The Daily Dose: More PoC needed in clinical trials; Hunting killer asteroids; Inuit way of life under threat.

There’s a lot of suspicion in African-American communities. Considering the history of their treatment in the United States, it’s actually the most rational reaction to past injustices and abuses. The terrible experiments conducted on the Tuskegee Airmen by the U.S. Government remains an oft cited source of distrust and, for some, proof of numerous harmful conspiracy theories. Unfortunately, this has produced a deep reluctance to partake in important clinical trials. When the president of a African-American university called for COVID-19 vaccine trial volunteers, he was met with hostility. Per STAT, “The episode illustrates the challenges historically Black colleges and universities face as they seek to leverage their legacies of trust within African American communities to bolster lagging Black enrollment in Covid-19 vaccine clinical trials. Their recruitment efforts will need to overcome the deep-seated suspicions many Black Americans hold toward medical researchers, pharmaceutical companies, and the government that stem from long-standing racial injustices perpetrated by those institutions.” It’s difficult to overstate how important it is to have people of color participating in clinical trials since there is a paucity of data about how they react to different drugs.

An Australian study has shown that, under very controlled circumstances, SARS-CoV-2 can live much longer on surfaces than previous studies have indicated. Per Reuters, “The virus that causes COVID-19 can survive on banknotes, glass and stainless steel for up to 28 days, much longer than the flu virus, Australian researchers said on Monday, highlighting the need for frequent cleaning and handwashing.” The researchers kept the virus away from UV light, so in all likelihood, under real world conditions, the virus’ lifespan is much shorter. Still, the study proves that handwashing continues to play an important role in mitigation.

Climate change induced disasters have risen in the past 20 years, according to a United Nations report. Per Al-Jazeera, “The UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) said 7,348 major disaster events occurred between 2000 and 2019, claiming 1.23 million lives, affecting 4.2 billion people and costing the global economy some $2.97 trillion. The figure far outstrips the 4,212 major natural disasters recorded between 1980 and 1999, the UN office said in a new report, The Human Cost of Disasters 2000-2019.” The way things are going, we can’t see anything improving in the near future.

More good news on the Open Access front as the scientific community continues to inch toward that ideal. According to Nature, “Publishers involved in I4OA have agreed to submit their article summaries to Crossref, an agency that registers scholarly papers’ unique digital object identifiers (DOIs). Crossref will make the abstracts available in a common format. So far, 52 publishers have signed up to the initiative, including the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the US National Academy of Sciences.”

A magnificent new IMAX film, Asteroid Hunter, was released last Friday. Narrated by Daisy Ridley, the documentary takes an in-depth look at those lonely chunks of space rock hurtling around our Solar System and often doing Earth fly-bys a little too close for comfort. “Asteroid Hunters introduces asteroid scientists – the best line of defense between Earth and an asteroid’s destructive path – and reveals the cutting-edge tools and techniques they use to detect and track asteroids, and the technology that may one day protect our planet. The effects of an asteroid impact could be catastrophic and while the current probability of an event in our lifetime is low, the potential consequences make the study of asteroids an incredibly important area of scientific research.” 

If outer space isn’t your thing, fear not. Another documentary, The Last Ice Age, turns the all-seeing lens on our home planet. The film highlights the effects human-induced climate change is having on Inuit communities. But there’s more. The Last Ice Age pulls back and offers a much broader view, exploring how things like international shipping lanes and tourism are destroying Inuit way of life. According to Enric Sala, the film’s executive producer, “The Last Ice Age was supposed to be a film about the environment, but it ended up being a film about Inuit rights… in the end were able to put together a story that some Inuit leaders told us is their untold story: a story of survival and adaptation over millennia to one of the harshest environments on earth, a story of abuse by successive governments, a story of resurgence and reclaiming their identity and the control of their future, a story of the current struggle with global warming.” The Last Ice Age premiers tonight on National Geographic Wildlife at 9/8pm Central.

Success! You're on the list.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: