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Covid Brazil: Pressured health system and increase

17 Jan

The increase recorded in the first weeks of January in Brazil in Covid cases, with a predominance of the ômicron variant, is very high and there is no tendency to stabilize, the health system is pressured by the increase in hospitalizations and the presence of the H3N2 flu that has also appeared , it’s usually only expected at the beginning of winter around April and May, but this year it came earlier.

The numbers are uncertain, but there is a significant increase (see graph), there is little testing and a crash in the Ministry of Health data that drags on for more than a month, this jeopardizes the adoption of policy and the effective control of the pandemic, as explained to the press the infectologist and researcher at Fiocruz: “We cannot plan the opening of new hospital services, testing centers, opening of new beds and understand the regions where the impact of the new variant is greater” and the numbers are expected to increase in February.

It is a fact that the infection of this variant is less serious, but it is not certain that this would be an indication of the end of the pandemic and care should be maintained, the end-of-year parties and the release of public events, there is already some setback in these measures. , were vectors of propagation of the variant that is more infectious than the previous ones.

Brazilian neuroscientist Miguel Nicolelis denied that the ômicron variant could be the end of the pandemic, stressing that mutations are probabilistically chaotic and it is not possible to predict the next variant or some point of linear weakening of the virus, it is likely that we will still have to live with it. for a long time, and the neuroscientist warns what is already happening in England and the United States where the health system can collapse at any moment, once it is under pressure. and warns that it is possible to reach a point of chronic Covid, this is a state in which the hospital system can no longer handle the volume of cases that happen and with palliative treatments only without being able to effectively treat the disease.

With this weekend’s numbers in Brazil, it reached close to 50,000 daily cases, the expectation is to grow until the end of February and the already pressured health system could collapse, while the authorities monitor without really data. valid and reliable data from the pandemic.

Vaccination of children began in Brazil, at the age of 5 to 11 years, with the Comirnaty vaccine (Pfizer/BioNTech) but the number of doses available is uncertain, the health secretariats have opened registration for scheduling that, in addition to avoiding agglomerations, can do a forecast as doses are available




Pandemic chaos and structural denialism

10 Jan

The restriction measures should have continued, but what is observed is a release of agglomerations and the absence of clear protocols, worldwide there is an increase in chaos, approaching 3 million daily, in the United Kingdom there is an explosion of cases ( see graphic), studies from France have revealed 46 variants, omicron is still predominant, but there is a risk of new mutations if the pandemic is not contained and the only weapon available is vaccination, however, strict sanitary measures should have already been taken, little by little flights, restaurants and agglomerations are banned again, but without the necessary force of public authorities.

It is no different in Brazil, where more than 56 thousand hospitalizations were reached in the city of São Paulo alone, but the public discourse is that they are just people who have not taken the vaccine or that the cases are not that serious, but the WHO itself warns for the seriousness of omicron, the first immediate effect being to put the health system in collapse, in São Paulo ABLOS (Brazilian Association of Satellite Storers) will ask shopping malls to reduce their opening hours due to lack of employees due to covid.

A study by the University of Washington indicates that Brazil could reach one million daily cases, in the short term, by the end of January, the H3N2 influenza is advancing, however, most cases are still covid 19 with the variant omicron. China stockpiles food is not stated that it is just for the omicron issue or there is something else.

Indigenous leader Ailton Krenak, from the people of the devastated region of the Doce River, said in an interview on TVT’s Bom para Todos program that talking about a new normal is very close to denial, what needs to be changed and does not mean that we think the state is good. previous of carelessness about life and nature, it is nature itself that drives us to a change of habits, to a new way of living, and if we do not learn quickly, we will be stuck with new pandemics and cyclical crises.

That’s how it is, there is no way to change, says the conformist discourse, or worse, the one who wants to devastate lives to return to a normality that is still impossible not only due to the pandemic, but now also due to a suffered social reality and with blackouts and restructuring difficulties, such as Indian leader Krenak alerts there is no new normal, reality must be dealt with, however harsh it may be.

