Pfizer Says Its Vaccine is 90.7% Effective Against Symptomatic Covid-19 In Children Ages 5 To 11

Bridgette Melo, 5, holds the hand of her father, Jim Melo, during her inoculation of one of two reduced 10 ug doses of the Pfizer BioNtech COVID-19 vaccine during a trial at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina September 28, 2021 in a still image from video. Video taken September 28, 2021. Shawn Rocco/Duke University/Handout via REUTERS NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES. THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY.

In a new document posted ahead of a key meeting of the US Food and Drug Administration’s vaccine advisers, Pfizer says its vaccine is safe and 90.7% effective against symptomatic Covid-19 in children ages 5 to 11.

In the trial, which included around 2,000 children, there were three Covid-19 cases among the group that received the vaccine and 16 cases in the placebo group. In the trial, twice as many children received the vaccine as the placebo.

Pfizer/BioNTech are seeking FDA emergency use authorization of a two-dose regimen of their 10-microgram dose for children ages 5 to 11. The two doses would be administered three weeks apart. Last month, Pfizer released details of a Phase 2/3 trial that showed its Covid-19 vaccine was safe and generated a “robust” antibody response in children ages 5 to 11. The trial included 2,268 participants ages 5 to 11.

Participants’ immune responses were measured by looking at neutralizing antibody levels in their blood and comparing those levels to a control group of 16- to 25-year-olds who were given a two-dose regimen with the larger 30-microgram dose. Pfizer said the levels compared well with older people who received the larger dose, demonstrating a “strong immune response in this cohort of children one month after the second dose.”

The FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee is scheduled to meet October 26 to discuss whether to recommend the vaccine for authorization for those ages 5 to 11.

If authorized, this would be the first Covid-19 vaccine for younger children. The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is approved for people age 16 and older and has an EUA for people ages 12 to 15.

The data summarized from this Phase 2/3 study, which is enrolling children 6 months to 11 years of age, was for 2,268participants who were 5 to 11 years of age and received a 10 µg dose level in a two-dose regimen. In the trial, the SARS-CoV-2–neutralizing antibody geometric mean titer (GMT) was 1,197.6 (95% confidence interval [CI, 1106.1, 1296.6]), demonstrating strong immune response in this cohort of children one month after the second dose.

This compares well (was non-inferior) to the GMT of 1146.5 (95% CI: 1045.5, 1257.2) from participants ages 16 to 25 years old, used as the control group for this analysis and who were administered a two-dose regimen of 30 µg. Further, the COVID-19 vaccine was well tolerated, with side effects generally comparable to those observed in participants 16 to 25 years of age.

Pfizer and BioNTech plan to share these data with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), European Medicines Agency (EMA) and other regulators as soon as possible. For the United States, the companies expect to include the data in a near-term submission for Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) as they continue to accumulate the safety and efficacy data required to file for full FDA approval in this age group.

A request to the EMA to update the EU Conditional Marketing Authorization is also planned. Topline readouts for the other two age cohorts from the trial – children 2-5 years of age and children 6 months to 2 years of age – are expected as soon as the fourth quarter of this year.

Pfizer and BioNTech plan to share these data with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), European Medicines Agency (EMA) and other regulators as soon as possible. For the United States, the companies expect to include the data in a near-term submission for Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) as they continue to accumulate the safety and efficacy data required to file for full FDA approval in this age group.

A request to the EMA to update the EU Conditional Marketing Authorization is also planned. Topline readouts for the other two age cohorts from the trial – children 2-5 years of age and children 6 months to 2 years of age – are expected as soon as the fourth quarter of this year. Pfizer and BioNTech plan to submit data from the full Phase 3 trial for scientific peer-reviewed publication.

By:

Source: Pfizer says its vaccine is 90.7% effective against symptomatic Covid-19 in children ages 5 to 11 – ABC17NEWS

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Other Sources:

Patients should always ask their healthcare providers for medical advice about adverse events. Individuals are encouraged to report negative side effects of vaccines to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Visit http://www.vaers.hhs.gov or call 1-800-822-7967. In addition, side effects can be reported to Pfizer Inc. at www.pfizersafetyreporting.com

or by calling 1-800-438-1985.

Please click here for full Prescribing Information (16+ years of age). Please click here for Fact Sheet for Vaccination Providers (12+ years of age)

Public Assessment Report Authorisation for Temporary Supply COVID-19 mRNA Vaccine BNT162b2 (BNT162b2 RNA) concentrate for solution for injection (PDF). Regulation 174 (Report). Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). 15 December 2020. Archived (PDF) from the original on 16 December 2020. Retrieved 23 April 2021. Burger L (15 March 2020). “BioNTech in China alliance with Fosun over coronavirus vaccine candidate”. Reuters. Archived

IMF Cuts Global Growth Forecast Amid Supply Chain Disruptions, Pandemic Pressures

The IMF, a grouping made up of 190 member states, promotes international financial stability and monetary cooperation. It also acts as a lender of last resort for countries in financial crisis.

In the IMF’s latest World Economic Outlook report released on Tuesday, the group’s economists say the most important policy priority is to vaccinate sufficient numbers of people in every country to prevent dangerous mutations of the virus. He stressed the importance of meeting major economies’ pledges to provide vaccines and financial support for international vaccination efforts before new versions derail. “Policy choices have become more difficult … with limited scope,” IMF economists said in the report.

The IMF in its July report cut its global growth forecast for 2021 from 6% to 5.9%, a result of a reduction in its projection for advanced economies from 5.6% to 5.2%. The shortage mostly reflects problems with the global supply chain that causes a mismatch between supply and demand.

For emerging markets and developing economies, the outlook improved. Growth in these economies is pegged at 6.4% for 2021, higher than the 6.3% estimate in July. The strong performance of some commodity-exporting countries accelerated amid rising energy prices.

