FAQ – Covid-19 Moderna Booster for 2023

September 2023 – Covid Vaccine UPDATE

Pharmaceutical company Moderna has said that its new vaccine booster works against this new virus variant, and as of September 2023, you can get the booster at your local pharmacy.

Drawing of family wearing masks for fear of Covid
Image by Mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

Here Comes BA.2.86, Maybe

Most of us believe that the Sars-CoV-2 Coronavirus (Covid-19) is behind us and that we can go about our normal daily routines without having to worry about catching it again. Well, maybe that’s true. Then again, maybe not.

A new variant called Pirola, technically labeled BA.2.86 is starting to show its ugly face and according to some sources, it is spreading rapidly around the United States and the world.

So What Exactly is BA.2.86?

Illustration of covid virus superimposed on a globe
Image by Miroslava Chrienova from Pixabay

The BA.2.86 variant was first detected in Denmark and Israel in late August 2023 and has since been found in several other countries, including the United States.

According to researchers, this particular virus is a subvariant of Omicron, the most dominant variant of SARS-CoV-2. BA.2.86 is more transmissible than the other Omicron subvariants.

How Transferrable is this Variant?

3D anination of coronavirus with enevelope
3D medical animation of Spike S protein, HE protein, viral envelope, and helical RNA. Wikipedia Commons

Scientists say that it may be more resistant to the current vaccines and antibody treatments. This is because BA.2.86 has a number of mutations in its spike protein, which is the part that the virus uses to attach to your cells. However,

How severe is BA.2.86?

It is still too early to say whether this variant is more severe than the others. More studies are needed to determine its severity. However, some early studies have suggested that it may be more resistant to current vaccines and antibody treatments.

How can I protect myself from BA.2.86?

Maintain the standard methods of keeping clean, which include washing your hands frequently, carrying an antibacterial cleanser, avoiding large crowds, and avoiding close contact with people who are sick, to name a few.

Additionally, get vaccinated and boosted. Vaccines are still very effective at preventing serious illnesses and hospitalization from COVID-19, even against the new variants.

although most people have stopped using masks, if you feel more comfortable wearing one when outside, by all means, do, especially when in crowded areas.

Who are Most Affected?

Granddaughter with her grandfather
Photo by Kampus Production, Pexels

As with all the Covid-19 viruses or more generally speaking, with any viruses, if you are elderly, have health issues, or have a compromised immune system, you should be vigilant and take all the recommended precautions.

Additionally, when any new disease is circulating in your area, you should also speak to your medical provider for any additional precautions you may need to take.


Staying attentive to Covid is nothing new. Even though a new variant has materialized, that doesn’t mean you have to run to your bed and hide. Research is determining that this virus may be more transmissible than the previous subvariants, and possibly more resistant to the current vaccines, but as research continues on the BA.2.86 virant, it may turn out that it is not as contagious as the other. It is just a wait-and-see game.

The general recommendations are to just stay vigilant and maintain the Covid rules of keeping clean and safe, especially if you are in the high-risk health category.

What Do Doctors Worry About?

Female doctor showing signs of worry and concern
Doctors are People Too!

The role of physicians is not without its challenges, and doctors often face many worries and concerns that can impact their work and personal lives. At times, people’s lives are in the hands of doctors and surgeons who are aware that one mistake could be a fatal one. But that’s not all that concerns medical professionals today.  In this essay, we will explore some of the most common worries that doctors face today.

Covid-19 Caused Anxiety Throughout the World

Girl tested for Covid 19
People line up to be tested for Covid at a clinic. Photo iStock

Although Covid is considered a past issue these days, there is no doubt the pandemic has caused worldwide anxiety, both for patients and physicians.

This infectious disease put an enormous strain on all healthcare systems, and doctors were at the forefront of dealing with this menace. They were tasked with diagnosing and treating patients, and providing care to the critically ill while trying to prevent the spread of the virus.

It was a mental and physical shock to many. One doctor from Elmhurst Hospital, the hospital that was inundated the most by the pandemic, said he used to see gurneys spread out into the streets because the facility just couldn’t house them all. Worse, he would witness scores of deaths daily, so even though physicians are more mentally equipped to manage patient deaths, there is no doubt that many physicians were emotionally and mentally affected when seeing so many people die in front of them daily.

In the United States and the world, the general concerns were that the physicians did not catch the disease and that personal protective equipment (PPE) and other resources were available for their patients, especially in the early period when Covid became a major concern.

As of this writing, the pandemic has subsided substantially, although not completely as there are still reports of people catching the disease, and there are those who suffer from long-covid, but for the most part, we can put this beyond us now; however, that doesn’t mean physicians do not have other things to worry about.

Physician Burnout

Doctor showing signs of stress
Physician burnout is real and many doctors are affected by it. Photo: iStock

Healthcare professionals often work long hours and deal with emotionally draining situations, such as caring for terminally ill patients or those with chronic illnesses. Burnout is a real concern and can lead to physical and mental exhaustion, decreased empathy for patients, and a decline in the quality of care provided.

The report also found that burnout is having a significant impact on physicians’ health and well-being. Nearly half (49%) of burned-out physicians said their issue has had a moderate or severe impact on their physical health, and 43% said it has had a moderate or severe impact on their mental health.

This condition is also leading to increased rates of physician turnover. Nearly one in three (32%) physicians said they are considering leaving their current job within the next year.

Medical Errors

Hands wiht pencils on top of paper on a deskMedical errors are another concern for doctors. Despite their best efforts, physicians can make mistakes that can have serious consequences for their patients. Medication errors, misdiagnoses, and surgical mistakes are just a few examples of errors that can occur. Doctors may worry about what impact this may have on their patient’s health and their professional reputation.

