Archive: August 2020

Scientific News

COVID-19 has impacted all of us in various drastic ways. For some, it has caused the battle with food insecurity to worsen. Food insecurity is defined as the inability to access food and eat a regular diet that meets dietary needs for a healthy lifestyle due to financial, physical, or social constraints (Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations, 2003). 

 

Over the past few months, the percentage of Canadian families facing food insecurity has risen dramatically. Food prices have risen, shortages have appeared, and unemployment rates have soared. Those who are more vulnerable to food insecurity include black households, First Nations people, those who have lost their jobs, and families with children—especially single parents with children. 

 

Many services are available to dampen the impact of food insecurity on Canadians. Food banks, community initiatives, and online grocery shopping have all been an immense help. In addition, the Canadian Employment Response Benefit (CERB) and Employment Insurance (EI) Benefits have aided those who have become unemployed due to COVID-19. 

 

Food insecurity has always been an issue, but the pandemic has only exacerbated its effects. Only time can tell how the world will handle this difficult situation. 

On August 14th, the WHO deemed oral healthcare as “essential [in] maintaining good overall health and  necessary for the early detection, prevention, and control of oral diseases.” However,  visits to the dentist are often associated with  fear and COVID-19 is yet another reason to avoid the dentist.

 

This week, we were fortunate enough to interview Dr. Rachna Minocha and Dr Rick McKenney. They will provide an overview of the procedures taken to ensure patients a safe visit to the dentist. Here are the responses to the questions addressed during the interview. Dr. Rachna Minocha and Dr. Rick Mckenney run a family dentistry in Amherst, Nova Scotia.

Ever since it’s entrance into the world in December 2019, researchers, scientists and medical professionals around the globe have been working meticulously to develop a vaccine, or a “cure” to combat COVID-19. Although the many developments, there is still no vaccine available to the public in Canada. Even though there is no definite cure to the virus to date, there are several steps that can currently be taken in order to prevent its spread, along with a few “temporary” treatment plans. This article will be discussing some of those steps, in addition to the current treatment plans.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us are focusing on our physical health. Although this is undoubtedly important, we must not forget to also make our mental health a priority. Mental health is defined as cognitive, behavioural, and emotional well-being; it is how humans think, feel, and behave. Everyone responds to stress differently, and throughout the pandemic, the constant flow of negative news can result in increased anxiety and stress. This can have a negative impact on an individual’s mental well-being. This article covers the important topic of mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic. Read about how the pandemic is affecting Canadians, ways to deal with anxiety and stress, and what can be done to improve mental health during and after the pandemic.

In the beginning of the pandemic, people were spreading the news that COVID-19 was positive for the environment. It does make sense why that opinion would come up, with less cars on the road and planes in the sky, it makes a difference for our natural ecosystems. And it has been proven to have caused a great decrease of air pollutants in many countries. But with the increase of plastic waste for sanitary guidelines, there have been numerous environmental consequences due to COVID-19. Just remember, temporary decrease in greenhouse gas emissions is not permanent, rather the opposite unless long term change is implemented.

We have already solidified tests to detect COVID-19 through viral tests (which test if you currently have an infection). However, there's another type of test, a serological test, that can assess individuals who have the virus, or who had the virus in the past. Serological testing is a blood test that searches the blood for antibodies, focusing on proteins made by the immune system to fight pathogens; yet, to reiterate, this test is not a diagnostic test. 

 

The serum component of the blood is analyzed, which contains antibodies to specific components of pathogens, called antigens. These antigens are recognized by the immune system as foreign and are targeted by the body's immune response.

 

There are many types of serological tests, such as Neutralization Tests, Chemiluminescent Immunoassay (CLIA), Enzyme-linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA), and Lateral Flow Assay (LFA).

 

To detect COVID-19, serological testing uses antigens to detect antibodies specific to SARS-CoV-2.

