Most people say cannabis enhances lovemaking and the pleasure of orgasm.

THE BASICS

As of 2020, the large majority of Americans live in states where marijuana—now increasingly called cannabis—can be used legally. It’s completely legal in 11 states and the District of Columbia, and legal for medical use in another 28. It remains totally illegal in only 11 states. It’s also quite popular, estimated to be one of the nation’s most valuable agricultural crops.

But few studies have investigated the widely used drug’s sexual impact. Two recent reports add to this small literature—and confirm most earlier work showing that around two-thirds of lovers say it enhances sex.

Study #1

University of British Columbia researchers surveyed 216 marijuana users recruited online who said they had used it during lovemaking.

Study #2

St. Louis University investigators asked 373 women visiting gynecologists for routine care if they used cannabis prior to sex. One-third (127) said they did. They were asked to complete an anonymous survey. Compared with those who abstained from marijuana or used it infrequently, those who regularly used the drug shortly before sex were twice as likely to report deeply satisfying orgasms.

Both of these studies used what researchers call “convenience samples.” The subjects were people who happened to be available. They visited gynecologists or responded to online recruitment efforts, and opted to participate. Results based on convenience samples cannot be called definitive, but they are well within the bounds of social science research. The psychology journals would be mighty thin without studies based on one particular convenience sample—college undergraduates.  

Other Research

The new reports corroborate the handful of other studies on the sexual impact of cannabis:

Why does cannabis usually improve sex? That remains unclear, but German researchers have discovered that orgasm releases the body’s own cannabis-like compounds, endocannabinoids that are associated with pleasure.

Why do some say marijuana ruins sex? Usually because it makes them withdraw into themselves, so they feel less erotically connected to their partners.

Marijuana vs. Alcohol

I don’t encourage lovers to mix sex and recreational drugs, but many people do—possibly most. The world’s favorite sex drug is alcohol. However, alcohol is also the world’s leading cause of drug-related sexual impairment. As Shakespeare wrote in Macbeth, alcohol “provokes the desire, but takes away the performance.” How true. The first drink is disinhibiting; prospective lovers are easier to coax into bed. But if people of average weight drink more than two beers, cocktails, or glasses of wine in an hour or so, alcohol becomes a central nervous system depressant that interferes with erections in men, sexual responsiveness in women, and orgasm in all genders. And as drinking increases, sex deteriorates even more.        

In addition, alcohol is a key risk factor for sexual assault. Recently, the media have spotlighted epidemic levels of rape on college campuses and in the military. They almost always involve alcohol.

Looking at the two drugs’ sexual impact—alcohol often causing problems, marijuana usually improving things—you’d think lovers would have switched from booze to cannabis in droves. But I’ve seen no studies and no media coverage that suggest this is happening. 

A layoff may just be the unexpected opportunity you’ve been waiting for.

By Jennifer Vishnevskyportrait of smiling businesswoman sitting at desk in the office working on laptopWESTEND61GETTY IMAGES

There’s no question that the coronavirus had a lasting impact on life as we knew it. For most people, an unexpected layoff added stress to an already uncertain reality. In April, the news was bleak. The Labor Department reported that the coronavirus shutdown led to more than 20 million job losses. But the path to recovery has begun. Recent figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that the unemployment rate fell to 13.3 percent—and there were even 2.5 million jobs regained.

Kellee Marlow, a career coach pivot strategist, highlights why this is the right time to search for something fulfilling. “The pandemic is pushing people to ask themselves what kind of life they want to live,” she says. “Life may not have slowed down enough before to give people a chance to ask what they’re doing and why they’re doing it. Now, many people are evaluating what is important to them because they’re realizing that they can’t allow more time to go by without pursuing their passion.”

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TIME TO REFLECT

Whether you’re looking for a new job or searching for inspiration to take the plunge into a different career, these tips can help you chart your next course. “Now might be the perfect time to reassess exactly what you really want to do for the rest of your life—especially if you’ve been laid off or had your hours cut,” says Ray Giese, director of career counseling with My College Planning Team. “A career change doesn’t necessarily mean spending more money on education to develop a whole new set of skills. It may just mean reassessing your skills and interests to find out what career will best fit you in the long run.”

colleagues looking at cheerful businesswoman in meeting

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In the midst of these trying times, we heard stories of renewed hope. We spoke to some readers who are living examples of turning lemons into lemonade. Not only did they take a bad situation and turn it around, but they’re happier than ever. What emerged were these feel-good success stories that can renew your faith in your career.

A NEW APPROACH

When Cynthia Orduña was laid off due to COVID, she decided to get honest with herself. “The thought of applying to jobs, interview, being on-boarded and having to connect with an entirely new team sounded awful at the time,” she says. “I wanted to be able to do something where I knew I could be happy and explore all of my passions.”

