The Daily Dose: The mystery of falling COVID-19 numbers; Oldest brewery discovered in Egypt.

The precipitous drop in COVID-19 cases and deaths in India has been in the works for a few weeks. It has experts baffled, though there are a few theories going around. According to the Associated Press, “They have suggested many possible explanations for the sudden drop — seen in almost every region — including that some areas of the country may have reached herd immunity or that Indians may have some preexisting protection from the virus… The Indian government has also partly attributed the dip in cases to mask-wearing, which is mandatory in public in India and violations draw hefty fines in some cities. But experts have noted the situation is more complicated since the decline is uniform even though mask compliance is flagging in some areas.” Similar questions are surrounding the drop in cases in the United States.

Speculation about immune responses that have gone haywire as a result of COVID-19 infection has been around since the early months of the pandemic. Now, researchers have discovered evidence that mild-moderate cases have different immune responses compared with severe ones. Per Nature, “The authors found that the cells of people with mild–moderate COVID-19 expressed a distinct set of genes whose expression depends on what are known as type I interferon proteins. Interferons, molecules that are also called cytokines, drive the expression of genes that have a role in antiviral defence… This interferon-regulated gene-expression signature was not observed in the cells of people with severe COVID-19. Instead, the cells had a gene-expression signature described as an inflammatory S100A12 myeloid-cell program (S100A12 is a protein expressed as part of this program).”

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The amazing work being done around the world on COVID-19 vaccines may be giving the public the impression that drug development is a smoother, less fraught, process than it actually is. A recent setback for a potential sickle cell drug demonstrates how unforeseen problems can arise. According to Stat News, “Bluebird Bio said Tuesday that it has suspended clinical trials involving its gene therapy for sickle cell disease after receiving reports that two patients treated with the one-time therapy were diagnosed with cancer… The trials were placed on “temporary suspension” so that Bluebird can investigate the cancer cases to determine if they were caused by the re-engineered HIV virus used to deliver its gene therapy. No such link has been established yet, the company said.” It really is amazing that so many COVID-19 vaccines are currently on offer.

Researchers have made a dizzying discovery in Egypt. The oldest brewery ever unearthed. According to the AP, “Archaeologists found eight huge units — each is 20 meters (about 65 feet) long and 2.5 meters (about 8 feet) wide. Each unit includes some 40 pottery basins in two rows, which had been used to heat up a mixture of grains and water to produce beer.” The factory appears to date back to the reign of King Narmer, who is widely known for his unification of ancient Egypt at the beginning of the First Dynastic Period (3150 B.C.- 2613 B.C.). Those ancient Egyptians were so clever. God bless’m for their contribution to the beverage business worldwide.

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

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