The group maintained its view that the global growth rate would be 4.9% in 2022.

In key economics, the growth outlook for the US was lowered by 0.1 percentage point to 6% this year, while the forecast for China was also cut by 0.1 percentage point to 8%. Several other major economies saw their outlook cut, including Germany, whose economy is now projected to grow 3.1% this year, down 0.5 percent from its July forecast. Japan’s outlook was down 0.4 per cent to 2.4%.

While the IMF believes that inflation will return to pre-pandemic levels by the middle of 2022, it also warns that the negative effects of inflation could be exacerbated if the pandemic-related supply-chain disruptions become more damaging and prolonged. become permanent over time. This may result in earlier tightening of monetary policy by central banks, leading to recovery back.

The IMF says that supply constraints, combined with stimulus-based consumer appetite for goods, have caused a sharp rise in consumer prices in the US, Germany and many other countries.

Food-price hikes have placed a particularly severe burden on households in poor countries. The IMF’s Food and Beverage Price Index rose 11.1% between February and August, with meat and coffee prices rising 30% and 29%, respectively.

The IMF now expects consumer-price inflation in advanced economies to reach 2.8% in 2021 and 2.3% in 2022, up from 2.4% and 2.1%, respectively, in its July report. Inflationary pressures are even greater in emerging and developing economies, with consumer prices rising 5.5% this year and 4.9% the following year.

Gita Gopinath, economic advisor and research director at the IMF, wrote, “While monetary policy can generally see through a temporary increase in inflation, central banks should be prepared to act swiftly if the risks to rising inflation expectations are high. become more important in this unchanged recovery.” Report.

While rising commodity prices have fueled some emerging and developing economies, many of the world’s poorest countries have been left behind, as they struggle to gain access to the vaccines needed to open their economies. More than 95% of people in low-income countries have not been vaccinated, in contrast to immunization rates of about 60% in wealthy countries.

IMF economists urged major economies to provide adequate liquidity and debt relief for poor countries with limited policy resources. “The alarming divergence in economic prospects remains a major concern across the country,” said Ms. Gopinath.

By: Yuka Hayashi

Yuka Hayashi covers trade and international economy from The Wall Street Journal’s Washington bureau. Previously, she wrote about financial regulation and elder protection. Before her move to Washington in 2015, she was a Journal correspondent in Japan covering regional security, economy and culture. She has also worked for Dow Jones Newswires and Reuters in New York and Tokyo. Follow her on Twitter @tokyowoods

Source: IMF Cuts Global Growth Forecast Amid Supply-Chain Disruptions, Pandemic Pressures – WSJ

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Work-Life Balance: What Really Makes Us Happy Might Surprise You

Finding the right work-life balance is by no means a new issue in our society. But the tension between the two has been heightened by the pandemic, with workers increasingly dwelling over the nature of their work, its meaning and purpose, and how these affect their quality of life.

Studies suggest people are leaving or planning to leave their employers in record numbers in 2021 – a “great resignation” that appears to have been precipitated by these reflections. But if we’re all reconsidering where and how work slots into our lives, what should we be aiming at?

It’s easy to believe that if only we didn’t need to work, or we could work far fewer hours, we’d be happier, living a life of hedonic experiences in all their healthy and unhealthy forms. But this fails to explain why some retirees pick up freelance jobs and some lottery winners go straight back to work.

Striking the perfect work-life balance, if there is such a thing, isn’t necessarily about tinkering with when, where and how we work – it’s a question of why we work. And that means understanding sources of happiness that might not be so obvious to us, but which have crept into view over the course of the pandemic.

Attempts to find a better work-life balance are well merited. Work is consistently and positively related to our wellbeing and constitutes a large part of our identity. Ask yourself who you are, and very soon you’ll resort to describing what you do for work.

Our jobs can provide us with a sense of competence, which contributes to wellbeing. Researchers have demonstrated not only that labour leads to validation but that, when these feelings are threatened, we’re particularly drawn to activities that require effort – often some form of work – because these demonstrate our ability to shape our environment, confirming our identities as competent individuals.

Work even seems to makes us happier in circumstances when we’d rather opt for leisure. This was demonstrated by a series of clever experiments in which participants had the option to be idle (waiting in a room for 15 minutes for an experiment to start) or to be busy (walking for 15 minutes to another venue to participate in an experiment). Very few participants chose to be busy, unless they were forced to make the walk, or given a reason to (being told there was chocolate at the other venue).

Yet the researchers found that those who’d spent 15 minutes walking ended up significantly happier than those who’d spent 15 minutes waiting – no matter whether they’d had a choice or a chocolate or neither. In other words, busyness contributes to happiness even when you think you’d prefer to be idle. Animals seem to get this instinctively: in experiments, most would rather work for food than get it for free.

Eudaimonic happiness

The idea that work, or putting effort into tasks, contributes to our general wellbeing is closely related to the psychological concept of eudaimonic happiness. This is the sort of happiness that we derive from optimal functioning and realizing our potential. Research has shown that work and effort is central to eudaimonic happiness, explaining that satisfaction and pride you feel on completing a gruelling task.

On the other side of the work-life balance stands hedonistic happiness, which is defined as the presence of positive feelings such as cheerfulness and the relative scarcity of negative feelings such as sadness or anger. We know that hedonic happiness offers empirical mental and physical health benefits, and that leisure is a great way to pursue hedonic happiness.

But even in the realm of leisure, our unconscious orientation towards busyness lurks in the background. A recent study has suggested that there really is such a thing as too much free time – and that our subjective wellbeing actually begins to drop if we have more than five hours of it in a day. Whiling away effortless days on the beach doesn’t seem to be the key to long-term happiness.

