Showing posts with label How To. Show all posts
Showing posts with label How To. Show all posts

18 May 2021

Generation Gamble? Survey Shows Canadian Millennials More Willing To Engage In Bidding Wars To Get Their Dream Home

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Generation gamble? Survey Shows Canadian Millennials More Willing To Engage In Bidding Wars To Get Their Dream Home
Generation gamble? Survey Shows Canadian Millennials More Willing To Engage In Bidding Wars To Get Their Dream Home (Photo by Andrea Piacquadio)
According to a recent real estate survey commissioned on behalf of TD, one-third of Canadians surveyed (32 per cent), are willing to take part in a bidding war in order to secure their dream home, as housing prices continue to soar in many markets across the country.
  • Interestingly, the TD survey also reveals that a homebuyer's willingness to offer above asking typically varies with age. More than half (51 per cent) of young adults under 35 are prepared to offer above list price, while fewer than one-third (31 per cent) of respondents between 35 and 54, and just 18 per cent of those 55 and older, are willing to do the same.
The TD 2021 Real Estate survey results arrive alongside proposed government changes to the qualifying rates for uninsured mortgage loans. If implemented, the guidelines would require borrowers to qualify at their mortgage contract rate plus two percentage points, or 5.25 per cent, whichever is higher. As housing prices across the country continue to rise, the change is designed to help buyers avoid over-extending themselves. It also underscores the need for advice along every stage of the homebuying process – but particularly when it comes to affordability.

Generation gamble? Survey Shows Canadian Millennials More Willing To Engage In Bidding Wars To Get Their Dream Home
Generation gamble? Survey Shows Canadian Millennials More Willing To Engage In Bidding Wars To Get Their Dream Home (Photo by Rachel Claire)

Budgeting for a bidding war:

"There's no question that the price of homeownership is much more than your down payment and monthly mortgage payments," says Jared Jarman, Associate Vice President, Specialized Advice at TD. "In today's competitive environment, buyers need to ensure they're keeping a close eye on their budget, building in some wiggle room so that they know they're able to cover expected and unforeseen costs. A financial advisor can help by working with you to develop a budget that lets you know how much you may be able to afford before you begin to house hunt," continues Jarman.
Despite a widespread willingness amongst younger survey respondents to enter a bidding war, most Canadians are still reluctant to bid over-asking when multiple offers are on the table. In this situation, 45 per cent of respondents said they would stand firm on their initial offer. But for those willing to do what it takes to win a bidding war, Jarman emphasized the importance of developing a budget range beforehand that allows for some flexibility. Even amongst Canadians open to going beyond the list price for their dream home, budgeting and setting limits is key, he adds.

  • The TD survey results also reveal how competitive respondents are willing to be. According to the survey, approximately two in ten (19 per cent) of competitive bidders said they would exceed the asking price by up to $50,000, while just 13 per cent would push their offer further, between $50,000 and $100,000 over-asking and beyond.

Affordability and the great unknown:

According to TD, more than half of Canadians surveyed (52%) feel home ownership is less attainable now than it was pre-pandemic thanks to changing house prices. Unsurprisingly, the survey also reveals that changes in financial security over the last year have dampened home-buying opportunities for many Canadians, with one-third of respondents saying unexpected changes in their personal finances have made the prospect of homebuying less attainable now than before the pandemic.
"We know Canadians have had to deal with incredibly unprecedented circumstances this past year, including unemployment and other financial challenges for many," said Jarman, noting that TD has safeguard options in place to protect borrowers from unanticipated challenges. "TD Mortgage Protection is just one-way customers can help protect themselves from unforeseen life events including critical illness and even death."
  • Fifty-seven per cent of TD survey respondents said they consider finding a home within their budget to be the biggest challenge to buying a home within the next year. The ability to afford a suitable home appears to be a greater concern amongst residents in Ontario (63 per cent) and B.C. (62 per cent) compared to Quebec (48 per cent) and the Prairies (43 per cent).

Note From The Edtor:

If you visit TD's website, you will notice that TD offers quite a few useful online services, including the TD Mortgage Affordability Calculator, which can help determine what Canadians may be able to afford. As this blog is based in the Uk, we thought it would be a good idea to add a link to another Mortgage Calculator for our readers in Great Britain. Hopefully, our British friends will find that handy 
Generation gamble? Survey Shows Canadian Millennials More Willing To Engage In Bidding Wars To Get Their Dream Home
Generation gamble? Survey Shows Canadian Millennials More Willing To Engage In Bidding Wars To Get Their Dream Home (Photo by Liza Summer)

Fast facts from the TD 2021 Real Estate During COVID survey:

  • Among other challenges noted in the survey results were the uncertainty that comes with the COVID-19 pandemic (15%) and the lack of housing supply (10%).
  • Canadians value their space during the pandemic, and are most likely to see features like backyard space (43 per cent) and square footage (40 per cent) as important considerations when buying a home.
  • While the need for space may be unsurprising, Canadians' desire to be within close proximity to everyday amenities (grocery stores, banks, etc.) hasn't changed – just over half (51 per cent) compared to 50 per cent prior to the pandemic.
  • Four in 10 (40 per cent) Canadians surveyed who currently own a house or condo say rising prices in their area would make them more interested in listing.

