DAILY DOSE: Covid-19 data from Africa is flawed.

The Covid-19 pandemic has very much been defined by narratives. Donald Trump’s China Virus. The Ivermectin conspiracy theory. The Biolab Origin story. It’s really endless. Another narrative that has arisen is called the African paradox which asserts that the pandemic did not hit the continent as hard as other places. This may not be entirely true. Per Nature, “Almost one-third of more than 1,000 bodies taken to a morgue in Lusaka in 2020 and 2021 tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, implying that many more people died of COVID-19 in Zambia’s capital than official numbers suggest1. Some scientists say that the findings further undermine the ‘African paradox’, a narrative that the pandemic was less severe in Africa than in other parts of the world. This idea arose after health experts noticed that sub-Saharan nations were reporting lower case numbers and fewer COVID-19 deaths than might be expected. But researchers say that the findings from Zambia could reflect a broader truth — that a deficit of testing and strained medical infrastructure have masked COVID-19’s true toll on the continent. The findings have not yet been peer reviewed.” There was always something slightly pollyanna-ish about the so-called paradox. https://go.nature.com/3NjzYVh

As Covid-19 gained a foothold in cities around the world, it became clear that a significant number of people were basically leaving the city for some place safer and less congested. The conclusion was based solely on anecdotal evidence. Now, researchers have quantified the exodus from American cities. Per the Associated Press, “The exodus from the biggest U.S. metropolitan areas was led by New York, which lost almost 328,000 residents. It was driven by people leaving for elsewhere, even though the metro area gained new residents from abroad and births outpaced deaths. Metropolitan Los Angeles lost almost 176,000 residents, the San Francisco area saw a loss of more than 116,000 residents and greater Chicago lost more than 91,000 people from 2020 to 2021. The San Jose, Boston, Miami and Washington areas also lost tens of thousands of residents primarily from people moving away.” https://bit.ly/3LcBmat

The findings about the African paradox focuses our attention on the undeniable importance of testing as a way to understand the directions pandemics are going. That’s why public health experts are almost pleading with governments around the world not to cut back any more on funding that supports testing. Per Nature, “Around the world, the frequency of national reporting has slipped below five days a week for the first time since the early months of the pandemic, according to the publishers of the website Our World in Data. In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is still reporting nationwide data, but there’s less real-time reporting of death and infection figures at the local level. All but eight states have scaled back to reporting data five or fewer days per week. Florida announced last week that it will now be reporting only fortnightly.”  Maria Van Kerkhove, technical lead for COVID-19 at the World Health Organization (WHO), said that it’s crucial that “The systems that have been put in place for surveillance, for testing, for sequencing right now be reinforced, that they are not taken apart”. https://go.nature.com/36Hl62c

As any anthropologist, historian, or literature expert knows, myths are an important source of knowledge, especially for cultures that no longer exist. A recent study of Mayan mythology proves this to be true. In this case, it’s about the role of corn in the evolution of society. Per Science, “In Maya creation myths, the gods created humans out of corn. Now, a new study from a site in Belize suggests corn really was important in the origin of the ancient Maya: More than half of their ancestry can be traced to migrants who arrived from South America sometime before 5600 years ago, likely bringing with them new cultivars of the crop that sustained one of Mesoamerica’s great cultures.” https://bit.ly/357vAYe

The child Covid-19 vaccination muddiness has just received a new infusion of dirt. This time it’s compliments of Moderna. Per STAT, “Moderna announced Wednesday that it will ask the Food and Drug Administration to authorize its Covid-19 vaccine for emergency use in children aged 6 months to 6 years, a group for which there are currently no authorized Covid vaccines. The company’s announcement came as it released interim data from two clinical trials of its vaccine in children under 6 years of age. Moderna said the studies — in children aged 6 months to 23 months and 2 years to 6 years — showed the vaccine generated similar immune responses as those seen in adults aged 18 to 25 who received two doses of Moderna’s adult Covid vaccine.” Considering the efficacy of Covid-19 vaccines on young children, Moderna’s news does little to clarify the situation for parents. https://bit.ly/3iyTrmP

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

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