macro photo of cute hamster

DAILY DOSE: Hamster infects human with Covid-19, China set to kill thousands of small animals.

Public health officials in Hong Kong have identified a case in which a pet hamster was infected with Sars-CoV-2 and succeeded in infecting a human. As a result, a slaughter of small animals is set to take place. Per the Associated Press, “Hong Kong authorities said Tuesday that they will kill about 2,000 small animals, including hamsters, after several tested positive for the coronavirus at a pet store where an employee was also infected. The city will also stop the sale of hamsters and the import of small mammals, according to officials from the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department. The pet shop employee tested positive for the delta variant on Monday, and several hamsters imported from the Netherlands at the store tested positive as well.” This incident provides more Beijing with more ammunition to follow through on its ban on mail from outside China. How that works is anybody’s guess.

Omicron may be less virulent than its sibling Sars-CoV-2 strains but that doesn’t make it any less ominous. The way it is able to evade our natural immune system as well as vaccines should make everyone very wary. Scientists are already tallying a scorecard for vaccines that do and do not work. Per Nature, “The world’s most widely used COVID-19 vaccines provide little to no protection against infection with the rapidly spreading Omicron variant, laboratory evidence suggests. Inactivated-virus vaccines contain SARS-CoV-2 particles that have been chemically treated to make it impossible for them to cause an infection. Stable and relatively easy to manufacture, such vaccines have been distributed widely as part of China’s global vaccine diplomacy, helping them to become the jab of choice in many countries. But a multitude of experiments show that they are consistently hobbled by Omicron.”

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The United States has stated on the record that it will play a more active role in updating Covid-19 vaccines and share it with the international community. Per STAT, “Instead, a senior FDA official told STAT, the agency expects to take part in an internationally coordinated program aimed at deciding if, when, and how to update Covid-19 vaccines. The approach would ensure decisions are not left solely to individual vaccine manufacturers. ‘We can’t have our manufacturers going willy-nilly [saying], “Oh well, the EMA decided they wanted this composition, but FDA wanted that composition,”’ the official said, referring to the European Medicines Agency. ‘So we are very much of the mind that we would like to be part of a more global process in helping to come to what vaccine composition there should be now.’” This is good news, but the proof is in the follow-through.

The world is getting hotter. There’s no denying that. Data from NASA demonstrates this clearly. According to the government agency, “Earth’s global average surface temperature in 2021 tied with 2018 as the sixth warmest on record, according to independent analyses done by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Continuing the planet’s long-term warming trend, global temperatures in 2021 were 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit (0.85 degrees Celsius) above the average for NASA’s baseline period, according to scientists at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York. NASA uses the period from 1951-1980 as a baseline to see how global temperature changes over time. Collectively, the past eight years are the warmest years since modern record keeping began in 1880. This annual temperature data makes up the global temperature record – which tells scientists the planet is warming.” How hot will it need to get before the world figures out that something needs to be done to address that?

Speaking of potential global disasters, a massive asteroid is set to buzz our planet today. Per USA Today, “A ‘potentially hazardous’ asteroid bigger than any building in the world will pass by Earth on Tuesday. Not only is it the biggest known asteroid coming within 2.3 million miles of Earth this year, but it’s so massive that you might be able to see it in the sky. The asteroid, named 1994 PC1, has an estimated width of 3,600 feet, nearly 1,000 feet longer than the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, the tallest building in the world.” This scenario is ridiculously similar to the satirical film, Don’t Look Up.

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

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