About the TD 2021 Real Estate During COVID:

TD Bank Group commissioned Ipsos to conduct a national online survey of 1,001 Canadians aged 18+. This poll was conducted between March 31 and April 6, 2021.

SOURCE TD Bank Group

13 May 2021

Anti-Asian Online Hate Speech On The Rise - And Major U.S. Brands Are Inadvertently Funding It

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Anti-Asian Online Hate Speech On The Rise - And Major U.S. Brands Are Inadvertently Funding It
Anti-Asian Online Hate Speech On The Rise - And Major U.S. Brands Are Inadvertently Funding It (image via nielsen.com)
Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Asian American community has experienced a 145% increase in hate crimes; with incidents ranging from verbal harassment to deadly assaults. Despite widespread condemnation of these acts, Nielsen's newly published Asian American Diverse Intelligence Series report, Hope And Action, found that anti-Asian hate speech online actually increased in the beginning of this year. And while many major U.S. brands have taken action to combat racism targeting Asian Americans, some of these same companies are also unintentionally funding online hate speech through their advertising. 

  • From January - March 2021, $153 million was spent on digital ads on U.S.-based URLs that have published content with anti-Asian rhetoric. The top ad categories monetizing this hate speech included TV stations and networks ($29.7 million ad spend), department stores ($6 million), apparel ($4.1 million), miscellaneous retail ($3.9 million), travel ($629K), and arms and ammunition ($122K).
The Nielsen study, which incorporated the use of artificial intelligence, found more than 250 ad campaigns appearing on 1,280 website URLs that featured the use of racist terminology and conspiracies related to coronavirus origins, Asians and China. Once the offensive content was isolated, over 5,000 ad occurrences were identified. 

  • Ad campaigns from a dozen Fortune 500 companies and at least 66 brands were found adjacent to content that included anti-Asian hate speech.

Ad-supported anti-Asian hate speech in digital content:

From news reporting to op-eds, incendiary terms (e.g., "China virus," "Wuhan plague") and subjective language connecting blame for the pandemic to Chinese and Asian people has been pervasive across digital content. 

Nielsen also found that certain key words and phrases have actually increased this year as the U.S. approached the one year anniversary of national lockdown orders in March. News sites that published articles flagged as including anti-Asian hate speech were visited by 38.1 million people during Q1 2021.

  • Nearly one-third of the hate speech in March 2021 came from one site. This one domain collected in excess of $100,000 in digital ad revenue from three top advertising categories: department stores, miscellaneous organization and apparel, footwear and accessory stores.

What brands can do right now:

Nielsen's findings highlight an opportunity for brands to take action against funding hate speech online. Companies and their advertising partners are urged to be in constant review as language emerges that is harmful to the Asian American community — and to their brand. 

  • Additionally, ad servers must consider how changes in rhetoric can be reflected in their algorithms.
"As consumers are demanding more from brands and businesses, corporate social responsibility is now about brand safety," said Jay Dennis, Nielsen EVP, Advertisers and Industries. "Nielsen is excited to bring new products and metrics to marketers so that brands can make better decisions to support content that is inclusive and representative, and to avoid placing content adjacent to hate speech."
Anti-Asian Online Hate Speech On The Rise - And Major U.S. Brands Are Inadvertently Funding It
Anti-Asian Online Hate Speech On The Rise - And Major U.S. Brands Are Inadvertently Funding It (image via nielsen.com)

About the Asian American community:

With a population of 18.9 million, Asian Americans are the fastest-growing racial or ethnic group in the United States. Since 2000, the Asian American population has increased in all 50 states as well as the District of Columbia. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the percentage of anti-Asian hate crimes has surged 145% nationally (2020 vs. 2019), according to the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism

  • These incidents have also risen to alarming rates in such cities as: New York (833%), Philadelphia (200%), Cleveland (200%), San Jose (150%), Boston (133%) and Los Angeles (114%).
"In this evolving digital media landscape and as consumers demand more accountability, brands need to be increasingly diligent about the kinds of platforms their ads appear on and the types of content they support; whether it's directly or inadvertently," stated Patricia Ratulangi, Nielsen VP, Global Communications, Diversity Equity & Inclusion. "Companies need to ensure their advertising dollars aren't fueling anti-Asian sentiment online, which puts Asian American communities at risk."
"Corporate accountability is more essential than ever to Asian Americans," said Connie Chung Joe, CEO of Asian Americans Advancing Justice - Los Angeles. "While it's certainly not easy, brands will need to take a more conscientious approach towards their digital advertising spending if they want to truly stand with this community. The connection between online hate speech and hate crimes in real life is undeniable."
SOURCE: Nielsen

10 May 2021

deCODE Genetics - Rounding Off The Human Genome [Video Included]

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deCODE Genetics - Rounding Off The Human Genome [Video Included]
deCODE Genetics - Rounding Off The Human Genome (Screengrab)
Scientists at deCODE Genetics demonstrate for the first time how long-read DNA sequencing can be applied at population scale to unravel large structural variants that associate with human disease and other traits.
In a paper published in Nature genetics, scientists at deCODE genetics have shown that long-read DNA sequencing can be applied at population scale to unravel large structural variants that associate with human disease and other traits. Up until now DNA sequence analysis has been performed using short-read sequencing, where the sequence examined is broken up into fragments that are no more than 151 base pairs. Using short-read sequencing scientists have been able to discern most small variations in the genome and population studies have allowed them to determine how they associate with diseases and other traits. However of 133,886 reliably genotyped structural variants detected with long-read sequencing only 60% can be detected with short-reads.

