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Antibiotic resistance a serious health-care threat to Canadians, experts say

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With cold and flu season upon us, some patients will undoubtedly go to their doctors seeking a prescription for antibiotics, even though the drugs are useless against such viral infections.

It is such misuse and overuse that has helped a growing number of bacteria become resistant to most or all antibiotics — a phenomenon doctors are calling a crisis because there are no new drugs in the pharmaceutical pipeline to replace them.

And it’s not just patients and doctors who are at fault: decades of liberal use of antibiotics to promote the health of farm animals headed for our tables and environmental contamination by the ubiquitous drugs have led to so-called superbugs like MRSA and VRE that have developed resistance to their effects.

But underlying all that is the fact that antimicrobial resistance is a natural phenomenon, a process of bacterial evolution that has been occurring for millennia, said Gerry Wright, director of the Institute for Infectious Disease Research at McMaster University.

“What is frustrating, of course, is that our overuse of antibiotics when we don’t need them contributes to this selection,” he said from Hamilton, Ont. “If we create a situation where we’re using antibiotics when we shouldn’t, then we create the selective pressures that increase the chances of the bacteria evolving into resistant organisms.

“And that’s the issue that we’re finding right now, that there are increasingly bacteria in the clinic where we use lots of antibiotics that are unresponsive to all the drugs that we have available to us.”

The difficulty is that the pharmaceutical industry is no longer investing time or money looking for new antibiotics, said Wright, explaining that not only is the science “really hard,” but drug discovery of any kind is inordinately expensive.

Drug manufacturers aren’t prepared to commit the average $1-billion outlay to develop an antibiotic that can cure an infection in five to 10 days, when they can put their resources into medications for conditions like high cholesterol or blood pressure, which typically are taken for life.

Add that to the fact that a new antibiotic may have a limited shelf life because the bugs it’s meant to treat may develop resistance and there’s little incentive, agreed Dr. Andrew Morris, director of the antimicrobial stewardship program at the Sinai Health System and University Health Network in Toronto.

Morris said the dearth of new antibiotics is also a civil society issue, because people take for granted these drugs have been widely available since the 1940s.

“So we can have a cancer drug that may extend somebody’s life by six months and that can cost between $5,000 and $100,000,” he said, “And on the other hand, we can have an antibiotic that will fully save somebody’s life and we get up in arms if that drug costs any more than $1,000.”

‘Affects everyone, everywhere’

A national online survey gauging Canadians’ knowledge about the issue found that 60 per cent of respondents mistakenly believed antibiotic resistance means a person with an infection is resistant to the drugs. Released for World Antibiotic Resistance Week, which ends Sunday, the Leger survey of more than 1,500 Canadians aged 18-plus also found that 44 per cent see resistance as of more concern for developing countries.

“Antimicrobial resistance affects everyone, everywhere, and that includes Canada, where it is an increasingly serious concern,” said Morris. “It is truly a global health issue that warrants collective action.”

By 2050, drug-resistant infections are predicted to lead to an estimated 2.4 million excess deaths in developed countries alone, according to a recent projection by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), which represents nations like Canada, Australia, the U.S. and the U.K.

Other experts have warned that by that date, the annual death toll due to antibiotic resistance will soar to 10 million worldwide — dwarfing cancer — and cost the global economy $100 trillion US.

“Literally the worst thing that could happen is we will end up the way it was in the 1920s and 1930s again,” before the discovery of penicillin, when more people died from infection than from any other single cause, said Wright.

“There are people dying today in Canadian hospitals that five years ago they wouldn’t have died from [their] infection,” said Wright.

“It’s not necessarily thousands of people. People aren’t dropping dead in the street. There’s not a zombie apocalypse,” he said.

“But we have people in our hospitals that we haven’t been able to treat.”

And it’s not just those already with infections that could be affected by resistance, he said. “It will go back to a time when you can’t do an organ transplant because you’re going to be immune-compromised for the rest of your life. You’re not going to be able to save premature babies, treat leukemia.

