It’s showtime in Beijing. As Olympians and their entourages stream into China, an increasing number of them are bringing more than their luggage and equipment. Hello, Covid-19. Per The Guardian, “China detected 37 new cases of Covid-19 among Olympic Games related personnel on 30 January, up from 34 a day earlier, the organising committee of the Beijing 2022 Winter Games has said. Eight of the total were athletes or team officials who tested positive after arriving at the airport on Sunday, according to Reuters. Of the total infections, 28 were among new airport arrivals, with the remaining nine already in the “closed loop” bubble that separates event personnel from the public, according to a notice on the Games’ official website.” So if you don’t feel like watching the Olympics (we sure aren’t), you can still place some bets on Zero-Covid. Somebody’s gotta be taking bets on whether the Great Olympics Outbreak takes place. What’s the over/under on that? https://bit.ly/3ofqsb0
Scientists are trying to figure out where Omicron came from and they’re having a very hard time. Per Nature, “There’s no transparent path of transmission linking Omicron to its predecessors. Instead, the variant has an unusual array of mutations, which it evolved entirely outside the view of researchers. Omicron is so different from earlier variants, such as Alpha and Delta, that evolutionary virologists estimate its closest-known genetic ancestor probably dates back to more than a year ago, some time after mid-2020 (ref. 1). ‘t just came out of nowhere,’ says Darren Martin, a computational biologist at the University of Cape Town, South Africa.” Cue the conspiracy theories… https://go.nature.com/3KQIV7g
As if trying to mitigate a pandemic and protect children hasn’t been enough, U.S. schools have also have had to deal with an uptick of opportunistic cyberattacks. Per the Associated Press, “Cyberattacks like the one that canceled classes for two days in Albuquerque’s biggest school district have become a growing threat to U.S. schools, with several high-profile incidents reported since last year. And the coronavirus pandemic has compounded their effects: More money has been demanded, and more schools have had to shut down as they scramble to recover data or even manually wipe all laptops.” I mean really, how are you gonna do elementary schools dirty? https://bit.ly/3AZTkt3
The United States’ Covid-19 response has been nothing short of tragic. It has taken a lot of the shine off of the red, white, and blue. Turns out, the past two years has also been an unmitigated disaster on another disease front: diabetes. Per Reuters, “More than 100,000 Americans died from diabetes in 2021, marking the second consecutive year for that grim milestone and spurring a call for a federal mobilization similar to the fight against HIV/AIDS. The new figures come as an expert panel urges Congress to overhaul diabetes care and prevention, including recommendations to move beyond a reliance on medical interventions alone.” But hey, at least America has the best healthcare money can buy. Too bad a very big portion of the population can’t afford that top-shelf medical care. https://reut.rs/3s1QuzC
Scientists have long suspected that killer whales are able to hunt much larger blue whales. For a while, it was believed that they could only attack calves. However, thanks to a series of eyewitness reports, packs of orcas are able to take down adult blue whales. Per the New York Times, “The attack was the first of three such events that were witnessed from 2019 through 2021. These events, described in a paper published last week in the journal Marine Mammal Science, have put to rest a longstanding debate among scientists about whether or not orcas could make a meal out of an adult blue whale. A pod of orcas taking down a blue whale is ‘the biggest predation event on Earth, maybe the biggest one since dinosaurs were here,” said Robert Pitman, a marine ecologist at Oregon State University and an author of the paper.” While it may be grim for the blue whales, researchers believe it is a sign that pockets of the ocean are very healthy. Amazing stuff. https://nyti.ms/3o96WNa
Thanks for reading. Let’s be careful out there.