DAILY DOSE: Protein-based Covid-19 vaccine effective against variants; Turning off lights can save migratory birds.

If clinical testing holds up, there should be another major Covid-19 vaccine type hitting the market soon. Clover Biopharmaceuticals has produced a protein-based injection that shows efficacy against SARS-CoV-2 variants currently in circulation. Per Science, “Two doses of Clover’s vaccine, based on a modified SARS-CoV-2 protein, offered solid protection against five variants of the virus, including the highly infectious Delta strain now dominant across the world. The shots lowered the risk of disease both in people naïve to the virus and those who had previously been infected. And the Clover vaccine can be stored in a refrigerator, unlike messenger RNA (mRNA) products, which require freezers. Kathleen Neuzil of the University of Maryland School of Medicine, who co-leads a U.S. COVID-19 vaccine trials network, says the data are ‘terrific’ and ‘welcome news for the world.’” Chinese companies have produced half of the more than 6 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses used worldwide. https://bit.ly/3kPZDZq

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A recent study compared Covid-19 infection rates in K-12 schools in California. According to the paper in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports, “In the crude analysis, the odds of a school-associated COVID-19 outbreak in schools with no mask requirement were 3.7 times higher than those in schools with an early mask requirement (odds ratio [OR] = 3.7; 95% CI = 2.2–6.5). After adjusting for potential described confounders, the odds of a school-associated COVID-19 outbreak in schools without a mask requirement were 3.5 times higher than those in schools with an early mask requirement (OR = 3.5; 95% CI = 1.8–6.9).” It’s important to remember that masking is one tool in a larger arsenal that needs to be implemented. https://bit.ly/3kNwo9M

China has pledged to lower its overall coal-based carbon emissions. According to experts, the promise to stop financing coal power abroad is a positive step. However, they caution that the emissions savings pale in comparison to those from its domestic coal use. An article in Nature compared nations’ coal use and pollution output. https://go.nature.com/3mflCZA

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Recreating historical technologies like catapults and pulley systems is fairly common practice. It was only a matter of time until someone tried making gunpowder used hundreds of years ago. According to Wired, “A group of experts at the US Army Military Academy at West Point has re-created these medieval recipes and tested the craft gunpowder in a replica cannon. They found that early gunpowder took a lot of experimentation to get right—and that gives them insights into how modern-day bombmakers might be using similar trial-and-error methods to assemble explosive devices.” And here we thought gunpowder is gunpowder. https://bit.ly/3uokhTH

Urbanization causes all sorts of havoc on wildlife in and around cities. The animals are slaves to instincts that evolved over millions of years but put them at a disadvantage when surrounded by towering blocks of concrete and artificial lighting. According to a paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, “Nocturnally migrating birds are attracted to and disoriented by artificial lighting, making light pollution an important factor in collision mortality, and there is growing interest in mitigating the impacts of light to protect migrating birds. We use two decades of data to show that migration magnitude, light output, and wind conditions are important predictors of collisions at a large building in Chicago and that decreasing lighted window area could reduce bird mortality by ∼60%. Our finding that extinguishing lights can reduce bird death has global implications for conservation action campaigns aimed at eliminating an important cause of bird mortality.” Turning off the lights can also help reduce the harmful emissions that stem from energy production. Win-win if you ask us. https://bit.ly/3zSShsC

There have been more than a few studies testing how people’s brain waves sync up when they are involved in a group activity, for example members of a musical band. Less known is whether other parts of our bodies also show similar behavior. Apparently it does. According to a study in Cell Reports, “We hypothesized that heart rate is modulated by conscious processing and therefore dependent on attentional focus. To test this, we leverage the observation that neural processes synchronize between subjects by presenting an identical narrative stimulus. As predicted, we find significant inter-subject correlation of heart rate (ISC-HR) when subjects are presented with an auditory or audiovisual narrative. Consistent with our hypothesis, we find that ISC-HR is reduced when subjects are distracted from the narrative, and higher ISC-HR predicts better recall of the narrative. Finally, patients with disorders of consciousness have lower ISC-HR, as compared to healthy individuals. We conclude that heart rate fluctuations are partially driven by conscious processing, depend on attentional state, and may represent a simple metric to assess conscious state in unresponsive patients.” These findings gives new meaning to people forming bonds together. https://bit.ly/3ohPI0R

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

IMAGE CREDIT: Wolfgang Wander.

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