After her layoff, the former recruiter decided to pursue career coaching full time. “I feel the happiest and most peaceful I’ve ever felt,” she says. “I love knowing that the work I do supports other people in their career journey too. This also goes to show that when you’re doing what you love every day, you no longer have the same stress and anxiety that you did before. Of course, nothing is ever easy, but it’s easier to fight for what you love. It gives you the motivation to keep going.”

START YOUR OWN BUSINESS

For Anne Marie Herring, losing her job as a full-time yoga teacher was an opportunity to pursue entrepreneurship. “After yoga studios closed and social distancing was the new norm, I felt it was an opportunity to take my earning power into my own hands, in a way that wasn’t going to be impacted by shelter-in-place or closed brick and mortars,” she says.

young woman working whilst having breakfast

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Herring was researching the stock market and found a company that helped people launch businesses on Amazon. While researching investment opportunities, she decided to invest in her ability to grow a business. In the past few months, she’s made it her focus to learn the ins and outs of researching product opportunities, sourcing products, manufacturing processes, shipping and advertising online. “I currently have three different products at different stages of production, soon ready to be sold online,” she says. “This new career gives me freedom to travel and pursue more interests and projects, while creating a stream of income independent of changing business regulations and social restrictions.”

Marlow echoes how important it is to do the legwork for your new career to succeed. “This is a great time to explore your options,” she says. “For example, if you are looking to upskill or reskill for the career that you want, a large number of online courses are heavily discounted or offered for free. It enables you to affordably and easily prepare during this time, while sheltering at home.”

businesswoman leading meeting with colleagues

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PROS AND CONS

While a layoff tends to have a negative connotation, for Raven McMillan, it was a blessing in disguise. “I honestly felt relieved,” she says. “I know that’s a very strange thing to say at a time like this, but it was like I was finally released from the burden of trying to consistently perform during these crazy times.” Although she was working in public relations, McMillan was also taking classes at Pratt Institute to explore the field of UX/UI design. “I’ve been able to fully dedicate myself to online classes and continuing education,” she says. “In a strange sort of serendipity, this pandemic has given me the permission to fully pursue my passion without fear of failing.”

Although she used her unexpected layoff as the time to pivot, she also did a lot of research to feel comfortable with her decision. “The most insightful thing that I did when I decided to transition my career was make a list of pros and cons surrounding my old career,” she says. “I started to identify a trend of creative and strategy-related tasks that kept popping up on the ‘pros’ side so I started looking for jobs that involved those kinds of responsibilities and stumbled across UX/UI design.”

Carlota Zimmerman, J.D., a career coach, understands the career pivot firsthand. She launched her coaching business in 2008 during the recession. “Creating a business from scratch was the thing that kept me sane amidst all the global chaos,” she says. She recommends that budding entrepreneurs reach out to their network to get the word out. “I always advise my clients to use what they have to build what they need. Instead of bewailing all the resources you don’t have, focus on what you do, and how you can use it, step-by-step, to build more.”

STEPS ALONG THE WAY

Once you’re ready to get started, it’s time for an action plan to make this new career or business a reality. “List out the micro-steps that you’ll need to act upon to move forward,” says Charlene Walters, a business and entrepreneurship mentor. “It will likely start with researching options and gathering additional resources and information and then actively pursuing your goals. Attach a timeline to these steps, and identify two to three main action items per day to tackle towards this end. Step by step, you’ll get there.”

woman using laptop on a bench

Another must-do is a rigorous self-assessment, according to Roy Cohen, a career counselor and executive coach. “Before you get too far along in pursuing a new direction, it’s always good career ‘hygiene’ to test drive your new career choice,” he says. “Do your homework by surveying people who work in this role or an equivalent one to ensure that what you think is, in fact, based in reality. Many of us have a tendency to romanticize the prospect of shifting lanes without knowing for sure what people actually do on a day to day basis.”

EXPAND YOUR NETWORK

Terry B. McDougall, a career coach, encourages people to reach out to their network and ask for an introduction. “You can also do cold outreach through LinkedIn or other networks like alumni groups,” she says. “Sometimes you can get people to agree to speak with you for 15-30 minutes just by sending an e-mail and saying that you admire what they do and you’d like to learn more about it. When taking this approach, be respectful of the person’s time, be sure to send them a thank you note, and don’t expect that they can get you a job. The purpose of the conversation is strictly informational.”

business people communicating at convention center

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If you’re not quite ready to switch careers, here’s one more tip. McDougall works with clients who are parallel pathing: looking for a job while also beginning to test the waters of a new career. “It gives them the advantage of trying to get their new venture off the ground while they have time,” she says. “If it shows signs of success and they are enjoying it, they can stop their job search in their previous career and focus 100% on their new venture.” If you’re interested in a career change, this is the perfect time to re-envision your future. The world has changed and you don’t have to go “back to normal” if it wasn’t the right fit for you.JENNIFER VISHNEVSKY

STRAPPED

by CC Campbell-Rock

Black men are arming themselves to protect peaceful protesters.