This might explain why some people prefer to expend significant effort during their leisure time. Researchers have likened this to compiling an experiential CV, sampling unique but potentially unpleasant or even painful experiences – at the extremes, this might be spending a night in an ice hotel, or joining an endurance desert race.

People who take part in these forms of “leisure” typically talk about fulfilling personal goals, making progress and accumulating accomplishments – all features of eudaimonic happiness, not the hedonism we associate with leisure.

The real balance

This orientation sits well with a new concept in the field of wellbeing studies: that a rich and diverse experiential happiness is the third component of a “good life”, in addition to hedonic and eudaimonic happiness.

Across nine countries and tens of thousands of participants, researchers recently found that most people (over 50% in each country) would still prefer a happy life typified by hedonic happiness. But around a quarter prefer a meaningful life embodied by eudaimonic happiness, and a small but nevertheless significant amount of people (about 10-15% in each country) choose to pursue a rich and diverse experiential life.

Given these different approaches to life, perhaps the key to long-lasting wellbeing is to consider which lifestyle suits you best: hedonic, eudaimonic or experiential. Rather than pitching work against life, the real balance to strike post-pandemic is between these three sources of happiness.

By: Lis Ku , Senior Lecturer in Psychology, De Montfort University

Source: Work-life balance: what really makes us happy might surprise you

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People Who Eat More Dairy Fat Have Lower Risk of Heart Disease Study Suggests

An international team of researchers studied the consumption of milk fat in 4,150 60-year-olds in Sweden — a country with one of the world’s highest levels of dairy production and consumption — by measuring blood levels of a particular fatty acid found mostly in dairy products. Experts then followed the cohort for an average of 16 years to observe how many had heart attacks, strokes and other serious circulatory events, and how many of them died.

After statistically adjusting for other known cardiovascular disease risk factors, including age, income, lifestyle, diet, and other diseases, the researchers found that those with high levels of the fatty acid – signs of a high intake of lactic fat – had the lowest risk of cardiovascular disease. , as well as no increased risk of death from any cause.

The team then confirmed these findings in other populations after combining the Swedish results with 17 other studies involving a total of almost 43,000 people from the United States, Denmark and the United Kingdom.

“Although the results may be partly influenced by factors other than milk fat, our study does not suggest any harm of milk fat per se,” said Matti Marklund, senior researcher at the George Institute for Global Health in Sydney and co-author of the paper. declaration.

“We found those with the highest levels actually had the lowest risk of CVD (cardiovascular disease). These conditions are very interesting, but we need further research to better understand the full health impact of milk fats and dairy products,” he said.

Lead author Kathy Trieu, a researcher at the George Institute, said that consumption of some dairy products, especially fermented products, had previously been associated with benefits for the heart.

Dairy products are rich in nutrients

“More and more evidence suggests that the health consequences of dairy products may be more dependent on the type – such as cheese, yoghurt, milk and butter – rather than the fat content, which has raised doubts as to whether avoiding milk fat is generally beneficial to cardiovascular health. She said in the statement.

“Our study suggests that cutting down on milk fat or avoiding dairy altogether may not be the best choice for heart health,” she added.

“It is important to remember that although dairy products can be rich in saturated fat, they are also rich in many other nutrients and can be part of a healthy diet. But other fats such as those found in seafood, nuts and Non-tropical vegetable oils can have greater health benefits than milk fat, “said Trieu.

Brian Power, associate professor at the Department of Health and Nutrition at the Irish Institute of Technology Sligo, said the study encourages us to “reconsider what we think we know about food and disease.”

“Dairy products need not be avoided,” Power, who was not involved in the investigation, told CNN in an email. “This is largely lost in its translation when we communicate what we know about healthy eating.”

Data suggest correlation rather than causality

Alice Lichtenstein, director and senior researcher at Tufts University’s Cardiovascular Nutrition Laboratory, told CNN that her main concern was that the study results could be interpreted to suggest that all full-fat dairy products reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, adding: “The majority of data support not consuming full-fat dairy products to reduce CVD risk. “

She said the study data showed that the group with the highest biomarker for dairy intake also had, among other things, a significantly lower BMI, was more physically active, had a lower smoking rate, lower rates of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, a higher level of education, higher intake of vegetables, fruits and fish and lower intake of processed meat – thus a higher dietary quality – all factors associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease.

“They were checked for in the statistical analyzes, but residual confusion can not be ruled out. The reported data is for associations, but associations can not establish causality,” she told CNN in an email, adding that it was also remarkable, that the authors could not identify what type of dairy products their cohort ingested.

By: PLOS Medicine

Source: People who eat more dairy fat have lower risk of heart disease, study suggests | MCUTimes

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Some Vaccinated Travelers Are Already Getting Covid-19 Booster Shots But Experts Say That May Be Counterproductive

Since January, all travelers must test negative for Covid-19 within 72 hours of entering the U.S. There are many reports in recent months of both vaccinated and unvaccinated travelers testing positive within the last three days of their trip.

This can completely upend re-entry plans because a positive test result means delaying a return to the U.S.. Travelers must get retested until they receive a negative test result and, in the meantime, they must remain in their destination at their own expense, often under quarantine or isolation orders.

To give themselves an extra insurance policy against becoming a breakthrough case, some fully vaccinated American travelers are finagling a third shot of the vaccine a few weeks before leaving on their trip — even though the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has yet to give booster shots an official green light. In some cases, they are simply presenting themselves as unvaccinated at pharmacies or other vaccine providers in order to get another dose. Others are getting a booster with the blessing of their doctors.

“People are acting in their own self-interest, and that doesn’t shock me,” said Dr. Kavita Patel, a primary care physician in Washington, D.C., who served as an advisor on health policy in the Obama administration.

