Tag Archives: Pharmacy

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Trends expected to accelerate in the biopharma industry

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As eco-consumerism rises, individuals call for higher sustainability standards in the medical industry. Research and development are booming, and in the process, are generating surface-level and atmospheric waste. The new COVID-19 delta variant presents challenges for President Biden’s national carbon neutrality goals.

Environmental and medical scientists work together, sourcing solutions to rising case numbers and climate change. New advancements present an increase in human health and safety with a reduction in ecological effects.

Before evaluating the trends, we must examine the industry’s sustainability challenges.

Biopharma and the Environment

The biopharma industry utilizes biotechnology, generating medical drugs for healing. Biopharmaceuticals are antibodies and nucleic acids, like RNA and DNA. The high demand for these products pushes manufacturers and distributors to increase production efforts.

As production demands increase, companies must develop vast quantities of pharmaceuticals quickly and efficiently. The manufacturing drive leads businesses to utilize fossil fuel-derived energy. Conventional power sources are more accessible than sustainable alternatives, like solar or wind.

During combustion, fossil fuels generate an enhanced greenhouse effect. Their reaction alters Earth’s natural atmospheric composition, disrupting the natural temperature control process. The atmosphere organically absorbs sunlight, creates heat, warms the surface, and emits excess energy to space.

But when greenhouse gases invade the atmosphere, they increase heat production. The pollutants also trap excess energy on the planet, generating more warmth. Over time, the entrapment of heat increases the global temperature.

The rising temperatures caused by unsustainable energy sourcing generates harsh effects, disrupting biopharma production. A significant impact of climate change is the increased evaporation rate. As the planet warms, the water levels of lakes, reservoirs, and rivers drop.

The biopharma industry requires vast quantities of purified water. Without a reliable and plentiful source, our access to vaccines may dwindle. Limited medical aid may cause a severe threat to society’s health.

Additionally, the industry contributes to the global plastic pollution crisis. The inadequate disposal of medical equipment by biopharma companies generates surface-level and marine waste. Some 29 million tons of plastic could inhabit the ocean in total by 2040.

Without intervention, aquatic species will go extinct, and our global ecosystem will suffer. Fortunately, environmental researchers are developing sustainable procedures for biopharma companies to follow. Various trends are rising in the industry, decreasing the ecological degradation associated with production and distribution.

Renewable Energy-Powered Production

Novo Nordisk is a biopharmaceutical company in Denmark that’s working to shrink its carbon footprint. They are one of the few organizations that are committed to the RE100 climate initiative. The company set an ambitious sustainability goal by sourcing 100% clean energy.

Other biopharma organizations viewed Novo’s efforts and set similar sustainability standards. Johnson & Johnson established their eco-conscious goal by pledging to utilize 100% renewable power by 2050. The transition could significantly decrease the emissions associated with production and manufacturing.

Water Reuse

Another up-and-coming biopharma trend will decrease water scarcity by conserving resources. The industry is water-intensive, especially when it comes to vaccine production. Companies may utilize current technology, increasing the sustainability of their practices.

Vaccine manufacturers source purified water through reverse osmosis. They can use the same process to repurpose non-potable water for medicine. Companies can utilize their access to technology and filter resources that are not drinkable in their original states, like greywater and saltwater.

Repurposing water significantly increases access to freshwater for drinking and manufacturing essential products. As the evaporation rate rises, we must conserve the water we have left and use it wisely.

Material Recycling

The biopharma industry relies on single-use materials for manufacturing and distribution purposes. Disposable products save companies time and effort, helping them focus on the health of individuals. Unfortunately, they generate a significant quantity of waste when following the single-use model.

Environmental engineers and scientists search for sustainable alternatives to waste-producing materials. Fortunately, we can recycle a portion of the waste, creating new supplies. Though researchers have yet to repurpose products within the industry, they have developed unique solutions.

One organization is turning single-use plastic from the biopharma industry into synthetic lumber for construction. We can prevent further damage from deforestation and marine plastic pollution when repurposing waste. Professionals expect further technological advancement in the material recycling sector, helping eliminate adverse environmental effects.

A Sustainable Future

We can ensure the sustainability of biopharmaceutical production and distribution in the future by voting for change. You can also talk to your local government officials about increasing waste regulations in the health care industry to decrease surface-level and marine pollution.

Additionally, you can financially support eco-conscious companies over the alternatives and help increase the demand for sustainable goods.

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How to buy beauty: Here’s how to shop all 7 categories

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December is an exciting and festive time of year filled with wonderful buying opportunities in the beauty space. With so many amazing promotions, gift sets and sales, how does one decide where to even start?

When you are shopping for yourself or those lucky recipients on your list, focus on the seven beauty categories.

