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Anemia in astronauts could be a challenge for space missions

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The next “giant leap” for humans may be a trip to Mars, but having enough oxygen-carrying red blood cells for the journey might present a challenge, new research suggests.

Even space tourists lining up for short trips might have to stay home if they are at risk for anemia, or red blood cell deficiency, researchers said.

Astronauts are known to experience “space anemia” but until now it was thought to be temporary. One NASA study called it “a 15-day ailment.”

Doctors attributed it to destruction of red blood cells, or hemolysis, resulting from fluid shifts as astronauts’ bodies accommodated to weightlessness and again as they re-accommodated to gravity.

In fact, anemia is “a primary effect of going to space,” said Dr. Guy Trudel of the University of Ottawa, who led a study of 14 astronauts funded by the Canadian Space Agency. “As long as you are in space, you are destroying more blood cells” than you are making.”

Normally, the body destroys and replaces nearly 2 million red blood cells per second. Trudel’s team found astronauts’ bodies destroyed 3 million red blood cells per second during their six-month missions.

“We thought we knew about space anemia, and we did not,” Trudel said.

The astronauts generated extra red cells to compensate for the destroyed ones. But, Trudel asked, how long can the body constantly produce 50% more red cells? A roundtrip mission to Mars would take about two years, NASA estimated.

“If you are on your way to Mars and … you can’t keep up” with the need to produce all those extra red blood cells, “you could be in serious trouble,” Trudel said.

Having fewer red blood cells in space is not a problem when your body is weightless, he added. But after landing on Earth, and potentially on other planets, anemia could affect astronauts’ energy, endurance and strength.

A year after returning to Earth, the astronauts’ red blood cells had not completely returned to pre-flight levels, his team reported on Friday in Nature Medicine.

Trudel also studies the effects of immobility on patients who are bedridden for weeks or months.

The new findings mimic what he sees in his patients, he said, which suggests that what happens in space may also be happening in immobile patients.

“A solution to one could also apply to the other,” he said.

Sulekha Anand, who researches human physiology at San Jose State University and was not involved in the study, agreed.

“The findings have implications for understanding the physiological consequences of space flight and anemia in patients on the ground,” she said.

Trudel’s team is studying ways to solve the problem, he said.

 

(Reporting by Harikrishnan Nair; Editing by Nancy Lapid and Richard Chang)

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Truckers fighting government vaccine mandate march to Canadian capital

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A convoy of truckers started their march from Vancouver on Sunday to the Canadian capital city of Ottawa protesting the government’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for truckers, which the industry says would create driver shortages and fuel inflation.

Truckers under the banner Freedom Convoy 2022 had raised C$2.7 million ($2.2 million) by Sunday through a gofundme campaign to fight the mandate. The funds raised would be used to help with the costs of fuel, food and lodgings, the gofundme page said. The convoy is expected to reach Ottawa on Jan. 29.

The trucking industry is vital to ensure smooth flow of goods since more than two-thirds of the C$650 billion ($521 billion) in goods traded annually between Canada and the United States travels on roads.

But as many as 32,000, or 20%, of the 160,000 Canadian and American cross-border truck drivers may be taken off the roads due to the mandate https://www.reuters.com/business/canada-us-supply-chain-still-could-face-disruptions-due-vaccine-mandates-2022-01-13, the Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) estimates.

The CTA, however, said in a statement on Saturday it does not support any protests on public road ways and the only way to cross the border on a commercial truck is by getting vaccinated.

Canada imposed the vaccine mandate for the trucking industry from Jan. 15, under which unvaccinated Canadian truckers re-entering Canada from the United States must get tested for COVID-19 and quarantine themselves.

Driver shortages are further expected to fuel red-hot inflation https://www.reuters.com/business/canadas-annual-inflation-rate-hits-48-dec-highest-since-sept-1991-2022-01-19 which is running at a three-decade high, industry lobby groups gave said.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has resisted industry pressure to delay the mandate since it was first announced in November.

