In potentially massive Covid-19 news, another therapeutic pill is on the cusp of bringing the pandemic to an end. Per the Associated Press, “Pfizer Inc. said Friday that its experimental antiviral pill for COVID-19 cut rates of hospitalization and death by nearly 90% as the drugmaker joins the race to bring the first easy-to-use medication against the coronavirus to the U.S. market. Currently all COVID-19 treatments used in the U.S. require an IV or injection. Competitor Merck’s COVID-19 pill is already under review at the Food and Drug Administration after showing strong initial results, and on Thursday the United Kingdom became the first country to OK it.” With efficacy well over 50%, this represents a major tool in the kit for the public health community. Fingers crossed Pfizer’s pill makes it across the finish line. https://bit.ly/3EMGHC3
Pfizer’s announcement couldn’t come any sooner as anti-science idealogues in the GOP continue to beat the dead horse called vaccine mandates. Per Reuters, “Republican governors are expected to sue on Friday to stop the Biden administration’s requirement that nearly 2 million U.S. employers get workers tested or vaccinated for COVID-19, saying it trampled civil liberties. After President Joe Biden, a Democrat, said on Thursday he will enforce the mandate starting Jan. 4, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said he will join the governors of Georgia and Alabama as well as private plaintiffs to file suit. “The federal government can’t just unilaterally impose medical policy under the guise of workplace regulation,” DeSantis said at a press conference.” They act like there aren’t other vaccine mandates already in place already for other diseases. How they circle that square boggles the mind. Go figure. https://reut.rs/3GU542E
Yet another study demonstrates the effectiveness of wearing face masks in preventing the spread of Covid-19. Per Nature, “An analysis of hundreds of COVID-19 cases suggests that face masks are most protective in specific circumstances, such as exposure to a person with COVID-19 that lasts for more than three hours or that takes place indoors. The study shows that several of the measures that are collectively known as non-pharmaceutical interventions — such as physical distancing, keeping interactions outdoors and wearing masks — ‘are in fact helpful’ for preventing SARS-CoV-2 transmission, says study co-author Joseph Lewnard, an epidemiologist at the University of California, Berkeley. Previous studies provided evidence that masking helps to protect against infection, but the latest work shows that it is beneficial even when other measures, such as distancing, aren’t in use.” Of course, masks are not 100% effective and the lighter surgical masks are considerably less than that. The thing is that nobody is arguing that and people who use the argument that you can still get sick while wearing a mask are either misinformed or disingenuous. https://go.nature.com/2YkcT0b
BBC Future has a timely article the explores how the Amazon is nearing a tipping point in terms of deforestation. The article also discusses how shifting toward more sustainable energy wouldn’t be that difficult for the country due to certain conditions. According to the article, “Brazil’s forests also give it an advantage in the global scramble towards net zero. Compared to other countries grappling with soaring energy emissions, the task at hand in Brazil is far simpler and less costly, says Mauricio Voivodic, executive director of WWF Brazil. But it requires focused action in the Amazon, two-thirds of which lies in Brazil. ‘For many countries, making the transition to other sources of fuel or electricity requires technology and investment. In the case of Brazil, we don’t need any big technology to stop clearing forests,’ he says. ‘But Brazil is walking with wide strides in the opposite direction.’” https://bbc.in/3o4zSFr
Over 100 countries signed a zero-deforestation pledge at COP26. While this may seem like a no-brainer, not everyone was particularly pleased. Per the Guardian, “Indonesia has questioned the terms of a Cop26 deal to end deforestation by 2030, days after joining more than 100 countries in signing up to it. The nations agreed on the multi-billion-dollar plan at the climate conference in Glasgow this week to stop cutting down trees on an industrial scale in under a decade. But Siti Nurbaya Bakar, the environment minister for the south-east Asian archipelago, which is home to the world’s third-biggest rainforest, said on Wednesday that ‘forcing Indonesia to zero deforestation in 2030 is clearly inappropriate and unfair’.” Jakarta should have just held its tongue. Everyone knows these pledges pretty much die slow and silent deaths once climate conferences end. They’d make it to the same point without the negative PR. https://bit.ly/3kbp9Yt
Thanks for reading. Let’s be careful out there.