The Daily Dose: A humanitarian crisis in Sudan; Income inequality results in poor diets.

A humanitarian crisis is developing in Sudan and it has nothing to do the current global pandemic (at least not directly). Per Al-Jazeera, “Flooding and landslides triggered by torrential downpours have affected nearly 830,000 people, destroyed hundreds of thousands of homes and damaged large tracts of farmland just before harvest, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Sudan said on Thursday. Yet, the ‘funding to respond is extremely low,’ it said.” How much money is being lost as a result of COVID-19 diverting attention and funds from natural disasters is a valid concern. There’s only so much money to go around at any given time.

SARS-CoV-2 strikes again. This time, it’s the party of parties, Brazil’s Carnivale. “Rio de Janeiro’s world-famous carnival parade has been postponed, the samba schools that organise the event announced on Thursday, as the country grapples with the second-deadliest coronavirus outbreak in the world. Samba schools in Rio de Janeiro announced they would delay the February 2021 Carnival because of COVID-19, and said it would probably not take place until a vaccine was found.” Another notch in the coronavirus’s belt, this time for 2021. Obviously, we haven’t even finished with 2020 yet. Those vaccines better come quickly (but safely).

Testing continues to be a significant drag on an effective COVID-19 response around the world. If they are available at all, they often take too long to know the results. A new test takes a modest step toward addressing the problem. Per Fierce Biotech, “The FDA has authorized its first COVID-19 antibody test designed to be used on-site at the point of care—such as within doctors’ offices, urgent care centers and emergency rooms—as opposed to having samples shipped and tested within a central laboratory.” The test is manufactured by Assure Tech based in Hangzhou, China. The company is represented in the U.S. by Azure Biotech.

Antibiotic resistance threatens to be the next major public health crisis of a scope that would put the COVID-19 pandemic to shame. It is potentially that bad. Novel antibiotic classes have been few and far between. That’s why any positive news regarding holding off the crisis is welcome. Per Nature, “Li et al. report how a modular synthesis of the structurally complex antibacterial compound virginiamycin M2 (VM2), based on easily interchangeable molecular building blocks, has provided access to VM2 derivatives that could not previously have been prepared — and has thereby enabled the rational development of a variant that evades an ancient resistance mechanism.” Much more investment dollars are needed in this fight, unfortunately.

A recent study sought to determine the effects of income inequality and dietary effects. Not only did they verify a correlation, the researchers also established that women are more likely to suffer negative implications. “Among women, a standard deviation increase in Gini coefficient was associated with a decreased likelihood in meeting daily recommended levels of both fruits and vegetables (OR = 0.93; 0.87–0.99), fruits only (OR = 0.95; 95% CI, 0.92–0.99) and vegetables only (OR = 0.92; 95% CI, 0.89–0.96).”

Meteorites are a rich source of tantalizing hints of what the planet may have been like prior to the evolution of life as we know it. A recent study investigated the Tagish Lake meteorite and discovered a few clues as to how racemization may have occurred on Earth. “We report on the discovery of Na-enriched subgrain boundaries and nanometer-scale Ca and Mg layers surrounding individual framboids. These interstitial coatings would yield a surface charge state of zero in more-alkaline fluids and prevent assimilation of the individual framboids into a single grain. This basic solution would support rapid synthesis and racemization rates on the order of years, suggesting that the low abundances of amino acids in Tagish Lake cannot be ascribed to fluid chemistry.” For some reason, most chemicals on the planet tend to exist in their left-handed state.

Have a great weekend. Thanks for reading. Let’s be careful out there.

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