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New Downtown Arena Taking Shape

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By Sheldon Spackman

Site preparation and foundation work is already nearing completion on Red Deer’s new Downtown Arena.

In a release, city officials say that crews are currently building foundation walls and footings, with some exterior walls expected to start going up next week. Construction will continue until the fall of 2018, when the new downtown arena is expected to open.

The former Red Deer Arena was decommissioned and demolished earlier this year, with many items from the former arena repurposed and moved to other City facilities or sold, such as the bench seating and ice making equipment. The score clocks and iconic arena sign are currently in storage and will be used in the new facility. Building materials were also recycled or reclaimed, resulting in approximately 85 per cent of materials being diverted from the landfill.

The new downtown arena will offer room temperature seating, welcoming gathering spaces, interior connection to the Pidherney Curling Centre, an indoor walking track, larger and modernized change rooms, team warm up areas, skate sharpening and laundry facilities. Officials say the facility is also being designed to meet energy and environmental standards for a greener and more efficient operation when it acts as a host facility for the 2019 Canada Winter Games.

Click here to view a live feed on construction of the new Arena, courtesy of the City of Red Deer:

http://www.reddeer.ca/city-government/plans-and-projects/recreation-parks-and-culture-plans-and-projects/downtown-arena-project/

(Arena rendering courtesy of the City of Red Deer)

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COVID-19

Thousands of doctors are treating covid. What you need to know to help you stay out of hospital.

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For more than a year and a half, Canadians have been struggling to deal with the covid pandemic.  With each wave of cases we’ve been throwing resources, restricting movement and commerce, putting on protectives masks, getting vaccinations, and now pressuring vaccinations on those who are hesitant.  Still, each wave puts even more pressure on the hospitals than the last one.
Considering how many people have become seriously ill, how many people have died, and how much covid has affected our lives in various ways, it’s remarkable our governments haven’t taken the opportunity to examine their approach to battling the virus and all the aspects of society it affects.
There are a few exceptions.  Back in March, the Texas Senate Committee on Health and Human Services called a hearing into how the state had reacted to the pandemic to that time.  One of the presenters was Dr. Peter McCullough.  Dr. McCullough talked about the “near total block” on information about treating covid.   The presentations by Dr. Richard Urso and Dr. Peter McCullough are compelling in that they reveal that across the United States and around the world, thousands of doctors are providing early treatment to covid positive patients with symptoms.  Their data shows astounding success.
Since it seems obvious covid strains will continually appear and stay one step ahead of our vaccines, everyone should know more about the option of early treatment.   The American Association of Physicians and Surgeons represents nearly 5,000 doctors who are treating covid and talking about it.  The association has released a guide for the general public.  Although it’s written for Americans, information about drugs and vitamins that help in the early stages of covid apply everywhere.

In countries around the world, doctors have found that treating COVID patients at home quickly when symptoms develop leads to better outcomes, dramatically lower death rates than if doctors send people home to wait until they are so sick they need hospitalizations, ICU admissions, mechanical ventilators and even dialysis when kidneys fail.

If you’ve been unaware of the extent to which many doctors already know about early treatment the following videos will be incredibly informative.  These videos are exerts from a longer interview by Dr. Alfred Johnson from a medical group in the United States which was published August 20

 

 

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“Waning immunity?” Experts say term leads to false understanding of COVID-19 vaccines

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The idea of waning immunity has picked up steam in recent weeks, with some countries using it to justify rolling out third-dose COVID-19 vaccine boosters to their populations. But immunologists say the concept has been largely misunderstood.

While antibodies — proteins created after infection or vaccination that help prevent future invasions from the pathogen — do level off over time, experts say that’s supposed to happen.

And it doesn’t mean we’re not protected against COVID-19.

Jennifer Gommerman, an immunologist with the University of Toronto, said the term “waning immunity” has given people a false understanding of how the immune system works.

“Waning has this connotation that something’s wrong and there isn’t,” she said. “It’s very normal for the immune system to mount a response where a ton of antibodies are made and lots of immune cells expand. And for the moment, that kind of takes over.

“But it has to contract, otherwise you wouldn’t have room for subsequent immune responses.”

