community in the area. According to information provided by MOCAAPI, Dr. Shah “announced another matching contribution of $150,000 from SSVT.”

The leadership and generosity of Drs. Avinash and Geeta Gupta were praised, for a personal matching donation of $150,000 to the ICCC to build the community hall where children can learn about the culture and heritage, senior citizens can meet, carry out yoga, health care camps, motivational & life-skills classes, fundraising events and celebrate festivals together.

Dr. Avinash Gupta thanked his team of Officers, Executive Members, the Board of Trustees, and especially the past Presidents because of whom this was made possible, a press release from the organization said.

Child hunger is projected to increase by approximately 75% in New Jersey due to the impact of the pandemic, MOCAAPI said. Fulfill, a tax-deductible organization, has a four-star rating from Charity Navigator, with 95 cents out of every dollar donated going directly towards feeding hungry individuals.

The Indian Cultural & Community Center was incorporated in 2016 as a non-religious non-profit charitable organization(https://www.indianculturalcommunitycenter.org) in Toms River, N.J.

Eye Drops Could Replace Reading Glasses For Millions Of Adults

Can’t find your reading glasses? A new eye drop out Thursday could be a game-changer for millions of aging Americans who struggle to see up close.

“It’s definitely a life changer,” Toni Wright, one of the 750 participants in a clinical trial to test the drops, told CBS News national correspondent Jericka Duncan.

Vuity, the first eye drop for sharpening near vision, hit the market this week after the Food and Drug Administration approved it in October. The new medicine is meant to be used once a day and can improve vision for up to six hours at a time.

The eye drops will work best for people between the ages of 40 and 55, a Vuity spokesperson told CBS. That age group comprised two clinical trials and is most likely to notice the onset of near vision loss. 

Presbyopia, or age-related blurred near vision, typically sets in after age 40, according to the American Optometric Association. Around 1.8 billion people around the world have presbyopia, according to a 2018 estimate, and the condition affects almost half of US adults per earlier estimates.

For this group, Vuity offers a potential alternative to reading glasses. The eye drops might be easier to keep track of, but they are pricier at about $80 for a 30-day supply, according to a press release from biopharmaceutical giant AbbVie. The drops must be prescribed by a physician and are not currently covered by insurance.

The medicine works by causing the pupil to constrict, which naturally allows the eye to focus at different ranges. About 15 minutes after administering one drop in each eye, participants in clinical trials could see three additional lines on a reading chart.

The drops are not meant to be used for night driving, although they worked in low-light conditions for at least three hours after application in the trials. Side effects detected during the three-month trial period included headaches and red eyes, and some users had difficulty adjusting their focus between near and far objects.

U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy Urges Action On Youth Mental Health Crisis

United States Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy issued a new   Advisory Dec. 7, 2021, to highlight the urgent need to address the nation’s youth mental health crisis.

The “Advisory on Protecting Youth Mental Health” outlines the pandemic’s unprecedented impacts on the mental health of America’s youth and families, as well as the mental health challenges that existed long before the pandemic.

Murthy calls for a “swift and coordinated response” to this crisis as the nation continues to battle the COVID-19 pandemic. It provides recommendations that individuals, families, community organizations, technology companies, governments, and others can take to improve the mental health of children, adolescents and young adults.

“Mental health challenges in children, adolescents, and young adults are real and widespread. Even before the pandemic, an alarming number of young people struggled with feelings of helplessness, depression, and thoughts of suicide — and rates have increased over the past decade.” Murthy is quoted saying in the press release.

“The COVID-19 pandemic further altered their experiences at home, school, and in the community, and the effect on their mental health has been devastating,” Surgeon General Murthy warned.

“The future wellbeing of our country depends on how we support and invest in the next generation. Especially in this moment, as we work to protect the health of Americans in the face of a new variant, we also need to focus on how we can emerge stronger on the other side. This advisory shows us how we can all work together to step up for our children during this dual crisis,” he emphasized.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, mental health challenges were the leading cause of disability and poor life outcomes in young people, with up to 1 in 5 children ages 3 to 17 in the U.S. having a mental, emotional, developmental, or behavioral disorder.

Additionally, from 2009 to 2019, the share of high school students who reported persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness increased by 40%, to more than 1 in 3 students, the press release noted. Suicidal behaviors among high school students also increased during the decade preceding COVID, with 19% seriously considering attempting suicide, a 36% increase from 2009 to 2019, and about 16% having made a suicide plan in the prior year, a 44% increase from 2009 to 2019. Between 2007 and 2018, suicide rates among youth ages 10-24 in the U.S. increased by 57%, – PDF and early estimates show more than 6,600 suicide deaths – PDF among this age group in 2020.

The pandemic has added to the pre-existing challenges that America’s youth faced, disrupting the lives of children and adolescents, such as in-person schooling, in-person social opportunities with peers and mentors, access to health care and social services, food, housing, and the health of their caregivers.

The pandemic’s negative impacts most heavily affected those who were vulnerable to begin with, such as youth with disabilities, racial and ethnic minorities, LGBTQ+ youth, low-income youth, youth in rural areas, youth in immigrant households, youth involved with the child welfare or juvenile justice systems, and homeless youth, ther press release said. This Fall, a coalition of the nation’s leading experts in pediatric health declared a national emergency in child and adolescent mental health.

The Surgeon General’s Advisory on Protecting Youth Mental Health outlines a series of recommendations to improve youth mental health across eleven sectors, including young people and their families, educators and schools, and media and technology companies. Topline recommendations include:

  • Recognize that mental health is an essential part of overall health.
  • Empower youth and their families to recognize, manage, and learn from difficult emotions.
  • Ensure that every child has access to high-quality, affordable, and culturally competent mental health care.
  • Support the mental health of children and youth in educational, community, and childcare settings. And expand and support the early childhood and education workforce.
  • Address the economic and social barriers that contribute to poor mental health for young people, families, and caregivers.
  • Increase timely data collection and research to identify and respond to youth mental health needs more rapidly. This includes more research on the relationship between technology and youth mental health, and technology companies should be more transparent with data and algorithmic processes to enable this research.

Dr. Ann Shippy Launches Be Resilient, Be Immune Program

Are you worried about the status of your immune system? You’re not alone. People all over the globe have been feeling anxious about their health and the health of their loved ones. It’s something that most of us have not had to deal with in our lifetimes. With stress and the uncertainty of your future health, it’s more important than ever to build a strong, resilient immune system.

Dr. Ann Shippy’s Be Resilient Be Immune program provides strategies to build immune defenses and lifelong wellness.  Dr. Ann Shippy merged her internal medicine background, extensive research, and clinical expertise into an online program that was designed to help you take control of your health, build confidence, and stop living with fear. Be Resilient Be Immune is for anyone who wants to learn Dr. Shippy’s strategies for resilient health.

In a series of over 25 comprehensive videos, Dr. Shippy shares her recommendations and action steps on what you can do now to help prepare your body so that you’ll be better equipped to resist and fight infection. This program includes everything from diet recommendations, treatment protocols and lifestyle choices to help you elevate and improve your immune system naturally while helping to support lifelong wellness.

Dr. Shippy’s methods are designed to help you identify your individual challenges and build a solid foundation for a stronger immune system. The program’s topics include labs to help assess your immune status, lifestyle choices that may lower immune status, analysis of worldwide data and treatments, and nutraceuticals and other strategies to support resilience.

Dr. Shippy has committed her work to designing life-altering treatments and protocols for her patients by tapping into the human body’s incredible ability to express or repress helpful or detrimental genes, as well as prevent, heal and even reverse certain illnesses. In this program, Dr. Shippy also addresses the science of epigenetics, the way lifestyle impacts genetic expression and how this all ties into resilience, immunity, and your future health.

Clients who have completed the program mention how Dr. Shippy helped get their body back into balance while laying the foundation for a healthy immune response that was resilient when challenged. Be Resilient Be Immune is a substantial and compelling program for anyone who is looking for sound, scientific resources and tools from a premier functional medicine doctor.

Dr. Shippy believes that everyone (especially those who may be at high risk) should implement key strategies to build up their immune system to achieve resilience for this infection as well as other illnesses. If you or someone you know wants to learn how to be prepared, be resilient and be strong, sign up today for this insightful and informative health program, led by Dr. Shippy.

Dr. Shippy’s Background
As a former IBM engineer, Dr. Ann Shippy, MD transitioned to the world of medicine in part in search of better solutions to her own health ailments, which she hadn’t found in traditional medicine. She is board-certified in internal medicine and certified in functional medicine to better serve her patients. Her practice, which is based in Austin, Texas, takes a functional approach to a wide range of health concerns, including autoimmunity, digestive issues, and toxicity from mold exposure and heavy metals. Dr. Shippy has authored two health manuals: Mold Toxicity Workbook and Shippy Paleo Essentials.

Eye Drops Approved By FDA To Replace Reading Glasses

A newly-approved eye drop could change the lives of millions of Americans with age-related blurred near vision, a condition affecting mostly people 40 and older, CBS News reported. Vuity, which was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in October, would potentially replace reading glasses for some of the 128 million Americans who have trouble seeing close-up.

The new medicine takes effect in about 15 minutes, with one drop on each eye providing sharper vision for six to 10 hours, according to the company, the CBS News report said. Toni Wright, one of the 750 participants in a clinical trial to test the drug, said she liked what she saw. “It’s definitely a life changer,” she told the media.

Before the trial, the only way Wright could see things clearly was by keeping reading glasses everywhere — in her office, bathroom, kitchen and car. “I was in denial because to me that was a sign of growing older, you know, needing to wear glasses,” she said.

It was in 2019 that her doctor told her about a new eye drop with the potential to correct her vision problems, temporarily. The 54-year-old online retail consultant, who works from her farm in western Pennsylvania, instantly noticed a difference, the report said. “I would not need my readers as much, especially on the computer, where I would always need to have them on,” she said.

Vuity is the first FDA-approved eye drop to treat age-related blurry near vision, also known as presbyopia. The prescription drug utilizes the eye’s natural ability to reduce its pupil size, said George Waring, the principal investigator for the trial. “Reducing the pupil size expands the depth of field or the depth of focus, and that allows you to focus at different ranges naturally,” he said.

A 30-day supply of the drug will cost about $80 and works best in people 40 to 55 years old, a Vuity spokesperson said. Side effects detected in the three-month trial included headaches and red eyes, the company said. “This is something that we anticipate will be well tolerated long term, but this will be evaluated and studied in a formal capacity,” the CBS News report quoted Waring as saying.

Vuity is by no means a cure-all, and the maker does caution against using the drops when driving at night or performing activities in low-light conditions. The drops are for mild to intermediate cases and are less effective after age 65, as eyes age. Users may also have temporary difficulty in adjusting focus between objects near and far.

Lessons In Critical Care Nursing From The COVID-19 Pandemic

Since March of 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic has put an unprecedented strain on the American health care system as large surges of intensive care unit patients overwhelmed hospitals.  Facing this challenge, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) expanded ICU capacity by 93 percent and maintained surge conditions during the nine weeks in the spring of 2020.

In a pair of papers and a guest editorial published in Dimensions of Critical Care Nursing, a team of nurse-scientists at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) share their experiences nearly doubling the hospital’s intensive care unit capacity; identifying, training and redeploying staff; and developing and implementing a proning team to manage patients with acute respiratory distress syndrome during the first COVID-19 surge.

“As COVID-19 was sweeping through the nation, we at BIDMC were preparing for the projected influx of highly infectious, critically ill patients,” said lead author Sharon C. O’Donoghue, DNP, RN, a nurse specialist in the medical intensive care units at BIDMC. “It rapidly became apparent that a plan for the arrival of highly infectious critically ill patients as well as a strategy for adequate staffing protecting employees and assuring the public that this could be managed successfully were needed.”

After establishing a hospital incident command structure to clearly define roles, open up lines of communication and develop surge plans, BIDMC leadership began planning for the impending influx of patients with COVID-19 in February 2020.

BIDMC – a 673 licensed bed teaching hospital affiliated with Harvard Medical School – has nine specialty ICUs located on two campuses for a total of 77 ICU beds. Informed by an epidemic surge drill conducted at BIDMC in 2012, leadership determined that the trigger to open extra ICU space would be when 70 ICU beds were occupied. When this milestone was met on March 31, 2020, departmental personnel had a 12-hour window to convert two 36-bed medical-surgical units into additional ICU space, providing an additional 72 beds.

“Because the medical-surgical environment is not designed to deliver an ICU level of care, many modifications needed to be made and the need for distancing only added to the difficulties,” said senior author Susan DeSanto-Madeya, PhD, RN, FAAN, a Beth Israel Hospital Nurses Alumna Association endowed nurse scientist. “Many of these rooms were originally designed for patient privacy and quiet, but a key safety element in critical care is patient visibility, so we modified the spaces to accommodate ICU workflow.”

Modifications included installing windows in all patient room doors, and repositioning beds and monitors so patients and screens could be easily seen without entering the room. Lines of visibility were augmented with mirrors and baby monitor systems as necessary. To further minimize staff exposure to the virus, care providers were given two-way radios to decrease the number of staff required to enter a room when hands-on patient care was necessary. Mobile supply carts and workstations helped improved overall workflow efficiency.

In addition to stockpiling and managing medical equipment including personal protective equipment (PPE), ventilators and oxygen, increasing ICU capacity also required redeploying 150 staff trained in critical care. The hospital developed a recall list for former ICU nurses. Further, medical-surgical nurses that could bring their skills to care for critically ill patients on teams with veteran ICU nurses were also identified.

Redeployment of staff required education and support. In-person, socially-distanced workshops were developed for each group, after which nurses were assigned to shadow an ICU nurse to reduce anxiety, practice new skills and gain confidence.

“Staff identified the shadow experience as being most beneficial in preparing them for deployment during the COVID-19 surge,” said O’Donoghue. “Historically, BIDMC has had strong collaborative relationships with staff from different areas and these relationships proved to be vital to the success of all the care teams. The social work department played a major role in fostering teams, especially during difficult situations.”

One of the redeployment teams was the ICU proning team, brought together to support bedside clinicians by facilitating safe and timely prone positioning. Proning is an intervention known to improve oxygenation in patients with acute respiratory distress syndrome – a key feature of severe COVID-19 – that is complex, takes time and is not without its potential dangers to the patient and staff alike. The coalition maximized resources and facilitated more than 160 interventions between March and May of 2020.

“Although the pandemic was an unprecedented occurrence, it has prepared us for potential future crises requiring the collaboration of multidisciplinary teams to ensure optimal outcomes in an overextended environment,” O’Donoghue said. “BIDMC’s staff rose to the challenge, and many positive lessons were learned from this difficult experience.”

“We must continue to be vigilant in our assessment of what worked and what did not work and look for ways to improve health care delivery in all our systems,” said DeSanto-Madeya, who is also an associate professor at the College of Nursing at the University of Rhode Island. “The memories from this past year and a half cannot be forgotten, and we can move forward confidently knowing we provided the best care possible despite all the hardships.”

Co-authors included Jacqueline Hardman, BSN, RN; Joanna Anderson, BSN, RN, CCRN, CNRN; Jane Foley, DNP, RN; Jean Gillis, MSN, RN; Kimberly Maloof, MSN, RN; Andrea Milano, MSN, RN, CCRN, CMC; John Whitlock, MS, RN; Meghan Church, DPT; Kristin Russell, BSN, RN; Kelly A. Gamboa, DNP, RN, CNOR; Jennifer Sarge, BSN, RN, Ari Moskowitz, MD; Margaret M. Hayes, MD, ATSF; and Michael N. Cocchi, MD, of BIDMC.

The authors disclosed that they have no significant relationships with or financial interest in any commercial companies pertaining to this article.

AAPI Initiates “Awareness Campaign On Cervical Cancer Prevention With HPV Vaccination In Children” During Global Healthcare Summit In Hyderabad

“January is #CervicalCancer Awareness Month!,” Dr. Anupama Gotimukula, President of Association of American Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) said here today. “At AAPI, in keeping with our efforts and initiatives to educate and create awareness on disease prevention, we are planning to focus on bringing awareness of Cervical Cancer in India during the upcoming Global Healthcare Summit (GHS) 2022 at the Hotel Avasa in Hyderabad, India from January 5th to 7th, 2022.

Dr. Ravi Kolli, President-Elect of AAPI, said, “Our theme for GHS 2022 is: ‘Prevention Better than Cure.” Cervical Cancer is preventable through Vaccination and Early Pap smears and cervical examinations. Justifiably so, one of our preventive campaign goals this year is to provide education and prevention of  Cervical Cancer in India.”

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.

Dr. Udhaya Shivangi, Chair of AAPI GHS 2022 said, “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. We want to sponsor a minimum of 100 free vaccines among High School children during our Global Healthcare Summit. We urge all AAPI members and leaders, to join us in this fight to eradicate Cervical Cancer.”

Quoting research studies, Dr. Kusum Punjabi, Chair of AAPI BOT, 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. GHS 2022 will be a forum to educate and create awareness about this deadly disease that can be prevented.”

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.

“AAPI’s this new initiative will help save millions of lives in India” Dr. Meher Medavaram, a key organizer of GHS 2022 pointed out. “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. Anjana Samadder, Vice President of AAPI, said, “In addition to Cervical cancer, GHS 2022 will also focus on: Chronic diseases which can be prevented- notably diabetes, cardiovascular, hypertension, COPD, oncology, maternal and infant mortality, Mmanagement of neurological emergencies ENLS a certification course  are only some of those that are going to be covered during this Summit.”

While elaborating the objectives of the Summit, Dr. Satheesh Kathula, Secretary of AAPI, says, “This innovative Summit is aimed at advancing the accessibility, affordability and the quality of world-class healthcare to the people of India. Among other areas, the Summit will focus on prevention, diagnosis, treatment options and share ways to truly improve healthcare transcending global boundaries.”

Dr. Krishan Kumar, Treasurer of AAPI said, “Through Continuing Medical Education and non-CME seminars by experts in their fields, AAPI 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.”

There are several AAPI leaders who are working hard to make the GHS a memorable event, said Dr. Gotimukula. “Among them, I want to recognize Dr. Sujeeth Punnam, US Coordinator, Dr. Dwarkananda Reddy, GHS Indian Coordinator; Dr. Lokesh Edara, Chair Global Medical Education; Dr. Prabhakar Sharma, CME Chair, Dr. Prabhat Sinha, Chair Sponsorships and Exhibits, Dr. Seema Arora, Chair of Women’s Forum; Dr. Joseph M. Chalil, Chair of CEO Forum; Dr. Belani Kumar, Chair of the Medical Students Research Poster presentations; Dr. Lakshmi Thirunagari and Coordinators of Medical Jeopardy.

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

Northeastern Pennsylvania Chapter Of AAPI In Partnership With Red Cross Organizes Blood Drive

The newly formed NORTHEASTERN Pennsylvania Chapter of the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) in partnership with the local Red Cross organized a highly successful Blood Donation Drive on December 9, 2001 at The Jewish community center of SCRANTON, PA, with dozens of people coming forward and donated blood in a matter of five hours.

The Blood Drive, which, Dr. Dipti Pancholy Founding President NEPA-AAPI, described as “the first step in fulfilling our mission, which is to improve quality, access and delivery of health care by creating an environment of professionalism, and rewarding service as well as merit in Northeastern PA and globally.”

”This drive was a team effort on the part of Dr. Kishori Veerabhadrappa, Dr. Sanket Dalwadi, Dr. Jumee Barooha and Red Cross representative Heidi Deleo,” Dr. Pancholi added. Excited about the very positive and encouraging support from the community, Dr. Pancholi said, “We plan to conduct future blood drives in the 11 counties that north eastern Pennsylvania.

Dr. Pancholi praised the efforts and contributions of her Team members, including, Dr. Kishori Veerabhadrappa, a Hematologist by profession and the Coordinator of Blood Drive for NEPA-AAPI; Dr.
Sanketkumar Dalwadi, Chairperson of Community Service Committee; Dr. Sandhya Desai, Secretary NEPA AAPI; Ms. Judy McGovern, Red Cross Volunteer; and, Ms. Heidi Deleo Lackawanna, County Red Cross Director for their generous support in helping organize the highly successful event.

“I am grateful to the dozens of local AAPI Chapters, and the newly formed NEPA AAPI Chapter  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, we have taken  this initiative to do National AAPI Blood Donation Drives in 75 cities,” said Dr. Anupama Gotimukula, President of American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI,) the largest ethnic organization in the United States.

“On the occasion of the 75thIndependence Day of India, we the physicians of Indian origin serving every 7th patient in the United States, are excited to launch this unique and noble initiative and Stem Cell Drive”  in 75 cities across the United States,” Dr. Gotimukula added.

“Well done, Dr.  Dipti Pancholi and NEPA AAPI team. So glad you all are an integral part of our AAPI team. AAPI has launched 75 city blood donation drive. It only takes 15 minutes of one’s time and can save and sustain 3 lives with each pint of blood. So let us all be the heroes and life savers. We all are one humanity and one family, Vasudhaiva Kutubakam,” said Dr. Ravi Kolli, President-Elect of AAPI.

A single blood donation can save three lives. Each blood component of 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.

NEPA-AAPI is a newly formed, nonprofit association of physicians and dentists in the 11 counties of northeastern Pennsylvania and a chapter of the American Association of Physician of Indian Origin (AAPI), the largest ethnic physician organization in the United States

“We are grateful to Northeastern Pennsylvania Chapter of American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (NEPA AAPI) for participating in a national initiative of AAPI that has initiated and organized Blood Donation Drives across the United States, in honor of Fallen Heroes of Covid-19,” said Dr. Pancholy, President of NEPA AAPI.

“I urge others 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, please visit: www.aapiusa,org

CT Association of Physicians of Indian Origin Organizes Blood Drive

The Connecticut Chapter of The American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (CAPI) in partnership with the local Red Cross organized a highly successful Blood Donation Drive on December 11th, 2001 at the Norfield Church in Weston, CT with dozens of people coming forward and donated blood to save lives.

Dr. Jaya Daptardar and Dr. Ram Chirunomula of CAPI coordinated the efforts and organized the successful Blood Drive, which has been dedicated to the Fallen Heroes, who have sacrificed their lives to save the lives of others infected with the ongoing deadly Covid pandemic.

“Thank you all for your generous support and help in making the Blood Drive very successful,” said Dr. Jaya Daptardar. ”This drive was a team effort. I want to express my gratitude to Dr. Sushil Gupta, President of CAAPI, Dr. Subbarao Bollepalli, Viji Kurup and family members of CAPI, who came in attendance and to donate blood and support this noble initiative.” “I am grateful to First Selectwoman of Weston Samantha Nestor and Toni Boucher for gracing the event with their presence and for their support,” said Dr. Ram Chirunomula.

“In line with the 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.”

CAPI was formed with the objective of promoting charitable and philanthropic activities; communicate with other Indian associations in North America to promote cultural and social events; and to foster a relationship with future generations of physicians of Indian Ancestry.

“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 American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI,) the largest ethnic organization in the United States.

“On the occasion of the 75thIndependence Day of India, we the physicians of Indian origin serving every 7th patient in the United States, are excited to launch this unique and noble initiative in 75 cities across the United States,” Dr. Gotimukula added.

Each blood component of 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 the national blood donation drive.

“We urge all Local Chapters and AAPI members 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,” said Dr. Gotimukula. 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, please visit: www.aapiusa,org

FIA Chicago Elects Hitesh Gandhi As New President For 2022

Federation of Indian Associations (FIA) hosted a welcome reception to unveil its comprehensive roadmap for 2022 & beyond replete with meaningful events that seek to complement and celebrate a multitude of community-centric program initiatives with emphasis on India’s festivals, community outreach, charitable causes, social, cultural, business, medical and other community-oriented events including addressing the emerging pandemic challenges at its annual board meeting held on Sunday, November 28, 2021, at the Big Suchir Banquets in Westmont, IL. The meeting was attended by the entire FIA team as well as the advisory board members.

This year FIA Chicago unanimously elected its new leader Hitesh Gandhi and the new board. The event was presided by Founding Members Sunil Shah, Onkar Sangha, Neil Khot, Rita Singh, Mukesh Shah, Dhitu Bhagwakar, and Current President Kamal Patel.

FIA’s General Secretary Richa Chand conducted the proceedings of the Annual Board Meeting for the year 2021-2022 and invited Founder President Sunil Shah for his opening remarks. Shahin his speech, outlined the successes behind the year 2021, listing the events conducted by the FIA and its team. He thanked the outgoing team for its hard work in putting together and conducting various India-centric and Charitable events during the year. He also took the opportunity to welcome new members to team FIA. In a major announcement, he declared that FIA would initiate an annual FIA Scholarship for deserving students starting from the year 2022.

Current President Dr. Kamal Patel in his speech thanked the founding board, and the team 2021 for all the work put in to make the year a resounding success. From the Republic Day event in January 2021 albeit a Zoom Event attended by more than 350 guests headline by Kailash Kher the prominent Bollywood Singer to the Holi Festival of Colors Event which was two-pronged – one to celebrate the festival of Holi and two to collect funds to send to India as a donation for the fight against Covid and supply Oxygen Concentrators, not to forget the grand Independence Day event to celebrate Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav.

Founding Members Onkar Sangha, Neil Khot, Rita Singh, Mukesh Shah, Dhitu Bhagwakar also took the stage thanking team 2021 and praising the work of the team in making the year a resounding success. Founding Member and Past President Neil Khot announced the formation of a Board of Trustees that would be seated with Past Presidents and announced the names of Ninad Daftari and Gurmeet Singh Dhawan as the two past presidents being the trustees on this esteemed board.

Founder President Sunil Shah then announced Team 2022, President-Elect Hitesh Gandhi will spearhead the team for the year 2022 with the help of Executive Vice Presidents Shital Daftari and Vinita Gulabani and the entire board which include Vice Presidents – Altaf Bukhari, Pratibha Jairath, Anu Malhotra, Sonia Luther, Abir Maru, General Secretary – Richa Chand, Joint Secretary – Neelam Saboo, Treasurer – Vaishal Talati, Joint Treasurer – Ashwani Mahajan, Cultural Secretary – Pika Munshi, Joint Cultural Secretary – Ila Chaudhari, Directors: Harsh Shah, Mukesh Shah, Chetan Patel, Vibha Rajput, Varsha Visal, Jitendra Bulsara, Vidya Joshi, Jesse Singh, Bharat Malhotra, N Nagasubramaniam Iyyer, Hitesh Patel, Ashima Washington, Vikas Kalwani, Mir Ali, Dr. Afroz Hafeez, Chandni Kalra, Nirav Patel, Murugesh Kasilingam, Pratik Deshpande and Sujal Patel.

The incoming President Hitesh Gandhi offered his view for the year 2022 and the plans to take the organization to new heights with events planned for Celebrating India’s Republic Day, Independence Day, and Cultural events like Holi and Diwali. This year FIA Chicago will also host a Medical Wellness Checkup Camp, Blood Donation Drive, Food Drive, and Toys of Kids during the holiday season.

FIA Chicago was founded to bring Cultural awareness to the Chicagoland area and has now grown to serve the community by hosting many events for the community and helping the community grow and become one. FIA Chicago plans to take on projects like Job fairs, Entrepreneurship camps, and Youth Leadership Development Skill Camps.

Sunil Shah then took the opportunity to thank the new advisory board members for the year 2022 year including  Deepakkant Vyas, Anil Loomba of HMSI, Suresh Bodiwala of Asian Media Broadcasting, Yogi Bhardwaj, Vinoz Chanamolu, Nag Jaiswal, Jasbir Suga, Syed Hussaini, Manish Gandhi, Brij Sharma (Power Volt), Asha Oroskar (Orochem), Smita Shah (Direct Floors), Amarbir Singh Ghuman, Pradeep Shukla (CPA) and Neal Patel (MedStar), Pinky Thakkar, Sanhita Agnihotri, Ajeet Singh, Aishwarya Sharma, and Keerthi Reevori.

Early Data On Omicron Severity Encouraging: Fauci

Early data on the Omicron Covid-19 variant is “a bit encouraging” and does not indicate a great degree of danger, says Anthony Fauci, the top US infectious disease expert.

While there have been reports of a spike in hospitalization due to Omicron in South Africa, according to President Cyril Ramaphosa, they are “not alarming”.

“Though it’s too early to make any definitive statements about it, thus far it does not look like there’s a great degree of severity to it,” Fauci was quoted as saying on CNN’s ‘State of the Union on Sunday.

“Thus far, the signals are a bit encouraging. But we have got to be careful before we make any determinations that it is less severe, or it doesn’t cause any severe illness, comparable to Delta,” he added.

Lab tests are underway to determine whether the super mutant Omicron is more transmissible than other strains, resistant to immunity from vaccination and if the infection is more severe. The results are expected within weeks.

Meanwhile, at least 15 states in the US have detected the Omicron variant and that number is expected to rise, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director, Rochelle Walensky.

“We know we have several dozen cases and we’re following them closely. And we are every day hearing about more and more probable cases so that number is likely to rise,” Walensky was quoted as saying on ABC News ‘This Week’.

Even if Omicron proves less dangerous than Delta, it remains problematic, World Health Organization epidemiologist Maria Van Kerkhove told CBS’ ‘Face The Nation.

“Even if we have a large number of cases that are mild, some of those individuals will need hospitalizations,” she said.

“They will need to go into the ICU and some people will die. We don’t want to see that happen on top of an already difficult situation with Delta circulating globally.”

The US, last week, along with more than 50 countries imposed a travel ban on South Africa and seven other southern African countries to stem the variant’s spread. However, scientists say that the travel restrictions have come too late and could even slow studies of the new super mutant.

Fauci said the US will likely lift its ban on travelers from southern African countries in a “reasonable period”.

However, the vast majority of cases in the US continue to be caused by the Delta variant.

“We have about 90 to 100,000 cases a day right now in the US, and 99.9 percent of them are the Delta variant,” Walensky said.

Understanding Medicare Fraud

“Corruption, embezzlement, fraud are all characteristics which exist everywhere. It is regrettably how human nature functions, whether we like it or not. What successful economies do is keep it to a minimum. But, unfortunately, no one has ever eliminated any of that stuff”- said. Alan Greenspan, on the evil characteristic of frauds in general.

In USA, the system of Medicare benefits has been an abundant resource for fraudsters. Medicare improper payments were estimated to be $25.74 billion in fiscal year 2020. However, the amount of improper payments made in Medicare are significant, during 2019 representing to an amount of $28.91 billion.

Medicare fraud occurs when someone, whether doctors or patients or scammers, knowingly deceives Medicare to receive payment when they receive a higher payment than they should. Committing fraud is illegal and should be reported. Anyone can commit or be involved in fraud, and there are cases of fraudsters  including doctors, other providers, and Medicare beneficiaries.

Some common examples of Medicare fraud include billing for services that were not provided, over billing, billing unnecessary services, misrepresenting dates of service or providers of service, and paying kickbacks for patient referrals.

Medicare fraud happens when someone illegally use their Medicare card to get medical care, supplies, or equipment, or sell their Medicare number to someone who bills Medicare for services not received, or provide their Medicare number in exchange for money or a gift.

But sporadic instances of frauds are committed by greedy doctors, and a recent case reported, unveils an example of similar cases.

Ravi Murali, 39, formerly from Wisconsin, was sentenced by Chief U.S. District Judge James D. Peterson to 54 months in federal prison for Dr. Murali’s role in defraud Medicare. He pleaded guilty to this charge on March 31, 2021.

Dr. Murali wrote thousands of fraudulent orders for Durable Medical Equipment (DME). Other participants in the scheme used Dr. Murali’s fraudulent orders to bill Medicare $26,000,000, of which Medicare paid $13,000,000.

As we all know, Medicare is complicated. What may seem like an error to the beneficiary, may result from a misunderstanding about benefits.

It may also be abuse, which involves billing Medicare for services that are not covered or are not correctly coded. The provider has not knowingly and intentionally misrepresented the facts to obtain payment.

Medicare fraud assumes criminal offense. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) defines fraud as “the intentional deception or misrepresentation that the individual knows to be false or does not believe to be true,” and that is made “knowing that the deception could result in some unauthorized benefit to themselves or some other person.

Some common examples of suspected Medicare fraud or abuse are:

  • Billing for services or supplies that were not provided
  • Providing unsolicited supplies to beneficiaries
  • Misrepresenting a diagnosis, a beneficiary’s identity, the service provided, or other facts to justify payment
  • Prescribing or providing excessive or unnecessary tests and services
  • Violating the participating provider agreement with Medicare by refusing to bill Medicare for covered services or items and billing the beneficiary instead
  • Offering or receiving a kickback (bribe) in exchange for a beneficiary’s Medicare number
  • Requesting Medicare numbers at an educational presentation or in an unsolicited phone call
  • Routinely waiving co-insurance to attract business

The federal government has made significant strides in reducing fraud, waste, and improper payments across the government.

The CMS “Guard Your Card” campaign tells people how they can protect themselves against fraud by:

  • Never give out their Medicare or Social Security Number to anyone except those you know should have it.
  • They reported any suspicious activities like being asked over the phone for their Medicare/Social Security number or banking information. Medicare will NEVER call you uninvited for this information.
  • By checking their billing statements and reporting suspicious charges. Using a calendar to track doctor’s appointments and services helps quickly spot possible fraud and billing mistakes. Check claims early by logging into gov.

Any suspicious activities may be reported by calling 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).

Under the False Claims Act (FCA), the government may pay a reward of up to 30% to people who report healthcare fraud. In September 2019, TELG client Kevin Manieri was awarded more than $12 million for reporting that a drug company defrauded Medicare and other government insurance programs by encouraging doctors to prescribe an unnecessary medication to patients.

Health care fraud is a felony under Michigan’s Health Care False Claims Act, punishable by up to four years in prison, a $50,000 fine and loss of health insurance. It’s also a federal criminal offense under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.

Daily Dose Of Yoghurt Could Be The Go-To Food To Manage High Blood Pressure

Whether it’s a dollop on your morning cereal or a simple snack on the go, a daily dose of yoghurt could be the next go-to food for people with high blood pressure, according to new research from the University of South Australia.

Conducted in partnership with the University of Maine, the study examined the associations between yoghurt intake, blood pressure and cardiovascular risk factors, finding that yoghurt is associated with lower blood pressure for those with hypertension.

Globally, more than a billion people suffer from hypertension (high blood pressure), putting them at greater risk of cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) such as heart attack and stroke.

CVDs are the leading cause of death worldwide – in the United States, one person dies from CVD every 36 seconds; in Australia, it’s every 12 minutes.

UniSA researcher Dr Alexandra Wade says this study provides new evidence that connects yoghurt with positive blood pressure outcomes for hypertensive people.

“High blood pressure is the number one risk factor for cardiovascular disease, so it’s important that we continue to find ways to reduce and regulate it,” Dr Wade says.

“Dairy foods, especially yoghurt, may be capable of reducing blood pressure.

“This is because dairy foods contain a range of micronutrients, including calcium, magnesium and potassium, all of which are involved in the regulation of blood pressure.

“Yoghurt is especially interesting because it also contains bacteria that promote the release of proteins which lowers blood pressure.

“This study showed for people with elevated blood pressure, even small amounts of yoghurt were associated with lower blood pressure.

“And for those who consumed yoghurt regularly, the results were even stronger, with blood pressure readings nearly seven points lower than those who did not consume yoghurt.”

The study was conducted on 915 community-dwelling adults from the Maine–Syracuse Longitudinal Study. Habitual yogurt consumption was measured using a food frequency questionnaire. High blood pressure was defined as being greater than or equal to 140/90 mmHg (a normal blood pressure level is less than 120/80 mmHg).

Researchers say that future observational and intervention studies should continue to focus on at-risk individuals to examine the potential benefits of yogurt.

At AAPI Fall Governing Body Meeting, AAPI-TN Raises $75,000 To Fight Human Trafficking in India

During the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) Fall Governing Body Meeting, a Fundraiser gala was held on November 20th, 2021 at Embassy Suites by Hilton in Franklin TN, Suburbs of “Music City” Nashville, TN.

The host chapter- AAPI-TN presented FFLI with a fundraised $75,000, in order to help strengthen the efforts to end human trafficking and to help continue and expand their impact in India.

While pointing out that Human Trafficking is one of the fastest growing criminal industries in the country, reported in all 50 states of the United States of America, “we as a community have a duty to end the various forms of slavery,” AAPI Tennessee Chapter President, Dr. Anuradha P. Mann said. “With the goal of supporting Nashville nonprofit FFLI (Free for Life International). FFLI works in prevention along with rescue, restoration, rehabilitation and education of trafficked victims, we are pleased to present this token of our appreciation to help support the efforts of FFLI,” she added.
The opening ceremony was symbolic, especially with the recent celebration of Diwali, and tied back to the soulful mission of FFLI. Gabrielle Thompson, FFLI CEO and Executive Director and Board Member Radha Babu addressed the audience, describing the impact of fighting human trafficking in India.
The underlying theme of Diwali, celebrating Light over Darkness, Victory of Good over Evil and Knowledge over Ignorance, which has caught up the attention of people all over the world, was done as the traditional lamp was lit by AAPI-TN Executive Committee, AAPI USA President Dr. Anupama Gotimukula, Congressman Jim Cooper and Grand Sponsor Dr. Bharat Sangani.
The audience was in awe of FFLI’s work and mission. In his keynote address, Congressman Jim Cooper from Nashville highlighted the numerous injustices that intersect with human trafficking and exploitation, along with the urgent need for action at the state, national, and international levels.
In her address, Dr. Anupama Gotimukula, President of national AAPI highlighted some of the major achievements of AAPI under her leadership in the past five months ever since a new executive committee assumed charge of AAPI in July this year.
Evolving to meet the growing needs of its members and the larger population it is called to serve, AAPI, the largest ethnic physician organization in the United states, representing over 100,000 Indian American Physicians, has grown steadily and is recognized by the authorities, local communities and mainstream media for the many noble initiatives AAPI has led, especially during the Covid pandemic, she said.
She reminded AAPI members that, as part pf the upcoming Global Healthcare Summit, AAPI has initiated preventive healthcare screenings in 75 villages to understand the concept of preventive screenings help to diagnose any silent diseases which are causing premature deaths from Coronary heart disease and cancers like Breast cancer, cervical cancer which are preventable if diagnosed early through these annual screenings as mentioned above.
Dr. Satheesh Kathula, secretary of AAPI and treasurer of gala applauded the efforts of “ free for life” who are committed to curtail human trafficking and said “we are very glad to be part of the cause”. He thanked all the sponsors and the gala committee for their hard work in making this happen.

During the CMEs, several important topics with recent advances were well received by the AAPI fraternity. Themes for the CMEs included: ‘Cancer therapy: Advancement as we head for a cure’ by Dr. Nishitha Reddy, ‘Psychiatric sequelae of human trafficking’ by Dr. Sricharan Moturi, ‘Cardiovascular disease in South Asians- (Masala Study)’ by Dr. Ramya Suryadevara and ‘Stem cell therapy: The future of medicine’ by Dr. Sai Ram Atluri. The CME was well-attended, with active engagement between speakers and moderators (Dr. Amit Keswani, Dr.Varun Dhulipala, Dr. Biliyar, and Dr. Gunuganti. Attendees were eligible for 3 Category 1 CME hours, accredited by the Chicago Medical Society (CMS).

Organized by the AAPI Tennessee Chapter led by its President, Dr. Anuradha P. Mann, the gala, fund raiser and the Fall Governing Body Meeting of national AAPI was chaired by Dr. Sunil Kaza and effectively coordinated by Dr. Dayaker Mallipeddi, Dr. Shashank Ponugoti, and Dr Viren Shah.
The gala began with the Event Chair Dr. Sunil Kaza welcoming community members, family, friends, colleagues and sponsors.  “We, AAPI- TN team, worked hard to stick to the mission of AAPI, for education and charity to serve humanity. We thank each and every member that attended and supported the event. Our special thanks to all our Sponsors,” said Dr. Sunil Kaza, Chair of the Gala Committee. The Grand sponsor for the event, Dr. Bharat Sangani attended the meeting personally.
Attended by over 150 AAPI delegates from around the nation and more than 250 local members, the weekend event was packed with activities including Business Meet, “warm meet and greet” with local AAPI TN members, CMEs, fun-filled impromptu ‘Mehfil’ led by Dr. Amit Chakrabarty, Gala and Dinner. After a delicious dinner during gala, the participants were entertained with a live music, provided by ‘Geetanjali’ and the ‘SaReGaMa’ orchestra from Chicago. Several past Presidents of AAPI attended praised this event as ‘one of the best’ they have attended. AAPI’s BOT Chair Dr. Kusum Punjabi and other Board of Trustees attended and graced the event. AAPI-TN Chapter donated $10,000 to the National AAPI’s Endowment Fund.

AAPI Joins Rock & Roll Marathon In San Antonio, Creating Awareness On Healthy Living

The Covid pandemic has impacted all aspects of human life as never been before. The past two years have been challenging to everyone, particularly to those who are assigned with the responsibility of caring for the sick, even as hundreds of Millions are affected by the big pandemic.

Physicians and other health professionals on the front lines of COVID-19 care have experienced so many unknowns during the pandemic. They’ve also put their own health and the well-being of their families on the line to provide care.

At this critical juncture in human history, 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, is focusing 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.

In preparation for the upcoming 40th annual convention from June 23-26, 2022 in San Antonio, Texas with the timely theme that focusses on “Heal The Healers” and to create awareness among the public on the need for Healthy Lifestyle, AAPI Convention Team led by Dr. Jayesh Shah joined an “Rock and Roll Marathon” on Sunday, December 5th, 2021 in san Antonio, TX.

AAPI’s participation at the Marathon was inspired and sponsored by the Botla Foundation, which provided a great kick start to AAPI’s wellness theme, pointed to the Six Pillars of Lifestyle Medicine: 1. Healthy Diet; 2. Being active; 3. Restorative sleep; 4. Managing stress; 5. Have social and supportive connections; and,  6. Avoiding abusive drugs and habits.

