Connect with us

Business

Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna COVID-19 vaccines need two doses, Health Canada says, amid conflicting messaging from Quebec – Yahoo News Canada

Published

 on


Local Journalism Initiative

Ontario youth helping build virtual mental health hubs during COVID-19

The mental health challenges affecting young people have evolved as the COVID-19 pandemic has dragged on, an expert says, and so have the ways they are dealing with them. Teens and young adults seeking help are finding one-on-one clinical counselling via video call less useful due to concerns about privacy in shared living spaces and the intensity of such interactions, according to Dr. Joanna Henderson, the executive director of Youth Wellness Hubs Ontario. But they are also coming up with new ways to connect and communicate about how extended public health restrictions and other stressors are making them feel, and doing something to ease the burden on others. A two-hour drive north of Toronto, youth at one of the 10 hubs scattered across Ontario saw food insecurity as an issue among their peers and proposed and delivered on food distribution and a communal online cooking class. “They were learning about cooking, they were experiencing belonging and that sense of connectedness, they were perhaps providing food for their family,” Henderson said of the youth involved at the North Simcoe site. “That’s not the same as doing therapy, but that sure is something that’s likely to have a positive mental health effect.” The same site is also hosting an online video series called The Red Couch, where speakers — including youth with lived experience, peer support workers, and clinicians — talk about coping mechanisms. Meanwhile in central Toronto, a regular Friday evening event for LGBTQ+ youth migrated online, as has an engagement with Indigenous elders in Kenora, which Henderson acknowledged “is definitely different to how it’s usually delivered.” Henderson says these and other examples show that definitions of mental health help can expand beyond the narrow, clinical definition of expert-to-patient counselling. “Over the last six months, our youth have shown us the value, even youth who are presenting with mental health concerns, they’re showing us their interest … they’re telling us it works using this broader definition of mental health services,” she said. “Young people talk about the value of asynchronous communication and texting about things that are hard for them to talk about because it allows them to take more time to respond and to respond at the time that is right for them, and also … because it’s more private.” One in five young people in Ontario will experience mental health difficulties before reaching adulthood, according to the Canadian Mental Health Association, and Henderson said only a third of them will get help. Research on the impact the pandemic is having on youth mental health unsurprisingly shows that young people were doing better in the summer, but that challenges have re-emerged with rising COVID-19 cases, colder weather, and the return to school, Henderson said. Since moving online, the hubs are also engaged with a rising number of males aged 16 to 21 presenting with mood and anxiety issues, she said. “We know that young men in that age range have probably not been well-served by our existing services,” she said, noting they were previously largely focused on behavioural issues. “It looks like our virtual services, and it really is early days, but they might be reaching some of those young men in ways that we haven’t typically been able to do.” Young people have also been adamant that services should be better focused on reaching Black and Indigenous youth, who are both more likely to experience mental health challenges and less able to access help, said Henderson, noting that the health-care system hasn’t done a good job of tracking needs by race or ethnicity. “Young people have amazing ideas, they have passion, they are highly competent,” she said. “They’re innovative, they’re creative, (and) they aren’t necessarily aware of all of the challenges that might come along with it, so they can say ideas that might lead us in directions we hadn’t thought of going, and challenge us to go.”Alastair Sharp, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, National Observer

Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Business

Why NFTs are suddenly selling for millions of dollars – The Hustle

Published

 on


Jesse Schwarz could’ve bought a Lamborghini. He could’ve placed a winning bid on Jimi Hendrix’s guitar. He could’ve paid off a mortgage.

But instead, on a recent Monday morning, the 32-year-old entrepreneur logged onto a platform called NBA Top Shot and, with a few friends, spent $208k on a video clip of LeBron James dunking.

Schwarz doesn’t get the broadcast rights to the clip, or even a physical copy of it: He owns a few lines of code that prove he’s the owner of a unique digital asset.

“My family thought I was crazy,” he tells The Hustle. “But I’ve never been the kind of person who invests in traditional things.”

His purchase is one of several bafflingly expensive digital collectibles sold in recent weeks, including: 

These assets, called non-fungible tokens (NFTs), have courted an explosion in interest that we haven’t seen since — well, GameStop.

Zachary Crockett / The Hustle

NFTs have caught the attention of tech investors (Mark Cuban), the high-brow art world (Christie’s auction house), and major corporations (Nike) alike. And everyone from Lindsey Lohan to the rock band Kings of Leon is flooding the market with high-priced virtual creations of their own.

