Connect with us

Latest News

How Sergei and Yulia Skripal survived the novichok attack

Published

on

Poisoned spy Sergei Skripal is no longer in a critical condition and his daughter says her strength is “growing daily”. Just a few weeks ago they were seemingly on the brink of death – so how did they survive?

Alastair Hay, Professor of Environmental Toxicology at Leeds University, tells Sky News how they may have fought off the novichok nerve agent and managed a “miracle” recovery.

:: But first, how dangerous is novichok really?

“The nerve agents are deadly,” says Prof Hay.

“That’s why they were chosen as chemical weapons. If you are exposed to a number of lethal doses then invariably it is fatal.”

They block acetylcholinesterase, an enzyme active in the nervous system.

The result is involuntary contraction of all muscles, leading to cardiac arrest and asphyxiation.

One of the scientists who helped make novichok has also told Sky News the substance was designed to do “irreparable” damage to the body.


preview image



Video:
Nerve agents: What they are and how they kill

:: Paramedics’ quick treatment was crucial

“The Skripals have survived because they’ve had great medical care,” says Prof Hay.

“I’m sure if the paramedics hadn’t been on the scene as quickly as they were – and were able to ensure that the Skripals kept breathing – they wouldn’t have survived.”

The former spy and his daughter were reportedly frothing at the mouth when they were found on a bench in Salisbury last month.

Those who made the first 999 call may have saved their lives.

Police say the bench will be removed on Friday
Image:
The bench where the Skripals were found on 4 March

:: Did they get an antidote?

There isn’t a magic-pill “cure” for novichok poisoning – which makes treating it something of an inexact science.

Prof Hay says “doctors treating the Skripals would have been a bit in the dark about some aspects of their treatment” because “a very specific (antidote) to target the nerve agent and pull it off an enzyme that is blocked is just not known”.

However, the toxicology expert says the father and daughter were likely to have been given one of several general antidotes.

In this case, they appear to have helped.

:: Sergei Skripal no longer in a critical condition

Professor Hay says their recover is testament to the care and skill of the NHS
Image:
Professor Hay says paramedics’ quick response was vital

:: The body ‘flushes out’ the nerve agent

The precise way novichok is metabolised by the body is not fully known, says Prof Hay.

However, if someone can be kept alive long enough after the initial poisoning, then the body stands a chance of ridding itself of the toxin.

“The nerve agents are eventually metabolised and excreted from the body,” explains the professor.

“So it’s highly unlikely there is any nerve agent present… after even a couple of weeks.

“We don’t know too much about how these compounds are metabolised, but we do know they would eventually be excreted.”

It is possible that Ms Skripal, 33, and her father, 66, were sedated to reduce stress on the brain while the body flushed out the nerve agent.

“Once they had some idea the nerve agent had probably been removed from the body, they could bring somebody out of sedation,” explains Prof Hay.

:: Body starts making the blocked enzyme

The enzyme suppressed by nerve agents such as novichok “is eventually made again in the body”.

That’s what could have kickstarted the rapid improvement seen in the Skripals’ health over the last few weeks.

“If you can keep someone alive eventually they will recover because the body makes up what was blocked by the nerve agent,” says Prof Hay.

“And that happens increasingly, and that’s why someone progresses and improves… The recovery of the enzyme in the nervous system would ensure that the recovery would continue and improve considerably.

“I’m delighted that appears to be the case with Yulia Skripal.”

The forensic tent, covering the bench where Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were found, is repositioned by officials in protective suits
Image:
The hazmat suits worn in Salisbury are an indication of how dangerous novichok is

:: ‘Saved by the NHS’

“In a way it is a miracle really,” says Prof Hay.

“But also a testimony to our NHS: great doctors well-trained, looking after people appropriately and well.

“So it’s the skill of our doctors that’s ensured their survival. Without it, I’m pretty certain they would not have survived.”

Source link

Latest News

Coronavirus: ‘We’re facing a war’ – Italy’s frontline doctors fear losing control as hospital cases increase | World News

Published

on

Watching Dr Silvana Di Florio ready herself to enter an intensive care ward where every bed currently set aside for COVID-19 patients is already full reminds you of the seriousness of the virus.

With the help of another staff member she layers herself in protective clothing: A mask, overalls, and then a vast hood with a clear visor, looking other-worldly to the untrained eye.

She is the head of ICU nursing at the Tor Vergata Hospital in Rome and is feeling the intense pressure of a second wave of COVID.

We get a chance to speak to her before she enters the area where day by day the demands on staff increase dramatically. And these are medical professionals still trying to recover from the physical and mental stresses of the spring outbreak.

Silvana Di Florio
Image:
Dr Di Florio is head of intensive care nursing at one of Rome’s biggest hospitals

She seems calm as she starts to speak: “At the beginning we were those who were facing a global health emergency.”

She then pauses and starts to sob, telling us: “Now we are facing a war. We are tired. We are few. Some are sick, and with few resources.

“But we are always present, always prepared, always really careful.”

As she composes herself, she says: “I believe that sometimes we are able to go on even just for the ‘thank you’ that the patient tells us.”

It is clear that Dr Di Florio and others dealing with the second wave of COVID are struggling physically and emotionally.

