What is Herd Immunity?

Herd immunity takes place when a substantial percentage of a community achieves protection from a particular disease. This mass immunity reduces the ability of disseminating the disease to and from individuals. Consequently, the entire community (this is where the word ‘herd’ comes into play), is now shielded vs. only those who are actually immune. 

According to the Mayo Clinic, “a percentage of the population must be capable of getting a disease in order for it to spread. This is called a threshold proportion. If the proportion of the population that is immune to the disease is greater than this threshold, the spread of the disease will decline. This is known as the herd immunity threshold.” 

The more transmittable the disease, the larger percentage of the community needs to become immune to the disease in order to put an end to the spread. 

Herd immunity has the ability to protect the community from a disease, which includes those who cannot or will not receive a vaccine, including infants and people who have a compromised immune system. 

How does a community attain Herd immunity? 

Vaccines and infection are the two primary routes to eradicating the COVID-19 virus through Herd immunity

1. Original infection  

One pathway to Herd immunity is when a substantial portion of the population recuperates from a disease, and then subsequently creates antibodies that protects from future infection. 

But the truth is that there are some serious challenges when it comes to creating Herd immunity. For starters, reinfection is possible with COVID-19; scientists are not certain how long the antibodies last for, or when someone could possibly get infected again. Secondly, it is estimated that at least 70% of the United States’ population would need to bounce back from the virus. To put some context to these numbers — we’re talking 200 million people. This staggering ratio has the possibility of infections ending up with extraordinary complications, and millions of people dying. 

2. Vaccines 

Another route to achieve Herd immunity is through vaccinations, which have the ability to develop antibody protection against infection. With the exception of short-term side effects, vaccines have the potential to produce immunity without causing serious illness or death. Some examples of Herd immunity via vaccines that have effectively limited contagious diseases include polio, diphtheria, and smallpox. 

There are some hurdles to achieving COVID-19 Herd immunity due to mass vaccination, including those who simply do not want to receive a vaccine. Their reasons may range from skepticism, to religious obligations. Another challenge is the infancy of these vaccines and not fully understanding how long they provide protection from the virus, or if it covers new variants. And finally, yet another potential roadblock includes an inconsistent dissemination of the vaccine; it varies from country to country. 

What is the forecast for the U.S. to achieve Herd immunity? 

As the amount of fully vaccinated people grows, the United States is making headway in the direction of reaching Herd immunity. Additionally, as of this blog publication, over 30 million individuals have been infected with COVID-19 and carry antibodies (although the total duration of protection is unconfirmed). 

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized COVID-19 vaccines that have incredible efficacy against against extreme illness or even death. Although it may be impossible to terminate the COVID-19 virus completely, at least people who have been vaccinated are much more likely to live with the virus. 

On the other hand, as mentioned above, some experts believe that achieving a Herd immunity threshold is appearing unlikely due to a variety of reasons, including resistance to getting the vaccine, new variants emerging, and a hold-up of providing vaccinations for all children. 

Due to this reality, it is not certain if or when the U.S. will conquer herd immunity. 

Be sure to catch our upcoming Auxo Medical blog post — we will discuss racial disparities as it relates to COVID-19 outcomes and treatment. 

Alcohol Use During the Pandemic


JAMA Network Open published a study surrounding alcohol consumption as the pandemic was erupting in 2020. Unfortunately, the report found that many people have been turning to alcohol in order to manage constant change and chronic stress.
The research findings indicate that drinking alcohol by adults went up 14% between
2019 and 2020. Notably, females specifically surged in alcohol consumption by a staggering 41% compared to the 2019 baseline numbers.
Knowing this unsettling reality, it’s important to understand the underlying factors, as
well as healthy coping alternatives since the world as we know it is still faced with this
unprecedented virus and countless mutations.


What is Triggering Increased Alcohol Use?

Not surprisingly, it is believed that the uptick in consuming alcohol is driven by uncertainty and fear caused by the novel COVID-19 virus. Before the pandemic wrecked
havoc across the globe, alcohol consumption was already a public health concern. For
those who were already battling mental health challenges, the pandemic only poured
fuel on the fire.


Examples of life circumstances that could lead to elevated alcohol use:
• Out of work
• Working in the frontlines (e.g. healthcare staff, grocery store employees,
etc.)
• Lack of financial security
• Emotional and social support deprivation
• Working remotely from home

• Responsible for homeschooling children
• Losing a loved one from the COVID-19 virus


Pre-pandemic, if someone had a stressful day or event take place, they could have
broken a sweat at the gym, met friends for dinner at their favorite restaurant, or catch a
movie at the neighborhood theater as a means to temporarily ‘check out’ from reality.


