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antigen test

COVID-19 and Nutrition: How Diet Affects Spread of COVID-19

COVID-19 is currently one of the leading medical challenges worldwide. The COVID-19 pandemic hit the world hard, affecting every aspect of daily living. Since the emergence of COVID-19 in 2020, the virus has been known to have several effects on the human body. Even after the pandemic elapsed and governments worldwide lifted their lockdown restrictions, the virus has still left aftereffects in its wake.

One of the ways the virus has been known to affect humankind is through nutrition and dieting in people. This article aims to understand nutritional research as it relates to the COVID-19 pandemic.

For about two years, the virus has had significant mortality, morbidity, and financial and social connotations for the world. Despite having all this knowledge, very little is to be known about how the COVID-19 infection affects lives regarding the changes in one’s nutritional behavior. However, nutritional intervention may also affect COVID-19 spread and mortality rate.

Nutrition is a social determinant of health. For healthcare professionals to effectively counsel and advise their clients on nutritional intervention options as part of their treatment, they must be aware of the various factors contributing to diet-related disparities.

It is also essential to be aware of the allergic reactions a patient would have to certain foods and even food sensitivity.

This is where a dietary antigen test comes in.

The P88 dietary antigen test is a single test IgE, IgG, IgG4, and complement (C3d) reactions to 88 of most of the common foods in a diet. It is a highly comprehensive test of immune responses.

This dietary antigen test helps you find and address food allergies and food sensitivities in patients with chronic illnesses (e.g., COVID-19).

Identifying and eliminating food sensitivities can go a long way in a patient’s wellness. It is a test that can lead to a more precise treatment plan and better patient outcomes.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, dietary patterns shifted in many individuals and not entirely for the better; this was probably due to altered health behaviors and the mental and physical toll the lockdown had on so many people.

Amidst all this, it is still vital for a patient to have a proper diet with good nutritional value to avoid or withstand infections and diseases like COVID-19.

As stated earlier, nutrient intake and disease occurrence usually influence individuals’ nutritional status.

Inadequate diet and infectious diseases could lead to malnutrition which would only weaken one’s chances of returning to good health. There is currently no proof that any supplement can boost our immune system or prevent viral infections, which is why it is of great importance to have a balanced diet that would keep the body in its most vital state possible. It also ensures a strong immune system that can help withstand any assault from the virus.

To ensure wellness and boost the immune system, here are ten foods that will boost the immune system and leave it in fighting condition.

  • Broccoli
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Papaya
  • Citrus fruits
  • Turmeric
  • Shellfish
  • Almonds
  • Red bell peppers

It is worthy of note that these foods will only give your immune system the much-needed boost to fight off any form of disease or infection and thereby keep you from contracting COVID-19. There are still no supplements (save for the vaccine) that can protect one against the COVID-19 virus.

According to researchers, there is no means of virus contraction through food or food packaging. Nevertheless, it is advisable to follow good food practices, some of which are included below: 

  • Store raw and cooked foods separately to stop harmful microbes from spreading into cooked foods.
  • Do not display unwrapped foods at the counter.
  • Wash fruits and vegetables before consumption.
  • Use separate utensils for cutting raw and cooked foods.

For ideal health, drinking water instead of sugar-sweetened beverages is essential. Limiting or, better still, avoiding the intake of alcohol is also recommended.

It is essential to have proper nutritional value and a balanced diet in one’s food. It is beneficial to the complete well-being and health of an individual.

Categories
blood donation

Effects of Covid-19 on Blood Donation and Transfusion

The severe COVID-19 virus caused the pandemic that the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared in 2020, and it led to a massive disruption in health care services across all countries worldwide. Since the pandemic occurred, one of the major areas of healthcare it affected was blood transfusion and donation. There were significant concerns about blood availability for patients in need, and it was a severe threat to the treatment of patients. This article will expand on the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on blood transfusion and donation.

Blood transfusion is one practice that cannot be replaced in the health care sector, and with the introduction of the COVID-19 pandemic, the availability of blood has been an issue. There was an increasing shortage of blood worldwide, which significantly affected blood transfusion. 

There was a significant decrease in blood donation from about 40% to 67% worldwide. Walk-in blood donors reduced drastically during the pandemic because there was a lockdown, and staying indoors was in their best interest. Hospitals and other health care facilities maintained strict rules on people accessing the building, so people could not just come and go as they pleased. 

There was also the concern of the donors contracting the virus through blood donation. Most people were in the dark about what the COVID-19 virus was, especially with all the conspiracy theories and rumours circulating. As something that claimed so many lives, very few were willing to take the risk.