When Sleep is for the Rich Clothing Company owner Nick Daniels, Jr. heard that black women protesters were being harassed during a protest against a Confederate monument in Shreveport, Louisiana on June 20,  he gathered his friends, got strapped, and went to the protest site to protect them.

The “Lest We Forget Confederate” Monument in front of the Caddo Parish Courthouse was erected by the United Daughters of the Confederacy and bears the inscription: “1905, Love’s Tribute to Our Gallant Dead.” The monument combines busts of Confederate General Robert E. Lee, General Thomas (Stonewall) Jackson. Louisiana’s Civil War General and Governor Henry Watkins Allen and Louisiana native, General P.G.T. Beauregard. It is one of 91 public spaces with Confederate monuments in Louisiana.

Appearing on Cuomo Prime Time, Daniels explained the Sleep is for the Rich Gun Club’s motivation.

“The initial text message that I got, I was at my house screen printing t-shirts for my brand, when my friend Trey White who owns White Lobster Clothing, called me and asked me if I saw what those white boys are doing to those protesters.  He sent me a video of a white woman ripping posters out of these protesters hands and she kept saying the N word, N word, N word. So,  we got all the artillery, man, and went down there.”

Are White People Afraid of Armed Black Men?

“What do you say when people see this…you had good  motives, you wanted keep it safe, you didn’t want to shoot anybody…and they say, oh, these black guys are scary, coming down with guns, they want a race war.. What do you say? Tv host Chris Cuomo asked.

“No, you got to understand, we didn’t just grab the guns just to grab them. We grabbed the guns because we saw that those confederate guys, they had guns on the sidewalk, and the video I saw, one of those confederate guys could have easily wired one of those kids’ mouth shut. They were that close; they were yelling in those kids’ faces. They had guns on their sides, and we weren’t going for that bro, not in Shreveport.

“Why are we still having to come out here to fight over a monument for people that fought against our country?” Daniels asked. “Y’all don’t understand the hypocrisy in that? And then you want to ask why we’re out here protecting these people? It’s about good versus evil—that’s why,” Daniels said in a video posted to the group’s Instagram account, which has  nearly 2.4 million views.

Daniels said his group went to the protest because they didn’t see any police there. “Surprisingly when we got down there, we saw a couple of police, but we didn’t feel like they were going to stop what was going on.  It ain’t so much about this statue. It is but it ain’t. It’s the symbolism and us being here and protecting the people who want to speak their minds. Wherever ya’ll at, if you’re evil don’t you ever think you’re going to come to Shreveport and have your way with anybody here.”

“We’re going to start a gun club and teach people how to protest themselves. That’s why we’re out here. We’re not taking no intimidation and bullying no more. It ain’t enough to be quiet no more. This is for protection,” Daniels explained.

A successful businessman, Daniels owns the SI4R Clothing brand, an auto-detailing business and a photography and video services company. The gun training program is his latest venture.

“We’re going to teach them (black people) how to protect their people. I’m calling every stepper, every so-called gangster in the city….send us all your soldiers. We’re going to give them a mind. I’m trying to incite some young soldiers to protect their people.”

Daniels also address the ongoing problem of black on black crime. “We’re going to teach them how not to do black on black crime. I tell my ‘lil partners down here in Shreveport all the time, don’t carry a gun with the thought in your mind that you’re a gangster; carry your gun as if that gun is a sword and every King carried a sword back in the day. You have to carry yourself in a royal fashion to be seen in a royal fashion. That’s what this whole Louisiana Kings movement is about,” Daniels said referencing the guiding philosophy of his approach to gun ownership. We’re going to teach them to protect their people.”

The sight of armed black men has galvanized the nation. That most whites, especially white cops, are fearful of black people with guns goes without saying. Philando Castile was killed by a cop for admitting he was licensed to carry a firearm, while sitting in the passenger seat of his girlfriend’s car.

But much has changed since Castile’s murder by cop four years ago. Attitudes have changed. The protests over the killing of unarmed black people, including George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, David Atee, and other have created a worldwide Black Lives Movement where protesters are confronting police and speaking truth to power. Today, black protesters are not scared to stand up for justice or to carry weapons.

Comparisons to the Black Panthers of the late 1960s’ and 1970s, who were also armed to protect the black community, have been made regarding the Sleep is for the Rich Gun Club. However, this 21st century gun club is bringing a fresh approach, they are anti-racist, anti-black-on-black crime and they’re bringing  black pride, gun rights, unity, and community wealth-building to the table.

I Might Assault You – If Only In My Mind

by Kenneth Cooper

So we’re at this church for a coronavirus version graduation. Everybody is spread out 6 feet apart, because contrary to what the president says, the coronavirus is still raging. And while we’re at this church, we’re supposed to wear a mask, because to repeat, the coronavirus is still raging. And according to most doctors, the safest thing to do is wear a mask. Even if you don’t believe them, it’s still the socially responsible thing to do. Wearing a mask is really important.