1. Skin care

Shopping for skin care is always fun, and with so many incredible brands, it’s hard to choose what to put in your cart. It’s much easier to buy for yourself then it is for others because skin conditions vary so much, person to person.

However, safe bets when it comes to gifting skincare are ancillary products like face masks, scrubs, patches, lip balms, peel pads and facial mists. These products are usually suited for a wide range of skin types and conditions and are not usually part of an individual’s core AM/PM routine. This way, your recipient can add these products into their existing product lineup at their own pace without knocking their skin off balance in anyway.

2. Body care

When it comes to gifting a beauty home run, body care products are definitely the way to go. Most anyone can benefit from body scrubs, moisturizing body butters, foot smoothing products, hand lotions and shower gel.

These are perfect to pamper, smooth and moisturize some of the most neglected areas of the body and come in super handy during the cold, dry winter months. Plus, we all need some extra TLC right now, so you really can’t go wrong. When in doubt, body care products can be bundled in a basket with a spa robe or set of Turkish towels and you are giving a spa day gift that will keep on giving well into the new year.

3. Makeup

Makeup, like skincare, can be a tricky gift to give. Makeup color selections are usually customized to the person wearing them. Skin tone and undertones, as well as eye and hair color must all be considered. However, if you have a makeup addict on your list, then don’t be dissuaded from providing an awesome gift.

The great thing about the holiday season is the plethora of curated sets on offer. So, while you will want to avoid gifting foundations and concealers, for example, don’t hesitate to pick up a selection of lipsticks, lip glosses or eyeliners. And of course, bronzers, blushes and highlighter are always a huge hit. Keep an eye out for some awesome palettes as well that contain a full face of makeup option in one handy compact. That’s definitely going to make your makeup-loving friend or family member smile!

4. Hair care

Hair care is a wonderful category for gift giving as it is a bit more unexpected but always appreciated. If you have a traveler or gym-goer in your life then those smaller, travel-friendly sizes will be a fantastic present for them to receive.

Other ways to shop hair care include hair masks, styling products, heat tools, hair serums, scalp scrubs, beard oils, and accessories like towels and wraps. Hair care products make wonderful gifts and will surely be used and enjoyed for many months.

5. Nail care

If you know that your recipient loves a good manicure and/or pedicure, then be sure to stuff their stocking with fun and colorful nail products. Nail care products and accessories are in demand because so many of us are doing our nails at home instead of going out to nail salons, etc.

So, in light of this, nail polish, nail polish strips, hand lotions and scrubs and some awesome files or pumice stones will be a huge hit this holiday season. You can even think about creating a bundle of nail care products for an at-home manicure/pedicure set. Throw in some flip-flops, cotton gloves and some bath salts into a decorative foot basin. Who wouldn’t want that?

6. Fragrance

If there’s one thing for sure, all the major fragrance brands put out some beautiful gift sets this time of year. If you have a loved one that wears a specific fragrance then don’t hesitate to buy them a set with their favorite fragrance, body lotion and shower gel, for example.

If you’re unsure of the preferences of the fragrance lover in your life, then think about gifting them a sample or discovery set. These sets will normally contain sample or travel sizes of multiple fragrances and are really interactive and fun for the recipient to explore.

Fragrance is a wonderful category to give this year, especially because so many retail locations have taken down their tester displays. Your gift will delight and help your loved one find their next favorite scent.

7. Tools, devices, accessories

Beauty has certainly gone high tech and now, with the right tools and accessories, we can take care of our skin really well at home. In light of this, practically anyone on your list will be ecstatic with a state-of-the-art beauty tool.

Some of my favorites to give are silicone cleansing brushes because they help to deeply clean and regenerate the skin. Handheld microcurrent devices are an absolute asset to any beauty-loving holiday gift recipient to give their skin a lift and glow. If you have someone on your list who complains of wrinkles or acne, consider giving an at-home LED mask or hand-held tool. These are the kinds of gifts that keep on giving and will be appreciated for years to come.

Take my advice and shop all seven beauty categories this holiday season. By keeping these categories in mind, you are sure to find something for just about everyone on your list. Skip the boring bottle of wine or fruitcake and explore all the amazing options available in the beauty space now!

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6 ways to finish strong at your spa in 2020

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With Thanksgiving and the holiday season just days away, it’s time to make a plan to finish your year strong at your spa or medspa. We’ve experienced a year of ups and downs, and it has certainly shown us that with planning, tenacity and a lot of patience we can continue to do the work that we love.

Follow my six tips below to finish 2020 on top and start the new year off right with some fun and festive ideas.