Social Initiatives

On July 31, the federal government announced the launch of COVID Alert. The app, available for iOS and Android, aims to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 by informing people who have been exposed to the virus to get tested immediately. Once downloaded, the app will run throughout the day, trading random codes among nearby users every 5 minutes using Bluetooth. When the device is reconnected to wifi, the codes stored will be compared with the codes of people who have tested positive for COVID-19. If there is a match, the user will receive a notification that they have been exposed to the virus and what their next steps should be. In this article, learn more about how COVID Alert works, its functions, privacy, accuracy, and where you can download it to keep yourself and your communities safe!

Although it is common to believe that donating your clothes is the best thing you can do with clothing that you no longer wear, this is actually not entirely true. In fact, the majority of clothes that are donated are not actually given a “second chance” but are instead dumped into landfills, where they can harm the environment. This article gives a rundown of why this occurs, and what you can do to dispose of your clothing in a responsible way. For instance, once you are ready to give away your clothing, maybe try passing it down to a family member/friend, or even try to fix the item of clothing or reuse the fabric for another project. Additionally, we also give some tips on how to have a sustainable closet in general, and why that is extremely important.

 
 

Vaccine Updates

There is an ongoing search for treatments to address worry and distress surrounding the global pandemic. In this article we will be learning about antibodies and new developments with animal testing. Before beginning human trials for COVID-19 therapies, researchers carried out several tests on animals. Monkeys and hamsters have been tested with a new antibody cocktail. With a mixture of two human antibodies, there is a hope that neutralizing antibodies have the power to treat and prevent SARS-CoV-2.

SARS-CoV-2 Vaccine: Mid-Year Update

Back in May, we posted an article that covered three main vaccine frontrunners in the “race to a cure” for SARS-CoV-2, a virus that has been causing the coronavirus disease in people all over the world.

 

While no specific vaccine has been decided on as of August 27, 2020, all of the vaccines that were covered in our previous article have progressed considerably, which will be also mentioned in this article along with any new initiatives that may seem to have the potential to conquer one of the most unprecedented public health crises in history.

 

All three vaccines from our previous article: mRNA-1273, ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, and BNT162, have progressed to Stages 3 and 1/2, respectively. On the other hand, six other vaccines have entered Phase 3 and two have been approved for early or limited use. These include the Gamaleya Research Institute’s vaccine, Gam-Covid-Vac Lyo, and CanSino Biologics vaccine, Ad5. Both of these vaccines consist of bases of adenovirus, engineered with a coronavirus gene, and are expected to be introduced to Russia and China. While nothing is set in stone, most countries are hopeful about finalizing a vaccine by New Years.

 

Advice/Tips

Relieving stress is crucial during this time of uncertainty, and having it combined with expressing your thoughts and unleashing your creativity is all part of an amazing activity: journaling! 

In this article, we explain some benefits of journaling, as well as different ways to do it. Many people don’t know, but journaling doesn’t have to involve a physical journal at all — you can journal through recording your voice, or taking a video of yourself, or you may even draw or take photos to express your emotions and thoughts! Journaling is truly a very beneficial thing to do, and this is an excellent place to start learning!

Especially during these uncertain times as schools begin to reopen, you may have difficulties staying productive and on top of your work. But don’t worry, you’re not alone! That’s why we’ve compiled a list of 10 tips to help you be as productive as possible while still working at home relatively often. These include pieces of advice for your workspace, such as keeping near natural light (did you know this can reduce eye strain by 84%) as well as general habits, such as having schedules or exercising daily. But remember, don’t get too frustrated with yourself if you can’t get back into your groove right away; this is a unique situation, to say the least, and it can take you a while to adapt, and that’s completely normal!

The Class of 20201 will be entering into their final year of high school this September. With post-secondary applications opening soon, here are some tips and advice on how to prepare.

  1. Take some time to understand what you want to pursue in your future - an ideal discipline would integrate both your passions and hobbies with current opportunities in the working world.

  2. Consider proximity, programs, residences, tuition, and more when choosing your school - not just online ratings. The real rating depends on what past and current students have to say.

  3. Stay organized when applying to schools - try consolidating your information about the school (marks, application deadline, and more) in an easily accessible spreadsheet.

  4. To prepare for supplementary applications, create a list of extracurricular activities, work and volunteer experiences, and awards and achievements you can elaborate on.

