DAILY DOSE: Beijing curtails viewing of Olympic Torch thanks to Zero-Covid strategy; Vaccines can cause Long Covid on rare occasions.

The Zero-Covid saga in coming from Beijing has a new installment. This time, it has to do with the fabled Olympic Torch. Per the Associated Press, “China is limiting the torch relay for the Winter Olympics to only three days amid coronavirus worries, organizers said Friday. The flame will be displayed only in enclosed venues that are deemed “safe and controllable,” according to officials. No public transit routes would be disturbed and normal life would continue for the 20 million residents of the capital, where a handful of new COVID-19 cases have been recorded over recent days. Beijing’s deputy sports director, Yang Haibin, said safety was the “top priority,” with the pandemic, venue preparations and the possibility of forest fires in Beijing’s cold, dry climate all factored in.” The heavy restrictions on movement has discouraged a number of American sports outlets to keep their reporters home. https://bit.ly/3tHfqyK

A sliver of sunlight is cracking through the Covid-19 clouds in the United States. Early data appears to indicate that the parts of the country that were hit hard and early are now on the other side of the curve. Per Reuters, “New coronavirus cases are falling in parts of the United States hardest hit by the fast-spreading Omicron variant, according to a Reuters analysis of public health data, offering an early indication the virus might once again be on retreat. COVID-19 infections have decreased in 15 states plus Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico, an analysis of the past week through Wednesday compared with the prior week showed.” Hopefully, the trend continues as Omicron continues to sweep across the country. https://reut.rs/3AmFdxB

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There have been reports of Covid-19 vaccines resulting in Long Covid-like symptoms in a small number of people. This is on top of the known side effects such as allergic reactions and temporarily enlarged hearts. Scientists are just now beginning to really focus on determining whether the vaccines are responsible. Per Science, “Now, a small number of other researchers worldwide is beginning to study whether the biology of Long Covid, itself still poorly understood, overlaps with the mysterious mechanisms driving certain postvaccine side effects…  Probing possible side effects presents a dilemma to researchers: They risk fomenting rejection of vaccines that are generally safe, effective, and crucial to saving lives. ‘You have to be very careful’ before tying COVID-19 vaccines to complications, Nath cautions. ‘You can make the wrong conclusion. … The implications are huge.’ And complex and lingering symptoms like Dressen’s are even more difficult to study because patients can lack a clear diagnosis.” Making matters more complicated, there is still little consensus on what exactly Long Covid is. https://bit.ly/3AmgUzD

The Omicron virus’ hyper-infectivity has spurred researchers to understand what is behind its nearly unstoppable capability to take hold. According to a report in Nature, “two studies show that the variant has achieved success despite causing viral levels in the body that are similar to — or lower than — those of its main competitor, the Delta variant. The results suggest that Omicron’s hyper-transmissibility does not stem from the release of large amounts of virus from infected people. Instead, the best explanation for its lightning-fast spread is its ability to evade SARS-CoV-2 immunity caused by either vaccination or past infection, says Emily Bruce, a virologist at the University of Vermont in Burlington. The studies have not yet been peer reviewed.” Understanding the mechanics may prove invaluable if another strain of Sars-CoV-2 emerges that has similar transmissibility but is also more deadly, the so-called nightmare strain. https://go.nature.com/3fNb5lw

There are a lot of things multi-national corporations do right. That said, when it comes to addressing controversial aspects of their business, they can also be their own worst enemy. Look no further than GMO labeling. A recent trial highlights the lengths of stupid they are willing to go. Per the Associated Press, “The Washington Supreme Court has narrowly upheld an $18 million fine levied against an association of large food brands that funneled dark money into a state political campaign. The 5-4 decision Thursday found that the penalty against the Grocery Manufacturers Association — now known as the Consumer Brands Association — did not violate the U.S. Constitution’s ban on excessive fines. The association said it would petition the U.S. Supreme Court to review the case.” The group, which included companies like Coca-Cola and Nestle, collected $14 million from its members. It contributed $11 million of that to help defeat a Washington state ballot initiative that would have required labeling of genetically engineered ingredients on food packaging. As they say, stupid is as stupid does. They should have used that $11 million to explain the safety and benefits of GMO products. https://bit.ly/3Kv5Cha

In philosophy, the philosophy of self says that by reflecting on and knowing one-self, the lessons can be extended to the rest of the universe since both are connected with each other. Now, scientists are making a similar assertion when it comes to galaxies. Per Quanta, “Cosmologists usually determine the composition of the universe by observing as much of it as possible. But these researchers have found that a machine learning algorithm can scrutinize a single simulated galaxy and predict the overall makeup of the digital universe in which it exists — a feat analogous to analyzing a random grain of sand under a microscope and working out the mass of Eurasia. The machines appear to have found a pattern that might someday allow astronomers to draw sweeping conclusions about the real cosmos merely by studying its elemental building blocks.” https://bit.ly/3rC7k7Y

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


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