1. Customer appreciation is what the holiday season is about.

If this year has taught us anything, it’s that you don’t have a successful spa business without your clients! Think of this holiday season as a way to give back and give thanks to all the clients who have supported your spa business during this unprecedented year.

Brainstorm with your staff and think of some fun and creative ways you can give back to your clients and community right now. Perhaps you’d like to support a charity or local organization that a few of your clients are involved with. Maybe you’d like to start a collection for a food drive or gifts for the local children’s hospital and offer a discount to clients who donate.

You may also want to consider running a customer appreciation holiday sale on select services and products. There are so many fun and engaging ways you can say thank you to your clients and this year it is needed more than ever.

2. Create awesome retail promos.

Make your retail shelves enticing to your clients and promote exciting sales via your email newsletter, website and social media platforms. Maybe you can consider creating an incentive for customers to bundle multiple products via a gift with purchase or a discount.

Arrange some festive displays that show creative gifting options so your clients can one-stop-shop for all their friends and family, right at your spa. Categorize retail offerings by price point so clients can grab gifts and stocking stuffers quickly and easily. Offer a gift-wrapping service or festive holiday gift bags when clients reach a certain spending threshold.

Selling retail is a wonderful way to boost revenue and strengthen your connection to your clients by fulfilling their shopping and skincare needs this holiday season.

3. Supporting local means supporting you.

There is a big push right now to support local, small businesses. Don’t forget that that means you! Many customers want to avoid large crowds and big stores and will prefer to shop in their neighborhoods. Think about creating some awesome Black Friday deals that can be ordered online, via phone and curbside pickup.

You can even invite clients to make an appointment to come in and shop at your spa with a special discount or free gift. Create some attractive pre-wrapped gift baskets that clients can pick up as a last-minute gift or hostess present. Offer discounts to neighboring businesses and ask if you can promote your business within theirs and vice versa. Let your clients know how much it means to you that they are supporting your small business and they will reciprocate.

4. Work with your vendors to create irresistible offerings.

As I always say, call your product and equipment vendors and see how they can help! You never know what products, ideas or exciting events they may be able to contribute to your holiday season at the spa.

Sometimes vendors are able to gift products to you that you can pass on to your clients. Other times, they can donate equipment, tools or enhance your retail displays. Maybe you’d like to run a contest for a giveaway that your vendor can provide assets for; the sky is the limit here. Just be sure to ask!

5. Offer free service upgrades to fill your schedule.

Nothing gets your clients coming in the door like a freebie! Freebies can include a complimentary service upgrade, a free product or extra time. The point is: as soon as clients hear “free” they are going to book with you ASAP! You may be thinking that giving things away will hurt your bottom line in some way, but if you do it correctly it really doesn’t.

To explain, if you have overstock of a certain chemical peel solution, hand lotion, or a hydrating mask you can add on a free peel treatment, hand massage upgrade or mask without it breaking the bank. Or, if your client is already getting a facial massage or microdermabrasion, you can offer to add on an area or give more time to the treatment. This costs virtually nothing, but it translates to more pampering and greater results for your clients; win-win! Giveaways like these will cost you very little but will be a huge value-add for your clients to entice them to come in for treatments and fill your books!

6. Virtual holiday parties and giveaways.

If you’ve done holiday parties and events at your spa, in the past, then you know how fun they can be. This year is a little different, but it doesn’t mean that you can’t host these parties in another way. Many spas are having a ton of success holding virtual happy hours, meetings and parties — so why not organize one, too?

Clients will be thrilled to support you from the comfort of their homes and join in on the fun. Send out invites via email and encourage an RSVP. You can chat about topics in skincare and offer prizes, discounts and giveaways for attendance to your event. Not to mention, clients will be so happy to reconnect with you and your staff in a safe, memorable and engaging way.

Before you know it, this year will be over. Start planning how you will end the year on a high note right now. Consider things you can do to engage in client appreciation, promote retail sales, support local (that’s you), collaborate with vendors, offer free upgrades and plan virtual events. These fun and celebratory promotions will boost morale and your revenues so you can finish the year strong!

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For public health, a momentous collision and missed opportunities

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The COVID-19 pandemic took a new and surprising turn as October began when the President of the United States tested positive for the virus, as did many of his associates and direct contacts. At a volatile time during a highly charged election cycle, more than 1 million dead worldwide, and a mounting number of infections in countries around the world, the collision of this novel coronavirus with the leader of what some dub “the only superpower on earth” is one that cannot be brushed aside.

Can this direct meeting of the virus and such an influential leader deliver an outcome other than more missed opportunities and misinformation?

“Don’t Be Afraid of COVID”

Discharged from Walter Reed Army Medical Center after four hospitalized nights, the President quickly tweeted, “Don’t be afraid of COVID. Don’t let it dominate your life.” One might imagine those 11 words sending chills down the spines of healthcare providers, infectious disease specialists, and public health experts who were likely hoping for a humbler, more unifying message to be delivered to the American public after their highest elected leader’s close brush with this existential enemy.

