Pfizer vaccine for Covid

There are now two promising potential COVID vaccines. This is what we know about them.

Adrianna RodriguezKaren WeintraubUSA TODAY 11/16/20

Nearly seven months after Operation Warp Speed was created, Americans are finally starting to get answers about the candidate vaccines that could potentially slow the coronavirus pandemic.

Operation Warp Speed, the White House-led task force on coronavirus vaccine treatment and development, was created on May 15. Since then, vague and contradicting timelines made by both the Trump administration and leading scientists have muddled predictions about when a COVID-19 vaccine would be available to the public.

However, two big companies leading the race for a vaccine have released promising results from their Phase 3 trials.

Here’s what we know about both trials and what they might mean for the future of the pandemic.

What are the leading COVID-19 candidate vaccines?

Pfizer and the German biotechnology company BioNTechdeveloped one of the candidate vaccines. They announced early findings of their vaccine, BNT162b2, on Nov. 9.

Moderna, a Cambridge, Massachusetts-based biotechnology company, released data early Monday on its candidate vaccine, mRNA-1273, which was developed in collaboration with the U.S. government.

Both results are preliminary, with final results expected in as soon as a few weeks.

How effective are the candidate vaccines and what does that mean?

Pfizer released interim results that showed its candidate vaccine was more than 90% effective, after 94 patients developed COVID-19 – the vast majority of whom received the placebo. 

Out of Pfizer’s 44,000 volunteers,  half the participants received a placebo and half the vaccine, so the new data shows that more people who received the placebo than the vaccine came down with COVID-19.

They were protected a week after the second dose of the vaccine. The two doses are given 21 days apart. Pfizer/BioNTech will do a final check of effectiveness when 164 study participants have fallen ill.

Moderna’s vaccine appears to be 94.5% effective against the disease, after 95 people out of the 30,000 volunteers came down with COVID-19, 90 of whom received the placebo. Eleven people – all in the placebo group – developed “serious” cases of the disease.

A final analysis is expected to include 151 trial volunteers, by which point, statistically, the company can be 90% sure that its findings will hold true.

Are there any side effects to the Moderna, Pfizer vaccines?

Both candidate vaccines reported mild or moderate side effects, mostly pain at the injection site, fatigue and aching muscles and joints for a day or two.

“A sore arm and feeling crummy for a day or two is a lot better than COVID,” said Dr. William Schaffner, professor of health policy and of preventive medicine at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine.

What makes Pfizer, Moderna candidates different from others?

The Chinese government publicly released the genetic sequence of the virus that causes COVID-19, called SARS-CoV-2, in mid-January, a few weeks after recognizing an outbreak was underway. Scientists focused on the sequence for the so-called “spike protein” found on the surface of the virus, which allows the virus to attach itself to host cells to infect them.

The Moderna and Pfizer vaccines are based on delivering strands of genetic material to turn people’s cells into spike protein factories. The spike proteins created by the body aren’t dangerous because the rest of the virus isn’t present, however, the body now sees the protein and designs immune soldiers to fight it upon future exposure.

What a vaccine volunteer has to say:I volunteered for Moderna’s COVID vaccine trial. Here’s why I think I got the vaccine, not a placebo

This technology has never been used before in an approved vaccine, and other vaccines have taken 15-20 years to develop and test. The mRNA technology was chosen this time because scientists knew it could be developed quickly. Other COVID-19 vaccine candidates being supported by the U.S. government target the spike protein via a carrier virus or tiny particle.

When can I get a COVID-19 vaccine?

Before the companies can apply to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for authorization to provide their vaccine to the public, they must  clear several more hurdles.

About half the trial participants must be two months past their second shot, to prove that the candidate vaccines are safe. If someone were to develop a severe vaccine reaction, it’s likely to happen within six weeks of receiving it. Pfizer will pass that safety milestone this week. Moderna will take longer because it took longer to enroll trial participants.

The final hurdle concerns production. Both companies will have to show that they can safely produce their vaccine at scale. Pfizer said it will provide the FDA that information before this week, but it’s not clear when Moderna will complete this process.

Finally, the FDA will take some time to review each application, as  will an independent committee. While no one knows how long this will take, the regulatory agency is expected to an issue an emergency use authorization for the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine before the end of the year.

President Donald Trump has promised that vaccine would be distributed within 24 hours of an FDA authorization. It would first go to front-line health care workers.

Moderna said Monday it will have 20 million doses available by the end of this year and another 500 million to 1 billion next calendar year. Pfizer has said it will have as much as 50 million doses of its vaccine manufactured by the end of this year, and another 1.3 billion next year.

While the gears have been oiled up to start cranking out vaccines, scientists have predicted  vaccines won’t be available to the general public until summer or fall of 2021.