Using PromethION sequencers from Oxford Nanopore Technologies, researchers at deCODE genetics whole genome sequenced 3,622 Icelanders. DNA base pairs in the genome were sequenced on average at least 10 times, allowing for accurate characterization of all genomic variation within the individual. These variants were then imputed into a larger set of participants in various disease studies at deCODE genetics and associated with phenotypes. 

  • This has led to the discovery of several hitherto unknown associations of structural variants with diseases and other traits.
deCODE Genetics - Rounding Off The Human Genome [Video Included]
Bjarni Halldorsson and Kari Stefansson
"This technology and algorithms we developed enable us to characterize almost all structural variants reliably and consistently on a population scale," says Bjarni V. Halldórsson, head of Sequence analysis, deCODE genetics.
The problem with short-read sequencing is that larger structural variants are difficult to discern directly. This is a major stumbling block in the attempt to fully understand the relationship between variation in the sequence of the human genome and human diversity. Due to their size, these large structural variants usually have greater impact than the smaller variants most commonly considered. Large structural variants frequently delete or insert whole genes or large parts of genes, making them particularly harmful.
"We are confident that the long-read sequencing applied at population level is going to help us to find much of the missing sequence diversity that we must have to fully understand how diversity in the sequence of the genome accounts for human diversity," says Kari Stefansson CEO and founder of deCODE genetics.

The Video:

Based in Reykjavik, Iceland, deCODE is a global leader in analyzing and understanding the human genome. Using its unique expertise and population resources, deCODE has discovered genetic risk factors for dozens of common diseases. The purpose of understanding the genetics of disease is to use that information to create new means of diagnosing, treating and preventing disease. deCODE is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Amgen.
SOURCE: deCODE genetics

5 May 2021

P&G Encourages Women To Talk About Imposter Syndrome in #RealDeal campaign with Lazada [Video Included]

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P&G Encourages Women To Talk About Imposter Syndrome in #RealDeal campaign with Lazada [Video Included]
P&G and Lazada Empowers Women To Feel More Confident Together in their #RealDeal campaign
Procter & Gamble (NYSE:PG) has launched a new #RealDeal campaign with Lazada, Southeast Asia's leading e-commerce platform to raise awareness around Imposter syndrome.
Imposter syndrome
is the feeling of inadequacy despite's one capabilities. According to a study by the US National Library of Medicine, up to 82% of the general population experiences imposter syndrome in different periods of their lives. 

Statistics from the 2019 Imposter Syndrome Study (Josa, 2019. Ditching Imposter Syndrome. Beyond Alchemy Publishing, United Kingdom), also shared that 1 out of 2 women experience imposter syndrome on a daily or regular basis, attesting to the fact that women often doubt their own abilities through feelings of fraud and belittlement of their own experiences and expertise.

P&G Encourages Women To Talk About Imposter Syndrome in #RealDeal campaign with Lazada [Video Included]
P&G Encourages Women To Talk About Imposter Syndrome in #RealDeal campaign with Lazada (Screengrab)
Dr Lim Boon Leng, Psychiatrist from Dr BL Lim Centre for Psychological Wellness shared that, "Imposter Syndrome should be taken seriously. Women who experience imposter syndrome need to come to the realization that people value their expertise, and they can focus on growing through the process. Additionally, they can speak to someone they trust to help them realise that their fears are unfounded."
  • Although imposter syndrome is prevalent in our society, it is less talked about in Asia. This campaign aims to shed light on this through a short film  telling the real life story of Singaporean entrepreneur, Ms Yeo Wan Qing, founder of social enterprise Hatch, who overcame imposter syndrome by being open to those around her about the struggles she was facing.
Alexandra Vogler, P&G e-commerce Senior Director, Asia Pacific, Middle East & Africa, said, "P&G is deeply committed to equality and inclusion. Through this campaign, we want to bring to light the inner struggles that go unnoticed among women experiencing Imposter Syndrome. Through this short film, we hope to inspire people to start conversations about Imposter Syndrome, and support one another in overcoming it."
  • Beyond the film, the campaign will also come to life on Lazada across five Southeast Asian markets including Thailand, Philippines, Singapore, Indonesia and Vietnam in May and June, with a wide range of exclusive offers on P&G products such as Olay, Pantene and Oral-B celebrating female shoppers

4 May 2021

7 Significant Benefits to Trying New Things

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7 Significant Benefits to Trying New Things
7 Significant Benefits to Trying New Things
When you make it a goal to try something new, you may not realize why you’re setting out to do something new in the first place. There is a slew of benefits that come along from incorporating “new” into your life; here are 7 of them:

1. Learn New Things

How will you learn new things if you never try new things? Think about an activity you’ve never tried before. You probably don’t know much about it, right? As soon as you put yourself out there and try it out, though, you’ll probably learn a lot more about it.

7 Significant Benefits to Trying New Things
7 Significant Benefits to Trying New Things (Photo by Min An)

2. Get Rid of Boredom

Boredom is the worst – we all can attest. When you’re trying out new projects, new places, new people, etc., that boredom slips by the wayside. Keep your brain engaged, and you won’t have to deal with monotony creeping in.

