DAILY DOSE: Combating scientific espionage; The Pope stumps for vaccines.

TRANSPARENCY URGED AMIDST OPACITY.

Foreign influence within the American scientific research community has been a major concern for the U.S. government for some time, peaking perhaps during the Trump Administration. Now, the current administration is looking to codify further the do’s and don’ts for federally funded projects. Per Science, “President Joe Biden’s administration last week ordered federal agencies to draft uniform policies describing the outside sources of funding that scientists must disclose when they apply for federal grants, and the penalties for failing to do so. Research groups welcome the directive, but wish it had also specified what kinds of foreign collaborations might get a scientist in trouble.   The new directive, issued on 4 January by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), feeds into a roiling political debate about how to protect federally funded research from attempted theft by some foreign governments. In recent years, the federal government has prosecuted some two dozen academics for failing to disclose financial ties to China, which critics say has criminalized minor violations of often confusing federal rules and chilled research collaborations.” As China continues its ascent as a world scientific power, look for American rules to further tighten. https://bit.ly/3fbh8ji


POPE STUMPS FOR VACCINE.

If there were any doubts which side the Vatican fell when it comes to Covid-19 vaccines, the pontiff put them to rest recently. Per the Associated Press, “Pope Francis suggested Monday that getting vaccinated against the coronavirus was a ‘moral obligation’ and denounced how people had been swayed by ‘baseless information’ to refuse one of the most effective measures to save lives during the pandemic. Francis used some of his strongest words yet calling for people to get vaccinated in a speech to ambassadors accredited to the Holy See, an annual event in which he sets out the Vatican’s foreign policy goals for the year.” Unfortunately, the moral obligation argument hasn’t really convinced the don’t-trample-on-my-rights contingent. Someone will just point out that the Pope is probably on Big Pharma’s payroll. https://bit.ly/3r6RoKp


ZERO-COVID, ZERO-CHANCE?

There is never a dull moment in the zero-Covid morality play currently being staged by Beijing. As if on cue, their infection rates are creeping higher just as the mother of all super-spreader events is set to kick off. Per the Guardian, “China is battling to stamp out its first outbreak of the Omicron variant, only weeks before the Chinese new year and the Beijing Winter Olympics, with cases recorded in at least two distant provinces. On Monday, health authorities reported 97 new locally transmitted cases for the preceding 24 hours, across several cities. At least 30 cases were in Henan province, while at least 31 new cases were reported in the Tianjin, including 15 children aged five to 15.” In all fairness, nothing beats Beijing’s Olympics car accident guidance. https://bit.ly/3K0kcgz


RECORD-BREAKING NUMBERS OUT OF SE ASIA.

The Philippines is getting battered by increasing Covid-19 infections. Per CNN Philippines, “The country’s total COVID-19 case count surged to nearly three million on Monday after the government reported a record high spike for the third consecutive day with 33,169 more infected. It is the first time since the pandemic struck that new cases hit at least 30,000, beating Sunday’s 28,707. This did not yet include data from 10 testing laboratories, according to the Department of Health. It said these laboratories contributed an average of 6.2% of all samples tested and 6.3% of all positive results over the last two weeks.” The archipelago nation has been one of the hardest hit countries in Southeast Asia. https://bit.ly/3FeMkcf


AVIAN FLU RAMPANT IN EUROPE.

If you were under the impression that humans were the only ones currently under threat from a deadly outbreak, think again. Per the Scientist, “The UK is now experiencing its ‘largest ever’ outbreak of avian influenza, BBC News reported last month, with more than 60 cases since the first report of infected swans in October. To prevent further spread of disease, all sites with infections must kill their birds, resulting in hundreds of thousands of birds culled already this flu season” They spoke with UK Chief Veterinary Officer Christine Middlemiss about the outbreak, the health and economic effects of the disease, and efforts to combat it. https://bit.ly/3qbDRly

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

IMAGE CREDIT: (ENTER NAMES)


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