“It’s unfortunate, because there remains no evidence that if you’re under 65 years old and otherwise healthy, that you need a third shot right now,” said Dr. Vin Gupta, a pulmonary critical-care physician and an affiliate assistant professor at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington. “There needs to be guardrails here. We need to understand what three doses mean. Are we protected for five years or just another eight months? There are lots of open questions.”

The Biden administration has urged the FDA to release a booster rollout plan as soon as possible, given that some Americans, including first responders and immunocompromised people, received their initial doses in 2020 and officials want the most vulnerable people to be at the front of the line for boosters.

The FDA is currently evaluating when a wider swath of vaccinated Americans should begin receiving Covid-19 booster shots, which is likely to be either six or eight months after completing their initial doses. “The administration recently announced a plan to prepare for additional Covid-19 vaccine doses, or ‘boosters,’ this fall, and a key part of that plan is FDA completing an independent evaluation and determination of the safety and effectiveness of these additional vaccine doses,” said the agency in a statement.

Pending FDA approval, booster doses might begin rolling out to eligible Americans as early as this month, said U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy on a call yesterday that was hosted by the U.S. Health and Human Services Covid-19 Community Corps.

It’s important for individuals to adhere to the FDA’s recommended timing of a third shot, said Dr. Patel. Just as with any other three-shot vaccine series, the intervals between shots will be gauged to give people robust immunity for a longer period of time.

“That’s actually consistent with what we do with other vaccines. Think of the timing of any pediatric vaccine or the human papillomavirus vaccine,” said Dr. Patel. “What I tell patients is that there’s actually a downside from getting a booster too early. They could be potentially harming themselves six to 12 months down the line. I mean, Covid is not going away.”

While Dr. Patel thinks “it’s inevitable” that everyone will eventually need another shot, “there’s unfortunately a perception that in order to go on a trip and avoid getting sick or avoid potential additional costs, people think that a booster is going to be what they need to do to stay protected. I think a lot of people are just thinking, ‘Well, if two is better than one and three is better than two, at some point, I’ll get four.’ And that’s a very dangerous assumption.”

In other words, instead of rushing to get a third shot before a planned trip, it makes more sense to stick to the optimal timing for a booster shot, then plan future trips accordingly.

Follow me on LinkedIn. Check out my website. Send me a secure tip.

I watch trends in travel. Prior to working at Forbes, I was a longtime freelancer who contributed hundreds of articles to Conde Nast Traveler, CNN Travel, Travel + Leisure, Afar, Reader’s Digest, TripSavvy, Parade, NBCNews.com and scores of other outlets. Follow me on Instagram (@suzannekelleher) and Flipboard (@SRKelleher).

Source: Some Vaccinated Travelers Are Already Getting Covid-19 Booster Shots—But Experts Say That May Be Counterproductive

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Non-Negotiable Diet, Sleep and Exercise Routines For a Longer Life

Thanks to today’s advanced research and new innovations, it’s more than possible for us to live longer, stronger and healthier lives. While life expectancy in the U.S. dropped one full year during the first half of 2020, according to a CDC report, much of that was attributed to the pandemic. Prior to Covid, however, life expectancy in the U.S. was 78.8 years in 2019, up a tenth of a year over 2018.

As a longevity researcher, I’ve spent the bulk of my career gathering insights from world-leading health experts, doctors, scientists and nutritionists from all over the world. Here’s what I tell people when they ask about the non-negotiable rules I live by for a longer life:

1. Get regular checkups

Early diagnosis is critical for the prevention of disease and age-related decline, so it’s important to get yourself checked regularly, and as comprehensively as possible.

At the very least, I make it a point to have a complete annual physical exam that includes blood count and metabolic blood chemistry panels, a thyroid panel and testing to reveal potential deficiencies in vitamin D, vitamin B, iron and magnesium (all nutrients that our body needs to perform a variety of essential functions).

2. Let food be thy medicine

Poor diet is the top driver of noncommunicable diseases worldwide, killing at least 11 million people every year.

Here are some of my diet rules for a longer life:

  • Eat more plants: To reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes, try to have every meal include at least one plant-based dish. I typically have broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus or zucchini as a side for lunch and dinner. When I snack, I opt for berries, nuts or fresh veggies.
  • Avoid processed foods: Many products you find in grocery stores today are loaded with salt, sugar, saturated fats and chemical preservatives. A 2019 study of 20,000 men and women aged 21 to 90 found that a diet high in processed foods resulted in an 18% increased risk of death by all causes.
  • Drink more water: Most of us drink far too little water for our optimal health. I keep a bottle of water with lemon slices at hand wherever I spent most of my day.
  • Include healthy fats: Not all fats are bad. High-density lipids (HDL), including monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, are considered “good fats,” and are essential to a healthy heart, blood flow and blood pressure.

3. Get moving (yes, walking counts)

Just 15 to 25 minutes of moderate exercise a day can prolong your life by up to three years if you are obese, and seven years if you are in good shape, one study found.

I try not to focus on the specific type of exercise you do. Anything that gets you up out of the chair, moving and breathing more intensely on a regular basis is going to help.

That’s why the method I practice and recommend the most is extremely simple: Walking. Brisk walking can improve cardiovascular health and reduce risk of obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure. It can even ease symptoms of depression and anxiety.

4. Eat early, and less often

Clinical data shows that intermittent fasting — an eating pattern where you cycle between periods of eating and fasting — can improve insulin stability, cholesterol levels, blood pressure, mental alertness and energy.

To ease into the “eat early, and less often” diet, I started with a 16:8-hour intermittent fasting regimen. This is where you eat all of your meals within one eight-hour period — for instance, between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m., or between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.

But keep in mind that a fasting or caloric-restricted diet isn’t for everyone; always talk to your doctor before making any drastic changes to your diet and eating routine.