But what exactly is an NFT? What makes them so valuable? And what might the future hold for these digital assets?

Non-fungible tokens (NFTs), defined

Let’s start by breaking down the 2 key words here:

  1. A non-fungible asset is something unique that isn’t readily interchangeable. Think of a rare sports card, an antique car, or a piece of land. This differs from a fungible asset like cash (a $5 bill is always worth $5, no matter who owns it, or what condition it’s in).
  2. A token is a type of virtual currency that lives on a blockchain and represents a specific asset, like a piece of digital artwork.

So, in simple terms, an NFT is a documentation of ownership of a one-of-a-kind digital asset.

Zachary Crockett / The Hustle

An NFT can represent any kind of digital asset: a piece of artwork, an audio file, a video clip, a plot of virtual land.

The NFT isn’t actually the piece of artwork itself; it’s a piece of code on a digital ledger (blockchain) that points to where the artwork lives — usually on a server somewhere else.

Still confused?

Picture a Hot Wheels car.

In the physical world, you go out and buy a Hot Wheels collectible at a store, or an online marketplace like eBay. You pay cash — more for a rare one, less for a common one — and in return, you receive a tangible object made of metal and plastic.

Here’s what that (simplified) process would look like in NFT form:

Zachary Crockett / The Hustle

Why go through all this trouble to create some digital asset when you could just buy a real Hot Wheels car? What’s the value-add here?

Physical collectibles face a few challenges:

  • It can be hard and/or time-consuming to verify authenticity: An original can be faked, forged, or replicated.
  • It can be hard to trace an object’s ownership history: There’s often no public record of a collectible’s lifetime journey.

Historically, the legitimacy of digital assets has been even trickier to validate since the internet is amok with copies of copies of copies.

NFT evangelists say that blockchain technology solves these issues.

By publishing a work on the blockchain, the artist is creating an immutable, verifiable public record of its authenticity.

Take CryptoPunks, one of the first NFTs, created back in 2017.

Only 10k CryptoPunks were minted — each one a simple character with a set of unique traits. For any given punk, you can view a full transaction history of bids, offers, sales, and ownership records. 

We can see that the most coveted punk, #6965, originally sold for $1.1k and switched hands a few times over the years before fetching the princely sum of 800 ETH a few weeks ago (~$1.5m at the time).

Cheers to whoever bought this thing in 2018 for $3k and sold it 2.5 years later for a 511x return. Note: the price reflects how much Ethereum was worth at the time of purchase. (Zachary Crockett / The Hustle)

That someone shelled out $1.5m for a piece of code designating them the owner of a pixelated ape wearing a fedora seems to defy any semblance of rational market behavior.

After all, the image above can easily be captured with a screenshot, downloaded, or recreated by any Redditor with access to Microsoft Paint.

So what makes this thing — or any NFT, for that matter — valuable?

Why NFTs are booming

It may seem like NFTs came out of nowhere, but they’re an innovation that has been in the works for several years:

  • 2017: NFTs first garnered widespread public attention with CryptoKitties, a game in which users breed and trade digital cats.
  • 2018: A mini hype cycle led to VC-led investments, and platforms were created to buy, sell, and mint NFTs (like SuperRare, OpenSea, Rarible, and Nifty Gateway).
  • 2019: Big brands like Formula 1 and Nike entered the space.
  • 2020: The market for NFTs tripled in size, to $250m+.

But in the first few months of 2021, we’ve seen an NFT explosion.

In February alone, the 10 most popular NFT collectibles saw a 400% average MoM rise, totaling nearly $400m in sales volume.

Zachary Crockett / The Hustle

This can largely be attributed to one platform: Dapper Labs’ NBA Top Shot, which launched in October of 2020 with the basketball league’s backing.

On Top Shot, users can purchase digital packs that contain NFTs called “moments” — short video clips of NBA highlights, like a memorable dunk or steal. Like physical trading cards, some moments are common (1k+ copies) and some are extremely rare (1 of 1).

Caty Tedman, the head of partnerships and marketing for Dapper Labs, tells The Hustle that the platform now has 511k registered users and $301m+ in sales only 5 months into operation.