Follow Adrianna Rodriguez and Karen Weintraub on Twitter: @AdriannaUSAT @kweintraub

Monoclonal Antibodies

Academic rigor, journalistic flair

What monoclonal antibodies are – and why we need them as well as a vaccine

November 16, 2020 8.24am EST


  1. Rodney E. RohdeProfessor Clinical Laboratory Science, Texas State University
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Y-shaped proteins called antibodies are vital for attacking and destroying the virus. Dr_Microbe/Getty Images

Over the past few months, the public has learned about many treatments being used to combat COVID-19. An antiviral like remdesivir inhibits the virus from replicating in human cells. Convalescent plasma from the blood of donors who have recovered from COVID-19 may contain antibodies that suppress the virus and inflammation. Steroids like dexamethasone may modify and reduce the dangerous inflammatory damage to the lungs, thereby slowing respiratory failure.

The FDA issued emergency use authorization for Eli Lilly’s monoclonal antibody, called bamlanivimab, and Regeneron is waiting for FDA’s green light for its antibody treatment. Monoclonal antibodies are particularly promising in therapy because they can neutralize the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19, and block its ability to infect a cell. This might be a lifesaving intervention in people who are unable to mount a strong natural immune response to the virus – those over 65 or with existing conditions that make them more vulnerable.

I’ve worked in public health and medical laboratories for decades, specializing in the study of viruses and other microbes. Even when a vaccine for COVID-19 becomes available, I see a role for monoclonal antibody therapy in getting the pandemic under control.

Why should we care?

Until a large percentage of a population has immunity to an infectious disease – either through a vaccine or the unchecked spread through a community – the world must rely on other weapons in our war against the COVID-19 pandemic.

Herd immunity results when the majority of the population gains immunity to the virus either through vaccination or infection. When this happens, vulnerable people who cannot get vaccinated are protected by the ‘herd.’ smodj/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Along with the previously mentioned therapies, monoclonal antibodies can offer us another tool to neutralize the virus once it causes an infection.

These man-made antibodies offer the world the possibility of immunotherapy similar to the use of convalescent plasma but with a more targeted and accurate action. While a vaccine will ultimately help protect the public, vaccination will not be an instantaneous event, delivering vaccine to 100% of the population. Nor do we know how effective it will be.

The impact of a vaccine also isn’t instantaneous. It takes several weeks to generate a powerful antibody response. In the interim, monoclonal antibodies could help mop up virus that is multiplying in the body.

Antibody 101

An antibody is a Y-shaped protein naturally produced by our body’s immune system to target something that is foreign, or not part of you. These foreign bodies are called antigens and can be found on allergens, bacteria and viruses as well as other things like toxins or a transplanted organ.

A monoclonal antibody treatment mimics the body’s natural immune response and targets foreign agents, like a virus, that infect or harm people. There are also monoclonal antibodies that pharmaceutical companies have designed that target cancer cells. Monoclonal antibodies are one of most powerful types of medicine. In 2019 seven of the top 10 best-selling drugs were monoclonal antibodies.

For President Trump, the experimental treatment made by the pharmaceutical company Regeneron included two antibodies.

Typically the spike protein on the coronavirus fits perfectly into the ACE2 receptor on human cells, a protein common in lung cells and other organs. When this connection happens, the virus is able to infect cells and multiply inside them. But monoclonal antibodies can slow or halt the infection by attaching to the viral spike protein before it reaches the ACE2 receptor. If this happens, the virus becomes harmless because it can no longer enter our cells and reproduce.

When antibodies (white) bind to the spike proteins covering the surface of the virus, SARS-CoV-2 can no longer infect human cells. JUAN GAERTNER/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY/Getty Images

How are monoclonal antibodies created?

Monoclonal antibodies that neutralize the coronavirus are complicated to manufacture and produce. They must be made inside cells taken from a hamster’s ovary and grown in gigantic steel vats. The antibodies that these cells manufacture must then be extracted and purified. Unfortunately these monoclonal antibodies, which have been used for other illnesses for years, are often quite expensive.

Regeneron’s two antibodies are targeted to the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2 – the protrusions on the surface of virus that give it a crown-like look and are critical for infecting human cells.

One of Regeneron’s two antibodies is a replica, or clone, of an antibody harvested from a person who recovered from COVID-19. The second antibody was identified in a mouse that was biologically engineered to have a human immune system. When this mouse was injected with the spike protein, its human immune system generated antibodies against it. One of the most effective mouse antibodies was then harvested and used to form part of this therapy.

Eli Lilly’s monoclonal antibody therapy, bamlanivimab, was identified from a blood sample taken from one of the first U.S. patients who recovered from COVID-19.

