DAILY DOSE: Rescue efforts in Tonga; Study assesses children and Long-Covid.


Rescue efforts are underway in the island nation of Tonga after a massive volcano eruption left the islands deluged by tsunamis and covered in thick layers of ash. A clearer picture of the damage is beginning to take shape. Per the Associated Press, “Three of Tonga’s smaller islands suffered serious damage from tsunami waves, officials and the Red Cross said Wednesday, as a wider picture begins to emerge of the destruction caused by the eruption of an undersea volcano near the Pacific archipelago nation.” Initial reports indicate that the human toll is not as high as might be expected considering the enormity of the event. https://bit.ly/3AcD0od


Long-Covid has been one of the major reasons some parents have continued to be hyper-vigilant about keeping their children Covid-infection-free. Too much about the long-term effects of Covid-19 remains unknown. A recent study offers some promising news. Per Futurity, “Children up to age 18 with COVID-19 were at low risk for serious health problems stemming from such infections, researchers report. The new study was based on pediatric data analyzed up to June 2021, before the Delta and Omicron variants took hold. The observational study followed more than 10,300 children—3,200 of whom tested positive for COVID-19—at 41 emergency departments in 10 countries including the United States, Canada, Australia, Argentina, Italy, and Spain. About 23%, or 735 children, were hospitalized, while 3%, or 107 children total, suffered severe outcomes such as cardiac complications and neurological issues. Four children died. Researchers also found that children deemed healthy at an initial emergency department visit rarely deteriorated significantly after the first visit.” Not sure how encouraging 1-in-4 children needing hospitalization actually is though, especially when hospital staff are stretched thin. https://bit.ly/3FMjYpQ

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As the world soldiers on amidst the global Covid-19 pandemic, public health officials around the world are struggling to calculate just how many people have succumbed to the disease. Per Nature, “Demographers, data scientists and public-health experts are striving to narrow the uncertainties for a global estimate of pandemic deaths. These efforts, from both academics and journalists, use methods ranging from satellite images of cemeteries to door-to-door surveys and machine-learning computer models that try to extrapolate global estimates from available data. Among these models, the World Health Organization (WHO) is still working on its first global estimate, but the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation in Seattle, Washington, offers daily updates of its own modelled results, as well as projections of how quickly the global toll might rise. And one of the highest-profile attempts to model a global estimate has come from the news media. The Economist magazine in London has used a machine-learning approach to produce an estimate of 12 million to 22 million excess deaths — or between 2 and 4 times the pandemic’s official toll so far.” https://go.nature.com/3nH8JbY


The annual J.P. Morgan Conference Healthcare Conference is here. During one panel, experts discussed what the Covid-19 pandemic has revealed to them that they didn’t know prior to the outbreak. One common theme revolved around diversity among clinical trial participants. Per FierceBiotech, “Many major pharmaceutical companies were already working on diversity strategies before the pandemic, but, when the world shut down to try to stop the spread of the deadly disease, those plans had to kick into gear on the spot. ‘The crisis really accelerated and caused breakthrough thinking in a way that the industry may have been headed, but made it happen right now,’ said Greg Rotz, a principal with consulting firm PwC.” https://bit.ly/3AhfsOX


There’s an easy tendency to believe genetic engineering is limited to today’s advanced science and that older civilizations relied purely on what Nature provided them. As it turns out, nothing could be further from the truth. Researchers have identified a genetically modified animal thousands of years old. Per Inside Science “Ancient DNA may have revealed the genetic identity of the oldest known hybrid animal bred by humans — the horselike kunga, prized beasts once given as royal gifts and said to pull the vehicles of nobility and gods. Roughly 5,000 years ago in Mesopotamia, clay tablets and royal seals began depicting the mysterious kunga. Horses had not yet been introduced to the region, but smaller relatives such as donkeys were already present. Ancient texts suggest kungas were valuable, costing up to six times more than a donkey. The size and speed of large male kungas made them desirable for towing four-wheeled war wagons on the battlefield, while smaller males and females found use pulling plows.” This goes without saying that the oldest domesticated plants are even older. https://bit.ly/3FHv3II

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

IMAGE CREDIT: Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies.

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