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[VIDEO] The Prime Times - October 2015

The Prime Times is back with another dose of health and insurance news from around the world. This month we look at a promising cure for a common type of blindness, kidnapping in Macau casinos, and how science is boosting the effectiveness of this year's flu vaccines.

Posted on Oct 15, 2015 by Travis Jones

Users in China can watch this video on Youku here.


A cure for blindness?

We start this month with a story that brings hope to many and inspires faith in medical technology, as surgeons at Moorfields Eye Hospital in the UK have successfully performed a monumental new procedure that is a promising stride towards curing the patient of a major type of blindness.

This type of blindness is known as macular degeneration, and it is marked by the gradual and worsening vision that many people experience as they age.

How common is macular degeneration? In the UK, where the surgery took place, 600,000 people are affected by the condition, which is nearly 1% of the country’s population.

The process works by culturing stem cells in a lab and transplanting them into a patient’s eyes.

Although the full impact on the patient’s sight has yet to be fully realized, one of the surgeons involved in the procedure, Professor Lyndon Da Cruz, is optimistic that her sight will be restored.

This surgery could be routine in as few as 5 years. Are we entering an age where macular degeneration is a thing of the past? Let’s just say, the future is looking bright.


Macau abductions on the rise

In decidedly more disturbing news, abductions in Macau have seen a dramatic rise in recent months.

Following economic woes in both Macau, which has recently seen a 35.5% decrease in year-on-year casino revenues, and China, where stock market plunges have highlighted recent financial news, it seems that some gamblers are having a hard time paying back what they owe to people or businesses that more apt to be calling in outstanding debts.

This is leading to a rather high frequency of high-rollers being held against their will in Macau hotels until their family and friends can raise the funds needed to satisfy their debt. In fact, as many as 170 people were reported to have been abducted in Macau in the first half of 2015 alone - more than double the number from the same time the previous year – and many more unreported cases are likely to have occurred.

These cases are unique for kidnappings, as only what is owed is demanded, and not the exorbitant ransoms that many people associate with abductions.

Fortunately for parties involved, there are ways to protect against abduction. Private kidnapping insurance policies can be obtained the provide benefits should an insured person be held for ransom. Similarly, casinos and hotels in Macau have been purchasing such policies to protect themselves from the legal liability that could come from one of their guests being abducted on their premises.

An unusual insurance to be sure, but also one that really provides peace of mind for the right kind of people.


Fearsome flu fighter

It may just be starting to cool down in some places, but it’s certainly not too early to have an eye on the coming flu season. After last year’s especially intense flu strains, steps are being taken to try to improve the effectiveness of flu vaccines in 2015.

Recognizing that a particular strain of the flu that mutated to wreak havoc on a global scale in 2014, the H3N2 strain, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Foundation for Infectious Disease have developed vaccines that will be especially effective against it.

Last year’s flu vaccine was only 13% effective against the mutated strain, while the goal for this year’s vaccines is 50-60% effectiveness.

The Southern Hemisphere’s winter has shown that the H3N2 strain is still dominant on a global scale. 

Depending on which vaccine a person receives, they will have increased immunity against 3 or 4 influenza strains. Of course, nothing is guaranteed with a flu vaccine, but for the elderly and children that are at risk for the flu, getting a booster shot is almost always a good idea.

Better book an appointment now before temperatures really take a plunge!

That’s it for this edition of the Prime Times. We’ll be back next month with another dose of health and insurance news. Until then, for all your international health insurance needs, be sure to check out!

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