In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic hindered blood donation because it diverted the attention of world leaders/policymakers and health workers away from other issues. On the one hand, it is a positive thing because it shows that the governments of many countries worldwide were committed to tackling and managing the spread of the virus, but on the other hand, it stands as a risk to other structures that have been put in place. Over the years, blood donation and transfusion services have reduced mortality and morbidity rates. Still, the intense focus on curbing the COVID-19 spread slowly jeopardises these other life-saving practices.

As a result, most health care facilities had to depend on their blood banks for blood transfusion, which is very limited. So, people lost their lives to COVID-19 and other illnesses because of a lack of blood. Another crucial challenge was the rapid reduction in available health care workers and other essential staff because many across health facilities contracted the COVID-19 virus or suffered other illnesses.

Post-COVID-19 pandemic, various health care facilities have intentionally tried ways to protect prospective donors from the COVID-19 virus while increasing the blood supply. One of those ways is free blood screening. Blood screening involves testing the blood for various infectious diseases, including COVID-19. This was a regular habit at health care facilities pre-COVID-19 but only intensified afterward. 

There may be willing donors interested in testing for only COVID-19 before donating blood, and various platforms can make that possible. There are community testing centres specifically for COVID-19 testing. Better still, they could self-test by getting the PCR or the rapid antigen home test kit. They are both quicker and can be done comfortably in their homes. Health care facilities also administer antibody tests to blood donations to confirm if there are COVID-19 antibodies. It is still advised that donors get vaccinated as the body produces antibodies after vaccination.

Another way to spread the word about blood donation is by implementing mobile blood drives in public places like offices, neighbourhoods, and educational institutions with high chances of getting donors. This will help bridge the blood supply and demand gap this season.

Blood transfusion is essential, as there will always be people who need blood, and the only way for people to get the blood they need is when people are willing to donate. Health care workers must maintain necessary protocols in their facilities and be empathetic with the donors to put them at ease and assist them in doing their part.

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COVID-19 variants

COVID-19 Variants: What you Need to Know

In late 2019, the virus causing COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) was discovered, which led to a global pandemic. The virus is well known for how rapidly it changes, so ever since its discovery, it has changed into a couple of variants. 

Post-COVID-19 pandemic, different variants have been discovered, such as Alpha, Beta, Delta, and Omicron. Given the nature of the virus, there may be new variants because of how rapidly it changes. The names of the COVID-19 variants given by the World Health Organisation (WHO) were derived from the Greek alphabet. 

The first variant- the Alpha variant (B.1.1.7), was discovered in November 2020. This first case of this variant was in the UK, but not long after, it spread fast worldwide. It then became the most common variant in the US and is currently the most common in Canada. 

The Alpha variant is known to be quite contagious, but when mutated, it is not only more contagious but more harmful to the immune system. It is said to be 30 to 50% more infectious than SARS-CoV-2.

Studies were made to know if vaccines work on this variant. From the studies, the AstraZeneca vaccine, Pfizer vaccine, Johnson & Johnson vaccine, and Moderna vaccine were all proven to prevent the dangerous effect of the Alpha variant.

The Beta variant (501.v2 or B.1.351) was first spotted in South Africa. The variant’s mutation (N501Y) makes it way more infectious and easy to spread and is labelled along with other variants as ‘variants of concern.’ The Beta variant also carries another mutation called E484K, which enables the virus to escape the immune system of the person that has contracted it. 

Although the virus has undergone some changes, the chances of contracting it remain the highest for the elderly.

In South Africa, this variant’s death rate and hospitalisation increased by 20% in the second wave. The variant has currently circulated across the world in over 48 countries and was discovered in 23 states in the US, while the UK has recorded over a thousand cases.

The E484K mutation will likely affect how vaccines work on the body. Studies have been carried out, and none of the vaccines has been proven to be 100% efficient against this variant but taking them plays a part in fighting it.

The Delta variant was first spotted in India in 2020, spreading rapidly there and eventually reaching the UK and the US. The variant spread fast across the UK, significantly increasing hospitalisation and making it the dominant variant. The United States also added Delta to their list of ‘variants with concern’ even though they had not recorded any case then.

The variant is said to be very contagious. Studies say that it is 50% faster at spreading than the Alpha variant and like earlier mentioned, the Alpha COVID-19 variant is 50% more contagious than the  COVID-19 virus.

Getting vaccinated is the best means of protection against this variant. People that have not been vaccinated are at a higher risk of contracting the virus. Most cases with terrible outcomes are primarily in places where the vaccine rate is low.

The Omicron variant was first discovered in South Africa in November 2021. Around the same period, individuals in England, Nigeria, and the United States were also said to have contracted the new variant.

Omicron can be contracted and spread easier than the other variants whether you have been vaccinated or not. 

Compared to other variants, Omicron causes less severe cases of infection. The variant causes more lenient diseases even though some cases of death and hospitalisation may still occur.

