While the world continues to work through the Covid-19 pandemic, the antibiotic resistance crisis smolders beneath the surface. In fact, hospital treatments of coronavirus infections may be exacerbating the problem. Either way, a striking number of people succumbed to resistant infections last year. Per Nature, “Infections caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria are among the leading causes of death for people of all ages, finds the most comprehensive global study of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) yet. The analysis1, published in The Lancet on 19 January, estimates that in 2019, 4.95 million people died from illnesses in which bacterial AMR played a part. Of those, 1.27 million deaths were the direct result of AMR — meaning that drug-resistant infections killed more people than HIV/AIDS (864,000 deaths) or malaria (643,000 deaths).” https://go.nature.com/3GlDZUC
Children under the age of 5 may be able to get vaccinated for Covid-19 soon. Per the Associated Press, “U.S. regulators are urging drugmaker Pfizer to apply for emergency authorization for a two-dose regimen of its COVID-19 vaccine for children 6 months to 5 years old while awaiting data on a three-dose course, aiming to clear the way for the shots as soon as late February, a person familiar with the matter told The Associated Press.” It’s mind-boggling that it has taken this long to even get to this point. For two years, children 5 years old and younger have felt like an afterthought. In truth, the scientific and public health communities have done young children a massive disservice throughout the pandemic. https://bit.ly/32UKD6E
Scientists have been taken off-guard by the emergence of Omicron and its sub-variant sibling BA.2. Now, they are trying to play catch-up while struggling to understand its emergence. Per Science, “Zeller and other scientists are now trying to make sense of why BA.2 is exploding and what its emergence means for the Omicron surge and the pandemic overall. Already a U.K. report published last week and a large household study from Denmark posted as a preprint today make it clear BA.2 is inherently more transmissible than BA.1, leaving scientists to wonder which of the former’s distinct mutations give it an advantage.” Somehow, it doesn’t feel like Omicron is the last variant we’ll be meeting. https://bit.ly/3sasREN
One of the enduring scientific mysteries is how exactly did life on Earth emerge. Researchers believe they have a good idea now. Per the Frontiers In Blog, “Life on Earth arose roughly four billion years ago. How it arose, and from what energy source, is of interest to everyone, because we humans like to know where we come from. The team of Prof William Martin at the University Düsseldorf’s Institute of Molecular Evolution investigates early evolution. In a recent paper in Frontiers in Microbiology, they argue that the source of energy required at life’s origin has been hiding in plain sight: under the environmental conditions at deep sea hydrothermal vents, hypothesized to have been the sites where life on Earth originated, the central biosynthetic reactions of life do not require an external energy source. Rather, these core metabolic reactions release energy all by themselves as long as H2 and CO2 are in supply. The scientists thus link life’s biochemical beginnings to naturally occurring geochemical reactions.” https://bit.ly/3oga3TD
Thanks for reading. Let’s be careful out there.