Don’t forget to reach out to your support system, they are there to help!

In our current world, networking is extremely important as it can allow you to find new connections which can, in turn, lead to more opportunities. It is crucial to be able to do so effectively and confidently to grow quickly in our competitive society. In this article, we’ve explained a few tips for networking with others, making this a great place to start if you’re looking to improve your skills. This advice ranges from how to prepare, to how to dress, and even to what to include in your conversations. So, if you’re preparing for a networking event, or simply want to help your future self, check out the full article!

Did you know that one-third to one-half of the world’s population is made up of introverts? Despite this, our culture has stigmatized introversion for years, structuring education systems and work environments in a way that puts introverts in a negative light. However, being an introvert can be a great asset! A common misconception people have is that introversion is equivalent to being shy. In actuality, introversion has to do with the nature of how a person processes information, and how they prefer to interact with others. In this article, read about debunking introversion and the myths surrounding it, and discover the strengths of introverts—being strategic contributors, excellent at active learning, the inclination to pursue meaningful social interactions, and more! Contrary to popular belief, introversion is not at all a weakness, but an extraordinary power!

As school quickly begins to approach, many students have to switch sleep schedules — from staying up past midnight and sleeping in, to waking up early in the morning. Although this can be difficult, it is extremely important that adolescents get 8-10 hours of sleep every night, and this is especially difficult to do during back-to-school season. So, we have written an article with an explanation of why certain people are night owls, while others are early birds, as well as a list of tips that can help you make this transition much easier. Some of these include trying your best to maintain a consistent sleep schedule, even on weekends, and trying to avoid procrastinating going to sleep. We strongly encourage everyone to try their best to have a healthy sleep schedule, especially because of the stress we face with the COVID-19 pandemic!

As school quickly begins to approach, many students have to switch sleep schedules — from staying up past midnight and sleeping in, to waking up early in the morning. Although this can be difficult, it is extremely important that adolescents get 8-10 hours of sleep every night, and this is especially difficult to do during back-to-school season. So, we have written an article with an explanation of why certain people are night owls, while others are early birds, as well as a list of tips that can help you make this transition much easier. Some of these include trying your best to maintain a consistent sleep schedule, even on weekends, and trying to avoid procrastinating going to sleep. We strongly encourage everyone to try their best to have a healthy sleep schedule, especially because of the stress we face with the COVID-19 pandemic!

 
 

Other News

This summer, although many carnivals and fairs have been cancelled to avoid large gatherings and prevent the spread of COVID-19, there are still ways to make the same exciting memories at home. From handmade decorations to delicious festival recipes, here is a brief step by step guide to help you host an awesome summer fair in your own backyard!

 

  1. Set the scene. Put up colourful signs and hand out carnival tickets to all your guests! A little goes a long way creating your carnival theme. 

  2. Build DIY carnival games. Ring toss, Knock-em-down, balloon pop… the choices are endless!

Cook up some iconic carnival foods. Who doesn’t love cotton candy, caramel apples, and corn dogs? These delicious treats will add the perfect touch to your festival experience.

As schools begin to reopen, including those in British Columbia, many different opinions arise about the benefits and risks of children being back at school. Unfortunately, this places a lot of stress on students, parents, and staff, and it’s important to recognize this. In this article, we consider both the perspectives of parents and health professionals regarding the reopening of schools, and give advice on how to support students through these difficult times. We’ve also listed a few resources for mental health support, if anyone is in need. It is always a good thing to ask for help, so if you are struggling, make sure to reach out to those that you feel most comfortable with!!

You’ve made it… almost. You just have to get through senior year, and then your high school career will officially draw to a close. But why just get through it when there are so many ways to make the most of your last year in high school? We’ve compiled a list of 21 bucket list ideas for the class of 2021. Here’s a sneak peek of a few: 

 

  1. Plan a weekend road trip with your best friends. Get everyone to bring food potluck style and make a new Spotify playlist for the occasion!

  2. Take tons of pictures with your family. If you plan on moving away, try to create as many memories as you can with them.

