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Trick-or-treating kids at higher risk of traffic deaths, study shows

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Traffic deaths spike among children who are trick-or-treating on Halloween, particularly among kids ages four to eight, according to a new study published in JAMA Pediatrics

The research team launched the study after noticing advertisements for Halloween parties posted to lampposts, which got them thinking about a dangerous witches’ brew: holiday revellers driving away from bars mixed with “legions of kids roaming the streets” in costume, said Dr. John Staples of the University of British Columbia and the study’s lead author. 

Although Staples and his team were in Canada, they found U.S. traffic data to be very comprehensive, so they focused their analysis south of their border.

The team examined 42 years of data from the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System. For each year, they looked at pedestrian deaths between 5 p.m. and 11:59 p.m. on Halloween night plus nights one week before and one week after.

When kids are trick-or-treating, important safety measures include attaching reflective patches to children’s costumes, having them carry flashlights, supervising them and talking to them about watching for cars and crossing streets, the study authors say. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press)

A total of 608 traffic deaths occurred on the 42 Halloween evenings, while a total of 851 occurred on the combined 84 evenings of Oct. 24 and Nov. 7, the study found. 

Put another way, that meant 2.07 pedestrians died per hour on Halloween evenings versus 1.45 per hour on the comparison evenings. Overall, pedestrians were 43 per cent more likely to die on Halloween than on the control evenings.

When the researchers looked at traffic deaths by age, pedestrians aged four to eight years of age were 10 times as likely to be killed on Halloween as on Oct. 24 or Nov. 7.

“There are things we can do to make things safer for kids and other pedestrians,” Staples said. “That includes attaching reflective patches to children’s costumes, having kids carry lights, supervising kids and talking to kids about traffic safety and how to cross a street.”

‘So many kids out’

A broader solution, he said, is for parents and communities to find ways to make walking in the evening safer.

“There are things that can be done in neighbourhoods that affect traffic and flow,” he said. “For example, traffic circles or speed bumps can be added. These can help slow down traffic. There are things that can be done to enforce the speed limit, such as installing red-light cameras.”

The good news is that between the first and last decade studied, overall pedestrian deaths declined from 4.9 to 2.5 per 100 million Americans, Staples noted. 

The new article “is very straightforward and compelling,” said David Hemenway, director of the Injury Control Research Center Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston. “It is of course all explained by the amount of exposure: there are so many kids out on Halloween compared to other nights.”

“The take-home message is that we should always be working on making our streets safer and we should be rem​inding everyone that kids are going to be out on that night,” said Hemenway, who was not involved in the new research.

“It should be on the news that day because someone who doesn’t have kids may have forgotten that it’s Halloween and everybody has to drive much, much, much slower in residential areas. And maybe it means the police should do more, too.”

Opportunity to teach traffic safety

Andrea Gielen hopes the study will spark changes that make it safer for kids walking in their neighbourhoods. “It’s important to remember that even with all the progress we’ve made, injuries are still the leading cause of death in children,” said Gielen, director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore.

The best way to improve safety for trick-or-treating kids is to make them more visible to motorists, said Gielen, who was not involved in the new research.

Beyond making sure kids are wearing reflective items on the their clothing and carrying flashlights, people should also focus on where cars are parked.

“Kids can slip between parked cars. Things can be improved by not allowing a lot of cars on the street for kids to run between,” Gielen said. 

Halloween also offers an opportunity to teach children about traffic safety and how to cross a street safely, Staples said, adding that he’s not suggesting that kids give up trick-or-treating.

“The kind of world I want to live in [is] safe for kids to go out and walk around their neighbourhood and participate in a holiday that is really focused on kids,” 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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