To be safe, people are advised to take the COVID-19 vaccine because people who have been vaccinated and later contract this variant are less likely to get severe infections than those who haven’t taken it at all.

No one knows how many more variants will come, so one should get vaccinated during this period, follow COVID-19 protocol, and stay safe.

Categories
COVID-19 testing

Pre and post covid-19 experiences

We all had a life before the covid-19 outbreak. Everywhere bustled and rustled till the virus came and took it away from us without mercy. Before the lockdown, we enjoyed family gatherings, unions, celebrations, work, academic, and social life. At the instance of the virus, all of these abruptly changed at the snap of a finger. Everything is beginning to come back to normal now, but we cannot be too sure of total normality because a cure is yet to be found. Nevertheless, it is advisable to continue with the covid-19 safety measures, get the vaccine shots, and equally get tested using the PCR test for covid-19 or other covid-19 tests.

The sudden outbreak of the virus and total lockdown undoubtedly affected us. However, it had some positive outcomes on family life, work-life, and children who lacked proper care and attention from their parents. Couples bonded with their children and vice versa, work stress was reduced due to a lack of physical meetings, and children spent quality time with their parents. Despite the positive outcome, the devastating nature of the outbreak engulfed all. The experiences before and during the pandemic, from the economy, to the healthcare systems, will be discussed. Noting the economic meltdown and the swift change in the healthcare system of the United Kingdom.

The Economy

Before the outbreak, the UK economy was unstable due to the impact of Brexit. It did not stop the country’s thriving in exporting goods and services as it produced significant value. The economy showed a notable increase in manufacturing operations, including food, beverage, machinery and equipment, and chemicals. However, like other countries, the UK faced a challenge of recession concerning the effect of the Covid-19 pandemic, especially during the lockdown. The economy became worse than unstable. It affected the whole production capability coupled with a slowdown in global demand and concerns regarding the availability of raw materials. As a result, machinery and equipment manufacturers temporarily halted their production operations in the country. For example, in March 2020, the Joseph Cyril Bamford Excavators Limited (JCB) suspended manufacturing at all of its UK factories due to the fall in demand for construction equipment. The JCB company’s global demand for products declined as customers cancelled orders and suspended deliveries. Furthermore, since the relaxation of the lockdown and the introduction of testing, vaccination, and other safety measures, companies are opening up, and the country’s economy is gradually returning to stability.

The Healthcare Systems

Healthcare facilities have specific number capacities of which healthcare systems can accept mostly for hospitals. Before the outbreak, patients were given proper attention and care in their various wards. With the sudden breakout of the virus, healthcare systems were caught unprepared. This caused a large influx in hospitals resulting in a shift of attention from the non-covid patients and the emergency ward to the covid-19 patients. The response strategy of an extensive human resource activation and the upskilling program was launched, together with the invention of intensive care units. These minimised the overpopulation of hospitals. The experiences of non-covid-19 patients during this period of the initial outbreak worsened due to lack of proper care. In the long run attention and care were given evenly to all, both covid and non-covid patients. Cities like London and Wales recorded significant death rates due to their population density. Residents in these cities should always take their vaccine shots and go for tests to curtail the spread and minimise death.

With the lessons learnt from these experiences, various emergency measures should be in place in case of another pandemic or outbreak. Social distancing, quarantine, travel restrictions, lockdown, and other physical safety guidelines, certainly saved us from a big doom and limited the spread and rapid death in the country. Although testing and vaccination came into play late, they also helped curb the spread of the virus. The PCR test London, the swab test, and other covid-19 tests are still available for proper detection of the virus and continuous treatment.

Categories
health and fitness

GETTING TESTED AND STAYING HEALTHY THROUGH THE PANDEMIC

The covid-19 pandemic sneaked upon us and just like that we are in the third year of the pandemic. Although the effect has been said to have reduced after the vaccination Introduction, it is still very much around, and just as contagious.

Before now, our day was filled with more physical activities like outings, shopping, and random trips. However, since the pandemic, people have withdrawn from public places and mostly at home. We are encouraged to always get tested using the PCR swab test or Antigen test after travel or if exposed to places with high coronavirus risk. Even after vaccination, one can get infected as the jab is to reduce the effect of the virus and not prevent it.

We must keep up with all coronavirus health guidelines and not get too comfortable because of the availability of the vaccine. 

There are booster shots after being administered the second vaccine. While people whose immune system is compromised, have extra shots taken to produce more antibodies to fight the coronavirus.

Although being home and undergoing self-isolation seems like the safest way to prevent getting the virus, it can trigger excessive snacking; eating junk foods and quick recipes can ruin our diet and cause weight gain. For those who are less motivated to work out or do not have any gym equipment or a gym at home, working out has become a challenge.

