The Daily Dose: SpaceX makes history; Hydrochloroquine debate sputtered on

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SpaceX took another significant step in its methodical march to Mars this weekend when its space capsule successfully docked with the International Space Station. If there’s any doubt regarding the importance of the weekend’s events, contextualizes in terms past, less successful attempts to jump start the colonization of the Red Planet.

New York City became the epicenter of the global COVID-19 pandemic in early March. Researchers studied the genetics of local coronaviruses in order to better understand its appearance in the city. According to the paper published in Science, “Phylogenetic analysis of 84 distinct SARS-CoV2 genomes indicates multiple, independent but isolated introductions mainly from Europe and other parts of the United States. Moreover, we find evidence for community transmission of SARS-CoV-2 as suggested by clusters of related viruses found in patients living in different neighborhoods of the city.” Thankfully, the numbers have decreased steadily thanks to concerted city, state, and public health efforts and is no longer the epicenter.

Just when you thought the hydroxychloroquine debate had been settled, a letter to the Lancet and signed by 120 scientists muddies the water once again. It is in response to a recent study that indicated that extended use of the drug to treat COVID-19 resulted in increased fatalities and the World Health Organization paused studies involving the drug. As per Nature, “Researchers have been eagerly awaiting results from clinical trials to yield a clear answer. But now they fear that the Lancet study, and the negative press coverage that followed, might dissuade patients from joining the trials, which would make it even harder to determine whether the drug works against COVID-19.”

There has been a steady decline of insect populations around the world in recent years. The phenomenon has significant implications in terms of plant-life and, by extension, global CO2 levels. One proposed explanation is known as the Nutrition Deficiency hypothesis. According to the paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, “The decline in plant nutrients accounted for 25% of the variation in grasshopper abundance over two decades. Thus a warming, wetter, more CO2-enriched world will likely contribute to declines in insect herbivores by depleting nutrients from their already nutrient-poor diet.”

IMAGE SOURCE: Creative Commons

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