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Thursday, December 31, 2020

Happy New Year 2021: Stay Home to stay Safe

Health experts say the current Covid-19 situation in the country is not favourable for social gatherings even for welcoming the New Year.

“Current active cases have exceeded 21,000 and daily numbers are close to 2,000. We should not expose ourselves to any risk of infection,” said Universiti Putra Malaysia medical epidemiologist Assoc Prof Dr Malina Osman.

“We should also not strain our healthcare system further.”

The conditional movement control order (MCO) was eased for the sake of the country’s economy, and not for engaging in big social crowds or family gatherings, said Dr Malina.

She advised the public to continue to comply with SOP, as the vaccine was yet to be made available locally.

“Hopefully the vaccine will reach our country soon. Singapore has started the vaccination for their frontliners today (yesterday) and their cases are much lower compared to us, we have to be more consistent and vigilant against Covid-19.

“Or we can expect early next year to be markedly different from our neighbouring country,” she said.

Universiti Malaya professor of epidemiology and public health Prof Dr Sanjay Rampal said for the next few weeks, it was important to do two things.

“First, avoid being in congested and confined areas for prolonged durations. It may be hard at times to maintain the minimum 1m physical distancing but we have to.

“Second, there may be a need to maintain a social circle for longterm emotional and psychosocial support, but avoid a large bubble, and restrict mixing across networks,” he said.

For New Year celebrations, Dr Sanjay suggested that the public usher in the New Year by staying at home.

Large gatherings, if any, should be held in big, open spaces while practising physical distancing, he said, adding that the location should have sufficient amenities to promote good sanitation and hygiene.

Medical Practitioners Coalition Association of Malaysia president Dr Raj Kumar Maharajah concurred that celebrations should be held in open areas with good ventilation to reduce the probability of getting infected.

Dr Raj said air conditioned and closed spaces without good ventilation posed a risk to people.

“Malaysians can celebrate in open areas by observing the SOP laid out by the Health Ministry. Use your face mask, observe social distancing, and wash and sanitise your hands regularly,” he said.

Going into the new year, Dr Raj believed there would not be “total freedom”.

“There will still be restrictions for the whole of next year. Hopefully, the vaccine can ease that for us. However, let’s remain positive and hope for the best,” he said.

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    Effortless Effort—The Eat-All Greens Garden   


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Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Core Exercises for Stroke Patients to Improve Balance and Walking (Gait) 

Seated Core Exercises

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The best way to improve balance after stroke is with core exercises. You can also download 13 pages of free rehab exercises here:

These core exercises for stroke patients are guided by Cassi, DPT (Doctor of Physical Therapy).

Cassi's core exercises are relatively easy and will help you improve your balance and gait (manner of walking).

To get more information on stroke recovery, download our FREE ebook here:

Best Hand Exercises for Stroke Patients at Home 

These hand exercises for stroke patients are guided by Barbara, OTA. You can also download 13 pages of free rehab exercises here:

Best Stroke Recovery Hand Exercises - Stage 1 

Dr. Scott Thompson shares the best stroke recovery hand exercises. Use these hand exercises and hand therapy tools to advance your stroke recovery. 

Full Body Rehab Exercise Guides

Thanks for signing up for our free stroke rehab exercises. To download the PDF exercise guides ebook, click the button below:

Download My Free Rehab Exercise Ebook!

We hope you get good use from the ebook!

Now let's back up a bit... Who is the company behind the stroke recovery blog and ebook?

Hello there!

We are so happy to have you here. We are Flint Rehab, and we're pretty passionate about stroke rehabilitation.

And we're even more passionate about helping stroke survivors just like you achieve a higher recovery.

Because we believe that...

  • ...You can defy the odds and achieve a higher recovery - if you believe in yourself.
  • ...Stroke education is of the utmost importance because it can help you achieve that higher recovery. 
  • ...Emotional healing is just as important as physical healing, so we always talk about both.
  • ...Regaining movement after stroke does not have to be boring.

That's why we pour so much energy into both maintaining an extensive stroke education blog and creating fun, effective rehabilitation devices.

What to Expect from Us

To help boost your stroke education, we send a newsletter every Monday that contains brand new stroke recovery articles.

Two of them are usually brand spankin' new, and the other 3 are goodies pulled from the archives.

Since our archives contain 300+ stroke recovery articles, our Monday newsletter is the best way to stay on top of our best stuff.

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If so, we'll help catch you up to speed by sending you a quick lesson on the best way to massively improve movement after stroke.