In the face of a new surge of cases nationwide amidst the oncoming flu season, we are indeed preparing for all eventualities, and this presidential missive was an extremely unfortunate, poorly timed, and potentially highly deleterious miscalculation.

Fear of COVID-19 is, for all intents and purposes, a healthy fear, especially as the numbers of sick and dead continue to expand. A lack of unified messaging has been the United States’ tragic Achilles’ heel since the virus reached our shores, as has the politicization of mask-wearing and the mocking of the practice when citizens truly need to be encouraged to follow clear guidelines backed by irrefutable evidence.

Fear of the coronavirus and the potential for death can galvanize thoughtful citizens to do their due diligence by wearing masks, practicing social distancing, traveling only when essential, limiting close interaction to select family members and/or friends, and otherwise being prudent vis-à-vis avoiding contracting and spreading the virus.

When politicians and other figures of influence sow confusion, stoke mistrust in science, and undermine the efforts of those working tirelessly in the fields of science, medicine, and public health, a different kind of fear sets in: the fear, on the part of those who understand the science, that their work to protect public safety will continue to be hampered, if not crippled.

When Intelligence Trumps Ignorance

The willful encouragement of ignorance leads to misdirected anger, suspicion, and groupthink that directly oppose the judicious employment of intelligence and facts. And when elected leaders choose to fan the flames of ignorance and suspicion in the face of an existential threat such as this virus, this cavalier dismissiveness spreads like necrotic tissue. Something is indeed rotten in Denmark, as Marcellus utters in “Hamlet,” and the peddling of misinformation and dismissive attitudes towards our viral common enemy is endangerment of the highest order.

We all have an enormous responsibility to do our part in this all-out war on the novel coronavirus that has a consistently tenacious and universal hold on humanity. Countless citizens and public servants of all stripes will most certainly fall on the right side of history by using science, facts, and innate intelligence as their guide to making judicious choices, engaging in sensible behavior, and working as part of a united front that will, in the end, overcome the ravages of this pandemic and excise the aforementioned necrosis of ignorance.

Intelligence must trump ignorance in the end, and if a collision with the virus itself cannot change the irresponsible behavior of those in power, then power must be shifted so that reason can once again rule the day.

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The power of curiosity and critical thinking in healthcare

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In healthcare, thinking critically is central to successful outcomes. In research, education, and other avenues of inquiry, it is the ability to examine a situation from as many angles as possible that drives innovation forward.

Simultaneously, curiosity is a key factor in the unlocking of potential solutions. Curiosity is one driver of critical thinking, and the aptitude for thinking critically can lead to a never-ending positive feedback loop of discovery.

Critical Thinking and Curiosity: Essential Skills

A 2014 article published on the website of the National Library of Medicine states that for nursing students to think critically, they must “develop independence of thought, fairness, perspicacity [at the] personal and social level, humility, spiritual courage, integrity, perseverance, self-confidence, interest in research, and curiosity.”

The article continues:

The Socratic Method, where the question and the answer are sought, is a technique in which one can investigate below the surface, recognize and examine the condition, look for the consequences, investigate the multiple data views and distinguish between what one knows and what he simply believes.”

We note that curiosity is mentioned as a key characteristic in the development of critical thinking, and that looking “below the surface” can lead to novel insights.

In a Harvard Business Review article entitled “Why Curiosity Matters,” author Francesca Gino writes, “The impulse to seek new information and experiences and explore novel possibilities is a basic human attribute.” She adds, “When our curiosity is triggered, we think more deeply and rationally about decisions and come up with more-creative solutions.”

No salient argument can be made against critical thinking and curiosity being essential in the minds of those pursuing the advancement of knowledge. What impact do the above-named characteristics have in breeding such abilities?

The Critical Thinking Muscle

Circling back to the 2014 article referenced above, we recognize that independence of thought is central to the development of critical thinking, as are other attributes. Let’s examine each in turn.

Independence of thought: When a clinician has independence of thought, they are not easily swayed by the herd mentality. An independent thinker might notice colleagues saying, “That’s the way we’ve always done it,” but will be curious why no one else has asked, “But why?” Going against groupthink, the independent thinker pursues creative solutions.

Fairness: Using fairness as a barometer, the independent critical thinker gives each possibility equal attention, withholding judgment and seeing possibilities without bias.

Perspicacity at the personal and social level: Perspicacity manifests as discernment and clear-sightedness. The perspicacious critical thinker sees his or her work in the context of their own lives and the greater society. This portends pulling the metaphorical camera back and seeing the bigger picture.