The governor, mayor and local parish presidents have mandated them. Any uptick in cases will be attributed partly to people refusing to wear a mask, so by not wearing a mask, you’ll just provide more evidence why you should be required to wear one and cause us all to be stuck in this new normal as a result . And it was in this contentious, and pandemically infectious environment, that a man sat a few pews in front of me with a mask hanging under his nose. I took it to be an act of defiance.

May 16th, 1983 – An important day in pop history

Michael Jackson is on stage at the Motown 25th Anniversary celebration dancing to Billie Jean. Arms are flailing, hips are gyrating. At one point, he pauses, tosses his hat, does a series of pelvic thrusts, then raises up on his forefeet and proceeds to slide backwards across the stage. Though Neil Armstrong had walked on the moon 14 years earlier, his moonwalk paled compared to Michael’s. Yes, Armstrong made a moment, but Michael created a movement.

Moonwalking, according to my own definition, is the artful way of backing away from something.

Back to that defiant dude at church. In my fantasy, I yanked him by the collar and drug him down the aisle. Parents, students, and faculty were going crazy, cheering me on. When I got to the door, I pushed it open. Bright sunlight poured in, illuminating the stained glass. I tossed the man down the stairs, dusted off my palms, then pointed my index finger at him. “And until you put the damn mask on right,” I said, “stay out.” I closed the door and turned to thunderous applause.

Instead, I just sat there watching him, wondering why so many like him refuse to just put the mask on. They’re everywhere, the mask-less, despite the mandate, despite signs on the doors of all stores that say a mask is required to enter.

July 13th, 2020. 37 years have passed since Michael Jackson slid across that stage, and moonwalking is still all the rage. Even the mayor is doing it. Last week, Mayor LaToya Cantrell moonwalked away from the full on Phase 2 reopening we’ve been under for the past few weeks. She announced that restaurants and bars were restricted from seating customer’s at their bars, and indoor gatherings were restricted to 25 people. This leaves us in a purgatory like environment, stuck between Phase 1 and Phase 2 (Phase 1b maybe?) while we repent the sins of not properly masking-up and keeping social distance.

Saturday, Governor John Bel Edwards one-upped the mayor and closed bars statewide, except for curbside service, and then moonwalked away from his previous position of not making masks mandatory statewide. They are now.

Sports

The Saints are moonwalking away from the idea that the season will go forward with fans. Now, season ticket holders have the option of a refund or having their tickets roll over to next season, provided that we all aren’t on respirators by then.

Education

BESE, via a special board meeting this Tuesday, is set to moonwalk away from any thought that the upcoming school year will resemble normalcy. HB59 from this year’s special session gives BESE the authority to set COVID guidelines. One of those guidelines may include masks.

Of course, there will be objections and hyperbole inducing pronunciations about “mah freedoms” from hypocritical parents who will do willingly submit to other government restrictions. They accept the requirement to be scanned or patted down from elbow to anus before boarding a plane, but somehow find being forced to wear a mask a freedom breaking bridge they just can’t cross.

But that’s where we are now, moonwalking back to Phase 1 restrictions because some are too selfish to sacrifice during a pandemic. Maybe local and state government should start implementing fines to go with the mandates. And maybe more of us mask wearing citizens should stop being so tolerant and start calling these people out. After all, there’s little satisfaction to be gained from assaulting people in your mind.

With mounting protests against police brutality, calls to defund the police and to dismantle systemic, structural racism has also come the resurgence of an old, but ever-important call for Black Americans to use our economic power to push our agenda.

There are the efforts to boycott companies that have exhibited biased polices and practices or whose leaders support policies and people that are against the best interests of Black folk.

Lists of businesses with CEOs that have reportedly contributed to Donald Trump’s campaign or establishments where acts of racism have been perpetrated are circulating across the social media stratosphere. Armed with that information, Black consumers are urged to no longer patronize these companies. And that is a start.

Still, it will take more than economic boycotts. 

Even more vital than boycotts are the buy-ins—the need for Black Americans to use their considerable economic power to support, build and strengthen their communities by keeping more of our hard-earned money within the same.

And with that, leaders are breathing new life into the call to support Black-owned businesses as a way to corral economic power and promote change.

Of course, here at McKenna Publishing, the call to support Black-owned businesses has been our mantra for 35 years. We have always understood the importance of using our economic power to build and strengthen our own communities, knowing that no one will save us, but us.

Coalitions across the country are calling on Black consumers to not only recognize the magnitude of their spending power, but to use it as a tool to address other issues that impact the Black community, particularly as a new generation finds itself protesting against issues such as police brutality and are faced with how to turn these demonstrations into transformative movements with long-lasting impact.

Black people want change. And as it turns out, the change we have been seeking is still in our pockets. 

