Did Russia’s COVID Vaccine Work?

Russia has had to manage about one million COVID-19 cases. Some experts believe that figure could be grossly under-reported. 

Local officials promised that they would begin creating and distributing a vaccine to protect the population from the easily spreadable coronavirus. On August 11, 2020, Putin’s government announced that they had done so successfully.

The vaccine was developed at the Gamaleya National Center of Epidemiology and Microbiology. They call the product Sputnik V. Russia believes it can produce up to 500 million doses annually.

Although initial studies show that the vaccine creates a desirable immune response, the degree of protection it offers is currently unknown.

What Are Long-Term Studies Needed for Vaccines?

Although several companies are at the same vaccine development stage as the Russian government, their products are still several months from being considered safe to use.

Russia has the benefit of avoiding litigation. If someone becomes ill or dies because they took the COVID-19 vaccine, that individual’s family has few legal options to pursue.

If that outcome were to happen in the United States, the family could pursue the company who made the vaccine for damages.

The first large-scale trials for Sputnik V launched in late August. Over 40,000 people, including Brazil, India, Saudi Arabia, and UAE, were scheduled to participate in the program.

Russia reports that world governments are requesting one billion doses of the new vaccine.

As of August 28, nine candidates are in late-stage trials, with all of them offering potential immune response benefits. Some have encountered difficulties since then, forcing the research to be put on hold while safety factors get evaluated.

Why Did Russia Work Hard to Have the First COVID Vaccine?

Whoever provides the first COVID vaccine to the world with documented safety evidence backing it stands to earn a small fortune.

Moderna is one of the companies outside of Russia with a viable COVID vaccine in late-stage trials. They are making deals with government providers at prices around $32 per dose. Since an annual update may be necessary, it could be a multi-billion-dollar windfall for the winner of the vaccine race.

Russia wants to cash in on that opportunity.

Most experts believe that the first vaccines should be available in 2021 for essential workers and at-risk groups. It may be September before it is ready for everyone to take.
Until then, remember to keep up with your healthy habits. Include items from brands like Enzymedica and Herb Pharm to give your immune system the help it wants.

What Caused the Explosion in Beirut?

A shocking explosion ripped through Beirut’s streets on August 4, 2020. It killed at least 200 people, caused 5,000 injuries, and leveled several city blocks.

Before the explosion occurred, a large fire developed in Warehouse 12 at the Port of Beirut. White smoke billowed into the sky until the roof caught fire. Once that happened, a massive initial explosion occurred, followed by some smaller ones, until a mushroom cloud sent a blast wave throughout the city.

Authorities believe that welding work was responsible for starting the initial fire. A door at the warehouse was ordered fixed that day. 

About 300,000 people were left homeless immediately. Lebanon blamed the event on 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate stored in the warehouse.

A similar event happened in Texas in 1947. A ship carrying 2,000 tons of ammonium nitrate exploded, killing almost 600 people.

How Big Was the Explosion?

The explosive event was approximately 10% of the size of the atomic weapon unleashed on Hiroshima. That makes it one of the most gigantic non-nuclear explosions in history.

Once the fires were put out, a crater almost 500 feet wide was discovered. It was eventually filled with seawater.

A ship was blasted out of the water when the shockwave went through the city. Windows at Beirut’s airport broke from the event even though it was five miles away.

People in Cyprus heard the explosion when it happened. Seismologists analyzing the area said that the ground shook at the equivalency of a 3.3-magnitude earthquake.

Among the victims of the explosion was the renowned architect Jean-Marc Bonfils. He was involved in the restoration work happening in the city after the recent civil war. Bonfils was broadcasting on Facebook live after the first explosion, but he was injured in the second one.

Some first responders who were coming to assess the damage after the first massive explosion were caught in the second one, dying instantly. Five nurses who were responding to the scene were killed while helping others.

Most of the government resigned six days later, although no one was willing to take responsibility for the ammonium nitrate’s oversight.

UK Crashes Into Deepest Recession of Any Major Economy

Although the United States saw a significant decrease in economic output during 2020’s second quarter, the UK experienced an even worse outcome.

The economy’s output shrank by over 20%, making it the worst quarterly slump on record in history. Although the COVID-19 pandemic drove the results, it is still the deepest recession of any major economy.

Although the US experienced a 31.4% drop in economic activity, that figure was only a 10.6% drop than the GDP. 

France and Italy both suffered over 15% drops in relation to the second quarter of 2020. The cause for these massive declines involves the dependence on retail and services in those economies.

Why Did the UK’s Economy Decline Steeply?

The issue with the UK’s financial results involves the lockdown length imposed on people. Most businesses were stopped from providing services or selling goods for the entire quarter.

