Archive: June 2020

Scientific News

Have you ever been uncertain about the definitions of certain terms that are currently being used regarding the COVID-19 pandemic? Well, this article is for those of you that may be interested about community transmission, the three steps of contact tracing, R0, or maybe information about the different strains of coronaviruses. If you didn’t know, there are actually seven strains of coronaviruses, the current virus, SARS-CoV-2, being one of them!

 

It’s always important to stay informed about these terms, and this term dictionary is the perfect, convenient place to make sure you’re keeping up-to-date with keywords and information!

The severeness of COVID-19 depends on each infected individual.  Many COVID-19 cases only experience mild symptoms, but there are extreme situations where individuals need to be hospitalized and breathe with the aid of a ventilator. It is a fact that the symptoms of COVID-19 are known, but the severity is unpredictable. But what about the long term effects on the body, weeks, months, even years after the pandemic has passed? Learn more about the effects of this virus longterm.

It’s no secret that dogs are incredibly smart and sensitive animals; for decades they have been more than just the average household pet. They are used as guides for people with disabilities, security for households, and aids to the police and medical professionals when detecting certain diseases, drugs, and bombs. Most recently, dogs have also been trained to sniff out COVID-19. Compared to humans, dogs have more than 50 times the number of smell receptors we have. These receptors are excellent at picking up tiny volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that cause diseases and are found in bodily fluids and breath. How does this work with COVID-19? Scientists predict that because COVID enters the bloodstream and other organs, the scent of urine would differ to that of a healthy person. Across the world, studies have commenced the training for dogs to detect COVID-19 using samples of urine from individuals who are carrying the virus and those who are not—with very promising results. Could dogs end up working in official settings to sniff out the virus in the near future? Check out the full article for greater insight on the progress of this experiment and the training involved.

Before the pandemic, powerful protests demanded climate action. Despite concerns and consequences, companies and individuals continued to emit greenhouse gases and pollutants for the benefit of economic growth. As lockdowns were enforced across the globe, few airline destinations remained open and non-essential travel was banned. Read more about COVID-19’s effect on the environment. Were there positive effects? How long did they last?

Virology is the study of viruses while Epidemiology is the study of the distribution and determinants of health-related states and events in populations. Many virologists and epidemiologists are currently working on the management and solution to COVID-19. Coronavirus’ are complicated viruses and relate to one another in different ways. The science behind the current pandemic is still not fully understood, but in this article you’ll find information on virus transmission, the coronavirus’ genome and future steps. 

Convalescent plasma therapy (CPT) is a virus treatment method that involves transferring plasma from a recovered person to an infected patient. The plasma contains antibodies, which are proteins from the immune system that help fight the virus. 

 

Previously, CPT has been used to treat diseases such as scarlet fever, influenza, and Ebola. Now, it’s being tested to observe its safety and effectiveness in treating COVID-19. The idea is that it can benefit not only people who are currently fighting COVID-19, but also those with diseases that put them at a higher risk, as well as people who have been in close contact with cases of COVID-19. 

 

However, there are a few potential risks. Though researchers believe the risk of contracting COVID-19 itself from CPT is low, the treatment could come with allergic reactions, lung damage, or even the transmission of other infections.

Social Initiatives

With COVID-19 safety measures slowly starting to ease up, cities are looking for ways to carefully allow for people to return to their normal lives without causing a great risk of community exposure. Presenting ActiveTO — a set of initiatives that have been implemented across different areas in the busy metropolis of Toronto. The initiatives, backed by data and statistics, aims to support essential trips, front-line workers, and vulnerable road users. The ActiveTO project has three main areas of focus: creating quiet streets, closing major roads, and expanding the cycling network. Although the future of the world following this pandemic is unknown, these initiatives show that one thing is certain: cities will have to come up with innovative solutions, just like ActiveTO, to remain in the best interest of its communities.

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused many events to be significantly modified, and the graduation of the Class of 2020 is definitely one of them. Students across Canada who have graduated this year were often unable to attend a regular graduation ceremony due to social distancing measures; however, schools and students were able to find ways to celebrate these achievements nonetheless. 

 

Some have hosted smaller ceremonies, or streamed congratulatory events online, allowing students to experience this event from the comfort and safety of their homes. Other schools rescheduled until next fall, or until it is safe to host these events. Either way, this year’s graduations are definitely ones for the history books!