That’s how it is, there is no way to change, says the conformist discourse, or worse, the one who wants to devastate lives to return to a normality that is still impossible not only due to the pandemic, but now also due to a suffered social reality and with blackouts and restructuring difficulties, such as Krenak alerts there is no new normal, reality must be dealt with, however harsh it may be.

Even with the absence of clear data, since the end of December the Ministry of Health has been experiencing a data blackout, caused by hackers, but it has not been able to restructure itself, testing and control in collective activities has also been smoothed, just go to any social event , to restaurants or churches, there is no longer temperature measurement and the necessary distance observations, this is what we call here structural negationism.

Some measure is expected, but from the top down, it seems an intentional policy, there is a lack of control in actions and a relativization of the pandemic severity.



Covid: Tsunami in Europe and lack of protocols

03 Jan

Europe started the year with 4.9 million infections in one week (59% more than Christmas week), it is an unprecedented contagion, with a predominance of the omicron variant, with 10 countries facing the highest rates in the world, led by Denmark (2045), Chipe (1969) and Ireland (1974), the whole of Europe has surpassed 100 million contagions, the region that runs from the Atlantic Coast, to the limits of Russia and Azerbaijan (see map of 100,000 in Europe, in last week).

Brazil still has low rates of infection and mortality, but already with some cases of outbreaks, a cruise that landed in the country and some places where there were parties and gatherings (in Rio de Janeiro the cases tripled after the parties, according to the website uol), show that the new variable is really conducive to high contagion, and vaccines are not effective, even for those taking the third dose.

There is a speech, coming mainly from the political area, that the new variant means a herd immunity, that is, it would be the final phase of the pandemic, but it is not proven that this infection would cause some type of immunity and that there would be no new possibilities of variants, and there are already cases of double infection of H3N2 and the omicron variant, called flurone, are different viruses of course and the treatment is more complex for this, also the effects of this combination must be analyzed more precisely.

There are specific measures in cities and states, while the government follows its line of denial, but the absence of general protocols indicates little awareness, after two years of pandemic, of the importance of co-immunity, that is, no treatment should be isolated or only punctual, but having general protocols, for example, for flights, ships that dock in ports, cities with large populations, events and parties, etc.

Simple vaccination, which must not stop, of course, may be ineffective in combating a variant that circumvents the effects of the vaccine and having a much greater dissemination power.

Also monitoring, which is necessary and should be accompanied by testing, is a measure of delaying the dangers and preventions that must anticipate the danger of a tragedy.


What to Expect in 2022

31 Dec

There is no quantum leap from one year to another, it is a day of a year that succeeds on the first day of the following year, although for fiscal and political purposes the last day of the year is for economic and fiscal balances, and the beginning of a new one budget for the coming year.

Traditionally, the first year is also the day of Peace, and in Christian cosmogony the visit of the Magi (non-Christian) who visit the child-God who was born and flee from Nero’s threats is also a reference to dialogue between peoples.

Yesterday was marked by a bilateral conversation between Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin, requested by the latter, according to CNN, on the agenda although it was said that they are “bilateral diplomatic relations”, there is tension in Ukraine due to the concentration of troops in the country. border and the so-called Bucharest Nine, nine NATO nations (Romania, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania).

Any advance on Ukraine would mean a NATO response through the Bucharest Nine, but global involvement in the conflict is not impossible, so this dialogue is of fundamental importance to keeping the peace.

Our greatest hope is the end of the pandemic, but we have the threat of the new strain and also of the H2N3 flu whose vaccine is ready and working, so a good vaccination campaign that covers the entire population is essential, now with a view to co- immunity, that is, that all countries have a vaccine available, with the help of the WHO.

The omicron variant advances, however, preventive measures are not being taken, whether due to the depletion of containment forces (the population is tired of the restrictions) or due to the political weakness of governments, or due to a denial, now structural, that advances , since “vaccines don’t work” is partly true, but they limit the severity of infections.