Experts The Hustle spoke with say the rapid rise of NFTs like Top Shot is a perfect storm of a few larger trends:

  1. COVID-19 has made us more plugged into virtual spaces: More people working from home = more time interacting in virtual spaces = more openness to the value of virtual goods and services.
  2. A boom in cryptocurrency (and a larger acceptance of the ethos of decentralization) has generated interest in other digital assets.
  3. Major institutions (like Christie’s auction house) have lent NFTs credibility and prestige by jumping aboard.
  4. Non-fungible goods often thrive during times of economic turmoil: Rare coins, for instance, saw price spikes during the Great Depression, the stock market collapse of 1987, and the 2008 recession.

“People are realizing, ‘Wow, I can do all these things — meetings, happy hours, whatever — virtually,’” says Hrish Lotlikar, CEO of an AR-based metaverse called SuperWorld. “That gives way to, ‘Wow, I can buy assets virtually too. I don’t need physical money.’”

On SuperWorld, you can buy NFTs in the form of virtual real estate. East 66th St. in NYC could be yours for just 500 ETH, or ~$822k! (via SuperWorld)

SuperWorld is part of another burgeoning space in the NFT world: virtual real estate

On the platform, Earth is split up into 64B parcels of land — each an NFT with a set of unique coordinates — which can be bought by users and monetized with virtual ads.

Similar worlds, like Decentraland, have seen massive growth in recent years. At launch in 2017, parcels would go for $100 a pop; today, they can fetch up to $80k. Last month, an anonymous buyer shelled out $1.5m for a 9-block virtual estate on the gaming platform Axie Infinity

“Buying land today in virtual worlds feels a lot like buying land in Manhattan back in 1750,” writes Janine Yorio, head of real estate at the online investment platform Republic. “It is also insulated from the COVID-induced volatility of the real-world real estate industry.”

But the question of “value” remains.

Objectively, a video clip of LeBron James dunking isn’t worth $208k. A cartoon cat isn’t worth $100k+. A selfie of Lindsey Lohan isn’t worth $59k.

Of course, the same can be said of any physical collectible.

An original 1960s Hot Wheels car is made up of a few pennies’ worth of metal and plastic, but it might sell for upwards of $50k on the market. A painting — some wood and pigmented oil — can fetch millions.

Zachary Crockett / The Hustle

Like most things in the world, the value of an NFT comes from extrinsic, not intrinsic, factors, including:

  1. Authenticity: Physical collectibles have all kinds of authentication mechanisms, and none are particularly efficient (even acclaimed art appraisers have been duped by forgeries). By contrast, the originality of an NFT is cemented on the blockchain. 
  2. Scarcity: Many NFTs are one-of-a-kind or limited. For instance, only 10k CryptoPunks were released. Of those, only 24 are “apes.” And among the apes, just 1 dons a fedora.
  3. Transferability: It can be resold to nearly anyone around the world, meaning it has a broader pool of potential buyers.
  4. Immutability: The code and metadata of the NFT can’t be changed, lending it permanence.
  5. Utility: Some NFTs can serve functional purposes, generate revenue, or be exchanged for physical assets.

Many NFT collectors see a future for the tokens in increased “real world” integration.

With Top Shot, for instance, we may see NBA players offering court-side seats and meet-and-greets in exchange for certain moments.

Inside of the virtual world Decentraland, Decentral Games is building a virtual casino where people can play poker tournaments. Buying (and wearing) certain NFT clothing items — say a digital $1k jacket — will get you a seat at certain high-roller tables. 

But ultimately, an NFT is only worth what someone else will pay for it.

And that makes the future a bit uncertain

In the wake of several high-profile NFT sales from well-established artists, a glut of lesser-known artworks have flooded the market.

Some critics have raised doubts that NFTs are just a fad driven by hype, similar to 2017’s initial coin offering (ICO) bubble. Others have stated that the massive influx of buyers and sellers will eventually taper off, and only truly rare, desirable NFTs will retain value.

Schwarz with his LeBron James NBA Top Shot moment (Jesse Schwarz for The Hustle)

Schwarz — the Trends member who dropped $208k on the LeBron James video — remains optimistic.

“A lot of people tell me, ‘I can watch the same clip on YouTube for free,’” he says. “Anyone can watch it. But there’s only one original verified by the blockchain, and that scarcity is what makes it valuable in the long-term.”

His NFT is one of only 49 moments from Top Shot’s co-called “Cosmic” set, and it’s the only LeBron James clip in the series.