5. Constantly work on quitting bad habits

One of the biggest toxic habits is excessive use of alcohol. Studies show that high and regular use can contribute to damages your liver and pancreas, high blood pressure and the immune system.

Large amounts of sugar consumption is another bad habit. Sure, in the right doses, sugars from fruits, vegetables and even grains play an important role in a healthy diet. I eat fruits and treat myself to some ice cream once in a while. But make no mistake: Excess sugar in all its forms is poison. To lessen my intake, I avoid processed foods and sugary drinks.

Lastly, I don’t smoke — but for anyone who does, I recommend quitting as soon as possible. According to the CDC, cigarette smoking is behind 480,000 deaths per year in the U.S.

6. Make sleep your superpower

A handful of studies of millions of sleepers show that less sleep can lead to a shorter life. Newer studies are strengthening known and suspected relationships between inadequate sleep and a wide range of disorders, including hypertensionobesity and diabetes and impaired immune functioning.

I aim for at least seven hours of sleep per night. For me, an essential ingredient for getting quality sleep is darkness; I make sure there’s no light and no electronic devices in my room before bedtime.

 

By: Sergey Young, Contributor

Sergey Young is a longevity researcher, investor and the founder of Longevity Vision Fund. He is also the author of “The Science and Technology of Growing Young: An Insider’s Guide to the Breakthroughs That Will Dramatically Extend Our Lifespan.” Sergey is on the Board of Directors of the American Federation of Aging Research and the Development Sponsor of Age Reversal XPRIZE global competition, designed to cure aging. Follow him on Twitter @SergeyYoung200.

Source: ‘Non-negotiable’ diet, sleep and exercise routines for a longer life

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Dubai Is Using Laser-Beam-Shooting Drones to Shock Rain Out of the Sky

The National Center of Meteorology in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, has found a new way to make it rain. It’s using laser-beam-shooting drones to generate rainfall artificially.

Last week the country’s weather service posted two videos offering proof of the heavy downpours in Dubai’s streets.

Here’s how it works: The drones shoot laser beams into the clouds, charging them with electricity. The charge prompts precipitation by forcing water droplets together to create bigger raindrops, essentially electrifying the air to create rain.

This past March, the BBC reported that the UAE was looking to test the drone technology, which it developed in collaboration with the University of Reading in the UK.

Artificially generated rain is crucial because Dubai only gets an average of 4 inches of rainfall annually. This makes farming difficult and forces the country to import more than 80% of its food.

The efforts are part of the country’s ongoing “quest to ensure water security” since the 1990s through the UAE Research Program for Rain Enhancement, according to the center.

Water security remains one of the UAE’s “main future challenges” as the country relies on groundwater for two-thirds of its water needs, according to the National Center of Meteorology website. The arid nation faces low rainfall level, high temperatures and high evaporation rates of surface water, the center says. Paired with increased demand due to high population growth, this puts the UAE in a precarious water security situation, according to the center.

But rain enhancement may “offer a viable, cost-effective supplement to existing water supplies,” especially amid diminishing water resources across the globe, the center said.“While most of us take free water for granted, we must remember that it is a precious and finite resource,” according to the center.

Cloud seeding projects may also be improving the UAE’s air quality in recent years, according to a 2021 study led by American University of Sharjah. So far, rain enhancement projects have centered on the country’s mountainous north-east regions, where cumulus clouds gather in the summer, according to the National Center of Meteorology website.

There have been successes in the U.S., as well as China, India, and Thailand. Long-term cloud seeding in the mountains of Nevada have increased snowpack by 10% or more each year, according to research published by the American Meteorological Society. A 10-year cloud seeding experiment in Wyoming resulted in 5-10% increases in snowpack, according to the State of Wyoming.

The practice is used in at least eight states in the western U.S. and in dozens of countries, the Scientific American reported. The UAE is one of the first countries in the Arab Gulf region to use cloud seeding technology, according to the National Center of Meteorology website.

It also doesn’t help with the country’s sweltering temperatures. On June 6, for example, Dubai recorded a sweltering temperature high of 125 degrees Fahrenheit.

Dubai’s rainmaking technology is not entirely dissimilar to cloud seeding, which has been used in the US since 1923 to combat prolonged periods of drought. Cloud seeding requires crushed-up silver iodide, a chemical used in photography, to help create water clusters in the air.

Forbes reported that the UAE has invested in nine rain-enhancement projects over the past few years, which cost around $15 million in total. The bulk of those projects have involved traditional cloud-seeding techniques.

Critics of the drone technology worry that it could unintentionally cause massive flooding. And they also worry about such technology being privatized, Forbes reported.

In the US, innovative solutions to the extreme effects of the climate crisis have been explored. Billionaire Bill Gates is backing the development of a sunlight-dimming technology that might help to achieve a global cooling effect by reflecting the sun’s rays from the planet’s atmosphere.

In the meantime, more than 80 wildfires are blazing across the US, devastating communities and destroying homes. On July 13, Death Valley in California recorded a temperature high of 128 degrees Fahrenheit, the Earth’s hottest temperature record since 2017.

By:

Source: Dubai Is Using Laser-Beam-Shooting Drones to Shock Rain Out of the Sky

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Hunger is Rising, COVID-19 Will Make it Worse

The economic crisis and food system disruptions from the Covid-19 pandemic will worsen the lack of nutrition in women and children, with the potential to cost the world almost $30 billion in future productivity losses. As many as 3 billion people may be unable to afford a healthy diet due to the pandemic, according to a study published in Nature Food journal. This will exacerbate maternal and child under-nutrition in low- and middle-income countries, causing stunting, wasting, mortality and maternal anemia.