The ecological balance cannot be forgotten, it is necessary to make significant progress in this direction, political change is not enough, it is necessary that they promote structural changes.

With all this, it is necessary to have hope, it is necessary to fight and always have something good in front of us to think, act and show solidarity with those who suffer.



2021 was a year of hope

30 Dec

The start of vaccination against covid 19, the rebalancing of political forces (Joe Biden took office in the US, Olaf Scholz replaces Prime Minister Angela Merkel after 16 years in power and the recent election of former student leader Gabriel Boric is new Chilean president), show that the shift towards conservatism is contained, but there have been shifts to the right, such as the resumption of the military in Myanmar deposing elected president Aung Suu Kyi.

Although with many agreements and promising news, Belgium for example is going to deactivate its nuclear plants (because they are even dangerous), the environmental imbalance is a theme not only of what happens with the planet’s living vegetation, waters and climate, but mainly natural phenomena that emerge in a dangerous way: active volcanoes, forest fires, storms (recent tragedy in Bahia), magnetic poles and concern with earthquakes and movement of tectonic plates, spatial phenomena for the time being are in the field of fiction and fertile imagination.

Despite the advance in vaccination, we ended the year concerned about the new omicron variant, which is already the majority of cases of infection, worries Europe and has significant progress in other countries, including Brazil, and comes together with a new H3N2 flu that has already has a vaccine, however the omicron variant seems to circumvent current vaccines, even with the 3rd. dose.

Hope persists, although tired of isolation, which had brief moments of relaxation in preventive measures, but caution and resilience are needed.

The end of the year, the holidays and the trend of agglomerations in Brazil are worrying, amid other tragedies such as the floods in Bahia, the authorities seem to have little or no capacity to react and intervene in the face of a possible new wave in the country, the number of deaths that had fallen from the range of hundreds, rose again to 117 yesterday (29/12), and some hospitals are already noticing the increase in the number of cases, the country already has 80% vaccination in the population -target.

The word “hope” seems to be the predominant word to characterize this year, what is expected for 2022 will depend not only on this word but on the use of courageous preventive measures and not just “monitoring” of the situation, which is a delaying measure, which will not prevent infection either from the H3N2 flu or the omicron variant.

Active hope, not just waiting but acting for it to happen, the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope is to look not only at our past and our origins, but at a promising future capable of building a new humanity, a more just and fraternal world.



The innocents and Epistasis

28 Dec

Much was said in an ironic tone about possible genetic variations due to the pandemic, the phenomenon exists, although it rarely occurs when there is an interaction of genes to influence some characteristic of the species, the classic case was studied by Bateson and Punnett, who studied a type of crest that appears in chickens, and is determined by two independent genes (which is equivalent to two pairs of alleles), of course this is not the case with vaccines, just to clarify the scientific question.

The innocence lies in understanding the virus mutation as capable of inducing or influencing a human genetic mutation, of course our immune system is affected, as studies try to correlate HIV with the omicron variant, but this does not mean any human genetic mutation so far.

However, epistasis has been important to study the omicron variant, in this case the virus and not the vaccine, according to a BBC News report, Professor Ed Feill, professor of microbial evolution at the University of Bath, England: “If the variant has more mutations, this does not mean that it is more dangerous, more transmissible or more capable of evading the effect of vaccines”, and many premature conclusions about this variant do not have a solid scientific basis.

The confusion is that the virus undergoes variations, but it is unfounded to imagine that these mutations affect the human genetic code, says the professor: “as a virus evolves, it can accumulate a group of mutations that, in turn, can create a variant”, “… and to detect the new variants: “ scientists track the genomic sequence of the virus”, and in this case, epistasis studies are essential to detect variants.

American evolutionary biologist Jesse Bloom, in a recent article in The New York Times, called attention to the alpha variant that has a mutation called N501Y, which is associated with the capacity for infection.

It is important to understand that the omicron variant is not completely deciphered, precisely because of its number of mutations in its epistasis, which is more difficult to detect and understand: “this opens up more evolutionary space for this”, said Feil in the article, and so the research has to observe combinations that have not been seen before.