If you aren't interested, we understand. You can opt out here or at the bottom of any email at any time. No hard feelings!

For those who stick around, we're really happy to have you here!

Your resource for recovery,
​The team at Flint Rehab

NGOs hold free online classes on managing stress

A ‘Body Mind Powerbank Station’ class being held over Zoom.

TWO humanitarian non-governmental organisations are jointly holding free online classes on techniques to alleviate stress.

The Art of Living (AOL) Malaysia and International Association for Human Values (IAHV) will hold the classes, themed “Body Mind Powerbank Station”, to teach participants the proper stretching and breathing techniques that can assist people in dealing with anxiety, especially those induced by the Covid-19 pandemic and movement control order.

The classes are 20 minutes’ long and will be conducted via Zoom every Wednesday to Friday between 8pm and 9.30pm.

AOL Malaysia president Sundaresh Aw Yang said the techniques would help calm minds.

“The MCO has disrupted many lives, resulting in sleep disorder, anxiety, lost of concentration and increased anger that take a toll on the body.

“This programme, started in October, will help participants to relax and improve their energy, ” he said when contacted.

“Normal breathing will see about 20% of the oxygen we inhale go to our lungs.

Breathing Relaxation Exercise

15 Minute Deep Breathing Exercise

 “Through the techniques to be taught in the classes, we can bring it up to about 70% to 80%.

“People who are angry will breathe heavily and in short breaths. Those who are happy will breathe lightly, long and deep, ” he added.
     Aw Yang said with better breathing, it would also help improve quality of sleep.

He said the techniques were started by AOL founder Ravi Shankar from India in 1981.

“It can help people to be more positive and have a peaceful mindset, ” he said, adding that there were 156 AOL centres globally and 50 in Malaysia.

IAHV president Tan Boon Yang said he had been practising the techniques for 15 years and found it to be beneficial.

“People commonly advise us to rid ourselves of anxiety and not be angry, but fail to guide us on how to do so.

“I had depression and the techniques have helped me to manage my anxiety, ” he said.

“I am now actively involved in humanitarian efforts.

“The techniques are very simple and I hope it can work for others too, ” he said.

He added that IAHV was a global organisation found in 25 countries, with its branch in Malaysia registered in 2012.

To register for the classes,

For further details, or or call 012-413 0890 or 011-6168 2171.

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Sunday, December 27, 2020

That calf of yours

These calf raises required no equipment and one of the simplest exercises to tone your muscles - photo:

STOP Calf Pain | Best Stretches For Calves

11 Easy Exercises to Slim Your Legs In 2 Weeks


Some like them big, some like them small, but either way, the size of your calves can tell a lot about your health.

MEN take pride in having them big, but women want them slender.

It’s a skeletal muscle group that’s difficult to bulk or trim, even though it’s one of the most used in daily tasks.

If you’re unsure which muscles these are, I’m referring to the calves.

Genetics and anatomical structure play a significant role in how the muscle is shaped and how large it can grow.

The calves comprise of two main muscles: the outer gastrocnemius (known as the calf belly with two “heads”, i.e. medial head and lateral head), and the underlying soleus, which is the smaller of the two.

Together, they are responsible for bending the ankle joint upwards (dorsiflexion) and straightening it to point your toes (plantarflexion).

These two muscles taper and merge at the base of the calf muscle, and attach to the heel bone (calcaneus) via the Achilles tendon.

During walking, running or jumping, the calf muscles pull the heel up to allow the body to propel forward.

There is also another small muscle that runs beneath the gastrocnemius and soleus, called the plantaris.

It has a short belly and a long, thin tendon that connects to the Achilles tendon.

Functionwise, the plantaris muscle assists the gastrocnemius, but not significantly.

In fact, in 10% of the population, this muscle is completely absent.

Bigger or smaller?

Basically, the size of your calf muscles is determined by how far your heel bone (calcaneus) projects backwards, i.e. its length.

The longer this bone is, the smaller your calves.

In one 2011 study, researchers studied individuals of similar height, weight, lower limb length and foot length, and discovered that the ones with shorter calcanei had bigger calves.

Meanwhile, those with longer calcanei had more slender calves.

They also looked at the muscle recruitment patterns and found that people with shorter heels and big calves were using their medial gastrocnemius muscle more than the lateral gastrocnemius muscle while walking.

In contrast, those with longer calcanei had more evenly distributed calf contractions.

People with skinny ankles (small girth) will not be able to build bulk in their calves, although they have a lot more agility than their counterparts with thicker ankles.