Both companies have in place large-scale manufacturing with robust, global supply chains in place to produce the monoclonal antibodies, with many global manufacturing sites to ramp up supply. Eli Lilly has received FDA approval, and Regeneron is still awaiting approval. Unfortunately, there will likely be a shortage of the antibodies in the early going of approvals.

Monoclonal antibodies plus a vaccine

Monoclonal antibodies will be able to complement vaccines by offering rapid protection against infection. When they are given to an individual, monoclonal antibodies provide instantaneous protection for weeks to months. Vaccines take longer to provide protection since they must challenge the immune system. But the advantage of a vaccine is that they usually provide long-term protection.

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Regeneron’s and Eli Lilly’s products are both delivered by intravenous injection, after which the patient must be monitored by health care professionals. Since they offer immediate protection, the implications to treat or provide protection to high-risk populations is immense.

These medicines have the potential to treat infected patients or prevent infection of essential health care and public health professionals on the front line of this pandemic. Monoclonal antibodies could also be useful for older people, young children and immunocompromised people for whom vaccines either don’t work or can be dangerous.

Joe Satriani joins Sammy Hagar for benefit concert

Sammy Hagar has survived the break-up of Van Halen and has gone on to do well for himself. Sammy is originally from my turf, San Bernardino County – the city of Fontana. He played in and around the area for sometime. Unfortunately, I can’t say ‘I knew him when.’

You can see more of Sammy on his: site where he smooches with his wife, Kari. They are a cute couple.

Will follow up with a little more on Nancy Wilson of Heart and Van Halen.

Robots are not taking over the classroom.

  • Robots Are Not Taking Over Teachers’ Jobs Connect with Noah Dougherty

Robots Are Not Taking Over Teachers’ Jobs – Education … › blog › robots-are-not-taking-o…


Feb 6, 2019 



There is a scene from the recent Star Trek movie reboot of a young alien named Spock at school. Spock and his classmates each stand in their own semi-circular pod, surrounded by screens while an automated “teacher” prompts them with questions. This eerie scene is what some fear will be the future of schooling. Students staring at screens, by themselves, while an artificial intelligence program delivers content and assessments. There is no doubt that digital programs, particularly adaptive ones, can be powerful tools in the classroom. However, that is all a digital program will ever be – a tool. A computer program can never replace a teacher. If anything, technology is making the role of teachers even more important and their job more complex.Robots are Not Taking Away Teacher's Jobs Image 1

Advances in artificial intelligence have been significant, as evidenced by the recent victory of Google’s AlphaGo program over a top human Go player in China. However, computers have only been able to beat humans at the one task they are designed for. That same program could not beat a human at Monopoly, or write a better poem, or even begin to mentor a child through the college application process. Teaching, in contrast, is a job that is multi-layered and complex. Teachers are instructors, coaches, analysts, therapists, designers, mediators, and performers. They are tasked with the most human of jobs – to help raise their community’s children. What job is more human, and more difficult, than teaching?

Only teachers can create the learning experiences that build knowledge, skills, and a love of learning.

Robots are Not Taking Away Teacher's Jobs Image 2

Great lessons require planning and performance. Teachers must design a rigorous learning experience and execute it in a way that engages and supports every student. The list of requirements to do either of these tasks is so long, no computer program could even begin to do one, let alone both, of these. If anything, technology is making the job of the teacher more complex than before. Instead of having one set of textbooks, teachers must navigate an array of online and offline curricula while managing devices and building digital citizenship.

Critical thinking skills require the asking and answering of a wide array of questions, something only humans can do.

Robots are Not Taking Away Teacher's Jobs Image 3

Teachers most often build their students’ critical thinking skills through careful questioning. This involves the planned and spontaneous asking and answering of questions. It requires a teacher to pivot their approach based on the needs, interests, and strengths of individual students. More and more, it also requires teachers to help their students responsibly consume information and identify unreliable sources. Anyone who has tried to ask an artificial intelligence program a question more difficult than, “What’s the weather today?” will immediately see the limitations of a computer in this work.

No computer can build a relationship with a student, or serve as their role model.

Robots are Not Taking Away Teacher's Jobs Image 4

The teachers who adults remember were the ones who inspired them. They saw their potential and coached and challenged them to reach it. Great teachers help students learn about the world around them and about themselves. They are role models and mentors. One reason that districts and states are seeking a more diverse teaching staff is to ensure that every student can see a model of themselves in the adult leading their classrooms. It is difficult to imagine an algorithm serving this role.

A child’s development requires human guidance.

Robots are Not Taking Away Teacher's Jobs Image 5

An excellent education develops the whole child. Great schools work in partnership with their families and communities to equip students with the knowledge, skills, and confidence to successfully navigate life. Teachers provide guidance, give students feedback, facilitate conflict-resolution, and support students to learn from their mistakes. Technology has, in many ways, opened up the world to students. And teachers are at the forefront of helping to guide, and at times, protect students as they navigate this world. What parent would entrust this job to a computer?