“It set a record for the most expensive sports NFT, but in my opinion it was the best value buy on the whole market,” he adds.

“It’s my Mona Lisa.”

Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Business

15 vaccination clinics in Toronto open this weekend – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News

Published

 on


Almost 200,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered in Toronto, and more shots are being injected in the arms of residents in clinics this weekend.

In a news release, the city said a number of hospitals and community healthcare centres are operating 15 clinics on Saturday and Sunday to vaccinate those in Phase 1 priority groups, including residents aged 80 years and older, who have a confirmed appointment.

“The city of Toronto, Toronto Public Health, hospitals and community healthcare centres are all working together to get Torontonians vaccinated as quickly as possible. Getting vaccinated protects individuals, their close contacts and the community,” the release stated.

The city said 197,155 vaccine doses have been administered so far.

Earlier this week, Toronto officials responded to criticism that the city is falling behind other regions in vaccinating people over the age of 80.

The city said it had administered COVID-19 vaccines to seniors in hospitals and congregate settings, but wider availability of vaccines for residents above the age of 80 will only occur when supply improves, and the provincial booking system launches on March 15.

The province released an update on its vaccination plan on Friday, announcing who will be prioritized in the second phase of its rollout set to run from April to July.

On the same day, Health Canada authorized the country’s fourth COVID-19 vaccine, the single-dose Johnson and Johnson shot.

Retired general Rick Hillier, the head of the province’s vaccine task force, said there had been a “seismic shift” in the province’s vaccination rollout following the approval of two more vaccines, supply ramping up, and new guidance on the extension of interval between two doses.

“I want to say by the first day of summer we want to have, vaccine supply dependent, we want to have a first needle in the arms of every person in Ontario who is eligible for the vaccine and wants to get,” he said during a news conference on Friday.

More than 860,000 doses have been administered and over 270,000 people have been fully vaccinated in Ontario so far.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Business

What are NFTs? Everything you need to know. – Mashable

Published

 on


NFTs are the hottest cryptocurrency product right now and everyone wants in on the action.

NFTs are the hottest cryptocurrency product right now and everyone wants in on the action.
Image: Getty Images / iStockphoto

NFTs are the latest cryptocurrency rage these days, with bands like Kings of Leon releasing their next album as limited edition “golden tickets,” and NBA digital collectibles being sold for millions of dollars. 

They’re interesting to collectors and cryptocurrency fans alike, but is there a future there? In other words: Should you spend some actual dollars to invest in a digital trinket?

Kings of Leon have already jumped on the NFT bandwagon.

Kings of Leon have already jumped on the NFT bandwagon.

Image: yellowheart

What Are NFTs?

NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, are a type of cryptocurrency created on a smart contract platform such as Ethereum. They are unique digital objects that can be cool to own or even profitable to trade. Think of them as digital collectible cards. They typically start out as something only enthusiasts care about, but if you get a rare one, it could be worth a lot one day. 

What is fungible vs. non-fungible? 

Cryptocurrencies can be fungible, meaning all the currency’s units (i.e., tokens) are the same and equal, like grains of rice or dollars. 

Non-fungible tokens are the opposite — every cryptocurrency unit, or token, is unique and cannot be replicated. 

This “non-fungible” property can be used for many things, even certain types of currencies. But the current NFT craze is mostly fueled by digital art and collectibles. People have figured out that a unique, digital object can be interesting, cool, and even have a significant monetary value. It’s why the space has recently blossomed, encompassing thousands of projects involving artworks, gaming, and sports. 


How do NFTs work?

It really depends on the platform. But given the vast majority of NFTs are created and traded on Ethereum, we’ll focus on that. 

NFTs are created on Ethereum’s blockchain, which is immutable, meaning it cannot be altered. No one can undo your ownership of an NFT or re-create that exact same one. They’re also “permissionless,” so anyone can create, buy, or sell an NFT without asking for permission. Finally, every NFT is unique, and can be viewed by anyone. 

So yes — it’s like a unique collectible card in a forever-open store window that anyone can admire, but only one person (or cryptocurrency wallet, to be exact) can own at any given time. 

In a practical sense, an NFT is typically represented by a digital artwork, such as an image. But it’s important to understand that it’s not just that image (which can easily be replicated). Its existence as a digital object on the blockchain is what makes it unique. 

