The Daily Dose: Good news about vaccinating kids against COVID-19; Review of aquaculture suggest overall positive effects.

A welcome dose of good news was announced earlier today. According to the Associate Press, “Pfizer announced Wednesday that its COVID-19 vaccine is safe and strongly protective in kids as young as 12, a step toward possibly beginning shots in this age group before they head back to school in the fall. Most COVID-19 vaccines being rolled out worldwide are for adults, who are at higher risk from the coronavirus. Pfizer’s vaccine is authorized for ages 16 and older. But vaccinating children of all ages will be critical to stopping the pandemic — and helping schools, at least the upper grades, start to look a little more normal after months of disruption. In a study of 2,260 U.S. volunteers ages 12 to 15, preliminary data showed there were no cases of COVID-19 among fully vaccinated adolescents compared to 18 among those given dummy shots, Pfizer reported.” This is great news, as is the implied vaccination drive to immunize children. The assertions that opening schools are some sort of safety slam dunk is just not true. (Speaking from personal experience here.) Immunizing school kids is the way forward.

Not everyone in the world shares the views of the report by the World Health Organization regarding the origins of SARS-CoV-2. Per Al-Jazeera, “A group of 14 countries has raised concerns over a new report by the World Health Organization (WHO) into the origin of the coronavirus, citing delays and a lack of full access to data, while the agency’s own chief called for further investigation into a theory the outbreak was the result of a laboratory leak.” The 14 countries include the United States, Australia, Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Israel Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, the Republic of Korea, Slovenia and the United Kingdom.

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Hostile acts against Asians in America is on the rise and show no sign of abating. A commentary in Science addresses the issue of anti-Asian sentiment in the United States, especially in the sciences. “COVID-19–related anti-Asian messages and harassment have been reported on college campuses across the country. Chinese American scientists have come under federal scrutiny for their associations with China under the 2018 China Initiative, which may jeopardize U.S.–Chinese scientific collaborations. And despite being the group most likely to attend college, Asian Americans make up a mere 2% of college presidents. Asian Americans are the least likely among all women to be promoted to leadership positions, and make up less than 1% of top earners at those universities engaging in the highest level of research activity. Anti-Asian bias also affects students. In one study, researchers sent emails with names signaling race and gender to 6548 professors, posing as prospective PhD students. Professors were the least likely to respond to those who had Chinese and Indian names.” The more people focus on anti-Asian discrimination, the more it becomes apparent that nobody paid any attention to it in the past.

A very useful review in Nature takes a look at decades worth of aquaculture data and studies to determine how effective it has been in achieving its goals and also how it affects the environment. According to the authors, “Inland aquaculture—especially in Asia—has contributed the most to global production volumes and food security. Major gains have also occurred in aquaculture feed efficiency and fish nutrition, lowering the fish-in–fish-out ratio for all fed species, although the dependence on marine ingredients persists and reliance on terrestrial ingredients has increased. The culture of both molluscs and seaweed is increasingly recognized for its ecosystem services; however, the quantification, valuation, and market development of these services remain rare. The potential for molluscs and seaweed to support global nutritional security is underexploited. Management of pathogens, parasites, and pests remains a sustainability challenge industry-wide, and the effects of climate change on aquaculture remain uncertain and difficult to validate.” Overall, that’s a pretty decent verdict.

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

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