Humility: Hubris can be the death of good clinical practice. Feeling that one cannot possibly be wrong can be the utter downfall of a clinician’s ability to make prudent decisions. Humility is the ability to say, “I don’t know” or “I was mistaken.” Without humility, critical thinking withers on the vine.

Spiritual courage: Spirituality doesn’t necessarily reflect religious belief. Rather, spiritual courage means seeing deeply into the human condition, the larger forces at play, and the aspects of human frailty that make life simultaneously so precious and so tenuous.

Integrity: With integrity, a sense of honor pervades the individual’s practice. Having integrity points to honesty, truthfulness, and decency.

Perseverance: Without perseverance, healthcare providers and patients alike cannot achieve optimal outcomes. A critical thinker perseveres and moves through perceived roadblocks to new realizations.

Self-confidence: Self-confidence is essential for the critical thinker to move into the unknown. Without self-confidence, we lean on what we already know and miss out on manifesting a new vision.

Interest in research: Research is critical thinking in action. Hypotheses are tested, rejected, retooled, and tested again. We must embrace this process in order to curiously explore.

The Winds of Innovation

These essential characteristics make critical thinkers who they are; thus, we must teach them, instill them in others, and nurture their development.

In an uncertain world, those who think critically with the power of the above-named characteristics as their engines can bring about great evolution of thought, and increased hope in a world so desperately in need.

We have the power to stretch, explore, and innovate. When we empower critical thinkers in curiously and fearlessly applying their minds and hearts to the task at hand, the door to potentially life-changing innovation is blown wide open. And when that door is open, the winds of innovation are welcomed into a world ready for novel insights that can improve health, save lives, and encourage even more innovation to take place in the interest of the greater good.

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How the election will affect manufacturing

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Manufacturing is a crucial issue for the 2020 election. According to a Morning Consult column, this was supposed to be the year of the manufacturing election. Both Biden and Trump have revealed plans to revive the economy and the manufacturing sector. The latter is directly proportional to the well-being of the former.

However, when Morning Consult made that prediction, in February, it had a robust and running industry in mind. But then came COVID-19 and lockdowns that brought entire industries to a halt. Yet, manufacturing remains a pivotal factor.

The Morning Consult column referenced a study finding that nine in 10 voters believe manufacturing is critical to economic revival. Months after the disruption wrought by COVID-19, those views are as strong as ever.

Each presidential candidate has proclaimed to bring about political and economic stability. To do so, they will have to overcome an unprecedented pandemic, usher in an era of domestic manufacturing jobs, and establish sound international trade policies.

Some of the key election issues for manufacturers are:

  • Creating and training a skilled workforce to match the digitization of the industry
  • Encouraging companies to invest in R&D with less red tape and tax credits
  • Help manufacturers navigate the complex international trading environment
  • Incentivize companies to digitize on their own like their international counterparts
  • Bring about digital transformation and agile supply chain resiliency
  • Immigration reform and employment-based visa categories to develop a diverse and talented workforce
  • Permanent pro-growth provisions in the tax code and continual assessment of the competitiveness of the U.S. tax system

Most local manufacturers want the next president to focus on coronavirus recovery. Next, they want to bridge the skills gap, workforce development, provide better healthcare, and fix aging infrastructure.

Diversifying the talent pipeline is essential to sustain the evolving manufacturing landscape. A study by Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute stated that the sector would need 4.6 million workers by 2028.

Both candidates plan to spend on infrastructure during the next four years. Improving aging infrastructure would benefit manufacturing to a certain extent.

Biden’s manufacturing plan involves tax credit for businesses that bring back manufacturing jobs by revitalizing a closed or existing factory. He also mentioned a penalty tax on foreign earnings. Trump announced a tax credit for companies that bring back jobs from China. He pledged no federal contracts for companies that outsource to China.

Economists agree the next administration has a crucial role to play in the future of U.S. manufacturing. Biden’s plans also include investing in vocational training. He is encouraging partnerships between employers and community colleges. The Trump administration is creating incentives for private-level apprenticeships.

One thing both candidates agree upon is the difficulty of maintaining a trade relationship with China. They are equally concerned about the rise of China as a formidable rival in trade. However, their approach to international trade is vastly different.

Trump likes to make discrete trade deals between smaller parties. Biden favors trade agreements where a coalition between the U.S. and a larger group of countries can be built. This would lead to more comprehensive trade rules. Economists feel that the coalition-based trade philosophy improves access for small manufacturers. They can bypass the complex web of trade relationships with each country this way.

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Study: Back-to-school strategies during the COVID-19 pandemic

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One of the most debated and important issues concerning coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is the reopening of schools. The health, safety, and well-being of students, teachers, staff, and their families are critical considerations in determining whether schools should reopen for in-person learning.