Nearly 690 million people were undernourished in 2019, up by almost 60 million since 2014. Nearly half of all deaths in children under age five are attributable to undernutrition and, regrettably, stunting and wasting still have strong impacts worldwide.

In 2019, 21 per cent of all children under age five (144 million) were stunted and 49.5 million children experienced wasting.The effects of the pandemic will increase child hunger, and an additional 6.7 million children are predicted to be wasted by the end of 2020 due to the pandemic’s impact.

The situation continues to be most alarming in Africa: 19 per cent of its population is under-nourished (more than 250 million people), with the highest prevalence of undernourishment among all global regions. Africa is the only region where the number of stunted children has risen since 2000.

Women and girls represent more than 70 per cent of people facing chronic hunger. They are more likely to reduce their meal intake in times of food scarcity and may be pushed to engage in negative coping mechanisms, such as transactional sex and child, early and forced marriage.

Extreme climatic events drove almost 34 million people into food crisis in 25 countries in 2019, 77 per cent of them in Africa. The number of people pushed into food crisis by economic shocks more than doubled to 24 million in eight countries in 2019 (compared to 10 million people in six countries the previous year).

Food insecurity is set to get much worse unless unsustainable global food systems are addressed. Soils around the world are heading for exhaustion and depletion. An estimated 33 per cent of global soils are already degraded, endangering food production and the provision of vital ecosystem services.

Evidence from food security assessments and analysis shows that COVID-19 has had a compounding effect on pre-existing vulnerabilities and stressors in countries with pre-existing food crises. In Sudan, an estimated 9.6 million people (21 per cent of the population) were experiencing crisis or worse levels of food insecurity (IPC/CH Phase 3 or above) in the third quarter of 2020 and needed urgent action. This is the highest figure ever recorded for Sudan.

Food security needs are set to increase dramatically in 2021 as the pandemic and global response measures seriously affect food systems worldwide. Entire food supply chains have been disrupted, and the cost of a basic food basket increased by more than 10 per cent in 20 countries in the second quarter of 2020.

Delays in the farming season due to disruptions in supply chains and restrictions on labour movement are resulting in below-average harvests across many countries and regions.  This is magnified by pre-existing or seasonal threats and vulnerabilities, such as conflict and violence, looming hurricane and monsoon seasons, and locust infestations. Further climatic changes are expected from La Niña.

Forecasters predict a 55 per cent change in climate conditions through the first quarter of 2021, impacting sea temperatures, rainfall patterns and hurricane activity. The ensuing floods and droughts that could result from La Niña will affect farming seasons worldwide, potentially decreasing crop yields and increasing food insecurity levels.

The devastating impact of COVID-19 is still playing out in terms of rising unemployment, shattered livelihoods and increasing hunger. Families are finding it harder to put healthy food on a plate, child malnutrition is threatening millions. The risk of famine is real in places like Burkina Faso, north-eastern Nigeria, South Sudan and Yemen.

COVID-19 has ushered hunger into the lives of more urban communities while placing the vulnerable, such as IDPs, refugees, migrants, older persons, women and girls, people caught in conflict, and those living at the sharp end of climate change at higher risk of starvation. The pandemic hit at a time when the number of acutely food-insecure people in the world had already risen since 2014, largely due to conflict, climate change and economic shocks.

Acute food-insecurity is projected to increase by more than 80 percent – from 149 million pre-COVID-19, to 270 million by the end of 2020 – in 79 of the countries where WFP works. The number of people in crisis or worse (IPC/CH Phase 3 or above) almost tripled in Burkina Faso compared to the 2019 peak of the food insecurity situation, with 11,000 people facing catastrophic hunger (IPC/CH Phase 5) in mid-2020.

For populations in IPC3 and above, urgent and sustained humanitarian assistance is required to prevent a deterioration in the hunger situation. It is alarming that in 2020, insufficient funds left food security partners unable to deliver the assistance required. For example, sustained food ration reductions in Yemen have directly contributed to reduced food consumption since March. Today, Yemen is one of four countries at real risk of famine.

Source: https://gho.unocha.org/

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Critics:

During the COVID-19 pandemic, food security has been a global concern – in the second quarter of 2020 there were multiple warnings of famine later in the year. According to early predictions, hundreds of thousands of people would likely die and millions more experience hunger without concerted efforts to address issues of food security.

As of October 2020, these efforts were reducing the risk of widespread starvation due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Famines were feared as a result of the COVID-19 recession and some of the measures taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Additionally, the 2019–2021 locust infestation, ongoing wars and political turmoil in some nations were also viewed as local causes of hunger.

In September 2020, David Beasley, Executive Director of the World Food Programme, addressed the United Nations Security Council, stating that measures taken by donor countries over the course of the preceding five months, including the provision of $17 trillion in fiscal stimulus and central bank support, the suspension of debt repayments instituted by the IMF and G20 countries for the benefit of poorer countries, and donor support for WFP programmes, had averted impending famine, helping 270 million people at risk of starvation.

References:

 

Brexit Tensions In Ireland As Supermarket Shelves Sit Empty

When it comes to Brexit on the island of Ireland, the optics matter. And in the last couple of weeks, they haven’t been great. 

Supermarket shelves sitting empty in the North; log-jammed lorry parks in the South. 

A piece of Brexit paperwork — the Northern Ireland protocol — is to blame. Designed to avoid the return of commercial checkpoints across the island, the protocol sees Northern Ireland remain aligned with the EU single market, allowing goods to pass freely to-and-from the Irish Republic. 

The catch: an effective customs border between Great Britain and Northern Ireland down the Irish Sea. This has slowed — and in some cases, curtailed — the flow of deliveries to Belfast, Ballymena, and beyond. At Dublin Port, through which a significant chunk of the North’s trade passes, freight is moving at a glacial pace.