  3. Reflect on your senior year. Make sure to send thank you gifts to important teachers and people who have helped you in your journey throughout high school!

The Shad Program is a 27-day summer program offered in July that provides an upwards of one thousand grade 10 and 11 students the opportunity to live and work on a Canadian university’s campus. Shad focuses on hands-on applications of STEAM and entrepreneurship as well as nearly every soft skill: research, problem solving, communication, team work, and more. Unfortunately due to COVID-19, the 2020 in-person program was cancelled; however, the Shad team assembled together and created ShadOnline. Exceptionally, it kept a lot of the same aspects as the original program. Tim Jackson, the CEO of Shad Canada and Justin Lim, the Program Director at Shad Mount Allison University give an insight into ShadOnline as well as some key life advice and takeaways from the Shad experience in general.

Ever since technology first started to take off, there’s been a debate regarding the value of reading physical books in comparison to the simplicity of reading online. Whether you appreciate the growing accessibility of e-books or remain forever loyal to printed books, here are a few factors to take into consideration: 

 

  1. Retention capacity. Studies have shown that reading in print offers increased benefits for more in-depth reading and better comprehension. 

  2. Affordability. In general, e-books are cheaper to purchase than printed books. However, if you aren’t looking to purchase a book but only want to read it, libraries and free book exchanges are great options. 

Bonding/Authenticity. An e-book doesn’t offer the same presence and bonding capacity as a printed book. Without being able to physically turn pages and point at pictures, a certain level of authenticity is lost.

Music is everywhere. It is a means of relaxation and expression. Especially during these difficult times, music has been a solace from the overwhelming matters in the world. But are you aware of the many health benefits rooted in music? Clinical trials have shown that listening to music for just 12 minutes a day can result in extraordinary benefits! In this article, explore how music can activate the brain to do incredible things — increase productivity, improve memory, mood, and cognitive function, and even prevent aging! Music is truly an amazing tool that grants us connection — both connection within the brain and a subconscious connection with the world.

Ontario has recently announced its back-to-school plan for September. Here is a brief outline: 

 

  • Elementary students will return to school full-time

  • Secondary students will attend school on alternating days

  • School boards will be required to employ protection strategies adhering to public health measures

  • Parents who wish to opt their children out of in-person classes may do so

 

While some may feel that the back-to-school plan is much needed, many concerns have also been raised. For one, large elementary class sizes could make physical distancing difficult to maintain. Furthermore, additional funding will be needed for decreased class sizes, school nurses, custodial staff, and protection strategies. 

 

With all this uncertainty, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Try having an open discussion with your parents/guardians about any fears or concerns regarding the new school year. In addition, if you are attending school, be prepared with all your school supplies, protective equipment, and follow public health regulations. 

 

Remember, as students, your job is to learn. Stay safe and take it easy on yourself—we’re all learning together. For more information, visit the Government of Ontario website.

On August 4th, two enormous explosions detonated across the city of Beirut, the capital and most populated city of Lebanon. The disaster was caused by a large amount of ammonium nitrate that was unsafely stored in a warehouse in 2013. In turn, it has caused over 200 deaths, 5000 casualties, and has left over 300 thousand people homeless and displaced. 

 

Even before the explosions, the country already faced a number of other issues, including extensive debts, government corruption, and COVID-19. The citizens of Lebanon are angry at their government’s negligence, and protesters have taken to the streets following the incident. 


If you're interested in donating to relief efforts, click here for a list of organizations through which to do so. As well, visit the full article for more information on the political, economic, and social implications in the aftermath of the explosions.

Although it may not seem real, we are currently living through an extremely significant historical event -- one that will be remembered for a very, very long time due to its tremendous effects on the entire world. However, you might think that there is no point remembering these memories -- it might be that you just want to fast forward to when everything goes back to normal. Nevertheless, it’s still important to make memories during these times, so that you can look back on them later in life. So, we’ve made a guide as to how you can approach this -- from journaling, to scrapbooking, even making a time capsule. Not only will this give you something to remember this time by, but it can also be a fun activity for yourself and your family.

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