Although the United States had a lengthy lockdown period that started in March, different states took unique approaches. Some of them barely put in any restrictions, while others used significant lockdown measures to restrict movement.

The states that followed the UK’s approach are seeing similar problems with their economy.

Even when comparing Italy to the United Kingdom, restaurants, cafés, and hairdressers were allowed to reopen in May for Italians. It wasn’t until July 4 that those in the UK could do the same.

Germany faired even better because it allowed car dealerships, bike shops, bookstores, and other businesses to reopen as early as April 20.

Since the restrictions were lightened, the UK economy saw an 8.7% increase in activity from the previous month. It’s a start, but more needs to be done to rescue people trapped near the poverty line.
Although the UK economy expects to recover, a fast response is not likely. Another wave of COVID-19 cases, shedding almost one million jobs, and slow Brexit negotiations threaten to make a 10% contraction for 2020.

What to Stock Up on Before a Winter COVID-19 Resurgence

When lockdown orders started getting implemented in March 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic, shoppers began stocking up on emergency supplies. The first items to leave store shelves involved paper products and toilet paper.

This activity was quickly followed by rice, beans, oatmeal, lentils, and similar pantry staples.

With the world gearing up for a winter resurgence of COVID-19, mixed with a bit of influenza, now is the perfect time to start stocking up on things.

You’ll want to grab those pantry staples now. Having an extra package of toilet paper wouldn’t hurt. Any medications you may need should get restocked, including prescriptions that are necessary for your health.

Once you have those items, considering adding these additional things to your list.

1. Health Supplements

Many people use supplements to get the nutrients they need for good health. Stocking up on items from Desbio, Numeria, and Neuroscience to ensure you have enough for up to three months can get you through potentially challenging times.

2. Diapers

If you have a little one at home, stock up on diapers. Get some wipes while you’re at the store as well, since those disappeared after the toilet paper.

3. Hand Sanitizer

You couldn’t find hand sanitizer on most store shelves for over a month after the pandemic hit. Once the products started coming back, you were paying double or triple the price for the same item pre-pandemic. Stocking up now ensures you won’t get caught in similar circumstances.

4. Frozen Vegetables

Canned goods disappeared quickly when reports of food chain shortages hit the news in April. Grab some frozen veggies now to keep in your freezer. They’ll stay good throughout the winter.

5. Canned Fruit

Fresh produce disruptions made it challenging to find some fruit items in some stores. Stocking up on canned varieties ensures you have a long-term food solution to maintain.
What you don’t need to grab is bottled water. You can get everything you need from your well or municipal supply. If shortages do occur, shop local to support farmers and growers in your community – or plant a garden to get what you need!

The History and Significance of Labor Day

Labor Day occurs on the first Monday of September each year. It is dedicated to the American worker’s economic and social achievements, serving as a tribute to the contributions that people create.

Without workers operating in safe environments, the country’s strength and prosperity would not be where it is today.

The first declarations for celebrating Labor Day happened with municipal ordinances passed in the late 19th century. A movement started after, creating state legislation in New York, New Jersey, Oregon, and more. Five states would create a holiday in 1887.

Who Is the Founder of Labor Day?

No one knows for certain who the first person was that initiated the idea of celebrating Labor Day.

Many people give the credit to Peter McGuire. He was the general secretary of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners, as well as the co-founder of the American Federation of Labor.

Matthew Maguire, who worked as a machinist, also receives credit for coming up with the holiday.

What we do know is that in 1882, the Central Labor Union in New York adopted a resolution to celebrate workers. They held the event on September 5 in NYC, and they continued the tradition the next year.

Twenty-three states adopted the holiday by 1894, putting pressure on Grover Cleveland to make it a national event. 

Labor Day became official on June 28, 1894.

How We Celebrated Labor Day

The first Labor Day celebrations involved speeches and parades. The goal was to show the American worker’s strength while providing opportunities for fun and community togetherness. For some time, the Sunday before the holiday was considered a time to review the modern laborer’s spiritual aspects.

Changes in recent years have shifted the emphasis of the holiday. Although union executives and government officials still give speeches, it has become a time when workers relax, pursue family activities, and celebrate in their preferred way.

Indeed, we wouldn’t be where we are today without American workers. When Labor Day comes each year, celebrate your accomplishments!

Quick Review of 2020 Most Notable Moments

When we think about 2020, it will be a year that none of us forget. Future generations will talk about the months that we spent alone, working and learning remotely, while everything seemed like it could fall apart at any moment.

The year started with news that a disease was spreading throughout China. It didn’t seem like a problem in January, but it became concerning in February when it began to spread. Italy saw record casualties, followed by the U.S., while the rest of the world tried to maintain its status quo.

