The Daily Dose: COVID-19 vaccine development viewed as ‘political’

If there wasn’t enough depressing proof that Science has been politicized above and beyond the already-unacceptable norm, here’s some more evidence to wrap your head around. Per STAT, “Seventy-eight percent of Americans worry the Covid-19 vaccine approval process is being driven more by politics than science, according to a new survey from STAT and the Harris Poll, a reflection of concern that the Trump administration may give the green light to a vaccine prematurely… The response was largely bipartisan, with 72% of Republicans and 82% of Democrats expressing such worries, according to the poll, which was conducted last week and surveyed 2,067 American adults.” Great.

Academia has long been viewed as an all white, men’s club for a very long time, especially in non-science fields. Lately, STEM fields have been shown to have even worse inequality issues. A recent opinion piece in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences has taken on sexual harassment in those cracked Ivory Towers. According to the author, “Academia should lead and inspire change in other organizations. Instead, we have the highest rate of sexual harassment after the military (2). Several problems stand in the way of effective institutional response to sexual harassment: oversexualization of the problem, overreliance on fast fixes that fail to grapple with long histories of exclusion in the academy, and overemphasis on formal legal compliance. We need a radical redesign of anti-harassment efforts in higher education. This is a tall order, but decades of research can guide this work and brave leaders can implement it.” Is the scientific community truly up for it?

After having a small spike in COVID-19 cases, New Zealand has welcomed young students back to school but with one caveat. “Children went back to school and offices reopened in Auckland on Monday after authorities lifted the lockdown in New Zealand’s largest city that was imposed to contain a sudden spike of coronavirus cases earlier in August… Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she was confident the outbreak was under control, but made masks compulsory on public transport across the country of five million people.” Mask up, ya’ll.

Unlike New Zealand, France has hit the pause button on the return of students to physical classrooms nationwide. This comes amidst a consistent spike in cases. Per the Associated Press, “With several thousand new infections now reported in France every day, Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer told the Journal du Dimanche newspaper that some classes will remain closed when the nationwide reopening begins Tuesday, but ‘as few as possible.’” After months of declines, COVID-19 cases in Europe have risen recently.

While antiretroviral therapy (ART) against the human immunodeficiency virus has been resoundingly successful, it isn’t a cure. For everyone currently on a regimen, it means a lifelong dependency on antiretrovirals. Stopping inevitably results in a sharp increase in viruses. Researchers are now looking to the small subset of the population with the ability to keep HIV at bay without drugs. “Could ways to prevent this viral rebound be found by studying the small proportion (less than 0.5%) of people living with HIV who can control viral replication without the need for ART? Writing in Nature, Jiang et al.4 compared the viral reservoirs of these individuals, known as elite controllers, with those of people who are prescribed ART. Their findings suggest that elite control is associated with a small reservoir from which HIV is unlikely to be reactivated.” The phenomenon remains fascinating yet poorly understood.

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

IMAGE SOURCE: Creative Commons

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