Spock is part of an alien race that values logic and reason, entirely separating themselves from emotion. Perhaps an artificial intelligence built on those same principles would be an effective teacher for them. But humans are uniquely emotional beings, particularly children. Great teachers use emotion to inspire their students, engage them in work, help them through challenges, and model self-control over those emotions. We teach students to be better versions of ourselves. Teaching is a distinctly human endeavor, one that no algorithm can come close to mimicking.

Join us at the PL Summit 2019 for more inspiration and learning around the challenges educators face and how to tackle them effectively and innovatively.

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About Noah Dougherty Noah Dougherty is a Senior Design Principal at Education Elements. He previously worked as a teacher, curriculum writer, instructional coach, and school leader. He began his teaching career in Prince George’s County, Maryland with Teach For America and continued with KIPP DC. He has taught middle school social studies, 8th grade ELA, English 12, AP Literature, high school journalism, and DC History. While at KIPP DC he wrote the middle school social studies curriculum, designed a blended professional development course on writing instruction, and supported personalized learning. As a school leader he coached eleven teachers on the ELA and social studies teams, leading to a 13-point gain in students earning a 4+ on the PARCC, more than doubling the portion of students passing the PARCC, more than doubling the portion of students passing from the previous year. Noah has also worked for DC Public Schools and LearnZillion on curriculum development initiatives. He is a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh. Noah grew up in Syracuse, NY and now lives in Washington, DC.

Jobs That will not be replaced by Robots


Ten jobs that are safe from robots

A college degree, problem-solving skills and the ability to adapt to technological change will help land jobs at low risk for automation

by SARAH GONSERSeptember 18, 2018


The Hechinger Report is a national nonprofit newsroom that reports on one topic: education. Sign up for our weekly newsletters to get stories like this delivered directly to your inbox.

This story also appeared in Mind/Shift

Yes, the robots are definitely coming for the jobs of America’s 3.5 million cashiers. Just ask the retail workers who’ve already been displaced by automated checkout machines. Robots may also be coming for radiologists, whose expertise diagnosing diseases through X-rays and MRIs is facing stiff competition from artificial intelligence. And robots are starting to do some of the work in professions as diverse as chefoffice clerk and tractor-trailer operator.

For most of us, though, the robot invasion will simply change the tasks we do, not destroy our jobs altogether. That’s according to researchers who study the impact of automation on jobs. They also note that, as the spread of artificial intelligence automates the rote parts of our jobs, it will not only force us to upgrade our skills but also free us up to take on more sophisticated tasks. Meanwhile, the education system will have to adapt by focusing on giving people the high-level problem-solving and interpersonal skills that robots may never be able to master.

Over the next decade, at least one-third of the tasks in about 60 percent of jobs could be automated, according to research by consulting firm McKinsey & Company. Globally, the firm estimates that up to 30 percent of current work hours will be automated. Less than 5 percent of jobs, McKinsey says, will disappear completely in that period. Here, we take a look at jobs that, to the extent that workforce and automation research can predict the future, will continue to depend largely on uniquely human skills, thus remaining relatively robot-proof.

The most vulnerable jobs are low-skill positions in very structured and predictable settings, such as heavy-machinery operations and fast-food work. Significant parts of white-collar jobs that involve collecting and processing information — paralegal work, accounting and mortgage origination, for example — are also likely to be automated. “The jobs that will go away are the jobs that are routine in nature,” said Joseph B. Fuller, professor of management practice at Harvard Business School. Jobs that don’t require much deviation from a central task, he noted, are the easiest to describe in an algorithm and thus prime candidates for automation.

“If you’re a doctor, you should aim to be an even smarter doctor. If you’re a garbage collector, you should aim to be a smarter garbage collector.”

In contrast, robot-proof jobs tend to involve tasks like decision-making and problem-solving, and require a flexible mindset and a willingness to multitask. They’re also likely to require higher education, according to a Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce analysis conducted for The Hechinger Report. “For the most part, a bachelor’s degree has a higher probability of giving you automation protection,” said Megan Fasules, an assistant professor and research economist at the center who compiled the data. “So even if my job has a degree of automation, a bachelor’s degree might allow me to have the skills to adapt to changes more easily.”

As artificial intelligence enters workplaces, many jobs will become hybrid versions of earlier jobs. Job roles and skills will mix together in new ways — forcing education programs to adapt as well. For example, Harvard’s Fuller cites the growing demand for registered nurses with specialized computer science skills. “I’ve looked all across the U.S., there is no such education program available.”