Until recently, it has been thought that children were spared by severe illness, and in the majority of cases, children infected with the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) only develop a mild illness; some are asymptomatic. One study looked at nearly 200 children who visited urgent care clinics or hospitals associated with Massachusetts General with suspected COVID-19, almost 50 of whom tested positive. Most of the children were not particularly ill, and only about half who tested positive had a fever.

While children represent only 9.1% of all cases in states reporting cases by age, over 406,000 children have tested positive for COVID-19 since the onset of the pandemic.However, 75,755 new child cases were reported from July 30 to August 7, 2020 (320,954 to 396,709), a 24% increase in child cases over two weeks.

A recent study shows that children carry high levels of the SARS-CoV-2 even without falling ill, which may impact the spread of the virus to others, especially those at high risk. The researchers also found that infected children younger than five years of age may carry up to 100 times as much of SARS-CoV-2 in their noses and throats as adults do, suggesting the possibility that the youngest children transmit the virus as much as other groups, even if they only develop mild to moderate illness.

One important strategy that school administrators can consider about opening schools is cohorting or forming pods, in which groups of students and sometimes teachers or staff stay together throughout the school day to minimize exposure. Ideally, students and staff within a cohort would only have physical proximity with others in the same cohort, which may help prevent the spread of the virus by limiting crossover of students, teachers, and staff. Since the virus is known to spread via respiratory droplets, it is important to address those features of schools that foster transmission, mainly, crowding.

Some schools that already reopened had to close within a week due to exposure to confirmed COVID-19 cases, indicating that detailed guidelines on both when to reopen and how to reopen are necessary.

A new study described a simple model that will help explore and understand variations in infection rates in both adults and children with different reopening approaches and criteria. The researchers based their analysis on an age-stratified assignment of all those in each school scenario into either 1, 2 or 3 groups. The age-based classification creates a cohort of adults and another of children. Each cohort is ascribed to homogeneous disease attributes.

Using a stratified Susceptible-Exposed-Infected-Removed model, they explored the influences of reduced class density, transmission mitigation (such as the use of masks, desk shields, frequent surface cleaning, or outdoor instruction), and viral detection on cumulative prevalence.

The aim of creating more than one cohort is to reduce student density in the classroom, thereby helping to analyze how re-opening at full capacity compares with re-opening at half-capacity with the remaining students continuing remote learning (parallel cohort strategy), or rotating cohorts between alternate weeks or three weeks. These are rotating cohorts.

The simulations in this study suggest that measures that reduce class density by rotating cohorts between in-person and online schooling are likely to have the greatest impact in reducing the spread of SARS-CoV-2 brought on by resuming in-person classroom instruction. The study model predicted that a combination of all three approaches will substantially reduce SARS-CoV-2 prevalence. The model also shows that reduction of class density and the implementation of rapid viral testing, even with imperfect detection, have greater impact than moderate measures for transmission mitigation.

According to the researchers, reducing the number or density of contacts produces a larger effect than diminishing the transmission rate per contact, findings that may help guide the public health policies regarding school reopenings.

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The 5 best practices COVID-19 has created for the spa industry

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It’s important to see how adapting to the challenges of a pandemic has actually strengthened our industry in many ways. Pat yourself on the back if you have had to make serious changes to your business; it hasn’t been easy, I know.

However, though it was hard at first, as time goes on, we become accustomed to these new and improved measures to keep our customers and staff safe during these novel and demanding times. And as a result, we should note the best practices that have evolved from this time and continue to practice them going forward.

1. Efficient flow of service.

One of the biggest benefits of limiting the number of people in your spa is that you have to be really efficient with your staff, scheduling and utilization of your physical space. Online and text message booking has freed up the phone lines in many cases.

Appointment times are set more generously to allow time for proper sanitation between clients. As a result, we are not overbooking clients and causing undesirable wait times and delays. In return, clients are honoring their appointment times more readily and realizing they cannot and shouldn’t be late for them.

We have new systems in place for physical distancing and we are communicating novel strategies for clients to adhere to, so they know they are safe. These are certainly excellent aspects to pursue going forward.

2. In-spa sanitation is the new norm.

Hand sanitizer stations at the entrances of your spa or salon is a fantastic best practice that has come out of this pandemic. Clients are enjoying the touchless soap dispensers and paper towel machines. Air purification equipment is a great add-on as well.

Requiring face coverings to protect the vulnerable population in your spa is also a huge plus. Encouraging hand washing and allowing clients to reschedule when they are ill is advantageous for the health and well-being of your facility. Estheticians and spa owners are becoming accustomed to using equipment like the face shields and disinfecting common areas throughout the day; it’s a great way to maintain a safe environment and keep germs at bay, pandemic or not.