Planning for joining the Rock and Roll Marathon started over three months ago, says Dr. Jayesh Shah, Chair of AAPI Convention 2022. Botla Foundation committed a donation of $25,000, However, in order to encourage Doctors to run, the Foundation initially put a caveat that they would donate $250 for every person who signs up for the half marathon. “This novel way of sponsorship did encourage many Indian doctors and other community members to register and participate in this unique marathon,” added Dr. Jayesh Shah. “We were lucky to have Dr. Akil Tahir to join us as the Chief Ambassador for the run. His presence also inspired all of us to join for this noble cause. His message of running with heart touched all of us.”

Dozens of Doctors and community leaders joined the Rock and Roll Marathon, which had attracted over 18,000 participants from around the nation, and made this an inspiring experience for all. Dr. Ravi Botla, while thanking and congratulating all the participants at the Marathon, said, “Running with you all is an amazing experience. Several friends made their personal bests today. Hope to continue to do some physical activity (running/walking/cycling) to improve our health. On behalf of all our runners yesterday and today, Botla Foundation will donate $25,000 to AAPI, irrespective of the number of participants. We should be proud of this accomplishment. Thank you Anupama and Jayesh to provide this opportunity.”

The Botla Charitable Family Foundation is a non-profit established in 2014 by Dr. Ravi and Vijaya Botla with the intention to give to charitable causes that highlight Indian culture and traditions as well as promote health and wellness in our community.

“After a hiatus of 5 years from long distance running, I am thrilled to announce that I completed running the half marathon in San Antonio on a PLANT BASED DIET!” Dr. Akil Taher said. “I ran to support the American Association of Physicians of Indian origin (AAPI) under the leadership of Dr. Anupama Gotimukula ad Dr. Jayesh Shah. AAPI has done some phenomenal charity work here in the US and India. Also a big thank you to the Botla family for their inspirational support to AAPI,” he added.

“That is why in keeping with AAPI’s 2022 Convention theme of “Heal the Healers,” this idea of having these healers finally put their health first by participating in the San Antonio Rock n Roll Half Marathon came to life,” Vijaya Botla said. “There was great enthusiasm from our local Indian doctors and a wonderful camaraderie was formed. Weekly meetups and training commenced. We were blessed that Dr. Akil Taher, from Atlanta, Georgia joining our group and was able to pass on his words of wisdom to us through his book “Open Heart” and by even coming to do the race with us in San Antonio on December 5, 2021.”

To run my first half-marathon with my Idol, Dr. Taher. He is a living proof of the power of ‘Whole Foods Plant Based’ Diet and Physical Exercise in not just recovering from a major surgery but healing from within for a better and stronger health than before. His presenceat the Marathon inspired us to sign up for the event and support AAPI in promoting ‘health & fitness’ in our community,” stated Dr.  Bhoja R. Katipally.

Several participants at the Marathon had weekly runs at trails to prepare for the run. The team also got the expertise of Pradeep, who had recently finished Chicago marathon as the coach. He taught the participants the dynamic exercises before the run and static exercises after the run. Dr Bhoja Reddy did a book signing event on Saturday, the day before the run. Dr.Taher contributed all the money from the book sale to AAPI.

While congratulating all the participants, organizers and sponsors, Dr. Gotimukula said, “I want to extend a few words of my appreciation to all the wonderful hearts from AAPI who participated in the Marathon.

The donor, Dr. Ravi Botla did his first full Marathon. There are several in the group who did their first half marathon including Dr. Jayesh Shah! We thank the Botla Foundation who inspired us! We ran with a good heart to support AAPI. Nothing is impossible if we have the motivation inside us!!” For more details on AAPI and the 40th convention, please visit: www.aapiusa.org


Omicron Virus Found In South Africa Described By WHO As “Variant Of Concern”

The World Health Organization (WHO) has designated a new variant, B.1.1.529, named as “Omicron” found in South Africa initially, and has now been found in several other countries as a “variant of concern (VOC).” The variant, which was announced by scientists in South Africa on Thanksgiving Day, November 25th has caused alarm around the world.

Fears that a new, fast-spreading coronavirus variant could potentially be more dangerous than even the Delta variant prompted several countries to impose restrictions on travel from affected regions, and caused stock markets across the globe to crash.

The WHO said about 100 genome sequences of the variant have been reported so far. Many of the infected people were fully vaccinated, with at least one person in Israel having also received a third, booster dose of vaccine.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that the Omicron coronavirus variant poses a high risk of infection surges around the globe.

The variant could lead to severe consequences in some regions, the WHO said on Monday.  The head of the organisation, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, renewed a call for a global push to get vaccines to poorer nations.

Covid-19 is “not done with us” yet he warned. The variant was detected in South Africa earlier this month with initial evidence suggesting it has a higher re-infection risk. South Africa has been praised for its prompt reporting of the variant.

“Omicron has an unprecedented number of spike mutations, some of which are concerning for their potential impact on the trajectory of the pandemic,” the WHO said.

The epidemiological situation in South Africa has been characterized by three distinct peaks in reported cases, the latest of which was predominantly the Delta variant. In recent weeks, infections have increased steeply, coinciding with the detection of B.1.1.529 variant. The first known confirmed B.1.1.529 infection was from a specimen collected on 9 November 2021.

This variant has a large number of mutations, some of which are concerning. Preliminary evidence suggests an increased risk of reinfection with this variant, as compared to other VOCs. The number of cases of this variant appears to be increasing in almost all provinces in South Africa. Current SARS-CoV-2 PCR diagnostics continue to detect this variant.

Several labs have indicated that for one widely used PCR test, one of the three target genes is not detected (called S gene dropout or S gene target failure) and this test can therefore be used as marker for this variant, pending sequencing confirmation. Using this approach, this variant has been detected at faster rates than previous surges in infection, suggesting that this variant may have a growth advantage.

There are a number of studies underway and the TAG-VE will continue to evaluate this variant. WHO will communicate new findings with Member States and to the public as needed.

The scientific analysis till now suggests that the new variant has been spreading at a rate faster than any other variant, including Delta. The fact that several of the infected people were fully vaccinated, including one with a booster dose, is an indication that this variant also has considerable capability to evade the immune response.

This means that this variant is a cause of worry on at least two of the three criteria that are used to assess how dangerous any new variant is. As of now, there is no information on its ability to cause severe disease, the third crucial criteria.

“This variant has a number of mutations, some of which are concerning. Preliminary evidence suggests an increased risk of reinfection with this variant, as compared to other VOCs,” the WHO said in a statement.

“The number of cases of this variant appears to be increasing in almost all provinces in South Africa… This variant has been detected at faster rates than previous surges in infection, suggesting that this variant may have a growth advantage,” it said.

The Delta variant, first discovered in India late last year, has been the deadliest variant of SARS-CoV2 on all these three counts till now. It is the dominant variant now in most regions, and is the reason behind the deadly second wave in India, and the ongoing surge in Europe and a few other regions.

“Not everything is known about this variant yet. Data is still coming in. As of now, we know that it has over 30 mutations, of which 10 are in the spike protein. Whether this variant turns out to be a faster spreading one, or one that has greater ability to evade immune response is still to be seen. But we need to be very alert,” virologist Shahid Jameel said.

Vineeta Bal, an immunologist associated with the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER), Pune, said the emergence of the variant was not an unexpected development, but authorities needed to respond with increased surveillance to ensure early detection and effective isolation. “Viruses mutate all the time. That is something to be expected. But we should be able to ensure that it does not gain a foothold in many people,” Dr Bal said.

The coronavirus evolves as it spreads and many new variants, including those with worrying mutations, often just die out. Scientists monitor for possible changes that could be more transmissible or deadly, but sorting out whether new variants will have a public health impact can take time.

As such, countries are asked to do the following:

  • enhance surveillance and sequencing efforts to better understand circulating SARS-CoV-2 variants.
  • submit complete genome sequences and associated metadata to a publicly available database, such as GISAID.
  • report initial cases/clusters associated with VOC infection to WHO through the IHR mechanism.
  • where capacity exists and in coordination with the international community, perform field investigations and laboratory assessments to improve understanding of the potential impacts of the VOC on COVID-19 epidemiology, severity, effectiveness of public health and social measures, diagnostic methods, immune responses, antibody neutralization, or other relevant characteristics.

Individuals are reminded to take measures to reduce their risk of COVID-19, including proven public health and social measures such as wearing well-fitting masks, hand hygiene, physical distancing, improving ventilation of indoor spaces, avoiding crowded spaces, and getting vaccinated.

At AAPI’s Global Healthcare Summit In Hyderabad, India’s Vice President Shri Venkaiah Naidu To Be Chief Guest

Shri Venkaiah Naidu, Honorable Vice President of India will be the Chief Guest at the next edition of the annual Global Healthcare Summit (GHS) 2022, organized by the Association of American Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) to be held at the prestigious Hotel Avasa in Hyderabad, India from January 5th to 7th, 2022, Dr. Anupama Gotimukula, President of AAPI, announced here today.

“Harnessing the power of Indian Doctors worldwide, the AAPI Global Healthcare Summit platform has evolved with the support and collaboration with the Indian Ministry of Health and Family Welfare as well as several prominent global and Indian medical associations,” says Dr. Anupama Gotimukula. “The theme for the Summit this year is: ‘Prevention Is Better Than Cure Through Technology, Telemedicine & Transformation’ and we want to coordinate and collaborate all our resources towards helping India have established annual healthcare screening guidelines and development of “India Preventive Task Force” who will maintain and update the annual healthcare screening guidelines”

According to her, “Senior leaders from leading healthcare organizations such as pharmaceuticals, device and medical equipment manufacturers and major medical teaching institutions, hospitals and from the Ministries – Health, External/Overseas Affairs and regulatory bodies are collaborating with AAPI with the ultimate goal to provide access to high quality and affordable healthcare to all people of India.”

AAPI is hopeful that several international healthcare industry partners are looking for opportunities to participate at this event for greater collaboration on Research & Development and philanthropic engagements, Dr. Gotimukula added.  Chronic diseases, notably diabetes, cardiovascular, hypertension, COPD, oncology, maternal and infant mortality, and emerging ones – Management of neurological emergencies ENLS a certification course  are only some of those that are going to be covered during this Summit. An exclusive Healthcare CEO forum coordinated by Dr. Jospeh Chalil will bring the healthcare industry perspective, with senior Government officials, both Union and State providing the legislative wisdom.

Dr. Kusum Punjabi, the Chair of AAPI BOT said, “We flew away from India decades ago. However, our hearts are still in India.” She said, GHS 2022 will focus on several relevant issues to serve the many healthcare needs and delivery of healthcare in India.” She praised the local community and organizers for their enthusiastic support.

While elaborating on the theme and areas that are going to be covered during the Summit, Dr. Udaya Shivangi, Chair of AAPI GHS USA says, “In our efforts to realize the core mission of AAPI, which is to share the best from leading experts from around the world, to collaborate on clinical challenges, research and development, philanthropy, policy and standards formulation, the Summit in Hyderabad will have clinical tracks that are of vital to healthcare in India.”

Dr. Ravi Kolli, President-Elect of AAPI pointed out, “Healthcare in India is one of the largest sectors, in terms of revenue and employment.  India is making significant improvements in the healthcare infrastructure and is building modern medical facilities throughout India. Indian doctors have made tremendous progress in the 21st century and India is now being touted as a medical tourism hub”

While elaborating the objectives of the Summit, Dr. Anjana Samadder, Vice President of AAPI, says, “This innovative Summit is aimed at advancing the accessibility, affordability and the quality of world-class healthcare to the people of India. Among other areas, the Summit will focus on prevention, diagnosis, treatment options and share ways to truly improve healthcare transcending global boundaries.”

There are several AAPI leaders who are working hard to make the GHS a memorable event, said Dr. Gotimukula. “Among them, I want to recognize Dr. Sujeeth Punnam, US Coordinator, Dr. Lokesh Edara, Chair Global Medical Education; Dr. Prabhakar Sharma, CME Chair, Dr. Prabhat Sinha, Chair Sponsorships and Exhibits, Dr. Seema Arora, Chair of Women’s Forum; Dr. Joseph M. Chalil, Chair of CEO Forum; Dr. Belani Kumar, Chair of the Mwdical Students Research Poster presentations; Dr. Lakshmi Thirunagari and Dr. Apurva Yeluru, CoordinatorS Medical Jeopardy

“The much awaited Women’s Forum at the GHS will be led by a panel consisting of inspiring women leaders who have been in the forefront, and have shown resiliency, confidence, leadership, determination, and dedication, and have withered all obstacles in life, and have become women leaders, and are recognized to be an inspiration to all,” says Dr. Seema Arora, Chair of Women’s Forum.

“The essence of AAPI is educational,” Dr. Lokesh Edara, Chair Global Medical Education, while describing the CMEs by experts that are ebbing organized during GHS said. “That translates into numerous programs that AAPI has planned to motivate med students, physicians, academicians and researchers to excel and master in their areas of work and goal to have one PG seat for every Medical student who graduates and there should be one Doctor per 1000 population.

Dr. Joseph Chalil, Chair of the CEO Forum said, “AAPI has made significant contributions towards addressing several issues affecting the healthcare system in India. During the GHS 2022, AAPI at the popular CEO Forum, physician leaders from the United States and India will have an opportunity to brainstorm and explore ways to focus on the theme, “Prevention is Better Than Cure” and recommend possible ways to plan and implement preventive medicine that will save resources and precious human lives.”

Dr. Satheesh Kathula, Secretary of AAPI said, “Through Continuing Medical Education and non-CME seminars by experts in their fields, AAPI 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.”

According to Dr. Krishan Kumar, Treasurer of AAPI, “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.”

This international health care summit is a progressive transformation from the first Indo-US Healthcare Summit launched by AAPI USA in 2007. Since then, AAPI has organized 14 Indo – US/Global Healthcare Summits and developed strategic alliances with various organizations.

Representing the interests of the over 100,000 physicians of Indian origin, leaders of American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI), the largest ethnic organization of physicians, for 39 years.

“Being organized at this critical phase, GHS 2022 is aimed at exploring possibilities for greater collaboration and cooperation between the physicians and health care providers in India with those of Indian origin and major health-care providers abroad,” Dr. Gotimukula said. For more information, please visit www.aapiusa.org/ https://summit.aapiusa.org

Vaccine Makers Optimistic About Producing Omicron-Specific Shots If Needed

Vaccine makers say they are in the midst of testing their shots’ effectiveness against the newly discovered omicron coronavirus variant, and they remain optimistic that a new variant-specific vaccine could be produced and rolled out quickly if needed.

When asked about the new omicron variant that was first detected in southern Africa, Paul Burton, Moderna’s chief medical officer, told ABC News’ “Good Morning America” on Monday that vaccine manufacturers around the world, including Moderna, “are testing samples from people who have received our vaccines against the strains.”

Burton said that while the company thinks “vaccine effectiveness may come down, based on the mutation seen in this in this virus,” he added that with booster shots of the existing version of the vaccine, “We should be able to get antibody levels up, so that’s a very important initial line of defense.”

Burton said that researchers will know just how effective the vaccines are against this variant “in the next couple of weeks.” If manufacturers need to make an omicron variant-specific vaccine, it should take approximately “two to three months” to test and manufacture it, he said.

Fellow coronavirus vaccine maker Pfizer similarly expressed confidence that it could produce a new vaccine quickly if needed. Pfizer’s CEO Albert Bourla told CNBC’s “Squawk Box” on Monday that he is very optimistic the company will be able to speedily switch production to a new vaccine, if the research merits, without losing any volume.

Johnson & Johnson also said in a statement Monday that it is evaluating its current COVID-19 vaccine against the omicron variant.

“In addition, the company is pursuing an omicron-specific variant vaccine and will progress it as needed,” it said.

Scientists suspect the omicron variant could partially chip away protection from current vaccines due to its mutations, but they are still waiting on testing to learn if, and to what extent, that could be the case.

Vaccine experts have told ABC News that the current COVID-19 vaccines, which rely on genetic technology, could easily be updated to better combat emerging variants. This has not been necessary so far, as the original vaccines have been effective against the dominant variants that have spread in the past, but companies are preparing to tweak vaccines to respond to the omicron variant just in case.

The good news is that these novel vaccines employing genetic technology mean updates can be made to the vaccines easily — unlike vaccines based on older technology, which used a piece of the virus or a killed virus to mimic infection.

The new vaccines, which use the genetic technology, introduces an instruction manual of sorts into your body. This introduction manual tells your cells to start churning out a protein normally found on the outside of the virus, and your body activates an immune response when your body senses that viral protein.

In remarks on Monday, President Joe Biden assured Americans that the omicron variant “is a cause for concern, not a cause for panic.”

“We have the best vaccine in the world. The best medicines, the best scientists, and we’re learning more every single day,” the president said. “And we’ll fight this variant with scientific and knowledgeable actions and speed. Not chaos and confusion.”

Omicron Symptoms Mild So Far, Says South African Doctor Who Spotted It

The first South African doctor to alert the authorities about patients with the omicron variant has told The Telegraph that the symptoms of the new variant are unusual but mild.

Dr Angelique Coetzee said she was first alerted to the possibility of a new variant when patients in her busy private practice in the capital Pretoria started to come in earlier this month with Covid-19 symptoms that did not make immediate sense.

They included young people of different backgrounds and ethnicities with intense fatigue and a six-year-old child with a very high pulse rate, she said. None suffered from a loss of taste or smell.

“Their symptoms were so different and so mild from those I had treated before,” said Dr Coetzee, a GP for 33 years who chairs the South African Medical Association alongside running her practice.

On November 18, when four family members all tested positive for Covid-19 with complete exhaustion, she informed the country’s vaccine advisory committee.

She said, in total, about two dozen of her patients have tested positive for Covid-19 with symptoms of the new variant. They were mostly healthy men who turned up “feeling so tired”. About half of them were unvaccinated.

“We had one very interesting case, a kid, about six years old, with a temperature and a very high pulse rate, and I wondered if I should admit her. But when I followed up two days later, she was so much better,” Dr Coetzee says.

Dr Coetzee, who was briefing other African medical associations on Saturday, made clear her patients were all healthy and she was worried the new variant could still hit older people – with co-morbidities such as diabetes or heart disease – much harder.

“What we have to worry about now is that when older, unvaccinated people are infected with the new variant, and if they are not vaccinated, we are going to see many people with a severe [form of the] disease,” she said.

South African demographics are very different from those in the UK. Only about six per cent of the population are over the age of 65. This means that older individuals who are more vulnerable to the virus may take some time to present.

The B.1.1.529 variant, now called omicron, was first identified in Botswana on November 11. It has now been detected in the UK as well as South Africa, Israel, the Netherlands, Hong Kong and Belgium.

It is the most mutated form of Covid-19 discovered thus far, with 32 mutations to the spike protein. Scientists are concerned that the mutations may allow it to evade existing vaccines and spread quickly.

Two cases of omicron have now been found in the UK, with two people in Essex and Nottinghamshire testing positive for the new variant.

UK officials are busy scouring testing databases for any further sign of the omicron variant, not least because there were many South Africans in the Twickenham area of south-west London for the England and South Africa match last Saturday.

South African scientists say omicron is behind an explosion of cases in the country’s Gauteng province, which is home to the country’s commercial capital Johannesburg and Pretoria. Cases have rocketed up from about 550 a day last week to almost 4,000 a day currently.

The UK, US, the EU and Israel have all suspended travel to and from South Africa and the five surrounding countries: Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, and Zimbabwe. The UK Government added Angola, Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia to the travel red list on Sunday.

The Western travel ban has provoked anger among South Africans, with many claiming that they are being punished for having outstanding research institutions and being transparent about their findings.

Biden Urges Nation Not To Panic Over Omicron Fears

US President Joe Biden has called the Omicron Covid variant a “cause for concern, not a cause for panic” one day after it was detected in North America.

Cases have been found in Canada, and his speech from the White House comes as US travel bans on eight African countries takes effect. Biden also urged people to get a booster and to wear masks.

He said he does not anticipate any further US travel restrictions or lockdowns at this time.

In remarks on Monday, the president called it “almost inevitable” that the Omicron strain, first reported by South Africa, will be found in the US “at some point”. He added that said vaccine companies are creating “contingency plans” for new vaccines “if needed”.

Late last week, the US announced a ban on flights from South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi. Canada, the UK and the EU and other countries have also restricted travel from southern Africa.

In his remarks, Mr Biden said that the ban had bought some time for the US to study the new strain. While the World Health Organization has deemed Omicron a “variant of concern”, it is still not clear whether it is associated with more transmission or more risk of evading vaccines.

“We have the best vaccine in the world, and the best medicines, the best scientist and we’re learning more every single day,” the president said. He also vowed to “fight this variant with scientific and knowledgeable actions and speed. Not chaos and confusion”.

He praised the scientific community of South Africa for reporting the strain, despite criticism that travel bans are being used to punish the country.

“To their credit, the scientific community in South Africa quickly notified the world of the emergence of this new variant,” Mr Biden said. “This kind of transparency is to be encouraged and applauded because it increases our ability to respond quickly to any new threats, and that’s exactly what we did.”

He also said he was directing the US Food and Drug Administration, which regulates vaccines, to use the “fastest process available without cutting any corners” to approve any potential new vaccines that specifically target Omicron.

Canada, the US neighbour to the north, said on Sunday that the Omicron strain had been discovered in two patients who had recently travelled to Nigeria. A third case was announced on Monday.

How Vaccine Makers Plan To Address The New COVID-19 Omicron Variant

A new strain of COVID-19 first discovered in South Africa was declared a variant of concern by the World Health Organization on Friday. Here’s how the pharmaceutical industry plans to address the latest coronavirus curve ball.

Vaccine makers are already pivoting their efforts to combat the new variant: testing higher doses of booster shots, designing new boosters that anticipate strain mutations, and developing omicron-specific boosters.

In a statement sent to NPR, Moderna said it has been working on a comprehensive strategy to predict variants of concern since the beginning of 2021. One approach is to double the current booster from 50 to 100 micrograms. Secondly, the vaccine maker has been studying two booster vaccines that are designed to anticipate mutations like those found in the omicron variant. The company also said it will ramp up efforts to make a booster candidate that specifically targets omicron.

“From the beginning, we have said that as we seek to defeat the pandemic, it is imperative that we are proactive as the virus evolves,” said Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel. “The mutations in the Omicron variant are concerning and for several days, we have been moving as fast as possible to execute our strategy to address this variant.”

Pfizer and BioNTech told Reuters that they expect more data about the omicron variant to be collected within two weeks. That information will help determine whether or not they need to modify their current vaccine. Pfizer and BioNTech said a vaccine tailored for the omicron variant, if needed, could be ready to ship in approximately 100 days.

Johnson & Johnson said in a statement sent to NPR that it too is already testing its vaccine’s efficacy against the new variant.

The omicron variant was first reported to the WHO on Nov. 24, the WHO said. Preliminary evidence indicates the variant poses an increased risk for reinfection due to the large number of mutations. Until recently, cases across South Africa have predominantly been from the delta variant, an earlier strain that has pushed health care systems to the max since early summer. But omicron infections have been on the rise in recent weeks, the WHO reported.

More concerning, omicron cases have emerged across the globe. Cases have been confirmed in Botswana, the United Kingdom, Italy, Germany, Belgium, Israel, the Netherlands, Australia and Hong Kong.

News of the rapidly spreading variant led to a new set of air travel restrictions from South Africa and seven other countries, implemented by President Joe Biden, that go into effect Monday. The president made the announcement the day after Thanksgiving, one of the busiest travel periods of the year.

Unlike last year, when millions of people traveled against the advice of health experts, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and chief medical adviser to the president, Dr. Anthony Fauci, more or less condoned Thanksgiving get-togethers for vaccinated Americans. And, according to an American Automobile Association travel forecast, over 53 million people were expected to travel for Thanksgiving — an 18% jump compared to last year — including more than 4 million by air.

As of Friday, the CDC said that no cases of the omicron variant had been identified in the United States. However, Fauci said on Saturday that he would not be surprised if the variant is already here.

“We have not detected it yet, but when you have a virus that is showing this degree of transmissibility and you’re already having travel-related cases that they’ve noted in Israel and Belgium and other places … it almost invariably is ultimately going to go essentially all over,” he said in an interview on the Today show.

As Americans prepare to transition from one busy holiday to the next, the CDC is predicting that coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and deaths will increase over the next four weeks. More than 776,000 people in the U.S. have died of COVID-19 to date, according to Johns Hopkins University’s tracker, and the country is projected to surpass 800,000 deaths by Christmas.

Dr. Vivek Murthy Urges Nation To Act Together To Address Physician Burnout

Physicians and other health professionals on the front lines of COVID-19 care have experienced so many unknowns during the pandemic. They’ve also put their own health and the well-being of their families on the line to provide care. Fortunately, though, the country is in a better position than it was a year ago. Despite the rise of the Delta variant and increases in cases and hospitalizations, the three available COVID-19 vaccines have helped save lives. But the fight isn’t over yet. Another battle remains: burnout within the exhausted physician workforce.

“It’s felt hopeful to me, especially in the early parts of the pandemic, to see many people in the public recognizing the role that clinicians were playing and the sacrifices they were making,” said U.S. Surgeon General Vice Adm. Vivek Murthy, MD, during a discussion with AMA CEO and Executive Vice President James L. Madara, MD, at the American Conference on Physician Health 2021.

But “I also worry about what’s happened to our clinicians. Yes, they have been absolute heroes, but that’s coming at a cost,” said Dr. Murthy. “The question that we have to ask ourselves as a country is: Are we willing to finally step up and do something?

“This is a time where we have an opportunity, but also an obligation, to address some of these deeper challenges of clinician well-being,” he added.

“We know that in order to address burnout, this isn’t about one organization or one sector—we all have to act together,” said Dr. Murthy. The “government has got to play an important role here. Health care systems have an important role to play.”

Also, “we know educational institutions, training institutions have an important role they can play,” he said, adding there’s even “an important role for policymakers and the public.”

How to promote physician well-being during a pandemic and beyond

The federal government has a unique opportunity and power “that is critical to highlight the issue for the general public and to lay out a national strategy around” physician burnout and well-being, said Dr. Murthy.

Don’t focus solely on the individual

“The bottom line with all of this, though, is … you can’t assume that solely focusing on equipping individual physicians with individual tools is going to be the solution to burnout,” said Dr. Murthy. “This is not just about enrolling physicians in a CME around self-care that they take for three days. … The problem is it is so much more systemic, and it’s deeper than that.”

Bringing “the right people together—the right sectors together—to commit to … both the systemic and process changes, but also the cultural changes that need to take place in an institution is going to be extraordinarily difficult,” he said.

Educate the public about burnout

“All of this cannot happen sustainably without us bringing the public in. And I don’t mean the broader health care professional,” Dr. Murthy said. “I mean the general public outside of health care because I don’t think that the general public fully appreciates how the problem of physician burnout is already impacting the care that you’re getting or not.

At pandemic peak, 1 in 3 resident doctors in NYC experienced burnout

“We know that when clinicians drop out of the workforce, it’s not just that there are fewer people that care for COVID patients at hospitals, but our ability to provide primary care, hospital-based care and other clinicians across the board also is compromised,” he said. “There’s so much more we need to do to help the public understand why clinician well-being is not just an issue for clinicians.

“It is a national priority, and it has to be treated with the urgency that it really deserves,” Dr. Murthy added.

The AMA offers resources to help physicians manage their own mental health and well-being during the COVID-19 pandemic and provides practical strategies for health system leadership to consider in support of their physicians and care teams during COVID-19.

Indian Government To Re-Examine Advisory On Efficacy Of Ashwagandha

The Ministry of Ayush in India has decided to re-examine the matter pertaining to the use of Ashwagandha — Withania somnifera — leaves in Ayurveda, Siddha and Unani (ASU) drugs by constituting an expert group to this end.

The Ayush Ministry earlier had directed ASU drug manufacturers to refrain from the usage of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) leaves, saying that no substantial evidence and literature is available to endorse the efficacy of crude drug or extract of Ashwagandha.

The Ministry also issued an advisory to all ASU Drugs Manufacturers Associations seeking the manufacturers of the crude drug/extracts, sellers, ASU drug manufacturing companies, ASU drug exporters not to use Withania somnifera leaves either in crude or extract or any other form for therapeutic purposes under the ambit of ASU drugs.

“No substantial evidence and literature is available to endorse the efficacy of crude drug/extract of Withania somnifera leaves. Considering this, it would not be appropriate to consider the Withania somnifera leaves as ASU medicine at this stage,” the ministry had said in its advisory.

However, after industry’s intervention, the Ayush Ministry invited the stakeholders to discuss their concerns about utilization of Ashwagandha leaves in ASU products.

After the discussion with the ASU industry partners, the Ministry of Ayush has decided to set up an expert group to re-examine the advisory issued to the drug manufacturers to refrain from using Ashwagandha leaves.

The group will make appropriate recommendations to the Centre on the use of Ashwagandha leaves and Panchanga of Ashwagandha in ASU products based on scientific evidence. (IANS)

Prevention Is Better Than Cure The Significance of Your Annual Physical Exam

Advika was in her late forties. Despite feeling tired and noting some abnormal pains during her monthly cycle, she declined to go to the doctor. The cost of traveling to the doctor was expensive and she didn’t have the extra funds or time to take a day off work for the trip. Eventually, she started feeling so bad that working was almost impossible. Finally, she went to the doctor, only to find out that she had an advanced stage of cervical cancer.

While we would all wish that her story was rare, the truth is that undiagnosed cancer happens frequently in India. Advanced stages of cancer are less likely to be cured and have a greater chance of relapse. In stage one, for instance, the cure rate is around 85% but that number falls dramatically for those in stage 3. Cancer patients who are diagnosed with stage 4 cancer are not likely to survive for more than five years.

The World Health Organization says that cancer is diagnosed in more than 14 million people worldwide annually and ends up killing approximately 8.8 million. What is most shocking is that two-thirds of these deaths are in low-middle income countries where diagnosis is found to be inadequate.

Indian system of modern medicine does not promote an annual preventive physical exam for patients even though several private hospitals promote comprehensive executive check ups for the wealthy.  Its time to change that. Identifying chronic diseases like Diabetes, Hypertension, and heart diseases early and managing them is a lot more effective than managing and treating its complications.

In the United States, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force is an independent, volunteer panel of national experts in disease prevention and evidence-based medicine. The Task Force works to improve the health of people nationwide by making evidence-based recommendations about clinical preventive services. “The Prevention TaskForce” application assists primary care clinicians to identify the screening, counseling, and preventive medication services that are appropriate for their patients. Government of India could implement a similar project and use the lessons learned in the United States and other countries.

If all patients in India have access to complimentary annual preventive physical exam, including routine lab tests and cancer screenings, this will increase the chances of finding cancer and deadly diseases earlier and will enhance the likelihood of a cure. The cost to the taxpayers of India will eventually be far less as we prevent long term complications of Cancer and Chronic diseases.

For the individual patient who is covering the costs of seeing a doctor, the idea of annual physical examination when they feel fine seems like a waste of financial resources. As has become the case in countries around the world, primary care and annual physical examinations are beginning to disappear. As telehealth and digital medicine options have continued to increase in use, particularly during the pandemic, the idea of a traditional physical exam has come under greater scrutiny. A combination physical exam and telehealth might be the way of the future in keeping our nation healthy.

The annual physical exam is part of the larger discussion about primary care and whether it is necessary. In the U.S., India, and other countries around the world, medicine has become the way you manage disease, not prevent it. Primary care, on the other hand, is a way to prevent disease by talking with patients about their potential health risks and giving them practical advice on how to care for their health, while considering their unique lifestyle challenges.

Unfortunately, there is little discussion about how focusing on primary care, including the annual physical exam, could positively impact the costs of healthcare. Far too often, individuals throughout the world find themselves waiting to seek medical attention until they are much sicker, simply because they do not have the funds to afford basic preventive primary care or may struggle to stick with prescribed preventive health measures and lifestyle changes due to costs or social status.

While telemedicine does offer a way for physicians to connect with their patients in a cost-effective manner, there is something to be said for having a patient in front of you, where you can physically examine them. When a patient disagrees with their doctor, for instance, having a physical exam can give you data that informs the discussion and could be helpful in getting the patient on board with the treatment options available.

A patient who might be looking for antibiotics to treat a respiratory infection might feel better about not needing medication when they know that their lungs are clear, and their oxygen saturation levels are within normal range.

Telehealth does offer a means for doctors to understand the home environment of their patients and give them the opportunity to connect more frequently with their patients throughout the year. Virtual visits can also respect the patient’s time, as well as the doctor’s. Plus, technology is continuing to improve the ways available for doctors to collect physical data from their patients without physically having them in the office.

End stage renal diseases can be prevented by preventing or managing health conditions that cause kidney damage, such as diabetes and high blood pressure The costs for cancer treatments increase dramatically at later stages, as your medical team deals with the cancer and its side effects. Families often see any cancer diagnosis as a huge financial blow, meaning that they are also willing to make choices between treatment and caring for family needs. Annual physical exams, which include routine tests and screenings, could be a way to save individuals and their loved ones the financial and emotional costs of cancers and many other preventable diseases.

How can we make this happen in an affordable way using digital technology platforms like Telehealth? India being a leader in digital technology- this can be implemented more efficiently and make healthcare more accessible to common man especially in rural areas across the nation.

American Association of Physicians  of Indian Origin (AAPI), the largest ethnic physician organization in the United states, representing over 100,000 Indain American Physicians, has initiated preventive healthcare screenings in 75 villages to understand the concept of preventive screenings help to diagnose any silent diseases which are causing premature deaths from Coronary heart disease and cancers like Breast cancer, cervical cancer which are preventable if diagnosed early through these annual screenings as mentioned above.

During the annual Global Healthcare Summit AAPI has planned to organize in India at Hotel AVASA in Hyderabad from January 5th to 7th, 2022, physician leaders from the United States and India will have 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” recommend possible ways to plan and implement preventive medicine that will save resources and precious human lives.

It’s our hope that Government of India will 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, behavioral medicine, public health, obstetrics and gynecology, and nursing to create an Indian Preventive Task Force (IPTF) recommendations should be promoted and Implemented as part of the Free annual physical exam or telemedicine visit at Government Hospitals and Primary care centers. Private hospitals and Insurance companies should be encouraged to provide Annual Physical exam or Telehealth visit, following IPTF recommendations for free or at affordable cost. Many of the routine lab tests, vaccinations, blood pressure checks and some cancer screenings like self-breast examination can be done remotely and event at patient’s home with the help of Asha workers. The annual physical exam is a critical part of quality primary care and one that needs to be automatically covered as part of Indian healthcare system.

To shift our healthcare from being disease and treatment centered, we need to elevate the value of primary care, particularly the annual physical exam and recognize how critical this is to having a healthy nation and a healthier world.

With one of the largest populations in the World, India could lead the World in providing quality health care to all its citizens and the recent COVID-19 vaccination drive is a great example. The biggest democracy in the World needs urgent Investment in the health of all its citizens and reform the public healthcare system.

*Dr. Anupama Gotimukula is the President of American Association of Physicians  of Indian Origin (AAPI), resides in San Antonio, TX. A board certified Pediatric Anesthesiologist, practicing since 2007, Dr. Gotimukula is affiliated with Christus Santa Rosa, Baptist and Methodist Healthcare systems in San Antonio.

*Prof. (Dr.) Joseph M. Chalil is an Adjunct Professor & 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.

*He recently published a Best Seller Book – “Beyond the COVID-19 Pandemic: Envisioning a Better World by Transforming the Future of Healthcare.”

Biden-Harris Administration’s Efforts Addressing Addiction And Overdose

In its first-year drug policy priorities, the Biden-Harris Administration outlined a strategy that includes expanding access to evidence-based prevention, treatment, harm reduction, and recovery support services, as well reducing the supply of illicit drugs. Since January, the Office of National Drug Control Policy has worked with other agencies across the government to advance President Biden’s drug policy priorities. Among the actions taken in the first nine months of the Biden-Harris Administration are:

The American Rescue Plan invested nearly $4 billion to allow the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and Health Resources and Services Administration to expand access to vital mental health and substance use disorder services. The funding also included $30 million in supports for harm reduction services—a historic amount that will enhance interventions like syringe services programs.

HHS released the Practice Guidelines for the Administration of Buprenorphine for Treating Opioid Use Disorder, which exempt eligible health care providers from Federal certification requirements related to training, counseling and other ancillary services that are part of the process for obtaining a waiver to treat up to 30 patients with buprenorphine. This action expands access to evidence-based treatment by removing a critical barrier to buprenorphine prescribing.

DEA lifted a decade-long moratorium on opioid treatment programs that want to include a mobile component. This rule change will help provide treatment to rural and other underserved communities, including incarcerated individuals.

CDC and SAMHSA announced that Federal funding may now be used to purchase fentanyl test strips in an effort to help curb the dramatic spike in drug overdose deaths.

ONDCP designated six new counties as part of its High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) program. These counties, located in states like California, Illinois, Kentucky, and Pennsylvania, will receive support for regional law enforcement efforts to disrupt and dismantle drug trafficking organizations.

ONDCP provided funding for the nationwide expansion of the HIDTA Overdose Response Strategy to all 50 states, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the District of Columbia. The Strategy brings together drug intelligence officers and public health analysts at the local and regional level to share information and develop evidence-based intervention and support services that reduce overdoses.

ONDCP provided funding to support the establishment of state-level model legislation that advances efforts to expand access to harm reduction services, as well as promote equity in access to treatment and drug enforcement efforts for underserved communities.

ONDCP hosted more than 300 State, local, and Tribal leaders from all 50 States, Washington, D.C., American Samoa, Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, and the Northern Mariana Islands for a virtual convening entitled “Opioid Litigation Settlement: Using Evidence to Lead Action.”

At the convening, government officials, researchers, and experts discussed how State, local, and Tribal governments can use evidence and data to guide decisions about how funds from opioid litigation can be spent to address addiction and the overdose epidemic, while advancing equity.

ONDCP, HHS, and DOJ presented to Congress the Biden-Harris Administration’s recommendations for a long-term, consensus approach to reduce the supply and availability of illicitly manufactured fentanyl-related substances (FRS), while protecting civil rights and reducing barriers to scientific research for all Schedule I substances.

ONDCP announced $13.2 million in grants for 106 Drug-Free Communities (DFC) Support Programs across the country working to prevent youth substance use, including prescription drugs, marijuana, tobacco, and alcohol. In June, ONDCP announced $3.2 million for 65 communities nationwide for its Community-Based Coalition Enhancement Grants to Address Local Drug Crisis Program to reduce youth substance use.

ONDCP announced the release of a model law for state legislatures that would help ensure opioid litigation settlement funds are directed to addressing addiction and the overdose epidemic in impacted communities and with public accountability.

ONDCP released a new, holistic U.S.-Colombia counternarcotics strategy developed by the Counternarcotics Working Group between the United States and Colombian governments that broadens focus to include specific actions on rural security and development, environmental protection, and supply reduction.

HHS announcement of the new HHS Overdose Prevention Strategy, which focuses on expanding primary prevention, harm reduction, evidence-based treatment, and recovery support services for all Americans. The HHS Overdose Prevention Strategy builds on the Biden-Harris Administration’s year one drug policy priorities and actions taken by the Administration to address addiction and the overdose epidemic since January.

In addition to these actions, the President’s FY22 budget request calls for a $41.0 billion investment for national drug program agencies, a $669.9 million increase over the FY 2021 enacted level. The largest increases in funding are for critical public health interventions to expand research, prevention, treatment, harm reduction, and recovery support services, with targeted investments to meet the needs of populations at greatest risk for overdose and substance use disorder. The FY22 budget request also includes significant investments in reducing the supply of illicit substances.

Drug Overdose Deaths In US Hit Record High Amid Pandemic

More than 100,000 Americans have died from drug overdoses in the yearlong period ending in April amid the raging Covid-19 pandemic, a media report said citing provisional figures from the National Center for Health Statistics.

It is for the first time the number of overdose deaths in the US has surpassed 100,000 a year after increasing almost 30 per cent from the 78,000 fatalities in the prior year, Xinhua news agency quoted The New York Times report as saying.

Overdose deaths have more than doubled since 2015, said the report, adding that it resulted from losing access to treatment, rising mental health problems and wider availability of dangerously potent street drugs.

The fatalities have lasting repercussions, since most of them occurred among people aged 25 to 55, in the prime of life, Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse was quoted as saying.

According to experts, overdoses increased in all but four of the 50 US states. The number of deaths from drugs has now surpassed those from guns, car crashes and the flu.

The highest increase in overdose deaths was recorded in Vermont, where the number of fatalities rose 70 per cent to 209. Vermont was followed by West Virginia (62 per cent) and Kentucky (55 per cent). (IANS)

US COVID-19 Deaths In 2021 Is More Than 2020

The United States passed yet another sobering milestone in the COVID-19 pandemic as the number of 2021 coronavirus deaths surpassed the 2020 total.

According to the latest available data from Johns Hopkins University, the U.S. has reached at least 770,691 COVID-19 deaths over the full course fo the pandemic.

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicate that the total number of deaths involving COVID-19 in 2020 was 385,343.

That means that at least 385,348 COVID-19 deaths — 15 more than the 2020 total —have so far been recorded in 2021, and that number will only rise in the days and weeks to come.

In June, a Wall Street Journal analysis found that global COVID-19 deaths in 2021 had already surpassed 2020 numbers. The newspaper reported at the time that 1.883 people had died in connection with COVID-19 at that point in 2021, surpassing the global death toll of 1.88 million from 2020.

The grim U.S. milestone comes despite the fact that three COVID-19 vaccines have been authorized in the country, most recently for children as young as 5 years old.

About 69 percent of the U.S. population are at least partially vaccinated, while 59 percent are fully vaccinated, according to CDC data.

Among that group, Americans aged 65 years and older boast impressively high vaccination rates. Nearly 100 percent of people in that age range are at least partially vaccinated, while 86 percent are fully vaccinated, per CDC data.

While the U.S. started to celebrate a decline of COVID-19 cases in September, those numbers have steadily started trending upward again. Last week, 29 states saw higher COVID-19 counts than the week prior.

