DAILY DOSE: U.S. hits 3000 daily deaths (again); Beware of ranswomware over long weekends.

U.S. hits 3000 deaths for the first time in months. It’s a grim but not unexpected milestone considering the Delta variant surge and the lax mitigation propelling the current wave forward. How did America make it full circle back to 3k? Eric Topol provides a succinct answer: 

By allowing the Delta to gain nearly unfettered access to parts of the U.S. population, southern states have doomed the rest of the country to experience similar spikes. Great, isn’t it?

A large study conducted in Bangladesh provides evidence that mask wearing is an effective method for COVID-19 mitigation. According to a report on Yahoo News, “For five months beginning last November, Mobarak and his colleagues tracked 342,126 adult Bangladeshis and randomly selected villages to roll out programs to promote their usage, which included distributing free masks to households, providing information about their importance and reinforcing their use in the community. Among the roughly 178,000 individuals who were encouraged to wear them, the scientists found that mask-wearing increased by almost 30 percent and that the change in behavior persisted for 10 weeks or more. After the program was instituted, the researchers reported an 11.9 percent decrease in symptomatic Covid symptoms and a 9.3 percent reduction in symptomatic seroprevalence, which indicates that the virus was detected in blood tests.” It should be noted that the study has yet to be peer-reviewed. https://yhoo.it/3DNSyju

Breakthrough infections among the vaccinated has been a growing concern, understandably. A study published in medrxiv.com indicates that although people are able to be infected, they are less likely to transmit the disease when compared with unvaccinated individuals. “The durations of both infectious virus shedding and symptoms were significantly reduced in vaccinated individuals compared with unvaccinated individuals. We also observed that breakthrough infections are associated with strong tissue compartmentalization and are only detectable in saliva in some cases. These data indicate that vaccination shortens the duration of time of high transmission potential, minimizes symptom duration, and may restrict tissue dissemination.” https://bit.ly/3kTfCER

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A spike in respiratory syncitial virus (RSV) has been hiding beneath the shadow of COVID-19. It has been a major problem, not only because it presents itself similar to coronavirus infections but also because it can prove deadly in its own right. FierceBiotech reports that there is progress on the RSV vaccine front. “Pfizer is starting a key late-stage trial of its experimental vaccine against a nasty form of a cold virus that can cause pneumonia and death in the young and old as the race to get a decent respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) vaccine on the market heats up. The U.S. Big Pharma said the first subjects have now got their first shots of its RSV bivalent prefusion F subunit investigational vaccine candidate. This study is focused on patients over 60, who can suffer badly from RSV, while rival GlaxoSmithKline has recently started a maternal trial aimed at protecting pregnant mothers and their babies, another group that can be hit hard by the disease.” There is currently no vaccine available for the virus, which according to the CDC causes an average of 58,000 hospitalizations a year in the U.S., with 100-500 deaths among children younger than five years old as well as 177,000 hospitalizations with 14,000 deaths among adults aged 65 years or older. https://bit.ly/3BGFFpA

It’s always interesting to see how Bitcoin, which is still derided as having no intrinsic value, has impacted the world’s electricity consumption for the worse. “In the process of simply existing, cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, one of the most popular, use astonishing amounts of electricity. We’ll explain how that works in a minute. But first, consider this: The process of creating Bitcoin to spend or trade consumes around 91 terawatt-hours of electricity annually, more than is used by Finland, a nation of about 5.5 million… Today you need highly specialized machines, a lot of money, a big space and enough cooling power to keep the constantly running hardware from overheating. That’s why mining now happens in giant data centers owned by companies or groups of people.” For something that’s supposedly worth nothing, that’s a whole lot of effort and environmental destruction. It makes the case to all the Ludites out there that Bitcoin is worth something. https://nyti.ms/3yMVNUB

With Labor Day weekend in the United States kicking off, Wired took a look at how cybercriminals take advantage of long-weekends. While there isn’t a 100% correlation, there’s enough evidence to take precautions this weekend. Per Wired, “Really, ransomware hackers love regular weekends, too. But a long one? When everyone’s off carousing with family and friends and studiously avoiding anything remotely office-related? That’s the good stuff. And while the trend isn’t new, a joint warning issued this week by the FBI and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency underscores how serious the threat has become. The appeal to attackers is pretty straightforward. Ransomware can take time to propagate throughout a network, as hackers work to escalate privileges for maximum control over the most systems. The longer it takes for anyone to notice, the more damage they can do. ‘Generally speaking, the threat actors deploy their ransomware when there is less likelihood of people being around to start pulling plugs,’ says Brett Callow, threat analyst at antivirus company Emsisoft. ‘The less chance of the attack being detected and interrupted.’” Careful what you click on, this weekend and forever. https://bit.ly/3h0ETvH


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