Related: Teachers want to prepare students for the jobs of the future — but feel stymied

A high school student repairs a car in an automotive shop class. Jobs in automotive body repair are relatively safe from automation, and they don’t require a college degree. Credit: Jackie Mader/The Hechinger Report

Workers in all job levels will need to keep sharpening their skills and continuing to learn, according to Benjamin Pring, co-founder and managing director of The Center for the Future of Work, a research unit funded by Cognizant, a tech services company. “If you’re a doctor, you should aim to be an even smarter doctor. If you’re a garbage collector, you should aim to be a smarter garbage collector.”

He says that a more personalized method of education, rather than a one-size-fits-all approach, may do the best job of preparing young people for the future work environment. Whereas traditional, standardized teaching models work for motivated students, they often leave less motivated or struggling students behind, he says. “A more personalized approach, where the performance of each child is improved, will create, in aggregate, smarter people who can thrive in this era in which tools and machines are smarter than ourselves,” said Pring.

“The notion that we can train someone in 2018 for job requirements in 2028 isn’t realistic.”

But there’s only so much educators, and workers, can do now to prepare. “The notion that we can train someone in 2018 for job requirements in 2028 isn’t realistic,” Fuller said. Given the fast pace of change, job training will have to be fluid rather than static, helping people gather the skills to survive as workplaces and needs continuously evolve.

In its analysis for The Hechinger Report, the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce identified 10 robot-proof jobs, in sizable fields that pay a solid middle-class wage. The analysis was based on information from the O*NET Resource Center and the U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey, 2016. Job wages and details are from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Best robot-proof jobs requiring a high-school degree but no college

• Automotive body and glass repairs

With a median wage of $40,580, this is among the better jobs that don’t call for education beyond high school — especially now that auto shops are well-ventilated, so that fumes and dust are dispersed. And because this job requires technical knowledge plus problem-solving and customer service skills, it has a low risk of automation.

• Heavy vehicle and mobile equipment service technicians

These mechanics inspect and repair the vehicles and machinery used in such growing fields as construction, farming and rail transportation. Employers will hire workers right out of high school, though postsecondary training is an asset. With a median wage of $49,440 and required (and robot-proof) customer service and problem-solving skills and technical know-how, the real downside to this job is that it’s tough, physical and often dirty work.

Best robot-proof jobs requiring a certification or 2-year degree

• Bus and truck mechanics and diesel engine specialists

Industry certification in diesel engine repair, or other postsecondary preparation, is strongly preferred for this job. This is physically demanding work, often in noisy repair shops, and it pays a middle-class wage of $46,360. Because this job requires the ability to troubleshoot, deal with customers and handle sophisticated technology such as engine diagnostic software, it rates low for automation risk.

• Line installers and workers

Line workers install and repair electrical power systems and telecommunications cables. The job requires a high school diploma, technical certification and on-the-job training, and it can be physically demanding and hazardous. Still, because of the degree of customer interaction, complex problem-solving and critical thinking involved in the job, it is relatively automation-proof and pays $64,190 per year.

Best robot-proof jobs requiring a bachelor’s degree or more

A high school teacher in New York helps a student during class. Due to its highly interpersonal nature, high school teaching ranks very low on the automation-risk scale. Credit: Jackie Mader/The Hechinger Report

• High school teachers

High school teachers need at least a bachelor’s degree and, to work in public schools, a teaching license or certification. The median wage is $59,170 and, with some variation by region, employment in the profession is expected to grow. While there is the big upside of summer and holiday vacations, this advantage is offset by the reality that teachers tend to work evenings and weekends grading papers and preparing lessons. Due to its highly interpersonal nature, high school teaching ranks very low on the automation-risk scale.

• Occupational therapists

Occupational therapists work in settings such as hospitals and schools to help ill, injured or disabled people build the skills needed for everyday life. Demand for the jobs, which pay an average of $83,200, is increasing rapidly: Employment is projected to grow 24 percent in the next decade. This job requires sophisticated reasoning, strong communication skills and high-level problem-solving and decision-making abilities — making it an unpredictable, challenging and thus robot-proof job.

• Special education teachers

Special education teachers work with students with disabilities, from preschool through high school, and earn a median annual wage of $58,980. This job requires a bachelor’s degree and a state certification or license. While some special education teachers receive summers and holidays off, many work year-round. The job’s automation-proof skills include the ability to build strong relationships with students and co-workers, modify curriculum based on students’ needs and assess students’ abilities.

• Aerospace engineers

Investment in redesigning aircraft to be quieter and more fuel efficient is driving job creation for aerospace engineers. With a median annual wage of $113,030, positions require a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering or a related science or engineering field. Workers must possess deep technical knowledge, critical-thinking skills and complex problem-solving abilities, among many other automation-proof skills.

• Nurse practitioners and nurse midwives

Nurse practitioners and nurse midwives need a master’s degree and a state license, at minimum; they must also pass a national certification exam. The average annual wage is $110,930. As Americans age, this job sector is projected to grow a whopping 31 percent in the next decade. Because this job requires a unique and demanding combination of critical-thinking and social skills and adaptability, it ranks low for risk of automation.