Instead, for more than a year, the new reality has included virtually zero social engagements, covering our faces with masks, isolating with little to no physical touch, and
other strict protocols in order to reduce spreading the virus.

Historically, alcohol has been positioned in advertising as a normal and acceptable
means to cope with stress, and to have fun. Alcohol is also easily accessible. Meeting
over Zoom to virtually
engage in happy hour cocktails among friends and colleagues
became a marketable way to ‘taste’ what life used to be like during quarantine.


Recommended Guidelines for Alcohol Consumption


According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), for healthy adults,
light to moderate alcohol consumption is deemed acceptable. On the other hand, indulging in alcohol can cause undesirable health issues, ranging from car accident injuries, elevated blood pressure, and disease of the liver.
The CDC has outlined what they consider over-indulging when it comes to alcohol use:

• Women — Drinking four or more servings during the same instance, or eight alcohol
beverages over the course of a week

• Men — Drinking five or more servings during the same instance, or 15 alcohol beverages over the course of a week


Exploring At-Risk Populations


Those who are at higher risk for extreme alcohol consumption include people who are
faced with:
• Insufficient finances
• Scarce support among social network
• Pre-existing trials including substance abuse and mental health challenges
• Compromised coping skills
• Decreased access to treatment facilities and programs they previously engaged in
prior to COVID-19
Additionally, parents could be at a higher risk for overindulging in alcohol based on
their increased demands caused by the pandemic.


Beneficial Coping Tools for Stress


Handling stress in a healthy way is critical for self-care and overall wellbeing.
Some activities to help facilitate positive coping include:
• Make sleep a priority (6-8 hours a night)

• Daily physical exercise (30 minutes)
• Pursue creative outlets based on the individual’s personal interest (e.g. painting,
cooking, gardening, etc.)
• Drink water and stay hydrated (ideal amount is an ounce of water for each
pound you weigh, daily)
• Nurture your body with healthy, unprocessed foods
• Ask for emotional support from a social worker, counselor or therapist


Seek Help


If applicable, contact a trusted person in your life, or a healthcare provider, to help reduce your alcohol use. As stated above, talk therapy is another outlet to get support,
as well as help teach healthy coping skills for self-care and stress management.
Please visit our Auxo Medical blog every month to stay current on relevant matters in
healthcare

Navigating Safety for Children During the Pandemic

While more adults have been sick with COVID-19 compared to children, kiddos can still become infected with the coronavirus, face illness, as well as disseminate the virus to others. They can be affected by inhaling droplets (from the coughs or sneezes) of infected individuals. While infection through contaminated surfaces is a possibility, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have noted that this transmission isn’t as likely. Children and adults alike who possess COVID-19, albeit indicate no symptoms (known as “asymptomatic”) are still capable of spreading the virus to others.

Recently, the CDC recommended that children 12 years of age and older should receive the COVID-19 vaccine, produced by Pfizer-BioNTech. However, that still leaves children younger than 12 vulnerable and susceptible to transmitting the virus.

Below we highlighted areas where you’ll want to be cognizant of making prudent choices when it comes to safe activities for your children during the remainder of pandemic.

Playgrounds

Generally speaking, playgrounds may appear as a relatively safe activity during the pandemic. However, there are some complicated components to consider when visiting public parks with youngsters.

Dr. Ada Stewart, a family physician with Cooperative Health in South Carolina, and the president of the American Academy of Family Physicians explained that playgrounds are, “A great opportunity to get families together and be outside and enjoy, but do so in a safe way.” 

Dr. Leana Wen, a CNN Medical Analyst, and emergency physician, cautioned caretakers to, “Avoid (indoor playgrounds) for the time being because all the individuals there, the children, are not going to be vaccinated. Outdoor playgrounds are actually very safe.”

Dr. Wen continued, ”However, if a large group of kids come over to the same piece of equipment that my son is on and they’re not wearing masks, I would pull him at that point.”

Another facet to think about is that kids usually aren’t as hygienic and cautious as adults typically are. Although there is an extremely low rate of surface transmission, particularly among the youngest children, they are known to frequently put their hands in their mouths. In this case, not only could COVID-19 be transmitted, but so could other organisms via high-touch surfaces.

Youth Sports

If your child is taking part in youth sports this summer, while the pandemic is still very much relevant, consider these measures in an effort to lower the risk of spreading the virus.

• Ensure that the sports and recreation activities your kids will participate in are approved by local and state government.

• Familiarize yourself with current safety rules for participation during the pandemic, and communicate them with your child.

