COVID-19 Update: How We Are Serving and Protecting Our Clients

Articles Posted in Covid-19

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As the world nears the end of July, new research declares promising results for the latest Coronavirus vaccines. There are more than 3,800,000 confirmed cases in the United States and more than 14,700,000 cases worldwide. The public has been waiting patiently for a vaccination; however, there are multiple steps that must be completed before a vaccine is deemed effective.

Before a vaccination is permitted for public-use, there are several steps and guidelines in order to ensure its success. First, the vaccine must be developed and studied before it can be tested on people. At this stage, the vaccine is considered “preclinical”, which means that it is being changed and updated frequently. There are more than 100 vaccinations that are in this stage, and only 18 have moved to Phase I of the testing stage. Researchers will begin testing a small group of people to monitor the dosage and efficiency of the vaccine. As it becomes available to pass to Phase II, more participants from different ages are involved. Essentially, the trials are expanded from Phase I and are studied more closely in the following phases. The Food and Drug Administration (F.D.A.) has declared that the vaccine must protect at least 50% of all vaccinated participants to be labeled “effective” and succeed to the third and final phase of testing. Phase III incorporates testing thousands of people from different age groups and monitoring their results. Once the test trials conclude, official regulators will review the results and determine whether the vaccine will be approved for commercial use.

Oxford University and AstraZeneca, a global bio-pharmaceutical company, have recently conducted a trial for their prototype vaccine. Researchers have published their data in a general medical journal, The Lancet. Their test vaccine consists of a combination of genetic material from the Coronavirus and a modification of the Adenovirus, which causes mild respiratory illnesses. They tested 1,000 participants between the ages of 18 to 55 in their trial. Overall, the vaccine was mostly accepted by the participants tested; some reported that they experienced mild symptoms, such as fatigue and headaches, but there were no severe reactions.

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Have you noticed your go-to beer or soft drink is hard to come by or completely unavailable?  It may not be coincidence; as the COVID19 pandemic continues to rage across the United States, shortages of a multitude of supplies have occurred.  Everyone remembers the toilet paper panic of March and April, the lack of available Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), the beef shortage at fast food restaurants like Wendy’s, and the general uneasiness these shortages and others like them gave us.  However, July has seen the rise of new shortages, most notably: aluminum cans.

You may have seen articles online or news segments that are discussing other prominent July shortages due to COVID19, such as coins or lumber; however, aluminum cans may make the greatest impact on the average American.  As COVID19 impacts rose, many Americans sought to bulk up on goods stored in their homes.  In doing so, consumption of products, including beers and sodas, shifted away from bars, restaurants, and convenience stores, which rarely utilize aluminum cans, and moved towards multi-pack products often purchased for domestic consumption.  These bulk-based products frequently feature aluminum-canned items.

This newfound demand for aluminum cans is pinching supplies for some drinks, and creating a significant disparity between supply and demand.  This disparity has sent the can industry into a tizzy, as manufacturers have already announced plans to build three new manufacturing plants in the next 18 months. Ball Corporation, a popular North American can maker, has also pledged to open two new manufacturing plants in the United States and add two additional production lines to already existing factories.  The corporation had seen an uptick in can demand from specialty drinks like hard seltzers and sparkling waters.  They also noted that the environmental upside of cans, combined with the rise in popularity of newly canned drinks and COVID19 impacts, has created “unprecedented demand and short supplies” of their coveted aluminum product.

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A new study may send a shock to millions of at-risk Americans.  The study, which was published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology early this week, claims that taking heartburn medication featuring “Proton Pump Inhibitors” (PPI) could increase your chances of contracting the cause of the current pandemic, COVID-19.  In fact, it claimed the medication could make you between 2 – 4 times as likely to test positive for the potentially deadly virus (compared to non-users).

The study, which was led by Cedars-Sinai Medical Center’s Dr. Brennan Spiegel, surveyed over 86,000 individuals through online communications.  Among them, more than 53,000 people reported taking medication for pain or discomfort associated with gastrointestinal regions of their bodies.  Ultimately, over 3,300 of them tested positive for COVID-19.

Although there is an array of medications to deal with gastrointestinal issues, proton pump inhibitors are extremely popular, and accessible.  Offered both through prescriptions and over-the-counter, popular medicines featuring PPI’s include, but are not limited to: Prilosec, Prilosec OTC, Zegerid, Prevacid, Protonix, Aciphex, Nexium, and Dexilant. These medications act by turning off pumps in cells that release acid into your stomach, and can be taken once or twice daily.  The study also determined the more frequently an individual was to take PPI medication, the more likely they would be to contract COVID-19.

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Social media has created online communities, and continues to drive online communication.  As this process occurs, the media adapts.  The newest adaptation in this trend is an app known as “Tik Tok”.  The app, which was started in China in 2016, launched in the United States in 2018 and has become an enormous hit with the country’s youth.  As with the social media of the past and present, Tik Tok trends have become prevalent.  Their flagship trend is called a “challenge”.  During Tik Tok Challenges, the participants attempt to recreate previous videos made by other users.  They all share the same general actions, music, dances, etc.

The newest, and most dangerous Challenge is titled “The Skull Breaker Challenge”.  This consists of three individuals standing side by side. As the middle participant jumps into the air, the two outside participants kick the legs out from underneath him/her.  As you may predict, this challenge has caused head, neck, and back injuries to many of its participants, which is how it received its charming name.  Some of these injuries have been severe, causing serious complications.

While Tik Tok has requested its users not participate in dangerous challenges like The Skull Breaker Challenge, their requests have largely gone ignored.  With COVID-19’s impacts driving online activity through the roof, Tik Tok users have continued to churn out these dangerous videos.

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