• Writers and authors

These jobs — in copy and technical writing, book authorship and other fields — pay a median annual wage of $61,820 and generally require at least a bachelor’s degree. While computer programs are starting to produce simple news articles, the overall threat of a robot penning the next novel you read, or the next advertising jingle you hear, is very low.

This story about robots and jobs was produced by The Hechinger Report, a nonprofit, independent news organization focused on inequality and innovation in education. Sign up for the Hechinger newsletter.

Dementia or Dehydration?

Summertime and the catfish are jumping…it is also as hot as heck. My area, USA – Southwest is having record high temperatures. A week ago or so, I was setting up a new account by phone. The young lady asked me for my phone number and I couldn’t remember the correct number. I also kept having dizzy spells, fatigue and leg cramps. I thought I was drinking enough water….maybe not.

After reading several articles on dehydration I realized I needed not just water but Gatorade (electrolytes) and fruit juices. Once I started to swill those as well as water and cut back on coffee, the dizziness went away and my memory ‘improved’. I was really surprised at how quickly it can happen. One thing this article mentions is that you really need to start to ‘hydrate’ (drink water) one day before you engage in heavy physical activity. Wow, who knew? So, my water bottle is in my carrier by my side when I walk or hike with a backup bottle of Gatorade in my car, just ‘in case.’


Dehydration occurs when you use or lose more fluid than you take in, and your body doesn’t have enough water and other fluids to carry out its normal functions. If you don’t replace lost fluids, you will get dehydrated.

Anyone may become dehydrated, but the condition is especially dangerous for young children and older adults.

The most common cause of dehydration in young children is severe diarrhea and vomiting. Older adults naturally have a lower volume of water in their bodies, and may have conditions or take medications that increase the risk of dehydration.

This means that even minor illnesses, such as infections affecting the lungs or bladder, can result in dehydration in older adults.

Dehydration also can occur in any age group if you don’t drink enough water during hot weather — especially if you are exercising vigorously.

You can usually reverse mild to moderate dehydration by drinking more fluids, but severe dehydration needs immediate medical treatment.


Thirst isn’t always a reliable early indicator of the body’s need for water. Many people, particularly older adults, don’t feel thirsty until they’re already dehydrated. That’s why it’s important to increase water intake during hot weather or when you’re ill.

The signs and symptoms of dehydration also may differ by age.

Infant or young child

  • Dry mouth and tongue
  • No tears when crying
  • No wet diapers for three hours
  • Sunken eyes, cheeks
  • Sunken soft spot on top of skull
  • Listlessness or irritability


  • Extreme thirst
  • Less frequent urination
  • Dark-colored urine
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion

When to see a doctor

Call your family doctor if you or a loved one:

  • Has had diarrhea for 24 hours or more
  • Is irritable or disoriented and much sleepier or less active than usual
  • Can’t keep down fluids
  • Has bloody or black stool


Sometimes dehydration occurs for simple reasons: You don’t drink enough because you’re sick or busy, or because you lack access to safe drinking water when you’re traveling, hiking or camping.

Other dehydration causes include:

  • Diarrhea, vomiting. Severe, acute diarrhea — that is, diarrhea that comes on suddenly and violently — can cause a tremendous loss of water and electrolytes in a short amount of time. If you have vomiting along with diarrhea, you lose even more fluids and minerals.
  • Fever. In general, the higher your fever, the more dehydrated you may become. The problem worsens if you have a fever in addition to diarrhea and vomiting.
  • Excessive sweating. You lose water when you sweat. If you do vigorous activity and don’t replace fluids as you go along, you can become dehydrated. Hot, humid weather increases the amount you sweat and the amount of fluid you lose.
  • Increased urination. This may be due to undiagnosed or uncontrolled diabetes. Certain medications, such as diuretics and some blood pressure medications, also can lead to dehydration, generally because they cause you to urinate more.

Risk factors

Anyone can become dehydrated, but certain people are at greater risk:

  • Infants and children. The most likely group to experience severe diarrhea and vomiting, infants and children are especially vulnerable to dehydration. Having a higher surface area to volume area, they also lose a higher proportion of their fluids from a high fever or burns. Young children often can’t tell you that they’re thirsty, nor can they get a drink for themselves.
  • Older adults. As you age, your body’s fluid reserve becomes smaller, your ability to conserve water is reduced and your thirst sense becomes less acute. These problems are compounded by chronic illnesses such as diabetes and dementia, and by the use of certain medications. Older adults also may have mobility problems that limit their ability to obtain water for themselves.
  • People with chronic illnesses. Having uncontrolled or untreated diabetes puts you at high risk of dehydration. Kidney disease also increases your risk, as do medications that increase urination. Even having a cold or sore throat makes you more susceptible to dehydration because you’re less likely to feel like eating or drinking when you’re sick.
  • People who work or exercise outside. When it’s hot and humid, your risk of dehydration and heat illness increases. That’s because when the air is humid, sweat can’t evaporate and cool you as quickly as it normally does, and this can lead to an increased body temperature and the need for more fluids.