• All athletes should turn in an updated sports physical before they participate in practices and games.

• All children involved within the athletics should wear their own face mask, towel and water bottles, as well as diligently use hand sanitizer.

Before practice or games, athletes should:

• Stay home if they’re feeling ill, or have any symptoms of COVID-19. If their pediatrician recommends it, they should also get a test.

• Cleanse with soap and water, or sanitize hands prior to arrival.

• Avoid gathering in large groups before the activity begins, and maintain social distancing when possible.

Schools

Just this week, the CDC recommended continued use of face masks and maintaining physical distancing at schools in the United States. Students from kindergarten through grade 12 should follow these guidelines through the remainder of the 2021 school year.

The C.D.C. director, Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky, said during a media interview, “Our school guidance to complete the school year will not change.”

Stay tuned for our upcoming Auxo Medical blog post where we will explore how alcohol consumption has played a role during the pandemic.

The Cost of COVID-19 Vaccinations

At the end of 2020, biotech companies such as Moderna and Pfizer, obtained emer- gency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to administer COVID-19 vaccinations. These vaccines are reportedly more than 94% effective in warding off the novel virus, as well as lowering serious side effects.

As of April 2021, more than 230 million doses have been given, and over 96 million people are fully vaccinated in the United States. Until recently, the majority of vaccines were prioritized to frontline workers, and people 65 years of age and older. President Joe Biden moved up the eligibility target for all American adults to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, but many states around the country had already opened up criteria that anyone over the age of 16 is eligible to receive the vaccine.

Who is Paying for the Vaccinations?

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Service Training Course – June 14th – 18th

Mark your calendar! This Spring, Auxo Medical will be offering a Steris Sterilizer and Washer/Disinfector service training course!

The course will be offered June 14th – 18th 2021 at Auxo Medical in Richmond, VA.

June 14th – 18th 2021 – Steris Small Stage 3 Series Sterilizers for 2 days (3013, 3023, & Gravity units)

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AlgoMedica and AUXO Medical Announce Partnership to Expand Access to PixelShine®

AlgoMedica, Inc., the developer of PixelShine®, is pleased to
announce they have signed a distribution agreement with AUXO Medical, a reseller of
refurbished and reconditioned medical equipment that sells through their direct sales force
and a partnership with McKesson. AUXO Medical will sell and service the PixelShine AI solution
throughout the US.

PixelShine from AlgoMedica is a new deep learning CT scan processing software that overcomes
the limitations of standard Iterative Reconstruction techniques. It automatically improves the
quality of any CT scan by reducing image noise without reducing the conspicuity of fine details
or changing the appearance of the image, even for ultra-low dose studies. PixelShine improves
the image quality of CT studies acquired at any dose level, such that lower dose scanning is
possible for all CT studies. In addition, because PixelShine is vendor neutral it can harmonize
image quality across the healthcare enterprise the benefit of radiologist productivity.
“We look forward to leveraging AUXO Medicals strong regional relationships and their deep
understanding appreciation good customer service and technical know-how in the refurbished
CT market.” explains Mikael Strindlund, CEO of AlgoMedica Inc.

PixelShine from AlgoMedica can provide a number of benefits:
• Harmonize image quality across all CT scanners within an organization
• Dramatically improved image quality of low dose screening and pediatric studies
• Enables increased radiologist diagnostic confidence
• Facilitates greater use of thin slice imaging
• Extends the clinical utility of older CT scanners

Auxo Medical is extremely excited about the partnership with PixelShine. Greater image quality
at lower doses is something that we feel parallels the healthcare industry’s emphasis on patient
safety while observing cost reductions, explains Jay Crabtree, CEO, AUXO Medical.
About PixelShine from AlgoMedica PixelShine by Algomedica was developed using machine learning. It can improve the quality of any CT exam by reducing the inherent image noise during the image reconstruction process.
This is particularly applicable to ultra-low dose CT scanning applications such as lung screening.
Pixelshine empowers healthcare providers to acquire high-quality CT scans using substantially
lower radiation dose. PixelShine is vendor agnostic and can enhance the quality of noisy CT
scans acquired by all types of CT scanners, including older and refurbished models. PixelShine is
fast, requires no user interaction and can be remotely installed. Learn more at
www.algomedica.com

About AUXO Medical
Auxo Medical, LLC is a national medical equipment supplier and repair service provider that
specializes in new and refurbished value-based medical equipment solutions. With the addition
of nationwide service locations, Auxo Medical provides the personal support most expect from
a local business, but with several of the efficiencies of larger suppliers. The company regularly
works with healthcare systems, outpatient imaging centers, ambulatory surgery centers,
laboratories, Veterans Affairs, private physician practices, and more. Learn more at
auxomedical.com.

