The Daily Dose: China’s enjoying America’s mishandling of the COVID-19 outbreak; More hints of life on Mars

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In what can only be labelled the least surprising development of the COVID-19 outbreak, Chinese social media is bursting with smarmy comments regarding America’s bungled response. As per Quartz, “In comments, many users expressed surprise that a country that holds itself up as the world’s foremost democracy would struggle to manage an epidemic like this, and that its health care system isn’t equipped to treat the growing number of cases…” The media are also taking advantage of America’s mishandling of the outbreak with one outlet declaring, “As the only superpower in the world, which is more developed than China, the US is supposed to have better medical and disease-prevention conditions.” They aren’t completely wrong (Looking at you CDC…). Considering the tone of certain elements of American social media for the past couple of months, some might say it’s simply a case of what goes around, comes around. And that’s without even mentioning the racism.

According to Science, some of Boston’s top biotech minds are coming together under the umbrella of Chinese largess. “A $115 million collaboration to tackle the rapidly spreading viral disease COVID-19, led by heavy hitters of Boston science and funded by a Chinese property development company, kicked off today as the group’s leaders pledged to take on the virus on many fronts. The project brings together researchers at many of the city’s top academic institutions, along with local biotechnology companies such as Moderna. Those leading it hope they can quickly funnel money into studies that will build off a new repository of samples from infected people and community surveillance, materials that can be rapidly shared among scientists. The project, they anticipate, should answer critical questions about how COVID-19 is spreading and how best to prevent and treat infections.” At least someone is tapping America’s vast resource of top-notch minds. It’s proof that if the Trump Administration continues along it’s anti-science/anti-sense trajectory, someone will step into the vacuum. In an interesting twist, Zhong Nanshan from the Guangzhou Institute of Respiratory Health is leading the Chinese end of the collaboration. He has been the authoritative voice in China suggesting that the virus probably originated in another country. The assertion gave enough cover for people to run with the theory that America is the source of SARS-CoV-2.

Nurses in the United States are sounding the alarm. They are very worried that not enough is being done to deal with the COVID-19 outbreak. As per the Guardian, “National Nurses United (NNU) released results from a survey of more than 6,500 nurses across 48 states, Washington DC, and the Virgin Islands. Less than half of nurses surveyed – 44% – said their employers provided them information on novel coronavirus and ‘how to recognize and respond to possible cases’. Just 63% of nurses surveyed had access to N95 respirators in their units, while a mere 27% had access to powered air purifying respirators.” Hopefully, the thus far reactionary Trump Administration can get in front of the situation before it is too late.

While we are on the topic of the Trump Administration, the President approved an $8.3 billion spending package intended to bolster the American effort to combat the novel coronavirus. As per Fox News, “President Trump signed an $8.3 billion spending bill Friday aimed at fighting the coronavirus outbreak, the culmination of a widely bipartisan effort by Congress and the White House to provide funds to federal agencies, as well as state and local governments, to battle the disease.” That is great news. Now, if only the President and his people would just stop insisting that the situation is contained. (I write this as Larry Kudlow is just the latest cabinet member to triple-down on the notion during an interview on CNBC.)

Astrobiologists at Washington State University have some almost-exciting news regarding organic molecules on Mars. As per CNET, “Scientists are investigating Martian thiophenes, organic molecules that are found in white truffles and coal on our planet. The question is if those compounds formed through chemical or biological processes on Mars. Researchers aren’t ruling out a biological origin.” Two future Mars rovers — NASA’s 2020 rover and ESA’s Rosalind Frank — will carry tools designed to shed more light on whether the red planet once supported forms of life.

Speaking of NASA’s next Mars rover. The agency announced the results in a public name-that-rover contest they had been holding over. A middle-schooler from Virginia won the honors. As per NASA, “NASA’s next Mars rover has a new name – Perseverance… The name was announced Thursday by Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of the Science Mission Directorate, during a celebration at Lake Braddock Secondary School in Burke, Virginia. Zurbuchen was at the school to congratulate seventh grader Alexander Mather, who submitted the winning entry to the agency’s ‘Name the Rover’ essay contest, which received 28,000 entries from K-12 students from every U.S. state and territory.”

IMAGE SOURCE: Creative Commons

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