“The things that we think of as absolutely routine today are going to be gone, or if not gone, incredibly risky.”

‘Greatest health-care threat’

Both Wright and Morris stress that concerted action needs to be taken now to stem the tide of resistance, and that means the federal and provincial governments taking a leadership role to co-ordinate innovative programs to encourage antibiotic development, to find alternative treatments, and to curb misuse and overuse.

“We’re really at this perfect storm level and it filters down to not every Canadian — not every Canadian is currently affected by this — but we are getting everyday Canadians getting affected by it now and it will increasingly become worse,” Morris said.

Barring global war or some catastrophic runaway virus emerging, “I think the greatest health-care threat moving forward around the world is absolutely antimicrobial resistance.”

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Post-vaccine surge? Michigan’s spring coronavirus case spike close to previous year’s autumn high

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(Natural News) The spike in new Wuhan coronavirus infections recorded in Michigan over the spring is similar to a spike seen during the 2020 fall season. According to a Wall Street Journal analysis, the state’s daily coronavirus case count averaged more than 7,000 for almost two weeks – before taking a slight dip to 6,891 on April 20. This echoed similar figures back in November and December 2020, which saw sharp rises in infections for those two months before plunging.

Back in autumn of last year, Michigan averaged more than 7,000 cases per day for a span of 10 days. New infections dropped slightly, then briefly spiked as the December holidays approached. It then fell to the low 1,000s for the succeeding two months – until ascending again in March.

According to University of Michigan internal medicine professor Dr. Vikas Parekh, the sudden increase in new infections could be attributed to several factors. Among the factors he cited was re-openings, which increased people’s interactions and mobility. Parekh said the loosened restrictions contributed to the spread of the highly contagious U.K. B117 variant.

“As the B117 variant spreads nationally, we will likely see other stats [with] their own surges – although I hope none are as bad as Michigan,” the professor remarked. He continued: “The milestone just tells us we are not yet in the clear, especially as we still have large portions of our population who are not vaccinated yet.”

Parekh also expressed optimism over the lower daily caseloads the Great Lakes State reported. He said he believes both cases and hospitalizations have plateaued and will likely decline soon. The professor commented: “[COVID-19] positivity has been declining now for one week, which is usually a leading indicator of case decline.”

Meanwhile, the state cited younger populations and youth sports, such as basketball, wrestling and hockey, to increase new COVID-19 infections. Because of this, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer called to suspend youth sports and indoor dining in the state. She also exhorted high schools to conduct remote class sessions for two weeks to curb the spread of the pathogen.

Michigan still experienced the spike in cases despite having one of the highest vaccination rates in the country

During the opening stages of the U.S.’s immunization drive against COVID-19, Michigan boasted of having one of the highest vaccination rates nationwide. A report by Bridge Michigan even noted the initial “frenzy for vaccines” that “far exceeded the state’s limited supply.” But things have appeared to turn around for Michigan, as it now struggles to reach the 70 percent vaccination rate needed for herd immunity.

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Scottish mom’s legs turn into a pair of “giant blisters” after first dose of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine

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(Natural News) Sarah Beuckmann of Glasgow, Scotland, felt a tingling sensation in her legs and noticed a rash flaring up around her ankles a week after getting her first dose of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine on March 18.

She also had flu-like symptoms right after the vaccination.

Beuckmann called her doctor to arrange an appointment the morning she noticed the rash, but by the afternoon her skin was already breaking out into blood-filled blisters. Blisters also appeared on her legs, hands, face, arms and bottom.

“I ended up asking my husband to take me to A&E,” said Beuckmann, referring to “accident and emergency,” the equivalent of an emergency room (ER). “When I got there, my heart rate was sitting at 160bpm, which they were very concerned about. I got put on an ECG machine.”

Doctors determine AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine triggers the rash

Medics carried out tests for HIV, herpes and other skin conditions to work out what triggered the rash, but all results came back negative. Doctors finally determined that the vaccine caused her rare reaction after carrying out two biopsies.