China locked down Wuhan first. Italy did the same, followed by the United States and the rest of the world.

We’re still dealing with the coronavirus today. It was once considered a respiratory illness with new mandates requiring people to wear masks, but now scientists see it as a cardiovascular issue. At least every day gets us a little closer to normalcy again.

That’s one issue from 2020. Here is a review of the other notable events, in no particular order.

1. Murder Hornets

These massive hornets are the size of a finger. They feed on bee colonies, disrupting pollination chains wherever they go. For the past few years, some had been spotted in Canada. Now, they’re moving into Washington State.

2. Assassination of Qasem Soleimani

The U.S. authorized the death of an Iranian general in a drone strike. This event led to several days of tension between the two countries, with threats of war traded. Iran would issue a retaliatory attack on Iraqi bases with American troops in response. That happened three days into the year.

3. Trump’s Impeachment

Donald Trump became the first President in his first term to get impeached by the House of Representatives.

4. Death of Kobe Bryant

Basketball star and philanthropist Kobe Bryant was killed in a helicopter crash with his teen daughter and seven others while flying to a game. The entire world found itself mourning the loss, with murals appearing from Africa to the Philippines.

5. Beirut Explosion

Over 2,700 pounds of ammonium nitrate exploded in Lebanon, killing over 150 people and injuring about 6,000. Hundreds of thousands of people were displaced as entire neighborhoods got leveled.

6. George Floyd

Protests in Portland, OR, over the death of George Floyd have persisted for over 100 days. The Black Lives Matter movement surged again, with mostly peaceful protests happening in dozens of cities.

We’re in the final stretch of 2020. What else do you think this year has in store for us all?

Discarded Masks Becoming a Health and Environmental Hazard

When the coronavirus pandemic made its first wave around the planet in March, health experts didn’t want people to wear masks because of the emergency need for them at hospitals and care facilities.

As we have learned more about how COVID transmits between people, most governments have mandated mask-wearing to prevent its spread.

These rules may be limiting the number of infections, but it also comes with a detrimental side effect. People are littering by discarding their used masks improperly. This problem has become so widespread that it is becoming a health and environmental hazard.

Why Is PPE Problematic for the Environment?

If you take a walk around the average city, you’ll find discarded masks and gloves everywhere. Whether in the street, a parking lot, or your front yard, these plastics can adversely impact the environment.

These products break down into microplastics that attract harmful chemicals and pesticides. They enter sewer systems and bodies of water. When animals eat these products, the contaminants enter their tissues.

If we eat those animals, the litter we created with our PPE enters our bodies.

What makes the problem even worse is that some people think that these items can be recycled, creating breakdowns in the recovery chain. 

The problem has become so great that some communities, such as Swampscott, Mass., are instituting fines of $5,500 or more to stop the littering.

How to Manage the COVID PPE Problem

It only takes having all of us to follow a few simple steps to stop PPE littering in our communities.

1. Don’t Litter

If you have masks or gloves that must get discarded, throw the PPE in the nearest trash. Although the risk of catching the coronavirus is remote, having healthy children or adults coming into contact with a contaminated item is not something we’d wish on anyone.

2. Put Clean Materials in Recycling

You cannot leave food or organic materials in recycling products. Try to clean each item before placing it in the correct receptacle.

3. Put PPE in the Trash

Used masks and gloves should get put out with the weekly trash. It helps to put the PPE in a tight, secure bag to prevent any contamination from reaching the regular waste stream. If you travel and need to discard items, carry a container that lets you properly store the items until they can be disposed of correctly.
When we all do our part, we can stop the litter and the COVID pandemic. Take care of yourself with products from Argentyn23, LivOn Labs, and Quicksilver Scientific while protecting you and your loved ones from infection.

Bubonic Plague Found at Mongolia Border

Mongolia quarantined the regional border with Russia because testing found the presence of the bubonic plague. The first case was found in Bayannur, which is to the northwest of Beijing. A Level 3 warning for prevention will stay in place until 2021 to ensure hospitals remain alert.

What makes the plague such a dangerous infection is that people taking antibiotics may not survive. Although the rates are much lower than the 93% fatality rate found in the Dark Ages, 16% of those who get these bacteria die.

Health authorities in Mongolia are asking people to take extra precautions to prevent human-to-human transmission.

Marmots Are Thought to Be Responsible

Authorities are telling the general public to avoid sick or dead marmots in the area. This type of large ground squirrel is part of the local cuisine, which is why fears of uncontrolled transmission still exist.