Although some cases are not the result of physician error and others may be frivolous, patient attorneys may proceed with a malpractice lawsuit anyway. In fact, there are, on average over 85,000 medical malpractice cases field in the United States each year.

Physicians who are legally notified for medical malpractice or who have been reported to OPMC (Office of Medical Conduct) should confer with an attorney for advice and possible legal defense if needed.


In conclusion, doctors face many worries and challenges in their work. Burnout, medical errors, as well as access to care, and healthcare policy changes are some of the major concerns.

These worries can impact their professional and personal lives and make it more difficult to provide the best possible care for their patients. We must recognize and address these concerns to support our healthcare providers and ensure that they can continue to provide high-quality care to those in need. By providing adequate resources, support, and policy changes, we can help alleviate some of the worries that doctors face and create a healthier and more equitable healthcare system for all.


The Spanish Flu: Its Impact and Relevance

A Kansas hospital in 1918, was the earliest documented case of the Spanish flu epidemic.  Wikimedia Public Domain.

As you read through this article you may notice a lot of similarities to the current Covid pandemic. It may seem that not much has changed in the last 100 years, but let’s take a closer look at exactly how this influenza started and how it was dealt with at the time.


The flu virus of 1918 evolved into a global pandemic that caused unprecedented fear, panic, and suffering throughout the world, and was one of the deadliest diseases in human history, with an estimated 500 million people infected and 50 million people dead worldwide.

The Flu is a reminder of the dangers posed by infectious diseases and how quickly they can spread. It is a cautionary account of how the power of microbes can cause global disasters and of the need for preparedness in the face of such a threat.

The Spread and Impact of the Spanish Flu

Its Origin

The Spanish Myth

It was widely believed that the pandemic originated in Spain, hence the name ‘Spanish Flu’, but that is due more to political means than fact.

Numerous countries in Europe and the United States as well suppressed the news of this devastating and rapidly spreading disease. Mostly because they did not want to cause panic while the countries were at war, but Spain, which was a neutral player, allowed their press to broadcast the news noting virus outbreaks in Madrid, and consequently, the Spanish Flu rumors materialized. 

So Where Did It Really Begin?

In the spring of 1918, the actual recorded case of the flu originated in the United States, from that of army cook Albert Gitchell at Camp Funston in Kansas, who was officially diagnosed with the disease. Shortly after this, many other soldiers from the overcrowded camp also came down with the virus.

This doesn’t mean that the flu originated in the United States. Indeed, many postulate that the soldiers brought it back from Europe and some believe it started from infected poultry in France. This theory of how the virus started has been accepted by many, but the location of origin is still under debate.

Its Impact

The impact of the flu pandemic was worldwide. The virus hit young adults and people between the ages of 20 and 40, which was unusual and it infected military personnel especially hard. This age group had less immunity to the disease than children and older adults.

The most vulnerable were people living in crowded conditions and those who were employed in high-risk occupations. New York City’s crowded Lower East Side, where major populations of immigrants came to reside was a perfect example of how the virus was able to spread.

NYC Lower East Side Early 1900
The crowded streets of NYC’s Lower East Side in, Early 1900 were a perfect breeding ground for the virus.  Wikimedia Public Domain.

Many of those who died were people who developed pneumonia, which was often misdiagnosed as the flu.

The Spanish Flu spread to every country in the world and killed an estimated 5% of the global population.


This virus was so devastating that the life expectancy in the US went down from 51 years old to 39 after the flu became a pandemic.

Global Responses 

The initial response was widespread panic. Some people tried to quarantine themselves at home while others fled to rural areas, hoping to escape it.

Some countries took drastic measures, closing their borders or imposing martial law. Quarantine was one of the most common responses and was used in many countries to halt the spread of the disease. Others imposed travel restrictions or ordered people to stay home.

In some cases, governments tried to limit the movement of people who were most likely to be carrying the disease. In other countries, groups of people were quarantined because of their ethnicity or profession, such as doctors or nurses. Some cities and towns ordered that all churches be closed.

The pandemic prompted extraordinary measures, including the construction of a moat and a wall around Boston, the burning of New York City garbage, and the disinfection of passengers and cargo on ships.

The Scientific Legacy of the Spanish Flu

When the flu first hit, there was very little known about how diseases spread. But the pandemic prompted scientists to investigate further.

Although scientists didn’t have the technology we have today, such as electron microscopes, researchers were still able to make discoveries. These studies have helped scientists better understand current pandemics such as the spread of Covid and future influenza diseases.

This also led to advances in medical care and public health response. During the flu epidemic, some cities established public health departments for the first time. It also marked a shift in the way public health was studied and modeled. 

Comparing the Spanish Flu to COVID-19

The 1918 Flu pandemic occurred at a time before the use of modern medical practices, such as antibiotics and vaccines. It was an example of a pandemic that spread rapidly and caused high levels of mortality. However, it was an unusual pandemic because it was caused by a virus, whereas most previous pandemics are caused by bacteria.

The current pandemic, COVID-19, is a different type. It is caused by a type of influenza that has occurred regularly in human populations. This type of flu is known as a “regular seasonal flu” but Covid has mutated and is behaving differently than other seasonal flu.

Unlike the Spanish Flu, this current pandemic is not causing high levels of mortality at this time; however, when the disease first started to spread, there was an abundance of deaths, with over 6.5 million fatalities so far, but these deaths have subsided now. People are still catching it, but usually only get cold symptoms, especially if they have been vaccinated. 

Lessons Learned from the Spanish Flu

The flu pandemic was an unprecedented global disaster. It left many countries and cities struggling to rebuild and provide basic care for their citizens. The experience of the pandemic demonstrated the power of microbes to cause death and destruction on a scale never before imagined. It led to the creation of many public health and medical institutions, including the U.S. Public Health Service and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It also led to the development of antiviral drugs, the use of quarantines to halt the spread of disease, and the use of face masks to reduce the risk of infection.