Neither innocence to claim that there is some human genetic mutation, nor innocence to claim that the omicron variable is controlled because it offers “less danger”.

WHO has a classification of variants into “concern” and “interest” as per the table above.



Care must continue and the omicron variant

27 Dec

Protocols and care continue to be essential to prevent the transmission of the coronavirus, this is what any level of government or health officials says, all over the world and also in our country, therefore, all people, including those who are vaccinated, must continue with all individual and collective prevention measures.

The numbers in the country have fallen, although there is already a manifestation of collective and parallel transmission of the new H3N2 flu virus, but cases of community transmission (that which did not come from abroad) of the omicron variant is already manifested in several regions of the country ,

Chosen by Nature magazine as one of the 10 most influential scientists in 2021, Brazilian Tulio de Oliveira was head of the team that discovered the omicron variant, and said that punishments to countries when new variants are identified, such as restrictions and closures on borders, discourage scientists to publish the facts to avoid these punishments.

According to an interview given to a Brazilian portal, Oliveira said that “I think it is important to act quickly and scientific transparency”, he said. “Because this helps prepare hospitals and the world. We have the super transmissible variant, the omicron, but the hospitals were prepared. We are not having the hospitals completely filled, the oxygen has been prepared, so mortality is low,” he explained while denouncing the political influence that can affect scientific dissemination.

Cases are still few, but they can grow, scientists are unanimous in stating that the transmissibility of the omicron variant is large, in Brazil there are 56 suspected cases in 9 municipalities in Rio de Janeiro, in several states such as São Paulo, there are already cases of community transmission, and the alert from the health departments is still small, but they monitor it.

The symptoms are similar to a cold with sore throat, runny nose and headache, but this does not mean that mild covid always occurs, there will be severe cases.

The ability of omicron to bully vaccinates means that there is a greater potential to reach more people than the delta variant, and it is not yet known what will happen to the elderly, most cases in the UK, for example, are under 40 years old.


New wave pandemic and flu

20 Dec

Europe increased restrictions due to the advance of Covid-19, the new omicron strain is already prevalent in infections, Denmark banned agglomerations sites and the Netherlands decreed a new lockdown, the United Kingdom is already studying the resumption of movement restrictions and several European countries have resumed these measures.

There are already community cases in Brazil, that is, infections in people who have not had recent trips abroad, but seeing the external crisis, the concern must remain, and the vaccine passport, a source of crisis between the government and the judicial area, is important to maintain a barrier to the spread of the variant, which promises to be fast creating a new pandemic wave.

The H3N2 flu virus is already in 10 states in Brazil, its symptoms are: cough, nasal congestion, fever and muscle pain, but it can be confused with other diseases including covid. responsible for the infection, in the state of Rio de Janeiro, one of the most affected by the flu, there are 20 thousand infections and 5 deaths, Alagoas and Bahia also registered deaths.

Although the flu vaccine does not work for this new strain, it is important to take it because it increases immunity, as they were designed for H3N2, but the variant present in Brazil called Darwin escapes this immunity.

Although there is controversy about these data, they seem exaggerated, the Ministry of Health reported that 67.9 million doses of the flu vaccine were applied in the country, this would represent a vaccination coverage of 71.2% of the target audience of the campaign.

Another recent case that was a crisis between the government and the judicial area is the application of the Pfizer vaccine to children, the least vaccinated part of the population, approved and recommended by doctors. in a legal imbroglio because the STF went into recess.



New pandemic with the same virus

13 Dec

Although the data is not yet definitive, and sometimes contradictory, as is the case with the Pfizer vaccine, it is certain that the protective efficacy against the new omicron variant is very small, in the order of 10 to 20% of cases and there are vaccines that it has no efficacy at all, probably because the labs say nothing.

Regarding Pfizer, the United Kingdom Health Safety Agency (UKHSA) said last Friday (12/10) that “These initial estimates should be treated with caution, but indicate that a few months after the second dose there is a higher risk of getting the omicron variant compared to the Delta,” said Mary Ramsay, head of immunization at the UKHSA, to the CNN newspaper.