For example, one statistic tells that if Black consumers, who only spend an average of six cents of every dollar they spend with Black owned businesses, would double their spending to 12 cents per dollar, Black businesses could create nearly 600,000 new jobs, helping to address the disproportionate rate of Black unemployment.

So the question is how can the momentum of these protests and the call to support Black owned businesses be used to create solutions that improve the conditions of entire communities?

Yes. We have talked about the importance of supporting Black-owned businesses before in the pages of this publication and it bears repeating. We have to do more. 

In other words, this cannot and must not be a trend or a fad. It must be consistent, deliberate and unapologetic in order to have the desired impact.

African-Americans currently spend about six percent of their money with Black owned businesses. That means the other 94 percent is being spent outside of our community—with many of the very people, entities and organizations that we identify as our oppressors.

The fact is that we cannot spend 94 percent of our money outside of our community and then blame others for 100 percent of our problems. That does not make sense. It doesn’t make dollars either.

The change that we are looking for can begin with us and how we strategically spend our money to build and protect our communities.

If you still need a good reason to support a Black-owned business today and every day, here are five:

Help Close the Racial Wealth Gap

The origins of today’s racial wealth gap can be traced back to Jim Crow-era practices like redlining and job discrimination—government-sanctioned policies designed to marginalize African Americans and keep them from higher paying jobs and homeowner ownership opportunities that ultimately prevented wealth building. The Social Security Act of 1935 also excluded many Black domestic and agricultural workers, and its requirements for residency and payroll information also excluded the large number of African Americans working “off the books” jobs and migrating North at the time.

However, small businesses and entrepreneurs have been longtime wealth builders in our society. By supporting more Black-owned businesses, we can create more opportunities for meaningful savings, property ownership, credit building and generational wealth.

Strengthens Local Economies

When Black businesses flourish, so do our communities. If consumer spending accounts for 70 percent of the entire US economy, imagine what directing some of that spending power to Black-owned businesses across the country can do. Supporting Black-owned businesses in turn supports families, employees, and other business owners, as well as attracts community investors who provide banking services, loans, and promote financial literacy–all things that build economic strength.

Job Creation

Many African-American business owners fund their own businesses out of pocket because of the lack of access to  capital. Still, Black-owned businesses—as a whole—are the second largest employer of Black people. Since Black-owned businesses are likely to hire from the local community, supporting them can foster the job opportunities people need to achieve financial stability.

Celebrates Black Culture and Serves Communities

Many Black entrepreneurs start businesses inspired by the richness of African-American culture itself–Black-owned clothing stores, hair care and make-up products, and children’s toys are just a few examples. And some Black-owned businesses are created to bring access to services specific to the community’s needs.  These kinds of business ventures uplift communities, fostering a sense of pride in the people that live there. When you support Black-owned businesses, you get products that are valuable for the unique character they bring. 

Accountability

When you choose a Black-owned business instead of other problematic companies (such as Starbucks or Gucci), you vote with your dollar by divesting from these kinds of practices and hold companies accountable. And further down the road, you empower successful minority-owned businesses to implement equitable policies. So instead of complaining about Gucci or Starbucks, let’s support each other.

READ MORE AT THE TRIBUNE”S WEBSITE

By Pat Bryant

Some of us are seriously depressed. The world we knew is seriously compromised if not collapsed.  The captains of industry and government don’t seem to know or care about our situations.  More than 60 million people are unemployed. About half particularly gig workers -but many others- have no income, rental and mortgage assistance, or healthcare.

But fear not.  We will overcome. God has not forsaken us. He knows and He cares. He has put his loving arms of protection around us. And we must work and fight with God. For 401 years African Americans prayed and fought to end slavery and its afterlife. God continues to intervene for us. But like Israel when we crossed our Red Sea, and made some progress, and we got distracted.

Too often we chose drunkenness and pleasure rather than community uplift. Our    community needs economic development, clean and safe housing, jobs with living wages including vacation, paid sick leave, and health benefits.

BRAVE NEW WORLD

Look around. We have new opportunities due to universal concern for COVID and the systemic stress on our healthcare system. Additionally, the economic downturn with more than 60 million out of work coupled with cop killings, and let’s not forget a climate crisis creates a sense of chaos.  In my 74 years I have never seen such economic collapse in the U S. This has created a new sense of racial solidarity. Blacks and whites marching together in the streets of America. Trump and the billionaires are scared to death at the sight of this.

Please know that Trump and the billionaires cannot safely reopen the economy. Look at Florida and Texas, fruits of corporate greed, racism and ignorance. Businesses and Trump forced the economy to reopen before it was safe. More people are getting sick now.  Coronavirus has no respect of race, sex, class or business interests. People will stop going out to work while it is dangerous.

We have to stay home and take care of the people getting evicted and foreclosed upon. We must feed the hungry. The homeless need our help. Love and care will lift us. We must fight the billionaires for healthcare, housing and other social needs. Keep our schools closed until it is safe. This must be done. 