The Spanish Flu of 1919 was one of the deadliest pandemics in human history. It was one of the first pandemics caused by a virus and was responsible for an estimated 50 million deaths worldwide. The pandemic is a reminder of the dangers posed by infectious diseases and how quickly they can spread.

It is a cautionary tale of how the power of microbes can cause a global disaster and of the need for preparedness in the face of such a threat. Even today, as the world continues to grapple with the current global pandemic – Covid, the Spanish Flu of 1919 serves as a reminder that history can repeat itself.

In today’s world, medical technology has advanced greatly for us to have a complete understanding of the flu virus and what we can do to prevent it.


What is Long Covid?

Woman lying down with mask
Photo by Cade Renfroe on Unsplash

While most individuals recover from COVID-19 within a couple of weeks, some continue to experience symptoms or develop new ones in the post-acute phase.

Long COVID, also known as post-COVID conditions, long-haul COVID, post-acute COVID-19, long-term effects of COVID, or chronic COVID, or Post-Acute Sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 (PASC), is a condition where individuals who were initially affected with the illness continue to have a range of physical, mental, emotional, and/or psychological symptoms after they were infected.

What are the Symptoms of Long COVID?

COVID Virus Spike Protein
Photo by Fusion Medical Animation on Unsplash

Symptoms can vary widely, from cardiovascular issues, respiratory issues, and/or excessive fatigue are just a few of the symptoms. For some people, it may also include cognitive or psychological problems. Below is a more concise list of symptoms you may encounter if you have long Covid.

      • Headache
      • Rapid heartbeat (arrhythmia)
      • Dizziness/lightheadedness when you get up from bed or you were sitting down
      • Brain fog – Cognitive issues, such as difficulty concentrating
      • Change in smell or taste. Yes, what was a major symptom in the years when Covid first came out, those with long Covid may still experience this
      • Fever
      • Stomach issues
      • Muscle or joint pain
      • Depression or anxiety

The CDC provides extensive instructions on what you should do if you suspect you have long Covid.

Are You Concerned About Long Covid if You Have Had Covid Before?

Person getting covid injection
Photo by FRANK MERIÑO from Pexels

This is still under study and there has been no conclusive as to why some people are more susceptible to developing long Covid than others.

It has been reported that those who had a greater severity of COVID-19, particularly people who were hospitalized or who had health troubles are thought to have an increased risk of acquiring the infection for a longer period.

Additionally, people who did not receive the vaccine or were infected before the vaccines were developed are also thought to be at increased risk of COVID-19 infection.

In summary, it is safe to conclude at this time that the following people may be more a risk for long Covid:

    • People who have had more severe COVID-19 illness, especially those who were hospitalized or needed intensive care
    • Those who have been and currently are at high risk
    • Those who are not vaccinated

You Can Still Get Long Covid if You Have Been Vaccinated

The unfortunate answer to this question is yes. Many studies are still being done regarding this issue, but more and more evidence has been pointing to the fact that regardless of the number of vaccinations you have been given, long Covid is still a possibility.

Can Long Covid be Spread Onto Others?

Silhouette of a person in front of a window
Photo by Alex McCarthy on Unsplash

While those that have Covid can easily spread the disease, even if they were vaccinated, the answer to infecting other people when you have long COVID is no.

The reason is based upon those that have it are not contagious anymore.

What About Children?

Since the onset of Covid-19, most children have not sustained Covid as intensely as adults, but research is still underway to determine if those children who have previously acquired the disease are still at risk of long Covid.

In New York, NYSDOH recommends that all children, including infants and toddlers as young as six months old, receive all the recommended COVID-19 vaccinations to protect them from becoming more ill at a later date.

What Should I Do If I Find Out I Have long COVID?

If you have long Covid or you think you do, seek medical help immediately. If you live in New York State but do not have a health care provider, check out the NYS Provider & Health Plan Look-Up tool.

Your symptoms and severity will determine if you need physical or occupational therapy, mental health therapy, or both. If you need affordable health coverage, the NY State of Health can assist you in comparing health insurance plans and finding the right coverage for you and your family. NYS of Health plans includes no-premium health insurance, free preventive services, no co-pay for primary care, and low-cost prescriptions. Medicaid and Children’s Health programs are available.

Yes! If you are struggling with long COVID symptoms or suspect you have long COVID, don’t wait to seek care. Reach out to a healthcare provider as early as possible.

If you do not have a health care provider, use the NYS Provider & Health Plan Look-Up tool to find one that works with your health plan.

Because management of long COVID may require a team approach, a healthcare provider can help you get referrals to other providers who offer focused care. This may include a pulmonologist, cardiologist, or neurologist, as well as mental health experts, physical or occupational therapists, and social workers, depending on your symptoms and severity.

Bottom line – If you have had Covid after a week, and you still don’t feel well, you should seek medical help. As a further precaution, if you are tested positive for the disease, seek the advice of your doctor about what you can do to prevent long Covid.

What Are Monoclonal Antibodies?

What is the Difference Between Natural Antibodies and Monoclonal Antibodies?

Medical Lab Technician
Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash

Monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) are similar to antibodies produced naturally by the body in response to an infection, but these guys are made artificially in a laboratory. That’s where the term monoclonal comes from. It means they are antibodies created in a lab and are cloned.  

Same as natural human antibodies, monoclonal antibodies are designed to resist a virus by recognizing the spike protein in its cell’s outer coat. This makes it quite convenient for lab scientists and technicians to target a specific virus. In this case, Covid. 

In doing so, the antibodies block the ability of the virus to replicate inside the body, giving the immune system more time to mount its response against COVID-19 infections. 