How do I buy or trade NFTs?

NFTs are bought and traded just like any other cryptocurrency based on Ethereum, only instead of buying some amount of tokens, you buy a single token. 

To do that, you should start by installing Metamask, a browser extension that lets you interact with various facets of Ethereum, such as exchanges and dApps (decentralized apps). MetaMask is also a digital wallet for Ethereum and all the tokens created on Ethereum (both fungible and non-fungible). 

After installing the extension, you should buy some Ethereum (you can do it directly in MetaMask with a debit card or Apple Pay by clicking on “Add Funds”). But be very careful with your funds — store your MetaMask password and your wallet’s private key somewhere safe. Then, when you visit a website that sells NFTs (such as NBA Top Shot) or an exchange where you can trade for them (such as Uniswap), connect your MetaMask wallet to the site (only do that on sites you know are safe), and buy your first NFT.  


Why do NFTs have value?

Of course, before you buy anything, you’ll probably want to know why it’s a good purchase. Indeed, why would anyone buy an NFT and why should there ever be a buyer willing to spend even more money down the line?

Ideally, the value of NFTs doesn’t just come from a game of digital hot potato, in which you purchase something hoping you’ll sell it for more later. And so on, until the whole thing crashes. Ideally, the NFT should be valuable to you because… you like it. If you’re an NBA fan, you might want to have an official NFT representing your favorite player. Or, perhaps there’s a digital cat that you really like.

Sure, in some ways, many NFTs are just a digital image that you can easily right-click and save to your computer. But NFTs also reside on the blockchain, which makes it extremely hard to truly copy them in their entirety. The blockchain entry also transparently tells you who created the NFT. If a famous musicians says: “Yes, that’s my Ethereum address that created this digital image of a possum.” Then that can be verified on the blockchain. 

Larva Labs' CryptoPunks are among the most coveted (and pricy) NFTs around.

Larva Labs’ CryptoPunks are among the most coveted (and pricy) NFTs around.
Image: larvalabs

Some NFTs can be valuable in other ways. Say, for example, you buy an NFT related to an online game. Perhaps that NFT will one day give you special prestige in the game, or it could even be the basis for you getting some other, hard-to-get object; something that only you can have because every NFT is unique. If you’ve ever played World of Warcraft or a similar game, you know how valuable a piece of armor or a weapon can be. Now, with NFTs, no one can take it away from you, not even the game’s owners. 

Let’s return for a second to that game of digital hot potato. NFTs are a nascent space, and there’s a lot of hysteria and scamming going on. You might see a certain NFT sold for millions, and think you’ll also be able to buy something for a few dollars and become rich selling it to someone later on. It can happen, but it’s rare. And these things can be manipulated. For example, a cryptocurrency whale (someone that owns vast amounts of crypto money) can buy many NFTs and then “sell” them to himself (his other cryptocurrency address) for millions, artificially inflating the price. So be careful: Just because some NFT was traded for a lot of money, do not think this automatically means all other similar NFTs are valuable as well. 


What are the most expensive NFTs?

In the early days of the space, we saw a blockchain game like CryptoKitties sell virtual cats for tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars. Recently, music producer 3LAU sold a collection of 33 limited edition NFTs for more than 11 million dollars. The musician Grimes (aka the mother of little X Æ A-Xii) even sold her digital art collection for $7,500 apiece, totaling $6 million in sales. Yes, these things can get very pricey. 

Are NFTs a good investment?

Buying an NFT because you like it, or maybe even to earn (or lose) a few quick bucks is one thing. But investing in NFTs is another. Again, it’s a nascent space. Even a Van Gogh painting or a rare Babe Ruth baseball card required some passage of time before becoming very valuable. 

Given the digital nature of NFTs, it’s hard to compare them to prized physical artworks, such as statues and paintings. On the other hand, we live in a world where one Bitcoin is worth more than $50,000, so things from the digital realm can certainly be very valuable and even sustain that value over longer periods of time. 

In any case, if you plan to invest in NFTs, you’ll need to dive deep into this complex world because each NFT market is slightly different. It’s also pricey — trading on Ethereum can be quite costly as the network’s recent congestion is causing fees to rise. Finally, you’ll need to think strategically and follow the often rapidly changing cryptocurrency trends. 

In short, it’s possible to earn money by investing in NFTs, but you’ll have to do your homework. 

Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Trending