Dehydration can lead to serious complications, including:

  • Heat injury. If you don’t drink enough fluids when you’re exercising vigorously and perspiring heavily, you may end up with a heat injury, ranging in severity from mild heat cramps to heat exhaustion or potentially life-threatening heatstroke.
  • Urinary and kidney problems. Prolonged or repeated bouts of dehydration can cause urinary tract infections, kidney stones and even kidney failure.
  • Seizures. Electrolytes — such as potassium and sodium — help carry electrical signals from cell to cell. If your electrolytes are out of balance, the normal electrical messages can become mixed up, which can lead to involuntary muscle contractions and sometimes to a loss of consciousness.
  • Low blood volume shock (hypovolemic shock). This is one of the most serious, and sometimes life-threatening, complications of dehydration. It occurs when low blood volume causes a drop in blood pressure and a drop in the amount of oxygen in your body.


To prevent dehydration, drink plenty of fluids and eat foods high in water such as fruits and vegetables. Letting thirst be your guide is an adequate daily guideline for most healthy people.

People may need to take in more fluids if they are experiencing conditions such as:

  • Vomiting or diarrhea. If your child is vomiting or has diarrhea, start giving extra water or an oral rehydration solution at the first signs of illness. Don’t wait until dehydration occurs.
  • Strenuous exercise. In general, it’s best to start hydrating the day before strenuous exercise. Producing lots of clear, dilute urine is a good indication that you’re well-hydrated. During the activity, replenish fluids at regular intervals and continue drinking water or other fluids after you’re finished.
  • Hot or cold weather. You need to drink additional water in hot or humid weather to help lower your body temperature and to replace what you lose through sweating. You may also need extra water in cold weather to combat moisture loss from dry air, particularly at higher altitudes
  • Illness. Older adults most commonly become dehydrated during minor illnesses — such as influenza, bronchitis or bladder infections. Make sure to drink extra fluids when you’re not feeling well.

Hunger or Thirst? The brain may confuse the two.

I was out hiking this weekend. It’s a beautiful site and it was a hot, humid day. I was only out for about an hour because I was feeling a bit tired. When I got to my favorite Coyote Pause Cafe, I was ready to eat everything in sight in including the table cloth. Later, I was having some other symptoms like headache and dizziness. What was wrong with me? Plus, I kept having fantasic craving for salt and starch. What up? I think I got dehydrated even though I wasn’t out for long. Here’s a good article about this.

Hunger vs. thirst: tips to tell the difference

Hunger vs. thirst: tips to tell the difference

How often have you heard your stomach growl, felt a little light-headed or had an oncoming headache and immediately reached for a snack? You might be surprised to find that what can feel like a hunger pang is actually thirst. These two sensations ride a fine line, and being able to tell the difference can help you be successful with your daily diet!

When true hunger strikes, many people are guilty of opening the fridge or pantry and immediately looking for ready-to-eat or pre-packaged foods for a quick fix. The next time you get a stomach pang, though, pause and ask yourself if you’re really hungry or could you just be thirsty? Here are some common hunger symptoms to set the basis for your answer:

  • Empty feeling in your stomach
  • Stomach gurgling or rumbling
  • Dizziness, faintness or light-headedness
  • Headaches
  • Irritability
  • Lack of concentration
  • Nausea

The truth is, most people confuse thirst and hunger, often mistaking the former for the latter. Clinical studies have shown that 37% of people mistake hunger for thirst because thirst signals can be weak. This can create added issues for chronic kidney disease patients who are sometimes placed on fluid restrictions to reduce their kidneys’ workload. Always follow these restrictions, but also make sure your body is getting enough fluid, too. Signs of thirst symptoms may include:

  • Dry skin
  • Feeling sluggish
  • Dry-eyes
  • Increased heart rate
  • Headache
    • Nausea
    • Dizziness

    With symptoms that overlap can easily lead to misdiagnosis when it comes to hunger vs. thirst. Pay close attention to these feelings when you have them and think about what you’ve eaten or drank so far for the day. Here are a few helpful reminders to keep your cravings in check:

    • Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to grab a drink. Staying hydrated throughout the day helps curb cravings, keeps you alert, and helps digestion. Make sure you’re reaching your daily fluid allowance. Also be sure to monitor your fluid intake to avoid dehydration and its pesky symptoms, like nausea and headaches.
    • Listen to your body. Don’t be tempted to reach for whatever snack is in sight at the first sign of “hunger.” To figure out if that feeling is hunger or thirst, drink water—within your fluid allowance—and then wait 15 minutes. If you were truly hungry, you might still feel a stomach pang, whereas if you were just thirsty, you’ll feel satisfied.
    • Opt for kidney-friendly foods when hunger strikes. Fiber-rich snacks, which are low in fat and high in antioxidants, are a great option to help chronic kidney patients stay within protein, phosphorus, sodium and potassium guidelines. A few examples include apples, berries, and red and purple-skinned grapes.