Who Does Monoclonal Antibodies Help the Most?

Monoclonal antibody infusions are particularly helpful in patients with compromised immune systems, who would find it difficult for their bodies to naturally resist the virus, but it helps healthy people who have caught the virus also, as many have stated that then start feeling better after about 24 hours.

Are Monoclonal Antibodies Only Used for Covid?

Lab technicians looking at blood samples
Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash

No. Other monoclonal antibodies work as immunotherapies (treatment that helps the immune system fight cancer), as they allow your body’s immune system to react better, which then allows your body to more effectively find and attack tumor cells.    Show Source Texts

Some monoclonal antibodies are attached to a chemotherapy drug to give treatment directly to cancer cells, avoiding healthy cells. Once attached, antibodies may cause other parts of the body’s immune system to destroy cells that harbor an antigen (molecules that induce an immune response)

Once attached, antibodies draw in immune cells to destroy the tumor cells. The antibody latches onto a particular molecule on the surface of a problem cell.   

Are Monoclonal Antibodies Connected to Other Drugs When Infused into a Patient?

As previously mentioned, they are made in a lab to combat a specific infection. They can be injected naturally, called Naked mAbs which means that they are not attached to other drugs such as Brentuximab, which is a chemotherapy drug used to fight cancer cells.

How monoclonal antibodies can be injected into the body is broken down into essentially three categories:

      • Naked Monoclonal Antibodies: These work as a solo drug without any attachments or connections to other drugs. This treatment category is the most commonly used. 
      • Conjugated Monoclonal Antibodies: An additional drug is added with the mAbs, such as with a chemotherapy treatment or a radioactive compound, both used mostly when fighting cancer. 
      • Bispecific Monoclonal Antibodies: Used to target two different proteins at the same time. 

Side Effects

When the antibodies are injected into the body, usually intravenous, an allergic reaction may occur, but these side effects are not life-threatening. Some of the effects a patient may incur are fever, headache, nausea, low blood pressure, and/or rashes.

Final Thoughts

Lab-designed antibodies are ongoing research, but what has been done so far has proven to be worthwhile and fairly successful. Most promising is that researchers can create the antibodies to target specific pathogens depending upon what disease they are working on, such as Covid or cancer. 

Antibodies may be designed to attach to various molecules in the body, such as turning off an immune response when it is overreacting; this phenomenon, which has also occurred with some Covid-19 patients, is called a cytokine storm, which are proteins that control the growth of immune cells. They help the body’s immune system to do its job properly.

What Ingredients are in Hand Sanitizers?

Woman holding hand sanitizer with purple gloves
Photo: Pixaby. Image by Ri Butov from Pixabay

Little Johnny was touching everything in the store and his mother wasn’t happy, especially during this period of coronavirus. Not so much for the fact that she had to repeatedly tell him to stop, but also because she needed to repeatedly wash his hands so that he doesn’t get infected with Covid and now, Monkey Pox as well. 

So How Do Hand Sanitizers Work Anyway? What’s in it? Let’s take a look!

Bottle of Hand Sanitizer
Making your hand sanitizer is simple and quick. Photo: Unsplash

Hand sanitizers kill germs on the skin using a high concentration of alcohol. When applied to the hands, the alcohol goes onto the skin and evaporates, but it leaves behind the disinfectant properties. 

This process is called rapid evaporation. During rapid evaporation, the alcohol concentration on the skin is much higher than normal, which is why it kills germs so effectively. Normally, it would take much longer for alcohol to evaporate from the skin and be effective against germs. The alcohol in hand sanitizers is mixed with oil to slow down the evaporation time and give your hands a longer-lasting antiseptic effect.  

Most hand sanitizers contain 60-90% alcohol as the primary active antiseptic ingredient, with other additives mostly being emollients, preservatives, and fragrances.

There are also some non-alcoholic hand sanitizers available, which use different active ingredients to kill bacteria such as ethyl vinegar, oils of lemon and eucalyptus, triclosan, and chloroxylenol.

Read on to know more about the ingredients in hand sanitizers.

Isopropyl Alcohol

Isopropyl alcohol (IPA), also known as rubbing alcohol is an antiseptic, which means that it prevents the growth of microorganisms that can cause diseases. And as so, is very effective against many viruses, including Covid.

IPA is a synthetic compound that is chemically similar to ethanol (alcohol), which is also an antiseptic but usage of IPA is more common. Neither alcohols are suitable for human consumption due to their toxic nature and consuming it can lead to death, and more caution should be made when buying these disinfectants that were manufactured outside the United States.

So they must be kept out of reach of children and any furry friends that you may have. With that said, both antiseptics are safe to use on the skin.

Other Ingredients

Additional ingredients in hand sanitizers are emollients, preservatives, and fragrances. 

      • Emollients are substances that are added to hand sanitizers to make them less drying, so they don’t leave cracked, flaky skin. This can be useful for people who wash their hands frequently, such as people who work in healthcare or food services.
      • Preservatives are used to prevent bacteria, molds, and fungi from growing in the product. It is important to avoid using hand sanitizers that do not contain a preservative, as they can grow bacteria if you don’t close the cap after each use.
      • Fragrances are used to give the product a pleasant smell. It should be noted that not all fragrances are mild and some have been shown to have health effects on some people. It is best to look for a fragrance-free option or one with a scent that you do not have an allergy to. 

Diethylene Glycol

Diethylene glycol is a synthetic liquid that is used in hand sanitizers as a solvent, or something used to dissolve other substances. It is also used in antifreeze and some engine coolants. Although diethylene glycol is not directly toxic to humans, it is a byproduct of ethylene oxide, which is a known carcinogen.