Contact Information:
AlgoMedica, Inc.
Mikael Strindlund
516-448-3124
Mikael.strindlund@algomedica.com
Media Inquiries:
Algomedica, Inc.
Dean Kaufman
Dean.kaufman@algomedica.com
Sales:
AUXO Medical
Tanner Seese
804-233-4424
tseese@auxomedical.com

COVID-19 Vaccine Development & Tracking

For more than a year, the swift spread of a novel COVID-19 virus, has made its way around the globe. While there are non-pharmaceutical tools that are pivotal in slowing the spread, such as wearing face masks and practicing social distancing, vaccines appear to be the foundation of long-term defensive interventions in order to get our communities back to some semblance of normalcy again. 

Every year, vaccines are responsible for saving millions of lives, according to the WHO (World Health Organization). In short, vaccines enable the body’s immune system to recognize and battle viruses. Once vaccinated, if certain bacterias infiltrate the body, then the immune system is equipped to kill the germs in an effort to prevent illness. 

SARS-CoV-2 Vaccines in Development 

The dire need for successful vaccines has propelled research developers to acutely focus on COVID-19, which led to an accelerated pipeline of preclinical candidates as well as the vaccine development itself. 

As of April 2021, there have been at least seven COVID-19 vaccines distributed in countries across multiple platforms. Currently, more than 80 additional vaccine candi-dates are in development, and over 180 are in pre-clinical development. 

Due to the astounding global response and the extraordinary quantity and pace of re-search to develop an effective vaccine, a vaccine tracker was created and is hosted by the Vaccine Centre. It is an interactive, user-friendly tool that is accessible online. Launched one year ago in April of 2020, the goal is to collect updated data on all COVID-19 vaccine contenders, from the beginning steps to final execution. 

This transparent tool allows both the public as well as researchers the ability to stay ap-prised of the latest information, and is updated on a weekly basis. The insights include preclinical and clinical candidates. 

Vaccine Key Metrics & Execution 

The vaccine tracker includes important metrics of both trials that are actively underway, as well as those that are in pre-planning phases. Its database features a variety of de-tails such as the size and location of the study, randomization, and the recruitment standing of registered vaccine trials in humans for COVID-19. Once a week, a clinical trial database from the US National Institutes of Health, as well as the WHO landscape pinpoints newly registered and/or updated protocols.

In addition to the preclinical and clinical candidate vaccine tracking, there is also a fea-ture that captures data on storage requirement, forecasts for manufacturing the vaccine, and approval status by the FDA. For each projected vaccine, countries who plan on dis-tributing it along with their statistics are included in the tracker. As the vaccine develop-ment gets underway, the tracker outlines the roll-out stages and execution steps. 

The expeditious progression in developing the COVID-19 vaccine is evidence of the commitment and ingenuity of research experts, as well as the general public’s trustwor-thiness who agreed to participate in clinical studies. There have been nearly 700,000 people from around the world who are actively in, or plan to be a part of these studies. In order for the trials’ assessments to have full efficacy and safety, there must be vitreous information throughout the entire process. 

Consequences of continuing vaccine delivery for the COVID-19 virus will play an im-portant role in providing credibility and belief concerning vaccination now, and in the fu-ture. While proven vaccines will be a staple for protecting the public, people should con-tinue to wear face masks, social distance, and stay away from large crowds 

for the indefinite future. 

Stay tuned for an upcoming Auxo Medical blog post where we’ll discuss the cost of COVID-19 vaccinations.

Thank You Med Professionals

10 WAYS TO SUPPORT HEALTHCARE HEROES

Here are 10 ways that you can pay it forward:

Working in the healthcare industry can be quite gratifying — helping people feel better who are suffering, comforting the patient’s concerned family members and friends, and making a difference to the most vulnerable population. On the other hand, being a front-line medical worker is known to be stressful, as well as emotionally and physically taxing. These ‘healthcare heroes’ including nurses, technicians, physicians, and therapists, are encountering additional challenges due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Supporting our medical frontline workers is essential as we have now surpassed a full calendar year fighting COVID-19.

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How Medical Students are Learning in the Pandemic

How Medical Students are Learning in the Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic was a radical disruption to life as we once knew it. However, the pandemic will also be earmarked as a transformative time for evolving medical education.

The rapid public health response to the pandemic demanded changes in delivering medical education. These course corrections magnified the necessity to broaden the scope of expertise among physicians and physicians-in-training across the United States.

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