The Daily Dose: You can design NASA’s outer space toilet and win $30K in the process

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Since the initial outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, one of the major mysteries baffling public health officials and scientists has been why some people develop serious symptoms while others don’t. A new paper attempts to answer that. While their observations don’t break new ground, it’s still an important step. As per Nature, “Tracing the evolution of SARS-CoV-2 is fundamental for informing the public-health policies needed to limit disease spread. Dissecting the underlying causes and mechanisms of perturbed immune defences, such as the depletion of CD3+ T cells and the heightened pro-inflammatory response, as well as determining the crucial clinical and molecular hallmarks of COVID-19, are of paramount importance for the design of treatment strategies and effective vaccines.” One thing that is clear is that the early classification of COVID-19 as a primarily respiratory infection was mistaken.

Two new papers establish that the serious post-infection syndrome that seems to affect young children is more widespread than believed. As per STAT, “Two U.S. research groups have reported finding nearly 300 cases of an alarming apparent side effect of Covid-19 in children, a condition called multisystem inflammation syndrome, or MIS-C. While researchers have previously reported on the condition, the papers mark the first attempt to measure how frequently the side effect occurs and how it affects children who develop it.” Public health officials continue to stress that young children are less likely to become infected and exhibit much milder symptoms.

There are many fronts in the battle against antibiotic resistance. Stewardship ensures that the correct medicine is prescribed for the proper infection. This prevents overuse. However, it’s important to have good data. In Lower-/Middle Income Countries, this is actually a problem and researchers have experienced it first hand. “Antibiotics are highly prescribed in primary care across LMICs. Although a subset of studies reported a high proportion of inappropriate use, the true extent could not be assessed due to methodological limitations.” Getting a firm grasp of antibiotic prescription trends in LMIC countries is a major challenge but a necessity. Stewardship still pages in these countries.

Ever wonder how future lunar and Martian settlers will relieve themselves away from Earth and her gravity? Turns out you’re not alone. NASA is soliciting ideas from private companies and the public. As per, “The contest calls for designs that work in lunar gravity, which is about one-sixth Earth’s gravity and microgravity. Designs should also take up no more than 4.2 cubic feet (0.12 cubic meters) of space and shouldn’t be louder than 60 decibels (that’s about the same volume as a bathroom fan on Earth, according to the same statement.)” We’re not even going to get into disposal…

IMAGE SOURCE: Creative Commons

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