Pros of Using Hand Sanitizer

      • They are portable, so you can clean your hands anywhere, from airport restrooms to the park, without having to find a sink
      • They are generally easier to use than hand washing, especially when you’re in a rush
      • May be less drying on the skin than regular soap and water
      • They don’t require hot water, so they can be used in cold weather when your hands are particularly dry
      • Useful for people who have skin allergies or conditions that make it difficult to wash their hands properly
      • Can help prevent the spread of many infectious diseases.
      • They are useful for kids who are in daycare or school

Cons of Using Hand Sanitizer

      • They may not kill all the germs on your hands
      • Doesn’t replace proper hand washing. Hands should be washed with soap and water as often as possible
      • Hand sanitizers can dry out the skin, leaving hands cracked and itchy 
      • Alcohol-based hand sanitizers can cause skin allergies in some people 
      • Hand sanitizers are more expensive than regular hand washing  

Tips for Choosing the Right Hand Sanitizer 

      • When shopping for a hand sanitizer, look for one with an alcohol concentration of 60% or more
      • The higher the concentration, the more effective it will be at killing germs
      • Read the ingredients list on the label and make sure you understand what each ingredient does in the product
      • When choosing a fragrance, think about what you like. There is no evidence that one fragrance is healthier than another
      • When it comes to choosing a size, think about where you will carry it. If you will keep it in your purse, you may want a smaller bottle, while a larger bottle may be best for your car or desk drawer.


Man washing his hands in a sink
Keeping your hands clean with soap or sanitizer is one of the best protections against spreading diseases. Photo: Unsplash

Hand sanitizers can be useful when you can’t wash your hands properly and they are pretty good disinfectants; however, they don’t kill all the germs present on your hands, so they do not replace proper hand washing when you can.

It is important to choose the right-hand sanitizer for you. There are many different types available, with different alcohol concentrations and fragrances, but whatever you choose, each time you wash your hands with these disinfectants, it is one more time you can have better peace of mind that you are lowering your risk of getting ill.


Difference Between Antioxidants and Antibodies

Antioxidant Red Banner
Background concept word cloud illustration of antioxidants. Photo: Bigstock

Let’s start by stating that both antioxidants and antibodies are essential ingredients in keeping you healthy. But with that said, what exactly are the differences between the two?

Many people are not aware of what the differences are but they are quite substantial, but with that said, there are numerous similarities between the two as well.

They both protect your body from disease and illness and are necessary for maintaining good health, but that’s about where the similarities end. 

This article will explore some of the main points about what antioxidants and antibodies are, what role they play in your body, and how you can increase your intake of each to maintain optimal health.

What are Antioxidants?

Fresh Berries in a bowl
Blueberries have great antioxidant properties. Photo by Brandon Wilson on Unsplash

Enter Free Radicals – The Bad Guys

These are compounds found in foods that are designed to prevent oxidative damage. Oxidative damage is the process by which free radicals can run amok in your body and damage healthy cells.

What Do Free Radicals Do?

Free radicals are atoms that are missing an electron and by so doing, they look for other cells’ atoms to which they can attach so that they can steal that cell’s electron. This is a common occurrence in nature when atoms have missing electrons. They need to balance out their electron count. When they find a healthy cell to attach to, they will merge with it, subsequently changing the characteristics of that cell to the point where the healthy properties of those cells are diminished or non-existent.

When this happens and too many damaged cells exist, it could result in your body becoming a risk for such diseases as cancer and heart disease as well as many other illnesses. 

Seniors playing chess
Oxidative stress occurs during a normal day of activity, even when you are at rest. Photo by Vlad Sargu on Unsplash

These bad guys are created during our normal lifestyle, which includes simply breathing and eating. In other words, oxidation builds up during daily metabolism – the energy that you exert daily.

Antioxidants – The Good Guys

Antioxidants are the free radicals’ worst enemy. They are molecules that will donate an electron to the free radical making it useless in damaging other cells. 

Antioxidants are naturally found in fruits and vegetables. Some of the best foods for fighting off free radicals are berries, citrus fruits, dark leafy greens, broccoli, and tomatoes, but don’t stop there. Just about all fruits and vegetables will help build antioxidants.

They can also be found in smaller amounts in grains, seeds, nuts, and legumes. The best-known antioxidants in vitamins are C and E, and beta-carotene.

When you eat foods that contain antioxidants, they enter your bloodstream and then proceed to neutralize the free radicals before they cause damage. This means that antioxidants can prevent oxidative damage and this is why antioxidants are so beneficial to your health.

Fruits and vegetables are your best fight against oxidative stress.

What are Antibodies?

Microscopic view of the COVID virus
Microscopic view of the COVID virus spike protein. The spikes are what attack the healthy cells unless blocked by antibodies. Photo: Pixabay

Antibodies are quite different in properties from antioxidants. Antibodies Are proteins. Proteins are molecules. Antioxidants are not proteins. Antibodies contain chains of amino acids which are naturally produced by your immune system when an infection is detected. They can recognize and identify harmful agents like bacteria, viruses, and other foreign agents. That is why you hear so much about antibodies regarding Covid but you don’t hear anything about antioxidants.

Antibodies are created by your white blood cells, called B cells, and bind to the glycoproteins – the enemy of antibodies, similar to how free radicals are the enemy of antioxidants. Glycoproteins are the carbohydrate portion of proteins that are found in bacteria and viruses. Once the antibodies bind to these bad proteins, they neutralize and remove them from the body before they have a chance to cause harm.

For Covid, the antibodies block the virus cells, called spike proteins from attacking healthy cells.

Your body will create antibodies when foreign agents such as a virus are detected, but vaccines can be injected to further the creation of antibodies if needed.