Happiness: Only I Myself Am Responsible For It

Happiness is something we all yearn for in life. So, what is this thing called happiness? True and everlasting happiness is something that cannot be found outside ourselves. It cannot be found in jobs, food or relationships. All these experiences come and go so that is temporary pleasure, temporary happiness. Real inner happiness is very personal and precious. It’s my right and only I myself am responsible for it….and… it does require effort.

Many obstacles will come in life and try to take away our inner happiness. True happiness resides within the soul, within the mind. It is a positive and pure state of mind and no one or no situation can take it away from you. You are the Creator of your true inner happiness. By choosing the thoughts you want to think in any given situation you can keep the light of true happiness ignited.

Happiness can only grow and flourish in a peaceful, positive, pure and powerful mind and it will die in a mental atmosphere filled with the obstacles of negativity, anger, criticism, arrogance or depression. It is as if many of us have forgotten our original positive qualities and we have been overtaken by the negative qualities that are prevalent in our world today.

Instead of taking or giving sorrow or becoming disheartened by these obstacles of negativity, take a high jump in a second with your light form, your soul-conscious form of eternal light and power. Do not waste your time worrying or getting upset by these negative thoughts. Jump across these obstacles in a second by remembering your original soul conscious form and creating positive thoughts.

So in order to prepare yourself for the arrival of true happiness, the first thing you need to do is to become light, soul conscious and examine the quality of your thoughts. Connect your mind with the Source and fill your heart with the elevated qualities of your original form, the qualities of peace, love, happiness, truth and purity. This awareness and practice will remove the obstacles of negative thoughts and will bring you back to a state of inner peace and true happiness.

So, for the next few days make an effort to observe your thoughts and then ask yourself the questions: Am I the master of my own thoughts? Or, is my mind mastering me? Am I able to put a full stop to negativity and create pure and positive thoughts whenever I want? Am I experiencing a life of true happiness?

All Adults Can Receive COVID-19 Booster Shots

An influential U.S. advisory panel will discuss expanding eligibility for COVID-19 vaccine booster shots to all adults Friday, a move that could make the shots available nationwide as early as this weekend.

Some cities and states already allow all adults to get boosters of Pfizer’s vaccine, but it is not yet official U.S. policy. In the last week, California, New Mexico, Arkansas, West Virginia and Colorado expanded the shots to all adults. New York City made a similar move.

Pfizer asked U.S. regulators last week to allow boosters of its COVID-19 vaccine for anyone 18 or older. The Food and Drug Administration is expected to sign off on Pfizer’s application before the advisory panel meets Friday. The final step — CDC’s official recommendation — could come soon after the meeting.

The move would greatly expand who is eligible. Boosters are now recommended for people who initially received their second Pfizer or Moderna shots at least six months ago if they’re 65 or older or are at high risk of COVID-19 because of health problems or their job or living conditions. Boosters are also recommended for people who received the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine at least two months ago.

Nearly 31 million Americans have already received a dose beyond their original vaccination, including those with weakened immune systems, such as cancer patients and organ transplant recipients who need an extra dose to be fully vaccinated.

While all three vaccines used in the U.S. continue to offer strong protection against severe COVID-19 illness and death, the shots’ effectiveness against milder infection can wane over time.

Pfizer has submitted early results of a booster study in 10,000 people to make its case that it’s time to further expand the booster campaign. The study found that a booster could restore protection against symptomatic infection to about 95%, even as the extra-contagious delta variant was surging. Side effects were similar to those seen with the company’s first two shots.

Members of the panel, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, have debated in prior meetings whether there is sufficient evidence that boosters are currently needed for all adults.

Dr. Soumya Swaminathan’s Take on Global Trends In Covid-19 Infections

Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, a chief scientist for the World Health Organization (WHO), told the media recently that vaccinations are not enough to end the pandemic.

She called for expanded vaccine equity and sharing of tools in poorer countries to prevent the spread of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 and its continued mutation.

Vaccines are effective, but ‘not 100%’

“Vaccination is just one tool. It’s not a silver bullet,” she told DW. “Vaccines are very effective against protecting against severe disease…But vaccines are not 100% effective against infection.”

Although breakthrough infections remain rare, being vaccinated does not mean a person cannot pass the virus to someone else at higher risk.

“You still see countries today with high rates of vaccination and still having increasing rates of infection,” Swaminathan explained. “And the higher the rates of transmission, the danger is that you’re generating new variants, which are then going to come back and infect those people, even if you are vaccinated. There’s really a strong scientific argument to be made for continuing to use the other measures until everyone around the world is protected.”

Concerning trends from Europe suggest that the world needs to step up vaccination campaigns and ensure high coverage, said World Health Organization Chief Scientist Soumya Swaminathan on Wednesday.

The health expert took to Twitter to note that there has been a global increase in cases in Europe, Americas and Western Pacific regions. However, deaths have plateaued at around 50,000 a week, she said. Dr. Swaminathan reiterated the need to ensure adherence to social distancing, wearing masks in public places, and following Covid-19 protocol as per norms.

Dr. Swaminathan’s warnings comes amidst worries of India facing a third wave of Covid-19 infections. The last big spike in infections and deaths were observed in May 2021, leading to a shortage of hospital beds and over-burdening of medical facilities. Since then, however, India has stepped up its vaccination program. Yet, only 27% of the population is fully vaccinated till date.

Here are three trends to note, as per the WHO chief:

1. Europe sees spike in cases, deaths

Sharing a graph showing the progress of the infections and deaths in the European Region since January 2020, Dr. Swaminathan wrote on Twitter, “Very concerning trends from Europe. 8% increase of cases and 5% increase in deaths. We need to step up vaccination campaigns and ensure high coverage first among the elderly and vulnerable. Also, continue masking, don’t crowd in unventilated places and stay home if sick.”

2. Most deaths among the unvaccinated

Dr. Swaminathan said that the deaths are mostly concentrated among the unvaccinated. Over 35% of population in the European region remains to be fully vaccinated.

“Most deaths are in the unvaccinated in all countries. We need use the vaccine supplies for primary courses and save lives,” she wrote on Twitter.

3. Delta variant still dominant

Dr. Swaminathan added that delta variant of coronavirus accounts for 99.7% of viral subtypes in the last two weeks.

“#Delta variant accounts for 99.7% of viral subtypes in @GISAID over past 60 days. In South America there is still some Mu and Lambda circulating. #AY4.2 sub lineage may have some transmission advantage & needs watching,” she wrote.

With rise in coronavirus cases, Europe has become the epicenter of the Covid-19 pandemic again. This has prompted some governments to consider re-imposing unpopular lockdowns.

Dr. Suresh Reddy Assumes Charge As President of Indian American Medical Association, Illinois

(Chicago, IL: November 15, 2022) “I would like to stand on the top of shoulders of 39 Past Presidents so I can see farther,” Dr. Suresh Reddy, a Neuro Interventional Radiologist practicing in the Chicago area and a past President of national AAPI, said immediately after assuming office as the President of Indian American Medical Association, Illinois during a colorful ceremony held in Oakbrook, IL on Saturday, November 13th.

“As the President, one of my main goal is to revitalize local Chapters that are the backbone for the national organization; help make the local Chapters financially viable as funds have dwindled due to pharma support; and to bring in younger physicians into the fold,” the young and dynamic President told a select group of audience who had come to cheer him and the new executive committee.

Dr. Reddy then went on to introduce his Executive Committee Team: Dr. Piyush Vyas, whom Dr. Reddy described as “my older brother and professional mentor” will serve as the President. Dr. Radhika Chimata will serve as the Secretary,. While the Secretary-Elect is Dr. Dilip Shah.

The new Treasurer is Dr. Meher Medavaram and the Treasurer-Elect is Dr. Rajeev Kumar. The new chairs of the committee include Drs. Aparna Natarajan, Srilatha Gundala, Tapan Parikh, and Neetha Dhananjaya.

Dr. Reddy expressed his deep gratitude to the past presidents with whom he had worked: Drs. Samir Shah, Tapas Das Gupta, Sreenivas Reddy, Niranjana Shah, Geetha Wadhwani and Suneela Harsoor.

“I would also like to thank all the leaders of IAMA, especially Drs, Vemuri Murthy, Hanumadass, Rohit Vasa, Satya Ahuja, Shastri Swaminathan, Khandelwal, Arvind Goyal, Annita John, Utpal Parikh,  Sukanya Reddy and several others.” He had a special note for Dr. Lalmalani. “I would like to thank my spiritual guru and political mentor, our Mayor of Oak Brook Dr. Lalmalani.”

Dignitaries, who attended the ceremony include Consul General of India in Chicago, Mr. Amit Kumar, US Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi, Illinois State representative Deanne Mazzochi, famed Infectious Diseases/COVID Specialist Dr. Vishnu Chundi and several others, including

Dr. Ranga Reddy, Past President of AAPI and Dr. Satheesh Kathula, Secretary of AAPI. Dr. Reddy thanked the sponsors of the event, Hanmi Bank and ATG tours.

Educated, trained, and board certified in Neuro-Radiology, Interventional Radiology and Interventional Neuro-Radiology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, Dr. Reddy had served as the Chief of Interventional Neuroradiology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and on Faculty at Harvard Medical School for almost a decade. Dr. Reddy has been involved in the highly specialized techniques and art of treating aneurysms and strokes in the complex part of our body, the Brain. He is also extensively trained to perform complex procedures in the most inaccessible regions of the spine.

Author of many international medical journal articles, Dr. Reddy has traveled extensively, giving specialty lectures on the complex procedures that he does. Active in teaching and mentoring many medical students and residents, Dr. Reddy has received numerous teaching and mentoring awards. To his credit, he is a four-time recipient of “Faculty award for excellence in teaching” awarded by the Harvard Medical Students and Residents.

Dr. Suresh Reddy MD, MHM (Health Management and Policy), who completed his medical education in India at Kakatiya / Osmania Medical Colleges, before immigrating to the United States, currently serving as the Chief of Radiology at Hines Medical Center, Associate Professor of Radiology at Loyola Medical Center in Chicago, has had many years of service to the medical community and to the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin and IAMA IL chapter. As an exceptional leader of AAPI, he has taken up several worthy causes, including clearing the “Green Card” backlog for Indian physicians in Rural America.

His strongest attribute is building bridges with the local chapters, which he claims to the backbone of the National organization.  To his credit, he added 8 new regional chapters to the national organization. In addition, Dr Reddy has worked closely with AAPI members over the years to successfully organize CME cruises to Alaska, Scandinavia, the Mediterranean, Hawaii, and Antarctica; along with CME trips to Israel and Jordan. Proceeds from all of these trips were donated back to AAPI. Dr Reddy firmly believes that such trips build a closer bond between AAPI members and their families.

In the summer of 2019, Dr. Reddy organized The Global Health Summit in Hyderabad, an educational event with numerous workshops. Vice President of India, Sri Venkaiah Naidu, Union Minster of Health, Dr. Harshvardhan, both addressed the highly successful Global Health Summit. In October of 2019, he played a key role along with the Indian Resuscitation Council to train almost 500,000 lay people in Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation in India.

Assuming charge as the President of AAPI, nation’s largest physician organization, when the COVID Pandemic hit the world, impacting every aspect of life on a global level, he and his team faced a number of challenges in carrying out their plans during his term. Dr. Reddy and his team were right on task, and Dr Reddy devoted a significant part of the year to creating stability and leading AAPI to the next level. Never in the history of AAPI had so many educational programs been organized. Never had so many specialists shared knowledge so actively, with the participation of thousands of doctors from across the world.

It was the first time ever that a sitting Prime Minister of India addressed an AAPI event, when Shri Narendra Modi spoke at the Summer Summit organized by AAPI. Others who addressed the AAPI Summer Summit included Dr. Susan Bailey, Dr. Patricia Harris, US Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams, Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi, and Soumya Swaminathan from the WHO.

His leadership and foresight were deeply appreciated as AAPI became the first major organization to call for universal masking. In this regard, AAPI provided free masks to thousands of health care workers. AAPI members have honored more than 10,000 nurses in over 100 hospitals across more than 40 states by sponsoring lunches for them during the Nurses Week. He was instrumental in organizing the Obesity prevention programs in all continenets, sharing medical knowledge globally, team-building activities such as the Share-A-Blanket program, medical education programs such as CPR training, morale building programs like mentoring a future medical students, and India heritage programs like Independence Day celebrations.

Collaborating with the Indian Embassy in DC, under his leadership, more than 1000 prescriptions were written for Indian visitors who were stranded in the USA due to COVID Pandemic. He, along with his team created the “AAPI Endowment Fund,” raising and donating $300,000 with a goal of enabling his successors to be less burdened with fundraising and more focused on AAPI’s mission of Education, Mentoring, Research, Charity, and Service.

Dr. Reddy currently resides in the Chicago area with his wife Leela and son Rohun. He is currently a Trustee of the Village of Oak Brook, Lead of Chiefs of Radiology for the states of Illinois and Wisconsin Veterans Administration, and has participated in innumerable community events.  He has organized Independence Day celebrations and has worked with the IAMA team over the years to support numerous activities. He also organized numerous walkathons to honor our Veterans.

IAMA-IL is a non-profit organization comprised of Illinois physicians, fellows, residents, and medical students of Indian origin who are committed to professional excellence and quality patient care. IAMA-IL offers many opportunities for your organization to begin and grow a connection with our members and the communities we serve. We like to partner with organizations and people that strive for similar goals including a commitment to excellence, education, research and serving the community.

Dr. Suresh Reddy has made the Indian community proud with his innumerable contributions and he is ready to serve IAMA as its 40th President. He credits his track record of almost 6 years as a foot soldier in IAMA, as it has laid the foundation for this upcoming year. Dr. Suresh Reddy’s theme for IAMA under his leadership is, “Ask what you can do for IAMA, and not IAMA can do for you.”

Ayurveda Day Held At Indian Consulate In New York

The Consulate General of India in New York organized an event to celebrate Ayurveda Day on 2nd November 2021.  Ayurveda Day is celebrated on Dhanvantri Jayanti or Dhanteras, a festival that takes place two days before Diwali.  Welcoming the guests, Consul General Randhir Jaiswal conveyed his greetings to one and all on the occasion of the sixth Ayurveda Day. He recalled how Ayurveda, an ancient Indian system of medicine, was fast becoming relevant to health and well-being in modern times.

To treat ailments today, one has to draw from all available sources of scientific medical knowledge, and for that reason integrative medicine approach which counts on Ayurveda along with other systems, was fast becoming popular” – he noted.  He emphasized how the salience of Ayurveda and traditional knowledge were on the rise across the world, especially at a time when there was a strong urge among the global community to go “back-to-basics”.

In this regard, he highlighted some data points from the WHO Global Report on Traditional and Complementary Medicine 2019 – number of countries with national policy on traditional and complementary medicine has increased from 25 in 1998 to 98 in 2019 and countries with health insurance cover for traditional and complementary medicine has increased from 37 in 2012 to 45 in 2018.  Consul General underlined the vast network of scientific studies being undertaken on Ayurveda in universities in the United States and in research ecosystems across the world including in India.

The highlight of the event was a panel discussion held on the theme “Ayurveda in everyday life for the modern fast lifestyle”.  The discussion was moderated by Mr. Kushal Choksi, a former Wall Street trader who has co-founded ‘Elements Truffles’, an Ayurveda inspired food start-up.  The distinguished panelists included Mr. Bhushan Deodhar, an Ayurveda enthusiast and CEO of Shankara Naturals; Ms. Divya Alter, Founder & Director of Bhagavat Life, which is perhaps the only dedicated Ayurvedic culinary center in New York City, and also credited with North America’s first Ayurvedic chef certification program; Ms. Alak Vasa, Co-Founder of Element Truffles, an Ayurveda inspired artisanal chocolate company; and Ms. Nidhi Pandya, a renowned Ayurvedic expert.

The panelists focused their presentations on how to bring Ayurvedic way of living in modern life.  They also emphasized on the benefits of Ayurveda and how it connected health to sustainability. Explaining the tenets of Ayurveda, they outlined the myriad ways in which it embraces nature and the environment.

They appreciated the push being given by the Government of India to promote Ayurveda and traditional systems of medicine in India and abroad. In this context, they noted the establishment of a special Ministry in India – Ministry of AYUSH (Ayurveda, Yoga, Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha, and Homoeopathy) – to give a boost to traditional medicine and knowledge. The conversation reinforced Ayurveda’s position as a way of life with universal appeal. It renewed commitment of the community to share this time-tested knowledge that could benefit people across cultures, traditions and lifestyles.

The program ended with chanting of musical mantras by Ms. Jahnavi Harrison. The guests at the event were served delicious Ayurveda inspired vegetarian lunch comprising super foods such as Makhana (commonly known as foxnuts) and other specialties. The audience was most delighted to know that an Ayurveda ecosystem was fast developing in New York area with Ayurvedic expertise and choices for a healthy living.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta Looks To A Future Living With COVID In ‘World War C’

We’ve all heard talk about “the new normal,” whatever that even is. CNN’s chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta has his own ideas, and despite the harsh realities of nearly 3 years living through a pandemic — quarantines, hospital staffing shortages, massive loss of life — he remains optimistic. In his new book World War C, he says, COVID is something we’ll likely live with… forever. But that doesn’t mean it has to control our lives. He sat down with NPR’s Rachel Martin to talk about it in today’s episode.

CNN chief medical correspondent Sanjay Gupta, MD, offers an accessible, data-packed answer to our biggest questions about Covid-19: What have we learned about this pandemic and how can we prepare for—or prevent—the next one?
As America’s favorite frontline Covid-19 health journalist, Dr. Sanjay Gupta has barely left his primetime seat in his makeshift studio basement since the pandemic began (other than to perform brain surgery). He’s had the insider of insider access to the drama’s unfolding, including exclusive conversations with the world’s top public health experts and behind-the-scenes scientists racing to find treatments and cures. And now he’s sharing what he’s learned in a book that will answer not only all our questions about what happened, but also about how our world will change in the years ahead, even once we’re back to “normal.”
Gupta argues that we need to prepare for a new era where pandemics will be more frequent, and possibly even more deadly. As the doctor who’s been holding America’s hand through the crisis with compassion, clarity, and well-earned wisdom, he gives you the unvarnished story behind the pandemic, including insights about the novel virus’s behavior, and offers practical tools to ready ourselves for what lies ahead. He answers critical questions: Can we stamp out the virus for good (and if not, how do we live with it)? Should we put our parents in a nursing home? Where should we live? What should we stockpile? What should we know before taking a trip? Does it make sense to spend more on health insurance to deal with any long-term effects? How do you decide when it’s safe to go to a public pool or schedule elective surgery? What should Covid survivors know about protecting their future health? What if you become a long-hauler with chronic health challenges stemming?
Dr. Sanjay Gupta is CNN’s Emmy Award–winning chief medical correspondent and the host of the acclaimed podcast Chasing Life (formerly Coronavirus: Fact vs Fiction), America’s go-to resource for expert advice on how to stay healthy and safe. The #1 New York Times bestselling author of Chasing Life, Cheating Death, Monday Mornings, and Keep Sharp, Dr. Gupta lives in Atlanta, where he works as an associate professor of neurosurgery at the Emory University School of Medicine.
World War C will give you hope for the future along with real information that leaves you more resilient and secure.

AAPI Announces 40th Annual Convention In San Antonio, TX In June 2022 During Curtain Raiser

(San Antonio, TX: November 12, 2021) “It is with great pleasure that we announce that the 40th American Association of Physicians of Indian origin (AAPI) Annual Convention and Scientific Sessions will be held from June 23-26, 2022 in the beautiful city of San Antonio, Texas,” Dr. Anupama Gotimukula, President of AAPI announced here at the virtual kick off meeting on Sunday, November 7th, 2021.

In her welcome remarks, Dr. Anupama Gotimukula, the 4th woman President of AAPI in the history of AAPI, who has been leading AAPI to newer heights with her dynamic leadership, provided a brief history of AAPI, stating how AAPI’s mission has evolved in the past 40 years. “Today, AAPI is strong representing over 100,000 Indian American physicians, 130 local Chapters, who make up of 10% of total physicians in the US and  nearly 50% of International Medical Graduates, rooted in every corner of the nation, who serve every 7th patient in the US. We are proud of our achievements and our contributions to the healthcare industry and the millions of people we serve.”

“We invite you to the AAPI 40th Annual Convention in the beautiful city of San Antonio, Texas,” Dr. Jayesh Shah, past President of AAPI and Chair of AAPI Convention 2022 said. Welcoming the delegates to his “Home city of San Antonio,” which is hosting the 2nd national convention, Dr. Shah said, “We have convened a fantastic group of people to meet the needs of the 2022 convention and are very excited about this year. Please reach out to any one of the representatives from the San Antonio team with questions or comments.”

The convention will be held at the Henry B. Gonzales Convention Center in San Antonio, TX located on the River Walk. 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.

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; 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, R. Reddy Yeluru and Ram Joolukuntla.

In his felicitation address, Honorable Aseem Mahajan, Consul General of India in Houston, said, “Honored to be part of the virtual Curtain Raiser.” Mr. Mahajan 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.  Pointing 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 & position India as a global hub for medical devices, an attractive destination for medical devices by encouraging manufacturing, innovation, and R&D based on emerging technological landscapes, and transforming India into a hub for medical devices & emerge as the “diagnostic capital” of the world.”

Welcoming AAPI delegates to San Antonio, The mayor of the City, Mr. Ron Nirenberg said, “2022 is most exciting time to be in San Antonio, which hosts one of the largest Diwali celebrations in the United States. 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.”

Confirming his presence at the Convention, “Little Master” Sunil Gavaskar told AAPI members as being 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. Gavakar referred to his association with the “Heart to Heart Foundation” and how the Foundation is touching many hearts around the world.

“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. 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.

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: Paramguru Sharatha Jois, Sadhvi Bhagawati, Saraswati Eddie Stern,  Dr. Sat Bir Khalsa, Dr. Dilip Sarkar, Dr. Pankaj Vij, and  Dr. Param Dedhia.

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 visitwww.aapiconvention.org  and www.aapiusa.org

US Announces Big Hike In Medicare Premiums

The federal government announced a large hike in Medicare premiums Friday night, blaming the pandemic but also what it called uncertainty over how much it may have to be forced to pay for a pricey and controversial new Alzheimer’s drug.

The 14.5% increase in Part B premiums will take monthly payments for those in the lowest income bracket from $148.50 a month this year to $170.10 in 2022. Medicare Part B covers physician services, outpatient hospital services, certain home health services, medical equipment, and certain other medical and health services not covered by Medicare Part A, including medications given in doctors’ offices.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services played down the spike, pointing out that most beneficiaries also collect Social Security benefits and will see a cost-of-living adjustment of 5.9% in their 2022 monthly payments, the agency said in a statement. That’s the largest bump in 30 years.

“This significant COLA increase will more than cover the increase in the Medicare Part B monthly premium,” CMS said. “Most people with Medicare will see a significant net increase in Social Security benefits. For example, a retired worker who currently receives $1,565 per month from Social Security can expect to receive a net increase of $70.40 more per month after the Medicare Part B premium is deducted.”

The increase, however, is far more than the Medicare trustees estimated in their annual report, which was released in late August. They predicted the monthly premium for 2022 would be $158.50. The actual spike — the largest since 2016 — could hurt some seniors financially.

It “will consume the entire annual cost of living adjustment (COLA) of Social Security recipients with the very lowest benefits, of about $365 per month,” said Mary Johnson, a Social Security and Medicare policy analyst for The Senior Citizens League, an advocacy group. “Social Security recipients with higher benefits should be able to cover the $21.60 per month increase, but they may not wind up with as much left over as they were counting on.”

Medicare premiums have typically increased at a far faster rate than Social Security’s annual adjustments, the league said. And much of the 2022 increase in Social Security benefits will be eaten up by inflation, which is also rising at a rapid clip.

CMS said part of the increase for 2022 was because of uncertainty over how much the agency will end up paying to treat beneficiaries to be treated with Aduhelm, an Alzheimer’s drug approved by the US Food and Drug Administration in June over the objections of its advisers. Some experts estimate it will cost $56,000 a year. Medicare is deciding whether to pay for it now on a case-by-case basis.

Because Aduhelm is administered in physicians’ offices, it should be covered under Medicare Part B, not Part D plans, which pay for medications bought at pharmacies. Traditional Medicare enrollees have to pick up 20% of the cost of most Part B medications, which would translate into about $11,500 in out-of-pocket costs for those prescribed Aduhelm.

“The increase in the Part B premium for 2022 is continued evidence that rising drug costs threaten the affordability and sustainability of the Medicare program,” CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure said in a statement. “The Biden-Harris Administration is working to make drug prices more affordable and equitable for all Americans, and to advance drug pricing reform through competition, innovation, and transparency.”

Also, Congress last year limited the 2021 premium increase even as emergency Medicare spending surged during the coronavirus pandemic. The monthly charge rose less than $4.

Along with the premium spike, the annual deductible for Medicare Part B beneficiaries is rising to $233 in 2022, up from $203 in 2021.

Medicare is the federal health insurance plan covering more than 62 million people, mostly 65 and older.  Part B premiums are based on income. Individuals earning $500,000 or more a year and joint filers making $750,000 or more annually will pay $578.30 a month for coverage in 2022.

Indian American Scientist Named Primary Contributor To Invention Of Moderna’s Covid Vaccine

An Indian American scientist has been identified by Moderna as the primary contributor to its Covid-19 vaccine. A filing by the company for its patent application for the coronavirus vaccine using the revolutionary RNA technique listed Pune-educated bioinformatics scientist Mihir Metkar as the “first named inventor,” a designation that usually recognizes the primary contributor to the invention.

He is also listed as one of the inventors in two other Covid-19 vaccine patent applications by Moderna to the U.S. Patent Office. Moderna is of the new class of vaccines that use what is called messenger RNA (mRNA) that cause the body to create some proteins similar to that in the Covid-19 virus and trigger the body’s immune system to make antibodies that will fight the coronavirus if it invades the body. (Conventional vaccines use either dead viruses or parts of them or a modified version of the gene of a different virus.)

Metkar’s identification as the “first named inventor” is in the document filed by Moderna to dispute the U.S. government’s National Institutes of Health assertion that its scientists should also be credited as inventors of the vaccine, which was developed in collaboration with it and with $1.53 billion provided by the administration of former President Donald Trump under the Operation Warp Speed program to quickly produce vaccines.

Vladimir Presnyak and Guillaume Stewart-Jones are listed after him in the original application for the patent. Metkar received his MSc degree from the Institute of Bioinformatics and Biotechnology at the Savitribai Phule Pune University and worked at the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research in Pune as a project assistant before coming to the United States, according to his LinkedIn profile.

He did his Ph.D. at the RNA Therapeutics Institute at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester and worked there as a post-doctoral fellow, before joining Moderna in 2018, the profile said. In a separate patent filing, Moderna listed Sunny Himansu, who has an MBBS degree, as one of the two inventors of the Betacoronavirus Vaccine.

Moderna’s vaccine is one of the two main vaccines in the U.S. and about 164 million doses of it have been given so far in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control. In addition, millions of people have been vaccinated in Europe and elsewhere with the Moderna vaccine.

The other main vaccine used in the U.S. is the Pfizer-Biontech, which was developed in Germany and uses mRNA. A third vaccine from Johnson & Johnson is also used in the U.S. It was developed by J&J’s Jansen Pharmaceutical, whose global head of research and development is Mathai Mammen.

The patent document naming Metkar as the “first named inventor” was filed on behalf of Moderna by an intellectual property law firm asserting that the three NIH scientists who collaborated with them should not be considered co-inventors as the NIH has asked.

If the NIH scientists are recognized as co-inventors, the NIH and the government may be entitled to receive a share of royalties from the use of the patents and also be able to allow others to make the vaccine.

An NGO, Public Citizen, has pointed out in a letter to the head of the NIH that co-ownership of the patent “can empower the U.S. government to authorize” other manufacturers around the world to use some of the patents to make the vaccine. The group said that with “huge gaps in global vaccine access” the need for the government to exercise control over the vaccine technology “only grows more urgent.”

Why You Should Vaccinate Your Kids Against COVID-19?

In a step many parents have been awaiting, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) this afternoon granted emergency-use authorization to Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 to 11.

After reviewing evidence provided by Pfizer and taking into account the overwhelmingly positive recommendation of the agency’s independent advisory panel, FDA officials said the shot’s benefits outweigh its potential risks for young kids. It has been shown to be more than 90% effective at preventing symptomatic disease among kids 5 to 11, with no serious side effects reported among a group of 3,000 children who participated in trials.

Like Pfizer-BioNTech’s adult vaccine, the pediatric version is meant to be given in two doses, spaced three weeks apart. Each dose, however, is smaller than that given to adults.

The shot must still be recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) before it is widely available to younger kids, but the FDA’s green light is a major step toward that outcome. The CDC’s advisory committee will meet to discuss the shot next week.

If the CDC does recommend the shot for some or all 5- to 11-year-olds, the next challenge will be convincing parents to get it for their children. In a recent poll, almost 30% of U.S. parents with kids in that age group said they would vaccinate them right away, but another 35% said they either definitely wouldn’t vaccinate or wouldn’t unless required. The remaining chunk said they wanted to “wait and see.”

Waiting to vaccinate all children would be a mistake. Based on the data we have, the right answer is clear: the CDC should recommend that all kids ages five to eleven should have be vaccinated as quickly as possible.

There is one thing all experts agree on: Vaccinating children should be based on rigorous evidence and we should set a particularly high bar for using vaccines in healthy children.

The Pfizer COVID vaccine has cleared that bar. Whether these vaccines work in kids is beyond dispute: they are extremely effective, reducing COVID infections by more than 90 percent. This number is based on data gathered during the Delta surge in the U.S., when vaccine breakthroughs among adults were becoming more common in the U.S. Such a high level of protection from the vaccine at a time when infection rates were extremely high is remarkable.

The next question is how the risks and benefits of the vaccine compare to the risks of getting COVID. Here, the calculation is also straightforward: the virus is a constant threat, to our children and all with whom they interact—including playmates, friends, and relatives. We have seen what COVID can do if we don’t control its spread. The worst of the Delta surge is behind us, but over 1000 Americans still die every day from the disease. Vaccines prevent infections and the spread of the virus, and save lives.

Like all vaccines, COVID vaccines can have the standard side-effects of a sore arm, fever or headaches, but these side-effects are mild and short-lived. There are also important concerns about one specific side effect that is crucial to recognize and fully understand: myocarditis—or an inflammation of the heart muscle.

There is a need to start preparing for a world in which SARS-CoV2 will be endemic, circulating for decades or longer, just like measles, whooping cough and the flu. This is why essentially every expert on child health has come out in support of vaccinations. The American Association of Pediatrics, has been vocally supportive, as has the American Association of Family Practitioners, who represent physicians who care for millions of children.

It is helpful to take a step back, and remember how vaccines have transformed our lives, and the life expectancy of our children. We give children dozens of vaccines, without which they would be vulnerable to potentially fatal diseases from measles to pneumococcal disease—diseases that continue to sicken unvaccinated children around the world. It is time for the CDC to continue its important work on protecting our children by adding another tool to the arsenal. We need COVID vaccinations for all children five to eleven years old so parents can get their children vaccinated and keep them safe. That’s what I’m going to do.

Where children are being vaccinated

Cuba became the first country in the world to vaccinate children as young as 2 last month, with the government saying that its homegrown vaccines are safe for younger kids. Cuba has yet to provide data on its vaccines to outside observers, but has said it will seek WHO approval.

Chile, China, El Salvador and the UAE have also approved vaccines for younger children. In Chile, children aged 6 and older can get the Sinovac shot, while in China, the Sinovac and CoronaVac vaccines are authorised for use in children as young as 3. In El Salvador, children as young as 6 will soon be able to get vaccinated, while in the UAE — where Sinopharm is approved for 3-year-olds — the government has made it clear that the vaccination program will be optional. Meanwhile, US children between 5 and 11 are now eligible for the vaccine starting this fall, after approval came from the USFDA.

Still weighing the option

The UK has been more cautious than many other European countries in regard to vaccinating younger populations, only recommending the shot for 12-15 year olds, following advice from its chief medical officers.

France, Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Spain and Poland are among EU countries that have rolled out their vaccination campaigns for 12-15 year olds, with uptake varying across the bloc. Switzerland — which is not part of the EU — has been vaccinating the younger age group since June. Sweden will offer the vaccine to 12-15 year-olds later in the fall.

And India?

If approved by India’s drugs regulator, Covaxin would be the first shot to be available for kids aged between 2 and 12, while those in the 12-18 years age-group can choose between Covaxin and Zydus Cadila’s DNA-based vaccine. Two other companies, Serum Institute of India and homegrown drugmaker Biological E, have also been allowed to test their shots on children.

Pandemic May Have Eliminated One Flu Virus Type Completely

As Covid-19 spread to hundreds of millions of people around the world, another potentially lethal disease — influenza — hardly reared its head at all. And seasonal flu rates globally have been so low for the past 18 months, it looks as though one flu virus has been stamped out altogether.

Two studies show one of four flu viruses that infect humans each year hasn’t been detected anywhere in the world since April 2020.

So does that mean it’s gone for good? It’s still too early to say. There is a chance this particular virus — the Yamagata virus — might be lurking in a pocket of the world somewhere, according to Ian Barr, deputy director of the World Health Organization’s Collaborating Centre for Reference and Research on Influenza at the Doherty Institute, and co-author of one of the studies. “It may re-emerge, but we haven’t had a single detection of that virus in 18 months,” he added.

The Yamagata virus belongs to the influenza B group of flu viruses. With very rare exceptions, this group only infects humans. (Something else that sets them apart from influenza A viruses is that they mutate slowly.) Because they don’t jump between humans and other animals, they won’t cause a pandemic, unlike influenza A viruses, such as the one that causes swine flu.

When Covid-19 hit, social distancing, better hygiene and masks all contributed to driving flu levels down, and finished off the Yamagata virus faster than expected. But what had the biggest effect, Professor Barr said, was closed borders.

The 40th AAPI Convention In San Antonio, TX To Focus On “Heal The Healers” With Its Much Needed “Wellness Package” For Physicians And Families

(Chicago, IL: October 27, 2021) “Physician, heal thyself,” especially when there are growing signs of burn out among physicians, by offering positive remedial resources as part of a 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.

The Covid pandemic has impacted all aspects of human life as never been before. The past two years have been challenging to everyone, particularly those are assigned with the responsibility of caring for the sick, especially as hundreds of Millions were affected by the big pandemic. Over 115,000 health care workers died from Covid-19 from January 2020 to May of this year, according to a new World Health Organization estimate.

“The backbone of every health system is its workforce — the people who deliver the services on which we rely at some point in our lives,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said. “The pandemic is a powerful demonstration of just how much we rely on health workers and how vulnerable we all are when the people who protect our health are themselves unprotected.”

Some have argued that governments have forsaken their duty to protect health care workers and warned that pandemic would have long tail effects, with many healthcare professionals considering leaving the workforce. At this critical juncture in human history, 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, is focusing 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.   “This year AAPI Convention team from San Antonio is very much motivated on focusing on addressing physician burnout and we have planned these wellness packages. As we are seeing  in our daily lives the physician burnout has increased significantly. “We do acknowledge that these are challenging times, more than ever for us, physicians, who are on the frontline to assess, diagnose and treat people are affected by this deadly pandemic, COVID-19. Many of our colleagues have sacrificed their lives in order to save those impacted by this pandemic around the world,” Dr. Gotimukula added.

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 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.

“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. Dr Jayesh Shah, Chair of AAPI Convention 2022.

In her welcome note, Dr. Hetal Nayak, Coordinator of the Wellness Program said, “With great enthusiasm we invite you to participate in our AAPI convention wellness package themed ‘Heal the Healers.’ 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 selfcare routine. As we all 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 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 millions of people.”

Acknowledging the need for this much needed program as part of the convention,  Dr. Ravi Kolli, President-elect  of AAPI elaborated, “Healthcare today is more complex than ever. With more advancements, tools and information at our fingertips physicians have an overwhelming job to diagnose and treat our patients every day, 24/ 7/ 365 days a year. In every city and hospital, in our military and in our rural communities, we, the doctors pave the way to provide better healthcare to our patients.”

“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.

Planned to have a limited number of attendance due to the ongoing Coivd 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 information, please visit: www.aapiconvention.org  and www.aapiusa.org

Kids Ages 5-11 Are Now Eligible For Covid Vaccine

An FDA panel of independent advisers to the Food and Drug Administration is recommending that the agency issue an emergency use authorization for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in children ages 5 to 11 years old. The panel voted unanimously to recommend emergency use authorization of Pfizer’s Covid-19 on Tuesday, October 26th.

The FDA panel accepted Pfizer’s data indicating the vaccine is safe and 90.7% effective in preventing COVID-19 infections in this age group. Members of the FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee agreed the benefits of vaccinating younger children appeared to outweigh the risks, but some members appeared troubled about voting to vaccinate a large population of younger children based on studies of a few thousand.

“It is reassuring to me that we are giving a lower dose,” said Dr. Paul Offit, who directs the Vaccine Education Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

Pfizer has cut its vaccine to one-third of the adult dose for the children under 12 and said clinical trials showed this lower dose protected children well against symptomatic infection. The hope is it will cause fewer side-effects. Accordingly, a dose of Pfizer for young children will contain one-third the amount of active ingredient compared to the adult dose. Children would receive a second dose 21 days or more after their first shot.

Children 5-11 years of age have accounted for approximately 9% of reported COVID-19 cases in the U.S. overall, and currently account for approximately 40% of all pediatric COVID-19 cases, says Dr. Doran Fink, clinical deputy director of the division of vaccines and related products for the FDA. Currently, the case rate among children ages 5 to 11 is “near the highest” of any age group, he says.

The committee’s recommendation comes as more than 1.9 million cases have been reported among children ages 5-11, with approximately 8,300 children hospitalized to date, according to the CDC. About one-third of these hospitalized children required treatment in the ICU. The rate of hospitalization is three times higher among children of color than among white children.

Unvaccinated children with COVID-19 can develop a serious complication called multisystem inflammatory syndrome or MIS-C, as well as an inflammation of the heart muscle called myocarditis.

Myocarditis occurs naturally after infections with other viruses and it has also been seen as a rare side effect after vaccination with the two mRNA vaccines, Pfizer and Moderna, especially in young men. Myocarditis was a focus of the scientific presentations and discussion on the possible risks of the vaccine if authorized for young children.

Overall, the incidence of serious adverse events reported in Pfizer’s studies was less than 2 in 1,000, Ball said, and all were found to be unrelated to the vaccine. Less serious side effects occurred more often, including swollen lymph nodes in a few children and symptoms like pain at the injection site, fatigue and headache, she said.

Capt. Amanda Cohn, a physician and medical officer with the CDC and also a voting member of the FDA committee, said that the number of children in the Pfizer studies is similar to the number that has been used to approve other childhood vaccines. “I don’t want to minimize the risk,” Cohn told the committee during a debate over the vote. “At this moment, based on the totality of the evidence, the benefits do outweigh the risk,” she said.

The agency typically goes along with the advice of its expert panels, though it isn’t bound to do so. It will issue a decision within the next several days. If the FDA authorizes the vaccine for these younger children, as seems likely, another panel of experts advising the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would make its own recommendations and offer guidelines next week on its use among this age group.

The vaccine provides a broad defense against COVID-19 and “effectively neutralized the delta variant” in young kids, said Dr. William Gruber, senior vice president of vaccine clinical research and development at Pfizer, speaking during the committee hearing.

Gruber said the dose size was chosen to “strike the right balance” between providing strong immunity and limiting side effects. He said that the observed adverse effects seen in the company’s studies “did not suggest any safety concerns.” An FDA review supported that conclusion.

The FDA will now take the committee’s vote under consideration and is likely to extend EUA to the vaccine for younger children in the coming days. Then vaccine advisers to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will meet next week, November 2-3, to discuss the decision and decide whether to recommend that US kids get the vaccine. The final word will lie with CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky, and vaccination could begin next week if she gives the go-ahead.

WHO Needs More Data To Approve Covaxin

Seeking “additional clarifications” for a final “risk-benefit assessment” in order to grant emergency use listing (EUL) to Bharat Biotech’s Covid-19 vaccine, Covaxin, the technical advisory group (TAG) of the World Health Organisation (WHO) has held back approval for the indigenously developed vaccine, till at least one more week, if not longer. This, after the TAG convened on Tuesday specifically to discuss granting EUL to Covaxin.

The TAG — which is an independent advisory group that recommends to WHO on whether a Covid-19 vaccine fulfils criteria for EUL or not — will meet next on November 3.

This increases the uncertainty about the vaccination status of millions of people who received the two jabs of Covaxin as several regions, including North America and the European Union, only consider those people fully vaccinated who have received their full course of WHO-approved vaccines.

The WHO last week said that it “cannot cut corners” in granting EUL to the vaccine. It had also put the onus of the delay on Bharat Biotech, saying that the timeframe for granting EUL depends on how quickly a company can submit all the data required in order to evaluate the vaccine’s quality, safety, efficacy and its suitability for low- and middle-income countries.

The company, which has been submitting clinical trial data of its vaccine on a rolling basis to the WHO, had earlier in May said that it had applied for WHO’s EUL that was expected between July to September. Later in June, it claimed that it had held a “pre-submission” briefing with the world health body regarding EUL approval for Covaxin. Last month, in a statement, it said that “all data was submitted for EUL Application to WHO in early July.”

A pre-submission briefing provides an opportunity to the company to receive advice and guidance before submission of the final dossier, as well as an opportunity to meet WHO assessors who will be involved in examining their product. This implies that it should be held before submitting the application — and not after it.

Even earlier this month, the Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunisation (SAGE) of the WHO had held back on giving EUL to Covaxin, which has demonstrated 77.8% efficacy against symptomatic Covid-19 and 65.2% efficacy against the Delta variant.

65,000 More Men Than Women Died Of COVID-19 In The US

Men are much more likely to die from COVID-19 than women. This is true globally – where the death rate has been about 50% higher for men. Notably, this gap does not appear to be explained either by differences in the number of confirmed cases or in pre-existing conditions. With the pandemic cutting life expectancy of American men by more than two years, it is important to understand and mitigate risks associated with COVID-19 mortality among men.