With God, the rock of ages on our side, we can free ourselves. Be not afraid of the future.  The merchants of greed are falling on their swords. We must unite and save ourselves. We have to lay down racism, self-hate and destruction the byproducts of greed and corruption. 

Don’t be depressed.

We will save us.  And, ironically we will be saved by COVID as it forces people to stay home and our nation to bail out the unemployed, hungry, homeless, and sick.

This can be done. It has been done in Europe and the Caribbean.

You stay home and protect yourself.

 Peace.

Here’s Why It’s Possible But Not Likely

The timeline to develop a safe, effective vaccine to fight a virus is typically counted in years — or even decades.

But with the COVID-19 pandemic affecting millions around the world and killing hundreds of thousands of people, the race is on to produce a vaccine faster than ever before.

President Donald Trump has said a vaccine could be available by January, which would be an unprecedented development cycle.

But how realistic is that?

Experts say the goal is possible — but not likely.

Several companies and institutions are now doing research on a COVID-19 vaccine. How quickly they can develop the vaccine will depend on how clinical trials go. Getty Images

“This is a highly ambitious goal and, although a possibility, it far exceeds any vaccine development timeline in the past,” Dr. Larry S. Schlesinger, an infectious disease specialist and the chief executive officer and president of the Texas Biomedical Research Institute, told Healthline.

“Several steps done in parallel can cut some time (e.g., starting manufacturing vaccines during early clinical studies),” he said, “but the fundamental steps that need to be taken through clinical trials and animal studies take time and cannot be short circuited when working to create a safe and effective vaccine that will be used worldwide in different types of people of different ages.”

Timeline of an accelerated vaccine

There are a few factors working in favor of the possibility that we could have a COVID-19 vaccine sooner rather than later, even though experts are quick to note that the previously cited 12 to 18 month time frame would be the historical fast track.

The first is that while vaccines for other coronaviruses, including SARS and MERS, were never finally developed, the research done into understanding these viruses helped create the platform from which scientists could begin to understand COVID-19.

For instance, it took 4 months to sequence the genome for SARS in 2003. It took less than a week for researchers in China to sequence COVID-19 in early January, the South China Morning Post reported.

Another factor is that there are nearly a dozen COVID-19 vaccines in development around the world.

Of these, four or five look promising, with two set for large-scale testing by July, according to Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health.

The more teams there are working on vaccines with varied approaches worldwide, the greater likelihood one of them is successful.

“It’s not just one scientific concept that’s being pursued. All roads lead to Rome and there are a number of different roads being pursued,” said Dr. William Schaffner, a professor of preventive medicine in the Department of Health Policy and professor of medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Tennessee.

“The best result is that we get several different vaccines out there, all of which work. The worst is that none of them work. But probably we will be in the middle somewhere,” he said.

In difficult times, you need to be able to turn to experts who understand and can help strengthen your mental well-being. We’re here for you. READ MORE

Manufacturing early

Manufacturing capacity is another important aspect of how teams are approaching COVID-19 vaccination.

Typically, it would be a financial gamble to put a not-fully-tested vaccine into production. If it doesn’t work or is proven unsafe in clinical trials, the newly manufactured stock is useless and any investment is lost.

But with COVID-19, governments and manufacturers working in concert have decided that it’s worth producing a potentially unusable product if the vaccine comes to market more quickly.

That’s a large shortcut in typical vaccine development because it bucks a profit-and-loss equation in favor of the common good.

“Under conventional circumstances, you start the manufacturing process after it gets licensed [by the Food and Drug Administration],” Schaffner told Healthline. “But what’s happening here is that the United States government is making or will make an investment in actually starting to produce the vaccine in quantity before the final effectiveness trial is finished.”

“In order to help people early, you’re putting the money on what you think is the fast horse,” Schaffner said. “If the vaccine doesn’t work, then you have to throw all that vaccine out, you’ve wasted all that money, but the thought is, it’s only money. Let’s get this vaccine done because we can save lives.”

Finally, in addition to signing up volunteers early for regular vaccine trials, some companies are lining up “challenge trials,” an ethically controversial program in which human volunteers agree to be willingly exposed to the virus and risk injury to test the effectiveness of a vaccine.

“Challenging volunteers with this live virus risks inducing severe disease and possibly even death. However, we argue that such studies, by accelerating vaccine evaluation, could reduce the global burden of coronavirus-related mortality and morbidity,” noted researchers in the Journal of Infectious Diseases.

We’ll email you once a day as our news team publishes new and updated information about the novel coronavirus, including case counts and treatment information.

Promising early results 

So far, there have been some promising early results and optimistic claims.

A clinical trial currently ongoing at Oxford University in the United Kingdom promises 30 million doses of the vaccine by September if human trials are successful.

An animal trial — a collaboration between the National Institutes of Health and Oxford University — of a different vaccine tested in macaque monkeys appears to have protected the apes against COVID-19, paving the way for a human clinical trial.