Staying proactive is vital in maintaining an active and healthy lifestyle even as we socially distance ourselves. Eating healthy and finding easy aerobics to shed excess calories should be infused into our daily routine. Let us talk about some easy ways to stay healthy through the pandemic. Hopefully, you find this helpful and easy to adopt;

CHOOSING HEALTHY FOOD OPTIONS

Choosing healthy food options requires a lot of self-discipline; the courage to resist some cravings. This era is the best time to consume whole foods, vegetables, herbs, foods rich in fibre, and the right amount of minerals. Replace soda and beer with healthy smoothie options as often as possible, and look out for fruits rich in vitamin C.

STAYING FIT AND ACTIVE 

It’s great news that gyms are now open but adhering to covid-19 prevention rules strictly. People have gotten so used to staying away from the gym that returning to that lifestyle has become difficult. Dancing to your favourite playlist nonstop for an hour or taking a brisk walk around your house, as easy and fun as it sounds, is effective in helping you shed some calories. You can also decide to join an online fitness class or check YouTube for a guide. You can do squats and lunges or ride a bicycle just around your house. 

EMBRACE SELF CARE 

Not so many people care for themselves around us. Yes, we tell ourselves that we love ourselves, but our actions depict otherwise. Embracing self-care is being; deliberate about your physical, emotional, financial, and mental well-being. You have to protect your mental space from the terrible news on the internet or social media and the death rates caused by Covid. 

Spend time doing the things you love and reading a book; you might get out of the pandemic more skilled and self-aware.

PROTECT YOURSELF FROM THE VIRUS

This step is the most vital step to take on this journey to staying healthy through a pandemic. Even after vaccination, always mask up when you need to leave your home, get the PCR test swab if you notice any symptoms or know someone who does and sanitise your hands properly after contact. These guidelines cannot be overemphasised as they are the only guaranteed way of not getting coronavirus. 

Regardless, healthy practices should be a part of our lives, and getting vaccinated is the most important thing to do now.

Categories
health and fitness

Covid-19 and Minors in London; its effect and consequences.

Generally, in terms of disease, mortality rate, and a severe economic meltdown, the United Kingdom has been immensely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Children have been significantly and unequally affected by the UK lockdown. Causing many children to miss six months of school and normal recreational activities during the initial shutdown and those that came after. Children in the UK are affected differently by the Covid-19 pandemic. The lockdown that was in place due to the pandemic in the United Kingdom may have had a beneficial influence on some children’s connections with their families. While it may have been a horror for some other children who live with a parent that suffers from mental sickness, the introduction of the vaccine and quarantine after same day pcr test or fit to fly certificate from those entering the UK has helped in reducing the rate of infection.

The sudden change of activities for children caused by the covid-19 pandemic has affected the social, academic, psychological, and emotional life of children. This is evident in some cases like; Quarantine, child abuse and neglect, family losses and separation, and in some cases, sleep disturbances.

Quarantine

The quarantine may have long-term effects on the mental health of young people. Forced confinement can cause irritation, rage, confusion, frustration, depression, and denial in the short term. Prolonged quarantine has been demonstrated to cause post-traumatic stress disorder in children over time. Children who already have mental health disorders are at a higher risk of acquiring these symptoms and behaviours.

Children are usually separated from their friends while under quarantine. And this is a particularly troubling condition because children’s identity construction and validation are partly dependent on peer contact. At this time of development, peer support is essential, and social isolation has a link to an increased risk of depression and anxiety, with the period of loneliness being the cause of anxiety.

Suicidal thoughts, self-harm, and eating disorder risk behaviours have all been associated with isolation.

Child abuse and neglect

Children were also at risk of domestic violence or abuse during the lockdown. Existing home tensions are more likely to increase, and new pressures are more likely to emerge, possibly increasing unsafe conditions. Overcrowding is one such pressure that primarily affects children from low-income or less privileged families. Financial instability is equally a pressure on many families. The mental burden that arises from the loss of jobs caused by the restrictions puts children at the risk of domestic abuse, especially if the ward is mentally ill.

Reporting child abuse and neglect has also grown more difficult because of the lockdown. Due to the school closures, teachers who have traditionally been the reporters of child abuse during school hours are less able to monitor pupils for warning signals.

Family losses and separation

 Minors may develop a fear of contracting and spreading infections to family members as a result of being exposed to messages of loss and illness, causing them great anxiety. They are more likely to develop unhealthy ways of bonding when a family member is infected and hospitalised. And this can affect their ability to cultivate healthy relationships well into adulthood. Separation from a parent or the death of a family member is linked to an increased chance of long-term mental disorders and autism, and also adult suicide.