The Daily Dose: Return to Wuhan? CCP says “No Way” to the World Health Organization.

In news that should surprise just about nobody in the world, the World Health Organization’s call for a closer investigation of the COVID-19 pandemic’s early days in Wuhan have been met with a dismissive wave of the hand by the Chinese Communist Party. Per Al-Jazeera, “China has rejected a proposal from the World Health Organization (WHO) that the expert team investigating the origins of COVID-19 should return to the sites in China where the coronavirus first emerged, saying researchers should instead make a priority of the “very likely” possibility that the virus originated in animals and expand their work to other countries around the world.” The best way to make it seem like you’re hiding something is to make it seem like you’re hiding something. Someone cc the Party.

Even with the daily tabulation of infections and fatalities, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to comprehend the true toll. A new statistic should provide a little more context. Per the Associated Press, “U.S. life expectancy fell by a year and a half in 2020, the largest one-year decline since World War II, public health officials said Wednesday. The decrease for both Black Americans and Hispanic Americans was even worse: three years. The drop spelled out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is due mainly to the COVID-19 pandemic, which health officials said is responsible for close to 74% of the overall life expectancy decline. More than 3.3 million Americans died last year, far more than any other year in U.S. history, with COVID-19 accounting for about 11% of those deaths.” Experts believe life expectancy will drop further.

Southeast Asia has continued to see pandemic numbers skyrocket as the region cements itself as the latest epicenter for the pandemic. “Indonesia, Myanmar, and Malaysia have been showing sharp increases since late June and their seven-day averages hit 4.37, 4.29 and 4.14 per million, respectively, on Wednesday. Cambodia and Thailand have also seen strong increases in both coronavirus cases and deaths, but have thus far held the seven-day rate per million people to a lower 1.55 and 1.38, respectively. Individual countries elsewhere have higher rates, but the increases are particularly alarming for a region that widely kept numbers low early in the pandemic.” The sharp increases in infections and deaths are attributed to the Delta variant.

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Scientists have a bad habit of being slightly self-congratulatory. They’re billiant after all. However, the floods that have devastated Europe caught them by surprise and essentially wiped the smiles off their faces. Per Science, “As the magnitude of the destruction becomes clear, European scientists are wrestling with how such damage could happen in some of the world’s wealthiest and most technologically advanced countries, despite major investments in flood forecasting and preparation catalyzed by previous inundations. And they are examining whether climate change helped fuel the disaster—and what that might mean for the future.”

A bounty of ancient fossils have been discovered in the United Kingdom, the result of what some are calling a Pompeii for dinosaurs. Per the BBC, “Palaeontologist Tim Ewin is standing in a quarry, recalling the calamity that’s written in the rocks under his mud-caked boots. ‘They tried to protect themselves, adopting the stress position of pulling their arms in,’ he continues. ‘But it was all in vain; you can see where their arms got snagged open, right up to the crown. They were pushed into the sediment and buried alive.’ There’s a little smile creeping across Tim’s face, and he’s got reason to be happy. The misfortune that struck this place 167 million years ago has delivered to him an extraordinary collection of fossil animals in what is unquestionably one of the most important Jurassic dig sites ever discovered in the UK.”

After years of unsuccessfully trying to win funding for gun control research in America, researchers are finally seeing money trickle in. It has them feeling optimistic. Per Nature, “The new money comes after more than two decades of what has essentially been a freeze on funding for the topic. And that’s left a massive knowledge gap, says Asheley Van Ness, director of criminal justice at Arnold Ventures in New York City, a philanthropic organization that pledged US$20 million to gun research in 2018, in part because of the paltry federal funding. ’For decades we just have under-researched basic questions on gun violence,’ she says.” This is truly good news since gun violence is essentially a public health problem in disguise.

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