Antibody levels ramp up in the “primary response” phase after vaccination or infection, “when your immune system is charged up and ready to attack,” said Steven Kerfoot, an associate professor of immunology at Western University.

They then decrease from that “emergency phase,” he added. But the memory of the pathogen and the body’s ability to respond to it remains.

Kerfoot said B-cells, which make the antibodies, and T-cells, which limit the virus’s ability to cause serious damage, continue to work together to stave off severe disease long after a vaccine is administered. While T-cells can’t recognize the virus directly, they determine which cells are infected and kill them off quickly.

Recent studies have suggested the T-cell response is still robust several months following a COVID-19 vaccination.

“You might get a minor infection … (but) all of those cells are still there, which is why we’re still seeing very stable effectiveness when it comes to preventing severe disease,” Kerfoot said.

A pre-print study released this week by Public Health England suggested protection against hospitalization and death remains much higher than protection against infection, even among older adults.

So the concept of waning immunity depends on whether you’re measuring protection against infection or against severe disease, Kerfoot said.

Ontario reported 43 hospitalized breakthrough cases among the fully vaccinated on Friday, compared to 256 unvaccinated hospitalized infections. There were 795 total new cases in the province that day, 582 among those who weren’t fully vaccinated or had an unknown vaccination status.

British Columbia, meanwhile, saw 53 fully vaccinated COVID-19 patients hospitalized over the last two weeks, compared to 318 unvaccinated patients.

“You’ll hear people say that vaccines aren’t designed to protect infection, they’re designed to prevent severe disease,” Kerfoot said. “I wouldn’t say necessarily it’s the vaccine that’s designed to do one or another … that’s just how the immune system works.”

Moderna released real-world data this week suggesting its vaccine was 96 per cent effective at preventing hospitalization, even amidst the more transmissible Delta variant, and 87 per cent effective at preventing infection — down from the 94 per cent efficacy seen in the clinical trials last year.

Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel said that dip “illustrates the impact of waning immunity and supports the need for a booster to maintain high levels of protection.”

Pfizer-BioNTech has argued the same with its own data, and an advisory panel to the U.S.-based Food and Drug Administration voted Friday to endorse third doses for those aged 65 and older, or at high risk for severe disease.

However, the panel rejected boosters for the general population, saying the pharmaceutical company had provided little safety data on extra jabs.

Gommerman said the efficacy data presented by Moderna doesn’t signal the need for a third dose.

“The fact it protects 87 per cent against infection, that’s incredible,” she said. “Most vaccines can’t achieve that.”

Bancel said Moderna’s research, which has yet to be peer reviewed, suggested a booster dose could also extend the duration of the immune response by reupping neutralizing antibody levels.

But Dr. Sumon Chakrabarti, an infectious physician in Mississauga, Ont., said looking solely at the antibody response is misleading, and could be falsely used as justification for an infinite number of boosters.

Israel, which has opened third doses for its citizens, recently talked about administering fourth doses in the near future.

“This idea of waning immunity is being exploited and it’s really concerning to see,” Chakrabarti said. “There’s this idea that antibodies mean immunity, and that’s true … but the background level of immunity, the durable T-cell stuff, hasn’t been stressed enough.”

While some experts maintain boosters for the general population are premature, they agree some individuals would benefit from a third jab.

The National Advisory Committee on Immunization has recommended boosters for the immunocompromised, who don’t mount a robust immune response from a two-dose series.

Other experts have argued residents of long-term care, who were prioritized when the rollout began last December, may also soon need a third dose. The English study suggests immunity could be waning in older groups but not much — if at all — among those under age 65.

Chakrabarti said a decrease in protection among older populations could be due more to “overlapping factors,” including their generally weaker immune systems and congregate-living situations for those in long-term care.

“These are people at the highest risk of hospitalization,” he said. “Could (the length of time that’s passed following their doses) be playing a role? Yeah, maybe.”

While we still don’t know the duration of the immune response to COVID-19 vaccination, Gommerman said immune cells typically continue to live within bone marrow and make small amounts of antibodies for “decades.”

“And they can be quickly mobilized if they encounter a pathogen,” she said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 19, 2021.

Melissa Couto Zuber, The Canadian Press

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