($1 = 1.2572 Canadian dollars)

 

(Reporting by Denny Thomas; Editing by Himani Sarkar)

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P.E.I. reports another COVID-19 death; 9 people in hospital – CBC.ca

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P.E.I. has announced announced another death related to COVID-19, raising the province’s total to six.

The person was over age 80, according to a release from the Chief Public Health Office on Sunday. No further details were released about the death.

The number of people hospitalized for COVID-19 increased to nine as of early Sunday. One person is in intensive care.

Four other people in hospital for other reasons have also tested positive for the virus.

The province has declared a new outbreak at the Summerset Manor long-term care facility in Summerside. 

There are currently six long-term care facilities, two community care facilities, 19 early learning and child-care centres and five other congregate settings with outbreaks:

  • Andrews of Park West.
  • Atlantic Baptist.
  • Beach Grove Home.
  • Clinton View Lodge.
  • Garden Home.
  • Summerset Manor.
  • Bevan Lodge.
  • Miscouche Villa.
  • Nineteen early learning and child-care centres. Five open, six closed and eight operating at reduced capacity.
  • Population that accesses shelter and outreach services in Charlottetown.
  • Prince County Correctional Centre.
  • Provincial Addictions Treatment Facility.
  • Provincial Correctional Centre.
  • St. Eleanor’s House.

There are 209 new cases and 214 recoveries in Sunday’s update. On average, 279 cases per day have been reported over the last week.

P.E.I. has 2,484 active cases and there have been 6,125 cases since the pandemic began.

Hundreds of vaccination appointments are still available this week, according to the release, including dedicated appointments for children.

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New Brunswick reports two additional deaths related to COVID-19 Sunday – CTV News Atlantic

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Health officials in New Brunswick said Sunday that a person in their 80s in the Moncton region and a person in their 70s in the Bathurst region have died as a result of COVID-19.

HOSPITALIZATIONS

In a news release Sunday, public health reported there are a total of 126 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in the province. Ten people are currently in intensive care.

Of those currently hospitalized, 74 were admitted for reasons other than COVID-19.

Of those in hospital, 101 are 60 or over, and six people are on a ventilator. Public health said Sunday that three people 19 and under are currently hospitalized.

The province said the rate of people hospitalized and in ICU continues to most greatly impact people who are unvaccinated and those who are over six months from their second dose.

PARENTS ENCOURAGED TO CHILDREN VACCINATED

Officials are urging parents and guardians to book a COVID-19 vaccine appointment for their child’s first or second dose if they have not yet done so.

Children aged five to 11 who have already received their first dose of the vaccine are eligible to receive their second dose once eight weeks have passed since their first dose.

“Children are expected to return to in-person school by the end of the month and will benefit greatly from vaccination,” said Dr. Jennifer Russell, chief medical officer of health in a news release Sunday.

“I’m calling on all parents with kids in this age group to book an appointment now for their child’s first dose if they are not yet vaccinated, or for their second dose if they are eligible.”

BOOSTER SHOTS AVAILABLE

The New Brunswick government is encouraging those eligible for a booster dose of a COVID-19 vaccine to book their appointment to help slow the spread of the virus.

Booster doses are available to everyone 18 and older, as long as five months have passed since their second dose.

To date, 62.3 per cent of the eligible population of people 50 and older have received their booster dose.

Appointments can be booked online at vaccination clinics offered through the Vitalité and Horizon health networks.

Many pharmacies across the province are also offering vaccine clinics. Appointments can be made by contacting a participating pharmacy directly.

Those unable to book an appointment online, or who otherwise need assistance booking through a health authority clinic or pharmacy, may call 1-833-437-1424.

Since Jan. 10, more than 44,000 appointments have been booked for booster doses of an mRNA vaccine.

LEVEL 3 RESTRICTIONS

New Brunswick is currently in Level 3 phase of the winter plan to manage COVID-19.

Premier Blaine Higgs said Friday that vaccinating more children against COVID-19 and ensuring more adults receive their booster dose over the next week will help New Brunswick return to Level 2 of the winter plan on Jan. 30 at 11:59 p.m.

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