Sprinters generally have bigger calves due to the extraordinary amounts of explosive power required to sprint short distances.

Long distance runners, on the other hand, tend to have slender, toned calf and leg muscles.

In fact, the calves in animals that move fast are practically non-existent.

Sausage legs

There is no ideal or normal proportion for the calves and ankle – it depends on what is beautiful to the eye.

Aesthetically, we are all wired to desire ankles that are smaller than the calves.

However, there is a condition where the ankle is just as thick or slighter thinner than the calf, making the lower leg look like a cylinder.

This “cankle” – a combination of the words “calf” and “ankle” – is not a medical term, but a word made popular in 2001 when Jason Alexander’s character in the movie Shallow Hal used it to criticise an overweight woman’s lower leg, saying, “It’s like the calf merged with the foot, cut out the middleman.”

When you have cankles, you’ll find it hard to differentiate the calf from the ankle. Some people call this “sausage legs”.

Women are more prone to this as it seems to run in the female line, with mothers, sisters and other female relatives tending to have the same lower leg shape.

Unfortunately, there is just so much you can do to alter it through natural means besides losing the fat that is covering the ankle.

Sometimes, however, these cankles are due to medical conditions like excessive water retention, kidney disease, bad sprains and surgery.

The calves are prone to tightening and cramping, especially after a workout, so be sure to stretch them out.

If your ankles remain swollen over a long period, do seek medical advice as it could be the sign of something sinister, like heart failure.

Managing those muscles

If you’re genetically predisposed to having big calves and don’t want to bulk further, the best you can do is to scale back on high intensity, skipping, plyometric and heavy weight-bearing exercises as they contribute to hypertrophy or muscle growth.

Also, don’t walk, hike or run up on an incline (e.g. hills or uneven surfaces) as these activities force your calf muscles to work harder.

They will definitely get stronger, but could also get bigger.

Instead, stick to running on flat surfaces.

To build your calf muscles, there are only two types of effective, yet simple exercises: heel or calf raises with knees straight (for the gastrocnemius) and with knees bent (for the soleus).

Start with one set of 12-15 repetitions with your feet parallel first.

Then turn your feet out (toes pointed out or away from the body) for the next set.

For the last set, turn your feet in. This forces your muscles to work from different angles.

To target the soleus muscle, repeat the entire sequence seated, perhaps with a light dumbbell on your thighs.

Do three sets, but only with your feet parallel.

You may not see noticeable bulk, but you’ll see some tone and more definition.

Stretch and soak

The calves are prone to tightening and cramping, especially after a workout, so be sure to stretch them afterwards.

The simplest way to do this is to stand at the edge of a step and place the balls of your feet on it.

Keep your legs straight (use the wall or railing for support) and reach your heels to the floor until you feel the stretch in your calves and Achilles tendon. This stretches your gastrocnemius muscles.

To stretch your soleus, do this with one knee bent, then repeat on the other side.

In addition, you can try soaking your lower leg in warm, salt water for 15 to 20 minutes before patting dry with a towel.

Then, apply some oil or lotion to self-massage the calves using stroking motions towards your hip.

Depending on your preference, you can use your fingers, palms, heel of your hand or knuckles.

Strong pressure reduces tension and pain in your muscles, while using a light pressure is more relaxing, especially before you retire for the night.

Benefits in all sizes

Fret not if your calves are big because there are some health benefits associated with it, according to a 2008 study published in the Stroke journal.

Apparently, regardless of age, gender, body mass index (BMI) and other vascular risk factors, those with bigger calves have fewer fatty deposits known as plaques built up in their arteries, thus lowering their risk for stenosis, carotid artery disease and strokes.

Researchers suspect this may be because big calves give the body another place to store fat that could cause problems when they’re floating in the bloodstream.

At the same time, people with bulky calves could also be more prone to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease as the calves act as a proxy for fat deposits.

In a 2013 study in the Journal of Physical Therapy Science, researchers concluded that the smaller a person’s calves are, the higher their resting heart rates might be.

In general, high resting heart rates, or anything above 100 beats per minute, have been linked to an increased risk of death, regardless of physical fitness.

A normal resting heart rate for adults ranges from 60 to 100 beats per minute.

A lower heart rate at rest implies more efficient heart function and better cardiovascular fitness.

So, all is fair whether you have big calves or small.

On that note, here’s to a brighter 2021!