3. More Stories to Tell

As you try new things and meet new people, you accumulate more stories about your adventures. Whether it’s a funny story or a scary story, your stories become part of who you are. What a great perk!

4. Get a New Perspective

Sometimes, you need to sit in another area of the room to change your perspective – similarly, you need to try new things to change your perspective on life.

7 Significant Benefits to Trying New Things
7 Significant Benefits to Trying New Things (Photo by Andrea Piacquadio)

5. Self-Discovery

Let’s face it – we spend a lot of time with ourselves. A whole entire lifetime, in fact. So if you do the same thing day in and day out, you probably won’t see many different sides to yourself. Self-discovery leads to many great attributes – confidence, self-awareness, perceptiveness, to name a few.

6. Gain Confidence

Why fly when you can soar? You can amount to great things by simply expanding your horizons and trying new things. Time after time, you’ll begin to gain a new sense of confidence in yourself and your capabilities.

7 Significant Benefits to Trying New Things
7 Significant Benefits to Trying New Things (Photo by Nina Uhlíková)

7. Experience Life to the Fullest

There’s a reason why people say you only have one life to live. If you take this sentiment to heart, you’ll want to get as many experiences out of life as you possibly can. That begins with your habits – your day-to-day life. When you push yourself out of your comfort zone, you’ll gain more of these experiences. Who knows what you could learn about yourself or your life? You’ll have to try to find out!

24 April 2021

Guest Post by Patrick Bishop, Co-Author of 'A Class Divided: A Book About Racism' [FREE Digital Copy of The Book Available!]

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Guest Post by Patrick Bishop, Co-Author of 'A Class Divided: A Book About Racism' [FREE Digital Copy of The Book Available!]
A Class Divided: A Book About Racism
The world has changed a lot the last four years but that is not any more obvious anywhere than the United States. It seems like there are multiple attacks against people that are not white. Attacks against Blacks, Asians, Jews, and other people who are different. These attacks are coming from all income levels and job categories. It seems like doctors, engineers, teachers, nurses, the unemployed, laborers, police officers are participating in these attacks. Some of these attacks are verbal, some are physical but the one thing they all have in common is that someone gets hurt. Many end up dead, many in the hospital, many in counseling.

It could just be a coincidence that people from different walks of life are doing these attacks, but I think it is more sinister than that. How could so many people who were seemingly caring, compassionate, loving, and non-discriminatory people suddenly be so filled with hatred toward anybody who was different than them? Many people are not following the love and compassion of Jesus. That is the only logical explanation.

We reached a point of feeling like something needed to be done to change this hatred and discrimination. It is exceedingly difficult to change the world, but each individual can change the heart of one person. We decided to teach the most vulnerable of us, kids. Discrimination can be taught, and it can also be learned to not be discriminatory.

A Class Divided: A Book About Racism” is the book that can not only teach kids empathy toward others but it puts them in a position of feeling what it is like to be the one that is discriminated against. It doesn’t just talk about discrimination as most books do but it gives them an understanding of discrimination first hand. It helps them to know how terrible being discriminated against is so they won’t want to discriminate against anybody else.

A Class Divided: A Book About Racism” is the first book in the Kids Empathy Series that we hope to be the first of many. Making money is not our main objective with this book. We want kids to truly understand what discrimination is and for that reason, any readers of this blog will get a free copy for a limited time. All you have to do is go to littlesami.com and at checkout enter the promo code free100 and you can download it for free.

Happy Reading!

Pat Bishop

3 April 2021

7 Reasons Why Raising your Self-Worth is Important [Video Included]

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7 Reasons Why Raising your Self-Worth is Important [Video Included]
7 Reasons Why Raising your Self-Worth is Important (Photo by Matilda Wormwood)
Having a healthy sense of self-worth can change the way you feel about your life. Positive self-worth sets you up to have the energy and confidence to be your best you, to take on challenges and seize opportunities when they come up. Self-worth means you can have your best possible life.
The basis of self-dignity is an honest appraisal of your strengths and weaknesses. That allows you to capitalize on your strengths and to be objective, not defensive about your weaknesses. It gives you the tools to take control of your life.

Having a happy, successful life and feeling good about yourself is not a matter of luck. Positive self-worth is a fundamental part of the Law of Attraction - if you feel good about yourself and believe you deserve to be happy or wealthy or have good relationships, you will attract those things into your life. The experiences we’ve had in our lives, starting from a very early age, alter our self-dignity, either improving it or eroding it.

  • The good news is we can do something about it if we want to have a stronger self-worth. Although it isn’t always pleasant, it’s well worth the time and effort to raise your self-worth.
7 Reasons Why Raising your Self-Worth is Important (Photo by Matilda Wormwood)

Here are some key aspects of the positive role self-worth can have in your life:

  1. You will be more satisfied with life because you will naturally see the good things in life, rather than focusing on the things that are disappointing.
  2. You won’t be undermining yourself with negative self-talk. The Inner Critic will always be there, but you will know how to keep it in check and how to harness that analytical capability to keep increasing your self-awareness.
  3. Self-knowledge is a key part of good leadership. You are more likely to be successful at work when you have a healthy sense of self. You will be able to deal with problems before they get out of proportion, for example.
  4. You will be less needy, less reliant on other people’s good opinion of you. You will be strong enough in your self-worth not to compare yourself with others.
  5. Your relationships will be stronger and more fulfilling because you'll be building them with honesty and self-knowledge.
  6. It will be easier for you to be flexible when situations change. The result is that fewer external circumstances impact your happiness.
  7. You will be more compassionate with yourself and others. When you make mistakes, you’ll be able to view them as lessons rather than failures.