A catalogue of new documentary checks lurk behind the slowdown. With Brexit, U.K. businesses selling to the EU (and vice versa) must make import and security declarations, confirming the origin of their products. The frictionless trade that has underpinned U.K.-Ireland commerce for a quarter-century is well and truly gone.

When it comes to the movement of food, this is particularly true. Items of plant and animal origin are subject to an added layer of regulatory checks, with veterinary inspectors required to certify a consignment’s contents. This can be a cumbersome process — hence the sorry sight of empty supermarket shelves.  

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It is but “teething problems,” said Prime Minister Boris Johnson; a slightly rough ride in the first official fortnight of Brexit. 

The U.K.’s top supermarket chains don’t exactly agree. An “urgent intervention” is needed to prevent further disruption to Northern Ireland’s food supply, the heads of Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda, Iceland, Co-Op and Marks & Spencer told the government this week. 

There are particular concerns around what happens in April when more strenuous tests on food and agricultural products come into force. At that juncture, it may prove uneconomic for stores to operate in Northern Ireland, raising the spectre of price hikes, or even closures.

That seems unlikely, though — the Brexit process has been pockmarked with challenges, but a solution is almost always found. Indeed, though unsettling, the reports of empty shelves weren’t ubiquitous, and it seems shoppers weren’t put at too great an inconvenience.

But the episode belies a deeper issue.

Ireland, commercially speaking, is no longer split North-South but East-West, with a line drawn between the island and Great Britain. That’s hugely symbolic.   

While Brexit has undoubtedly inflamed age-old political divides in Ireland, there’s little question that the island is now more economically united than at any other time in the last century.

Small wonder the co-ruling Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) — who, this year, will celebrate one hundred years of Northern Ireland’s continued place within the U.K. — was incandescent at the supermarket debacle. 

“[The protocol] has ruined trade in Northern Ireland and it’s an insult to our intelligence to say it’s a teething problem,” fumed DUP lawmaker Ian Paisley Jr in parliament on Wednesday.

His party is pushing for the activation of Article 16 — a safeguard that allows the U.K. (or EU) to act unilaterally if measures imposed as a result of the protocol are deemed to be causing “serious economic, societal or environmental difficulties.” The government has said it won’t hesitate to do so if required, but argues that there hasn’t yet been the need. 

Northern Ireland’s Nationalist movement would tend to agree. Triggering Article 16 would be reckless, senior Sinn Féin figures have said, while Stephen Farry, deputy leader of the Alliance Party, this week dismissed DUP fears that schools and hospitals might face food shortages as “scaremongering on steroids.” 

Whether that’s right or wrong — and even if commercial hurdles are cleared in the coming months — Brexit’s constitutional ramifications for Ireland are gathering pace. Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out some of my other work here.

Alasdair Lane

 Alasdair Lane

I’m a U.K.-based journalist who’s worked at the sharp end of political broadcasting in Westminster, experienced the Brexit brouhaha up close, and interviewed some of the biggest names in U.K. and European policymaking. After a stint as editor of my undergraduate student newspaper, I found myself in London writing for, among others, The Independent. 

As the 2015 General Election approached, I took on a producer role at Sky News, working across the channel and on multiple platforms. Inspired by the heady political times, I moved to Sky’s Westminster studio shortly after, becoming a political news editor. 

The intense, fast-paced posting saw me direct the daily political coverage, produce content going out live, and interview some of the era’s biggest political hitters. 

Returning to my writing roots, I continue to focus on British and E.U. politics, as well as dabbling in wider foreign affairs.

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Daily Mail

Chief executives of Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda, Iceland, Co-Op and Marks & Spencer have written to Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove. Depleted shelves have been seen in several supermarkets in the early days of the new year as trade from Britain has been affected while firms adjust to new requirements on moving produce across the Irish Sea. Export health certificates are required for animal-based food products moving from Britain into Northern Ireland as a result of the region remaining in the EU’s single market for goods. Original Article: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/artic… Original Video: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/video/news… Daily Mail Facebook: http://facebook.com/dailymail Daily Mail IG: http://instagram.com/dailymail Daily Mail Snap: https://www.snapchat.com/discover/Dai… Daily Mail Twitter: http://twitter.com/MailOnline Daily Mail Pinterest: http://pinterest.co.uk/dailymail Daily Mail Google+: https://plus.google.com/+DailyMail Get the free Daily Mail mobile app: http://dailymail.co.uk/mobile

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Côte at Home Shows How To Do Home Delivery With Flair Assuming Dinner Turns Up

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A Saturday night and my phone pings. It’s an email from a well-known courier company. Earlier that day they’d confirmed that my delivery from a high-street restaurant chain would arrive the next day. Now they were telling me it was cancelled: “Contact the sender directly for more information.” At 9.30pm on a Saturday night? Gosh, thanks. Last month, when I wrote about the enduring appeal of French food in Britain, I was emailed by a senior person from the high street bistro chain Côte. They had just launched their Côte at Home range, available nationwide. Would I like to try it?

I turn down over 95% of the freebies offered to me. Partly this is because I am drenched in enough privilege as it is. Wet through, I am. Also, where would I put it all? Mostly, though, I decline such because I’d prefer to experience products as other customers would. I’ve never eaten in a branch of Côte, but many people have told me they rather like them: a fair price point, reliable food and good service. (Complaints in 2015 about the unfair use of tips to top up wages led to a change in policy.) Accordingly, I declined the offer of Côte at Home for free and instead booked it myself. Now, here I was very much experiencing the gorgeous life of a valued customer: it was a Saturday night, I’d spent £85, and my planned dinner for Sunday night had disappeared, along with the contents of this column.

‘A generous portion of for £4.95’: roasted asparagus.

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‘A generous portion of for £4.95’: roasted asparagus.

