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The Daily Dose: India tries to get in front of the pandemic; Access to birth control increases graduation rates.

According to reports, the COVID-19 outbreak in India is still raging at a furious clip. Now, it appears as if the Indian government is listening to its public helath officials and are trying to get out in front of the disease’s spread. Per the Associated Press, “With experts saying the coronavirus is likely spreading in India’s northeastern state of Assam faster than anywhere else in the country, authorities were preparing Monday for a surge in infections by converting a massive stadium and a university into hospitals. Cases in Assam started ticking upward a month ago and the official seven-day weekly average in the state on May 9 stood at more than 4,700 cases. But a model run by the University of Michigan — which predicts the current spread of cases before they are actually detected — says infections in Assam are likely occurring as fast as any other place in the country.” A lot of aid will be needed to get things under control. That said, a little prudence from New Delhi should go a long way. https://bit.ly/33yCa5z

The back and forth about laboratory-origin SARS-CoV-2 continues. The South China Morning Post rebuts Australian media reports about China’s research work on coronaviruses. “It sounded like the stuff of tabloids but a claim published on the weekend that Chinese military scientists discussed weaponising a deadly strain of coronavirus came from a mainstream Australian media outlet. The Weekend Australian reported on Saturday that a document written by People’s Liberation Army scientists and senior Chinese public health officials five years before the outbreak of Covid-19 described Sars ­coronaviruses as heralding a ‘new era of genetic weapons’.” Expect more from both sides. https://bit.ly/3bi5jGt

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Access to birth control has been a culture wars flashpoint since forever. On the women’s side, part of the argument has always been that it increases the likelihood of completing school and having better employment possibilities. A new study published in Science appears to bear this out. According to the paper’s authors, “We use a natural experiment afforded by a 2009 Colorado policy change to assess the impact of expanded access to contraception on women’s high school graduation. Linking survey and Census data, we follow a population-representative U.S. sample, including large subsamples of young women living in Colorado in 2010 and in comparison states. Using a difference-in-differences design, we find expansion of access to contraception was associated with a statistically significant 1.66 percentage-point increase in high school graduation. This increase in graduation represents a 14% decrease in the baseline percentage not graduating high school before the policy change. Results are robust to a variety of sensitivity tests. Our findings indicate that improving access to contraception increases young women’s human capital formation.” https://bit.ly/3tumxH2

An article in Discover Magazine asks the question that everyone involved in or concerned about conservation must have asked themselves at one time or another: “Do We Really Need To Protect Every Species From Extinction?” For answers, they asked two scientists with opposing views on the issue. What’s your take? https://bit.ly/3ezoYUD


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