The Video:

18 March 2021

How To Make Quicker And Better Decisions [Video Included]

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How To Make Quicker And Better Decisions [Video Included]
How To Make Quicker And Better Decisions

Many professionals seek to become more efficient decision-makers. Being a good decision-maker is a sought after skill. It can often be the difference between a promotion or a pink slip. In today’s uncertain times this skill lets you stand out on the team with quicker and better decisions. How do you become more accurate and effective at making decisions when it counts?

What is the objective of the mission? 

  • Know the objective of the decision and know your mission on the team.
  • Ask yourself: What are we really trying to do here?
  • Write it out, brainstorm, and discuss. Is it your role to solve this problem? Do you have the tools needed?

How To Make Quicker And Better Decisions [Video Included]
How To Make Quicker And Better Decisions (Photo by Sora Shimazaki)

Seek Out Wisdom And Knowledge

Seek out, wise counsel. Really. If you are surrounded by more experienced professionals who have done what you are about to do, ask questions, and inform yourself. Do needed research. Don’t let pride or proving that you have it all under control” blind you to great resources all around you.

It Does Not Have To Be Perfect

Don’t overthink - just start. Make a plan. An imperfect, real plan. Start doing the work that is deciding and solving. Take note of the effects and response to your action. This way you can adjust if needed.

Adjust Early

Be humble - make the adjustment early if needed. Don’t run the train off the track because you are unwilling to admit that you made a mistake. If your choice was wrong, own up to it in a professional way and make things right to the best of your ability. It’s better to win the fight after a change of tactics than to get knocked out by your own ego and pride.

How To Make Quicker And Better Decisions [Video Included]
How To Make Quicker And Better Decisions

Control What You Can Control

It is important when making decisions to know what you truly have power over. If it’s not your decision to make, stay out of the control room. Also - use this adage to relieve stress. Only focus on what you have the ability to decide on. This means staying focused and being able to take action without becoming overwhelmed by the details.

Decision making does not have to be a tedious and stressful process. With the right attitude, planning, and strategy you can become a faster, more efficient, and competent decision-maker. This is a great tool for the corporate world and for everyday life. 

The Video:


10 March 2021

After a Year of Pain, Here's How The COVID-19 Pandemic Could Play Out in 2021 and Beyond

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After a Year of Pain, Here's How The COVID-19 Pandemic Could Play Out in 2021 and Beyond
After a Year of Pain, Here's How The COVID-19 Pandemic Could Play Out in 2021 and Beyond (image from shutterstock.com)

One year ago today, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a pandemic, the first caused by a coronavirus.

As we enter year two of the pandemic, let’s remind ourselves of some sobering statistics. So far, there have been more than 117.4 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 around the world; more than 2.6 million people have died. A total of 221 countries and territories have been affected. Some 12 of the 14 countries and territories reporting no cases are small Pacific or Atlantic islands.

Whether the race to end the pandemic will be a sprint or a marathon remains to be seen, as does the extent of the gap between rich and poor contestants. However, as vaccines roll out across the world, it seems we are collectively just out of the starting blocks.

Here are the challenges we face over the next 12 months if we are to ever begin to reduce COVID-19 to a sporadic or endemic disease.

Vaccines are like walking on the Moon

Developing safe and effective vaccines in such a short time frame was a mission as ambitious, and with as many potential pitfalls, as walking on the Moon.

Miraculously, 12 months since a pandemic was declared, eight vaccines against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, have been approved by at least one country. A ninth, Novavax, is very promising. So far, more than 312 million people have been vaccinated with at least one dose.

While most high-income countries will have vaccinated their populations by early 2022, 85 poor countries will have to wait until 2023.

This implies the world won’t be back to normal travel, trade and supply chains until 2024 unless rich countries take actions — such as waiving vaccine patents, diversifying production of vaccines and supporting vaccine delivery — to help poor countries catch up.

The vaccines have been shown to be safe and effective in preventing symptomatic and severe COVID-19. However, we need to continue to study the vaccines after being rolled out (conducting so-called post-implementation studies) in 2021 and beyond. This is to determine how long protection lasts, whether we need booster doses, how well vaccines work in children and the impact of vaccines on viral transmission.

What should make us feel optimistic is that in countries that rolled out the vaccines early, such as the UK and Israel, there are signs the rate of new infections is in decline.

What are the potential barriers to overcome?

One of the most salutary lessons we have learnt in the pandemic’s first year is how dangerous it is to let COVID-19 transmission go unchecked. The result is the emergence of more transmissible variants that escape our immune responses, high rates of excess mortality and a stalled economy.

Until we achieve high levels of population immunity via vaccination, in 2021 we must maintain individual and societal measures, such as masks, physical distancing, and hand hygiene; improve indoor ventilation; and strengthen outbreak responses — testing, contact tracing and isolation.