Building on earlier work with Tiffany Ford from May 2020, “COVID-19 much more fatal for men, especially taking age into account,” we draw here on updated CDC data to examine the gender mortality gap by age, and over time in the U.S. Our main findings are:

The overall death rate for men is 1.6 times higher than the death rate for women; The gap is widest in the middle of the age distribution, with 184 male deaths for every 100 female deaths.

As death rates have fallen, the gender gap has narrowed slightly

  • The gap is not explained by a higher number of cases among men, or differences in pre-existing conditions
  • In Georgia and Michigan, Black men have the highest death rates, followed by Black women
  • Improving access to care and addressing vaccine hesitancy, especially for Black men, should be a high priority

The gender gap in death rates

Men have had a higher crude death rate than women, as the chart using CDC data from February 2020 to August 2021 shows. By the end of August, over 65,000 more men than women had died from COVID-19 (362,187 male deaths and 296,567 female deaths).

The gender gap is even wider when differences in the male and female age distributions are taken into account, since there are many more older women than men in the population, and age is the biggest risk factor in COVID deaths. In 2021, mortality rates for men and women have dropped sharply, but somewhat faster for men than women, leading to a slight narrowing of the gap over time. More recently, though, death rates for men and women have risen again due to the spread of the Delta variant, with greater increases among men than women.

Middle-aged men are especially vulnerable

The picture varies across the age distribution, however. The gap is largest for those towards the middle of the age distribution. Among those aged 45 to 64, for example, the number of male deaths as of September 15, 2021, was 79,711, almost twice the number of female deaths, at 45,587.

We also calculate the ratio in death rates (male death rate: female death rate) in COVID-19 mortality for specific age groups. For all age groups, we calculate a similar ratio, but age-standardize the death rates. As of September 15, 2021, the overall adjusted male death rate was 1.63 times higher than the overall adjusted female death rate. This means that men make up 62% of all (age-standardized) COVID deaths. Again, the male-female gap is most prominent in those at or just past middle age: among those aged 45-64, there are 184 male deaths for every 100 female deaths.

COVID cases similar for men and women…

One possible explanation for the mortality gap could be that men are more likely to contract COVID-19. But while it is difficult to assess case counts due to access and demand for testing, raw data on the number of cases by age and sex from the CDC suggest very similar levels for men and women (note that the age brackets are not exactly the same as shown above, because of the way CDC data is presented).

In fact, women have slightly higher case numbers, possibly because they may make up a greater share of riskier jobs that are high-contact and inflexible, such as healthcare support, personal care and services, and food preparation (although it is important to acknowledge that men make up a greater share of those in high-risk jobs like meatpacking). Likewise, these industries might require more routine testing, leading to an over-reporting in mild/asymptomatic cases. On the other hand, men might be less likely to test for asymptomatic cases, leading to less reported cases overall. Correcting for these measurement issues would give a more accurate cmparison of COVID-19 cases by sex.

…and pre-existing conditions do not explain the gap

Another possible explanation for the mortality gap is a higher rate of pre-existing conditions among men that make them more vulnerable to the virus. Again, some evidence suggests that this is not a major factor. One study of an Illinois hospital system by Joanne Michelle Gomez and co-authors, published in the Journal of Women’s Health, concluded that “male sex was independently associated with death, hospitalization, ICU admissions, and need for vasopressors or endotracheal intubation, after correction for important covariates.”

Another review of risk factors for hospitalization finds that men and women have similar rates of conditions associated with greater vulnerability, although there are some differences in specific conditions. For instance, “obesity, chronic kidney disease and hypertension were associated with higher rates of ICU admission among men, whereas obesity and heart failure were associated with higher rates of ICU admission among women.” These sex-specific differences make it important to better understand the relationship between sex, risk factors, and COVID-19 mortality, especially for different age cohorts and racial groups. As we discuss below, biological differences by sex are not the same across race, and there are additional factors at play that drive differences in death rates among women.

The gender gap has changed over the pandemic

The mortality gap has somewhat narrowed for some age groups since the start of 2021. Figure 5 shows that the death rate ratio for middle-aged adults was around 1.8 prior to February 2021. More recently, this ratio has leveled around 1.5, representing a decline of around 17 percent.

Black men fare worst of all

There are of course other gaps in vulnerability to COVID-19, especially by race. Our previous study from the earlier stages of the pandemic “Race gaps in COVID-19 deaths are even bigger than they appear” showed for example that among middle-aged adults, Black and Hispanic or Latino death rates are six times higher than those for white people.

This means that while there is a gap between men and women within racial groups, race is often a bigger factor. Tamara Rushovich and her colleagues, drawing on data from Georgia and Michigan, find that while Black men have the highest COVID mortality rates – six times higher than for white men – the next most vulnerable group is Black women. They also find that the sex gap varies by race, especially in Michigan, where, as they report, “the mortality rate for Black men is 170% times the rate for Black women, which is significantly higher than the equivalent ratio among white individuals: the rate is only 130% higher for white men compared to white women.”

Interestingly, the authors also point out that the COVID mortality gap between Black women and white women is significantly greater than the gap between white men and white women. This suggests that the biological sex differences in mortality cannot be treated as constant across all racial groups.

Rushovich and her co-authors also do not put much weight on “individual behaviors and beliefs” to explain the race or sex gaps in mortality (or indeed sex gaps within race), pointing instead to “structural factors including occupation and access to healthcare.” This seems right, but it is nonetheless important to understand potential behavioral reasons behind the disparate death rates, especially as it relates to the decision to get vaccinated.

Get men (especially Black men) vaccinated

The gender gap in COVID-19 mortality is the result of a combination of factors, which may differ by race, class, geography and other variables. This is a stark reminder of the need for disaggregated health data to inform an intersectional approach to analysis. Gaining a better understanding of biological differences, case counts, and risk factors will be an ongoing task for scientific researchers.

More immediately, an urgent public health priority is to encourage and incentivize those most vulnerable to the virus to get vaccinated. Both race and gender matter here. As of September 21, 2021, Black Americans were six percentage points less likely than white Americans to have had at least one vaccine dose (41% compared to 35%). The racial disparity in vaccination rates is likely due to a combination of persistent barriers to access and structural inequities, which not only includes geographical access, but also logistics, methods of communication, timing, and registration.

Many cities such as Philadelphia have facilitated better access to their underserved Black communities by partnering with community churches, opening alternative vaccination facilities such as local pharmacies, and using more direct methods of communication rather than with emails and Web portals. But while this has worked to some extent, there remain considerable gaps in vaccination take-up by race. Even among health care workers who had early and constant access to vaccines, Black workers were almost five times more likely than white workers to be hesitant about getting vaccinated. Our colleagues Sarah Reber and Cyrus Kosar also find that Black nursing home residents are likely to be in high-risk facilities with low vaccination rates, despite being one of the first few groups offered the vaccine.

What this means is that, in addition to improving access for underserved communities, we need additional research on the interventions that can effectively address hesitancy and increase demand for vaccine uptake. The Washington Post reports that “tapping into the communities where people live, drawing on information, outreach and vaccine administrators from those communities” is one good way to overcome hesitancy.

In addition to the racial gaps in vaccine rates, there is a gender gap too: 66% of women have had at least one vaccine dose, compared to 62% of men. Many states are also offering various vaccine incentive schemes – it may be worth seeing which have proven most effective with men. Especially with the spread of the new Delta variant, improving access and addressing vaccine hesitancy among the most vulnerable groups – including men, and especially Black men – must be a high priority for policymakers.

6 Coffee Habits That Help With Weight Loss

It’s safe to say that for some of us, coffee may be the one thing getting us through our busiest days of the week. And, for the most part, those daily cups can actually benefit our health as long as they’re consumed in moderate amounts.

We recently learned that there are certain unhealthy coffee habits that can lead to weight gain—like adding too much sugar or drinking on an empty stomach. But are there specific coffee habits that can help us lose weight?

We spoke with our medical board experts Laura Burak, MS, RD, author of Slimdown with Smoothies and founder of Laura Burak Nutrition, as well as Lauren Manaker, MS, RDN, author of The First Time Mom’s Pregnancy Cookbook and Fueling Male Fertility, to learn which coffee habits they believe can help you lose weight and stick to your health goals. Then, for more healthy eating tips, make sure to check out these Weight Loss Habits Dietitians Want You to Try Right Now.

1 Skip the table sugar.

According to Manaker, not putting sugar in your coffee is one of the easiest ways to help you meet your weight loss goals. The guidelines for how much sugar you should have in a day varies depending on your caloric intake, but the average suggested sugar intake is no more than 50 grams per day for a 2,000 calorie diet.

With that in mind, adding just one tablespoon of sugar to your coffee will give you about 12.5 grams of sugar, which is a pretty large chunk of your daily recommended levels in just one cup of coffee.

Eating too much added sugar over time can not only lead to weight gain, but can also increase your risk of diabetes and heart disease. So if you’re wanting to skip the sugar but still want something a bit sweet, “try exploring some non-nutritive sweetener options like allulose or monk fruit,” says Manaker.

2 Drink your coffee black.

Adding tons of sugar to your coffee can negatively impact your weight loss goals, but so can adding too much coffee creamer, which is why both of our dietitians suggest drinking your coffee black if you can.

“Adding cream, half-and-half, and even whole milk in excess can add a significant amount of calories and fat to your coffee,” says Manaker.

Burak agrees, saying that “black coffee contains fewer than 5 calories per cup, but beware of the extras you may be adding that can contribute a significant amount of unnecessary calories and saturated fat to your diet, especially after several cups in one day.”

Speaking of creamers, this is The #1 Worst Coffee Creamer on Shelves.

3 Add a scoop of collagen peptides.

One of the major contributors to weight gain is overeating. The key to weight loss is to feel full by consuming healthy foods and drinks with enough protein and nutrients to keep you satisfied and not tempted to overeat on the not-so-healthy stuff.

“Adding collagen peptides is a great coffee habit for weight loss because it gives you a boost of protein, which may help support a feeling of satiety in the morning without affecting the taste of your coffee at all,” says Manaker.

Not only does research back this up, but one of our expert writers tried drinking collagen with her coffee for two weeks straight and reported feeling full from breakfast to lunch every day.

4 Don’t use coffee as a meal replacement.

Coffee may be a natural appetite suppressant, but Burak warns that it should never be used as a meal replacement or substitute for food.

“Coffee alone is not a meal or snack, but I often find clients still using a 3 p.m. cup of coffee as a way to skip a meal and save calories as it does temporarily suppress your appetite,” says Burak.

Unfortunately, this meal-skipping is not only harmful to your metabolism, but it may also lead to overeating later on in the day.

This is a delicate balance because according to Burak, drinking coffee with your meal can help give you a feeling of satiety or fullness, which can also help prevent you from overeating.

“It is also liquid which, like water, helps to keep your tank feeling full and therefore can assist you with eating a more appropriate amount of food if you’re looking to lose weight,” says Burak, “but the bottom line is, don’t skip meals and eat when you’re hungry!”

5 Opt for half-caff or caffeine-free coffee in the afternoon.

It may be tempting to reach for that cup of coffee around 3 or 4 p.m. when you’re starting to lose steam at work, but Manaker says this may not be the best for your health.

Caffeine can affect a person’s sleep, and drinking it close to bedtime can cause a person to miss out on their important rest,” says Manaker. “A lack of restful sleep is linked to weight gain, supporting healthy sleep habits by not drinking coffee in the afternoon or opting for a decaf cup can help you with your weight loss goals.”

Here’s What Happens to Your Body When You Drink Caffeine.

6 Get enough sleep.

If you want your coffee to help you with your weight loss goals, you may first want to make sure you’re naturally getting as much sleep as you need.

According to Burak, the energy boost you get from coffee can hide the fact that you aren’t getting enough sleep. Without adequate amounts of sleep, you may be more inclined to overeat, which might lead to weight gain.

“The caffeine in coffee acts as a stimulant, which can give you a temporary boost of energy and get your metabolism going throughout the day,” says Burak. “The key is to make sure you’re still focusing on getting quality sleep and not using coffee chronically for artificial energy.”

India Vaccinates One Billion People Against Covid

Reaching a milestone, in India’s efforts to vaccinate all, 1 Billion (100 crore) jabs milestone shows the power of India’s collective effort, reports here suggest. India completed the administration of 100 crore doses of the Covid-19 vaccine on October 21, 2021, in just about nine months since the start of the vaccination drive.

PM Narendra Modi tweeted: “The journey from anxiety to assurance has happened and our nation has emerged stronger, thanks to the world’s largest vaccination drive.”

Observing that India has achieved a “difficult but extraordinary” target of 100 crore Covid vaccine doses, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday cautioned people to remain vigilant and not become careless, and urged them to continue wearing masks, saying that weapons are not thrown away while the battle is on.

Addressing the nation, the Prime Minister said, “Yesterday, on October 21, India has achieved the difficult but extraordinary target of 1 billion – 100 crore – vaccine doses. Behind this achievement is the power (kartavyashakti) of 130 crore countrymen; so this success is the success of India, the success of every countryman.”

This has been a tremendous journey in dealing with Covid-19, especially in comparison with  how things stood in early 2020. Humanity was dealing with such a pandemic after 100 years and no one knew much about the virus. We remember how unpredictable the situation appeared then, as we were faced with an unknown and invisible enemy mutating rapidly.

“When the biggest pandemic of 100 years came, questions started arising about India. Will India be able to fight this global pandemic? From where will India get the money to buy so many vaccines from other countries? When will India get the vaccine? Will the people of India get the vaccine or not? Will India be able to vaccinate enough people to stop the pandemic from spreading? There were various questions, but today the 100-crore vaccine doses are answering every question,” the Prime Minister said.

Describing the achievement of 100-crore vaccine doses as a new chapter in India’s history, Modi said, “The country started the campaign of ‘Free vaccine, vaccine for everyone’, by taking everyone along… There was only one mantra that if the disease does not discriminate, then there cannot be any discrimination in the vaccination. Therefore, it was ensured that the VIP culture did not dominate the vaccination campaign.”

It has been a truly bhagirath effort involving multiple sections of society. To get a sense of the scale, assume that each vaccination took just two minutes for a healthcare worker. At this rate, it took around 41 lakh man-days or approximately 11,000 man-years of effort to reach this landmark.

For any effort to attain and sustain speed and scale, the trust of all stakeholders is crucial. One of the reasons for the success of the campaign was the trust that people developed in the vaccine and the process followed, despite various efforts to create mistrust and panic.

There are some among us who only trust foreign brands, even for simple everyday necessities. However, when it came to something as crucial as the Covid-19 vaccine, the people of India unanimously trusted “Made in India” vaccines. This is a significant paradigm shift.

The vaccine drive is an example of what India can achieve if the citizens and the government come together with a common goal in the spirit of Jan Bhagidari. When India started its vaccination programme, there were many people who doubted the capabilities of 130 crore Indians. Some said India would take three to four years. Some others said people will not come forward to get vaccinated. There were those who said there will be gross mismanagement and chaos in the vaccination process. Some even said that India will not be able to manage supply chains. But just like the Janata Curfew and subsequent lockdowns, the people of India showed how spectacular the results can be, if they are made trusted partners.

In early 2020, when Covid-19 was rampaging across the world, it was clear to us that this pandemic will have to be eventually fought with the help of vaccines. We started preparing early. We constituted expert groups and started preparing a roadmap right from April 2020.

Till today, only a handful of countries have developed their own vaccines. More than 180 countries are dependent on an extremely limited pool of producers and dozens of nations are still waiting for the supply of vaccines, even as India has crossed 100 crore doses.

I am optimistic that the success achieved in the world’s largest vaccination drive will further spur our youth, our innovators and all levels of government to set new benchmarks of public service delivery, which will be a model not only for our country, but also for the world.”

The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) illuminated 100 monuments with tri-color across the country as India achieved the landmark milestone of administrating 100 crore COVID vaccinations. The world is witnessing the largest and fastest vaccination drive in India against the pandemic. ASI gesture was a mark of respect and gratitude towards corona warriors who have contributed relentlessly in the fight against the pandemic.

CDC While Approving Moderna, J & J Boosters, Allows Mix & Match

Millions of Americans are now eligible for Moderna and Johnson & Johnson booster shots and also they that they can choose a different company’s vaccine for that next shot, after the nation’s top public health official endorsed recommendations from expert advisers that the shots are safe and effective at bolstering protection against the coronavirus.

Certain people who received Pfizer vaccinations months ago already are eligible for a booster and now the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says specific Moderna and Johnson & Johnson recipients qualify, too. And in a bigger change, the agency is allowing the flexibility of “mixing and matching” that extra dose regardless of which type people received first.

The green light on October 20th from Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, means that eligible Americans at risk of severe disease can choose any of the three boosters now authorized in the United States regardless of their original shot.

“The evidence shows that all three COVID-19 vaccines authorized in the United States are safe — as demonstrated by the over 400 million vaccine doses already given,” Walensky said in a statement Thursday night, several hours after receiving unanimous recommendations from the expert panel, called the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. “And, they are all highly effective in reducing the risk of severe disease, hospitalization, and death, even in the midst of the widely circulating delta variant.”

Walensky’s action — following authorization from federal regulators — largely fulfills the administration’s August pledge to make boosters of all three vaccines available to Americans, albeit a month later than promised and for a smaller group. The administration’s focus on boosters came as the highly contagious delta variant sickened millions and killed tens of thousands, and also reflected concern about waning immunity from the vaccines.

CDC’s sign-off on the additional boosters as well as the flexibility to mix and match the shots gives greater leeway to consumers, as well as to clinicians and pharmacies administering them to vulnerable populations. Health officials have repeatedly sought ways to make it easier for people to get a booster dose, especially those who have had side effects from one brand, or who worry about risks associated with a particular shot.

The availability of boosters will be particularly welcome to the 15 million recipients of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, many of whom have been particularly fearful of breakthrough infections given that shot’s lower level of protection compared with the messenger RNA vaccines.

“I agree that those who received a [Johnson & Johnson] vaccine should receive a second dose — I would prefer that those individuals get an mRNA vaccine” rather than a second Johnson & Johnson shot, said advisory panel member Pablo J. Sanchez, a pediatrician at Ohio State University.

Interchangeability of shots is also likely to speed booster vaccination in nursing homes and other institutional settings where residents received different shots during the early rollout. The Pfizer-BioNTech booster is already in use since it was authorized and recommended last month.

“I think the opportunity for these [mix and match] boosts [is] priceless,” said Helen Keipp Talbot, an infectious-disease doctor at Vanderbilt University and panel member.

The CDC plans to release guidance early next week with more detailed information about who might benefit from choosing one booster over another, as the panel requested. CDC advisers and agency officials are still working out whether to recommend that some people stick to their original vaccine if possible.

“A really important aspect of all of this is being clear and not dancing on the head of a pin so that we don’t confuse the American people,” said Beth Bell, a global health professor at the University of Washington.

The advisory panel’s recommendation was similar to Wednesday’s action by the Food and Drug Administration. The FDA did not take a position on whether people should stay with the original vaccine or switch to another one, saying it did not have the data to make such judgments.

The FDA has authorized a third shot of Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech for anyone 65 and older, or any adults at high risk of severe illness because of underlying conditions, job exposure or because they are in institutional settings, and who have gone at least six months since their second dose.

It broadened eligibility much further for those who received the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine to anyone 18 and older who has gone at least two months since getting the shot — criteria reflecting the lower protection afforded by that vaccine compared with the others.

Advisers to the CDC suggested in their all-day meeting Thursday that mixing and matching booster shots may appeal to consumers concerned about possible risks associated with their first vaccine.

“A lot of what our efforts are centered around is trying to mitigate risk as much as possible, both from disease as well as vaccination,” said Grace Lee, a professor of pediatrics at Stanford University School of Medicine and chair of the panel.

More data on the safety of booster shots for specific groups may help determine “whether or not a different boost would be appropriate, for example, for young women” who first received Johnson & Johnson, Lee added.

Some panel members questioned the wisdom of administering a second Johnson & Johnson shot to women of childbearing age, for instance, because of rare but serious risk of blood clots associated with that vaccine. Analyses of data for those who have received that shot suggest an increased risk of a rare type of clot, especially for women 18 to 49 years old.

About 105 million fully vaccinated people have received the two-shot Pfizer series, according to the CDC. About 70 million fully vaccinated people have received the Moderna shots. Only 15 million Americans were vaccinated with Johnson & Johnson shots, which arrived later and were delayed by an investigation of a rare adverse event, as well as a manufacturing problem. More than 11 million people have received a booster or an additional dose of a vaccine to date.

There still are restrictions on who qualifies and when for a booster. Starting six months past their last Pfizer or Moderna vaccination, people are urged to get a booster if they’re 65 or older, nursing home residents, or at least 50 and at increased risk of severe disease because of health problems. Boosters also were allowed, but not urged, for adults of any age at increased risk of infection because of health problems or their jobs or living conditions. That includes health care workers, teachers and people in jails or homeless shelters. Moderna’s booster will come at half the dose of the original two shots.

As for recipients of the single-shot J&J vaccine, a COVID-19 booster is recommended for everyone at least two months after their vaccination. That’s because the J&J vaccine hasn’t proved as protective as the two-dose Moderna or Pfizer options.

About two-thirds of Americans eligible for COVID-19 shots are fully vaccinated, and the government says getting first shots to the unvaccinated remain the priority. While health authorities hope boosters will shore up waning immunity against milder coronavirus infections, all the vaccines still offer strong protection against hospitalizations and death, even as the extra-contagious delta variant burned through the country.

Supreme Court To Hear Arguments On Stringent Texas Abortion Law

The Conservative led US Supreme Court will hear a challenge to a Texas law in November this year regarding the ban disallowing abortions after as early as six weeks of pregnancy. The court deferred a request from the Biden administration to block enforcement of the law by vacating a lower court’s ruling. The Texas’s new law prohibits abortions to be performed in the state after a fetal heartbeat is detected. In a dissenting note, Justice Sonia Sotomayor, argued that “I cannot capture the totality of this harm in these pages. The impact is catastrophic.”

The hearings will take place one month before the Supreme Court is set to hear arguments in another pivotal abortion case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health, which directly challenges the abortion-rights precedent established in 1973 under Roe v. Wade. The court announced on Friday its decision to hear arguments over whether the Biden administration had the right to sue to end enforcement of the law, Sotomayor indicated that she would already have gone further and blocked it.

While Sotomayor agreed with the court’s decision to hear arguments, she reiterated her view that the law should never have been allowed to remain in place.  “These ruinous effects were foreseeable and intentional,” she wrote.

In early September, the high court ruled 5-4 to allow the new law to stay in place, but Sotomayor penned a scathing dissent that called the court’s refusal to strike down the law “stunning.” “This equates to a near-categorical ban on abortions beginning six weeks after a woman’s last menstrual period, before many women realize they are pregnant, and months before fetal viability,” she wrote.

Justice Samuel Alito, who is assigned to handle requests from Texas, on Friday also granted a petition from the Department of Justice to have the court hear its challenge of S.B. 8 this term. But the question before the court in that case is limited to whether the federal government has the power to stop state officials or private parties from enforcing Texas’ law. S.B. 8 took effect in September after the Supreme Court declined an emergency request to block it. The law bans most abortions once a fetal heartbeat can be detected, which occurs as early as the sixth week of gestation.

That cutoff — when many women do not yet know they are pregnant — is significantly narrower than the window of time to get an abortion allowed under Roe. Rather than task state officials with enforcing the ban, S.B. 8 delegates that power to private citizens, who are allowed to sue, for at least $10,000, anyone who “aids or abets” an abortion.

The Justice Department and other critics, including Sotomayor, say the law establishes a private “bounty hunter” system that is designed to prevent courts from intervening. On September 1, the Supreme Court agreed to allow the law to go into effect, splitting bitterly in a 5-4 order released late at night on the court’s emergency docket. Liberal Justices Elena Kagan, Stephen Breyer and Sotomayor blasted the timing in a dissent.

They said the court’s “shadow-docket decision making” had become more “unreasoned, inconsistent and impossible to defend.” Polls released afterward showed that public opinion of the court had fallen to a new low. Less than one-third of the country believes that the landmark opinion should be overturned.

Ambassador Sandhu Acknowledges Deep Appreciation In US For India Reaching 1 Billion COVID Vaccinations

Indian Ambassador to the US, Taranjit Singh Sandhu, has said that there is “very strong and deep appreciation” in the United States as India achieved the one billion COVID-19 vaccinations milestone.

Speaking at Public Affairs Forum of India’s 8th National Forum 2021 on Thursday, Sandhu said: “It is a very proud moment for us and I can tell you that there is very strong and deep appreciation in the US that we have crossed the one billion landmark and all through the vaccines manufactured in India.”

India attained the milestone of administering 100 crore COVID-19 vaccines on Thursday morning. Several world leaders congratulated India on this achievement.

India’s COVID-19 vaccination drive was launched on January 16, 2021. Initially, the vaccination was opened for Health Care Workers (HCWs) only.

From February 2, front line workers were made eligible for vaccination. These included state and Central Police personnel, Armed Force Personnel, Home Guards, Civil Defence and Disaster Management Volunteers, Municipal workers, Prison Staff, PRI Staff and Revenue workers involved in containment and surveillance, Railway Protection Force and election Staff.

The vaccination drive was expanded from March 1 to include persons above 60 years of age and those above 45 years with associated specified 20 comorbidities.

It was further expanded to all people above 45 years of age from April 1. From May 1 all persons above 18 years of age were made eligible for COVID-19 vaccination.

Talking about Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s last month visit to the US, Sandhu said the visit was a “testament to the enduring strength of our partnership”.

“My focus here is to share perspective on India-US relationship that has emerged as the most imp bilateral partnership and this was predicted by President Biden in 2006,” he said.
“Last month, PM Modi visited the US for his 1st bilateral face-to-face summit with President Biden and first in-person QUAD Leaders’ Summit. It was a landmark visit during which he identified 5 T’s that define the partnership — tradition, talent, trade, technology & trusteeship,” he added.

A Cure for Diabetes?

Newswise — A novel approach to treating type 2 diabetes is being developed at the Technion. The disease, caused by insulin resistance and reduction of cells’ ability to absorb sugar, is characterized by increased blood sugar levels. Its long-term complications include heart disease, strokes, damage to the retina that can result in blindness, kidney failure, and poor blood flow in the limbs that may lead to amputations. It is currently treated by a combination of lifestyle changes, medication, and insulin injections, but ultimately is associated with a 10-year reduction in life expectancy.

Led by Professor Shulamit Levenberg, Ph.D. student Rita Beckerman from the Stem Cell and Tissue Engineering Laboratory in the Technion’s Faculty of Biomedical Engineering presents a novel treatment approach, using an autograft of muscle cells engineered to take in sugar at increased rates. Mice treated in this manner displayed normal blood sugar levels for months after a single procedure. The group’s findings were recently published in Science Advances.

Muscle cells are among the main targets of insulin, and they are supposed to absorb sugar from the blood. In their study, Prof. Levenberg’s group isolated muscle cells from mice and engineered these cells to present more insulin-activated sugar transporters (GLUT4). These cells were then grown to form an engineered muscle tissue, and finally transported back into the abdomen of diabetic mice. The engineered cells not only proceeded to absorb sugar correctly, improving blood sugar levels, but also induced improved absorption in the mice’s other muscle cells, by means of signals sent between them. After this one treatment, the mice remained cured of diabetes for four months – the entire period they remained under observation. Their blood sugar levels remained lower, and they had reduced levels of fatty liver normally displayed in type 2 diabetes.

“By taking cells from the patient and treating them, we eliminate the risk of rejection,” Prof. Levenberg explained. These cells can easily integrate back into being part of the body and respond to the body’s signalling activity.

Currently around 34 million Americans, just over 1 in 10, suffer from diabetes, 90% of them from type 2 diabetes. An effective treatment – and one that is a one-time treatment rather than daily medication – could significantly improve both quality of life and life expectancy of those who have diabetes. The same method could also be used to treat various enzyme deficiency disorders.

This work was funded by Rina and Avner Schneur as part of the Rina and Avner Schneur Center for Diabetes Research.

80,000-180,000 Health Workers Killed By Covid

Covid has severely affected healthcare staff and may have killed between 80,000 and 180,000, the World Health Organization (WHO) says. Healthcare workers must be prioritized for vaccines, WHO head Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, and he criticised unfairness in the distribution of jabs. The deaths occurred between January 2020 and May of this year. Earlier, another senior WHO official warned a lack of jabs could see the pandemic continue well into next year.  There are an estimated 135 million healthcare workers globally.

“Data from 119 countries suggest that on average, two in five healthcare workers globally are fully vaccinated,” Dr Tedros said.  “But of course, that average masks huge differences across regions and economic groupings.” Fewer than one in 10 healthcare workers were fully vaccinated in Africa, he said, compared with eight in 10 in high-income countries.  A failure to provide poorer countries with enough vaccines was highlighted earlier by Dr Bruce Aylward, a senior leader at the WHO, who said it meant the Covid crisis could “easily drag on deep into 2022”.

Less than 5% of Africa’s population have been vaccinated, compared with 40% on most other continents. The vast majority of Covid vaccines overall have been used in high-income or upper middle-income countries. Africa accounts for just 2.6% of doses administered globally.

The original idea behind Covax, the UN-backed global programme to distribute vaccines fairly, was that all countries would be able to acquire vaccines from its pool, including wealthy ones, writes BBC Global Affairs correspondent Naomi Grimley.

But most G7 countries decided to hold back once they started making their own one-to-one deals with pharmaceutical companies. Dr Aylward appealed to wealthy countries to give up their places in the queue for vaccines so that pharmaceutical companies can prioritise the lowest-income countries instead.

He said wealthy countries needed to “stocktake” where they were with their donation commitments made at summits such as the G7 meeting in St Ives this summer. “I can tell you we’re not on track,” he said. “We really need to speed it up or you know what? This pandemic is going to go on for a year longer than it needs to.”

The People’s Vaccine – an alliance of charities – has released new figures suggesting just one in seven of the doses promised by pharmaceutical companies and wealthy countries are actually reaching their destinations in poorer countries. The alliance, which includes Oxfam and UNAids, also criticised Canada and the UK for procuring vaccines for their own populations via Covax.

Dr. V. K. Raju Receives Excellence in Medicine Award from GOPIO – Virginia Launches UK Chapter of The Eye Foundation To Prevent Childhood Blindness

Dr. Vadrevu K. Raju, a renowned ophthalmologist, president and founder of the Eye Foundation of America was awarded with the Excellence in Medicine Award by GOPIO – Virginia on Sunday October 3rd, 2021.

Dr. V.K. Raju, who was born in Rajahmundry, AP, India, is a Clinical Professor of Ophthalmology at West Virginia University, Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons, Fellow of the American College of Surgeons, Director of the International Ocular Surface Society, Director of the Ocular Surface Research and Education Foundation, Chairman of Goutami Eye Institute in Rajahmundry and is the President and Founder of the Eye Foundation of America, a non-profit organization dedicated to realizing a world without childhood blindness.

Dr. Raju who was recently appointed to the Faculty of Department of Ophthalmology, Johns Hopkins University recently, traveled to London last month to chair the first Board Meeting of The Eye Foundation of America (UK).

Dr. Raju said, “A new beginning has been done in UK for the Eye Foundation. During a dinner meeting with the Board of Directors and the friends of The Eye Foundation of America (UK), I was encouraged by the warmth and enthusiasm shown by many about the nature and extent of the work the Eye Foundation has been carrying on across the globe, working tirelessly to make the world without childhood blindness.

The Foundation was fortunate to have Uzbekistan Ambassador, H.E Said Rustamov as an hnored guest. Dr. Raju was a special guest at the Embassy of Uzbekistan and had attended Uzbekistan’s 30th Independence Day celebrations at Lords.

Dr. Raju expressed gratitude to all the Board members of the Foundation in UK, particularly, Ashwini Misro, Radhika Misro, and Raj Koppada for their enthusiasm and generosity in helping realize the mission of the Eye Foundation in preventing and treating childhood blindness and beyond in Uzbekistan.

Dr. V.K. Raju’s crusade for the past four decades has been to achieve his vision of a world without avoidable blindness. Since 1979, the Eye Foundation of America has expanded its reach to over 25 countries, screened millions of patients, and provided hundreds of thousands of surgeries. As Dr. Raju points out, prevention is more beneficial than disease management, and lifestyle changes can be preventive. His organization’s programs, which aim at prevention through education and lifestyle modifications, include the 100,000 Lives campaign in India and the WV Kids Farmer’s Market Program in West Virginia.

In 1977, he began traveling home to India to offer his services as an ophthalmologist to those who could not afford, or access, desperately needed eye care. The Eye Foundation of America founded by an Indian-American physician, is entering a new phase in its mission of ending avoidable blindness by collaborating with GAPIO (Global Association of Physicians of Indian Origin) and AAPI (American Association of Physicians of India Origin).

These preventive services and medical and surgical interventions were delivered in the form of eye camps in the early days, and the EFA was initially founded to allow for easier transfer of state-of-the-art equipment and medicine from the United States to India. As the Foundation matured, it became so much more. The EFA is now a global organization responsible for treating millions of patients, performing hundreds of thousands of surgeries, and training hundreds of eye care professionals to join in the global fight against preventable blindness.

The EFA’s work spans 30 countries over several continents. One focus of current outreach efforts is in the prevention of diabetes. Diabetes-related complications typically strike during the prime of life and include the development of cataracts at an earlier age than normal, a two-fold increased risk of glaucoma, and small blood vessel damage (i.e., diabetic retinopathy). Retinopathy can cause blindness; however, early detection and treatment can prevent blindness in up to 90% of cases. The International Diabetes Foundation estimates that 20% of the diabetic world population resides in India, approximately 61.3 million diabetics.

In 2018, 34.2 million Americans had diabetes. There are 229,000 people with diabetes in West Virginia and 8.3% of adults are borderline diabetic. West Virginia is ranked the #2 state for deaths involving diabetes. According to Dr. Raju, the prevalence of diabetes among Indians in India and West Virginians in the United States continues to rise rapidly, and in many ways, the diabetes epidemic in West Virginia is similar to that of India, as the populations share similar characteristics: they tend to be rural, poor, and underserved. Born in Rajahmundry, Andhra Pradesh, Raju earned his medical degree from Andhra University and completed an ophthalmology residency and fellowship at the Royal Eye Group of Hospitals in London.

Dr. VK Raju was among the class of 2017 inductees into the University of Toledo Global Medical Missions Hall of Fame, the President’s Lifetime Achievement Award from President Barack Obama, and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the North America Telegu Society. Dr. Raju has published two books, seventeen chapters, and over 100 publications in scientific journals.

Dr. Raju has received numerous awards, including the AMA Foundation Nathan Davis Excellence in Medicine International Award, Four Time Awardee by The American Academy of Ophthalmology, Martin Luther King Jr Achievement Award from WVU, Distinguished Community Service Award from AAPI (American Association of Physicians from India), Pride of the Pride Award from Lions International District 29, Vaidya Ratna (conferred by Shankaracharya of Kanchi), Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Association of Ophthalmologists of Indian Origin, and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the WV State Medical Association.

Heart Disease Among South Asians Is Focus of AAPI Webinar

Cardiovascular disease is a leading cause of death in the U.S. and the nation spends over $500 billion on cardiovascular disease each year. Studies have shown that immigrants from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal are experiencing a dramatic rise in heart disease. South Asians make up 25 per cent of the world’s population but they contribute 50 per cent to global cardiovascular deaths.

In this context, as part of an ongoing awareness and education campaign about high risk heart disease in South Asians, American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) the largest ethnic medical organization in the United States presented two eminent speakers and experts, Dr. Enas Enas and Dr. Amit Kera, discussing ways to create awareness on Heart Disease Among South Asians during a webinar on Saturday, October 16th, 2021.

In her welcome address, Dr. Anupama Gotimukula, President of AAPI, said, ” Today is World Restart a Heart Day. Today’s conference is being organized to educate and create awareness about the major health issue faced by South Asians and offer ways to mitigate Heart Disease.” Referring to the American Heart Association, Dr. Gotimukula pointed out that approximately 70 percent of Cardiac arrests occur outside the hospital. “Sudden Cardiac Arrest could be due to multiple reasons. Today’s CME is focused on Recent Advances in South Asian Heart Disease by 2 eminent Indian Americans who are in the forefront of research on this deadly disease.

In his lengthy and detailed presentation with anecdotes from his personal experiences in studying and treating patients with cardio issues, Dr. Enas Enas, provided a broader perspective on the “History and Magnitude of Heart Disease Among South Asians.” Sharing with the audience, how, during his early practice of Medicine, his personal experiences inspired him to get engaged in the research, treatment and prevention, dedicating his life for the cause of heart disease.

Dr. Enas referred to several research/studies around the world, showing high prevalence of CAD among Indians. “Indians have a big problem with premature heart disease,” Dr. Enas said and pointed out that 185,000 people of South Asian origin die of heart disease per year as against 15,000 Whites die of the same health issue. While referring to Mitigating Risk Factors, Dr. Enas recommended Indians to follow the American Heart Association developed Life Simple 7 with additional requirement for exercise and maintaining sugar level below 140.

Dr. Enas Enas, a cardiologist from Chicago and also Director of CADI  Coronary artery disease in Indians ) presented a historical perspective as to why the south Asians and especially, Indians have such high risk for heart disease, starting at very young age. Dr. Enas emphasized that traditional factors do not capture the entire risk and suggested that genetics especially LPA plays equally important role and advised all south Asians to get measurement of LP (a) at least once  in their life starting at young age.

A true pioneer, Dr. Enas is the first cardiologist to sound the alarm on the strikingly high rates and malignant nature of heart disease among Indians in the US and around the globe Dr. Enas is the first cardiologist to sound the alarm on the epidemic of coronary artery disease among Indians worldwide. As the principal investigator of the landmark CADI Study, he scientifically proved a 3-4 fold high rate of coronary artery disease among immigrants from India to the United States. He is also the first physician to identify and report a genetic predisposition to CAD in Asian Indians, mediated through lipoprotein(a) – a genetic variant of LDL cholesterol.

Dr. Amit Kera, a new rising star in Preventive Cardiology, built on that argument and presented genomic data to fill the gap and also pointed out that usual risk scoring has been done on Caucasians and cannot be extrapolated to south Asians. He advocated for the need for our own data  base and especially genomic data to go beyond coronary calcium score and use “ Polygenic score,” which can predict even  more accurately the risk of heart disease individually what he calls “Precision Medicine,” a futuristic concept, which he is working on as Associate Director at prestigious Broad institute affiliated with MIT and Harvard. Pointing to international studies that point to prevalence of Cardiovascular diseases high among South Asians, he said, Diabetes is diagnosed four times more among the Asians in comparison with Europeans.

Dr. Khera is a physician-scientist with expertise in epidemiology, clinical medicine, and human genetics. Among his scientific contributions, he developed a new approach to quantify genetic risk for common diseases, as well as the biomarkers that provide new biologic insights, and analyzed large-scale gene sequencing data to highlight key pathways underlying risk for coronary artery disease. His research program uses genetic variation as a tool to uncover new biology and enable enhanced clinical care informed by inherited susceptibility. He serves as the Associate Director, Precision Medicine Unit, Center for Genomic Medicine, MGH; Associate Director, Cardiovascular Disease Initiative, Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard; Instructor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School; and, Cardiologist, Corrigan Minehan Heart Center, MGH.

Dr. Brahma Sharma, Senior Faculty at the University of Pittsburgh affiliated Medical Center,  a co-host and moderator of the event, said, “While we are still trying to figure out different mechanisms for this enigma, that should not prevent but rather motivate to follow more aggressively life style modifications and pre-empt and prevent this silent epidemic that is taking a toll on young Indians and South Asians globally.” Dr. Sharma who is serving as the Chair of AAPI South Asian Heart Disease Committee and as the Chair AHA/ AAPI Liaison.

Dr. Amit Chakrbarty, who was a co-host and moderated the discussions, said, “In addition to educational webinars, we also plan to take this knowledge to grass root level via conducting mini- health screening camps across different cities with help of local AAPI chapters throughout USA and invite Global South Asian diaspora to join hands in this mission to prevent heart attacks and save lives.”

In her concluding remarks, urging the need for “Prevention is better than cure,” Dr. Gotimukula said, “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. Efforts to raise awareness of heart disease and promote “Healthy Heart” lifestyles is essential.”  For more information on AAPI and its programs, please visit: www.aapiusa.org

Democrat-Led States Have Stronger Response To COVID-19, Improving Health Outcomes

Newswise– States with Democratic leaders tended to have responded more strongly to COVID-19 and have seen a lower rate of the spread of the virus, according to new research led by faculty at Binghamton University, State University of New York.

Binghamton University Professor of Political Science Olga Shvetsova and her colleagues wanted to gain a clearer understanding of how politics affect COVID-19 outcomes. The researchers used data on public health measures taken across the United States to build an index of the strength of the COVID policy response. They combined this index with daily counts of new COVID cases, along with political and other variables that they thought were relevant to the dynamics of the COVID-19 pandemic and governments’ response to it. Using this dataset, they assessed the effects of policies on the observed number of new infections and the difference between the policies adopted in Republican-led and Democrat-led states.

This study connects the aggregate strength of public health policies taken in response to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic in the U.S. states to the governors’ party affiliations and to the state-level outcomes. Understanding the relationship between politics and public health measures can better prepare American communities for what to expect from their governments in a future crisis and encourage advocacy for delegating public health decisions to medical professionals.

“The state governments led by Democrats, on average, took stricter measures than the state governments led by Republicans, and the states with stricter measures had the virus spread much slower,” said Shvetsova.

The difference between the policies made in Democrat-led states and those made in Republican-led states corresponded to an about 7-8 percent lower rate of the spread of the virus.

According to the researchers, these conclusions reinforce the findings of previous studies that application of public health policy was politicized for COVID-19, and this affected health outcomes.

“The main lesson of this research is that better public health requires a less partisan approach to the making of public health policies,” said Shvetsova.