By Revathi Murugappan, who is a certified fitness trainer who tries to battle gravity and continues to dance to express herself artistically and nourish her soul. For more information, email The information contained in this column is for general educational purposes only. Neither The Star nor the author gives any warranty on accuracy, completeness, functionality, usefulness or other assurances as to such information. The Star and the author disclaim all responsibility for any losses, damage to property or personal injury suffered directly or indirectly from reliance on such information.

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Thursday, December 24, 2020

Inject awareness’ of how Covid-19 vaccine works


  No photo description available. 

No photo description available.

Experts: Govt should launch awareness campaign to be transparent on safety

To allay concerns brought about by anti-vaxxers, health experts suggest that the government come up with a campaign to educate Malaysians on the safety of Covid-19 vaccines. The National Council on Islamic Affairs has given the go ahead for inoculation. 

Health experts are urging the government to come up with a vaccination awareness campaign now to alleviate public fears and concerns over the Covid-19 vaccine with the arrival of the first batch by February.

Universiti Malaya expert virologist Prof Dr Sazaly Abu Bakar said through a campaign, the government should explain how the vaccine actually works.

“What we do not want is the ripple effect after this in which not only the Covid-19 vaccine is affected but also vaccines for other infectious diseases which we have been using for eons.

“Anti-vaxxers are trying to sow distrust on vaccines. It is not just about the Covid-19 vaccine but their aim will be affecting all the other childhood disease vaccinations which is not good,” he said when contacted yesterday.

He explained that a vaccine can only enter the country after the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency ( NPRA) approves it although the government has made allocations to purchase the vaccine.

“The vaccine cannot be brought in and distributed to the people until the NPRA has verified that it is safe to use.

“The rakyat should not be concerned about all these other issues that are non-scientific, non-science-based and non-data-based. What the rakyat should know is that there are different platforms for different vaccines.

“This is good because that means the government is giving us the option of choosing which vaccine we want to take eventually as there are people who are allergic to certain components of a vaccine. Maybe when one vaccine is not suitable, another one is suitable,” he said.

So far, the Health Ministry had implemented a nationwide survey to gauge the interest of Malaysians in getting the Covid-19 vaccine.

It was also announced that Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin would be among the first to take the vaccination.

Universiti Putra Malaysia medical epidemiologist Assoc Prof Dr Malina Osman said proper policy and regulation is needed to handle vaccine skeptics and anti-vaxxers.

“Once we have bold scientific evidence on the effectiveness and safety of the vaccine, the gazettement under the law should be carried out to disallow those who have no authority to talk against the vaccine, and there should also be provision on an appropriate punishment for those who talk ‘nonsense’ about the vaccine,” she said.

“In the Muslim community, the issue on whether the vaccine is halal or not have been raised by those who reject the vaccine. This group provides isolated evidence against the decree by recognised religious scholars towards acceptance of the treatment from the Islamic point of view,” she said.

Prof Dr Moy Foong Ming, from Universiti Malaya Faculty of Medicine’s Department of Social and Preventive Medicine, concurred that a vaccination campaign should be set up while also being transparent on the safety, side effects and efficacy of the vaccine.

“The government should be transparent on the safety, side effects and efficacy of the vaccine. The total uptake and among subgroups of vaccination should also be presented to the public.

“The media should publish equally on information of the efficacy and safety as well as the side effects of the vaccine.

“Clear explanation of why the side effects happen, who are the high-risk groups and what are the chances of a side effect that will happen should be presented to alleviate people’s fears,” she said, adding that relevant government agencies should address religious concerns.

Dr Moy added that highlighting the fact that “all vaccines and medicines have some side effects, including Covid-19 vaccine” should be emphasised to the public.

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Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Time to grow own greens


 Effortless Effort—The Eat-All Greens Garden


A participant trying her hand at composting with a pipe during the chemical-free urban farming workshop by CAP.

THE movement control order (MCO) saw people stocking up on essentials like canned food, rice, noodles and seasoning, but they overlooked the need for greens in their diet.

Perhaps, marketing and buying vegetables would not have been a matter of top priority during such trying times but many failed to realise that one can grow these greens in the tiniest space available.

To teach the public on the perks of having their own greens to cook as well as ways to make these plants thrive under any living condition, Consumers Association of Penang (CAP) has come to the rescue by holding its monthly chemical-free urban farming workshop.

CAP education officer N.V. Subbarow shared how many do not realise about the chemicals that are used to keep vegetables fresh for days.

