white pill on yellow surface

DAILY DOSE: Merck’s Covid-19 therapy game-changer; Beijing cracks down on fake scientific research.

In a potential drug development game-changer, a major advance in combating Covid-19 has shown great promise in clinical trials. Per the Associated Press, “Drugmaker Merck said Friday that its experimental COVID-19 pill reduced hospitalizations and deaths by half in people recently infected with the coronavirus and that it would soon ask health officials in the U.S. and around the world to authorize its use. If cleared, the drug would be the first pill shown to treat COVID-19, a potentially major advance in efforts to fight the pandemic. All COVID-19 therapies now authorized in the U.S. require an IV or injection.” Normally, treatments that transition from needle vaccinations to pill form gain wider adoption by the public, not to mention greater profits for the company that develops it. https://bit.ly/3mjbsqy

Beijing has been cracking down on a lot of industries and malpractices during the past couple of months. Everything from after-school tutoring to video games has come into the CCP’s sights. You can add the bogus scientific research industry to that list. According to Nature, “Two major research funders in China have conducted a spate of misconduct investigations, punishing at least 23 scientists for using ‘paper mills’ — businesses that produce sham manuscripts, including fake data to order. The sanctions — which include temporary bans on applying for funding or the loss of grants and promotions — follow a policy introduced in September last year that was intended to stamp out paper mills and deal with other misconduct. The move is part of a wider clampdown on misconduct in China, where there have been multiple misconduct scandals in recent years.” While widely praised, some experts would like Beijing to go even further. https://go.nature.com/3A0J7Kv

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Unless you’ve been living under your kitchen sink for the past year and a half, you’re aware that there has been a lot of speculation and unpleasantries introduced into the public sphere regarding the origins of SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus responsible for Covid-19. The folks over at Science sponsored an online debate between researchers from both sides of the argument. “The four scientists who participated in a Science-sponsored discussion today about the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic differed sharply on several issues, but there was one thing they could agree on: Amid an increasingly politicized media frenzy over the issue—and tons of Twitter vitriol—it’s still possible to have a civilized scientific debate about whether SARS-CoV-2 originated from a ‘lab leak’ or a natural jump from animals to humans that didn’t involve researchers.” It’s worth a watch most definitely. https://bit.ly/39UsW6X

Humans, while undoubtedly ingenuitive, have made their fair share of questionable decisions. They continue to do so. A recent study discovered that during the early days of animal domestication, our ancestors decided to try and co-exist with deadly birds within the confines of their domiciles. According to Smithsonian Magazine, “While one should certainly be wary around a cassowary and its dagger-like claws today, a new study found that humans may have raised the territorial, aggressive birds 18,000 years ago in New Guinea, making them the earliest bird reared by our ancient ancestors.” Early humans must have shared a collective sigh of relief when the transition from cassowary to chicken was made. https://bit.ly/3kXHxos

There are times when it sounds really fun to be a scientist and theorize about all sorts of explanations for unexplained phenomena. Quantum theory and multiverses come to mind immediately. Another one is the explanation for why certain planets lack ammonia in their atmosphere. Per space.com, “A recent discovery of giant ammonia-rich hailstones, dubbed mushballs, on Jupiter might explain why Uranus and Neptune seem to have no ammonia in their atmospheres. Scientists have puzzled for years over the apparent absence of ammonia in the atmospheres of Uranus and Neptune. Known for its unpleasant smell, ammonia is rather common in the universe. Since the atmospheres of Uranus and Neptune are rich in other chemical compounds known to be present in the primordial cloud from which planets formed, scientists had no good explanation for ammonia’s absence in the ice giants’ air.” So essentially massive rotten eggs showering down from the atmosphere, huh? https://bit.ly/39T6VW8

Thanks for reading. Have a great weekend. Let’s be careful out there.

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