The Difference in a Nutshell

Antioxidants and antibodies are both designed to protect against disease and boost immunity. However, there are differences between antioxidants and antibodies that are worth noting.

Antioxidants are vitamins, minerals, and other compounds that prevent oxidative damage. They don’t directly fight infections. They don’t recognize harmful bacteria and viruses.

Antioxidants also don’t circulate in the blood, as antibodies do. They are found in food, and can’t be detected in your blood. This means that antioxidants don’t boost immunity the way antibodies do.

What antioxidants do is help protect your cells from damage caused by free radicals? These attacked cells can add up causing your body to become at risk of several dangerous diseases.

Antibodies detect harmful bacteria and viruses. They are created by our white blood cells and circulate through our blood vessels and look for bad proteins from bacteria. Once found, they block these bad proteins from attacking healthy cells.

More About Antioxidants

Illustration of how Antioxidant Works Against Free Radicals

As we’ve already explored, antioxidants are compounds that prevent oxidative damage. They do this by neutralizing free radicals with their electron pairs before they can cause damage. This means that antioxidants protect healthy cells from damage caused by free radicals. They also protect a person’s DNA from being damaged.

In addition to providing general health benefits, antioxidants can also help boost your immune system. They can do this by preventing oxidative damage to healthy cells. This leaves your immune system with fewer cells to protect, which means it can put more energy into fighting against infections.

More About Antibodies

Antibodies are proteins that are created by the immune system to protect against disease. They can do this by binding to bacteria and viruses and neutralizing them. Antibodies are much more active than antioxidants when it comes to fighting infections. They circulate through the blood and can detect infections and bacteria in the blood. They then bind to the harmful pathogen and neutralize it.

Antibodies can recognize certain foreign bodies. This includes bacteria, viruses, toxins, and even allergens like pollen. Antibodies also boost immunity by preventing harmful bacteria and viruses from causing infections.

Below is a quick chart of the differences between antioxidants and antibodies.

What it vitaminsVitamins C & EProteins that contain amino acids
How it is createdFruits & veggiesIn white blood cells when an infection is detected within the body
What it fights freeFree radicals (atoms with missing electrons)Viruses
How to fightEat fruits & veggiesNormal activity within the body but can also be created through vaccines

Bottom Line

Person holding am apple
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Antioxidants and antibodies have similar functions but are very different compounds. While antioxidants don’t circulate in the blood and are designed to prevent oxidative damage, antibodies circulate in the blood and are designed to bind to and neutralize bacteria.

Antioxidants help prevent oxidative damage and can boost immunity, while antibodies do both of these things.

Antioxidants are beneficial for your health, but you can only reap their benefits if you consume enough of them. This can be challenging because many people don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables. This is why it’s important to get your daily dose of antioxidants. Antioxidants can help you stay healthy, and make sure you don’t get sick.

You Never Got COVID? How So?

Illustration of woman fighting a covid spike routingWhat Human Factors are Fighting the Coronavirus?

Lisa has never gotten Covid, yet everyone else in her household has been infected, except her husband who seems to be in the same questionable situation as Lisa. We are saying ‘questionable’ because researchers have yet to determine the reasons why people such as Lisa and her husband appear to be immune to the Covid disease.

The Preliminaries

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Before we continue, as a reference point, let’s go over what the CDC has recommended that we all do to minimize Covid infection.

          • Get vaccinated
            • Wear a mask
            • Wash hands frequently
            • Stay six feet from others
            • Avoid crowded places
            • Eat lots of fruits and vegetables
            • Take immune booster vitamins

Do we follow all these guidelines? Some do, but many of us don’t adhere to all these rules and some items in this list are just not followed as diligently as they should be, and Lisa and Steve are no exception.

They both have been vaccinated and triple-boosted with the Pfizer vaccine and they take immune booster vitamins. Namely, vitamin D, C, and zink tablets daily, as well as making it a point to eat as healthy as they can. They do not wear masks religiously and have gone to social gatherings where no one else was wearing a mask.

The Covid Quandry of Infections and Non-Infections in the Household. But How Common is It?

Microscopic view of the COVID virus
Microscopic view of the COVID virus showing the spike proteins

It is not that hard to imagine that some folks are not getting infected as routinely as others, but here is the real dilemma. Lisa and Steve’s children, now adults, have both gotten the disease, and they all were living in the same house when the children got it. Yes, extra precautions were taken. The kids did wear masks and avoid close contact with their parents.

Even more troublesome for the researchers if they were studying this event is that their daughter’s boyfriend was living in the house as well and was PCR-diagnosed positive as well.

But the quandary doesn’t end there. The boyfriend didn’t even know he had covid until after their daughter started showing systems. That’s right. He was asymptomatic and never felt a thing.

Covid Immunity – Here’s What They are Saying

T-Cell Immunity

A study on 54 people released in January showed that a high amount of T-cells that were produced when people got colds helped support immunity from the SARS-CoV-2 (Covid) infection.

Dr. Rhia Kund, from the Imperial National Heart & Lung Institute,  in London said “We found that high levels of pre-existing T cells, created by the body when infected with other human coronaviruses like the common cold, can protect against COVID-19 infection.

A Genetic Immunity?

Granddaughter with her grandfather
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A study is currently being conducted to determine how much genetic inheritance a person might have that can be an obstacle to being infected with the coronavirus.

There are specific criteria for those in the study, including confirmation via lab testing that the subject has never had COVID-19, that these individuals have had substantial exposure to the disease, and that they did not use any protection such as masks. Additionally, they were never vaccinated.

Members of the COVID Human Genetic Effort at Rockefeller University, part of an international conglomerate of researchers are working to discover the genetic influences that individuals may have that fight against the SARS-CoV-2 infection.

It is worth noting that this is not the first time a pandemic of this magnitude has infiltrated human society, and yet, the whole human population did not cease to exist.