In the same news, the newspaper indicates that when the booster dose is made with the Pfizer vaccine, the efficacy increases 70% for those who initially received AstraZeneca and 75% for those who received the Pfizer vaccine, but the laboratories of both work accelerated to a new vaccine that fights the strain.

The WHO declares that the data are still insufficient to establish the clinical picture of the severity caused by omicrons, even though many data so far indicate that the cases in Africa and Europe where the symptoms are “mild to moderate”, it is necessary to deepen the analysis and studies to understand what the variant causes in those infected.

The number of deaths registered on Saturday in Brazil was less than 100, but 9 states and the Federal District did not send data, while there is already an increase in infections and deaths in the states of Ceará, Minas Gerais, Mato Grosso do Sul and Sergipe, community transmission of the omicron variant had its first case in São Paulo, it is considered community based when the patient has no recent history of traveling abroad.

What to do in the face of the seriousness of the situation and the imminence of a new pandemic, it is a fact that we are all tired of the restrictions and the advancement of social and economic difficulties, but life must be a value greater than any other difficulty and so care must be resumed and maintained as appropriate.

The WHO says that we are more prepared, in fact, but both the health system and the population are tired by the redoubled efforts during the pandemic and this situation must also be analyzed, creating mechanisms so that people are less pressured and can somehow overflow energy and maintain social, personal and economic balance.



Natural disasters and society

09 Dec

Although science still has difficulties in predicting natural catastrophes, unpredictability is a major current theme for several fields of study, human action on which the problem of these catastrophes can be expanded must be rethought.

It’s not just about interfering with earthquakes, asteroid routes, weather problems and changes in the planet’s magnetic field, the problem is the social dimension that each catastrophe can take, like the Cumbre Vieja volcano in La Palma, which does not have fatal victims, but the problem of air quality, the displacement of families, the loss of family income, among others, what worries us is the possibility of a social catastrophe, at the moment, the government there declares that the volcano can go to sleep.

The Semeru catastrophe in Indonesia, which counted 34 dead until yesterday, and whose predictability was not possible is a fatality, but the tsunami in Fukushima in 2011 that affected an atomic plant and made an entire region uninhabitable has the human recklessness of building plants in disaster-prone areas warns of a serious and long-standing problem: the nuclear plants, the millions of liters of water used to cool the now inactive but radioactive plant, was dumped into the sea.

European countries are the ones that most use nuclear power plants, and a fossil fuel supply crisis, mostly coming from Russia, is a related problem, which aggravates the social danger even more. Looking at the map (figure) we also notice that many plants they are on the waterfront and the risk of tsunamis is even more serious, Fukushima taught.

In the world, 17% of the energy used is nuclear, 40% is still coal, the oldest fuel typical of the first industrial revolution, fossil (oil) is 40%, hydraulic and wind power is only 2% with a forecast of 3% for 2024 , a growth too small to be considered an effort that could reveal a change of scenario, of course there are associated economic interests.

The serious problem of nuclear power plants, which can themselves have accidents like the one at Chernobyl, cannot be underestimated the serious problem of some natural catastrophe that could affect the power plant’s problems, with huge social losses (generally only economic , which are associated of course) that a disaster could cause.

In the world, there are 440 plants in operation and 23 under construction, Europe has 207 plants and 7 under construction, the map shows the huge number by the sea, in inhabited regions and subject to earthquakes (tectonic faults for example), after the Europe follows North America with 123 plants, Japan, China and Korea with 82 and 7 under construction.

Natural disasters occur, Germany decided that it will not install new reactors and that the current ones will be deactivated after their useful life (32 years in your case), Turkey also abandoned the idea of ​​building its first plant, in the opposite direction Brazil after the inauguration of Angra-2 (located by the sea) is already discussing Angra-3.

A complete social conscience must also foresee serious problems that a nuclear catastrophe could cause, and the consequences would be harsh for humanity.