Additional researchers and institutions on the study included: Andrei Zhirnov from the University of Exeter, Frank Giannelli from Rutgers University, Michael Catalano, and Olivia Catalano. 

The paper, “Governor’s party, policies, and COVID-19 outcomes: Further Evidence of the Effect,” was published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

FDA Recommends Moderna Covid-19 Booster Shot

A 19-member committee has voted unanimously in favor of advising the FDA to recommend booster shots for people who have previously been vaccinated with Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine. It’s now up to the FDA to make a final decision, which the Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices will then consider shortly in coming up with the final recommendation for who should get the Moderna booster.

The COVID-19 vaccine made by Moderna is the second to get the greenlight from a panel of experts assigned to advise the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Moderna follows Pfizer-BioNTech, which, in September, received FDA authorization for its booster. The CDC followed up with a booster recommendation for anyone over 65 years old who received their last Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine dose at least six months earlier; and anyone aged 18 to 64 who is more vulnerable to complications of COVID-19 because of underlying health conditions or because they work in a higher risk setting including a hospital, grocery store or school.

The advisory committee unanimously voted in support of a booster of the Moderna vaccine; however, in a discussion following the vote members raised concerns about whether the data the committee and FDA have been reviewing so far are adequate to justify boosters for the wider population. Several committee members voiced their support of a booster dose for vulnerable populations, including those over age 65 and people with compromised immune systems, who are at greater risk of developing severe COVID-19 and its complications, but noted the dearth of data supporting the benefit among younger people, even those in jobs that might put them at risk of exposure. 

Still, the members voted to recommend the Moderna shot for a population that mirrors that currently eligible for the Pfizer-BioNTech booster. (The same FDA committee had voted against recommending the Pfizer-BioNTech booster for these groups, but CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky decided to include them so those who find themselves in high-risk settings have the option of getting an additional dose.)

Moderna booster dose would give younger people who mount adequate immune responses after the initial shots any extra protection. Indeed, FDA scientists presenting to the committee emphasized that the immunity from the original two doses remains strong enough to protect most people from getting sick enough to need hospitalization, or from dying of COVID-19. 

Dr. Patrick Moore, another committee member and a professor at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, said he voted in favor of the booster “more from a gut feeling rather than based on really, truly serious data. The data itself is not strong, but [is] certainly going in the direction that is supportive of this vote.”

A Mobile App Could Save Lives In India

Newswise — A mobile app could help turn the tide of a rise in breast cancer in women as young as 30 in India, according to new research.

The disease is the most prevalent form of cancer globally and has become a major problem in India, where breast cancer accounts for 25% to 31% of all cancers.

There has also been a significant shift away from older women to those aged 30-50 developing the disease.

Dr Judith Fletcher Brown, at the University of Portsmouth, UK, says a mobile app used by on-the-ground healthcare workers might be the answer to reaching more women and teaching breast examination techniques.

She said: “India has emerged as a hub central to the development of new technology. It really is time the Indian government made a concentrated effort on raising awareness about the early warning signs of this disease as a preventative method.

“The rate of technological innovation and demand in India for mobile devices offer fresh possibilities for the health and wellbeing of the world’s largest democracy.

“It’s time to invest in innovative mobile technology to combat the rise in breast cancer statistics.”

Dr Fletcher Brown suggests a breast healthcare app could be used by Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHAs). These on-the-ground healthcare workers are already accepted by the community, they overcome socio-cultural barriers as part of their normal day-to-day work, and they could encourage vulnerable target groups to engage with the breast cancer education mhealth technology.

Using a bespoke app (operated on a digital tablet with culturally-specific images) ASHAs could educate and demonstrate breast self-examination techniques to help identify the early warning signs of cancer. Similar technology is fast and simple to use.

In her previous research, Dr Fletcher Brown carried out fieldwork in New Delhi, India, and found the reason for such appalling statistics was a lack of awareness about the early warning signs of breast cancer by women. Macro environmental forces including weak political will to fund women’s health, combine with a society in which societal protocols which render discussion about cancer as culturally sensitive.

She said: “Tragically, the intense focus of the health service resources on Covid-19 patients, means late diagnosis at an advanced stage still remains the main challenge in the war against breast cancer.”

Dr Fletcher Brown’s latest research, with Diane Carter, Professor Rajesh Chandwani and Professor Vijay Pereira, reveals mobile health technology (mhealth) as an opportunity to improve cancer healthcare knowledge for women in India.

She said: “Smart technology such as mobile phones are a promising tool for disease control interventions in emerging economies and in India the dominant focus has so far concentrated on HIV/AIDS and diabetes education. We suggest broadening the scope of mheath technology to raise breast cancer awareness among Indian women.”

CDC’s Data On COVID-19 Cases Shows Deaths By Vaccine Type

Unvaccinated people are about six times more likely to test positive for COVID-19 and 11 times more likely to die from the illness compared to people who are vaccinated, though there are slight differences in risk based on vaccine type, according to newly released CDC data

The CDC published data Oct. 15 that breaks down the rate of COVID-19 cases and deaths by vaccination status and vaccine type. The rates are based on data from 16 public health departments — representing about 30 percent of the U.S. population — and cover April through the end of August. 

Five notes: 

1. Overall, unvaccinated people had the highest COVID-19 case and death rates. 

2. The COVID-19 case and death rates were slightly higher among Johnson & Johnson vaccine recipients, followed by Pfizer recipients and then Moderna.

3. As of Aug. 15, there were about 737 cases per 100,000 population among unvaccinated people — the highest rate during the period for which data was collected.

4. The case rates as of Aug. 15 for J&J recipients were about 172 cases per 100,000, followed by about 136 cases per 100,000 among Pfizer recipients, and 86 cases per 100,000 among Moderna recipients. 

5. The death rates as of Aug. 15 were nearly 13 per 100,000 among unvaccinated people, 3 per 100,000 for J&J recipients, about 1.4 per 100,000 for people who got Pfizer’s shot, and 0.69 per 100,000 for Moderna recipients.

Patients Prefer In Person Over Telehealth Visits To Doctors

New Yorker Charlie Freyre’s sinuses had been bothering him for weeks last winter, during a COVID-19 surge in the city. It was before vaccines became widely available.

“I was just trying to stay in my apartment as much as possible,” Freyre says, so checking in with his doctor via an online appointment “just seemed like a more convenient option. And you know, it was very straightforward and very easy.”

The $20 copay was well worth it for the 26-year-old ad salesman, whose girlfriend also routinely relies on telehealth to see her nutritionist. “It’s a very easy way to get an expert opinion without having to necessarily leave your apartment,” fill out forms or spend idle time in waiting rooms, Freyre says. “We all know what going to the doctor can be like.”But now, Freyre has a sore knee — and he’s not content to to visit his doctor by phone or Zoom. “That’s something that I will 100% want handled in person.”

Freyre’s telehealth experience is fairly typical. Telehealth is continuing to have its breakout moment — transforming the way we receive routine medical care during the pandemic, when visiting medical centers has carried with it the risk of coronavirus infection. Yet even today, with that infection risk easing for those who have been vaccinated, many patients nevertheless prefer that doctors, nurses and other health workers be able to examine and talk to them in person.

That’s one finding from a poll by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the T.H. Chan School of Public Health at Harvard that surveyed patients in August and September. Around 42% of respondents said someone in their household had used telehealth. Of those, 82% reported satisfaction, yet nearly two-thirds — 64% — would have preferred to see their nurse or doctor in person.

In-person visits can be more thorough

“I think people just really like that face-to-face visit,” says Rebekah Bernard, a Fort Myer, Fla., family physician, and a board member of Physicians for Patient Protection, which advocates for better patient care. Bernard, who runs a concierge medical practice that charges patients a flat monthly fee for services, says she started offering telehealth options to her patients five years ago, long before COVID-19 hit U.S. shores. Back then, not one of her patients used it. That changed during the pandemic, when patients told her having the telehealth option allayed their worries about getting safe access to health care.

That sort of shift in acceptance and how it’s used may have big implications for telehealth’s role in the U.S. in the future. It’s use by various physical and mental health specialties grew tremendously in 2020, as federal and state governments and insurance companies adopted emergency COVID-19 measures, relaxing restrictions on coverage, privacy controls and professional licensing, for example. Now, some of those rules regarding telehealth appointments are being reinstated.

Bernard, the physician in Florida, says the last year has also shown her the limits and downsides of telehealth: “You may be missing that opportunity to be talking with the doctor who’s going to say, ‘Hey, by the way, I see you haven’t had your mammogram or you haven’t had your pap [smear].’ ”

Both she and most patients prefer in-person visits, because it is both more personal, thorough and ultimately, she says, better for the patients’ health.

A lifeline in rural areas

But when and where such visits aren’t available, she says, telehealth can be critical. “What’s going to be important is offering patients options and finding out what makes the most sense in a certain area,” she says. “I’m sure in rural areas or places where, for example, they don’t have a lot of specialists like psychiatrists, we really need to make sure we have access to telehealth for those patients.”

Myriad telehealth companies are already investing to make that happen.

New York City-based TytoCare, helps medical centers and doctors gather data on patients remotely by distributing devices that can sensitively measure patients’ oxygen levels or take images of the inside of their throat, for example. David Bardan, a vice president at TytoCare, says that data is then transmitted to doctors, who use it diagnose medical problems.

Nursing homes in rural areas, for example, are heavy users of the service, he says. “This is way more convenient than having to potentially air-transport or even having to drive long distances, in many cases, to access those specialists,” he says. That’s the sort of circumstance where telehealth excels, Barden says — and he believes those applications of telehealth will endure.

Anthony Fauci Oks Mix And Match Covid-19 Vaccines For Booster Dose

Anthony Fauci, the chief medical advisor to President Joe Biden, said American drug regulator will consider whether those who have been inoculated with one dose of Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccine should be administered an mRNA-based vaccine, like Moderna or Pfizer as a booster shot to help induce a higher number of antibodies.

“If you boost people who have originally received J&J with either Moderna or Pfizer, the level of antibodies that you induce in them is much higher than if you boost them with the original J&J,” Fauci told reporters during a television interview.

Fauci’s comment comes after a second dose of the J&J vaccine was recommended by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for 18 years and above as a booster shot. FDA also recommended a third dose of the Modern vaccine as a booster shot to high-risk adults.

Both Pfizer-BioNTech SE and Moderna vaccines are based on mRNA technology while the J&J shot uses adenovirus like India’s Covishield. Experts opine that mix-and-match of vaccines if sanctioned will give individuals greater flexibility in deciding which booster shot they should opt for to help battle waning immunity against the virus.

The infectious disease expert had said towards the end of September that efficacy data on the pairing of vaccines will be available in the first two weeks of October, months after the National Institutes of Health started a mix-and-match trial of Pfizer, Moderna, and J&J shots on roughly 150 adults on June 1. All the participants were given a booster shot of a different vaccine three to four months after completing their first vaccine regimen.

Fauci also said individuals will have the freedom to choose which booster shot they would like to go for. “I believe there’s going to be a degree of flexibility of what a person who got the J&J originally can do, either with J&J or with the mix-and-match from other products,” he said.

Mixing and Matching Covid Vaccine Is Effective

More COVID-19 boosters are likely on the horizon: Last week, a U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advisory committee recommended a half-dose of Moderna’s vaccine for those over 65, as well as younger adults with certain health conditions and those who work in high-risk settings.

Subsequently, the committee unanimously voted to recommend boosters for Janssen/Johnson & Johnson recipients who are 18 or older, at least two months after their first dose. The FDA, which previously green-lit Pfizer boosters, is expected to follow both of the committee’s recommendations.

But when it comes to booster shots, one big question lingers: should people be mixing and matching by getting an extra dose of a vaccine other than the one they initially received?

A highly anticipated study of “mixing and matching” Covid-19 vaccines found the approach to be safe and effective, although the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines were found to spark stronger immune system responses than Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine. “Mixing and matching” refers to giving a booster dose of a vaccine different from the vaccine type that was used for the initial vaccination series.

According to the findings from the study by the National Institutes of Health, which was released last week, but has yet to be peer reviewed, participants who received a booster of a different vaccine than the one they originally got experienced antibody increases similar to or higher than those who received another dose of the same vaccine they were previously given.

The study found that people who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine produced stronger antibody levels after they got booster shots made by Moderna or Pfizer, compared to boosters from Johnson & Johnson. Those who were originally vaccinated with the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines and received either company’s booster shot produced similarly strong immune responses, the researchers found.

Mixing and matching could help the booster rollout in the U.S., since people could receive whatever vaccine their pharmacy had on hand, rather than seeking out the shot they were originally given. As Alice writes, “The findings are encouraging because they suggest that it’s safe for providers to mix and match doses when it comes to boosters. … The ability to get any of the three vaccines will ensure that more people will get the additional shot.” However, at least for now, the FDA and CDC aren’t even considering whether to approve mixing and matching.

Dr. Mathai Mammen Honored By India Community Center At Annual Gala

Dr. Mathai Mammen, global head of Research and Development for the Janssen Pharmaceuticals wing of Johnson & Johnson, has been honored with the India Community Center’s annual Inspire award for his work in developing the single shot J&J Covid-19 vaccine, at the organization’s annual banquet Oct. 2.

ICC’s 18th annual gala was held virtually for the second time, in keeping with Covid-19 safety protocols, which discourage gatherings of large groups indoors. A friendly-but-competitive live auction, followed by a lively pledge drive, quickly raised more than $257,000 to support the community center, a second home to many Indian American seniors and youth. “J&J, BioNTech, and Moderna had never created vaccines before. But everyone saw the public health crisis that was happening — as 10,000 people died each day — and wanted to help,” said Mammen, who was interviewed at the gala by Divya Ganesan, a Stanford University freshman, and co-founder of Real Talk Ed.

“To think of making a vaccine in such a short time was unthinkable. This would typically be a seven-year process,” said Mammen, noting that 600 people at J&J mobilized on a 24-hour/seven days a week schedule to develop a vaccine. “We broke all our normal processes,” said the Indian American. “We had invested in good science that we put into play.” “The journey was unlike anything we had ever seen. For 14 months, no one ever took a day off. I don’t think the world recognizes what it took to make this vaccine,” said Mammen.

Dr. Mammen’s mission is to work with the best research and development professionals in the world to make meaningful medicines that impact the lives of patients, their families and communities. Prior to joining Janssen in June 2017, Dr. Mammen was Senior Vice President at Merck Research Laboratories, responsible for research in the areas of Cardiovascular, Metabolic and Renal Diseases, Oncology/Immuno-Oncology and Immunology. Jointly with his team, he initiated numerous new programs and progressed eight into early clinical development. He also nucleated a new discovery site in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Prior to Merck, Dr. Mammen led R&D at Theravance, a company he co-founded in 1997 based on his work at Harvard University. Under his leadership, the Theravance team of 200 scientists nominated 31 development candidates in 17 years, created three approved products (Breo®, Anoro®, Vibativ®), two additional assets that have successfully completed Phase 3 studies and a pipeline containing 11 further development-stage compounds in 2016. In 2014, he and the Theravance Leadership Team separated Theravance into two publicly traded companies: Innoviva (INVA) and Theravance Biopharma (TBPH).

Dr. Mammen has more than 150 peer-reviewed publications and patents and serves on various boards and advisory committees. He received his M.D. from Harvard Medical School/Massachusetts Institute of Technology (HST program) and his Ph.D. in Chemistry from Harvard University’s Department of Chemistry, working with George Whitesides. He received his BSc in Chemistry and Biochemistry from Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

World’s 1st Malaria Vaccine Approved

The World Health Organization (WHO) has said that it has recommended widespread use of the world’s first malaria vaccine called RTS,S/AS01 (RTS,S) for children in sub-Saharan Africa. According to the WHO, the vaccine is the result of 30 years of research and development by British pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) in partnership with the international non-profit organization Program for Appropriate Technology in Health (PATH) and with a network of research centers in Africa.

The WHO said on Wednesday its recommendation is based on results from more than 2.3 million doses of the vaccine that have been administered to more than 800,000 children in pilot countries Ghana, Kenya and Malawi since 2019, Xinhua news agency reported.

According to the WHO, more than two-thirds of children in the three countries who were not sleeping under a bednet were benefiting from the vaccine, bringing about a 30 percent drop in severe malaria, even when introduced in areas where insecticide-treated nets were widely used and there was good access to diagnosis and treatment.

The vaccine has a favorable safety profile, the WHO said, with no negative impact on the uptake of bednets, other childhood vaccinations, or health seeking behavior for febrile illness. “It’s safe, it significantly reduces life-threatening severe malaria, and we estimate it to be highly cost-effective,” WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a press briefing.

According to the WHO, “the vaccine should be provided in a schedule of four doses in children from five months of age for the reduction of malaria disease and burden.” Malaria is a life-threatening disease caused by parasites that are transmitted to people through the bites of infected female Anopheles mosquitoes. It is preventable and curable.

The WHO’s records show that malaria remains a primary cause of childhood illness and death in sub-Saharan Africa. More than 260,000 African children under the age of five die from the disease annually. “This long-awaited malaria vaccine is a breakthrough for science, child health and malaria control,” said Tedros. “This vaccine is a gift to the world, but its value will be felt most in Africa, because that’s where the burden of malaria is greatest.” (IANS)

Ranking Healthfulness Of Foods From First To Worst

New nutrient profiling system, most comprehensive and science-based to date, clears up confusion to benefit consumers, policymakers

Newswise — A scientific team at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts has developed a new tool to help consumers, food companies, restaurants, and cafeterias choose and produce healthier foods and officials to make sound public nutrition policy. Food Compass is a new nutrient profiling system, developed over three years, that incorporates cutting-edge science on how different characteristics of foods positively or negatively impact health. Important novel features of the system, reported Oct. 14 in Nature Food, include: Equally considering healthful vs. harmful factors in foods (many existing systems focus on harmful factors);

Incorporating cutting-edge science on nutrients, food ingredients, processing characteristics, phytochemicals, and additives (existing systems focus largely on just a few nutrients); and Objectively scoring all foods, beverages, and even mixed dishes and meals using one consistent score (existing systems subjectively group and score foods differently). “Once you get beyond ‘eat your veggies, avoid soda,’ the public is pretty confused about how to identify healthier choices in the grocery store, cafeteria, and restaurant,” said the study’s lead and corresponding author, Dariush Mozaffarian, dean of the Friedman School. “Consumers, policy makers, and even industry are looking for simple tools to guide everyone toward healthier choices.”

The new Food Compass system was developed and then tested using a detailed national database of 8,032 foods and beverages consumed by Americans. It scores 54 different characteristics across nine domains representing different health-relevant aspects of foods, drinks, and mixed meals, providing for one of the most comprehensive nutrient profiling systems in the world. The characteristics and domains were selected based on nutritional attributes linked to major chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular problems, and cancer, as well as to risk of undernutrition, especially for mothers, young children, and the elderly. Food Compass was designed so that additional attributes and scoring could evolve based on future evidence in such areas as gastrointestinal health, immune function, brain health, bone health, and physical and mental performance; as well as considerations of sustainability.

Potential uses of Food Compass include:

Encouraging the food industry to develop healthier foods and reformulate the ingredients in popular processed foods and snacks;

Providing food purchasing incentives for employees through worksite wellness, health care, and nutrition assistance programs;

Supplying the science for local and national policies such as package labeling, taxation, warning labels, and restrictions on marketing to children;

Enabling restaurants and school, business, and hospital cafeterias to present healthier food options; Informing agricultural trade policy; and, Guiding institutional and individual investors on environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) investment decisions.

Each food, beverage, or mixed dish receives a final Food Compass score ranging from 1 (least healthy) to 100 (most healthy). The researchers identified 70 or more as a reasonable score for foods or beverages that should be encouraged. Foods and beverages scoring 31-69 should be consumed in moderation. Anything scoring 30 or lower should be consumed minimally.

Across major food categories, the average Food Compass score was 43.2.

The lowest scoring category was snacks and sweet desserts (average score 16.4).

The highest scoring categories were vegetables (average score 69.1), fruits (average score 73.9, with nearly all raw fruits receiving a score of 100), and legumes, nuts, and seeds (average score 78.6).

Among beverages, the average score ranged from 27.6 for sugar-sweetened sodas and energy drinks to 67 for 100% fruit or vegetable juices.

Starchy vegetables scored an average of 43.2.

The average score for beef was 24.9; for poultry, 42.67; and for seafood, 67.0.

Food Compass is the first major nutrient profiling system to use consistent scoring across diverse food groups, which is especially important for mixed dishes. For example, in the case of pizza, many other systems have separate scoring algorithms for the wheat, meat, and cheese, but not the finished product itself. Consistent scoring of diverse items can also be helpful in assessing and comparing combinations of food and beverages that could be sold and consumed together, such as an entire shopping basket, a person’s daily diet pattern, or a portfolio of foods sold by a particular company.

“With its publicly available scoring algorithm, Food Compass can provide a nuanced approach to promoting healthy food choices–helping guide consumer behavior, nutrition policy, scientific research, food industry practices, and socially based investment decisions,” said last author Renata Micha, who did this work as a faculty member at the Friedman School and is now at the University of Thessaly. Additional authors are Naglaa H. El-Abbadi, Meghan O’Hearn, Josh Marino, William A. Masters, Paul Jacques, Peilin Shi, and Jeffrey B. Blumberg of the Friedman School.

The study is part of the Food-PRICE (Policy Review and Intervention Cost-Effectiveness) project, a National Institutes of Health-funded research collaboration working to identify cost-effective nutrition strategies that can have the greatest impact on improving health outcomes in the United States. This work was supported by Danone and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health under award numbers R01HL130735 and R01HL115189. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health. Please see the study for conflicts of interest.

AAPI’s Global Healthcare Summit 2022 To Be Held In Hyderabad

The 15th annual Global Healthcare Summit (GHS) 2022, organized by the Association of American Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) in collaboration with the Indian Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, will be held at the prestigious Hotel Avasa in Hyderabad, India from January 5th to 7th, 2022.

“Harnessing the power of Indian Doctors worldwide, the AAPI Global Healthcare Summit platform has evolved with the support of prominent global and Indian medical associations,” says Dr. Anupama Gotimukula, President of AAPI. “The theme for the Summit this year is, ‘Prevention Is Better Than Cure Through Technology, Telemedicine & Transformation’ and we want to coordinate and collaborate all our resources towards helping India emerge stronger and healthier.”

According to her, “Senior leaders from leading healthcare organizations such as pharmaceuticals, device and medical equipment manufacturers and major medical teaching institutions, hospitals and from the Ministries – Health, External/Overseas Affairs and regulatory bodies are collaborating with AAPI with the ultimate goal to provide access to high quality and affordable healthcare to all people of India.”

AAPI is hopeful that several international healthcare industry partners are looking for opportunities to participate at this event for greater collaboration on Research & Development and philanthropic engagements, Dr. Gotimukula added.  Chronic diseases, notably diabetes, cardiovascular, hypertension, COPD, oncology, maternal and infant mortality, and emerging ones – trauma and head injury, transplant and minimally invasive robotic surgeries are only some of those that are going to be covered during this Summit. An exclusive Healthcare CEO forum brings the healthcare industry perspective, with senior Government officials, both Union and State providing the legislative wisdom. Hands-on workshops provide supervised skill transfer.

“Physicians and delegates  from different parts of the world will come together, facilitating exchange of knowledge,  cutting edge technology  and best practices in protecting and promoting healthcare,” Dr. Udaya Shivangi, Chair of AAPI GHS USA 2021 says. “In addition to continuing the ongoing projects commenced by past AAPI leaders, GHS will have new initiatives and innovative ideas. The GHS 2022 will focus on envisioning future digital health solutions, and preventive strategies with state of the art CMEs and  Symposiums with information on current and emerging issues and trends in healthcare.”While elaborating on the themes and areas that are going to be covered during the Summit, Dr. Kusum Punjabi, Chair of AAPI BOT, says, “In our efforts to realize the core mission of AAPI, which is to share the best from leading experts from around the world, to collaborate on clinical challenges, research and development, philanthropy, policy and standards formulation, the Summit in Hyderabad will have clinical tracks that are of vital to healthcare in India.”

Dr. Ravi Kolli, President-Elect of AAPI said, “Healthcare in India is one of the largest sectors, in terms of revenue and employment.  India is making significant improvements in the healthcare infrastructure and is building modern medical facilities throughout India. Indian doctors have made tremendous progress in the 21st century and India is now being touted as a medical tourism hub” While elaborating the objectives of the Summit, Dr. Anjana Samadder, Vice President of AAPI, says, “This innovative Summit is aimed at advancing the accessibility, affordability and the quality of world-class healthcare to the people of India. Among other areas, the Summit will focus on prevention, diagnosis, treatment options and share ways to truly improve healthcare transcending global boundaries.”

This international health care summit is a progressive transformation from the first Indo-US Healthcare Summit launched by AAPI USA in 2007. Since then, AAPI has organized 14 Indo – US/Global Healthcare Summits and developed strategic alliances with various organizations. “It is these learning and relationships that have now enabled AAPI and participating organizations to plan ahead and prepare for an outstanding event that is expected to have over 300 very prominent and talented physicians and surgeons of Indian origin from around the world and are very passionate about serving their homeland, Mother India,” Dr. Satheesh Kathula, Secretary of AAPI, says.

According to Dr. Krishan Kumar, Treasurer of AAPI, “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.”There are several AAPI leaders who are working very hard to make the GHS a memorable event, said Dr. Gotimukula. “Among them, I want to recognize Dr. Lokesh Edara, Chair Global Medical Education; Dr. Seema Arora, Women’s Forum; Dr. Joseph M. Chalil, Chair of CEO Forum; Dr. Soumya Neravetla, Chair of the popular Medical Jeopardy; Dr. Ayesha Singh and Dr. Shubham Anand, GAIIMS President, who are coordinating the Medical Students Research Symposium.”

“Being organized at this critical phase, GHS 2022 is aimed at exploring possibilities for greater collaboration and cooperation between the physicians and health care providers in India with those of Indian origin and major health-care providers abroad,” Dr. Gotimukula said. For more information, please visit www.aapiusa.org/ https://summit.aapiusa.org

A Cousin Of Viagra Reduces Obesity By Burning Fat

Newswise — Researchers at Johns Hopkins Medicine have found that a drug first developed to treat Alzheimer’s disease, schizophrenia and sickle cell disease reduces obesity and fatty liver in mice and improves their heart function — without changes in food intake or daily activity.

These findings, published online Oct. 7 in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, reveal that a chemical inhibitor of the enzyme PDE9 stimulates cells to burn more fat. This occurred in male mice and in female mice whose sex hormones were reduced by removing their ovaries, thus mimicking menopause. Postmenopausal women are well known to be at increased risk for obesity around their waist as well as at risk for cardiovascular and metabolic disease. Inhibiting PDE9 did not cause these changes in female mice that had their ovaries, so female sex hormone status was important in the study.

“Currently, there isn’t a pill that has been proven effective for treating severe obesity, yet such obesity is a global health problem that increases the risk of many other diseases,” says senior investigator David Kass, M.D., Abraham and Virginia Weiss Professor of Cardiology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. “What makes our findings exciting is that we found an oral medication that activates fat-burning in mice to reduce obesity and fat buildup in organs like the liver and heart that contribute to disease; this is new.”

This study follows work reported by the same laboratory in 2015 that first showed the PDE9 enzyme is present in the heart and contributes to heart disease triggered by high blood pressure. Blocking PDE9 increases the amount of a small molecule known as cyclic GMP, which in turn controls many aspects of cell function throughout the body. PDE9 is the enzyme cousin of another protein called PDE5, which also controls cyclic GMP and is blocked by drugs such as Viagra. Inhibitors of PDE9 are experimental, so there is no drug name yet.

Based on these results, the investigators suspected PDE9 inhibition might improve cardiometabolic syndrome (CMS), a constellation of common conditions including high blood pressure; high blood sugar, cholesterol and triglycerides; and excess body fat, particularly around the waist. CMS is considered a pandemic by medical experts and a major risk factor for heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, cancers and COVID-19.

While PDE9 inhibitors remain experimental, they have been developed by several pharmaceutical companies and tested in humans for diseases such as Alzheimer’s and sickle cell. The current mouse study used a PDE9 inhibitor made by Pfizer Inc. (PF-04447943) that was first tested for Alzheimer’s disease, though eventually abandoned for this use. Between the two reported clinical trials, over 100 subjects received this drug, and it was found to be well tolerated with no serious adverse side effects. A different PDE9 inhibitor is now being tested for human heart failure.

To test the effects of a PDE9 inhibitor on obesity and cardiometabolic syndrome, the researchers put mice on a high-fat diet that led to doubling their body weight, high blood lipids and diabetes after four months. A group of female mice had their ovaries surgically removed, and most of the mice also had a pressure stress applied to the heart to better mimic cardiometabolic syndrome. The mice were then assigned to receive either the PDE9 inhibitor or a placebo by mouth over the next six to eight weeks.

In female mice without their ovaries (a model of postmenopause), the difference in median percent weight change between the drug and placebo groups was -27.5%, and in males it was -19.5%. Lean body mass was not altered in either group, nor was daily food consumption or physical activity. The PDE9 inhibitor lowered blood cholesterol and triglycerides, and reduced fat in the liver to levels found in mice fed a normal diet. The heart also improved with PDE9 inhibition, with ejection fraction (which measures the percentage of blood leaving the heart each time it contracts) relatively higher by 7%–15% and heart mass (hypertrophy) rising 70% less compared with the placebo. An increase in heart mass is evidence of abnormal heart stress. However, having this lowered by the inhibitor indicates stress on the heart was reduced.

The investigators found PDE9 inhibition produces these effects by activating a master regulator of fat metabolism known as PPARa. By stimulating PPARa, levels of genes for proteins that control fat uptake into cells and their use as fuel are broadly increased. When PPARa was blocked in cells or the whole animal, the effects from PDE9 inhibition on obesity and fat-burning were also lost. They found estrogen normally plays this role of PPARa on fat regulation in females, but when its levels fall like they do after menopause, PPARa becomes more important to regulate fat and so PDE9 inhibition has a greater effect.

“The finding that the experimental drug did not benefit female mice that had their ovaries shows that these sex hormones, particularly estrogen, had already achieved what inhibiting PDE9 does to stimulate fat-burning,” notes Sumita Mishra, the research associate who performed much of the work. “Menopause reduces sex hormone levels, and their control over fat metabolism then shifts to the protein regulated by PDE9, so the drug treatment is now effective.” According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 40% of people living in the U.S. are obese; and 43% of American women over the age of 60 — long past menopause — are considered obese. Kass notes that if his lab’s findings in mice apply to people, someone weighing 250 pounds could lose about 50 pounds with an oral PDE9 inhibitor without changing eating or exercise habits.

“I’m not suggesting to be a couch potato and take a pill, but I suspect that combined with diet and exercise, the effects from PDE9 inhibition may be even greater,” says Kass. The next step would be testing in humans to see if PDE9 inhibitors produce similar effects in men and postmenopausal women. “PDE9 inhibitors are already being studied in humans, so a clinical obesity study should not be that far away,” Kass says. The other researchers involved in the study include Nandhini Sadagopan, Brittany Dunkerly-Ering, Susana Rodriguez, Dylan Sarver, Sean Murphy, Hildur Knutsdottir, Vivek Jani, Deepthi Ashok, Christian Oeing, Brian O’Rourke and G. William Wong from Johns Hopkins Medicine; Ryan Ceddia and Sheila Collins from Vanderbilt University; and John Gangoiti and Dorothy Sears from the University of California San Diego.

The Johns Hopkins University has filed a patent on behalf of investigators Kass, Mishra and a prior member of the Kass laboratory, D.I. Lee, for the use of PDE9 inhibitors to treat cardiometabolic syndrome.

Covid Claims 700,000 Lives, While Cases Begin To Fall

The United States reached its latest heartbreaking pandemic milestone, eclipsing 700,000 deaths from COVID-19 just as the surge from the delta variant is starting to slow down and give overwhelmed hospitals some relief, reports here suggest. It took 3 ½ months for the U.S. to go from 600,000 to 700,000 deaths, driven by the Delta variant’s rampant spread through unvaccinated Americans. The latest milestone is deeply frustrating to public health leaders and medical professionals on the front lines because vaccines have been available to all eligible Americans for nearly six months and the shots overwhelmingly protect against hospitalizations and death. An estimated 70 million eligible Americans remain unvaccinated, providing kindling for the variant.

Health experts say the fourth wave of the pandemic has peaked overall in the U.S., particularly in the Deep South, where hospitals were stretched to the limit weeks ago. But many Northern states are still struggling with rising cases, and what’s ahead for winter is far less clear.  Unknowns include how flu season may strain already depleted hospital staffs and whether those who have refused to get vaccinated will change their minds.

An estimated 70 million eligible Americans remain unvaccinated, providing kindling for the highly contagious delta variant.  “If you’re not vaccinated or have protection from natural infection, this virus will find you,” warned Mike Osterholm, director of the University of Minnesota’s Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy. Nationwide, the number of people now in the hospital with COVID-19 has fallen to somewhere around 75,000 from over 93,000 in early September. New cases are on the downswing at about 112,000 per day on average, a drop of about one-third over the past 2 1/2 weeks.

Deaths, too, appear to be declining, averaging about 1,900 a day versus more than 2,000 about a week ago. The easing of the summer surge has been attributed to more mask wearing and more people getting vaccinated. The decrease in case numbers could also be due to the virus having burned through susceptible people and running out of fuel in some places.

In another promising development, Merck said its experimental pill for people sick with COVID-19 reduced hospitalizations and deaths by half. If it wins authorization from regulators, it will be the first pill for treating COVID-19 — and an important, easy-to-use new weapon in the arsenal against the pandemic.

All treatments now authorized in the U.S. against the coronavirus require an IV or injection.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease specialist, warned on Friday that some may see the encouraging trends as a reason to remain unvaccinated. “It’s good news we’re starting to see the curves” coming down, he said. “That is not an excuse to walk away from the issue of needing to get vaccinated.”

Covid Symptoms Last Longer Than Previously Thought

One in three people infected with the coronavirus has had Covid-like symptoms persist or recur for three to six months after diagnosis, a new study says, suggesting the so-called “long Covid” is afflicting more people than previously thought.

The study, led by University of Oxford scientists, used anonymized data from millions of electronic health records, primarily in the United States, to compare 273,618 patients with Covid-19 with 114,449 patients with influenza. The researchers looked at such symptoms as chest/throat pain, abnormal breathing, abdominal symptoms, fatigue, depression, headaches, cognitive dysfunction and muscle pain over a period of time.

It found that about 36% of Covid patients still reported disease symptoms three and six months after diagnosis. Most previous studies estimated the so-called long-haul Covid to afflict 10% to 30% of patients. The researchers also found that of those who had long COVID three to six months after diagnosis, roughly 40% had no record of such symptoms in the prior three months.

There was a higher incidence of long-Covid features in the elderly, in more severely affected patients, and in women, the study notes. But long-Covid features were also recorded in children and young adults, and in more than half of non-hospitalised patients, confirming that they occur even in young people and those who had a relatively mild illness.

They say: “The results confirm that a significant proportion of people, of all ages, can be affected by a range of symptoms and difficulties in the six months after Covid-19 infection,” said Dr. Max Taquet, who led the analysis at the University of Oxford. The findings were published in the journal PLOS Medicine

A Phase 3 safety and efficacy trial, conducted in the US, Chile and Peru, of AstraZeneca’s AZD1222 Covid-19 vaccine — which is available as Covishield in India — said the vaccine “was safe, with low incidences of serious and medically attended adverse events and adverse events of special interest” demonstrating an “overall estimated vaccine efficacy was 74.0%.”

The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, was conducted on more than 32,000 participants and found that in the age group of 65 years and above, the “estimated vaccine efficacy was 83.5%.”

The study, conducted between August 28, 2020 and January 15, 2021, reported that “119 serious adverse events occurred among 101 participants (0.5%)” who were administered the vaccine. In addition, “a total of 7 adverse events leading to death occurred in 7 participants in the AZD1222 group and 9 adverse events leading to 7 deaths occurred in the placebo group.”

However, the study does not attribute any of the deaths “to be related to the vaccine or placebo” and adds that while there were no deaths due to Covid-19 in the group administered the vaccine, there were two deaths due to the pandemic in the group that was given a placebo.

While it has been a long wait for AstraZeneca to get approval for use in the US, the company had in July said that rather than seeking emergency use authorisation, it would go in for a full approval from the USFDA. It is also exploring the possibility of supplying booster doses to people administered its own vaccine as well as those who have been administered either Pfizer-BioNTech’s or Moderna’s vaccine

India’s Digital Health ID And You

The newly launched Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission will involve a unique health ID for every citizen. How will it help you get treatment at hospitals across the country, and how can you register?

Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission (ABDM), saying it has the “potential of bringing a revolutionary change in India’s healthcare facilities”. The flagship digital initiative involves the creation of not just a unique health ID for ever

What is the unique health ID, and how does one get it?

If a person wants to be part of the ABDM, she must create a health ID, which is a randomly generated 14-digit number. The ID will be broadly used for three purposes: unique identification, authentication, and threading of the beneficiary’s health records, only with their informed consent, across multiple systems and stakeholders.

One can get a health ID by self-registration on the portal or by downloading the ABMD Health Records app on one’s mobile. Additionally, one can also request the creation of a health ID at a participating health facility, which may include government or private hospitals, community health centres, and wellness centres of the government across India.

he beneficiary will also have to set up a Personal Health Records (PHR) address for consent management, and for future sharing of health records. It is a simple self-declared username, which the beneficiary is required to sign into a Health Information Exchange and Consent Manager (HIE-CM). Each health ID will require linkage to a consent manager to enable sharing of health records data.

An HIE-CM is an application that enables sharing and linking of personal health records for a user. At present, one can use the health ID to sign up on the HIE-CM; the National Health Authority (NHA), however, says multiple consent managers are likely to be available for patients to choose from in the near future.

urrently, ABDM supports health ID creation via mobile or Aadhaar. The official website states that ABDM will soon roll out features that will support health ID creation with a PAN card or a driving licence. For health ID creation through mobile or Aadhaar, the beneficiary will be asked to share details on name, year of birth, gender, address, mobile number/Aadhaar.

Is Aadhaar mandatory?

No, it is voluntary. One can use one’s mobile number for registration, without Aadhaar.

Can I use my Aadhaar number if it is not linked to my mobile number?

If the beneficiary chooses the option of using her Aadhaar number, an OTP will be sent to the mobile number linked to the Aadhaar. However, if she has not linked it to her mobile, the beneficiary has to visit the nearest facility and opt for biometric authentication using Aadhaar number. After successful authentication, she will get her health ID at the participating facility.

Are personal health records secure?

The NHA says ABDM does not store any of the beneficiary health records. The records are stored with healthcare information providers as per their “retention policies”, and are “shared” over the ABDM network “with encryption mechanisms” only after the beneficiary express consent.

Can I delete my health ID and exit the platform?

Yes, the NHA says ABDM, supports such a feature. Two options are available: a user can permanently delete or temporarily deactivate her health ID.

On deletion, the unique health ID will be permanently deleted, along with all demographic details. The beneficiary will not be able to retrieve any information tagged to that health ID in the future, and will never be able to access ABDM applications or any health records over the ABDM network with the deleted ID.

On deactivation, the beneficiary will lose access to all ABDM applications only for the period of deactivation. Until she reactivates her health ID, she will not be able to share the ID at any health facility or share health records over the ABDM network.

Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi Honors Dr. Sreenivas Reddy On His Appointment To The White House Historical Association

Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi [IL 8th-Dist] honored Dr. Sreenivas Reddy on his prestigious White House appointment to the National Council of the White House Historical Association representing the state of Illinois. U.S. Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi along with Keerthi Kumar Ravoori Event Co-Chair, FIA’s Founder President Sunil Shah, Ajeet Singh, President of the Indian American Business Council spearheaded the honoring ceremony. Several speakers praised and hailed Dr. Sreenivas Reddy for his extraordinary leadership during the height of the pandemic and for his exceptional humanitarian services during the challenging times.

Keerthi Kumar Ravoori C-Host of the event – in his remarks – praised Dr. Sreenivas Reddy as an illustrious community leader who passionately subscribes to health equity and espouses altruistic human spirit – as was demonstrated in recent pandemic phase where he was on the forefront rendering invaluable assistance to the vulnerable population.

Dr. Sreenivas Reddy profusely thanked Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi and the hosts of the ceremony for honoring him and added that he will strive to represent the Indian Americans in his appointed position and extended his efforts as a physician to provide assistance wherever needed.  Dr. Sreenivas Reddy acknowledged that it has always been a team effort that yielded such recognitions and pledged to do his part vigorously to help the community and beyond especially the neediest and the disenfranchised.

Dr. Sreenivas Reddy is a reputed Vascular & Interventional Radiologist who was described as one of the most eminent physicians who rose up the ranks of leadership in the state of Illinois having been chosen as the Chair of the Illinois State Medical Disciplinary Board who also serves on the Cook County Health Foundation Board and served as the past president of Illinois Medical Association. Dr. Sreenivas Reddy is a member of the Chicago Medical Society, Society of Interventional Radiology, American Society of Vein and Lymphatic Medicine, and Radiological Society of North America.  He is married to Dr. Lalitha Reddy, a practicing Dermatologist and has two teenage sons.

Is A Variant Worse Than Delta On The Way?

Somewhere in India last October, a person—likely immunocompromised, perhaps taking drugs for rheumatoid arthritis or with an advanced case of HIV/AIDS—developed COVID-19. Their case might have been mild, but because of their body’s inability to clear the coronavirus it lingered and multiplied. As the virus replicated and moved from one cell to another, parts of the genetic material copied itself incorrectly. Maybe the person lived in a crowded home or went out to buy food in a busy market, but wherever it happened, the altered virus was spread to others. Experts believe this singular situation in one individual is likely how the Delta variant now wreaking havoc in the U.S. and around the world was born.