3. Technicians are more protected.

By now, your skin care providers and estheticians are used to using the PPE required for their jobs. In fact, your staff may even feel more safe and secure using their face coverings, shields and gloves. Moreover, even if state and local health regulations do not require these measures in the future, it may not stop staff members from using them. Heightened sanitation procedures and PPE help staff feel confident about performing their duties; they know they are protecting themselves and the people around them. In a country where sanitation measures vary so much, state by state, this pandemic has raised the bar and allowed everyone to work on their A-game.

4. Quality of service improved.

Many spas have streamlined their spa menus; trimmed the fat, so to speak. Because time and space are of the essence, we now focus on offering our most popular and effective services. We are listening to what our clients actually need from us and we are delivering.

We are getting used to booking virtual appointments, whenever possible, to keep everyone safe. We are offering curbside pickup and online ordering, when possible, for retail products. We are working with vendors to offer great promotions and monthly specials. If anything, these unprecedented times have forced us to present our best selves and services to our community and clients.

5. More relaxing guest experience.

Have you noticed that your spa or medspa has become a more relaxed and tranquil place? Your clients are receiving more one-on-one attention and individual service. Many business owners are commenting that now that guests of clients are not permitted in the spa that their lobbies and waiting rooms are much more appealing.

Gone are the days of tagalongs and children filling your lobby or waiting room creating unneeded commotion and noise. While it may pose a slight inconvenience for your clients, we can see the many benefits of keeping visitors to a minimum at your spa.

Follow my expert advice and see that there are some brilliant best practices that have come from this challenging time. Increased efficiency in flow of service, better sanitation, safer working conditions, improved services and more relaxing guest experiences are benefits that will last. What benefits have you observed from this challenging time?

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How far can employers go with COVID-19 testing?

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The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has issued guidelines on COVID-19 testing in the workplace. While the guidelines say that employers can screen employees for COVID-19, they also contain parameters.

Per the EEOC, employers can conduct viral tests if specific conditions are met.

Generally speaking, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits mandatory medical tests of employees except for when the testing is “job related and consistent with business necessity.”

Regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, the EEOC says that employers can administer viral tests to employees before they enter the workplace, so as to determine whether they have COVID-19 — as an employee with the virus “will pose a direct threat to the health of others.” (Note that a viral test shows whether the individual currently has COVID-19.)

The ability to conduct viral testing for COVID-19 isn’t limited to employers covered by the ADA. “For all employers, regardless of size, viral testing for COVID-19 is permissible, provided it is job related,” said Molly DiBianca, employment attorney at Clark Hill PLC.

She added, “It would not be job related to require viral testing for employees who are working remotely and who have no in-person contact with coworkers, clients, or customers. However, if an employee will or may have in-person contact, viral testing is permissible provided it is done correctly.”

As stated by the EEOC, employers must make sure the tests are “accurate and reliable.” When deciphering what may or may not be safe and accurate testing, employers can refer to guidance from the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and other public health authorities.

Employers should also consider false-positives or false-negatives tied to a particular test, and that a negative test does not mean the employee won’t catch the virus later.

Temperature checks are permitted.

Pursuant to EEOC guidance, employers can require all employees to undergo daily temperature checks before entering the worksite. However, employers should remember that not everyone with a fever has COVID-19, and not everyone with COVID-19 has a fever.

When considering whether to implement temperature screenings for employees, employers should consider the logistics of managing the screening process,” said DiBianca. “The person designated to perform the temperature screening should be properly trained and must be provided with all necessary personal protective equipment, such as gloves and mask. Ideally, employers should conduct temperature checks in a private area, out of sight of other employees, and should keep the results confidential.”

DiBianca asserted that taking an employee’s temperature is considered a medical exam; so, the employer may not share the results of the test with persons who do not have a legitimate reason to know. Further, the results constitute private medical information and therefore may not be recorded in the employee’s personnel file.

Mandatory antibody testing is not permitted.

Whereas viral testing shows whether the individual currently has COVID-19, antibody testing might reveal whether they previously had the virus.

Under EEOC guidelines, antibody testing for COVID-19 is a medical exam that is not “job related and consistent with business necessity.” Therefore, ADA-covered employers should not require COVID-19 antibody testing.

As for employers not covered by the ADA — meaning, those with fewer than 15 employees — they, too, should proceed with caution.

“Employers with fewer than 15 employees still may be subject to a state anti-discrimination statute, which, like the ADA, limits the use of mandatory medical inquiries and exams,” said DiBianca.

She suggested that very small employers who are not subject to the ADA or a state-law equivalent could have more flexibility when considering whether to implement antibody testing.