 Subbarow (in green) showing participants how to make compost using organic waste at the workshop at the CAP premises in Jalan Masjid Negeri, Penang. — Photos: CHAN BOON KAI/The Star

“If you can plant and grow your own vegetables it would be great.

“Now with this pandemic, many are not consuming vegetables as it is considered easier to just eat canned or take-away food.

“There are many preservatives in those meals and in the long run it can cause health issues.

“If one can plant and grow greens in their house, it would not only be good for their health but the environment as well.

“Here we are teaching people the correct way to plant vegetables and how to produce compost to ensure a great yield as well, ” he said at one of the workshops at the CAP premises in Jalan Masjid Negeri, Penang, recently.

Subbarow said the workshop aimed to teach people how to plant vegetables like chilli, okra and other greens.

“We have tested shop-bought vegetables and many times they contain chemicals to keep them fresh.

“Here you know what goes into growing your vegetables at home.

“We have ways in which people can plant their vegetables even if they are living in an apartment.

“These are vegetables that are consumed daily.

“You only need the right soil.

“They can be planted in pre-used pots or containers, ” he said.

Subbarow said the participants were taught to not only plant vegetables, but also on how to keep pests away from plants organically by using other plants to ward them off as well as homemade growth enhancers for plants using fish and brown sugar.

“It can be a whole family hobby, planting and harvesting their vegetables.

“I encourage families to plant now as they can start harvesting in weeks or a few months depending on what they plant.

“This is one way to save money as well, because by cooking two vegetable dishes from your garden, you have covered one meal for the day, ” he said.

Subbarow then taught the participants how to make compost, one being collecting organic waste and making compost in a container.

“Then there is the seven pot system where organic waste is placed in a pot a day with pots marked for each day of the week.

“This helps keep track of your compost and then you can plant something in each pot.

“The third way is where a pipe is placed in the pot with 5cm of the pipe buried in the soil.

“Organic waste is placed in the pipe and the pipe is closed to avoid water mixing with the compost.

“The roots of the plant in the pot will absorb the nutrients from the compost, ” he said.

CAP education officer Saraswathi Devi Odian also taught participants to layer soil in a pot.

“People do not realise you have to mix the soil.

“You need half the pot to be filled with garden soil, the other half has to be equal parts of sand, red soil and compost, ” she said.

Friends Rachel Jasmine Richard and M. Deenadayalani, both 27, were happy to attend the workshop to learn about planting vegetables.

Friends Rachel Jasmine Richard (right) and M. Deenadayalani (left), both 27, feeling the texture of the soil during the free chemical urban farming training organised by Consumers Association of Penang (CAP) at its premises in Jalan Masjid Negeri, Penang./PicbY:CHAN BOON KAI/The Star/25 July 2020.

Rachel said she had planted curry leaves and pandan, but now realised that she did not use the right soil.

“I only used garden soil which is not good enough.

“I now want to plant chillies and will do it the right way.

“I always wondered if I could use the peels from vegetables and fruits, now I know I can compost it, ” said the customer service representative.

Deenadayalani, whose mother loves to plant vegetables, said they have quite a number of greens in their garden.

“I would like to plant tomatoes next, ” she said.

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Monday, December 21, 2020

Getting ready for Covid-19 vaccines

 The dreadful year is coming to an end with optimism and hope in the air as we greet 2021.

Royal approval: UAE’s Crown Prince of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum receiving an injection of a Covid-19 vaccine. — AFP

 COVID-19 Worldwide Dashboard - WHO Live World Statistics

THERE’S finally light at the end of the tunnel from a dark period in modern history. The race to complete the final stage of testing the Covid-19 vaccine is almost at the finish line.

In Britain, the vaccination exercise has kicked off with people above 80 years old, since they’re the most vulnerable to the dreadful virus.

But let’s not get carried away. Only the British government has expedited the approval because it’s bracing for a huge spike with the coming winter.

The United States government only officially approved the use of Pfizer Inc’s Covid-19 vaccine on Friday, with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granting an emergency use authorisation for healthcare workers and elderly people in long-term care facilities in its first round of 2.9 million doses.

The FDA is responsible for protecting public health by ensuring safety, efficacy and security of human and veterinary drugs in the US. The FDA has always been used as a benchmark by most countries in providing approvals.

Last week, MyEG Services Bhd announced that it will work with Anhui Zhifei Longcom Biopharmaceutical Co Ltd (Zhifei) to obtain the Malaysian halal certification for the Chinese biopharma company’s Covid-19 vaccine, and to exclusively distribute it in Malaysia for a three-year period.

