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Substance use costs $1,000 to $2,600 per person in Canada each year, study says

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Canada’s territories are spending the most per capita on costs related to substance use, according to a report released Thursday.

In 2014, Nunavut spent about $96 million related to substance use; in the Northwest Territories that number was $102 million, and in the Yukon, it was $71 million.

The study, a collaboration between the University of Victoria’s Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research (CISUR) and the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse and Addiction (CCSA), was funded by by Health Canada.

The costs are associated with the criminal justice system, lost productivity, health care, and other “direct costs,” like fire damage or substance use studies.

The researchers used large databases of information, including the number of people admitted to hospitals, visits to general practitioners, and prevalence of substance use.

6 provinces over $1B

The cost of substance use per person in Nunavut for 2014 was $2,652; comparatively, the highest cost in a province was Newfoundland and Labrador at $1,373 per person. The lowest cost per person in Canada was in British Columbia, where final figures came in at $1,050 per person.

A table provided by CISUR and CCSA shows the results of their study for each province and territory. (Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction/Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research)

Overall, six provinces spent upwards of $1 billion related to substance use in 2014, with Ontario spending the most at $14 billion.

Tim Stockwell, the director of CISUR, said the high costs are mostly related to the use of legal substances: tobacco and alcohol.

“The main lesson I think is that despite the terrible opioid crisis we’re having, it’s still the case that the great majority of harms … are from our legal drugs,” said Stockwell.

He said the territories have a higher cost associated with substance use because of a higher prevalence of alcohol and tobacco, and a higher cost of living.

“Those are really costly substances that create an awful lot of harm both in the health sphere and the crime sphere, for alcohol at any rate,” said Stockwell.

According to the report, substance use led to $54 million in health-care costs in the Northwest Territories in 2014, $46 million in Nunavut, and $32 million in Yukon.

Dr. Tim Stockwell is the director of the Centre for Addictions Research of B.C. at the University of Victoria. (University of Victoria)

The goal of the study is to help shape policy, said Stockwell. 

“We need to put substantial attention at the highest level to reduce harms from our use of legal substances,” he said, adding that it needs to be in tandem with a continuous effort to combat the harms associated with opioids and other illicit substances.

He said that CISUR recommended imposing a minimum cost of $1.50 before taxes, per dose of alcohol — for one ounce of liquor, or for one regular sized beer — at liquor stores.

It’s incredibly important that these trends are monitored going forward.– Tim Stockwell, CISUR director

Stockwell says he also sees issues in the way legal substances are advertised, in particular on social media.

CISUR plans to release another report in 2019 examining alcohol implementation strategies, with one focus being firmer regulation on alcohol advertising over Facebook.

Stockwell said that right now, promotions on Facebook and Instagram promote unhealthy and inappropriate use of alcohol, because they are not regulated in the same way as TV and radio advertisements.

He also said that he expects cannabis-related costs to decrease with legalization, in particular when it comes to the justice system.

Stockwell says that with cannabis legalization, justice system costs will likely decrease. (CBC )

The next phase of this project will be to release substance use data for 2015 and 2016, as well as launch an online tool that the public can use to access the most current data on substance use, which Stockwell says he expects to have live by early 2019.

Stockwell said the 2015 and 2016 numbers should be interesting because “2014 is the beginning of many things,” including alcohol deregulation, the development of tobacco alternatives, the opioid crisis, and the legalization of cannabis.

“It’s incredibly important that these trends are monitored going forward,” 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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