About 63,000 people died in 1911 when a pneumonic plague epidemic started from the animal. It came from diseased fur products that got transported and traded around the country. The first two cases of the bubonic type came from brothers who had eaten infected meat.

A third confirmed case in the region came from a teenager who had also eaten marmot meat in recent days.

These incidents follow the death of a Mongolian couple last May from bubonic plague after eating the raw kidney from one. Two others developed the symptoms of pneumonic plague in Inner Mongolia from a similar issue.

Will Bubonic Plague Become Another Pandemic?

About 1,000 to 2,000 people get the bubonic plague each year. Although unreported cases could cause those numbers to go higher, most countries don’t have endemic issues. The average number of fatalities from this infection in the United States is only one.

The three places where plague is known to exist permanently are Madagascar, Peru, and the Republic of the Congo.

Despite its global presence, the threat of this severe illness becoming another pandemic is minimal. Even if someone gets exposed, early treatment is almost certain to eradicate the bacteria.
The best preventative measures to take are to avoid contact with infected animals. Exposure to contaminated body fluids from a carcass can spread the bacteria. You can also get it from infected fleas.

Why China is Buying Record Amounts of Oil

The cost of oil dipped so low during the COVID pandemic that some prices were negative. That meant distributors would have to pay someone to take barrels off of their hands.

China took advantage of these low prices to stock up. They bought so much foreign oil since March 2020 that a traffic jam of tankers is waiting at sea to offload.

At the end of June, over 73 million barrels of oil was floating at sea along the northern coast. Since May, the amount considered to be in floating storage has quadrupled, making it seven times higher than the monthly average from Q1 2020.

Is it smart to go bargain-hunting for oil when the markets are experiencing extreme stress?

China’s Purchases Propped Up the Oil Market

The swing in oil prices was about $80 during Q2 2020, going from negative $40 to positive $40 per barrel. That swing happened because of China’s strong demand while combined with supply cuts from Russia and OPEC.

China relies on foreign crude to meet its economic needs. When global prices reach record lows, it makes sense to stockpile oil for future use. That’s why imports surged almost 20% during the pandemic, with much of it coming from the Latin America region.

Most of the oil purchased at record lows came from Brazil. It takes about 45 days to ship crude from South America to China, which is why offshore storage levels are so high right now. Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, and Iraq also sent significant quantities.

China Wasn’t the Only Major Buyer

Any country that uses significant oil quantities for its economy found itself in an unexpected position to buy. Even if the costs weren’t budgeted, it made sense to start importing crude to meet future needs.

The United States supported domestic oil producers by purchasing 30 million barrels to reinforce the national reserve. Several countries in Europe and Asia made similar buys.

Weak prices caused two-handed purchasing, but not at the extent that China was operating.

Experts expect China to use the crude oil as an arbitrage opportunity. Investors are more willing to pay for the commodity in the future than they are today, which means those who store the product for a few months could sell it at a significant profit.

COVID continues to present unique energy and economic challenges for the world. China is betting big that oil prices will recover soon. If they don’t, they can still use the crude domestically, creating a win-win situation.

What Were the Social Effects of WWI?

World War I stayed a regional conflict until 1917. Although the entire world felt like it was at war for that final two years, the social effects of the conflict continue to impact society.

WWI led governments to introduce conscription. It changed how women were thought of in society. The conflict encouraged people to get more involved in the politics of their communities.

WWI’s significant casualties also created times of national mourning for all nations in the world.

What Were the Consequences of WWI?

The battles of WWI caused more damage than any other conflict in history. Over 9 million people died, with Germany and Russia suffering the most losses.

The fighting entirely destroyed some areas of Belgium and France. Gun shells, chemicals, and more made some of the farmland unusable for decades. We are still finding unexploded ordinance from the battle in some communities.

Most countries had to raise taxes because of the cost of the conflict. Great Britain spent about 60% of the funds its economy produced. It became so desperate that some nations printed money, causing inflation to skyrocket.

The war also ended four monarchies in its aftermath. Rulers in Austria, Germany, Russia, and the Ottoman Empire all stepped down, reshaping Europe into different social and cultural borders. 

What Happened Socially After WWI?

Birth rates went down dramatically across Europe after WWI because of the number of young men who were killed in the conflict. Civilians who lost their homes to the fighting fled to other nations, including the United States, to start life over. 

Women started replacing men in many of the factories producing goods all over the world. Their contributions helped to set the stage to give them the right to vote for the first time. The wealthy lost their influence to the middle and lower class families who experienced significant losses because of the war.

Some of the social changes after WWI would lead to the fanaticism that would eventually start WWII. This era of conflict would subsequently bring us some of the most sustained peace the world has ever experienced.

It is up to all of us to ensure that we can continue to live in peace.