The Daily Dose: WHO investigators head to China in an exercise in futility; State of the Climate 2021.

The tawdry mystery novel that is the attempt at learning SARS-CoV-2’s origins formally enters a new chapter this week. The official World Health Organization campaign to pin-down how the current pandemic emerged begins. Per the Associated Press, “Experts from the WHO are due to arrive in China this week for a long-anticipated investigation into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic, the government said Monday. The experts will arrive on Thursday and meet with Chinese counterparts, the National Health Commission said in a one-sentence statement that gave no other details. It wasn’t immediately clear whether the experts will travel to the central Chinese city of Wuhan, where the coronavirus was first detected in late 2019.” Considering the Chinese Communist Party’s opacity, nobody should hold their breath waiting for some great revelation. https://bit.ly/3oBYMuP


The COVID-19 pandemic continues to break precedents in all sorts of fields. This time, it’s broken the way clinical trials for vaccines takes place. As a result of effective vaccine options now being available, nobody wants to be in the “fake pill” group, i.e. placebo, of the grial. Per Nature, “The trouble is that finding would-be participants for placebo-controlled clinical trials has become more of a challenge. In these trials, half the volunteers receive a dummy shot and half the real thing, but neither participants nor researchers know who received which one until after the trial. People are less likely to chance receiving a placebo when they could get one of the various vaccines now authorized, two of which prevent COVID-19 with about 95% efficacy.” From a purely scientific point of view, this is disappointing and a definite problem with far-reaching implications, especially for drug safety. From a non-scientific POV, it’s no surprise. I mean, why would anyone want to be the one put at risk unnecessarily? https://go.nature.com/39kk5uA


Africa has flown under the radar of most non-African COVID-19 reporting. However, the recent emergence of a new and potentially more dangerous strain from South Africa highlights the potential powder keg Africa is slowly becoming. That’s why it’s important the scientific community in Africa play a role in combating the disease. Per Al-Jazeera, “A Nigerian scientist has spent the holiday season in his laboratory doing genetic sequencing to learn more about the country’s COVID-19 variant, as cases increase in the country. Virologist Sunday Omilabu says the information he gathers about the variant will help battle the spread of the disease in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country with 196 million people.” With COVID-19 variants emerging in Nigeria and South Africa, the World Health Organization says Africa needs to do more genetic sequencing. https://bit.ly/2LK25S7


If anyone believes the gender stereotyping world is a thing of the past, think again. The latest “Say what?” moment came from government officials in Korea. Per The Guardian, “The Seoul city government has sparked anger for offering advice to pregnant women that includes ensuring their husbands have clean clothes and enough to eat while they are in hospital giving birth. The guidelines, posted on a government-run website, included tips for expectant South Korean mothers at different stages of their pregnancy.” While misogyny has definitely come a long way, clearly there’s much more work that still needs doing. https://bit.ly/3s8HXtI


The BBC survey’s the state of the climate in 2021. Specifically, they analyzed carbon dioxide, record heat, arctic ice, permafrost, and forests. The article is useful for anyone wanting to catch up on environmental issues. It’s a worthwhile read even for people who follow environmental issues. https://bbc.in/2XtHEeO

This year’s CES starts today and is completely online. Thanks for reading and let’s be careful out there.


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