The Daily Dose: WHO shifts stance on COVID-19 origins; Quantum computers inching closer to reality.

The lab leak theory of the origin of covid-19 just refuses to go away. According to the Associated Press, “The head of the World Health Organization acknowledged it was premature to rule out a potential link between the COVID-19 pandemic and a laboratory leak, and he said Thursday he is asking China to be more transparent as scientists search for the origins of the coronavirus. In a rare departure from his usual deference to powerful member countries, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said getting access to raw data had been a challenge for the international team that traveled to China earlier this year to investigate the source of COVID-19. The first human cases were identified in the Chinese city of Wuhan.” The change of tune is striking. Unfortunately, it’s a simple case of too little, too late.

Quantum computers are slowly but surely inching towards reality. Yet another q-bit puzzhe has been solved. According to Science, “Physicists at Google have taken an important step toward protecting delicate information in their nascent quantum computer from errors that can obliterate it. The researchers can’t yet compensate for all types of errors—a necessary step toward building a full-fledged quantum computer—but others say they’re poised to achieve that goal.” are “within touching distance” of demonstrating full error correction.

Johnson & Johnson can’t seem to catch a break these days. First vaccines with scary side effects. Now, it’s carcinogens. Per Reuters, “The two biggest U.S. pharmacy chains CVS Health Corp and Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. began pulling Johnson & Johnson’s sunscreen products off their shelves after J&J said it had detected a cancer-causing chemical in some samples. Pharmaceutical and consumer goods company J&J on Wednesday voluntarily recalled five Neutrogena and Aveeno brand aerosol sunscreens and advised consumers to stop using the products and discard them after internal testing found low levels of benzene in some sprays.” As if the sun’s rays weren’t carcinogen’s enough. Now, even the thing protecting you from cancer can cause cancer. Unreal.

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A large data set appears to confirm that COVID-19 fatalities among young children is a rare event. The calculation is roughly that 2 in a million children can die from COVID-19. However, there are caveats. Per Nature, “The studies did not evaluate rates of less-severe illness or debilitating ‘long COVID’ symptoms that can linger months after the acute phase of the infection has past. ‘The low rate of severe acute disease is important news, but this does not have to mean that COVID does not matter to children,’ says paediatrician Danilo Buonsenso at the Gemelli University Hospital in Rome. ‘Please, let’s keep attention — as much as is feasible — on immunization.’” The children might not die but they may be hindered by long COVID for a lifetime. Just mask up and get vaxxed until this pandemic is put to bed.

Mysterious strands of DNA called Borgs have puzzled scientists since they were discovered a few years ago. Now, they may be closer to some answers. Per Science, “In every place, copies of the Borg co-occurred with DNA linked to a methane-oxidizing archaeon called Methanoperedens. That suggests the Borgs may exist inside the microbe, the researchers say. But because Methanoperedens can’t be grown in a lab, the team hasn’t been able to confirm this suspicion. Meanwhile, team members have ruled out the possibility that the Borg came from another microbe, as they lack many necessary genes for life, or a virus, which typically have shorter chromosomes.”

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

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