It said the two companies had signed a memorandum of understanding to cooperate in conducting Phase 3 clinical trials of Zhifei’s vaccine in Malaysia and to meet the halal status requirements of the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (Jakim).

In September, loss-making Ho Wah Genting, which had been searching for a core-income generating business for a while, declared it was officially in the race to produce vaccines.

It announced that it had been appointed by a China-based diagnostic reagents manufacturer as its designated overseas sales agent for Covid-19 diagnostic products in Asean countries.

More recently, a Covid-19 research centre not linked to any medical institution, also sprouted and began issuing press releases to the media.

Firstly, let’s be clear that there’s nothing to stop the private sector from playing a role in the search for a vaccine source. In fact, I think it’s commendable that these companies are ready to play a complementary role.

If the intention is to help their bottom line, and in the process, propel their share prices, it’ll be up to shareholders to be mindful, and perhaps the Securities Commission to keep its eyes open.

Individuals hoping to set up a non-governmental organisation, including for Covid-19, have the right to do so, but their authority and credibility are for the public and media to decide.

The private sector, in fact, should be encouraged to take a stronger role in the fight against the pandemic, as the number of cases continue to climb in Malaysia.

The truth is, while we’ve relaxed the rules, with a crippling economy in mind, our situation has gotten worse. Let’s be honest – statistics don’t lie.

Only those with a warped mind, like conspiracy theorists, think the numbers in Malaysia have been manipulated and jacked up for political reasons. It’s an insult to dedicated professionals like Health Ministry director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah and his team of frontliners, who haven’t taken a day off since the Movement Control Order (MCO) began in March.

The number of positive cases in Malaysia could likely be higher because only targeted areas and cases are tested, including travellers, medical treatment seekers and foreign workers.

The average daily cases (originally three digits in March and rendering us house bound) has passed the 2,000 mark now.

Most of us feel the end is near and that even with the staggering new numbers, we are certain that the cure is just round the corner, what with all the media hype over 90% efficacy by these drug companies.

Unfortunately, none of the vaccines have been approved by the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency of Malaysia yet. Companies bringing in Covid-19 vaccines must also be registered with the NPRA – it doesn’t matter if these vaccines are from the UK, US, China or Russia.

I’ve been reliably informed that until today, no private companies have applied despite their announcements. So, nothing has been approved.

Like the US, Malaysia has also decided to wait until all the vaccines have completed the final stages of trials and are properly approved.

With the situation exceptionally dire there though, the FDA is reported to be ready to approve emergency use of Covid-19 vaccines in the US as more than 285,000 people have died from the virus.

But as with all testing, there will be cases of side effects, including fatalities. Tests are often called off and then resumed, which is normal, but if we are to read the Western media, only US and UK-made vaccines are good enough.

They have put the Chinese and Russian products in bad light by insinuating they are inferior products.

This isn’t just a question involving billions of dollars, but a race for political and diplomatic achievements.

It won’t be surprising if the US FDA refuses to approve the Chinese and Russian products. And if that happens, then those nations would need to turn to the World Health Organisation.

So many of us have been brain-washed into believing that everything from the West is good and most things from China are inferior or not of international standards.

The New York Times reported that researchers are currently testing 57 vaccines in clinical trials on humans, and at least 86 pre-clinical vaccines are under active investigation on animals.

I am told that China has provided its initial consignment of vaccines from state-owned Sinopharm to Malaysia, and that we would be carrying out trials with the Medical Research and Ethics Committee to finalise the stringent criteria.

Shipments of Beijing-based Sinovac’s vaccine, CoronaVac, have arrived in Indonesia in preparation for a mass vaccination campaign, with another 1.8 million doses due by next month.

Sinovac’s edge is that it can be stored in a standard refrigerator at 2-8 degrees Celsius, like Oxford’s AstraZeneca, while Moderna’s vaccine needs to be stored at -20 C and Pfizer’s at -70 C.

That means the Chinese and UK vaccines are more practical for developing countries like Malaysia. Otherwise, we’d have issues storing large amounts of vaccine at extremely low temperatures because special storage facilities will be needed, which seems almost out of the question for rural areas.

Then, there’s the halal issue. The concerns among Muslims about the shots containing substances forbidden by Islam is understandable as the same issue was also brought up by Muslims in Indonesia.

But here are some simple medical rules – the Malaysian government does not register a medicine based on halal or non-halal status. No medicine carries a Jakim sticker that says halal certified.

