The Daily Dose: A Chinese COVID-19 vaccine available in November; Microbes suck moisture from inside rocks.

Experts from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention delivered some potentially good news. According to the organization, a COVID-19 vaccine could be ready to public dissemination as early as November. Per the South China Morning Post, “Clinical trials of several vaccine candidates had been progressing smoothly and preparations were being made to go into mass production, Wu Guizhen, the CDC’s chief biosafety expert, said in a programme shown on Monday night by state broadcaster CCTV.” The vaccine will be available locally first. https://bit.ly/3hyf8R9

SARS-CoV-2 continues to force Japan to adjust their Summer Olympics plans. First, and most significantly, the event was cancelled for 2020. Now, looking forward to 2021, organizers are worrying about how he use of face masks will affect spectators dealing with exposure to the summer heat. According to the Japan Times, “Before the pandemic’s arrival, the heat and humidity of Tokyo’s summers represented the biggest health concerns for organizers. But the need for protective masks during the games means previous plans to keep staff and spectators cool may be inadequate.” The decision comes down to addressing what they consider more pressing concerns: heat stroke or COVID-19. It appears that it’s the former. https://bit.ly/35F0RQk

Government health officials in the Philippines are under fire for faulty coronavirus data calculations. It appears they have been considerably undercounting infections and recoveries. According to ABS-CBN News, “The Department of Health (DOH) has been very busy lately explaining why COVID-19 data reporting has been somewhat irregular. Specifically, they’ve been trying to explain why some COVID-19 cases earlier reported as recoveries are now being tagged as active or worse deaths.” If true, it calls into question the country’s entire response, including lifting of lockdowns. https://bit.ly/3iyHs7b

The need to feed our planet’s increasing population while mitigating costs to the environment is a problem that has vexed experts for over a half century. While an effective solution has yet to emerge, much less be implemented, that hasn’t stopped experts from making suggestions. According to the latest installment, “Nature is in trouble, and its plight will probably become even more precarious unless we do something about it. Writing in Nature, Leclère et al. quantify what might be needed to reverse this deeply worrying path while also feeding people’s increasingly voracious appetites. The authors’ answer is to team ambitious conservation measures with food-system transformation in the hope of reversing the trend of global terrestrial biodiversity loss.” Reforming the world’s system is much easier said than done. Doing it in a single country is hard enough. How much more so in countries around the world? https://go.nature.com/2ZVSKv5

A new study looked at how human behavior can transform indoor environments like offices, homes, and apartment buildings. The answer is drastically. According to the study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, “there is growing evidence that everyday activities also pollute indoor air. Cooking, cleaning, and burning candles all contribute to indoor air pollution—and researchers are now finding that a building’s occupants, simply by being present, significantly change the air chemistry inside as well. Our breath creates a plume of hot, moist air full of reactive trace gases, and our skin emits chemicals into the room.” Makes sense. https://bit.ly/3kgptCX

On the heels of yesterday’s very interesting news about the discovery of phosphines in Venus’ lower atmosphere and its implications that living creatures may be responsible, a recent study investigated how microbes in hyperarid environments (in this case the Atacama Desert, a popular stand-in for Mars). They discovered how Microbes induce a phase transformation from gypsum (CaSO4·2H2O) to anhydrite (CaSO4). Per the authors, “We found that the cyanobacteria attached onto high surface energy crystal planes ({011}) of gypsum samples generate a thin biofilm that induced mineral dissolution accompanied by water extraction. This process led to a phase transformation to an anhydrous calcium sulfate, anhydrite, which was formed via reprecipitation and subsequent attachment and alignment of nanocrystals.” The finding adds to the literature that collectively make the case that extraterrestrial life is not only possible, but likely, only with differing characteristics. https://bit.ly/2ZAH6Fy


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