After a Year of Pain, Here's How The COVID-19 Pandemic Could Play Out in 2021 and Beyond
In 2021, we still need to wear masks, physically distance, clean our hands, and improve indoor ventilation. (image from shutterstock.com)

However, there are already signs of complacency and much misinformation to counter, especially for vaccine uptake. So we must continue to address both these barriers.

The outcomes of even momentary complacency are evident as global numbers of new cases once again increase after a steady two month decline. This recent uptick reflects surges in many European countries, such as Italy, and Latin American countries like Brazil and Cuba. New infections in Papua New Guinea have also risen alarmingly in the past few weeks.

Some fundamental questions also remain unanswered. We don’t know how long either natural or vaccine-induced immunity will last. However, encouraging news from the US reveals 92-98% of COVID-19 survivors had adequate immune protection six to eight months after infection. In 2021, we will continue to learn more about how long natural and vaccine-induced immunity lasts.

New variants may be the greatest threat

The longer the coronavirus circulates widely, the higher the risk of more variants of concern emerging. We are aware of B.1.1.7 (the variant first detected in the UK), B.1.351 (South Africa), and P.1 (Brazil).

But other variants have been identified. These include B.1.427, which is now the dominant, more infectious, strain in California and one identified recently in New York, named B.1.526.

Variants may transmit more readily than the original Wuhan strain of the virus and may lead to more cases. Some variants may also be resistant to vaccines, as has already been demonstrated with the B.1.351 strain. We will continue to learn more about the impact of variants on disease and vaccines in 2021 and beyond.

A year from now

Given so many unknowns, how the world will be in March 2022 would be an educated guess. However, what is increasingly clear is there will be no “mission accomplished” moment. We are at a crossroads with two end games.

In the most likely scenario, rich countries will return to their new normal. Businesses and schools will reopen and internal travel will resume. Travel corridors will be established between countries with low transmission and high vaccine coverage. This might be between Singapore and Taiwan, between Australia and Vietnam, and maybe between all four, and more countries.

In low- and middle-income countries, there may be a reduction in severe cases, freeing them to rehabilitate health services that have suffered in the past 12 months. These include maternal, newborn, and child health services, including reproductive health; tuberculosis, HIV and malaria programs; and nutrition. However, reviving these services will need rich countries to commit generous and sustained aid.

The second scenario, which sadly is unlikely to occur, is unprecedented global cooperation with a focus on science and solidarity to halt transmission everywhere.

This is a fragile moment in modern world history. But, in record time, we have developed effective tools to eventually control this pandemic. The path to a post-COVID-19 future can perhaps now be characterised as a hurdle race but one that presents severe handicaps to the world’s poorest nations. As an international community, we have the capacity to make it a level playing field.

About Today's Contributor:

Michael Toole, Professor of International Health, Burnet Institute

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license.

8 March 2021

Nathan's Famous And Andy Cohen "Get Along Famously" In New Video Campaign [Video Included]

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Nathan's Famous And Andy Cohen "Get Along Famously" In New Video Campaign [Video Included]
Andy Cohen shows fans how Nathan’s Famous Hot Dogs can help bring people together in new “Get Along Famously” video campaign
Earlier this year, Nathan's Famous, the iconic New York-based hot dog brand, teamed up with another pop-culture icon from the Big Apple, Andy Cohen, to star in the Get Along Famously Stranger Stand campaign – a series of dynamic short videos showcasing how the one and only taste of Nathan's Famous 100% Beef Franks can help bring people together and foster genuine moments of connection.
Throughout the eight episodes, Cohen, a TV host known for interacting with famous faces and settling heated debates on his reunion shows, can be seen taking to the streets of a residential neighborhood to set up a Nathan's Famous hot dog stand. Along the way, he encounters strangers passing by – cliquey high schoolers, bickering siblings, a very friendly pack of dachshunds and more – who are having trouble seeing eye-to-eye and finding common ground. But Andy, using delicious Nathan's Famous Franks and his expert connection skills, helps them reach a mutual understanding and eventually 'get along famously.'
"At Nathan's, we strive to provide a unique taste experience with our original 105-year-old recipe that can bring together individuals from all walks of life, no matter what age, where they live, or who they are, and turn strangers into friends," said Bethany Gurecki, brand manager for Nathan's Famous. "There's no denying that Andy Cohen also knows a thing or two about bringing people together – including feuding A-listers – which is why he was the perfect fit for our Get Along Famously Stranger Stand video campaign."
This past weekend, Cohen posted one of his favorite episodes on Instagram, Episode 3: Capitalistic Beef. In the endearing clip, Cohen manages to 'get along famously' with the kids who strategically set up a lemonade stand next door. 


The entire collection of videos can be found on Nathan's Famous' YouTube channel, including:
  • Episode 1: Dog Thoughts
  • Episode 2: Like Father, Like Son
  • Episode 3: Capitalistic Beef
  • Episode 4: Gamer Headset
  • Episode 5: Bike Security
  • Episode 6: High School
  • Episode 7: Virtual Wedding
  • Episode 8: Sibling Rivalry
Nathan's Famous And Andy Cohen "Get Along Famously" In New Video Campaign
Nathan's Famous And Andy Cohen "Get Along Famously" In New Video Campaign (screengrab)

About Nathan's Famous:

Nathan's Famous is a Russell 2000 Company that currently distributes its products in 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, and 16 foreign countries through its restaurant system, foodservice sales programs and product licensing activities. Last year, over 700 million Nathan's Famous hot dogs were sold. 