In the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, thousands of variants have been identified, four of which are considered “variants of concern” by the World Health Organization—Alpha, Beta, Gamma, and Delta, all closely tracked by scientists on websites such as GiSAID and CoVariants. Delta is by far the most contagious—some 97 percent more sothan the earliest circulating virus, according to European researchers. But is it the worst the world might see? Understanding how mutations develop can help us grasp whether more concerning versions may yet appear.

That turn of events in India—or others that may come in other places—was expected by microbiologists who study viruses, although they could not have predicted where it would happen, exactly when, and which lines of genetic code would shift inside the germ. “Every single time the virus gets in a cell it replicates its genome so it can spread to other cells, and this has the potential to make an error,” says Bethany Moore, chair of the microbiology and immunology department at the University of Michigan.

Mutations generally appear randomly and spontaneously, rather than in a systematic way.

Most mutations either kill the virus or they die out from lack of spread, victims of an infected person isolating or passing the germs to a small number of others who then stay home. But when enough mutations are created, some will get lucky (from the virus’s perspective) and catch hold, perhaps when an infected person attends a crowded sporting event or a large indoor gathering such as a wedding. “It’s like there’s an evolutionary windstorm over many smoldering embers of little hopeful mutants that might normally go extinct, but when you have rampant infection, natural selection gains the upper hand,” says Vaughn Cooper, professor of microbiology and molecular genetics at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

Coronaviruses more prone to mutations than other germs

Scientists always expected to see variants with SARS-CoV-2 because coronaviruses inevitably copy their genomes more sloppily than humans and animals, or even some other pathogens, replicate their own genetic codes. Rather than a double-helixed deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) carrying their genes, coronaviruses contain single-stranded ribonucleic acid (RNA). “Due to very ancient accidents of history, the enzymes that make new copies of RNA are more error-prone,” Cooper says, although he notes that coronaviruses don’t spin out as many mutations as other RNA viruses such as influenza because of a proofreading enzyme tasked with double-checking its work. “The majority of viruses that go into a patient and come out from that patient is the same,” Cooper says. For coronaviruses, the estimate is that one mistake happens in a million or more replicated units of RNA, Moore says.

But it doesn’t take many slipshod copies of a virus to wreak havoc on the world. “There’s a reason health professionals have always worried about pandemic respiratory threats,” says Sten Vermund, an infectious disease epidemiologist at the Yale School of Public Health. Germs transmitted when we breathe or talk spread faster than those requiring touch or sex or bad sanitation. The threat from this coronavirus is compounded by the fact that we can pass it, and its mutated versions, before we even know we have it.

So far, the genome, or complete set of genetic material, of more than a million SARS-CoV-2 viruses have been sequenced by scientists, who are keen to stay on top of how the virus is evolving in order to determine how best to protect people from it. Earlier this year the United Kingdom, a leader in this endeavor, launched a $3.5 million effort to study the effects of emerging mutations. Sequencing got off to a slow start in the U.S., but in fall of 2020 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention launched the National SARS-CoV-2 Strain Surveillance (NS3)  program that contracts with universities and private laboratories to sequence the coronaviruses circulating here. Hundreds of thousands of genomes have already been sequenced under this program.

Sets of the random mutations found in a virus are classified as variants only when they give the pathogen an advantage, Moore says. Within each variant are subvariants (as indicated in the alternative naming system known as Pango, where Delta is known as B.1.617.2, the later numbers indicating sub-lineages). Still, the overall blueprint of the genome remains the same. Were SARS-CoV-2 to mutate in a way that changes its essential nature, it could become a new species, perhaps SARS-CoV-3, she notes.

Convergent evolution

Mutations that take hold survive for a reason, Cooper says, such as by helping the virus increase transmissibility, infectivity, virulence, or the ability to escape our immunity. But scientists are less concerned about any specific mutation than about similar changes arising in multiple independent variants, Cooper says, “because that suggests they make the virus more evolutionarily fit.” This phenomenon is known in evolutionary biology as convergent evolution.

For example, in all of the variants of concern, a common mutation occurs in one section of the spike protein, the protrusions dotting the surface of the virus that help it infect human cells. In position 614, one type of amino acid (called aspartic acid) has been swapped for another (glycine). This mutation, known as D614G, makes the virus more transmissible and infectious.

Another common mutation, L452R, flips the amino acid leucine to arginine, again on the spike protein. The fact that mutations in L452 are seen in more than a dozen separate lineages indicates that this mutation confers an important advantage to the coronavirus, researchers recently noted after sequencing hundreds of virus samples around the U.S. In addition to providing the virus with a stronger attachment to our cells, it may be that L452R helps infect people with some immunity.

Because the spike protein has been critical for developing vaccines and treatments, more research has gone into studying mutations there compared with other proteins in the coronavirus. But it’s important to pay attention beyond this area, says Nash Rochman, an evolutionary virology expert at the N.I.H.’s National Library of Medicine. Rochman coauthored a recent paper that concludes that while the spike protein is an important site, so is another part of the virus called the nucleocapsid protein, which makes up the coating that surrounds the virus’s RNA genome.

In fact, the two areas might be working together, Rochman says. “A variant with a mutation in the [spike protein] without any change in the nucleocapsid protein might behave very differently than another variant that has mutations in both regions.” Groups of mutations working in concert is a concept known as epistasis, and modeling by Rochman and colleagues show that a small group of mutations in various spots could collectively have the major impact of helping the virus evade antibodies and thus making vaccines less effective.

The mutations that appeared in the U.S. this year are the reason the pandemic is not under control. “Just as we were making progress with vaccination, Delta comes along,” Vermund says, and rather than the expected case reductions from the vaccine, rates rose because of Delta’s increased transmissibility. “If we had only circulation of Alpha at that time, the rise in cases would not have occurred,” he says.

That the virus could obtain mutations that help it escape vaccines is of course everyone’s biggest concern. Currently, all three vaccines authorized in the U.S. remain protective. (Mu, the newest “variant of interest” does seem to weaken vaccine effectiveness, but it is not widely spreading at this time.) Some people think the small percentage of vaccinated people testing positive or developing symptoms is a sign the virus is outsmarting the shots, but Vermund says that’s not so. “I hate the term ‘breakthrough infection,’ because it’s misleading on the science,” he says. Vaccines are not like power shields that deflect the Klingons, he says. Instead, they allow the enemy to get on the ship (hence the positive tests) but they are immediately surrounded by a well-armed crew.

With such a small part of the world’s population vaccinated (some 43 percent have gotten at least one shot, but only 2 percent of those in low-income countries have), the virus doesn’t yet have much incentive to outwit the immune system of those who’ve been innoculated. “Vaccine evasion isn’t what the virus is looking for right now,” Cooper says. It’s easier for the germs to seek new and improved ways to infect the billions of people who don’t yet have this immunity.

Still, no one knows what mutations lie ahead and how much damage they might do. Vermund points out that 95 percent of people on Earth can visit another place within 48 hours—within the incubation period of COVID-19—which is why a variant emerging even in a remote, low-population area can become a global problem.

“Mutations happen when there is viral replication. So the best way to stop future variants is to severely limit the amount of viral replication that is occurring in the world,” says David Peaper, a Yale Medicine pathologist who directs the Yale New Haven Hospital Clinical Microbiology Laboratory. That’s why getting everyone in the U.S. and the world vaccinated is the most important thing we can do, he says. “As long as there is SARS-CoV-2 anywhere in the world, there’s an opportunity for dangerous variants to emerge.”

Pfizer Is Set To Ask For Approval For Covid-19 Vaccine For Kids

Pfizer/BioNTech plans to ask for authorization of a Covid-19 vaccine for some children under 12 soon, bringing the US one step closer to offering protection to a population that has grown particularly vulnerable as the fall season gets underway. “It is a question of days, not weeks,” Pfizer Chairman and CEO Albert Bourla told ABC News Sunday about when the company will submit data on children ages 5 to 11 to the FDA for consideration. Currently, Covid-19 vaccines are only approved for children 12 and older, which has stirred concern among health experts as cases in children increase, school years begin and the more transmissible Delta variant spreads.

Nearly 26% of all Covid-19 cases nationwide are reported in children, according to recent data published by the American Academy of Pediatrics. And an average of 266 children were hospitalized with Covid-19 every day last week, according to Sunday’s data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Once the data from Pfizer/BioNTech is in, it will have to go through two committees, one for the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and one for the CDC, CNN Medical Analyst Dr. Johnathan Reiner said Sunday. If the data comes in this week, it would likely be in committee by the end of October, he added. And there is a lot of data for them to look at, he said. “This is a vaccine for children, so getting the dose right — in terms of efficacy and side effects — is crucial,” Reiner said.

But even when a vaccine becomes available, a difficult task lies ahead in getting children vaccinated. Less than half of US adolescents are fully vaccinated against Covid-19, according to a CNN analysis of CDC data. In response, officials need to do a better job educating the public about the importance of vaccination for the health of their children and their families as a whole, Reiner said. “If you want kids in school, the best way to keep them in school is to keep them from getting Covid,” he said.

Until vaccines are approved for younger children, the CDC has recommended mask wearing for students, teachers and visitors in schools from kindergarten through grade 12, along with improved ventilation, physical distancing and testing on a screening basis. “We know how to keep them safe,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky told CBS Sunday. “When we don’t use the proper mitigation, they’re more likely to have outbreaks.” Former FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb said he encourages parents to vaccinate their children when they can.

“This is a dangerous pathogen,” Gottlieb told CNN. “I wouldn’t be so cavalier about this virus, we know that this virus has long-term consequences in a lot of people who contract it, including children.”  Current surge likely to die down by Thanksgiving, Gottlieb says Gottlieb predicted Sunday the current surge of coronavirus spread is likely to worsen across parts of the country and then die down by Thanksgiving. “I think you’ll see a wave of infection sweep across the Northeast as kids go back to school, the weather turns cold and people move indoors,” Gottlieb told CNN’s Pamela Brown.

The virus won’t be gone, Gottlieb said, but hopefully it will reach more manageable levels — which he estimates to be about 20,000 cases per day. According to the CDC, the current seven-day average for new cases in the US is more than 114,000 new cases a day. The decline in cases will likely come from most people attaining immunity to the virus, Gottlieb said. “Some people will get a vaccination; some will challenge their immunity by no choice but getting the infection,” Gottlieb explained. “People who choose to go unvaccinated, they’re going to be vulnerable to getting infected through this Delta wave.”

As the US moves into flu season, Gottlieb said the demand for tests will pick up as people and their doctors try to determine if their flu-like symptoms are due to Covid-19 or influenza. “That’s why it’s so important to get diagnostic tests into the hands of consumers and doctors’ offices as well, things like where people can test in the home will make a difference between telling between Covid and other respiratory infections, especially as the flu picks up,” Gottlieb said.

But even if Covid-19 cases do come down by Thanksgiving, health experts are bracing for a difficult winter ahead. It isn’t clear yet what this year’s flu season has in store, but it could add additional stress to an already pressed health care system. “Flu is still a killer, not as much as Covid-19, but between 12,000 and 50,000 Americans lose their lives every year from flu,” said Dr. Peter Hotez, vaccinologist and dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine.

Last year’s flu numbers were low, which health expert say could mean that upcoming seasons may be worse, as there has been little accumulation of immunity. “We’re in for a whopper of a flu season at some point,” Gottlieb said Sunday. Recommending booster for frontline workers a ‘scientific close call,’ CDC director says On Friday, Walensky recommended a booster dose for adults at occupational risk of infection — in addition to those with underlying conditions and those over 65 — a decision she said was a “scientific close call.” “And because of that close call, and because of all of the evidence we reviewed at the FDA and the CDC, I thought it was appropriate for those people to be eligible for boosters,” Walensky told CBS’s “Face the Nation” Sunday.

“So who are those people? People who live and work in high-risk settings. That includes people in homeless shelters, people in group homes, people in prisons. But, also, importantly, are people who work with vulnerable communities, so our health care workers, our teachers, our grocery workers, our public transportation employees,” Walensky said. Although the CDC’s vaccine advisers voted against recommending booster doses for people at high risk of infection because of their work or living conditions, Walensky went with the FDA’s authorization including those people.

The recommendation is not currently intended for the wider population, but there’s little fear of causing dangerous side effects from adding that third dose, Walensky said. “We have an extraordinary amount of safety data,” she said.

Nisha Foundation Honors Doctors, Warriors Against Covid

Nisha Foundation organized a salutation evening with for doctors and frontline workers in the presence of Faggan Singh Kulstey, the Union Steel Minster of State, and various monks from the DALAI LAMA’s organization, sisters and brothers from Brahmakumaris, Dr Roger Gopalu (Ambassador of Trinidad), Dr. Sandeep Marwah, CEO Film City Noida, Diplomats and 35 awardees doctors, nurses, managing staff and social workers.

The Governor of Sikkim, Ganga Prasad, praised the foundation initiative and congratulated all the awardees. He launched the stickers, “I Salute Doctors”, in the presence of all the dignitaries. He said Nisha foundation is working towards a wonderful mission for betterment of society. Kulstey said Nisha foundation initiative is great and he applaud this program and appreciated Nisha foundation for working in 173 countries in association of world Organization of peace for child education, sports and salutation evening in name of frontliners During his speech he said it’s important to do this kind of programs to uplift human consciousness and he expressed his concern for farmers.

Nisha Foundation organized a salutation evening with for doctors and frontline workers in the presence of Faggan Singh Kulstey, the Union Steel Minster of State, and various monks from the DALAI LAMA’s organization, sisters and brothers from Brahmakumaris, Dr Roger Gopalu (Ambassador of Trinidad), Dr. Sandeep Marwah, CEO Film City Noida, Diplomats and 35 awardees doctors, nurses, managing staff and social workers.

The Governor of Sikkim, Ganga Prasad, praised the foundation initiative and congratulated all the awardees. He launched the stickers, “I Salute Doctors”, in the presence of all the dignitaries. He said Nisha foundation is working towards a wonderful mission for betterment of society. Kulstey said Nisha foundation initiative is great and he applaud this program and appreciated Nisha foundation for working in 173 countries in association of world Organization of peace for child education, sports and salutation evening in name of frontliners During his speech he said it’s important to do this kind of programs to uplift human consciousness and he expressed his concern for farmers.

This program objective was to facilitate the awards to 20 Doctors and 10 Frontline Workers. Few of the honorees are Dr. Raja Marimuthu Chairperson of Covid in Chennai, Nurse Sita Ghimirey from AIMS, Dr. Vinay Bhasin – AIIMS, Dr. Mosin Ali, Nurse Monika Dhankar.

Nisha Foundation Chairperson Priyanka Kothari, an accomplished former Bollywood actress who has worked in various movies in Indian film industry. While travelling for her movie shoots to different rural areas, she felt that there is huge need to support and uplift unprivileged people in many aspects, sports, women empowerment and she left film industry and dedicated herself to the service of humanity. she is an actress turned philanthropist, Motivational speaker, and an accomplished yoga teacher. Her NGO supports other NGO’s as well to uplift and support child education, woman empowerment, sports, and other activities.

She is working in 173 countries with association of OMPP.  She is Secretory general of world Organization of peace (Asia).  Also, Nisha Foundation recently honored with Citation from Eric Adam who is a President of the Borough of Brooklyn, New York USA, for work to support “BETI BACHAO BETI PADHAO” and spreading peace and compassion to humanity.

She believes “our life’s journey is all about uplifting human consciousness and help each other to reach our maximum potential indeed that’s our destiny, Said we have learnt from this pandemic time that “life is too short and there is no time of hate”  We must spread love compassion peace to humanity and expressed gratitude for each and every frontline workers  with standing ovation she said this award ceremony not only for awardee list rather it’s for those unknown volunteers and helpers who served during pandemic.

Kothari Started Her speech with Sanskrit shloka and welcome all the Guest and Audience, furthermore she explained about the foundation objections and goals & she also Remembered the President and Co-founder of Nisha foundation Late Shri Bhasker Prakash Ji whom we lost in this Pandemic with having teary eyes Priyanka Ji bravely continued her speech.

COVID Has Killed More Americans Than The Spanish Flu Did In 1918-19

COVID-19 Pandemic has claimed as many as 696,867 lives in the United States, which is more than the number of people killed by the Spanish Flu Pandemic of 1918-19.

As of September 22nd, COVID-19 Pandemic has claimed as many as 696,867 lives in the United States, which is more than the number of people killed by the Spanish Flu Pandemic of 1918-19. As per the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Spanish Flu had killed 675,000 Americans a century ago. The Spanish flu’s U.S. death toll is a rough guess, given the incomplete records of the era and the poor scientific understanding of what caused the illness.

Across the world, the 1918-19 influenza pandemic killed 50 million victims globally at a time when the world had one-quarter the population it does now. Global deaths from COVID-19 now stand at more than 4.6 million. For now, the pandemic still has the United States and other parts of the world firmly in its jaws. While the delta-fueled surge in infections may have peaked, U.S. deaths are running at over 1,900 a day on average, the highest level since early March, and the country’s overall toll topped 675,000 on Monday, September 20th, according to the count kept by Johns Hopkins University, though the real number is believed to be higher.

Winter may bring a new surge, with the University of Washington’s influential model projecting an additional 100,000 or so Americans will die of COVID-19 by Jan. 1, which would bring the overall U.S. toll to 776,000. Historian and author John Barry, author of “The Great Influenza: The Epic Story of the Deadliest Plague in History,” writes, “It was considerably worse than we’ve seen now — there were special trains to carry away the dead,” during the century-old plague with its 675,000 deaths against the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.

The U.S. population a century ago was just one-third of what it is today, meaning the flu cut a much bigger, more lethal swath through the country. But the COVID-19 crisis is by any measure a colossal tragedy in its own right, especially given the incredible advances in scientific knowledge since then and the failure to take maximum advantage of the vaccines available this time. Like the Spanish flu, the coronavirus may never entirely disappear from our midst. Instead, scientists hope it becomes a mild seasonal bug as human immunity strengthens through vaccination and repeated infection. That could take time.  “We hope it will be like getting a cold, but there’s no guarantee,” said Emory University biologist Rustom Antia, who suggests an optimistic scenario in which this could happen over a few years.

The ebbing of COVID-19 could happen if the virus progressively weakens as it mutates and more and more humans’ immune systems learn to attack it. Vaccination and surviving infection are the main ways the immune system improves. Breast-fed infants also gain some immunity from their mothers. Under that optimistic scenario, schoolchildren would get mild illness that trains their immune systems. As they grow up, the children would carry the immune response memory, so that when they are old and vulnerable, the coronavirus would be no more dangerous than cold viruses.

The same goes for today’s vaccinated teens: Their immune systems would get stronger through the shots and mild infections. “We will all get infected,” Antia predicted. “What’s important is whether the infections are severe.” Something similar happened with the H1N1 flu virus, the culprit in the 1918-19 pandemic. It encountered too many people who were immune, and it also eventually weakened through mutation. H1N1 still circulates today, but immunity acquired through infection and vaccination has triumphed.

Getting an annual flu shot now protects against H1N1 and several other strains of flu. To be sure, flu kills between 12,000 and 61,000 Americans each year, but on average, it is a seasonal problem and a manageable one. Before COVID-19, the 1918-19 flu was universally considered the worst pandemic disease in human history. Whether the current scourge ultimately proves deadlier is unclear. In many ways, the 1918-19 flu — which was wrongly named Spanish flu because it first received widespread news coverage in Spain — was worse.

Spread by the mobility of World War I, it killed young, healthy adults in vast numbers. No vaccine existed to slow it, and there were no antibiotics to treat secondary bacterial infections. And, of course, the world was much smaller. Yet jet travel and mass migrations threaten to increase the toll of the current pandemic. Much of the world is unvaccinated. And the coronavirus has been full of surprises. Just under 64% of the U.S. population has received as least one dose of the vaccine, with state rates ranging from a high of approximately 77% in Vermont and Massachusetts to lows around 46% to 49% in Idaho, Wyoming, West Virginia and Mississippi.

Globally, about 43% of the population has received at least one dose, according to Our World in Data, with some African countries just beginning to give their first shots. “We know that all pandemics come to an end,” said Dr. Jeremy Brown, director of emergency care research at the National Institutes of Health, who wrote a book on influenza. “They can do terrible things while they’re raging.” COVID-19 could have been far less lethal in the U.S. if more people had gotten vaccinated faster, “and we still have an opportunity to turn it around,” Brown said. “We often lose sight of how lucky we are to take these things for granted.”

The current vaccines work extremely well in preventing severe disease and death from the variants of the virus that have emerged so far. It will be crucial for scientists to make sure the ever-mutating virus hasn’t changed enough to evade vaccines or to cause severe illness in unvaccinated children, Antia said. If the virus changes significantly, a new vaccine using the technology behind the Pfizer and Moderna shots could be produced in 110 days, a Pfizer executive said Wednesday. The company is studying whether annual shots with the current vaccine will be required to keep immunity high.

One plus: The coronavirus mutates at a slower pace than flu viruses, making it a more stable target for vaccination, said Ann Marie Kimball, a retired University of Washington professor of epidemiology. So, will the current pandemic unseat the 1918-19 flu pandemic as the worst in human history?

Pfizer Vaccine Has “Robust” Immune Response Among 5-11 Year Olds

While it’s true that younger kids generally don’t suffer serious illness from COVID-19, anything we can do to protect our kids—and help prevent them from spreading the virus to others—is a good thing. So far, about 5 million U.S. children have tested positive, per the American Academy of Pediatrics, while nearly 500 have died.

The US, where Covid-19 is now officially the deadliest epidemic since the Spanish Flu of 1918 with over 675,000 deaths, has also seen a rather high number of infections among children. For the week ended September 9, new infections among children totaled 243,000 and constitute 30% of all new infections in the country. Up until January this year, children made up just 15% of new Covid-19 infections in the US.

Some of that long-awaited good news arrived this morning: After several months of waiting, Pfizer has announced that the Covid-19 vaccine by Pfizer and BioNTech generates a “robust” immune response among 5-11 year olds, according to data released by the company on September 20th — moving a step closer to start of vaccination of sub-12 year olds by the end of next month.

Pfizer said today that the vaccine it makes alongside BioNTech is safe and effective in kids aged 5-11, and it will soon seek approval from U.S. regulators to start doling out shots for that age group. The pediatric version of the shot contains just one-third the dose of the adult version, but still generates a strong antibody response with only minor, if any, side effects, Pfizer Senior Vice President Dr. Bill Gruber told the Associated Press. “I think we really hit the sweet spot,” Gruber said. (Vaccine maker Moderna is also testing its shot in children, and data from studies on kids as young as six months could be available before year’s end.)

There are limitations to Pfizer’s data. For one thing, the company only studied about 2,300 kids. That’s enough to show vaccinated kids were producing similar antibody levels as inoculated teens and adults—which is seen as a decent proxy for performance—but there weren’t enough cases among the participants to judge performance directly. Furthermore, the data has yet to be submitted to a peer-reviewed journal.

Still, Pfizer plans to formally submit its 5-11 year-old vaccine for U.S. approval by the end of September. It will then take regulators at least a few weeks to make a decision. But if all goes well, kids aged 5-11 could be eligible for their first dose by Halloween—a treat, indeed.

The results, which were based on a clinical trial of over 2,200 children, involved administering 10 microgrammes of the vaccine — which is one third of the amount of dose administered to teens and adults — three weeks apart.

However, even as the company claims the side effects observed in children were similar to those observed in adults, such as fatigue, headache, muscle pain, chills, fever and nausea, it has not yet made public all details of side effects experienced by children in the trial, including whether or not they experienced myocarditis, a rare heart condition affecting some teens and adults.

The final nod from the US FDA is expected to take four to six weeks after it receives and reviews all the data submitted by Pfizer and BioNTech, whose vaccine is already approved for use in children above 12. Pfizer also expects to submit data for clinical trials among children between the ages of 6 months to 5 years by the end of next month.

FDA Recommends Covid Booster Doses For Vulnerable Population Only

U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) committee voted unanimously Friday, last week to recommend booster doses of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine for those over age 65 and those at higher risk of exposure to the virus, including healthcare, frontline and essential workers, under emergency use authorization, but stopped short of recommending boosters for the general population.  Pfizer-BioNTech had originally requested that the FDA consider full approval of a booster dose for all people who have been vaccinated with its shot. The 18 members of the committee voted initially 16 to 2 against that move, citing the lack of strong enough data on safety and effectiveness of boosting the general population at this time. The FDA then reworded Pfizer-BioNTech’s original request to include only those at highest risk of COVID-19, which earned a unanimous vote in favor.

Although the result wasn’t what Pfizer-BioNTech expected, Kathrin Jansen, senior vice president and head of vaccine research and development at Pfizer, said in a statement that “these data, and the larger body of scientific evidence presented at the meeting, underscore our belief that boosters will be a critical tool in the ongoing effort to control the spread of this virus. We thank the committee for their thoughtful review of the data and will work with the FDA following today’s meeting to address the committee’s questions, as we continue to believe in the benefits of a booster dose for a broader population.”

The FDA’s acting commissioner, Janet Woodcock, will take the committee’s recommendation into consideration before making a final decision. If the FDA follows the advice, then the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) will review the data and make a recommendation to doctors and health care workers about how the booster will be administered. One important question the ACIP must address, for example, is whether Pfizer-BioNTech’s booster dose should be limited to those who have already received two doses of the companies’ vaccine, since the data reviewed by the FDA committee only included a small subset of those recipients and not people who received the other authorized shots from Moderna and Johnson & Johnson-Janssen.

The committee advised that most of the U.S. population will have to wait to get a booster dose, guidance that directly contradicts the recommendation by U.S. President Joe Biden’s health team, which planned to start widely rolling out boosters on Sept. 20, pending FDA authorization or approval. The decision heightens the growing tension over the booster question, as public health officials, infectious disease specialists and policy makers disagree about exactly how useful another dose of COVID-19 vaccine can be. The FDA committee members noted that while there is evidence that vaccine-induced immunity wanes over time, giving fully vaccinated people another dose of vaccine will likely have little impact on actually controlling the pandemic in the U.S., since most new cases and severe illnesses are driven by the unvaccinated.

The White House, however, escalated the debate when it announced in August that it supported rolling out a booster dose for the general population beginning Sept. 20, even before the FDA had reviewed the safety and efficacy of doing so. It was a surprising pre-emptive move that the administration said was primarily an attempt to get ahead of the logistics of administering another dose, and to prepare states and local health authorities, but many felt was more driven by political rather than scientific justification. Over Friday’s day-long meeting, the committee members debated the strength and quality of data showing waning protection among everyone who has been vaccinated so far, and what it means for controlling transmission and spread of COVID-19. The panel members heard from Israeli public health officials, who have the most in depth, although still incomplete, data on waning immunity and the impact of a booster dose, as well as U.S. CDC researchers who understand the dynamics of the U.S. pandemic.

In making its case for a booster, Pfizer-BioNTech acknowledged that about a month after the second of the two doses in the regimen, its vaccine is 96% efficacious in protecting people from symptoms of COVID-19. About two to four months later, that efficacy slips to 90%, and by six months, it drops to 84%—about a 6% decline every two months. And while Pfizer-BioNTech provided data showing an additional dose of its vaccine could increase levels of neutralizing antibodies against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, it did not provide answers to questions about how well that protection could stop transmission of the disease, among other things, to the committee’s satisfaction. The lack of adequate safety data of the third dose among younger people, who are at higher risk of developing rare inflammation of heart tissue, was also among the reasons the committee decided not to recommend the booster at this time for the general population, citing the need for more evidence to support safety, to guide mixing and matching doses, and the impact a booster dose would have on transmission of the virus.

The information on mixing and matching doses is coming shortly from various studies investigating what types of immune reactions people generate if they receive one type of vaccine and get boosted with another; the results have been submitted to a journal but not published yet. Data on the safety could be collected in coming months as more younger get vaccinated and are followed, and scientists in Israel are also studying how a third dose affects transmission of the virus in the population.

Pfizer-BioNTech maintains that protection from its vaccine remains high enough to shield people from severe illness and in most cases, hospitalization and death; most vaccinated people who get infected experience mild disease. But there are worrying signs that with the Delta variant, the more transmissible variant that is now the dominant virus behind new infections, even that trend is changing. In Israel, more vaccinated people getting breakthrough infections are also getting more severe disease. Pfizer scientists say that the data suggest not that Delta is finding ways to escape the vaccine defenses, but that the protection from the vaccine is weakening.

The data showed that overall, after the first dose of the two-dose regimen, levels of antibodies that can neutralize SARS-CoV-2 remain low, which is why the company and the FDA initially recommended a second dose, three weeks later, when the vaccine was first authorized in Dec. 2020. The first dose helped to prime the immune system and educate immune cells to recognize the COVID-19 virus, while the second dose activated those cells more robustly.

Taken together, Pfizer-BioNTech maintained the data, as well as the continuing threat of Delta and potentially other new variants, warrant a booster. The FDA, however, countered that existing protection, especially against more severe disease, remains sufficient, and that the data don’t show that the decline in immunity necessarily puts people at risk. Members of the panel also raised concerns about the strength of evidence supporting a booster dose at this time, at least for the general population, noting the relatively small number of people in the Pfizer-BioNTech study and the short period of follow up especially for younger people. “It feels like there is a lot of data circulating that would be helpful to our discussion but is not available at this moment because it will be presented soon, so at this moment it is difficult to make a decision on [general] booster doses today,” said Dr. Steven Pergam, medical director at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance.

The committee members noted that because the recommendation is under EUA, it could be revised as more data come in to support the need to broaden the groups eligible for a booster dose. For now, they say, the focus should be on continuing to reach people who haven’t been vaccinated at all; that will likely have the biggest impact on slowing the spread of the virus and ultimately getting the COVID-19 pandemic under control.

Dr. Bellamkonda K. Kishore-Led Team Releases Summer Edition of JAAPI

The summer edition of the peer-reviewed scientific Journal of the AAPI (JAAPI) has been released in September 2021. Dedicated to Edward Jenner, FRS, Father of Immunization, the 2nd ever issue of JAAPI, has been acclaimed as among a leading journal with a variety of articles benefitting the larger section of physician community around the world.

Dr. Anupama Gotimukula, President of AAPI while congratulating the Editorial Team of JAAPI said, “This is the fruit of our teamwork and it’s a good opportunity for the members of AAPI to contribute scientific articles, and make it better as we move on. JAAPI is a peer-reviewed medical and health journal published by the AAPI. In line with the vision and mission of AAPI, JAAPI is dedicated to facilitate physicians to excel in patient care, teaching and research, and thus pursue their aspirations in professional and community affairs. JAAPI is open to contributions from physicians and scientists of all backgrounds and from all over the world.” In his introductory note, the Founding Editor-in-Chief of the peer-reviewed JAAPI, Dr. Bellamkonda K. Kishore, who is an outstanding academician, innovator, and entrepreneur, writes, “ We are pleased to present you the Summer issue of peer-reviewed JAAPI. It is made possible with the unconditional support of AAPI President Dr. Anupama Gotimukula and the Executive Committee Members, the relentless work of Members of the JAAPI Editorial Board, Editorial Advisors, and Reviewers as well as Ms. Vijaya Kodali, the Chief Operations Officer of AAPI.”

The summer issue of JAAPI has “excellent contributions by eminent physicians and scientists, and has come out in an outstanding manner. We are committed to maintain the same standards in the future. Excellence and thoroughness are our motto,” says Dr. Kishore. Acknowledging that JAAPI has only made a small beginning, Dr. Kishore says, “Our goal is to make JAAPI as the passport of AAPI, and thus to elevate AAPI on par with other premier medical associations such as AMA, AHA, ASN, ADA, ACP etc.”

“This is a historical milestone in the annals of AAPI. The foundation for this milestone was laid one year ago in February 2020 by our visionary leaders, Drs. Sudhakar Jonnalagadda and Suresh Reddy,” said Dr. Kishore, said.  Describing the vision and the efforts that have given shape to the launching of JAAPI, Dr. Kishore said, “A Peer Review Journal needs group synergy and cultivation of the culture of peer-review process and publication. It is like agriculture – crop after crop. But the very fact that we are able to assemble a passionate and diligent team of editorial board members, and developed the required group synergy and culture bringing out the journal as planned, itself is a sign that AAPI has reached a level of academic maturity, capability and perfection.”

Describing the importance of JAA{I, Dr. Kishore says, “The doctors who save lives of their patients are not always made in medical schools. They often create themselves through diligent practice of Evidence-based Medicine in the community. The real test a doctor faces is not the one administered in the medical school, but the one s/he has to face when standing between the life and death of patients. What empowers a doctor in those critical moments is right knowledge, despite technological superiority of modern medicine – Knowledge is Power of the Noble Profession that has the potential to elevate a

JAAPI has already found recognition among leading physicians community. “The American Association of Nephrologists of Indian Origin (ANIO) has shown interest in using JAAPI as a platform for publishing synopsis of their webinar on Kidney Disease and Vascular Risk in South Asian Populations. Like wise JAAPI has the potential to cater publication needs of the specialty societies of Indian American physicians,” Dr. Kishore points out.

After one or two years of publication, JAAPI will be registered with MEDLINE so that it will be indexed in PubMed and other databases. JAAPI is a fully Open Access journal with no manuscript submission or publication charges. And we welcome articles by authors from all over the world without any restrictions. We are also open to eminent academicians wishing to join the editorial board. Details are provided in the journal. JAAPI follows next generation peer-review model by which it discloses the identity of editors and reviewers after publication, but the review process itself is blind. This will give due credit to editors and reviewers, and also ensures fair review process. The cover page is designed to reflect the heart of AAPI, an association of Indian American Physicians – with colors of the flag of India, our motherland, on top and the red and white stripes of American flag, over which the AAPI emblem rests, indicating the way we adopted this Great Land.

In order to achieve the lofty goals, on behalf of Editorial Advisors, Deputy Editors, Editorial Board Members of JAAPI, Dr. Kishore urges the AAPI fraternity to help and support JAAPI by doing one or more of the following. (1) Submit your own articles or solicit articles from experts in your field and circle; (2) Promote JAAPI by forwarding its PDF copies and sharing them with your colleagues and friends; (3) Display hard copies of JAAPI at your meetings and conventions (contact us for hard copies); (4) Submit synopsis of your CME programs to JAAPI; and (4) Solicit advertisements from the pharma industry or organizations and businesses that cater the interests or needs of physicians. “Together we can reach new heights,” he promises AAPI members. For more information on AAPI and to read, contribute and sponsor JAAPI, please visit: www.aapiusa.org

Commemorating National Suicide Prevention Week, AAPI’s Webinar Offers Effective Ways To Prevent Suicide

“National Suicide Prevention Week, which begins on September 5 and ends on September 11 this year, is an annual campaign observed in the United States to educate and inform the general public about suicide prevention and the warning signs of suicide,” said Dr. Anupama Gotimukula, President of American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) during a webinar on “Precision Medicine for Mental Health: How to Save and Improve Lives” organized by AAPI in collaboration with MindX Sciences Inc., on Wednesday Sept. 8, 2021.

The educational webinar attended by dozens of AAPI members from around the nation was organized in observance of the National Suicide Prevention Week, “which aims to reduce the stigma surrounding suicide and encourage the pursuit of mental health assistance because going to therapy should be as normalized as going to the gym.” Dr. Ravi Kolli, President-Elect of AAPI moderated the session, which had eminent speakers, including Dr. Jerome Adams, former United States Surgeon General and Dr. Alexander Niculescu, co-founder of Mindx Sciences and Professor of Psychiatry and Medical Neuroscience at Indiana University School of Medicine; and Sunil Hazaray, CEO of MindX Sciences.     In his introductory remarks, Dr. Koli drew the attention of the audience to the fact that “Almost 800,000 people die every year due to suicide, which means one death every 40 seconds, according to the WHO.” He said, “Mental health issues like depression are known to be the leading cause for attempting suicide. Suicide often occurs in a moment of unbearable pain or deep despair. Millions of Americans consider suicide, make a suicide plan, or attempt suicide every year — especially young Americans for whom suicide is the second leading cause of death.” By drawing attention to the problem of suicide in the United States, the campaign also strives to reduce the stigma surrounding the topic, as well as encourage the pursuit of mental health assistance and support people who have attempted suicide,” Dr. Kolli, a certified psychiatrist told the AAPI members.

Dr. Jerome Adams, the United States Surgeon General under President Trump, while addressing the audience on “Precision Medicine for Mental Health: The Time Has Come” drew attention of the participants to the reality that how mental health and social disparity are leading healthcare needs around the nation. “In 2019, suicide was the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, and the second leading cause of death for young people between the ages of 10 and 34,” Dr. Adams pointed out. While commemorating World Suicide Prevention Week, “We remember the many lives that are lost and those who survived suicide attempt and we strive to create hope through action,” said Dr. Adams.

Dr. Adams referred to the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention (Action Alliance), and his call as the Surgeon General of the United State to Implement the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention. “More than 20 years ago, Surgeon General David Satcher issued the landmark report The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Prevent Suicide, recognizing suicide as a major public health issue and calling for a national response. The National Strategy for Suicide Prevention (National Strategy), first released in 2001 and updated in collaboration with the Action Alliance in 2012, identifies 13 goals and 60 objectives that address every aspect of suicide prevention—from fostering healthy and empowered individuals, families, and communities to providing effective prevention programs and clinical care,” Dr. Adams said.

Dr. Adams pointed out that “we know more about suicide and how it can be prevented today than we did in 1999. We understand that like other public health problems, such as obesity and cancer, suicide is influenced by many factors. As a result, suicide prevention efforts must engage all sectors, including public health, mental health, health care, social services, our military and Veterans, business, entertainment, media, faith communities, and education. These efforts must be informed by data, guided by the needs of the groups affected, and shaped by the voices of people who have experienced suicidal thoughts, plans, attempts, and losses.”

“Suicide is preventable and it continues to remain a growing public health issue,” he said. As many as 43,000 died of suicide in 2019 in the United States. While the suicide rate decreased in 2020, overdose attempt increased by 30%. Suicide is a burden on the nation, costing $93 billion annually. Early detection is cheap. They are preventable. Precision medicine needs to be embraced by assessing the symptoms which will help in decreasing uncertainty, he said. “Never has the need been a greater need and more tools available today than ever,” Dr. Admas said.

Dr. Adams referred to the vast and highly effective research and ongoing programs led by MindX Sciences, which has established a Mental Health Transformation Advisory Board, being co-led by Dr. Jerome Adams, who provides strategic advice on maximizing societal impact, addressing health disparities, and helping improve military mental health. In his address, Dr. Alexander B Niculescu III, focused on “Precision Medicine for Mental Health: From Dream to Science to Clinical Practice,” the tools available today, how we can access them and save lives. MindX Scinces offers “a complete set of tools to assess, diagnose, prevent suicide and treat mental health issues that lead to suicide,” he said.

Over 10 million people in US have suicidal thoughts, he said. How do you know among these 10 million, who will attempt and how many will die of suicide? “We need better tools to identify risk factors and how to decrease the risks and effectively intervene and of the ways to prevent suicide.” In this context, MindX’s research in identifying the tools and resources that will address the needs and help clients in real world will be enormously effective, he said. Dr. Alexander referred to a new study from the Indiana University School of Medicine that has found a way to test someone’s blood to gauge a patient’s depression, the risk of them developing severe depression in the future and the risk of future bipolar disorder, and thus opening the door for changes in diagnosing and treating mental illness.

“Blood biomarkers are emerging as important tools in disorders where subjective self-report by an individual, or a clinical impression of a health care professional, are not always reliable. These blood tests can open the door to precise, personalized matching with medications, and objective monitoring of response to treatment,” said Dr. Niculescu, who led the study and is a professor of psychiatry at the school.  “Through this work, we wanted to develop blood tests for depression and for bipolar disorder, to distinguish between the two, and to match people to the right treatments,” he told the audience. “This is part of our effort to bring psychiatry from the 19th century into the 21st century. To help it become like other contemporary fields such as oncology. Ultimately, the mission is to save and improve lives,” Dr. Niculescu added.

The Life x Mind App by MindX Sciences is meant to be a dashboard for your Life and Mind, a way to track how you feel and what you do, and see how they impact each other, he said. This will help you Know Thyself, Improve Thyself, as the ancient philosophers dreamed of, and live a happier, more hopeful, and more meaningful life. This app can also be used by doctors, psychologists, and coaches with their clients. Ten percent of the proceeds from each app will be donated to mental health support organizations. The SX Prevent Digital Test by MindX Sciences helps doctors and health organizations to identify and reduce suicide risk. It is based on solid research. Studies describing its components have been published in peer reviewed scientific and medical journals, Dr. Niculescu added.

Sunil Hazaray, CEO of MindX Sciences spoke on “how can my patients access Midx Precision Medicine for Mental Health products.” He provided practical logistics of finding and accessing the services by Minx and the cost as well as ways to access their services. “The MindX Dashboard by MindX Sciences is an optional product that helps doctors and health organizations track and integrate de-identified test information from other MindX products,” he said. MindX Blood Tests by MindX Sciences are being performed in a CLIA setting to track and identify suicidality risk, pain, PTSD, mood (depression/bipolar), memory/Alzheimer’s, and longevity. Efforts are being carried out to code the treatment and have them covered by the Insurance companies, thus reducing out of pocket expenses to clients/families, and thus helping prevent suicide and live healthier and safer lives.

In her closing remarks, Dr. Gotimukula, reminded AAPI fraternity of the importance of National Suicide Prevention Week, which “is an annual week-long campaign in the United States to inform and engage health professionals and the general public about suicide prevention and warning signs of suicide. She urged all “AAPI members, community organizations, the state and families to work together to work together in creating hope through action and committing to preventing suicide across America and around the world.” American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI,) the largest ethnic organization in the United States, representing nearly 100,000 physicians and Fellows of Indian origin in the United States. For more details on AAPI and its programs, please visit: www.aapiusa.org

Indian Americans Launch Global University Of Vedic Wellness

Dr. Santosh Kumar, an Indian American Community leader has announced that an International University of Vedic Wellness is being established in Greater Chicago on the solemn occasion of her father Shambu Dayal Kulshresthra’s 48th death anniversary, September 9. The mission of this Vedic University is to teach, preserve and advance the ideals and values of Santana Dharma by integrating the ancient practices with the global Hindu philosophy in this digital age.

