The Daily Dose: WHO’s virus hunters land in China; Virologists warn against delaying second dose of vaccines.

It’s showtime in China. After months of obfuscation, the Chinese government has allowed a team of researchers from the World Health Organization into the country in order to investigate the origins of SARS-CoV-2. Per the Associated Press, “A global team of researchers arrived Thursday in the Chinese city where the coronavirus pandemic was first detected to conduct a politically sensitive investigation into its origins amid uncertainty about whether Beijing might try to prevent embarrassing discoveries. The group sent to Wuhan by the World Health Organization was approved by President Xi Jinping’s government after months of diplomatic wrangling that prompted an unusual public complaint by the head of WHO.” It will be interesting to see how much access the investigators are granted.

In spite of the politics that often seems to play out in Chinese science (at least as seen from a distance… for example, see laws regarding Traditional Chinese Medicine…), it is clear that the scientific community is now among the top in the world. An article in Science takes a look at how things have changed. According to the article, “The 10 most cited COVID-19 papers of the first 6 months of 2020, based on data from Elsevier’s Scopus database, all came from China, according to an August study in Scientometrics; the Lancet paper topped the list. That’s a sharp contrast to what happened during the global outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 2003, when researchers here, stifled by prolonged political denial about the crisis, made few contributions. For SARS, ‘China’s scientists were not so well prepared,’ says Wang Weibing, an epidemiologist at Fudan University. ‘This time was different.’”

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There are a lot of virologists beginning to speak out against new vaccination strategies being implemented in order to increase the number of people immunized. The British Government has chosen to space 12 weeks between first and second doses. Russia is delaying its second dose in order to see how good a single injection of their Sputnik vaccine performs. In the United States, the government has decided to reverse its policy of holding back half its vaccine in order to ensure people can get their second dose. Per Science, “Virologists worry that extending the dosing interval might result in millions of people with only partial immunity as they wait for their second dose—a potential breeding ground for vaccine-resistant mutations. “If we end up with everybody just getting one dose with no doses available for a timely boost, that would in my opinion, be a problem,” says Florian Krammer, a virologist at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.” Before deciding to tweak recommended doses toward the weaker side, people need look no further than the current antibiotic resistance crisis as a warning.

Europe is struggling with their winter outbreak and have implemented curfews across the continent. The AP compiled a list of Europe’s coronavirus curfews. The varying approaches are interesting if not a little disconcerting.

Speaking of interesting, UFO conspiracy theorists (not sure if it’s fair to call them that) have been given more formerly classified documents than they ever dared dream of having access to. Per, “More than three decades’ worth of government UFO records are now yours to download and peruse, thanks to the efforts of some intrepid truth-seekers. The massive data dump includes more than 2,700 pages of UFO-related documents declassified by the CIA since the 1980s. (The U.S. government also calls them “unidentified aerial phenomena, or UAP). According to The Black Vault — an online repository of UFO-related documents operated by author John Greenwald Jr. — the documents were obtained through a long string of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests filed over the last quarter century.” As the old DJ, Mr. Magic, used to say — “Persistence defeats resistance.”

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

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