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Sick children from Quebec’s remote regions now accompanied by parents ‘in 98% of cases’

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The government agency that manages Quebec’s air-ambulance service said parents have been able to accompany their children on emergency flights in “98 per cent” of cases over the past month.

Évacuations aéromédicales du Québec (EVAQ) said it has now fully implemented its new policy, allowing caregivers to accompany minors on medical evacuation flights.

The policy was adopted last June, after a group of doctors launched a campaign to call attention to the fact that EVAQ’s refusal to allow parents to accompany their sick children during medical emergencies threatened the well-being of those children, especially Indigenous children who often do not speak English or French.

Doctors gave examples, such as needing a child’s medical history or other information to reach a diagnosis, or needing a parent’s consent to perform a procedure, and the parents being unreachable — trying to make their way from their remote home to their child’s side.

Much has been done in the past several months to address these concerns, said EVAQ’s co-ordinator, Sylvie Côté.

EVAQ co-ordinator Sylvie Côté, left, André Lizotte, director of pre-hospital emergency services with the Health Ministry, and EVAQ medical director Dr. Richard Bernier, testified Wednesday at the Viens commission. (Viens commission)

In July, Julie Ikey, a woman from Salluit in Nunavik, became the first mother to accompany her child on a medevac to Montreal when her 12-year-old son crashed his bike, rupturing his spleen.

In the months since then, doctors said, 50 to 60 per cent of sick children medevaced south have been accompanied by a caregiver.

However, Côté said the only request that has been refused since Sept. 14 was a father from the Gaspé region who could not board the plane with his newborn because the four passenger seats aboard the Challenger aircraft were already taken up by medical staff.

“We then try to transport the parent with our shuttle planes to bring them as quickly as possible to the health centre,” Côté testified on Wednesday at the Viens inquiry into the province’s treatment of Indigenous people.

(EVAQ has a fleet of four airplanes to transport patients from Quebec’s isolated communities for emergency procedures: two Challenger aircrafts — which cover longer distances — and two Dash-8 planes, normally used as a shuttle service in non-critical situations.)

Flight attendants no longer required

Last week, the Viens commission heard from Cree parents from Waswanipi, Que., who weren’t able to accompany their 6-year-old to Montreal in August, after doctors suspected he was bleeding internally.

Valerie-Lynn Gull said her son Pelle Jr. was terrified to take off alone, and asked her repeatedly why she could not go with him. She said she was never told why she couldn’t accompany him.

Côté said if the situation were to happen again today, Gull could likely have been able to go with her son, because EVAQ no longer requires a flight attendant be on board to accompany the caregiver. 

In Gull’s case, the air ambulance would have had to make a stop in Quebec City to pick up a flight attendant before heading to the Chibougamau hospital where Pelle Jr. was being treated, Côté explained.

Pelle Loon and Valerie-Lynn Gull, testifying before the Viens commission on Oct. 18, 2018, said they hoped children would no longer be medevaced without their parents. (Viens commission)

“The doctor said ‘No, I prefer that he be sent right away, because he’s not doing well’,” she said.

Long-term changes

It took several months to implement the changes in EVAQ’s new policy, Côté said.

“This summer we had a flight attendant or a nurse on board to show that the medical staff could support the parent,” she said.

The policy changes also required the collaboration of pilots and the ministry of transport, said André Lizotte, the director of pre-hospital emergency services with the Ministry of Health and Social Services.

EVAQ has always had to comply with aviation rules, he said.

“There has always been resistance over safety concerns,” said Lizotte.

Any modifications to the layout of the airplane, to make more room for a parent, also had to comply with the aircraft’s certifications, he said.

The Challenger 601 is used to transport patients from Quebec’s most remote communities. (Government of Quebec)

It was only a federal regulation change in 2017 that allowed EVAQ to add an extra seat in its Challenger aircraft.

“We have constraints we have to deal with. So no, it doesn’t always go as fast as we’d like,” he said.

He also stressed that EVAQ makes 6,000 trips made per year, two-thirds of which are on Dash-8 shuttles, which have accepted caregivers to accompany patients for several years.

Pediatric emergency physician Dr. Samir Shaheen-Hussain, one of the doctors to bring attention to the issue, said he has seen an improvement in services since “the unwritten rule of having a flight attendant accompany a caregiver has been revoked.”

“It is very encouraging to see that the demands made by these communities are finally being acted upon, and that the longstanding practice of systematically separating these kids from their families is coming to a definitive end,” Dr. Shaheen-Hussain told CBC News in an e-mail.

Inquiry commissioner Jacques Viens encouraged EVAQ to continue upgrading its services, including to translate its pamphlets and policies into Indigenous languages.

“A policy can be brilliant, but you have to explain it in a way that is, as well,” he said. 

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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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