Covid antiviral now available

Paxlovid, a drug produced by Pfizer that can reduce the risk of hospitalisation and severe disease in COVID if given early enough, has been available in Irish hospitals since mid-April.

The HSE has indicated that the drug will largely be used to treat older or at-risk unvaccinated patients along with immunocompromised people. However, it is worth noting that the drug may not be suitable for everyone given the large number of interactions it has with other medications. So if you are on any other meds it is important to discuss this in advance with your doctor.

A drug produced by Pfizer that can reduce the risk of hospitalisation and severe disease if given early in infection has been available in Irish hospitals since mid-April.

For those who will be able to avail of the drug, it is considered a “gamechanger” in the treatment of the COVID-19. It is part of a pharmaceutical class called protease inhibitors and is designed to block an enzyme that the COVID-19 virus needs to multiply.

Manufacturers say that it can cut the risk of a person with the virus being admitted to hospital and dying because of the illness. It should be given within three to five days of catching the infection.

Treating colic

A food supplement aimed at relieving colic in babies has been launched by Mullingar based company MyPro Family. Manufacturers say that Kolicare contains two strains of probiotic; one found naturally in breast milk and one that is found in the gut of a healthy baby. The product helps to top up the good bacteria in the baby’s system and help it mature, they say, so that they can pass wind without discomfort.

A food supplement aimed at relieving colic in babies has been launched by Mullingar based company, MyPro Family

KoliCare is administered via drops into the infant’s mouth once a day before their first meal. It can also be added to baby’s formula or applied directly to the nipple if breastfeeding.

It costs €14.95 and is available from pharmacies. See

The future of palliative care in Ireland

Irish citizens are being offered the opportunity to shape the future of palliative care by participating in a forum established by the All-Ireland Institute of Hospice and Palliative Care (AIIHPC).

The aim to learn from people’s personal experiences of palliative care and to inform and influence palliative care on the island of Ireland. The forum is called Voices4Care.

Applications for this will close on Monday 9 May 2022.

Who can volunteer? Members of Voices4Care will include people with a life limiting illness/palliative care needs, carers or former carers of people with palliative care needs and any citizens with an interest in palliative care.

For further information about joining Voices4Care see or contact Paula Pinto or telephone 087 1961430.

Exposing the myths about nutrition and cancer

“Patients and their family often seek advice on diet and nutrition while undergoing treatment for cancer,” says Professor Michaela Higgins, president of the Irish Society of Medical Oncology (ISMO). However, with so much information out there how can you know what to trust?

With that in mind, UCC and the medical research charity Breakthrough Cancer Research recently published a new booklet, The Truth Behind Food And Cancer, which provides sound advice backed up by scientific sources.

“The booklet offers no jargon, no nonsense, straight-up accessible advice from experts without an agenda,” says Elaine Tierney, who has had cancer herself.

With many people confused by information about nutrition in the media, this booklet has been launched, the authors say, to expose the myths and misconceptions around the links between food and cancer and to offer simple explanations and advice based on medical evidence.

Some of the findings are:

  • There is no link between consuming soya and cancer.
  • Vitamin and mineral supplements should not be required unless you are deficient in a particular area.
  • Vitamin infusions: There is no evidence that administering vitamin C or any other vitamin by intravenous drip can cure or treat cancer. They can, however, interfere with chemotherapy or radiation treatments.
  • Organic: There is no strong evidence that shows that organic food reduced the risk of developing cancer.
  • Superfoods: There is no single food or nutrient that can prevent or cure cancer. Cancer patients taking spices or any herbal remedies need to inform their oncology team.
  • Dairy: There is no strong evidence that links dairy products to an increased risk of cancer.
  • Sugar: Restricting the amount of sugar you eat has not been proven to slow down or control the growth of cancer cells. Sugar can be included as part of a balanced diet. However, obesity due to an unbalanced diet does increase cancer risk.
  • Artificial sweeteners: no link has been found between these and increased risk of cancer.
  • Ketogenic diet: this is not recommended for cancer patients or prevention.
  • Free copies of the booklet can be obtained in local hospitals and cancer support centres. The booklet was written by oncology dietitians Dr Aoife Ryan and Clodagh Scannell and Michelle Hanna of UCC as well as Dr Derek Power, consultant medical oncologist.

    Developmental check

    Many children missed out on their developmental checks during the pandemic because public health nurses (PHNs) were unable to visit homes during lockdowns. The HSE says that these checks are now taking place but if you, in advance of being notified of a check, have any concerns about your child you should contact your GP or local PHN, they say.

    Developmental checks should be carried out four times before a child turns three years of age (at three months of age, nine to 11 months, 18 to 24 months and between three years and three months and three years and six months). Therefore, many children born around the time the pandemic started have missed several of these check-ups.

    Injection to treat obesity

    A new obesity drug, Wegovy, has been approved for use in Ireland and in all EU countries. It is for adults with obesity (BMI>30) who have at least one weight-related health issue. It helps to control appetite and is expected to be available in Ireland by early next year, according to obesity expert, Professor Donal O’Shea.

    “It is the first step-change in drug management of obesity,” he said.

    The drug is administered through weekly injections and clinical trials found that it reduces body weight by 19-38kg but the weight loss is only sustained if continued long term. Price is not known yet but there are suggestions that it is ‘very expensive’ at present with world authorities working to get the price reduced.

    Did you know?

  • VHI and LAYA are waiving a portion of customers’ premiums and returning money directly back to them. This is in acknowledgment of the lower numbers of claims during the pandemic. Customers will receive the money into their bank accounts and amounts will vary from €75 to €300 per adult depending on what cover plan they are on. Customers will be written to about this.
  • •A six-week online cookery course for menopausal women is available from Ballymaloe-trained chef Fiona Stauntion at
  • • The width of your arm span stretched out is equal to the length of your whole body

    • Trinity research has shown that family carers are a “taken for granted workforce”. See report here

    • Almost half of Irish adults over 40 believe they don’t eat enough protein or don’t know if they are meeting dietary guidelines, according to a John West survey. Consumption of adequate amounts can ward against loss of muscle mass and function.

    • There are approximately 96,000km of blood vessels in the human body

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