Smithfield Employees, Local Volunteers Serve Hot Meals to More Than 2,500 'Hometown Heroes' Across Southeast North Carolina
Smithfield Employees, Local Volunteers Serve Hot Meals to More Than 2,500 'Hometown Heroes' Across Southeast North Carolina (PRNewsfoto/Smithfield Foods, Inc.)

About Smithfield Foods, Inc.:

Headquartered in Smithfield, Va. since 1936, Smithfield Foods, Inc. is an American food company with agricultural roots and a global reach. Our 40,000 U.S. and 15,000 European employees are dedicated to producing "Good food. Responsibly." and have made us one of the world's leading vertically integrated protein companies. We have pioneered sustainability standards for more than two decades, including many industry firsts, such as our ambitious commitment to cut our carbon impact by 25 percent by 2025. We believe in the power of protein to end food insecurity and have donated hundreds of millions of food servings to our neighbors in need. Smithfield boasts a portfolio of high-quality iconic brands, such as Smithfield, Eckrich and Nathan's Famous, among many others.

SOURCE: Smithfield Foods, Inc.

7 March 2021

3 Truths About Being Kind We Need to Re-Remember

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3 Truths About Being Kind We Need to Re-Remember
3 Truths About Being Kind We Need to Re-Remember
It might surprise you to hear that being kind isn’t just good for the other person, it’s good for you too! Skeptical? There is good scientific evidence to show that living up to the adage of doing unto others as you would have them do to you is one of the best things you can do for yourself! It lowers your blood pressure, improves your mood, and acts as a natural anti-depressant by boosting the serotonin levels in your brain.

So, what can you do to stay in the right frame of mind to be kind? After all, being kind isn’t always easy. Some days you want to grit your teeth and just grouse at the world. And there are some people it’s tough to be kind to. How can you change your approach to life to be as kind as you can? Here are three truths to remember when you’re tempted to be unkind.

Remember what you can control and what you can’t

It’s a fact of life that other people can be rude, thoughtless, irritating, and even mean. They have opinions you don’t agree with. You can’t change or control any of that. But you can control how you react. Kindness is always the best option for you and the other guy. Take a deep breath, count to ten, and bite back that retort or putdown. Practice being kind, and soon it will be second nature.

Anger doesn’t help

Reacting with anger doesn’t do anything to resolve a bad situation. Anger makes you feel terrible. It’s likely to escalate things and won’t get you the result you want. Even worse, anger can lead to all sorts of physical problems, from headaches to high blood pressure, sleep problems, and digestive issues. A lifetime habit of anger can even lead to a stroke or a heart attack. Recognize the potential to get angry and take a step back.

Kindness is always the right option

Whatever the situation, you will never go wrong if you’re kind. Kindness also makes you an inspiring leader, a role model for others. Making the choice to be kind in the face of frustration, even provocation, shows that conflict is not inevitable. Giving in to childish feelings of needing to be right or get what you want all the time is easy. But it breeds discontent and won’t win you any friends.
Kindness breeds a more detached attitude to life, it encourages positive emotions and will help to make you and the people around you calmer, happier, and more energized.

3 March 2021

Fire Department Coffee Announces An Initiative to Teach Lifesaving Skills to 22 Million People Through Comedy [Video Included]

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Fire Department Coffee Announces An Initiative to Teach Lifesaving Skills to 22 Million People Through Comedy
Fire Department Coffee Announces An Initiative to Teach Lifesaving Skills to 22 Million People Through Comedy (image via Fire Department Chronicles Youtube Channel)
Fire Dept. Coffee is setting a goal to teach 22 million people lifesaving skills through comedy.

"Comedy CPR" will be hosted by Jason Patton, the star of the popular Fire Department Chronicles videos. He'll bring a lighthearted approach to teaching real, hands-on skills that anyone can use in an emergency.
The goal of the ambitious project is to train 22 million people before the end of 2022, using a combination of in-person events, online training sessions and videos.

"All first responders get CPR training, but those sessions can get tedious and boring sometimes," Patton said. "I believe everyone should know CPR and basic lifesaving skills, whether you're a first responder or not. So we want to make it fun, share some laughs and teach people lifesaving skills."
Patton is an experienced firefighter paramedic in Florida and he's also the vice president of Fire Department Coffee. He's most known as the creator of Fire Department Chronicles, where he built a massive following with online videos that take a lighthearted look at the crazy, hectic and sometimes hilarious day-to-day lives of first responders.

The Fire Department Chronicles fast-growing YouTube channel has gained popularity due to Jason's funny videos about firefighter life. His most popular video titled "Comedy CPR!!!" teaches lifesaving skills and helped inspire this initiative. The video's description reads: "Learn how to save people's lives while laughing at the same time!"


In the video, Patton demonstrates the steps that an average person should take when they see someone unresponsive and not breathing. The video is filled with laughs but also with useful information aimed at educating the viewer while also putting them at ease and helping them feel confident about taking lifesaving action.

While this training does not count for formal CPR certification, the tactics and approaches do reflect the lessons taught to first responders and others in official settings. The training is real, and so are the laughs.

Dates and details for in-person and online training events are still being finalized. To receive an email when new information is available, sign up on the website today by clicking the "Notify Me" button.