Sod that. What’s the point of being thickly glazed in privilege if you don’t use it? I emailed the Côte exec. Much hand wringing. Apparently six packages had been lost by the couriers. It would be reorganised. Of course it would. Five other people probably have me to thank for their delivery turning up that Sunday, because I do wonder what would have happened if I hadn’t made a stink.

I mention this partly because it would have been far less than full disclosure not to, but mostly because I want them to sort it out. The thing is that Côte at Home is really good. Not just “good considering they’re a high street chain”, or “not bad at the price”. It’s proper good, in the way you tell your neighbours about over the garden wall while dissing the government’s latest knuckle-dragging stupidity. The online selection is so extensive – not just ready meals but cheeses, wines and butchery – that I wondered whether a food service company was involved. Apparently not. Côte introduced a central kitchen for some of their dishes a while back and, with the additions of a few buy-ins, it all comes from there.

Be prepared for packaging that recalls hardcore M&S: recyclable film-sealed plastic trays with cardboard sleeves bearing the legend “Handmade in the UK.” The labelling is supermarket ready, from allergens, through nutritional advice to ingredients and barcodes, with a chilled shelf life of a week. Look closely at those ingredients. It’s what those in the food business call a “clean dec” (short for clean declaration). It’s all words you would recognise, rather than the sort of preservatives and emulsifiers that allow certain foods to outlive that kitten you just acquired. The pokey vinaigrette, with a generous portion of roasted asparagus for £4.95, is made with Dijon mustard, red wine vinegar and oil, just as mine is. The gazpacho, more than enough for two, and again for £4.95, is made with such exotic ingredients as tomatoes, cucumbers, red and green peppers, garlic and olive oil. It tastes as if it has just been blitzed in my own kitchen. I check. I hadn’t blitzed it in my own kitchen. There are brioche croutons and basil leaves to add. It’s bright and fresh with a strident peppery kick.

Have you ever stood in a supermarket aisle peering at ready-meal portion sizes, muttering: “Which two people is this for? A couple of four-year-olds who are off their food?” No? Just me then. These dishes pass that test. The most expensive is the beef bourguignon at £13.95 for two including a portion of their mash, the arrival of which shames me. But then it’s part of the deal and I’m working, OK? It’s a proper serving for two of me, made with long-cooked boulders of shin, glugs of cabernet sauvignon, lardons, veal jus and a fat old dollop of time. It is ripe and unctuous and could stick your lips together on a chilly day. It gives Tom Kerridge’s recent beef cheek bourguignon serious competition.

‘It’s a proper serving for two of me’: beef bourguignon.

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‘It’s a proper serving for two of me’: beef bourguignon.

Other highlights: a lamb parmentier that the packaging translates as a shepherd’s pie, made with both mince and pieces of lamb that have disintegrated graciously. There is salmon with ratatouille, and to finish, an impressive lemon and Armagnac posset spun through with zest for £3.50, or a classy apple tarte fine for £4.50. Home preparation has been considered. The oven needs to be at 200C for all of it, and cooking times are in multiples of 10 minutes, making it straightforward to get the dishes out in the right order. A slight niggle: the mash that I hated myself for having and the minted peas, required a microwave, which I don’t own. I did them on the hob. They were fine. I’d be very surprised if this service didn’t continue once the crisis ends, and far less surprised if the products turned up in supermarkets, though they’ll be hard pushed to maintain the current price point once retailers take a cut.

One other delivery: the small Mumbai-inspired group Dishoom have launched a kit enabling you to make their rightly famed bacon naans at home for £16, delivered via Deliveroo from their three London outposts. This did come to me for free, because I was then outside the catchment area, but I made a donation to the charity Magic Breakfast, which provides breakfasts in schools to kids who need them. (Dishoom makes a donation to Magic Breakfast for every kit sold).

‘Rightly famed’: Dishoom bacon naans.

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‘Rightly famed’: Dishoom bacon naans. Photograph: Charlie McKay

It’s a lot of fun, and is now available nationwide. You get the three pots of dough, so you have one to screw up (or fill yourself). Roll the dough out, put it into a fiercely hot dry pan for 30 seconds then under the grill for a minute. Works a treat. There’s cream cheese, tomato chilli jam, coriander and very good streaky bacon from Ramsay of Carluke. The good things to have come out of this crisis are few, but a Dishoom bacon naan at home is one of them. Next week this column should find me eating in an actual restaurant. Or just outside one. Fingers crossed.

Visit coteathome.co.uk and dishoomathome.com

News bites

A London-based wine company, Nice, was due to launch an Argentinean Malbec in recyclable cans for the 2020 music festival circuit, to go with their sauvignon blanc and rosé that went on sale in 2019. Now, with a lot of sturdy red wine on their hands, they’ve bottled it and are selling it with all profits going to NHS charities. ‘Wine for heroes’ is available via selected retailers, Amazon and their own website, nice-drinks.co.uk.

One issue of the furlough scheme for the restaurant trade has been that income from service charges through ‘tronc’ schemes was not regarded as the salary upon which government payments were calculated. Many employees, already on modest salaries, saw incomes cut in half during the crisis. It’s shone a light on what many see as the problematical nature of restaurant staff depending upon tips, by their nature variable, to get by. Now London restaurants Oklava and Hill and Szrok have joined a few others by announcing the scrapping of all service charges. The headline price of dishes will go up, but there will be no extra to pay and staff salaries will be guaranteed. Let’s hope it catches on.

A survey of 2,000 people by research company Perspectus Global has found that Lady and the Tramp sharing spaghetti is the most loved movie restaurant scene of all time. The top ten also includes Meg Ryan’s faked orgasm at Katz Deli in When Harry Met Sally and Mia and Vincent going for a burger in Pulp Fiction.

 

By:

 

Source: https://www.theguardian.com

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