DAILY DOSE: Beijing determined to achieve zero-Covid; The year’s retractions include scientist who put Star Trek into everything.


China is sticking to its guns when it comes to its zero-Covid strategy, especially with the Winter Olympics just weeks away. Per the Associated Press, “China plunged a city of 13 million people into lockdown on Thursday to stamp out an increase in coronavirus infections, as the country doubles down on its “zero tolerance” policy just weeks before it is set to host the Winter Olympics. The restrictions in the northeastern city of Xi’an took effect at midnight Wednesday, with no word on when they might be lifted. They are some of the harshest since China imposed a strict lockdown last year on more than 11 million people in and around the city of Wuhan, where the coronavirus was first detected in late 2019.” Well, good luck with that. The least you can say about Beijing is that it is undoubtedly determined. https://bit.ly/3elMzqU


The Scientist published its annual Top 10 Retractions of the Year. Some are real gems. Here’s an example: “Like a lot of people, Victor Grech, a pediatric heart specialist in Malta, really likes Star Trek. The problem is that Grech was able to turn an Elsevier journal called Early Human Development into something of a scientific fanzine, publishing dozens of articles for the periodical that were in a galaxy far, far outside the scope of its editorial interests. The publisher learned about the problematic papers in late 2020 from Hampton Gaddy, an undergrad at the University of Oxford in the UK. Grech’s articles covered topics such as the role of nurses in Star Trek, the banality of evil in Star Trek, and the portrayal of doctors in, you guessed it, Star Trek. Grech eventually lost more than two dozen papers to retraction.” It just makes you wonder whether editors actually read what they publish. What’s more, how did Grech’s papers pass peer review?  https://bit.ly/32enrQt 


As Omicron rips through the United States just before the holidays and the travel that goes with them, one thing is painfully clear. Members of President Joe Biden’s administration (including himself) dropped the ball when it comes to Covid-19 testing. Home tests are just about impossible to find and the results from PCR tests take between 3-5 days to return, just about making the whole thing pointless. An article in Mother Jones looks at how the U.S. has repeatedly fumbled from the early days of the pandemic. “In the months that followed, Bosch responded to repeated requests from FDA reviewers for data and studies. When the agency finally put out guidance that summer about the performance over-the-counter home tests needed to meet, officials required that such tests be nearly as sensitive as the lab tests used to definitively determine whether a patient has COVID-19. That standard proved difficult to meet. Rapid tests are usually sensitive enough to detect viral antigens when someone has enough of them to be able to spread the disease. Such tests are not as good at picking up cases in either earlier or later stages of infection, when viral loads are lower.” https://bit.ly/3mrBQ2k


Even though it’s been a half-century since man visited the moon, the expeditions continue to yield new material. Per space.com, “The original Apollo researchers had the foresight to know that future scientists would have more advanced tools to study the samples and made sure to set some aside for later analysis. Though some of the lunar samples have been opened, but others—called the Pristine Apollo Samples—remain untouched and have yet to be examined. The high-tech gadget—cheekily nicknamed the ‘Apollo can opener’—was designed to pierce the vacuum-sealed cylinder while capturing any lunar gases that may still lurk within its walls, reports Benjamin Taub for IFL Science. By analyzing the lunar gases, which could consist of hydrogen, helium, or other gases, scientists will further understand the moon’s geology. These experiments could help engineers design more efficient and effective sampling tools and techniques for future missions to the moon or Mars, per a statement.” Sometimes, people are just so clever and insightful. https://bit.ly/3yRIDHT

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

IMAGE SOURCE: Kreg Steppe.

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