Tor Vergata Hospital
Image:
Ambulances recently had to queue for hours to admit virus patients

She tells us that her staff get tested regularly in order not to miss a shift. Demand is growing and scared as they might be, they feel like “missionaries” doing a job.

Tor Vergata Hospital is one of the largest in the Italian capital and doctors and nurses are blunt about the reality facing them – that it will not be able to cope if COVID numbers continue to rise.

From the safety of a corridor in the infectious diseases department we are shown rooms all now occupied by COVID patients.

Tor Vergata Hospital in Rome
Image:
Staff fear they won’t be able to cope if patient numbers keep increasing

Just days ago, ambulances queued for up to nine hours to admit patients.

Looking through the glass into the rooms one can only imagine what it is like for the sick here; cut off from family, unable to have visitors, wondering if they will even be aware when and if the day comes when they will deteriorate far enough that they will need to be moved to ICU.

Professor Massimo Andreoni, who heads the department, warns things are going to get worse and there is, he says, only one solution – a national lockdown.

“So I think that it is very important to start quickly in lockdown and to stop the pandemic,” he says.

Prof Massimo Andreoni
Image:
Prof Andreoni said another national lockdown is the only way things will get better

“This is the only possibility because there is not the capacity to have sufficient beds in the hospital for these patients.”

It is a stark warning from a man who fears impossible pressures on the health service.

For now though, it is a move the Italian government resists. What happens in the nation’s hospitals in the coming days may force a change in political strategy.

Source link

Continue Reading

Latest News

Two British teenagers killed and one seriously injured in Greece parasailing accident | UK News

Published

on

Two British teenagers have been killed and another is in a serious condition after a parasailing accident in Greece.

The trio are said to have been found on rocks near Lindos on the island of Rhodes.

The Greek coastguard said the rope holding their parachute had snapped.

One of the group, a 15-year-old boy, is in hospital with multiple injuries, but his 13-year-old brother and 15-year old female cousin died.

The bodies were found after the driver of the boat called emergency services, said the coastguard.

“They were following a speedboat. The rope was cut,” it added in a statement.

“The boy and the girl were killed and another was heavily injured and brought to hospital. It is under investigation about how the rope was cut.”

The teenagers bodies were found on rocks near Lindon (pictured)
Image:
The teenagers were found on rocks near Lindos (pictured)

Greek media reported that Wednesday’s incident happened in high winds.

The boat’s driver and another person have been arrested.

The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) said: “We are supporting the family of two British people following their death in Rhodes, and are in contact with the Greek authorities.”

Source link

Continue Reading

Latest News

Son of Walter Wallace Jr says ‘white racist cops’ killed his father | US News

Published

on

The eight-year-old son of a black man shot dead by Philadelphia police has said he believes the officers involved were racist.

Zamir, the eldest son of Walter Wallace Jr, said on Wednesday that “white racist cops” had killed his father as he told reporters what he would remember about him.

“We used to always hang out and we’d always go places, and we used to always play around,” Zamir said, adding: “He used to always teach me how to be a man.

“These white racist cops got my own dad. Black lives still matter.”

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Moments before black man’s shooting by police

Mr Wallace was shot dead in the street on Monday in an incident caught on camera and later widely shared on the web.

The footage, filmed by a bystander, shows police officers firing several times at the 27-year-old after yelling at him to drop a knife.

According to the family lawyer, Shaka Johnson, Mr Wallace’s relatives had called an ambulance to help the father of nine rather than police as they believed he was experiencing a mental health crisis.

More from Black Lives Matter

Mr Johnson said it was also believed the officers knew about the crisis because they had visited the family home three times on the day of the shooting.

The incident has since sparked two consecutive nights of protesting in Philadelphia that began with peaceful marching and the chanting of Mr Wallace’s name, before being taken over by violence.

Walter Wallace
Image:
Mr Wallace’s death has sparked two consecutive nights of protesting

On Tuesday evening, several protesters threw rocks, light bulbs and bricks at officers near a police station in the city, while looters were also spotted ransacking shops.

It followed a night of unrest on Monday, where more than 90 people were arrested and 30 police officers were injured.

Speaking on behalf of the family, Mr Wallace’s father criticised the violence and looting, which has resulted in the National Guard being deployed.

He said he was haunted by the way his son was “butchered” but said he wanted protesters in Philadelphia to show his family and the city “some kind of respect”.

“It’s uncalled for,” Mr Wallace said of the violence. “It really is.”

The parents of the man shot dead by police in Philadelphia called for calm as protests erupted over a video of the incident
Image:
Walter Wallace Sr says he is haunted by the way his son was ‘butchered’

State and local officials are now calling for a transparent investigation into Mr Wallace’s death, while Philadelphia police commissioner Danielle Outlaw said she was reviewing what information could be made public.

This includes whether the officers were aware of the possible mental health crisis mentioned by the family.

Mr Wallace Jr’s death is the latest killing of a black person by US police officers, and comes after months of Black Lives Matter protests, sparked initially by the death of George Floyd.

Mr Wallace Jr’s wife Dominique is pregnant and is due to have her labour induced later today.

Source link

Continue Reading

Trending