About Fire Department Coffee:

Launched in 2016, Fire Department Coffee is veteran-owned and run by firefighters with the mission to make great coffee and an even greater mission to support our nation's heroes in need. Ten percent of the net proceeds go to help first responders who are injured on the job, mentally or physically, or who are facing other serious health challenges..

SOURCE: Fire Department Coffee

Bonus Video:

2 March 2021

How To Transform Your Covid-19 Start-Up Into A Viable Business

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As the adage goes, 'necessity is the mother of invention,' and with the peculiar issues with the ongoing Covid-19, more and more people are becoming innovative. Some people have even become entrepreneurs overnight, finding solutions to new problems that have arisen—and making profits from their solutions. However, the question is, can such startups be transformed into viable businesses? How will government affairs impact your business? The future may be favorable, but how can these budding entrepreneurs sustain their businesses. Here are some vital things to seriously consider if you want to make your business viable.

Innovate and adapt

How To Transform Your Covid-19 Start-Up Into A Viable Business
How To Transform Your Covid-19 Start-Up Into A Viable Business (Image Credit)
Experts in the business industry will confirm that although consumers buy your products, it is the solution that you offer that they really care about. So the first thing to do here is to determine if your product is solving a long-term problem. The best solutions are direct responses to pressing, particular and significant problems. The ability to provide solutions in this Covid-19 times makes this assertion even truer.

For example, there was a need for many quality face masks and other PPE at the beginning of the pandemic, and many organizations and individuals rose to the occasion. Indeed, factories that were shut down were reopened to meet this need. However, will the problem exist in the next five years? You will have to answer this question to make sure your business doesn’t become redundant after a few years.

Building on existing trends

Some startups that started during the pandemic have leveraged existing trends that have been intensified and hastened due to the current prevailing conditions. Areas such as wellness, food supplements, DIY, social media, contactless deliveries, and others have seen exponential growth because they are things people want. Such businesses are not doing anything new but are doing them in new ways. Indeed, keeping a customer loyal means adapting to their needs as they evolve.

Do your research

To really understand the solutions you provide, you need to take a look into the past. Consumer behavior and patterns during such times have to be critically analyzed. Market trends from the past years should provide you with useful insight that should inform your business strategy for the future. If your solution is short-term, how long can you remain relevant? Put yourself in the consumers' minds and try to predict their needs. Then use the prevailing market conditions to guide you when coming up with solutions for their future needs. If your solution is a long-term one, you have to keep improving the solution, delivery, and customer satisfaction.

Identify the long-term market

The next major step to consider is to identify the long-term market. This refers to the group of people who will continue patronizing your solutions after things have returned to normal. According to CB Insights research, the most common reason startups failed was because of a lack of market. Not identifying your long-term market is not good for business. So please get to know your customers, understand their needs for your solutions. What is the potential market size? What is the actual market size? What can be done to increase the market size? Where are your customers found online and geographically? These are pertinent questions that need to be addressed.

Focus on the customer

How To Transform Your Covid-19 Start-Up Into A Viable Business
How To Transform Your Covid-19 Start-Up Into A Viable Business (Image Credit)
Always focus on the customer; the product or solution will not buy itself. Once you can figure out what the customer wants, you can always offer them a solution. To accomplish this, you should consider reading and researching the user-centered design. It will teach you how to stay in business for a long time by placing the customer above your solutions or products.

Be proactive

One of the hallmarks of successful businesses is the ability to pivot. Pivoting means tweaking your products or solutions to serve a bigger market. So, you should have enough information from your market trends and consumer patterns to know if you will need to pivot soon or much later. A lot of fortune 500 companies had to pivot at one point in time or the other. A strategic pivot could put you way ahead of the competition, who are slow to adapt. This can either make you a trendsetter or secure a sizeable amount of the market share, setting you up quite nicely financially.

Refine and define your business model

During these unpredictable times, a lot of solutions are being created for the goodwill of mankind. And as a solutions provider, you should really consider refining your business model when necessary. This will allow you to play an active role in making peoples' lives easier, better, and safer. This may set you up to even be eligible for some contributions. Indeed, running a business at full-throttle during Covid-19 may be unrealistic without some form of aid.

Consider social entrepreneurship

To make the most out of this situation, switch to a social entrepreneurship business model. Be a positive highlight in society, make a social impact and still make profits. There are several ways to do this. For example, you could donate a percentage of your profits to a recognized NGO helping fight against Covid-19. Or you could decrease prices or add more packages at no extra cost.

Mapping your business

How To Transform Your Covid-19 Start-Up Into A Viable Business
How To Transform Your Covid-19 Start-Up Into A Viable Business (Image Credit)
To securely map your business, look to the past and note how other great economic disruptions led businesses of the time to redefine their operating models without going under. The stock market crash in 1987 and the global recession of 2007 to 2009 are a few to look at. Mark Johnson, Clayton Christensen, and Henning Kagermann present a useful framework to reinvent your business model.
The current economic climate indeed validates the maxim that crisis breeds innovation and opportunity. There are many businesses out there that started because of Covid-19; the fact is a lot will go on to fold up. But unless you don’t plan on keeping the business long term, try not to become part of that statistic. The trick is to focus on the customer's needs and fashion your solutions to meet them. Also, remain relevant by identifying your market and pivot where necessary.

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