Vancouver Coastal Health will begin offering free take-home fentanyl testing strips from several locations in the city starting next week.
The strips reveal whether your recreational drugs are contaminated with fentanyl — a potent and deadly opioid that’s been found in drugs sold as heroin, cocaine, and MDMA.
“Providing people with a simple, convenient way to check if their drugs contain fentanyl may help them avoid an overdose, and reduce the number of lives lost due to the contaminated illegal drug supply on our streets,” Judy Darcy, BC’s Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, said in a news release.
The strips will be available at Insite, Molson overdose prevention site, Overdose Prevention Society, and St. Paul’s Hospital overdose prevention site next week.
Later this month, they’ll also be available at Three Bridges and Robert and Lilly Lee community health centres, plus locations in Powell River, the Sunshine Coast, and the Sea to Sky region.
The strips were originally used to test urine samples for fentanyl, but you can test a drug before using it by dissolving a small amount in a few drops of water and dipping the test strip in the solution. It should tell you in a few seconds whether your drugs contain fentanyl.
VCH already offers free drug-testing at several of its overdose prevention sites, but that requires people to bring their drugs in person to be tested by staff.
“We know that not everyone can or wants to go to these sites, especially in light of the stigma that people who use drugs can face,” said Dr. Mark Lysyshyn, medical health officer with VCH.
New research suggests at-home testing is just as effective at preventing overdoses, which prompted VCH to offer the take-home strips for free.
The research by VCH, Interior Health, and the BC Centre for Disease Control found 27% of 994 people in the province given take-home testing kits made a safer choice if their substance tested positive for fentanyl. A safer choice includes not using the substance, using less of it, using it at an overdose prevention site, or using with a friend.
Nearly all of the study participants said they’d use a take-home fentanyl testing kit again.
UK study finds mRNA COVID-19 vaccines provide biggest booster impact – Fiji Times
LONDON (Reuters) -COVID-19 vaccines made by Pfizer and Moderna that use mRNA technology provide the biggest boost to antibody levels when given 10-12 weeks after the second dose, a new British study has found.
The “COV-Boost” study was cited by British officials when they announced that Pfizer and Moderna were preferred for use in the country’s booster campaign, but the data has only been made publicly available now.
The study found that six of the seven boosters examined enhanced immunity after initial vaccination with Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine, while all seven increased immunity when given after two doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccine.
“A third dose will be effective for many of the vaccines we’ve tested and in many different combinations,” Professor Saul Faust, an immunologist at the University of Southampton and the trial’s lead, told reporters.
The study, published late on Thursday, found that a full dose or half dose of Pfizer or a full dose of Moderna gave a strong boost to both antibody and T-cell levels, regardless of whether the person initially received Pfizer or AstraZeneca.
“All four of the vaccination regimes most widely deployed in the UK lead to essentially the same levels of immunity and are likely to be equally effective,” said Professor Eleanor Riley, immunologist at the University of Edinburgh. She added that a policy change in booster gaps was also supported by the data.
“These data support the JCVI (vaccine committee) decision earlier this week to bring forward booster doses to 3 months after the second vaccination.”
When AstraZeneca, Novavax, Johnson & Johnson and Curevac were given as boosters, they increased antibody levels for either initial vaccine, albeit to a smaller degree, the study found. However, while Valneva boosted antibodies in people initially vaccinated with AstraZeneca, it did not provide a boost for Pfizer.
The COV-Boost study pre-dated the spread of the emergent Omicron variant of concern, and Faust said he had shared samples with the UK Health Security Agency to generate data on Omicron.
The study did however find that booster shots also helped to generate a broad T-cell response against the Beta and Delta variants, which may play a key role in longer-term protection.
A separate study by Imperial College London into how initial exposure to SARS-CoV-2 shapes immune responses, also published late on Thursday, similarly found a good T-cell response to both Alpha and Delta after infection followed by vaccination.
Dutch former queen Beatrix tests positive for COVID-19
Princess Beatrix, as she has been known since her abdication in 2013, got tested after coming down with “mild cold symptoms”, the statement said.
“The princess is at home in isolation and adheres to the rules of life for people who have tested positive,” it added.
The Netherlands has been experiencing a record-breaking wave of COVID-19 cases that is threatening to overwhelm the country’s healthcare system.
(Reporting by Stephanie van den Berg; Editing by Alex Richardson)
‘I was shocked’: Mother, child mistakenly given COVID-19 vaccine instead of flu shot – Comox Valley Record
A Manitoba mother says a routine appointment for her and her three-year-old to get flu shots ended in frustration and mixed messages after they were each mistakenly given an adult dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
Jenna Bardarson is calling for policy changes at the province’s vaccination centres to make sure that doesn’t happen to another family.
The shots were administered on Nov. 24 at the Keystone Centre in Brandon.
Bardarson says that shortly after she and her daughter, Dali, got their shots, the health worker who had given them excused herself to speak with a supervisor. When the worker returned, she told them she had made a mistake and given them both the adult Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
“I was shocked. I didn’t know what to say. My immediate concerns were, of course, would my daughter be OK and also who could I speak to about this,” Bardarson said in online social media messages Friday to The Canadian Press.
Once she got home, Bardarson made multiple calls to different departments with the regional medical authority, hoping to speak with someone about the error and her concerns, she said.
She said no one was able to provide her with the answers or information she needed. “The conversations with various Prairie Mountain Health members have been frustrating, to say the least.”
Bardarson said she already had two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine and was due for her booster shot next month. Her daughter is too young to be eligible.
Health Canada last month approved a pediatric version of the Pfizer shot for children ages five to 11, but it has not yet approved a vaccine for those under five.
Bardarson said she and her daughter had headaches and sore arms the following day. Her daughter had no appetite and was throwing up.
Manitoba Health confirmed the mistake in a statement and said staff from Prairie Mountain have reached out to the mother to discuss what happened as well as to provide an update on an investigation.
“Patient safety is a critical aspect of all health-care services in Manitoba. We are constantly reviewing our processes to ensure that our systems support our staff in preventing errors,” it said.
“In this case … our team reviewed the existing processes to make adjustments that would help avoid a similar error from occurring in the future.”
Bardarson said the health region has not provided her with updated information on the investigation and would not discuss any consequences the health worker may have faced.
Manitoba Health said no further action would be taken against the worker, because she immediately recognized the error and told a supervisor.
For Bardarson, that’s not enough.
“I by no means want her fired; however, there should be some sort of measures in place for harm reduction.”
Bardarson suggested taking away the worker’s injection privileges or enhanced supervision during vaccinations.
She said she would also like to see areas at vaccination centres separated by vaccine types, instead of having different vaccines offered in the same booth.
Manitoba Health could not say if others have been given a COVID-19 vaccine by mistake, but acknowledged that medication errors, although rare, do occur. It added that Bardarson was provided with information about the risks of the COVID-19 vaccine, which in this case it says are low.
Health Canada said it is not in charge of immunization monitoring and could not comment on whether similar mistakes have occurred in other parts of the country.
– Brittany Hobson, The Canadian Press
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