But perhaps the biggest headline in recent weeks has come from the drug company Moderna, whose COVID-19 vaccine reportedly produced antibodies in 45 participants.

Those antibodies could offer protection against the virus, although it’s too early to tell whether this treatment offers the protection of a fully tested vaccine.

Still no guarantees

Some experts have thrown cold water on Moderna’s announcement, noting that the company has withheld key information needed to interpret that data correctly, including the ages of the participants and the results of other patients in the study, according to STAT News.

Of note, the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which partnered with Moderna on the vaccine and created the prototype, has remained mum.

That example highlights a gap between what many want — a speedy, effective vaccine — and the cold realities of vaccine development.

“There’s a saying in research that there are a thousand ways to do an experiment wrong and that’s especially true in clinical research,” Dr. Henry I. Miller, MS, a senior fellow at the Pacific Research Institute, told Healthline.

“For one thing, the vaccine candidates might not actually work, or they might increase the virulence of a post-vaccination infection. Or the immunity could be too transient to justify vaccinating three billion people,” he said.

And those are just a few of the factors that could halt or inhibit successful development.

“There is a likelihood that the lead vaccines work in some people with some level of protection, the so-called prototype vaccines, but will not be optimized,” Schlesinger said. “This will slow the timetable to further develop the right dosing, route of administration, and knowledge regarding the timing of so-called booster shots that will be necessary for a sustained effect of the vaccine.”

“Based on the history of making vaccines, there are often stumbling blocks regarding safety and efficacy that markedly slow down the process,” he added.

In short: Stay optimistic, but be prepared to settle in for the long-haul.

From the Black Women’s Health Imperative

These are stressful times in the age of COVID-19. We are all facing the fears and anxiety of what’s next.

We are losing friends and family members, and we are hearing more about the roles health disparities are playing in the high rates of COVID-19 infections in communities of color.

But how do Black women and families stay mentally healthy and whole?

How the pandemic contributes to added stress and anxiety

In addition to fears of contracting the virus, we are dealing with the economic instability it has caused. Black women tend to be among the most economically vulnerable.

This pandemic has raised the stakes.

Fears of unemployment, job furloughs, and revenue losses for small businesses are ramping up stress and triggering the mental health issues that are so real on a daily basis.

Anxiety about paying the rent, educating the kids, and buying food are overwhelming, too.

The Black Women’s Health Imperative knows that so many Black women and men are struggling to keep their emotional footing, especially now.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), approximately 30% of African American adults with a mental illness receive treatment each year, compared to the U.S. average of 43%.

We can and must do better in providing access to care and resources, especially now.

Addressing barriers to mental health care access

Even without a global pandemic, communities of color struggle against the stigma in order to address their mental health needs. It is a challenge to be able to afford counseling and culturally appropriate support.

Actress Taraji P. Henson is doing her part through her Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation (BLHF).

Henson recently launched a COVID-19 virtual therapy initiative to serve communities of color as they navigate major life changes triggered by the coronavirus crisis.

“(BLHF) recognizes that during this difficult time, affording the cost of mental health services can be a barrier in the African American community.

“Having to choose between a meal and mental health is not something that one should ever have to ponder,” Henson says in a statement on the BLHF website.

“We’re walking around broken, wounded and hurt, and we don’t think it’s OK to talk about it,” she says.

“We don’t talk about it at home. It’s shunned. It’s something that makes you look weak. We’re told to pray it away,” she adds.

“People are killing themselves. People are numbing out on drugs. Not everything is fixed with a pill.”

This new COVID-19 world of lost jobs and isolation has made it more complicated. But organizations that offer mental health support, like BLHF, can be so important to people who are struggling in this crisis and beyond.

Tips to manage your mental health

Finally, mental health and medical experts are acknowledging the impact of stress, post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD), depression, trauma, and other mental health struggles in Black communities.

Barbara J. Brown, PhD, Washington, DC-based psychologist of Capitol Hill Consortium for Counseling and Consultation, LLC, says, “Whether it is COVID-19 or something else, it will always be true that the greater the loss of control that we feel from something outside of ourselves, the greater the need will be to find a center of control within ourselves.”

This virus is uncharted territory for all of us, and you don’t need a diagnosis to acknowledge and validate your feelings of stress and uncertainty.

“Boosting our internal coping skills is our best defense to manage our mental health during the current COVID-19 pandemic, Brown says.

“If we are going to build emotional immunity to stress, we must attend to the core areas of sleep, exercise, and nutrition to create a foundation of emotional wellness.

Here are some things you can do now to support your emotional and mental health.

Manage medications

If you have a diagnosis and have been prescribed medication to manage your mental health, keep taking it.

And if you can’t afford your medication, due to job loss, loss of insurance, or other issues, there are resources available.

Establish a routine

Get a schedule and try to stick to it daily. Routine is so important in managing your mental and physical health.