Such is the case with the Spanish Flu in 1919. Many died, but many more survived. Maybe this study will unveil some new data that scientists will show that genetics does play an important role in Covid (and other viruses) infections, as well as possibly additional knowledge on longevity. Indeed, Steve’s father, who was born in 1901 lived to the lively age of 100.

The ‘O’ Factor

Ilustration of Human Cells
Photo: Bigstock

According to a study in the Annals of Internal Medicine, individuals who have type ‘O’ blood may have more of an immune deterrence from the coronavirus infection. Other studies have concluded similar results.

The study covered over 225,000 patients and those in the O-blood category had a 2.1% chance of getting a covid infection, which was found to be the lowest probability of all the blood groups.

So What’s the Conclusion?

There isn’t any. At least not yet. These studies will probably go on for decades, but with said, one thing is a fact. That the worst of Covid is over and now, those that get it, provided there are no external factors that might compromise their health, such as an immune deficiency, will most likely just get a cold. And now, we can only hope for the best going forward.

COVID-19: Five Things Individuals with Cancer Need to Know

Illustration of covid virus next to vaccine bottles
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The covid virus continues to mutate, leading to new variants of the disease. Some variants, including the Delta variant, Omicron, and the latest XE, may spread more easily than others or may be more resistant to treatments or vaccines, which is why individuals with cancer and cancer survivors need to know a few important things about the disease.

It is hard to say how each individual’s body responds to these variants, as factors such as the amount of contact a person has with others (social engagements, mass transit, shopping, etc.) the amount of protection a person uses (vaccines, masks, washing hands),  the strength (or lack of)  one’s immune system which correlates to the risk factor of the individual. If you are in the category of having immune deficiencies, such as cancer or other high-risk factors, this article may be of some help.

#1. All Cancers Put You at a Higher Risk But Blood Cancer is of Extreme Importance Regarding Covid

Nurse attending to patient
Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash

If you have cancer and are getting treatment for the condition, your immune system is compromised. This means that your body is not as strong as a healthy person’s immune system and subsequently, you could well be at a higher risk of contracting these viral infections.

A specific type of cancer that can significantly increase your risk is blood cancer. Patients with blood cancer are severely immune-compromised, and their risk of getting the infection is much higher than patients with solid tumors. Their immunity is low because they have much lower levels of immune cells to generate antibodies that fight against the virus. 

#2. Get the Vaccine But Speak to Your Doctor First!

Person getting covid injection
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All patients with cancer and cancer survivors aged five and above are required to get a primary COVID-19 vaccine. The COVID-19 vaccine can be any one of the following{

      • Two doses of Moderna 
      • Two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine 
      • Single-dose of Johnson’s and Johnson’s vaccine 

If you are a cancer patient and have recently received treatment, such as chemotherapy, or bone marrow transplant, it is best to consult with your doctor before you get the vaccine. Your immune system must be recovered before you get the preventive vaccine against the virus.  

#3. You May Need an Additional COVID-19 Vaccine Dose

Apart from the primary vaccine, you may also need an additional dose. This additional dose is different from the booster that is recommended to those who have received the initial vaccine and it covers all variants, including the latest one – Omicron. 

Since cancer patients have a weakened immune system, their bodies generate a weaker response. Therefore, there may be a need for getting an additional dose following the completion of the primary vaccine series.  Speak to your doctor about the need, dosage, and timing for the shot.

#4. Should You Get the Second Booster Dose?

A booster dose is different from an additional dose. A booster dose is given to people who have received the primary vaccine after the antibodies have diminished. The second booster dose is recommended for everyone aged 12 and above, especially for seniors who can get the shot now and those under 65 should be able to get the shot as well.

In general, if you are getting cancer treatment or are severely immuno-compromised, you will need the booster shot, but again, we recommend talking to your medical professional before proceeding with the next dose.

#5. You Can Still Get COVID-19 Following Your Vaccination

Everyone, healthy and immune deficient, know that you can still get COVID-19 despite being vaccinated. It might seem alarming, but if you have compromised immunity, you need to rely on other measures along with getting vaccinated to protect yourself and prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Man washing his hands in a sink
Keeping your hands clean with soap or sanitizer is one of the best protections against spreading the COVID virus

Some of the measures that you should continue to take despite relaxed restrictions include: 

      • Covering your face with a mask that fits well and covers your mouth and nose
      • Avoiding public gatherings and crowds
      • Maintaining a distance of six feet from people you don’t live with
      • Frequent and thorough hand washing
      • Monitoring your overall health and well-being  

What Should I Do if I Develop Symptoms of Infection?

Couple talking to a medical professional

If you think you have been exposed to the coronavirus or have developed the symptoms of the infection, it’s best to isolate yourself and get a COVID-19 test as soon as possible. At-home tests can tell you if you are infected, but there are a lot of false positives; however, if it shows you do have covid, you most likely do. It is best to go to a medical facility to get a PCR test. If the test results show that you have the infection, make sure you get in touch with your primary healthcare provider and update them about your condition. 

If you develop mild to moderate symptoms, your healthcare provider may prescribe you antiviral medications or antibody treatment to prevent your illness from worsening. Your healthcare provider will also give you an insight into possible drug interactions between the medications for COVID-19 and the treatment you are getting for cancer. 

In some cases, your healthcare provider may decide to pause your cancer treatment while you get the treatment for the virus. 

Final Words 

Coping with cancer is stressful and this anxiety has increased amidst the pandemic. If you have been diagnosed with cancer, are getting cancer treatment, or are a cancer survivor, know that there are several ways you can protect yourself from getting COVID-19. Continue to cover your face with a face mask, practice frequent hand washing, maintain six feet social distance, and avoid public gatherings.