The past few months have brought events that were unprecedented and unexpected, to say the least. Thus, the daunting question arises: how can the world overcome these dramatic changes? For a group of teenagers in Hamilton, Ontario, the answer is as clear as ever: through connecting, supporting, and helping others within the community. Introducing Janus Skills 4 Success, a youth-led non-profit organization that aspires to do just that. With the community in mind and an eagerness to help those in need during the pandemic, the Janus S4S executive team initiated a contactless food drive to support a local charitable organization that is operating as an emergency food bank during the COVID-19 pandemic. Through their example, Janus S4S hopes to inspire and encourage youth to get involved in their communities.

Every teacher has over 30 students, yet they still try to support every individual. Even in quarantine, they are supporting students by extending deadlines, offering private sessions, and providing extra resources just to name a few. 

 

However, E-learning has its challenges, ranging from difficulties with technology to the loneliness of not seeing students every day. It’s important to appreciate our teachers for everything they do for us.

Check out this video for a Teacher Appreciation video from students all across Canada!

During this pandemic, life hasn’t been easy for senior citizens. Not only are they at a higher risk for COVID-19, but they are also vulnerable to mental health issues. This arises as a result of loneliness, isolation from friends and family, and cancellation of daily activities such as Zumba and Art classes. 

 

In response, initiatives have popped up across North America to spread joy and hope. This includes Letters to Seniors, an organization based in Vaughan/Toronto, ON. The founder, Carol, says: “I came up with this initiative where we would handwrite personalized messages to seniors in retirement homes to remind them that they are not alone and that there is some light at the end of the tunnel.”

 
 

Vaccine Updates

Moderna — the “front-runner” in the race for a Covid-19 vaccine — has just released the news that they have finalized phase 3 of their mRNA-1273 vaccine and will be working on it in July. Following the completion of this third phase, the new drug will become approved and available for public use. Moderna's key objective is to assess the safety, reactogenicity and immunogenicity of their vaccination. Put simply, they have been ensuring that their COVID-19 vaccination will show a majority of beneficial health effects and that it will have the ability to invoke immune responses to aid in the battle against COVID-19.

 

Advice/Tips

When was the last time you opened a new book, ready to dive into a new adventure? Due to the busyness of everyday life and the closures of bookshops and libraries during quarantine, it may have been a while. In that case, consider giving audiobooks a try! Whether you are an avid reader or not, audiobooks provide an alternative to printed books that may just be ideal for you! An audiobook is a voice-recording of a text, that can be listened to on various electronic devices. They are eyes and hands-free, allowing for reading whenever and wherever. In this article, discover the extraordinary benefits of audiobooks and various resources to start browsing for free! Happy listening!

Did you know that your mental health is often correlated to the length of your telomeres — segments of noncoding DNA that are found on the ends of our chromosomes? In this article, we’ll teach you some scientific facts about your mental health, as well as a list of self-care activities you can do throughout your time in quarantine. 

 

Some examples include making sure to use this time to connect and socialize with your family, even if they are across the globe. Also, some beneficial activities like exercising, reading some novels, and learning new recipes will help you fill time and keep your mind off of our current global situation. Whatever you do, make sure to keep your mental health in mind during the pandemic, as it is definitely a difficult time for many of us. 

In quarantine, exercising the brain is just as important as physical exercise in order to achieve overall well-being. There are several daily brain activities that can improve memory, concentration, focus, and keep our minds strong and sharp. Here are a few examples:

  1. Learn a new language. You never know when the ability to communicate in another language might come in handy!

  2. Learn an instrument. Not only is it exercising the brain, but it comes with long-term health benefits as well. Plus, who doesn’t love music?

  3. Work on a puzzle. Whether it’s a jigsaw puzzle, a Sudoku game, or an online quiz, the options are truly endless!

 
 

Other News

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many people have been struggling with their mental health, so it’s important to know a few key crisis resources to be able to recommend if others or even yourself experience negative thoughts that are interfering with daily life. These resources provide professionals that can speak with you and help you take a next step depending on your situation. 

 

We have curated a list of some of the best resources specific to certain groups, such as French speakers, as well as province-specific resources, that you can call or text anytime you are in a negative mental space and need some advice or reassurance. This can seriously help somebody out, so it’s important to keep these useful resources in mind. However, if you or anyone else is ever in immediate danger, always call 911!

For many of us, non-Black people, we are aware of Black History and know about slavery. We are aware of the prejudices people have about people of colour. We might even sense within our own culture, how difficult it is to sever the old colonialistic views on people of colour. However, there is still so much to learn. It is important to acknowledge your privilege and understand the history of black culture. In this article, you will find educational resources, protesting tips and insightful information on how racism is affecting our society.