Malaysia has inked a deal with Pfizer to supply 12.8 million doses of its Covid-19 vaccine for 20% of the population. It has also reportedly entered a pact with Covax Facility, the global Covid-19 vaccine development platform, to cover another 10% of the population.

This is a life and death situation. No one needs to be an Islamic theology expert to know what Islam says about emergency cases relating to starvation or medical treatment. Perlis Mufti Datuk Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin has reportedly said that “even if there is an ingredient which is not permissible, the chemical transformation process will make it clean and halal.”

The Special Muzakarah Committee of the National Council for Malaysian Islamic Affairs met on Dec 3 to discuss whether the vaccine can be administered to Muslims.

Religious Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Zulkifli Mohamed Al-Bakri said the decision would be announced by the King.

Given the grounds to this concern, this is certainly the right course of action, especially in curtailing it from becoming both religious and political issues, or from companies exploiting the matter for commercial reasons by making all sorts of claims.

As someone privileged to have met Zulkifli, who tested positive himself, I can vouch that he is one of the most rational and practical Islamic scholars.

The United Arab Emirates, a Muslim country, has accepted the China-made Sinopharm and Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim country, is ready to take the vaccine from China, too. And Saudi Arabia has embraced Pfizer’s vaccine.

The end of Covid-19 is in sight for sure. The fact that Malaysia is already talking of vaccination and testing approaches, means we’re already making practical preparations.

Last week, I spoke to Datuk Zulkarnain Md Eusope, the chief executive officer of Pharmaniaga Bhd, the company tasked with bottling and transporting the Covid-19 vaccine for Malaysia.

The company is already preparing for the distribution of these vaccines and is just waiting for the government’s approval for the big day.

Zulkarnain is an excited man and rattled off details of what and how Pharmaniaga has readied itself to be part of history and saving lives.

For most Malaysians, 2020 has been a horrible year of Covid-19 and squabbling politicians.

What a toxic combination. For sure, we can’t wait to welcome 2021.

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Preparations in place for vaccine rollout

Research now in the final stages

From page 15 BEIJING: Research and development of coronavirus vaccines in China are at the final stages, with preparations in place for their mass production, said the head of the country’s Covid19 vaccine development task force.

There are five domestically developed vaccines under a phase-3 clinical trial, the final stage before attaining approval from the authorities, making China a leading country in Covid-19 vaccine development, said Zheng Zhongwei, who is also director of the National Health Commission’s development centre for medical science and technology.

Despite taking a leading role in Covid-19 vaccine research and development, China does not rush to compete in the field, Zheng told Xinhua on Wednesday.

Vaccines should be evaluated by criteria such as safety, effectiveness, accessibility and affordability before they are approved for market availability, he said, adding that China is being prepared for the mass production of vaccines. Researchers in China have been racing to develop Covid-19 vaccines. A total of 15 vaccines using five different technologies are under clinical trials in China.

Of them, five are undergoing phase-3 clinical trials in countries including the United Arab Emirates, Brazil and Pakistan, as domestic trials involving many volunteers are not practical due to the effective control and prevention of the epidemic on the Chinese mainland.- ANN/THE STAR


China is the world's largest vaccine producer in a market expected to reach $17.75 billion by 2030: industry forum

A forum on vaccine industry marketing was held on Saturday in Zhengzhou, Central China's Henan Province. Organized by the China Association for Vaccines, the forum attracted hundreds of enterprises, analysts, lawyers and scholars, who shared the latest information on the vaccine industry


GT investigates: The mass vaccination countdown

The research and development process for a new vaccine usually takes at least a decade. But the deadly pandemic pushed the world to shorten the process to less than one year, which apparently increases the public's worries over the products' safety and efficacy. Can people accept such a hastily developed vaccine? Continue reading and let the evidence speak for itself. 

Sinovac secures annual output of 300 million COVID-19 vaccine doses by end of year

China's leading vaccine maker Sinovac is working around the clock to prepare for mass production, with the first production line to secure 300 million doses of a COVID-19 vaccine annually, the Global Times learned after an exclusive visit to the company's plant in Beijing.


Chinese tech firms adopt blockchain, big data to resist virus

As the overseas pandemic situation remains grave, China faces increasing pressure to prevent imported cases. Particularly, recent reports of frozen pork, lamb, beef, shrimp and fish products testing positive for COVID-19 in over a dozen regions across China have raised widespread concerns over the risks of infection through cold chain trade due to its long supply chain and virus-friendly environment.

