The Daily Dose: Europe struggling to keep under-40s from partying; Looks like someone was poisoned.

English authorities are back-tracking after deciding that secondary school students did not have to wear face masks. According to the BBC, “Secondary pupils will have to wear face coverings in school corridors in local lockdown areas of England, after the government reversed its guidance. Head teachers in any secondary school will also have the ‘flexibility’ to introduce masks in their schools. Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said it followed updated advice from the World Health Organization.” England’s response to the COVID-19 has been uneven so far and the country’s high infection rate is reflective of No.10’s lethargic decision making.

If anyone was under the impression that the United States was the only country where 20-somethings are going on a mass gathering tear, think again. News out of Europe indicates that older people are frustrated with the younger generation’s laissez faire attitude towards COVID-19. Per France24, “In much of western Europe, ‘it is largely the younger groups who are out and about, mixing, taking advantage of the lockdowns being released’, with gatherings of young people at ‘hospitality venues such as bars and at house parties’ responsible for a significant number of coronavirus clusters.” The question is: does Europe have a vacation spot as fresh as the Ozarks? (That’s a joke.)

The hospital treating Russian dissident Alexei Navalny in Germany’s has indicated that early speculation that he was poisoned is most likely true. According to Deutsche Welle, “Berlin Charite hospital said in a statement on Monday that its data indicated Alexei Navalny was probably intoxicated by a substance in the cholinesterase inhibitors group of chemicals, but that it had not yet identified a precise substance. The effects of such a chemical on Navalny had been ‘shown several times and in separate laboratories,’ the hospital said. Cholinesterase inhibitors are found in several drugs, but also pesticides and nerve agents.” Angela Merkel urged authorities in Russia to carry out a detailed and transparent investigation. Navalny has been an open and loud critic of Vladimir Putin.

Here’s our daily reminder of how amatuer the American response to the COVID-19 pandemic has been to date. Per Nature, “The United States isn’t pursuing contact tracing for COVID-19 to nearly the same extent as South Korea, but its disease surveillance also flows from local health departments to the federal level. For years, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has used this system to follow the spread of outbreaks such as a current surge in infections with the bacterium Salmonella, and to trace them back to their sources. However, the surveillance system has run into problems at several levels during the pandemic. The result is that a lot of data, such as information on where people were exposed to the coronavirus, are missing. And the data that do exist are made public only slowly.” According to the article, political meddling has also played an outsized role in turning the crisis into a national embarrassment. But hey, four more years, right? Whatever.

With each passing day, scientific research demonstrates just how nasty a pathogen SARS-CoV-2 really is. New research indicates that the virus may actually destroy the human body’s ability to “learn” how to mount a proper immune response. According to Science, “Pillai and co-workers analyzed the spleen and the thoracic lymph nodes, which drain immune cells from the lungs, of 11 people who died from COVID-19, comparing the tissues with those of six age-matched people who died from other causes. When all goes well, these sites gather antibodymaking B cells into newly formed germinal centers, distinctive microstructures where these cells mature and refine their antibody response to the virus. But germinal centers did not form in the thoracic lymph nodes and spleens of the autopsied COVID-19 patients, the researchers reported. ‘This is kind of shocking that they don’t, but they don’t,’ Pillai says.” Insidious, to say the least.

Thanks for reading. Let’s be careful out there.


IMAGE SOURCE: Creative Commons

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