Dr. Santosh Kumar said that this brick-and-mortar University is being built on a 38 plus acre campus and will offer Certification, Associate, Bachelor, Masters and PHD degree courses in a formal setting. Dr. Santosh Kumar said that with this giant step, she is fulfilling her lifelong dream to globally promote the precious knowledge of Vedic Scriptures, Science of Upanishads and Hindu Philosophy to all. Dr. Santosh Kumar said that initial funding of this University will be from her late husband Pramod Kumar’s Trust fund and her family personally.

Dr. Santosh Kumar reiterated the need to clear the misconception in the context of Hindu/Hindutva and offer the opportunity to learn about Vedic Sciences to all in North America which will enable them to live their life to the fullest. Dr. Santosh Kumar acknowledged Dr. Vijay G. Prabhakar’s relentless crusade to safeguard India’s secularism in this digital age and drew inspiration from Dr. VGP’s inclusive, pragmatic leadership in confidently launching this giant initiative.

Dr. Vasavi Chakka, Executive Director, Board of Regents, International University of Vedic Wellness, Chicago, USA in her introductory remarks congratulated Dr. Mrs Santosh Kumar for her foresight in establishing this full-fledged university at a time when twenty ” so called universities ” are launching a scathing attack on Hinduism in America by hosting a ” Dismantling the Global Hindutva Agenda ” in Washington D.C. from today Sept 9- Sept.11.

Dr. Chakka said that the more, we Hindu Americans are provoked, we only would respond by doing more good to our fellow citizens. That is our Hindu Dharma and teachings. The birth of this major University is a direct response to this dastardly attack today on the Hindu faith and Hindutva religion perpetuated by vested interests cloaked as academicians, she added.

Dr. VGP donates $100,000 dollars to Vedic wellness university to establish Danny k. Davis inter faith chair.  Dr. Vijay G Prabhakar, Community Activist & Renowned Public Health Physician announced a contribution of $100,000 to the International University of Vedic Wellness Chicago, an Independent registered educational society in State of Illinois to establish an Inter Faith Chair in the name of U.S. Congressman Danny K. Davis to teach the Hindu Philosophy of religious tolerance and also basic tenets of other faiths in this Vedic University. In making the contribution, Dr. Prabhakar stressed that we minorities hailing from India must not ever forget what India gave us Christians and other minorities, that which we still are receiving without any bias, the freedom to practice our faiths, prosper and co-exist like nowhere else in the world.

U.S. Congressman Danny K. Davis graciously accepted the honor of having the University’s Inter Faith Chair endowed in his name. Acharya Rohit Joshi of North Eastern Illinois University gave the invocational prayer and said that such a full-fledged Vedic University is the first of its kind in North America. Rohit Joshi appealed to all, to make this International University of Vedic Wellness Chicago, a World class institution by contributing financially, academically, and volunteering with your skills sets and talents.

Leaders from across the country who were present and spoke at the press meet which was live streamed included Dr. S. V. Anchan, CEO, Safe Sea Group, New Jersey, Dr. Clarence Beals, CEO, Jordans Dreams, Chicago, Dr. Rani Youseffzai, Vice Chair, Congressman Danny Davis’ Multi Ethnic Advisory Task Force, Dr. Andre Ellis, CEO, No Adults Left Behind, Chicago, Neil Khot, National Chair, Indian American Business Coalition, USA, Dr. Ravi Govindaraj, Vice President, World Federation of Tamil Youth, USA, Dr. Anasha Holiday, Chief Community Outreach, The Global Eye-Digital Monthly and Anica Dubey, Global Outreach Chair, American Multi Ethnic Coalition, USA . Dr. Roger Richardson, President, Rhema University, Florida presented the Rhema University’s Red Ribbon Honor Award to Dr. Santosh Kumar, an alumnus of Rhema University for her indefatigable efforts to ground break this historic International University of VEDIC WELLNESS Chicago.

Lion Hina Trivedi, International Woman Activist roared in her closing remarks that all Hindu Americans must wake up and stand up for the Hindu Dharma and Values. Hina Trivedi said that this opportunity will not present itself again, it is now that we all unite and act together while we speak, sign petitions, do pooja, visit temples which are all great but only we can protect and preserve our Santana Dharma which is the basic tenet of Hinduism. Hina Trivedi saluted the Community leaders from different faiths and ethnicities who joined the Visionary Dr. Santosh Kumar today in this bold, giant step in establishing a permanent brick & mortar University to teach HINDUTVA globally beyond our lifetime.

Texas’ Abortion Ban Is Most Restrictive Ever

Texas law that bans abortion as early as six weeks into pregnancy took effect at midnight on Wednesday after the Supreme Court failed to act on emergency requests from abortion providers. Nearly 24 hours later, the court said late Wednesday night it split 5-4 and denied the providers’ emergency request to block the law. The unsigned order, issued by the Supreme Court’s conservative majority, said their decision focused on procedural issues and did not amount to a ruling on the constitutionality of the law, and that other appeals could be pursued.

However, even if the ban is ultimately blocked, it will have a lasting impact on Texas and provide a roadmap for other conservative states to enact similar abortion restrictions. Senate Bill 8, signed by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott in May, bars abortions once a doctor can detect fetal cardiac activity, which is often before many people know they are pregnant. The ban would prevent at least 85% of abortions sought in Texas, according to abortion rights advocates and providers. It is now the most restrictive abortion law in the nation; at least 12 other states have passed six-week abortion bans, but all have been blocked from going into effect.  “Texas politicians will have effectively overturned Roe v. Wade,” Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, said shortly before the law went into effect, referring to the landmark 1973 decision that established the constitutionally protected right to abortion before a fetus is viable.

The Texas law uses a different tactic than many of the other abortion restrictions passed by Republican state legislatures in recent years—which is precisely what has made it difficult for courts to block it. The law signals a new frontier in the national fight over abortion and could mark a critical new legal strategy for conservative legislatures in how they write restrictive abortion laws in the future. John Seago, legislative director for Texas Right to Life, which helped write the legislation, says he has already heard from other states that are interested in copying this approach and the group is drafting legislation for some of them already. “This promises an alternative to that typical path that pro-life laws go down,” he says. “This is a valid public policy tool and we’re excited to see how it works.”

Instead of allowing government officials to enforce the abortion ban as they do with most laws, this law says that private citizens can step in by suing abortion providers and anyone who “aids and abets” a patient obtaining an abortion after six weeks. That means clinics and their staffs could be sued, as well as patients’ family members, or anyone who drives someone to a clinic, provides financial assistance, offers religious or genetic counseling or even “intends” to do any of those actions. The plaintiffs do not need to have any connection to the person they suspect of violating the law, and if they win, the law says they are entitled to damages of at least $10,000 plus legal fees. Because so many people can now legally bring these abortion lawsuits in Texas, courts could theoretically be overwhelmed with cases. “It does open the floodgates to lawsuits, and even frivolous lawsuits, just to harass abortion providers,” says Brigitte Amiri, deputy director of the Reproductive Freedom Project at the ACLU, which is part of the coalition of abortion providers and advocates challenging the law.

But the way the law is written also makes it difficult to challenge. Usually, when a state passes a new law restricting abortion access, abortion rights groups and providers sue state officials alleging they are violating people’s constitutionally protected rights. In this case, there is no specific individual tasked with enforcing the law, so there was no obvious entity for the providers to sue. The ACLU, the Center for Reproductive Rights and a collection of other groups and abortion providers filed suit this summer against a slew of officials they said would be responsible for enforcing the law, but a series of complex procedural developments left them asking the Supreme Court for a last-minute intervention.

“The Constitution, including Roe v. Wade, only applies against the government, it doesn’t apply against private individuals,” says Laurence Tribe, a leading constitutional law expert at Harvard. “That’s what makes this really dangerous. It’s a kind of vigilante justice, circumventing all of the mechanisms we have for making sure that the law is enforced fairly, and that it’s not enforced in a way that violates people’s rights.” Even if the courts temporarily block the law, complications remain. The law includes a provision that says providers could still be sued for violating the law if a court decision is eventually reversed and the law goes back into effect, meaning providers could be sued over an action that was technically legal at the time.

For now the law stands in Texas. Texas Right to Life has set up a website to solicit tips about people who allegedly violate the law and collect information from those who want to help the group enforce it. The website has been flooded with fake information from those who support abortion rights, but Seago says that has not hampered the group’s efforts. “We’ve set up the tip line, we’ve built the networks, we’ve been working with pro-life attorneys and activists around the state, so that if [providers] decide that they’re going to try to commit illegal abortions anyway, we will be prepared to do what the law authorizes us to do, which is to bring private lawsuits holding them accountable,” Seago says.

The law will “immediately and catastrophically reduce abortion access in Texas,” the group of providers said in its emergency filing to the Supreme Court on Monday. “Patients who can scrape together resources will be forced to attempt to leave the state to obtain an abortion, and many will be delayed until later in pregnancy. The remaining Texans who need an abortion will be forced to remain pregnant against their will or to attempt to end their pregnancies without medical supervision.” The Supreme Court’s five most reliably conservative justices voted to reject the emergency filing. Chief Justice John Roberts joined the three liberal justices in dissent. Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan each wrote separate opinions saying they would have blocked the law because it is an unconstitutional ban on abortion.

Abortion providers and abortion rights advocates say the law will disproportionately impact low-income patients who already often struggle to access health care. The average distance a Texas patient will have to travel to obtain an abortion will now rise from 12 to 248 miles, a 20-fold increase, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research group that supports abortion rights.

Is Breakfast Really Good For You?

You’ve heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. But you’ve also probably heard that it’s fine to skip. A 2019 research review published in The BMJ only adds to the debate: It analyzed 13 breakfast studies and found that eating a morning meal was not a reliable way to lose weight, and that skipping breakfast likely does not lead to weight gain. So should you say goodbye to your eggs and toast? Here’s what the science says about breakfast.

Does eating breakfast help you lose weight?

The weight-loss question has been central to the breakfast debate for years, in part because several high-profile studies — some of which were funded by cereal companies, including Quaker and Kellogg — claimed that eating early in the day was necessary for controlling weight. When looking at research that isn’t funded by the food industry, however, the answer is less clear. Some studies have found that breakfast eaters tend to weigh less than people who skip the meal and burn more calories throughout the day. But it’s possible that lifestyle and socioeconomic factors may be driving forces here, making a person more likely to eat breakfast and also have better overall health. For example, making time for breakfast is easier for people with 9-to-5 jobs than it is for night shift workers (who research has shown face a range of health risks). Other research, including the new review, has found no strong connection between breakfast and weight loss. One paper from 2017 actually found that skipping breakfast may lead to more calorie burning — but also higher levels of inflammation in the body.

Despite all the back and forth, Sharon Collison, a registered dietitian nutritionist and a clinical instructor in nutrition at the University of Delaware, says she’s not aware of any studies that have shown that eating breakfast can make you gain weight — so there’s likely no harm in eating it. Anecdotally, Collison says she’s seen from her clients that “people who struggle with weight tend to eat more of their calories later in the day and less earlier in the day. People who don’t eat enough earlier in the day may have increased hunger and increased cravings later in the day and will end up eating more.” But more research is needed.

Is it unhealthy to skip breakfast?

Weight loss aside, Collison says she’s “totally pro-breakfast” and encourages the vast majority of her clients to eat it, for a range of reasons. “People who consume breakfast regularly often have increased physical activity. They have better dietary profiles and lower intake of snacks,” Collison says. “Skipping breakfast is associated with increased disease risk — not only obesity but diabetes, heart disease and just lower dietary quality.” One small study from 2017 suggested that breakfast-eating could improve a range of metabolic health markers, potentially improving the body’s ability to burn fat and fight chronic conditions like type 2 diabetes — at least among people who were already lean. More research is needed to know how different types of people respond to fasting, the scientists say. But what if you’re truly not hungry in the morning? Collison says that may be indicative of other problematic eating habits, like snacking at night. “If you eliminate that snacking and then wake up hungry and eat a good breakfast, your overall dietary pattern is going to be so much better, and your health status is going to be better,” Collison says.

What’s the healthiest breakfast?

Even if you’ve decided to eat breakfast, a question remains: what should you eat? A donut and coffee, Collison says, are not going to give you the same benefits as a well-balanced plate. Collison says a good morning meal incorporates four things: protein, whole grains, healthy fat and a fruit or vegetable. Research has shown that protein and fat can increase satiety and cut down on unnecessary snacking later, while whole grains and produce add nutritious fiber, vitamins and minerals. Collison recommends Greek yogurt with nuts, berries and whole-grain cereal or farro; scrambled eggs with veggies, plus toast with avocado and fruit on the side; or oatmeal made with milk, nut butter and fruit. Generally, she says she steers clients away from smoothies or juices. “I do encourage people to eat their breakfast, because you just don’t get the same sense of fullness” with a liquid.

When should you eat breakfast?

The exact timing will vary depending on a person’s needs and schedule, but Collison says a good rule of thumb is to eat within an hour of waking. “It’s kind of like putting gas in your car,” Collison says. If you’re going to work out in the morning, plan to eat something beforehand. “The quality of your workout could be compromised if you don’t fuel your body before,” Collison says. “The closer it is to the physical activity, the more you want carbohydrates and less fat and fiber, because that will take longer to digest.” Collison recommends a banana, oatmeal or cereal. If you’ve done a vigorous workout, like running, for 45 minutes or more, you’ll likely need to eat again afterward for recovery. Something that replenishes fluid, carbs and protein — like chocolate milk — is a good option, as is a banana with peanut butter or cheese, crackers and fruit. A recovery meal probably isn’t necessary if you’ve done lighter exercise, like walking, Collison says.

COVID-19 Vaccines Are Effective At Reducing Severe Illness And Hospitalization

New evidence on breakthrough infections indicates people who tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 after 1 or 2 vaccine doses had significantly lower odds of severe disease, hospitalization, or Long COVID than unvaccinated. http://www.thelancet.com/journals/laninf/article/PIIS1473-3099(21)00460-6/fulltext

  • After two vaccines doses, the odds of hospitalisation were reduced by more than two-thirds and breakthrough infections were almost two times more likely to be completely asymptomatic.
  • The odds of long COVID-19 (symptoms continuing for 28 days or more after testing positive) were also reduced by more than half for people who received two vaccine doses.
  • People over age 60 who were frail or had underlying conditions had higher odds of a breakthrough infection, especially after only one dose.
  • The findings could have implications for health policies around timing between vaccine doses, potential COVID-19 vaccine booster shots, and for continuing personal protective measures, including mask-wearing and social distancing.

People who tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 after one or two vaccine doses had significantly lower odds of severe disease or hospitalisation than unvaccinated people, according to a large-scale study investigating COVID-19 breakthrough infections published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases journal.   Researchers also found that the odds of experiencing long COVID (illness lasting 28 days or more after a positive test) were cut in half for people who received two vaccines doses.

People most vulnerable to a breakthrough infection after their first vaccine dose included frail older adults (60 years and older), and older adults living with underlying conditions such as obesity, heart disease, kidney disease, and lung disease. In all age groups, people living in deprived areas, such as densely populated urban settings, were more likely to experience a breakthrough infection. These factors were most significantly associated with a post-vaccination infection after receiving the first vaccine dose and before receiving a second dose.

“We are at a critical point in the pandemic as we see cases rising worldwide due to the delta variant. Breakthrough infections are expected and don’t diminish the fact that these vaccines are doing exactly what they were designed to do—save lives and prevent serious illness. Other research has shown a mortality rate as high as 27% for hospitalised COVID-19 patients.

We can greatly reduce that number by keeping people out of the hospital in the first place through vaccination. Our findings highlight the crucial role vaccines play in larger efforts to prevent COVID-19 infections, which should still include other personal protective measures such as mask-wearing, frequent testing, and social distancing,” says study co-lead author Dr Claire Steves of King’s College London, UK. [1]

Dr. Vemuri S. Murthy: A Global Champion Of Resuscitation Medicine

World Heart Day is being observed on September 29th this year with the objective of raising awareness of heart disease and promoting “Healthy Heart” lifestyles. “Human heart disease is the number one Global Public Health problem,” says Dr. Vemuri S. Murthy. He is an advocate of Community and Physician resuscitation education. And training for more than three decades in the USA and India. “It is disheartening to see patients with reversible health conditions die suddenly due to lack of both Community Health Awareness and Timely Emergency Care based on Evidence-based Resuscitation Practices”.

An alumnus of Guntur Medical College, Guntur and All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi (General Surgery), and a former Chairman of Anesthesiology Department at West Suburban Medical Center, Oak Park, Illinois, as a “Pioneer of Resuscitation Medicine in India” Dr. Murthy hailed. Also the reputed leader of organized medicine in the USA, Dr. Murthy has served as the President of the Chicago Medical Society and the Indian American Medical Association, Illinois.

Heart disease Indian CPR ProjectAffiliated with various US medical organizations and institutions, the soft-spoken Dr. Murthy is a Resuscitation Educator and Researcher, Advisor to Resuscitation Training Centers, Champion of Community Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR), and a Leader of US Organized Medicine.  His Mission has been “Saving Lives” in Sudden Cardiac Arrests and common heart issues.

Global evidence-based and heart disease newspaper articles information has proven that Bystander CPR is life-saving in sudden cardiac arrest. The latter can be recognized by the sudden collapse of the person without any breathing, pulse, or consciousness.   According to the articles about the heart of the American Heart Association, there are more than 356,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests annually in the U.S. Nearly 90% of them are fatal. Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR), if performed immediately, can double or triple a cardiac arrest victim’s chances of survival. Heart attack news articles say that in the majority of cases, immediate Hands-only CPR may have similar survival outcomes. And it is comparable to the conventional CPR performed with both chest compressions and breaths.

Dr. Murthy is a guide and co-investigator of a ground-breaking Indian Resuscitation Research Project and Cardiac Arrest Registry, Warangal Area Out of Hospital Cardiac Arrest Registry 2018, based on an international format. He contributed to “CPR” and “Women’s Heart Health” videos and educational articles in news media and actively involved with Indo-US collaborated comprehensive Cardiac Care Projects.

Quoting evidence-based studies done, Dr. Murthy, a past President of the Chicago Medical Society and current adjunct faculty in the Department of Emergency Medicine at the University of Illinois College of Medicine, Chicago, Illinois, points to the fact that 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. 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.

Heart disease Dr. VemuriThe Founder of Chicago Medical Society’s Community CPR Project Saving More Illinois Lives through Education (SMILE,) Dr. Murthy, takes upon himself the life-long mission of saving lives through effective preventive measures. He says, “Almost one in three among South Asians may die from heart disease before 65 years of age.”

What causes heart problems in India? Heart disease remains the number one cause of death. Common risk factors are smoking and a diet high in sugar, salt, refined grains, and fat. A large number of South Asians appear to have “insulin resistance”, a condition in which the body does not utilize insulin efficiently, resulting in Diabetes, which leads to a significant number of heart-related problems and serious heart conditions. Lack of adequate exercise, stress, and genetic predisposition are also contributing factors,” adds Dr. Murthy, a distinguished Chicago Physician.  Illinois offers Project SMILE programs at various community events. International dignitaries, Members of the US Congress, Illinois Governor, and Legislators, and Indian Consul Generals commend it by.

A Visiting Professor of Indian Medical Universities, Dr. Murthy has been promoting resuscitation courses for nearly three decades in India. Indian Instructor Faculty trains thousands of physicians, medical students, and nurses with his guidance. He pioneered an “Indian Medical University Resuscitation Education and Training Model” at Dr. NTR University of Health Sciences, Andhra Pradesh (2012). He conducted simulation-based advanced Resuscitation Workshops with international faculty and guided mass community CPR events. He chaired several Resuscitation Conventions in India and organized workshops at prestigious Indian Medical Institutions such as AIIMS, New Delhi.

Heart disease Vemuri S MurthyDr. Murthy served the American Heart Association in different capacities. Such as National and International Faculty, Member of the International Committee, and Advisor to AHA International Training Centers, Also as  AHA Liaison to Medical Organizations in the USA too. He co-chaired programs at the AHA Scientific Sessions and delivered Resuscitation-based lectures at prestigious US medical institutions.

He also contributed to AHA’s “Saving Children’s Lives” project in Gujarat, India.  AHA leadership recognized his decades of service: “For Volunteer Leadership in Support of Lifesaving Mission of the AHA and its Emergency Cardiovascular Care Programs”. Dr. Murthy has been actively involved with AAPI as the Chairman of the “AAPI-AHA Liaison Committee”, “Global Resuscitation Committee”, and “Editorial Board Advisor” of the peer-reviewed Journal of AAPI (JAAPI). He also initiated an International AAPI Webinar Continuing Medical Education (CME) program (2020), an IAMA, IL Community CPR Project (2015), and an Indo-US CPR Research Project involving Resident Physicians from US Medical Universities (2016).

In a recent interview for a heart health article 2020, Dr. Vemuri Murthy shared his thoughts and concerns regarding the current status of the out-of-hospital cardiac arrests and diminishing bystander resuscitation help during the COVID-19 pandemic. “Bystander CPR with Defibrillation is a Blessing of Contemporary Medicine enhancing the survival of Sudden Cardiac Arrest Victims. Saving Lives with Best Practices should be the top Healthcare Priority for every Nation,” says Dr. Murthy, who hails from the state of Andhra Pradesh. He has devoted his entire life towards learning and sharing his knowledge and expertise with the noble cause of Heart Education.   Dr. Vemuri Murthy’s contributed to Global Health, Resuscitation Medicine, and Community Service. And this have been widely recognized through the numerous awards and recognitions that have been bestowed on him.

Dr. Murthy was honored with a Medal from US Congressmen as “Global Champion of Resuscitation,” “Lifetime Achievement Award” and “Distinguished Physician Award” from the Indian American Medical Association, Illinois.”

Chicago Medical Society gave the “Henrietta Herbolsheimer Public Service Award” and “Leadership Award” to Dr. Murthy. Also, the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin bestowed on him the “Pioneer of Resuscitation Medicine in India” and “Most Distinguished Service” Awards. And, he received the “Global Champion of Health Award” from the Global Health Consortium, USA and the “Paul Harris International Service Award” from the Rotary Club and “Global Humanitarian Award” from The Institute of Medicine of Chicago “for providing voluntary, longstanding, and International Humanitarian Health Services” along with commendations from Indian Medical Universities and Medical Societies such as Indian Medical Association and Cardiological Society of India.

Indeed, Dr. Vemuri S. Murthy is truly a “Global Champion of Resuscitation Medicine!”

America’s Failure To Deliver Sufficient Vaccines Worldwide Will Cost The U.S. Its Global Leadership

Since the Marshall Plan to rebuild Europe and Japan after World War II, the U.S. has exhibited global leadership on many different fronts. But failure by the U.S. to distribute sufficient Covid-19 vaccines worldwide is costing the country its global reputation — and there will likely be economic fallout, as well. The loss of the U.S.’s global leadership could have lasting impacts on global peace and prosperity. Madeleine Albright famously called the U.S. “the world’s indispensable nation” during her tenure as Ambassador to the United Nations. However, when we look at the U.S.’s track record thus far in dispensing doses of Covid vaccines to the developing nations, the country no longer fits that description. Instead, China has taken the lead on sharing doses of its vaccines with the developing world. This is a propagandistic victory for China, even though vaccines from Sinovac and Sinopharm reportedly have lower efficacy than the vaccines from Pfizer PFE +0.3% and Moderna.

China plans to export two billion doses of the Covid-19 vaccine this year, including 770 million doses it says it has shipped already. In contrast, the U.S. has shipped 110 million doses worldwide. In addition, in June, the U.S. pledged to donate 500 million Covid-19 vaccine doses from Pfizer to lower-income countries. Compared to a global population of nearly 8 billion people, the U.S.’s pledge falls far short of what is needed. According to Our World in Data, 30.2% of the world population has received at least one dose of a Covid-19, and only 15.6% is fully vaccinated. In low-income countries, however, just 1.1% of the population has received one dose.

Vaccine inequity is a global reality. While the U.S. is trying to incentivize Americans to get vaccinated, people in developing countries are protesting a lack of access. As Forbes observed, Covid vaccine distribution has been “extremely uneven.” The U.S. needs to step up its global vaccine sharing, not only to keep pace with China, but also to ensure Covid-19 inoculations do not become yet another divide between “have” and “have-not” nations.

The vaccine divide is producing an uneven map of global economic recovery, “a lopsided global recovery” that is widening the economic gap between rich and poor countries, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Overall, the IMF projects a global economic growth rate of 6 percent in 2021, but that is largely due to the economic recovery in larger, developed nations; the expected 2021 growth rate for low-income, developing countries is only 3.9 percent. IMF’s chief economist, Gita Gopinath, has called for “multilateral action” to promote “rapid, worldwide access to vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics.” Among the benefits of such actions, Gopinath added, would be adding “trillions of dollars to global economic growth.”

The IMF has put forth a proposal to end the pandemic that calls for vaccinating at least 40 percent of the population of every country by year-end, and at least 60 percent by mid-2022. To reach this goal, at least one billion vaccine doses would need to be shared this year. Other steps include vaccine producers prioritizing deliveries to developing countries and removing trade restrictions on vaccine inputs and finished vaccines. Importantly, regional vaccine capacity would need to be established to ensure sufficient production and distribution in markets around the world. Increasing global access to vaccines clearly falls on the shoulders of the U.S. and other developed nations. One way to achieve quicker global vaccine distribution would be for developed nations to support COVAX, a partnership of several global health organizations, which could accelerate the development and manufacture of Covid-19 vaccines and improve fair and equitable access worldwide.

The U.S. government could also apply pressure on the major Covid vaccine makers to release their patents and share their technology, allow regional production of the vaccines to improve global access, and also lower the price of their vaccines. Pharma companies such as Pfizer and Moderna have been reaping windfall profits from the sale of vaccines. To illustrate, in the first three months of the year alone, Pfizer generated $3.5 billion in revenue from the Covid vaccines—nearly one-quarter of its total revenue. Moderna’s revenues from the vaccine totaled $1.73 billion in the first quarter of 2021, and it has projected Covid-19 vaccine sales of $19.2 billion this year. International business leaders have a role as well, particularly to help employees and their dependents around the globe to get vaccinated. From a humanitarian perspective, such efforts will help secure greater equity in vaccine supplies worldwide. From a business perspective, it could very well help preserve the security of the global supply chain and contribute to worldwide economic growth.

The U.S. has a history of global leadership and distributing the vaccine as widely as possible would add to that legacy. While the U.S. has lagged China in dispensing vaccines to developing countries, there is still time to pick up the slack. Everyone would benefit from wide vaccine distribution in the global community, in terms of health, wellness, and economic growth.

Dr. B.K. Misra First Indian Receives Lifetime Achievement Award from American Association of Neurological Surgeons

Well-known Mumbai-based neurosurgeon Dr. B.K. Misra has been conferred the prestigious American Association of Neurological Surgeons’ ‘International Lifetime Achievement Award in Neurosurgery’, an official said here Aug. 26. Misra is the head of the Department of Surgery and Division of Neurosurgery and Gamma Knife Radiosurgery at the P.D. Hinduja Hospital here. He received the International Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS) at its Annual Scientific Meeting 2021, Orlando. He is the first Indian ever to be bestowed with this award. The felicitation ceremony was conducted through an online event amidst the pandemic. AANS is the world’s apex body of neurosurgeons. “We have the best of tech, infrastructure and skills at par with the best in the world to treat the most complex neurosurgical conditions and even have the potential to become the destination for neurological treatment,” Misra said on receiving the award.

The hospital’s CEO, Gautam Khanna, lauded Misra’s medical accomplishments and accolades as a testament to his dedication and treating thousands of patients under his care. Misra, president of the Asian Australasian Society of Neurological Surgeons and the World Federation of Skull Base Societies, is also first vice president of the World Federation of Neurosurgical Societies. AANS, the world’s most prestigious apex body of neurosurgeons, has bestowed its highest international distinction honoring Dr. Misra’s lifetime of achievements in neurosurgery in India and globally. Dr. Misra is Honorary President of Asian Australasian Society of Neurological Surgeons (AASNS), is the 1st Vice President of World Federation of Neurosurgical Societies (WFNS), and President of the World Federation of Skull Base Societies, all leading international neurosurgical societies.

Dr. Misra has a long list of “firsts” to his name. He was the first to execute Image-Guided Aneurysm Microsurgery globally and the first in South Asia to perform Gamma Knife Radiosurgery. Acoustic Neuroma Surgery, Vascular Neurosurgery (Aneurysm, AVM), Skull Base Surgery, Pituitary Surgery, Gamma Knife Radiosurgery, Awake Craniotomy, Minimally Invasive Neurosurgery, and Surgery of Complex Brain and Spine Disorder are among Dr. B. K. Misra’s areas of expertise in neurosurgical patient care. He was the first neurosurgeon to do Awake Craniotomy for brain tumours in India. He’s also the recipient of the prestigious Dr. B C Roy National Award as Eminent Medical Person of the Year, 2018 (the Highest Medical Award in India).

On the occasion of receiving the award, Dr. B K Misra said, “It’s my privilege and honor to receive the International Lifetime Achievement award from AANS. A recognition like this, from peers, means a lot to me personally and professionally and inspires me further. I would like to express my gratitude to my family and P.D Hinduja Hospital for their constant support and to my patients for having bestowed their trust on me. Today in India, we have the best of technology, infrastructure and skills, at par with the best in the world, to treat the most complex neurosurgical conditions. We have the potential to become a destination for neurological treatment .” With a long string of credits and firsts, he was the first in the world to execute an Image-Guided Aneurysm Microsurgery, first in South Asia to perform a Gamma Knife Radiosurgery, and first in India to perform an Awake Craniotomy for brain tumors. Earlier, Misra received the Dr. B.C. Roy National Award-2018, and contributes through numerous publications to improve the quality of education in neurosurgery and facilitate spreading the treatment for neurosurgical patients in poor countries globally.

AAPI Launches Adopt-A-Village, A Rural Health Initiative In India Ambassador Taranjit Singh Sandhu & Consul Generals From All 5 Consulates In US Applaud AAPI’s Efforts

Continuing with its magnificent efforts to help their motherland, members of American Associati9on of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI), the premier medical organization in the United States initiated Adopt-A-Village, a Rural Health Initiative in India during a virtual launch event on Friday, August 27, 2021. Chaired by, Dr. Satheesh Kathula, the much needed and popular program has Dr. Anupama Gotimukula, Dr. Jagan Ailinani and Dr. Ram Singh as members of the Committee.

In a rare show of support for AAPI, honorable Consul Generals of Chicago, New York, Houston, Atlanta and the Deputy CG of San Francisco participated live during the launch of this noble initiative. Ambassador of India to US, Taranjit Singh Sandhu joined the meeting with his message and lauded the numerous efforts of AAPI for India, especially during the pandemic.

Dr. Anupama Gotimukula, President, AAPI, in her welcome address, referred to the objectives of Adopt-A-Village. “A lot of efforts is being put into this initiative, “Adopt a Village” Project where AAPI in collaboration with Global TeleClinics, Inc., plans to adopt 75 villages in honor of 75 years of India’s independence,” she said.  “As India celebrates her 75th anniversary Independence Day celebrations, AAPI has planned to adopt 75 villages in India spread across the states of Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Telangana, where the rural people of India will be offered ‘Free Health Screenings in 75 Rural Villages’ for Anemia (CBC), DM (HbA1C), High Cholesterol, CKD, Malnutrition, Kidney Disease, Malnutrition, Obesity, and Hypoxemia.  Results analyzed by GTC and further action recommended by their team of experts will be also, followed up. This is a small contribution from AAPI to Mother India in celebration of Azadi Ka  Amrut Mahotsav.” Dr. Anupama thanked the AAPI members for their generous support for this noble work of AAPI and for sponsoring their ancestral villages and going back to their roots.

In his opening remarks, Dr. Satheesh Kathula, Chairman of AAPI’s Adopt A Village Program pointed out about the need for this noble initiative. He said, India has nearly 700,000 villages. Three out of four Indians and about 77 percent of the poor live in villages. The majority of the population has no access to safe drinking water and sanitation. The needs in these rural areas are unlimited and the scope to work are endless. “By adopting one village at a time and working with the government and NGOs, NRIs can make a difference,” he said. Dr. Kathula referred to some of the programs in place in several rural villages, including supply of Cloth mask, clean drinking water and free health care screening that has benefitted thousands of people Across India.

Dr. Ravi Kolli, President-Elect of AAPI, said, “While India has made substantial progress in health care as evidenced  by the fact that life expectancy in India at birth now is 71 years as opposed to 58 years in 1990 and 41 years in 1960, there are significant gaps and divergence in health metrics in different regions in India. India, thus needs to redouble and continue its efforts and dedicate resources to tackle these perennial challenges. The post graduate training of physicians specializing in Family Medicine in every teaching institution will create a motivated and well trained family physicians to address these deficits and deliver accessible, affordable, economical and continuous preventive and primary care to rural as well urban poor populations to raise health outcomes substantially all across India,” he said.

“An individual can make a tremendous difference in the lives of many in India by adopting a village,” said Dr. Jagan Ailinani, who was instrumental in founding this noble program and set an example by adopting his own birth village in the state of Telangana in India. “A majority of the NRI’s hail from villages and would like to do their part to bring progress to villages in our state and country.”

Dr. Ram Singh said: “NRIs can adopt the village they hail from originally and make a significant contribution towards its development. There is a real will and desire on the part of governments, both at the state and the center to work with NRIs and NGOs to bring development to rural India.”

Dr. Kusum Punjabi, Chair of AAPI BOT said, “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 Adopting a village in India with an ongoing commitment for investment.”

Ambassador Taranjit Singh, in his message to AAPI members, said, “As India is entering 75th year of independence, honoring men and women, who fought for the freedom, we rededicate ourselves to build an India where the dreams and aspirations of India’s 13 billion people are realized.” He urged the Diaspora community to come forward to honor INDIA by joining in the year-long celebrations.

Dr. Jayesh Shah, past President of AAPI, introduced Consul General of India in Houston, Aseem Mahajan. In his address on “Indo-US Relationship In Healthcare -Rural Health Perspective” Ambassador Mahajan told the AAPI members: “You are true the heroes and partners with us, and you make us proud, especially during the critically vital Covid times.” Urging the Diaspora to contribute towards strengthening of India’s partnership with the US, Mr. Mahajan focused on India-US partnership on various health related issues, while stressing the many healthcare initiatives by the Government of India. “AAPI can play a big role in rural health, which has been a priority for the Government of India,” he said. He thanked and appreciated the many Doctors, who are already doing similar noble initiatives, helping the rural communities have access to clean drinking water. “We can work together, collaborating and sharing of knowledge and expertise, including Medical Education,” he told AAPI.

Dr.  Suresh Reddy, past President of AAPI and currently an elected Trustee of Oakbrook Village in Illinois, after introducing the Consul General of India in Chicago, Amit Kumar, announced that he is adopting his native village in the state of Telengana. In his address, Mr. Kumar spoke about “Rural Health In India, The Current Situation,” and focused on technological areas in healthcare development in the rural parts of India. “Your activities and the message to spread awareness on Covid and for providing PPEs to India are highly appreciated,” he told AAPI members, pointing to the fact that India has vaccinated over 600 million people and he hoped that India will offer vaccines to majority of India’s vast population soon.

Introduced by Dr. Sudhakar Jonnalagadda, immediate past President of India, Consul General of India in Atlanta Dr. Swati Kulkarni focused on “How AAPI and Doctors can Help India.” She said, “It’s important and laudable that you have undertaken to help India during the 75th anniversary of India’s Independence. Dr. Kulkarni shared her views on how AAPI and the government of India can collaborate in: Diplomacy for development, where “India needs overseas expertise, and you are best suited to offer,” she said, while calling upon Indian American Doctors to be part of India’s efforts to enhance the GDP. “India’s healthcare industry is growing rapidly there is more scope for growth with expanded pharma industry and medical tourism. She stressed the need for AAPI’s role in enhancing India-US political partnership, where AAPI is “a major stake holder,” she said.

Dr. Mukesh Nigam introduced Consul General of India in New York, Randhir Jaiswal. In his address on “Rural Health in India: The Challenges and Solutions” Ambassador Jaiswal said, “This noble initiative by AAPI has become more meaningful especially during the 75th anniversary of India’s Independence.” Reminding AAPI members of Modi’s call to rebuild a new India, he said, “AAPI’s initiative is even more meaningful and fits well into PM’s vision for India.” He said, ‘We applaud and thank AAPI for coming forward to help India, especially during the covid pandemic.”

Dr. Sujeeth Punnam, a renowned cardiologist introduced Deputy Consul General of India in San Francisco, Rajesh Naik. While speaking on “Rural Health, What India can learn from Developed Nations” Mr. Naik said, “AAPI has provided tremendous support as India and Indian community were struggling with the challenges of Covid. You rose to the occasion and came forward to help and support, which have been highly appreciated by the Diaspora.” During the 2nd Covid surge, AAPI stepped forward and have sent out Millions of Dollars of medical supplies to Indi, he said. While pointing to the many challenges of healthcare in rural India, Mr. Naik urged how AAPI could offer tele medical consultation in rural India, especially focusing on the preventive aspect of health in India. .

Dr. Anjana Samadder, Vice President of AAPI, said, “By adopting one village at a time and working with the government and NGOs, NRIs can make a huge difference in the lives of millions of people in India. Each project will involve a tripartite partnership between the NRI, state government and a local NGO.”

Dr. Krishan Kumar, Treasurer of AAPI pointed out, “The cost for adopting a village depends on various factors, including the population of the villages, the services that are required and what one is willing to commit to for the welfare and progress of the village one is committing to adopt.”

Dr. Lokesh Edara, chair for AAPI’s global initiative, while focusing on International medicine and how India is lagging behind in medical care, while urging the Government of India, pointed to how India needs to focus on Post Graduate Medical professionals rather than having Doctors with under graduate degree alone.

Dr. Gokula Murthy spoke about “Adopt-A-Village” by Global tele-clinics and shared with the audience as to how his firm has strived on ‘Blending medicine and technology,” while pointing to the “great opportunity to enhance the effectiveness of tele-health through awareness, education and sustainable development in all villages.”

There is no instant solution for rural India’s myriad problems. But by adopting one village at a time and working with the government and NGOs, NRIs can make a difference. Over time, an improved village could lead to an improved region, state and country.

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

Dr. Gotimukula, urged “AAPI members to consider joining this movement and adopt a village. May be your own village of origin. 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.” AAPI members/families can sponsor a Village by emailing to: [email protected] and [email protected].  For more details, please do visit: www. aapiusa.org

Pandemic Politics and the End of the Old International Order

The COVID-19 pandemic killed millions, infected hundreds of millions, and laid bare the deep vulnerabilities and inequalities of our interconnected world. The accompanying economic crash was the worst since the Great Depression, with the International Monetary Fund estimating that it will cost over $22 trillion in global wealth over the next few years. Colin Kahl and Thomas Wright’s Aftershocks offers a riveting and comprehensive account of one of the strangest and most consequential years on record. Drawing on interviews with officials from around the world and extensive research, the authors tell the story of how nationalism and major power rivalries constrained the response to the worst pandemic in a century. They demonstrate the myriad ways in which the crisis exposed the limits of the old international order and how the reverberations from COVID-19 will be felt for years to come.

The COVID-19 crisis is the greatest shock to world order since World War II. Millions have been infected and killed. The economic crash caused by the pandemic is the worst since the Great Depression, with the International Monetary Fund estimating that it will cost over $9 trillion of global wealth in the next few years. Many will be left impoverished and hungry. Fragile states will be further hollowed out, creating conditions ripe for conflict and mass displacement. Over two decades of progress in reducing extreme poverty was erased, just in the space of a few months. Already fragile states in every corner of the globe were further hollowed out. The brewing clash between the United States and China boiled over and the worldwide contest between democracy and authoritarianism deepened. It was a truly global crisis necessitating a collective response—and yet international cooperation almost entirely broke down, with key world leaders hardly on speaking terms.

Meanwhile, international institutions and alliances already under strain before the pandemic are teetering, while the United States and China, already at loggerheads before the crisis, are careening toward a new Cold War. China’s secrecy and assertiveness have shattered hopes that it will become a responsible stakeholder in the international order. Aftershocks is both a riveting journalistic account of one of the strangest years on record and a comprehensive analysis of the pandemic’s ongoing impact on the foundational institutions and ideas that have shaped the modern world. This is the first crisis in decades without a glimmer of American leadership and it shows—there has been no international cooperation on a quintessential global challenge. Every country has followed its own path—nationalizing supplies, shutting their borders, and largely ignoring the rest of the world.

The international order the United States constructed seven decades ago is in tatters, and the world is adrift. None of this came out of the blue. Public health experts and intelligence analysts had warned for a decade that a pandemic of this sort was inevitable. The crisis broke against a global backdrop of rising nationalism, backsliding democracy, declining public trust in governments, mounting rebellion against the inequalities produced by globalization, resurgent great power competition, and plummeting international cooperation.

And yet, there are some signs of hope. The COVID-19 crisis reminds us of our common humanity and shared fate. The public has, for the most part, responded stoically and with kindness. Some democracies—South Korea, Taiwan, Germany, New Zealand, among others—have responded well. America may emerge from the crisis with a new resolve to deal with non-traditional threats, like pandemic disease, and a new demand for effective collective action with other democratic nations. America may also finally be forced to come to grips with our nation’s inadequacies, and to make big changes at home and abroad that will set the stage for opportunities the rest of this century holds. But one thing is certain: America and the world will never be the same again.

