The Daily Dose: Ebola latency worries; AstraZeneca vaccine troubles mount.

With the world still in the grips of the COVID-19 pandemic, there is some truly worrying news about Ebola, a far deadlier virus, that has, until now, burned hot enough that outbreaks have eventually burned out. Now, it appears that it may have to potential to lay hidden over the course of years. “The virus causing the new outbreak barely differs from the strain seen 5 to 6 years ago, genomic analyses by three independent research groups have shown, suggesting the virus lay dormant in a survivor of the epidemic all that time. ‘This is pretty shocking,’ says virologist Angela Rasmussen of Georgetown University. ‘Ebolaviruses aren’t herpesviruses’—which are known to cause long-lasting infections—‘and generally RNA viruses don’t just hang around not replicating at all.’” Honestly, a latent Ebola virus is really really worrying. Talk about a ticking time bomb. That being said, there’s a lot of research that needs to be done into this new finding and it’s far from being an established fact.

The problems continue to mount for the AstraZeneca vaccine. Already a number of countries have halted its use due to blood clotting issues. They include Denmark, Norway, Ireland, Italy, Thailand, and Indonesia to name a few. And the list has now included Germany, whose Health Ministry announced a suspension of its use of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

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In a not entirely unexpected finding, it appears that there are more twins being brought into the world than ever before. According to Al-Jazeera, “More than 1.6 million twins are now being born every year, researchers said in a paper published in the scientific journal Human Reproduction. ‘The relative and absolute numbers of twins in the world are higher than they have ever been since the mid-twentieth century and this is likely to be an all-time high,’ Professor Christiaan Monden, of the University of Oxford (UK), one of the study’s authors, said. The rise of assisted reproductive technology (ART) in developed countries since the 1970s contributed to the rise in multiple births, they said, as did mothers giving birth at an older age, when twinning rates are higher. Increased use of contraception, women choosing to start families later in life, and lower overall fertility were also responsible.” The trend isn’t going to change any time soon.

There are a whole lotta space rocks zipping by Earth. That’s the conclusion of a study published in Nature. “Since 1998, when NASA kicked off the biggest search for near-Earth asteroids, scientists have detected more than 25,000 of them. And 2020 turned out to be a record year for discoveries. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic interrupting many of the surveys, astronomers catalogued 2,958 previously unknown near-Earth asteroids over the course of the year.” Is it comforting that we haven’t been hit seriously or is it worrying that we haven’t been hit seriously?

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

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