12 COVID FAQs – Here are Your Answers!

Illustration of covid virus next to vaccine bottles
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What is COVID-19?

Coronavirus is part of a family of respiratory illnesses called SARS-CoV-2. It originated in China in 2019. Currently, it is commonly referred to as COVID-19, but some people may still refer to it as COVID-19.

When the virus first came out in late 2019, it was extremely destructive to the body’s immune system, especially to those that are immune deficient and the elderly, but since then, the symptoms from the new variants have subsided and those that have been vaccinated stand even less of a chance of getting very ill.

As of this writing, there have been over 6 million deaths worldwide and over 660 million cases.

The latest strain is the BA-5 variant, but cases of death or serious illness have subsided and those who have been vaccinated have stated they just feel like they have a cold.

How Is It Spread?

Covid is spread primarily through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. If there is someone nearby, that person can easily pick up the droplets and acquire the disease.

You can also catch the virus through infected hands or infected objects such as door knobs. You won’t acquire it by just touching an infected area, but if these objects are infected and you touch them and then you touch parts of your face, such as your nose, or any area where the virus can reach your mucus membranes, you can get infected.

That is why it is highly recommended to carry an antibacterial cleanser with you and to wash your hands as often as possible, especially after touching common objects such as entrance doors at retail stores.

Some people who have become infected may not exhibit symptoms, especially now in 2022, but others such as people aged 65 years and older and those with underlying medical conditions are still at a higher risk for severe consequences.

Are the Virus Cells Alive?

No virus is alive. Cells the other hand are very much alive They are the building blocks of life.

What is the Difference Between Covid and the Flu?

Stack of drug viles
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They are both are respiratory illnesses, but they are caused by different viruses; in another word, their genetic coding varies enough to classify them differently. With that said, Covid is associated with the SARS-CoV-2 family and the flu is caused by the influenza virus family.

There are additional differences as well. Covid has been found to spread more easily than the flu. It is also known to be more severe. COVID-infected individuals can take a longer time for their symptoms to show and may they can be contagious for a longer period.

Can You Get COVID-19 if You Have Been Vaccinated?

Person getting covid injection
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Yes. Anyone, vaccinated or not can catch the disease, but if you are vaccinated, especially if you have received the booster shots, you are most likely not going to get it severely.

If you are vaccinated and do get COVID-19, you still need to quarantine since you can spread it to others. 

What Does the Vaccine Do?

The coronavirus vaccines produce additional antibodies in the body. Antibodies act like a barrier between the virus and healthy cells. You might look at it as a wall that keeps the virus from attacking the healthy cells.

Is the Rapid Test as Good as a PCR Test?

Checking COVID-19 speciman
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No. The 15-minute rapid test is commonly referred to as the “home test” but it is used at medical facilities as well. Researchers state that these tests are only partially effective.

The general premise is that if the result shows you are infected with the virus, then you must likely are, but if the result shows a negative result, then that doesn’t mean you are not infected; in other words, a positive result from a rapid test is reliable but a negative result is not.
A 67-year-old man went to an urgent care facility and had both tests taken. The quick test showed a negative result. The next day, the clinic called with the result of the PCR test, and it was positive.

Why Do Some People Refuse to Take the Vaccine?

Some people are simply afraid to take the shot as they have heard stories about people who have gotten sick from it. Although this is true for some, they recover usually about 24 hours later, while many others have not felt any side effects at all. Other people have religious reasons and the last group is those that just believe that it is not necessary.

What Should I Do If I Acquire the Disease?

Woman lying down with mask
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Drink lots of water. Make sure you are taking vitamins such as Vitamins C and D, as well as Zink, but most of all, sleep is extremely important because your body regenerates as you are sleeping.

You should start feeling better after about four days, but if you don’t see improvements by the 3rd or 4th day, don’t hesitate to call your doctor. They may prescribe you Paxlovid, which is a set of pills made by Pfizer that is known to accelerate the process of recovery.

If you are elderly or have an immune deficiency or another health ailment, let your doctor know and they most likely will prescribe Paxlovid to you immediately.

How Does the Virus Attack Human Cells?

Coronaviurs rendering
Photo by CDC from Pexels

It is all about the spikes that protrude out of the virus cells and are used to inject healthy cells which will mutate those cells and subsequently cause illness to the host.

Does Cold Weather Cause You to Get Covid More?

Yes, it can. According to theweathernetwork.com, “In the cold, the virus not only hangs in the air but also stays active longer“.  Additionally, when winter comes, more people tend to stay inside where the chances of catching the virus intensify, especially if you are in close quarters with others.

How Can I Protect Myself from COVID-19?

Woman washing her hands with antibacterial soap
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You can work in many ways to prevent being infected with the virus.

Here are the main ones:

  • Wash your hands with antibiotic liquid after touching anything outside of your home.
  • Soap is better to use than antibiotic liquids if you have access to it.
  • Stay at least six feet away from other people.
  • Avoid places where there are large groups of people and if you just must go (e.g. supermarket, etc.) look for times when it is the least crowded.
  • Wear a mask!

When Will This Pandemic Be Over?

Stressed businessman

As of the start of the new year, 2023, a new Omicron strain XBB.1.5 has materialized and according to the World Health Organization (WHO), it is very contagious; however, as with the previous variants, if you have been vaccinated and up to date with your boosters, your symptoms should be no more than a bad cold.

But if you are autoimmune or elderly, you still need to take extra precautions as with the other variants.

As far as when this will be over, the first sign will be when it changes from an epidemic to a pandemic. As of today, the symptoms have diminished greatly but the variants are still out there.

With that said, it is still recommended to take the necessary precautions. Wear a mask when near others, carry antibacterial cleansers with you, and wash your hands frequently!