“Once they found that it was a reaction to the vaccine, they put me on steroids and that really seems to be helping my progress,” said Beuckmann. She had been advised by her doctor not to get the second dose of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine because of her reaction.

Beuckmann spent 16 days at Queen Elizabeth University Hospital. She was discharged to recover at home. The 34-year-old mother of one is currently wheelchair-bound due to the bandages on her legs and blisters on the soles of her feet. She may need physiotherapy to help strengthen her leg muscles.

“They are starting to heal and they’re looking a lot better than they were but as the blisters started to get worse, they all sort of merged together,” she said. “I didn’t know what was going on.”

With the blisters merging, her legs have looked like a pair of “giant blisters.” Beuckmann admitted that at one point she feared her legs might have to be amputated.

Dermatologist agrees COVID-19 vaccine causes the blisters

Dr. Emma Wedgeworth, a consultant dermatologist and spokeswoman at the British Skin Foundation, agreed that Beuckmann had likely suffered a reaction to the vaccine.

“Vaccines are designed to activate the immune system. Occasionally people will have quite dramatic activation of their immune systems which, as happened in this case, can manifest in their skin” Wedgeworth told MailOnline. “This poor lady had a very severe reaction, which thankfully is extremely rare.”

It is not clear why Beuckmann, who works in retail, was invited for a vaccine. Scotland’s vaccine rollout was focused on people over the age of 50 when she got vaccinated, although vaccines are available to those who are considered at risk from the virus, or live with someone considered vulnerable.

At least 20 million Briton have had AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine, which drug regulators say causes a rash in one percent of cases. They say rashes caused by the jab tend to go away within a week.

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Trojan labs? Chinese biotech company offers to build COVID testing labs in six states

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In 2012, BGI acquired Complete Genomics, a DNA sequencing company and equipment maker. The funds for the $117.6 million purchase were raised from Chinese venture capitals. The company has expanded its footprint globally. According to its website, BGI conducts business in more than 100 countries and areas and has 11 offices and labs in the U.S.

People are concerned about China’s access to American DNA data

Some said that with Complete Genomics providing an American base, BGI would have access to more DNA samples from Americans, helping it compile a huge database of genetic information. Some also worried about the protection of the genetic information’s privacy.

According to a 2019 report from the U.S.–China Economic and Security Review Commission (USCC), BGI “has formed numerous partnerships with U.S. healthcare providers and research organizations to provide large-scale genetic sequencing to support medical research efforts,”

There are three main reasons why many people in the biotech community and government have expressed concerns about China’s access to American DNA data.

In the “60 Minutes” interview, Evanina discussed the very likely scenario in which Chinese companies would be able to micro-target American individuals and offer customized preventative solutions based on their DNA.

Evanina asked: “Do we want to have another nation systematically eliminate our healthcare services? Are we okay with that as a nation?”

The second concern is that China may use DNA to track and attack American individuals. As the USCC report states: “China could target vulnerabilities in specific individuals brought to light by genomic data or health records. Individuals targeted in such attacks would likely be strategically identified persons, such as diplomats, politicians, high-ranking federal officials or military leadership.”

The third concern is that China may devise bioweapons to target non-Asians. Steven Mosher, president of the Population Research Institute, discussed it in his article “What Will China Do With Your DNA?” published by The Epoch Times in March 2019.

He wrote: “We know that the Asian genome is genetically distinct from the Caucasian and African in many ways. … Would it be possible to bioengineer a very virulent version of, say, smallpox, that was easily transmitted, fatal to other races, but to which the Chinese enjoyed a natural immunity? … Given our present ability to manipulate genomes, if such a bio-weapon can be imagined, it can probably – given enough time and resources – be realized.”

An article from Technocracy said: “China’s aggressive collection of American DNA should be doubly alarming because it can only spell one ultimate outcome: biowarfare. That is, genetically engineering viruses or other diseases that will be selectively harmful to U.S. populations.”

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