UK PM announces new stricter restrictions to combat coronavirus surge

weeks and be reviewed on Dec. br The prime minister said the latest infections in many parts...

The battle for vaccine transportation and distribution begins

With the continuous spread of good news about COVID-19 vaccines, how to ensure its transportation has become a hot topic for the global cargo industry. Analysts believe that vaccine transportation will stimulate the aviation recovery, but questions remain about how to make the transportation safe.


Friday, December 18, 2020

Lunar probe, eliminating poverty, China did both

  Image released by the China National Space Administration (CNSA) shows the orbiter-returner combination of China's Chang'e-5 probe approaching the ascender. Photo: XinhuThe Chang'e-5 capsule carrying rocks and soil from the moon landed safely on Earth early on Thursday. This mirrors China's comprehensive technological progress. Of course, it is not the only pride for China's 2020. In November, the last few impoverished counties, all in southwest China's Guizhou Province, have eliminated absolute poverty, a decisive improvement of China's goal to achieve a moderately prosperous society in all respects.

China is the most populous developing country in the world. It is very difficult to realize collaborated progress among various sectors. With a limited budget, China has multiple tasks at the same time - it has to encourage developing high-tech abilities, expand room and provide driving forces for social advancement, at the same time strive to improve people's livelihood, and input social fairness into the top design of national strategies.

For a long time, some people believe China has not done enough to balance these developments. Voices have existed that China invested excessive resources to fields such as aerospace. Despite difficulties, compared to other countries, China has tried its best to reach a balance and has achieved positive results.

Since China implemented the reform and opening-up policy, the most prominent and well-known national goal has been achieving a moderately prosperous society. People's livelihood and fairness and justice have always been the focus of attention in Chinese society. A technology-centered national strategy and people-oriented economic development have highly integrated.

In the past few decades, the Chinese people have been developing the aerospace field, but their livelihood has also been improving. The lunar exploration project is not a political vanity project - it is well within the ability of Chinese society.

The progress in high-tech areas such as aerospace has pushed up China's strategic competitiveness overall. At the same time, people are living better lives. Without the advancement in high-tech areas, China's prosperity would lack the backbone and long-term guarantee.

As an emerging major power, China's per capita GDP is not the highest among developing countries. But China's major scientific progress in recent years is undoubtedly the most prominent among developing countries and general developed countries. China is a large country, and this has exerted its unique incubation advantages in promoting major technological progress. This is gratifying.

China has long implemented a market economy, but has maintained the guiding role of the government. This prevents our market economy from repeating and hovering at a low level, and also prevents us from being satisfied with the low-end prosperity of the global value chain. The Chinese nation's self-motivated spirit continues to release momentum, successfully supported by the country's system. Thus, we can move forward in a balanced manner and with a clear sense of direction.

China has not regarded technological development or achievements in aerospace as an overriding goal. Nor has China formed a circle of high-tech elites, separating from the general Chinese public or even leading to the division of the rich and poor. Compared with China, today's aerospace engineering in India is relatively difficult. But it is the Indian people's choice to explore the Moon and Mars no matter how difficult it is.

China's high-tech development still has a long and arduous way to go. We may need to devote more resources to cutting-edge technologies such as aerospace.

Frankly, the Chinese public has principled support for this, but such support has not been fully transformed into preferential treatment of high-tech industries and talent in these fields. There is still a lot of room for us to continue our efforts in this area.

As for China's modernization, it is an indispensable basic progress for our aerospace technology to reach world-class levels. There are unlimited possibilities in space, and most resources that support the human being's future development must be outside the Earth. We need to travel to space step by step, and our good, fair and just social governance will provide strength for this. Our ambitions and dreams will encourage perseverance. Chang'e-5 is just the beginning.

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China roadmaps ambitious space projects, starting with 11 launches in next two years

Closely following the complete success of Chang'e-5 lunar sample return mission on Thursday, China's National Space Administration (CNSA) disclosed plans for a slew of ambitious space projects that include a new three-step plan for the country's future moon and deeper space exploration missions, which Wu Yanhua, the CNSA deputy head, referred to as "surveying, constructing, and exploiting," as opposed to the already conquered goals of "orbiting, landing and returning" to the Earth's natural satellite.


Moon soil to head for Chairman Mao's hometown

With Chang'e-5 probe making a perfect conclusion to its 23-day journey to the moon, bringing back soil from Earth's celestial neighbor, Central China's Hunan Province, the hometown of the late .

China has lifted 700 million out of poverty over 70 years, set to eliminate its last poor very soon