Praise for Aftershocks

“COVID-19 has fundamentally changed the international order, and Aftershocks is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand what that means for the future. Written by two of America’s leading strategists, this ambitious and engaging book puts the pandemic in historical context and makes an important case for how, in the wake of this crisis, we can build a better international system.” —Madeleine K. Albright

“Colin Kahl and Tom Wright are two of our nation’s leading analysts of geopolitics and American foreign policy. Aftershocks will provide a vital first take on the global response to COVID-19, the worldwide consequences of the pandemic, and what it all means for the future of international order.” —Susan Rice

“US Physician Larry Brilliant once said, ‘Outbreaks are inevitable. Epidemics are optional.’ Aftershocks is a timely, gripping, and necessary call to action, showing the steps governments, international organizations and citizens must take to provide a more reliable and sustainable security for us all.” —Samantha Power

“If you want to understand how and why the pandemic is reshaping the international order and revealing the dangers of unchecked nationalism, Aftershocks is the place to start. Informed by history, reporting, and a truly global perspective, this is an indispensable first draft of history and blueprint for how we can move forward.“ —Ben Rhodes

“A timely, insightful and sobering book by two of the most astute current observers of the United States role in international affairs. The analysis should give everyone who cares about the conduct of American foreign policy pause for thought. Their recommendations offer a critical path forward for future U.S. Administrations.” —Fiona Hill

“The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated and exposed the pre-existing conditions of an already-fading international order. I can’t think of two better observers to help us understand this profound moment of transition, or what it means for American strategy, than Colin Kahl and Tom Wright. Aftershocks promises to be an extraordinarily valuable book, as important as it will be timely.” —William J. Burns

How Kids Can Stay Safe While Walking To School

Newswise — With back-to-school season upon us, kids and parents are naturally excited for some return to normalcy. In addition to putting together school supplies and mapping out schedules, there’s another thing parents should do: teach kids how to walk to school safely. “Some of the most unsafe areas for children are right around their school or their home,” says Helen Arbogast, DrPH, MPH, CPSTI, Manager of the Injury Prevention Program at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. “That’s because kids tend to feel comfortable around places they frequently visit and don’t always pay attention to cars that may be moving in a parking lot, down the road or in a drop-off line.” This school year especially presents safety risks because many kids haven’t walked to school since the pandemic began, if ever, and parents may be a little rusty in their drop-off and pick-up habits.

“Kids are going to be excited and anxious and all of that can lead to distractions,” says Dr. Arbogast who recommends practicing walking to school ahead of the big day. And if you drive, visit the school beforehand and teach kids how to safely get in and out of the car. It’s also a good idea for parents to talk to school administrators about creating a drop-off zone. Schools should have a “safety valet,” a person responsible for directing cars and making sure kids are not in the path of moving vehicles. If the drop-off gets crowded, consider parking a few blocks away and walking the rest of the way, Dr. Arbogast says. “The younger children are, the more practice they should get,” she adds. Here are more tips on how to keep children of all ages safe.


Many injuries occur from strollers tipping over and the baby falling out, according to Dr. Arbogast. It’s important to remember to buckle your baby into the seat, whether it’s a stroller with harness straps or the kind that has a car seat that attaches to it, and to double check that the seat is properly attached to the frame. Another thing to keep in mind: Don’t hook your dog’s leash to the stroller. Even the most well-behaved dogs can run off, taking the stroller—and baby—with them. And lock the wheels while pausing with the dog or doing anything else. “A lot of times the stroller is the first thing that leaves the sidewalk into the street,” Dr. Arbogast says. Avoid streets without sidewalks and walk during times where there is less traffic. Most strollers are quite dark and can’t be seen well when the sun goes down. Put reflective stickers on the outside and consider wearing bright-colored clothes so drivers can see you. Dr. Arbogast also points out that some companies sell stroller wheels that light up when they are in motion—something older children will find fun to walk next to as well.

Toddlers and preschoolers

Routine is key to getting kids 5 and under to do things safely. Dr. Arbogast suggests starting out by teaching young children pedestrian safety in a non-busy area such as in a pathway at a park. Talk to them about holding your hand, looking both ways before crossing any road and staying away from cars. For toddlers who try to run into the street, a safety leash will keep them close to you. Short walks are best for this age group. And consider making tiny tikes visible to big cars by outfitting them in bright colors and putting reflective stickers on their clothes. Dr. Arbogast shares a trick she uses with her 3-year-old daughter: She asks her to carry a plush animal with reflective stickers when they go for a walk. “Toddlers are less likely to run when they are holding something,” she says.

Ages 6 to 9

Children in this age group seem more mature, but they haven’t yet developed the capacity to gauge speed and distance. Many injuries in this age group occur from children darting out into a street, such as to collect a ball, and thinking a car is traveling much slower than it is. They also tend to freeze when seeing a car backing out of a driveway. Dr. Arbogast has observed through her research that when children are walking with their parents, they almost never look both ways before crossing the street and instead defer to what their parents are doing. “We deliberately teach kids so many things, but not when walking with them,” Dr. Arbogast says. “If they aren’t watching us when we’re crossing a street, they may miss that we looked left and right and left again. They might think, ‘Mom stepped out so I’m going to step out.’”

It’s important, therefore, to narrate the safe things you are doing while walking, and to teach children the following practices:

  • Cross only at crosswalks.
  • Make eye contact with drivers.
  • Wave to drivers to make yourself visible.
  • Look completely left, right and left again before crossing a street.
  • Pause at driveways and check if a car is pulling out.
  • Stay close to an adult when walking through parking lots.
  • In addition, although many kids ride scooters for fun, they are never a good way to travel to and from school. “It’s too much for them to manage. They are having to balance themselves and keep up speed,” says Dr. Arbogast. “They are not thinking about stopping before driveways or crosswalks.”

Ages 10 to 12

At age 10, some children may be ready to walk to school without an adult, Dr. Arbogast says. She encourages these children to walk in groups of three or more because two kids walking together tend to focus on their conversation and could get distracted. “The more the better. It’s like a walking school bus,” Dr. Arbogast says. Clothes with reflective stickers are probably not going to be too popular with older kids, but you can put the stickers on their backpacks. Parents should also identify a consistent route in a less busy area for children to use. As for music, tell tweens no music while walking. “It keeps you from being able to hear some of these really quiet electric cars,” Dr. Arbogast says. Finally, teach your kids this favorite motto from Children’s Hospital Los Angeles: Heads up, phones down.


This is the age group at most risk for being injured on the street. Children ages 12 to 19 are almost four times more likely to get hit by a car than younger kids, Dr. Arbogast says. “We take for granted that they are older and make some assumptions about their ability,” she says. Teens often venture out on routes that take them beyond their school. Advise them to walk through residential neighborhoods and to try to avoid large, busy streets. Repeat safety advice and be specific when doing so. “Before they go, don’t say something general like, ‘be safe,’ because what does that mean?” Dr. Arbogast says. “Your advice could instead be, ‘Make sure you are really careful before crossing Santa Monica Boulevard because you know people run that light.’” Most importantly, parents should always mirror the behavior they want their kids to follow. “Cross at intersections even if means walking a little further, and put the phone down,” Arbogast says.

US Unsure On Covid Origins

The US intelligence community has failed to reach a consensus on the origin of Covid-19 disease, while ruling out the possibility that China developed the virus as a biological weapon, according to key takeaways from a classified report delivered to President Joe Biden this week. Biden had, in May, ordered the country’s intelligence community “redouble their efforts” and report the origins of the pandemic within 90 days. Their report was delivered to the White House on Tuesday. While most of the new information gathered remains classified, some was released this week as an unclassified summary of assessment on Covid-19 origins.

The intelligence community “assesses that SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, probably emerged and infected humans through an initial small-scale exposure that occurred no later than November 2019,” said the unclassified summary, compiled by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. “We judge the virus was not developed as a biological weapon,” it added. Majority of agencies also assessed with low confidence that SARS-CoV-2 probably was not genetically engineered; however, two agencies believe there was not sufficient evidence to make an assessment either way.

One intelligence agency said it assessed with moderate confidence that the first human infection with SARS-CoV-2 most likely was the result of a laboratory-associated incident, while four agencies noted with low confidence that the initial SARS-CoV-2 infection was caused naturally. The report did not name the agencies. “After examining all available intelligence reporting and other information, the IC remains divided on the most likely origin of Covid-19. All agencies assess that two hypotheses are plausible: natural exposure to an infected animal and a laboratory-associated incident,” the report said.

The report also noted that China’s officials did not have foreknowledge of the virus before the initial outbreak of Covid-19 emerged. At the same time the agencies also noted a lack of clinical samples or a complete understanding of epidemiological data from the earliest Covid cases. “If we obtain information on the earliest cases that identified a location of interest or occupational exposure, it may alter our evaluation of hypotheses,” the agencies added in the report. The agencies asked for more cooperation from China to reach a conclusive assessment of the origins of Covid-19. Beijing, however, continues to hinder the global investigation, resist sharing information and blame other countries, including the US.

“These actions reflect, in part, China’s government’s own uncertainty about where an investigation could lead as well as its frustration that the international community is using the issue to exert political pressure on China,” the agencies wrote in the report. Meanwhile, China’s foreign minister has dismissed the report as “anti-science”. In a statement after the report was published, Biden criticized China for not cooperating with the investigation. “Critical information about the origins of this pandemic exists in the People’s Republic of China, yet from the beginning, government officials in China have worked to prevent international investigators and members of the global public health community from accessing it,” Biden was quoted as saying. “The world deserves answers, and I will not rest until we get them,” he added.

COVID-19 Is Most Transmissible 2 Days Before And 3 Days After Symptoms Appear

Newswise — Each wave of the pandemic has underscored just how gravely contagious COVID-19 is, but there is less clarity among experts on exactly when—and to what extent—infected individuals are most likely to spread the virus. Now, a new study co-led by a Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) researcher has found that individuals infected with the virus are most contagious two days before, and three days after, they develop symptoms. Published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, the study also found that infected individuals were more likely to be asymptomatic if they contracted the virus from a primary case (the first infected person in an outbreak) who was also asymptomatic.

“In previous studies, viral load has been used as an indirect measure of transmission,” says Dr. Leonardo Martinez, assistant professor of epidemiology at BUSPH, and who co-led the study with Dr. Yang Ge, research assistant in the Department of Epidemiology & Biostatistics at the University of Georgia College of Public Health. “We wanted to see if results from these past studies, which show that that COVID cases are most transmissible a few days before and after symptom onset, could be confirmed by looking at secondary cases among close contacts.”

Martinez and colleagues conducted contact tracing and studied COVID-19 transmission among approximately 9,000 close contacts of primary cases in the Zhejiang province of China from January 2020 to August 2020. “Close” contacts included household contacts (defined as individuals who lived in the same household or who dined together), co-workers, people in hospital settings, and riders in shared vehicles. The researchers monitored infected individuals for at least 90 days after their initial positive COVID test results to distinguish between asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic cases. Of the individuals identified as primary cases, 89 percent developed mild or moderate symptoms, and only 11 percent were asymptomatic—and no one developed severe symptoms. Household members of primary cases, as well as people who were exposed to primary cases multiple times or for longer durations of time, had higher infection rates than other close contacts. But regardless of these risk factors, close contacts were more likely to contract COVID-19 from the primary infected individual if they were exposed shortly before or after the individual developed noticeable symptoms.

“Our results suggest that the timing of exposure relative to primary-case symptoms is important for transmission, and this understanding provides further evidence that rapid testing and quarantine after someone is feeling sick is a critical step to control the epidemic,” Dr. Martinez says. In comparison to mild and moderate symptomatic individuals, asymptomatic primary individuals were much less likely to transmit COVID to close contacts—but if they did, the contacts were also less likely to experience noticeable symptoms. “This study further emphasizes the need for vaccination, which reduces clinical severity among people that develop COVID,” says Dr. Martinez.

The study’s senior authors were Dr. Ye Shen of the Department of Epidemiology & Biostatistics at UGA College of Public Health, and Dr. Feng Ling of the Zhejiang Provincial Center for Disease Control and Prevention in Hangzhou, China. The study was co-authored by researchers at SPH, UGA, the Zhejiang Provincial Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the University of Texas School of Public Health, and Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine.

Founded in 1976, Boston University School of Public Health is one of the top five ranked private schools of public health in the world. It offers master’s- and doctoral-level education in public health. The faculty in six departments conduct policy-changing public health research around the world, with the mission of improving the health of populations—especially the disadvantaged, underserved, and vulnerable—locally and globally.

Dr. Vivek Murthy Defends US Booster Shot Plan

By now, many public health experts, and the public for that matter, have accepted that vaccinated people may need another dose (US Booster Shots) of whichever COVID-19 shot they received in order to better protect against new variants of COVID-19.

US Booster Shot COVID-19U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy has defended the Biden administration’s plans to begin rolling out vaccine boosters shots for Americans as early as next month, despite criticism from the World Health Organization and others that the U.S. should not offer shot boosters to Americans while many countries lag in vaccine access.”We have to protect American lives and we have to help vaccinate the world. Because that is the only way this pandemic ends,” Murthy told ABC “This Week” co-anchor, Martha Raddatz.

Murthy conceded that — assuming vaccine supply does not change — “taking more vaccines for Americans in the form of boosters will take away from the rest of the world,” but said the focus has been on increasing the supply and pointed to the U.S. donation of more than 120 million vaccine doses to other countries and its 500-million-dose commitment.

It is recorded the highest daily COVID-19 America active case count in nearly seven months last week, with just over 163,000 new cases reported, according to the CDC.

While only US booster shots of Pfizer and Moderna have been announced, Murthy said they are waiting on efficacy data for a second Johnson & Johnson shot. “We anticipate the people who receive J&J will likely need booster shots as well,” Murthy said.

Asked about the safety of taking a third US booster shot. Murthy emphasized that the booster vaccine shots distribution plan is “contingent on the (Food and Drug Administration). And the (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) Advisory Committee doing their full and independent evaluation”. “Safety is absolutely essential in this process. And we would not execute a plan if the FDA did not weigh in. And say that that third booster shot was. In fact, safe,” Murthy said. “But again, keep in mind this — that we have a tremendous amount of experience with these vaccines so far.”

Amid the surge, U.S. vaccination rates have also increased. White House COVID-19 data director Cyrus Shahpar said Saturday marked the third day in a row. And that the U.S. has administered more than 1 million COVID-19 vaccine doses.

The White House announced the news on Friday. It is that at least 200 million Americans can vaccinate with at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose. The FDA has yet to determine that US booster shots are both safe and needed. But Fauci stressed that staying ahead of the virus as well as preparing for booster shots is the best way to tamp down the growing threat of the Delta variant. “If you wait for something bad to happen before you respond to it. Then you find yourself considerably behind in the full capability of your response,” he said. “You don’t want to find yourself behind and playing catch up. Better to stay ahead of it than chasing after it.”

The data on which health officials based their updated US booster shot recommendation included results from a New York City study that showed the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccines in preventing infection with SARS-CoV-2 dropped from 91.7% in May to 79.8% by the end of July, by which time the Delta variant was the dominant strain in the area.

In another national study of nursing home residents conducted by the National Healthcare Safety Network, researchers found that vaccine effectiveness in protecting people from getting infected with SARS-CoV-2 was 74.7% prior to the emergence of the Delta variant, but dropped to 53.1% by the end of July. In addition to the data generated within the U.S., health officials have also been poring over information from Israel, which has been serving as a vaccination bellwether for the world. Since health officials, there were able to quickly vaccinate a significant percentage of the population.

The idea of the US booster dose is to bring people’s immune defenses—specifically antibodies—back up to the level generated soon after the last vaccine dose. It’s a well-established principle in immunology that antibodies tend to decline in number over time. Whether it is after people get vaccinate or get naturally infect with a virus. The vaccines has never designed to protect completely against the virus. It is only for from getting severely ill after get infect.

The FDA is pushing to issue full approval for Pfizer-BioNTech’s two-dose COVID-19 vaccine, further expediting an earlier timeline for licensing the shot. Dr. Murthy said he “wouldn’t be surprised” if the FDA issue a full approval of the Pfizer vaccine soon. Even that approval may convince some individuals on the fence about vaccination. And this is for getting the shot and encouraging companies and schools to implement vaccine mandates.

“I think you’ll see more universities and workplaces. Those were considering putting in requirements for vaccines to create safer places to learn and work. You’ll see more of them likely moving forward on their plans to require vaccines in the workplace and school,” Dr. Murthy said.

On rising pediatric cases and hospitalizations, Dr. Murthy encouraged adults to get vaccinated to protect children who are ineligible and highlighted measures schools can take to limit the likelihood of COVID transmission. “I really feel strongly that it is our moral responsibility. As this society to do everything we can to protect our children,” Murthy responded.  “And that means that number one, all of us got vaccinate as adults and adolescents is important because kids who are too young to get vaccinate. But it’s also why making sure we are taking every measure possible in schools. And to ensure that our kids are safe is so important,” Murthy added. “Those include masks, improving ventilation, doing regular testing, and ensuring that our children are outdoors as much as possible.”

AKMG’s 42nd Annual Convention Held in Atlanta

(Atlanta, GA: August 25, 2021) The 42nd annual Association of Kerala Medical Graduates (AKMG) convention was held from Friday, August 13 to Sunday, August 15. It was held at the Inter-Continental Buckhead Hotel in Atlanta, GA. Attended by 425 fully vaccinated Doctors of Kerala origin and their families from the US and Canada. The annual convention was the best forum for friends to get together, converse, reminisce about their past medical college campus life. Also, it includes singing old and new songs, network and be enriched and entertained.

AKMG annual conventionIn his presidential address, while expressing gratitude to the members of AKMG “for giving me the opportunity this year to be the President of our wondrous organization”. Dr. Subrahmanya Bhat said, “I worked very hard to make sure that this year’s AKMG was the best it could be. Likewise, our executive team has worked very hard to make sure the convention would be successful and profitable. Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic.”

Enumerating some of the accomplishments under the current leadership, Dr. Bhat said, “We have added close to 400 new life members to the AKMG organization. We have started a mentorship program for young physicians who are working on improving their craft,” said. Pointing to the several charitable events and programs AKMG has organized, Dr. Bhat said, “We have supported several food banks that have fed the hungry. In addition, our teams raised enough funds to feed 10,000 homeless people last Christmas.”

Back home in Kerala, with the generous contributions from AKMG members, Dr. Bhat and his team have “raised over $200,000 for Covid relief in Kerala. And provided PPEs and Pulse oximeters to Healthcare workers and Hospitals in Kerala. Furthermore, we have started a new telehealth service called Dronacare, in partnership with Innovation Incubator Inc. This is with the intent of providing free healthcare consultation to people in Kerala. ” In addition, AKMG has initiated the steps to bridge Kerala CDC and Atlanta CDC under the direction of Dr. MV Pillai, Past President of AKMG.

AKMG membersWhile inaugurating the convention with the traditional lighting of the lamp, in her keynote address, Dr. Swathi Kulkarni, Consul General of India in Atlanta, described the Indian American Physician community as a “Testament to the greatest growth story”. While emphasizing the role of physicians during the pandemic, Dr. Kulkarni praised their contributions and achievements. Dr. Kulkarni shared with the audience about the many programs and plans offered by the Government of India. Those are to alleviate the sufferings of the people of India during the pandemic. In addition, Dr. Kulkarni stressed the importance of the Indo-US Strategic Alliance, especially in the health sector. While pointing out India’s contributions to providing the world with quality drugs for lower prices.

Dr. Vikas Kapil from the CDC delivered the keynote address. Dr. Asha Thomas, an IAS officer and head of Health and Human Services and Medical education in Kerala, attended the convention.  Governor of Georgia, Brian Kemp, Dr. Vivek Murthy, US Surgeon General, and the Chief Minister of Kerala sent best wishes and greetings to the delegates at the convention.  In his message, Kerala’s Chief Minister, Pinarayi style=”float: left; margin: 0px 15px 15px 0px;”Vijayan, praised the achievements of the Indian doctors using the knowledge gained from India. He also congratulated AKMG for being the oldest medical organization with 42 years of history. And for its members being the ambassadors of Kerala.

AKMG Association awardsBeing away from home, the participants were led to celebrate Onam with traditional festivities. It including a reception to King Mahabali with thalapoli and chenda melam followed by an Onam feast. The Fashion show, choreographed by Anu Bhat, displayed the best of Indian attire elegantly adorned by beautiful young women as they cat walked to the audience’s delight. Mamta Mohandas, a famous actress from the Malayalam Cinema world, was an added attraction during the Fashion Parade.

The Campus Comedy Night, which has come to be known as an integral part of the annual event since it had started way back in 1986, was a treat to the hearts and souls of the participants during the AKMG Convention in Atlanta as it showcased the diverse talents in music, art and acting by the members of AKMG fraternity. “The AKMG, the pioneering organization of Indian physicians in the US, formed three years earlier than the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin, AKMG inspired the formation of AAPI,” Dr. Sudhakar Jonnalagadda, Immediate Past President of AAPI, said.

An elegantly done annual Souvenir was released during the convention. Dr. Annapurna Bhat, Chair of the AKMG Convention Souvenir Committee Chair, said, “I am most honored and delighted to be a part of AKMG, or the Association of Kerala Medical Graduates, North America, a wonderful secular organization serving and empowering Indian healthcare professionals of Kerala origin in USA and Canada.”

Annual convention colleaguesDr. Sunil Kumar, Chair, AKMG Humanitarian Services, thanked AKMG members as they “stepped up to the plate when our motherland was crying for help. I have always been proud of AKMG’s commitment to charity and even more today with your actions. As you know, when the COVID second wave started threatening India, we came together and helped our people prevent a catastrophe. As a result, we were able to reach an agreement with the international charity organization GLOBAL MEDIC to match our donations with $100,000 worth of PPE equipment.”

Dr. Lizy Thaliath, AKMG Convention Chair 2021, said, “As the convention committee chair, it is my honor to welcome all distinguished guests, family members, and participants of the AKMG 42nd convention in Atlanta. We have gone through a pandemic that has destroyed millions of lives and upended many global economies, and for the brunt of it, we healthcare workers have been fighting on the frontline. We pay respect to all who lost their lives in this fight in the hope of keeping the fight going strong.”

At the fabulous Saturday Nite Gala, Dr. Bhat handed over the charge to incoming president Dr. Nigil Haroon, who in his inaugural address, said, “I am humbled and honored by the opportunity to serve as your president for its 42nd year. As I undertake to represent the AKMG as its President for 2021-22,” he said and promised to work to strengthen the organization and enhance its relationship with organizations of other medical professionals. As always, AKMG will continue focusing on charitable activities and helping the medical colleges back in Kerala. For more details, please visit www.akmg.org.

Dr. George M. Abraham, President Of ACP, Praised By AAPI Leadership

It is matter of great pride for all of us that Dr. George Abraham has been elected president of American College of Physicians (ACP) the largest association of American internal medicine physicians with a membership of nearly 170,000 physicians,” said Dr. Anupama Gotimukula, President of American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) the largest ethnic medical association in the United States.

A resident of Shrewsbury, MA, Dr. Abraham is a Professor of Medicine at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, Chief of Medicine and Emeritus President of the Medical staff at Saint Vincent Hospital, and Adjunct Professor of Medicine at Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Services.

Prior to his term as President-elect, he recently served as Chair of ACP’s Board of Governors and as Governor of ACP’s Massachusetts Chapter prior to that. Dr. Abraham is a Fellow of ACP (FACP), an honorary designation that recognizes ongoing individual service and contributions to the practice of medicine. Dr. Abraham had served as a WHO fellow in HIV disease in Uganda, as well as an ID fellow at the Communicable Disease Center in Singapore. In the past, he has volunteered with Mother Teresa and the Missionaries of Charity, and also has led medical mission trips to rural Louisiana and Mexico, with his church.

Several AAPI leaders and past Presidents of AAPI, including Dr. Naresh Parikh and Dr. Narendra Kumar, who hails from the same state of Kerala in India as Dr. Abraham, have expressed their congratulations to Dr. Abraham. Dr. Kumar said, “In its long 105 years history, George Abraham is the first physician of Indian origin to have this honor and lead ACP. We express our congratulations, want to wish him the very best and offer our support in his endeavors.”

“The election of Dr. George Abraham to be the President of ACP is a testament to the leadership qualities, vision and passion Indian American physicians have come to be asscociuated with in the United States,” added Dr. Naresh Parikh. “I am proud of our community of Indian physicians for all the progress that we have made over the years,” said Dr. Kusum Punjabi, Chair of AAPI BOT. “In patient care, administration, leadership, or academics, we have excelled in the respective fields, holding important positions across the United States and the world.”

Dr. Ravi Kolli, President-Elect of AAPI, that represents over 100,000 physicians of Indian origin in the United States, said, “We are proud of Dr. Abraham and his many accomplishments and look forward to working with him and ACP, as the nation and the entire world seeks to find best possible solutions to tackle the pandemic that has taken the lives of millions of people around the world.”

Lauding Dr. Abraham “who has been a key advocate on Covid and infectious diseases,” Dr. Anjana Samadder, Vice President of AAPI said, “Dr. Abraham’s commitment, ethics, quiet leadership style and impeccable credentials make him the smart choice for this leadership role.” “Dr. Abraham represents the over 100,000 Indian American physicians,” Dr. Satheesh Kathula, Secretary of AAPI said. “Having a wide range of experiences and passion for science-based approach, Dr. Abraham will bring in new perspectives to the many healthcare issues that require immediate attention and concrete action plan to tackle the pandemic.”

Dr. Krishan Kumar, Treasurer of AAPI, while offering fullest cooperation from the Indian American Physician community, said, “We at AAPI, look forward to working closely with Dr. Abraham and ACP, especially in our collective efforts to end this deadly pandemic.” George M. Abraham, MD, MPH, FACP, FIDSA, has been named President of the American College of Physicians (ACP) representing nearly 170,000 internal medicine physicians (internists), related subspecialists, and medical students. His term began on May 2nd at the conclusion of ACP’s Annual Business Meeting.

Dr. Abraham earned his medical degree from the Christian Medical College in India and has a Master’s Degree in Public Health from Johns Hopkins School of Public Health.  He completed his internal medicine residency and chief residency at Saint Vincent Hospital in Worcester and then earned an MPH in Infectious Disease Epidemiology from the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. He is certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine and the American Board of Medical Specialties in Infectious Disease. He is also certified by the American Board of Ambulatory and Urgent Care Medicine, and the American Association of Medical Review Officers. Dr. Abraham’s areas of professional interest and expertise include internal medicine and infectious disease.

Dr. Abraham has numerous publications in peer-reviewed journals, as well as at national and international meetings. He has also written prolifically on issues of public health in the media. He has lectured on healthcare issues throughout Central Massachusetts. Dr. Abraham is a past-president of the Worcester District Medical Society. He also serves as a Trustee of the Massachusetts Medical Society, as the Secretary/Treasurer for the American College of Physicians and as the Chair of the Board of Directors of the Health Foundation of Central Massachusetts. Additional memberships include the American College of Physicians (where he is a Fellow), the American Medical Association and the Massachusetts Medical Society.

As the Medical Director of Central MA Independent Physician Association (CMIPA) for 7 years, till 2012, he has worked extensively on health IT, quality management and care coordination issues. Dr. Abraham is a past-president of the Worcester District Medical Society. He also serves as a Trustee of the Massachusetts Medical Society, as the Governor-Elect for the American College of Physicians and as the Immediate Past-Chair of the Board of Directors of the Health Foundation of Central Massachusetts. Additional memberships include the American College of Physicians (where he is a Fellow), the American Medical Association and the Massachusetts Medical Society. Dr. Abraham, who maintains a practice at Saint Vincent Hospital in Worcester, MA, also volunteers at a number of free clinics in the city of Worcester.

“Dr. Abraham has been an integral physician leader at Saint Vincent Hospital for years and his work during the COVID-19 pandemic was invaluable,” said Saint Vincent Hospital CEO Carolyn Jackson. “The Saint Vincent Hospital team is proud of Dr. Abraham and his contributions to the medical community and the patients we care for. He is incredibly deserving of this appointment and will serve the American College of Physicians well.” Founded in 1915 to promote the science and practice of medicine, and since then has supported internists in their quest for excellence, American College of Physicians is the largest medical specialty organization in the United States with members in more than 145 countries worldwide. With the mission to enhance the quality and effectiveness of health care by fostering excellence and professionalism in the practice of medicine. ACP is a diverse community of internal medicine specialists and subspecialists united by a commitment to excellence.

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. 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. For more details on AAPI, please visit: www.aapiusa.org

“Food Without Fear,” A Book By Dr. Ruchi Gupta Presents A Groundbreaking Approach To Food Allergies And Sensitivities

One in five people in the United States have food intolerances or sensitivities, and while these can be debilitating, they are chronic and can also be life-threatening in the long-term. Every day, more than five hundred people in the US go to the emergency room following a bad allergic reaction to food; 1 in 10 people have food allergies — and they are acute, alarming, and can be life-threatening. These are just a few of the statistics that prove what most of us know anecdotally. Food allergies are on the rise. But allergy itself is just the tip of the iceberg — and it’s not just a problem for kids. There is a whole spectrum of food-related conditions, including sensitivities, intolerances, and challenges.

The spectrum of these ailments is wide and deep, with many tricky “masqueraders” in the mix creating confusion, potential misdiagnoses, and faulty or poor treatment, and causing immeasurable suffering for millions of people. Dr. Ruchi Gupta, a world-renowned researcher and physician on the front lines of this silent epidemic, in her first book, shares revolutionary research from her lab to address the entire spectrum of food-related health conditions.

“FOOD WITHOUT FEAR: Identify, Prevent, and Treat Food Allergies, Intolerances, and Sensitivities,” a newly released book by Dr. Ruchi Gupta, an young and talented Indian American, illuminates what she has coined the food reaction spectrum—a revolutionary way to look at food-related conditions—and offers a new approach to managing adverse responses to food with a practical plan to end the misery and enjoy eating with ease.

Considered as the very first book to identify the entire spectrum of food-related health conditions, from allergy to sensitivity, and what we can do about it, Dr. Gupta, a professor of pediatrics and medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and a clinical attending at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, promises hope, help, and food freedom to the individuals and their families who so need it. In FOOD WITHOUT FEAR you’ll learn the STOP method, a way for families to track their symptoms and gain the tools to identify, manage, and treat their unique condition to prevent future reactions.

With more than 17 years of experience as a board certified pediatrician and health researcher and currently serving as the founding director of the Center for Food Allergy & Asthma Research (CFAAR) at Northwestern Feinberg School of Medicine and Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, Dr. Gupta known to be a curating revolutionary researcher, this young Indian American’s panoramic view debunks common myths, such as the misconception that an allergy and an intolerance are the same thing, but both can have life-threatening consequences, and she empowers you to know what questions to ask your doctor to get the correct diagnosis. In the book, Dr. Gupta details: The differences between an allergy and an intolerance or sensitivity; What “masqueraders” are and how to identify them; Which health conditions are mistaken for food allergies—or can be triggered by them; The surprising allergies on the rise (think red meat and exercise; and, The issues with allergen labeling on food and drugs FOOD WITHOUT FEAR’s assessments, information on the most up-to-date treatments, and practical tips will help welcome anyone suffering from food-related health conditions back to the table.

The book has won excellent reviews from well-known authors. David Perlmutter, MD, Fellow, American College of Nutrition, author, #1 New York Times bestseller Grain Brain and Brain Wash, wrote of the book:  “Food Without Fear explores how our individual uniqueness plays into how we respond to the information that our food choices purvey. And the dichotomy between “good” and “bad” foods is explored through the lenses of both leading edge science as well as our food-related responses. Both these data sets empower the reader with tools to optimize food choices and pave the way for a healthier life.”

Dr. Gupta is world-renowned for her groundbreaking research in the areas of food allergy and asthma epidemiology, most notably for her research on the prevalence of pediatric and adult food allergy in the United States. She has also significantly contributed to academic research in the areas of food allergy prevention, socioeconomic disparities in care, and the daily management of these conditions. Dr. Gupta is the author of The Food Allergy Experience, has written and co-authored over 150 peer-reviewed research manuscripts, and has had her work featured on major TV networks and in print media. Kristin Loberg has a lengthy list of successful collaborations with multiple New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestsellers to her credit. Kristin earned her degree from Cornell University, and lives in Los Angeles. She is a member of the Author’s Guild, PEN, and teaches an intensive proposal-writing workshop at UCLA annually.

Published by Hachette Books, (ISBN-13:92 78030684650) “FOOD WITHOUT FEAR: Identify, Prevent, and Treat Food Allergies, Intolerances, and Sensitivities” is available on all major bookstores and online, including at Amazon and Barnes And Nobles. For more details, please visit: https://foodwithoutfearbook.com/


Several US Cities Mandate Vaccination Proof For Indoor Activities

Many US cities have made it mandatory for citizens to show their Covid-19 vaccination proof for indoor activities in a renewed effort to curb the further spread of the disease, according to authorities.


In New York City, the ‘Key to NYC Pass’ mandate began on Monday, which requires diners to show proof of at least one vaccination dose in order to dine indoors at restaurants, reports Xinhua news agency.


New York City was amongst the first in the US to announce that public indoor venues, such as restaurants, bars, gyms and performance and entertainment facilities, would require proof of vaccination.


Full enforcement however, won’t kick in until September 13, while San Francisco and New Orleans have since followed suit. “The move comes as the Delta variant continues to spread throughout the country, and the battered hospitality industry figures out a way to recover from a year of shutdowns and countless regulatory changes,” catering website ny.eater.com said on Monday.


As for New York State, governor Kathy Hochul said on Sunday that she was not ruling out the possibility of mandating a vaccine for indoor activities amid a surge in Covid-19 cases brought about by the Delta variant. “I’m open to all options,” she told CNN. “I’ll be looking at the possibility of mandates, but not saying they’re in or out until I know all the facts.”


She also clarified her support of mask mandates for children in school as a necessary safety step for helping New York get through a new wave of Covid-19 infections.


A lagging vaccination campaign and the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant are driving a surge in Covid-19 hospitalisations in the US, reported The New York Times on Monday.

The trend is particularly notable among children and younger adults. From August 5 to 11, 263 children were admitted to hospitals every day on average, compared to 217 in early January, the last peak.


Average daily admissions rose to a record among 18- to 49-year-olds, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Meanwhile, the country has administered 356,433,665 doses of Covid-19 vaccines till date and distributed 415,957,645 doses, said the CDC, adding that 198,088,722 people have received at least one dose while 168,362,058 people are fully vaccinated. (IANS)

Pope Francis Calls COVID-19 Vaccine ‘Act Of Love’

Pope Francis issued a message on Wednesday (Aug. 18) encouraging Catholics to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, calling it “an act of love,” as part of a global effort to reduce the onslaught of the pandemic and convince vaccine skeptics.

“Thanks to God and to the work of many, we now have vaccines to protect us from COVID-19. They grant us the hope of ending the pandemic, but only if they are available to all and if we work together,” the pope wrote in the message addressed to all people on the vaccination campaign against COVID-19.

“Being vaccinated with vaccines authorised by the competent authorities is an act of love. And contributing to ensure the majority of people are vaccinated is an act of love,” he added.

He added that the vaccine has political and social value as well. “Vaccination is a simple but profound way of promoting the common good and caring for each other, especially the most vulnerable,” the pope wrote, voicing his hope that “everyone may contribute their own small grain of sand, their own small gesture of love.”

Francis’ vaccine promotion comes amid a growing debate among U.S. Catholics over vaccines. In late July, the Archdiocese of New York sent a letter to area priests telling them that “there is no basis for a priest to issue a religious exemption to the vaccine,” and that doing so anyway amounts to “acting in contradiction to the directives of the pope” and “participating in an act that could have serious consequences to others.”

Shortly thereafter, the Colorado Catholic Conference produced a template for Catholics who seek a religious exemptions from COVID-19 vaccination, with a group of area clerics arguing that “in the case of the COVID-19 vaccine, we are convicted that the government should not impose medical interventions on an individual or group of persons.”

San Diego Catholic Bishop Robert McElroy, in turn, railed against the idea a few days later in a letter to clergy under his purview, similarly arguing that there is no basis in Catholic teaching to offer such an exemption.

“I ask that you not venture down this pathway that merges personal choice with doctrinal authenticity, and to caringly decline such requests from your parishioners to sign the Colorado statement or other public declarations concerning the actions of specific individuals rejecting vaccine mandates on religious grounds,” McElroy wrote.

Other dioceses have since followed suit. Last week the Diocese of Honolulu announced it “will not be granting religious exemptions from vaccine mandates imposed by others,” and the Archdiocese of Los Angeles — overseen by U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops President Archbishop Jose Gomez — reportedly told priests it also does not intend to back such religious exemptions.

On Tuesday, Bishop John Stowe of the Diocese of Lexington, Kentucky, went further, declaring  in a statement that diocesan staff will be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 “as a condition of their employment” beginning Sept. 1.

“This is an urgent matter of public health and safety. There is no religious exemption for Catholics to being vaccinated, and Pope Francis has repeatedly called this a moral obligation,” Stowe wrote. “The health care system is now overwhelmed by a crisis caused primarily by those who refuse to protect themselves and others by getting vaccinated. This is unacceptable, and our diocese now joins those employers who have already made this basic commitment to the common good a requirement.”

The pope’s message, which was translated into several languages, was prompted by the “It’s Up To You” campaign, organized by the nonprofit organization Ad Council and COVID Collaborative, a U.S. panel of experts created to promote vaccine compliance.

In addition to Gomez, five other prelates are taking part in the initiative: Archbishop José Horacio Gómez Velasco of Los Angeles, Cardinal Carlos Aguiar Retes of Mexico City, Cardinal Óscar Rodríguez Maradiaga of Tegucigalpa, Honduras, Cardinal Cláudio Hummes of Sao Paolo, Brasil, Cardinal Gregorio Rosa Chávez of San Salvador, El Salvador and Archbishop Héctor Miguel Cabrejos Vidarte of Trujillo, Perú.

“To the world’s billion-plus Catholics, the Pope is one of the most trusted messengers and holds unparalleled influence,” wrote Lisa Sherman, president and CEO of the Ad Council, in a press release published on Wednesday. “We are extremely grateful to him and the Cardinals and Archbishops for lending their voices and platforms to help people across the globe feel more confident in the vaccines.” The project was created in collaboration with the Vatican’s Department for Integral Human Development, led by Cardinal Peter Turkson

“Food Without Fear,” A Book By Dr. Ruchi Gupta Presents A Groundbreaking Approach To Food Allergies And Sensitivities

One in five people in the United States have food intolerances or sensitivities, and while these can be debilitating, they are chronic and can also be life-threatening in the long-term. Every day, more than five hundred people in the US go to the emergency room following a bad allergic reaction to food; 1 in 10 people have food allergies — and they are acute, alarming, and can be life-threatening. These are just a few of the statistics that prove what most of us know anecdotally. Food allergies are on the rise. But allergy itself is just the tip of the iceberg — and it’s not just a problem for kids. There is a whole spectrum of food-related conditions, including sensitivities, intolerances, and challenges.

The spectrum of these ailments is wide and deep, with many tricky “masqueraders” in the mix creating confusion, potential misdiagnoses, and faulty or poor treatment, and causing immeasurable suffering for millions of people. Dr. Ruchi Gupta, a world-renowned researcher and physician on the front lines of this silent epidemic, in her first book, shares revolutionary research from her lab to address the entire spectrum of food-related health conditions.

“FOOD WITHOUT FEAR: Identify, Prevent, and Treat Food Allergies, Intolerances, and Sensitivities,” a newly released book by Dr. Ruchi Gupta, an young and talented Indian American, illuminates what she has coined the food reaction spectrum—a revolutionary way to look at food-related conditions—and offers a new approach to managing adverse responses to food with a practical plan to end the misery and enjoy eating with ease.

Considered as the very first book to identify the entire spectrum of food-related health conditions, from allergy to sensitivity, and what we can do about it, Dr. Gupta, a professor of pediatrics and medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and a clinical attending at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, promises hope, help, and food freedom to the individuals and their families who so need it. In FOOD WITHOUT FEAR you’ll learn the STOP method, a way for families to track their symptoms and gain the tools to identify, manage, and treat their unique condition to prevent future reactions.

With more than 17 years of experience as a board certified pediatrician and health researcher and currently serving as the founding director of the Center for Food Allergy & Asthma Research (CFAAR) at Northwestern Feinberg School of Medicine and Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, Dr. Gupta known to be a curating revolutionary researcher, this young Indian American’s panoramic view debunks common myths, such as the misconception that an allergy and an intolerance are the same thing, but both can have life-threatening consequences, and she empowers you to know what questions to ask your doctor to get the correct diagnosis.

In the book, Dr. Gupta details: The differences between an allergy and an intolerance or sensitivity; What “masqueraders” are and how to identify them; Which health conditions are mistaken for food allergies—or can be triggered by them; The surprising allergies on the rise (think red meat and exercise; and, The issues with allergen labeling on food and drugs FOOD WITHOUT FEAR’s assessments, information on the most up-to-date treatments, and practical tips will help welcome anyone suffering from food-related health conditions back to the table.

The book has won excellent reviews from well-known authors. David Perlmutter, MD, Fellow, American College of Nutrition, author, #1 New York Times bestseller Grain Brain and Brain Wash, wrote of the book:  “Food Without Fear explores how our individual uniqueness plays into how we respond to the information that our food choices purvey. And the dichotomy between “good” and “bad” foods is explored through the lenses of both leading edge science as well as our food-related responses. Both these data sets empower the reader with tools to optimize food choices and pave the way for a healthier life.”

Dr. Gupta is world-renowned for her groundbreaking research in the areas of food allergy and asthma epidemiology, most notably for her research on the prevalence of pediatric and adult food allergy in the United States. She has also significantly contributed to academic research in the areas of food allergy prevention, socioeconomic disparities in care, and the daily management of these conditions. Dr. Gupta is the author of The Food Allergy Experience, has written and co-authored over 150 peer-reviewed research manuscripts, and has had her work featured on major TV networks and in print media.

Kristin Loberg has a lengthy list of successful collaborations with multiple New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestsellers to her credit. Kristin earned her degree from Cornell University, and lives in Los Angeles. She is a member of the Author’s Guild, PEN, and teaches an intensive proposal-writing workshop at UCLA annually.

Published by Hachette Books, (ISBN-13:92 78030684650) “FOOD WITHOUT FEAR: Identify, Prevent, and Treat Food Allergies, Intolerances, and Sensitivities” is available on all major bookstores and online, including at Amazon and Barnes And Nobles. For more details, please visit: https://foodwithoutfearbook.com/

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