However, for most employers, antibody testing is off limits. Per DiBianca, “The EEOC has made clear that antibody testing is not a job-related medical exam and is therefore prohibited under federal law.”

There’s also the tricky matter of employers being subject to federal and state or local COVID-19 testing rules.

DiBianca explained that most employers will be subject to federal and/or state anti-disability discrimination laws, which impose restrictions on when and how COVID-19 testing may be performed. Adding to the potential confusion are state and local laws and executive orders.

As a general rule, federal, state, and/or local laws that do not conflict with one another must all be followed,” said DiBianca. “Where a federal and state or local law do conflict, generally the federal law will prevail. Thus, if a county ordinance requires that all employees over 65 be tested for COVID-19 prior to returning to the physical workplace, federal law, which prohibits discrimination based solely on age, would take precedence.”

Precise application of conflicting employment laws is essential to compliance, but it can be difficult to achieve without proper guidance. The same goes for adopting workplace COVID-19 testing policies and procedures. In both scenarios, employers should consider consulting with an experienced employment attorney.

Also important is staying on top of developments (on COVID-19 testing) from the EEOC, FDA, CDC, and other public health authorities.

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Manufacturers poised to scale up production when COVID-19 vaccine arrives

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Drug manufacturers are under immense pressure to develop the COVID-19 vaccine. Now, they think that they can master a process that typically takes years by producing a vaccine in months.

These companies have already received millions of dollars in funding to scale up manufacturing capacity. But many in the medical community are worried about this type of guarantee.

Challenges ahead

While the news of early successes in vaccine trials has given us hope, COVID-19 vaccine developers face the biggest challenge of their lives. Developing the vaccine in record time and distributing it to the masses amidst quarantines and global travel restrictions will be tough.

Parameters like inventing new kinds of vials and syringes to administer billions of doses, avoiding hurdles in an untested supply chain, and managing extreme storage conditions have to be considered. But if companies can overcome these challenges, pharma manufacturers will be successful in pulling off the most significant medical manufacturing feat in history.

Some experts say that the first phase of production may vaccinate 60% of the world’s population.

Inherent risks

Since vaccines have never been developed at this scale before, filling capacity could be the main limiting factor. Companies and governments are scaling up their machinery to address these critical shortages. This unprecedented scale of manufacturing also means that scientists need to find out whether a vaccine works fast so that production in bulk can begin immediately.

There is also a risk that most coronavirus vaccines under development may fail. While stopping the spread of the COVID-19 virus is imperative, manufacturers are risking millions for a yet-untested vaccine. They are scrambling to get their hands on any available capacity and signing up with multiple manufacturing partners across the globe.

Efforts by the key players

  • Emergent is working on four vaccines in parallel. It is experimenting by making it easier to switch from one vaccine to another with single-use disposable bioreactor equipment that features plastic bags rather than stainless steel fermentation equipment.
  • Moderna is experimenting on new ways to mitigate the extreme cold storage demands of its vaccines.
  • SiO2 Materials Science is working on producing shatterproof vials that can resist super-cold temperatures.
  • Johnson & Johnson is dealing with travel restrictions to send its vaccine experts to oversee the launch of production sites.
  • Catalent is focusing on high-speed production of vial-filling and packaging services to handle millions of doses.
  • Pfizer and BioNTech plan to start Phase 3 testing so that they can produce up to 100 million doses by the end of 2020 and 1.2 billion doses by 2021 for global distribution.
  • Novavax‘s vaccine combines its proprietary Matrix-M adjuvant with an antigen generated from the virus’ spike protein. The early data results will help scientists determine the safety, immunity, and disease reduction to move on to the next phase.
  • AstraZeneca announced that it could produce up to 2 billion doses of AZD1222, the University of Oxford’s adenovirus-based COVID-19 shot. It also plans to provide 1 billion doses of the vaccine to low- and middle-income countries.

The U.S. government has invested billions into the Warp Speed initiative to kickstart active COVID-19 vaccine production. Multiple vaccine makers are working at getting legal and administrative approval and begin production with federal backing. The government hopes to make a selection and helps start the production within the next six weeks.

Cautiously optimistic

Vaccine manufacturing is an inherently risky venture. A manufacturing facility is set up only when the clinical data is proven to be safe and effective.

Despite the enormous financial risks stated by experts, finding a vaccine provides hope for the world.

If any of these efforts are successful, it will halt the spread of the deadly virus, which has killed over 650,000 people worldwide and sickened more than 16 million. Economies can reopen, and work and school can resume. Individuals concerned that this race to produce vaccines will upend the traditional drug development process have only to look at the rushing numbers again to see why we need this speedy process.

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