    Information or materials posted on this blog are intended for general informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical advice, medical opinion, diagnosis or treatment. Any information posted on this blog is not a substitute for patient specific medical information or dietary advice. Please consult with your healthcare team or dietitian for a more complete dietary plan and recommendations.


Homeschooling the new option for parents during Covid.

Interest in Homeschooling Surges as COVID Restrictions Reshape Public and Private Education for the Fall

CT Examiner



For more than 10 percent of the 57 million school-age children nationwide, fall 2020 may bring another big shift in their education: homeschooling.

According to a Real Clear Opinion Poll on May 14, 15 percent of the 2,122 families surveyed are planning to homeschool their children in the fall. As of fall 2019, just 3 to 4 percent of all students in the United States were homeschooled, according to the Home School Legal Defense Association.

“If this poll holds true that would mean 8.5 million American children would be homeschooled in the fall. It’s hard to believe,” said Mike Donnelly, senior counsel and director of global outreach for the Home School Legal Defense Association. “But, there are a lot of things that schools are talking about in the fall that families are not comfortable with.”

Although the percentage of homeschoolers in Connecticut as of 2017 remains well below the national average, with less than 1 percent of students participating in homeschooling, in the last two months interest has grown substantially according to Pam Lucashu of The Education Association of Christian Homeschoolers.

In the last week alone, Lucashu said, individuals in the Association’s considering homeschooling Facebook group increased by 26 percent. In New London County, several families have expressed interest in transitioning to homeschooling, according to the Thames Valley 4-H Homeschool Co-op.

With public and private schools across the state closed since mid-March due to effort to slow the spread of COVID-19 and with uncertainty about what school will look like in the fall, a transition to homeschooling is an appealing option for families.

“There are several reasons we are considering switching to homeschooling next year,” said Michelle Kurber, a resident and mother in the Branford School District. “Before COVID happened our family started to become concerned with the district’s reliance on technology and lack of play at the younger grade levels. Studies have been showing for years negative effects of prolonged screen time with young children ranging from shorter attention spans all the way to behavioral problems.”

When schools closed this spring, online learning became the default method of education for public and private school students across the state.

Instead of picking up a laptop and an iPad for my kindergartner and second grader where we had to learn a new and frustrating online platform, it would have been more helpful to pick up a packet of worksheets and library books for my kids to read,” Kurber said. “I absolutely believe technology has a place in education but I do not believe it should be relied on in the younger grade levels. If we homeschool next year our family looks forward to choosing a curriculum that better fits our children’s individual learning style and interests. We will also have the ability to have shorter school days and increase field trips around the community to enhance our learning.”

On May 19, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released guidance to school districts about precautions that should be taken if they are to reopen in the fall. The recommendations include students and teachers wearing masks, not sharing supplies, keeping desks six feet apart, social distancing on school buses, requiring one-directional hallways, restricting visitors from the school, staggering arrival and departure times and routine cleaning of surfaces and supplies throughout the day.

Folks are really frustrated with how schooling is going right now and are considering homeschooling as an alternative,” Donnelly said. “With schools saying they will do a lot of things differently in the fall it may push those families who were considering homeschooling to pull the trigger.”

If the COVID-19 pandemic does push more families to choose homeschooling, that doesn’t mean they can’t ever go back, said Sandra Kim, a spokesperson for the Home School Legal Defense Association.

You don’t have to think of homeschool as kindergarten through 12th grade, you can always go back,” Kim said. “For the next year it might make the most sense, after that we shall see.”

Although it may seem like life for homeschool families has not changed much due to COVID-19, the Thames Valley 4-H Homeschool Co-op said it has actually changed drastically. The group along with many other homeschool co-ops, which used to meet weekly for some subjects and activities, has not been able to meet since the pandemic began due to social distancing restrictions.

We still are not sure if the fall will be different for us or not too,” said Brittany Casey, a homeschooling mom and member of the Thames Valley co-op. “We need to know if we will be able to meet, especially if we will be supporting this possible influx.”

Homeschooled children across the country are rarely just learning from home. They take field trips, combine with other children in co-ops, participate in extracurricular activities provided for public school children and are often very involved in their communities, Donnelly said.