Eat healthy

Fresh healthy food, like fruits and vegetables, are important to managing your physical and mental well-being. Avoid high fat and high sugar foods that offer empty calories.

Exercise

Get some fresh air and exercise. You may not be able to go to a gym at this point, but there are many online classes that can help you get 30 minutes plus of mood-lifting exercise.

Yoga practices can help boost both mental and physical health. Or just get out and walk.

Be sure to practice physical distancing, also referred to as social distancing, and wear a mask, if you are going to be around other people.

Make an uplifting playlist

Get a playlist of your favorite music. It can help lift your mood and calm your anxiety and fears. It may be gospel, jazz, hip hop, old school, pop, or any other type of music.

Establish connections

Find new ways to connect with family, friends, and colleagues.

One of the biggest concerns is the isolation we are all feeling from staying in the house. Reach out to friends via social media, phone calls, and video streaming services. These tools can help us feel connected.

Nourish your spirit

Don’t ignore your spiritual health.

Meditation, faith, and prayer are all important at times like these. Just because we can’t go to a service right now doesn’t mean that we can’t worship at a distance together.

Connect virtually.

Bottom line

Try not to focus on the things you can’t change right now. Instead, focus on the things you can control.

Never be afraid to reach out for help; whether you use virtual therapy or choose to call a hotline, stay connected.

And remember that it will get better if we stay connected.


Black Women's Health Imperative logo

The Black Women’s Health Imperative (BWHI) is the first nonprofit organization founded by Black women to protect and advance the health and well-being of Black women and girls. Learn more about BWHI by going to www.bwhi.org.

Last medically reviewed on June 10, 2020

By Kenneth Cooper

So there’s this toddler, running wild in the store, unsupervised, terrorizing the aisles, parent nowhere to be found, or if nearby, staring down at their phone while all this is going on. You watch this kid, as he rips items down from the shelves, kick boxes over, shouts out gibberish with no audible regard. You think about slapping him, but of course he’s not yours, so maybe you’ll register a complaint instead. Something like, “Hey, will you come get your goddamn kid?”

But you realize that your complaint will probably be ignored – lost in a sea of dissolving neurons – or met with hostility, so you just push your basket down the aisle, choosing to mind your business instead. Later, at home, it hits you, and you’re like, Wow, this kid demonstrated all the qualities of being a NOPD Task Force officer.

While some police departments around the country seem to suffer from systemic racism, the NOPD seems to suffer from a lack of systemic supervision. That’s the synopsis of a Special Report by the Monitoring Team assigned to track the NOPD’s compliance with the federal consent decree it’s been operating under since 2012.

Task force officers routinely terrorize neighborhoods like toddlers in a supermarket, or as the report states: Community members often raised specific concerns over task forces, whose members wear distinctive military-style uniforms and are referred to throughout the City (and colloquially within the police department) as “jump out boys.” One sergeant, assigned to a community relations position, acknowledged that the task forces “are perceived by the community as jump out boys, dirty cops, the ones who are going to be brutal.”

“…the ones who are going to be brutal.”

Often this brutality goes undocumented, via shoddy record keeping, or “issues” with the body cameras. Supervisors apparently spend more time looking at their phones than they do supervising the task force they’re assigned to. The report, though general, documented a systematic failure that allows task force officers to just run wild.

The Monitors audited 4 districts over a 6-month period, November of 2019 – April 2020. They audited districts 2, 4, 6, & 7. Some highlights:

District 2:

Two sergeants’ Daily Activity Reports could not be located.

“…could not be located” (like at all, like they did no work in 6 months)

District 4:

One Task Force shift had no Daily Activity Reports from any supervisor for the entire week, although the Daily Lineups indicated a supervisor was working.

District 7:

One sergeant worked six of seven days during the audit period, but, according to his/her records engaged in almost no supervisory activity during that time. Other supervisors similarly spent significant periods of time with no records of engaging in supervisory activities. Two Task Force officers openly discussed on their BWCs “what we should do today,” strongly suggesting the officers were not given any particular mission or assignment.

Tire from crashed & stolen SUV that killed 3 and burned down historic building after unauthorized police chase

During this time task force officers also chased two minors who had stolen a car until they (the minors) crashed into a beauty salon, killing themselves and a lady who was getting her hair done. Another task force, served a warrant, i.e. possibly kicked in somebody’s door, “without supervision, without a plan, without proper uniforms, without vests, and without an appropriate focus on officer or civilian safety.” That’s the type of police work that got Breonna Taylor killed in Kentucky.

Maybe we should file a complaint. I wonder if it would be ignored or met with hostility. All tasks force operations have been temporarily suspended while the NOPD accesses the situation, and the 40 page audit ends with an 11 page declaration from the NOPD to conduct a thorough review and a vow that if the the task forces are reinstated their supervisors will do what they should’ve been doing all along — their jobs. We’ll see. Meanwhile, stay woke and tuned in.