DAILY DOSE: Outbreak in China shows signs of spreading; Secret deal between USDA and researchers is bad news for animals.

CHANGE OF PLANS.

After weeks of frustration and fear among its citizens, Shanghai looks set to begin relaxing its strict lockdown on the city’s massive population. Per Reuters, “China’s financial centre of Shanghai will start easing lockdown in some areas from Monday, despite reporting a record of more than 25,000 new COVID-19 infections, as authorities strive to get the city moving again after more than two weeks. Pressure has been mounting on authorities in China’s most populous city, and one of its wealthiest, from residents growing increasingly frustrated as curbs drag on, leaving some struggling to find enough food and medicine.” Obviously, the spread of Covid-19 has not let up in the city, so the decision looks like a political move aimed at quelling rising discontent among the city’s residents. https://reut.rs/37HaeSE


THE JUGGLING ACT BEGINS.

Beijing may officially have its hands full. While the outbreak in Shanghai continues to surge, there are ominous signs coming from one of the country’s manufacturing hub. Per the Associated Press, “The manufacturing hub of Guangzhou closed itself to most arrivals Monday as China battles a major COVID-19 surge in its big eastern cities… Just 27 cases were reported in the city on Monday. However, primary and middle schools have been switched to online after an initial 23 local infections were detected last week. An exhibition center was being converted into a makeshift hospital after authorities said earlier they would begin citywide mass testing.” We’ll see how Zero-Covid gets implemented in Guangzhou. It hasn’t been pretty, nor particularly effective.


SEPARATE LIVES.

The disconnection of Western and Russian science is definitely taking place and researchers in the latter are beginning to speak out about the war and the situation locally. Per Al-Jazeera, “After the war, a process began – separating Russian higher education from the rest of the world. This is problematic, especially because the government is arguing for a certain national science, national history or national maths. A lot of collaborations are finished. The collaboration between Russian medics and COVID researchers is finished. Collaboration projects with foreign scientists are finished and I fear they will not come here any more. A very important part of my work is attending conferences, talking to scholars, exchanging ideas and witnessing what was published in the field. I can still try to visit an international conference, but that will be very difficult, because there are no planes to Europe and this will require me to plan an expensive trip in advance.” Hopefully the situation is resolved soon for the entire global scientific community’s sake. https://bit.ly/3LUZqyZ


GUILTY VERDICT.

A scientist accused of hiding official links to China has been convicted by a U.S. court. Per Nature, “University of Kansas (KU) chemical engineer Feng “Franklin” Tao, who was accused of hiding ties to a Chinese university, has been found guilty of wire fraud and making false statements to the US government. On 7 April, a jury for the US District Court of Kansas found that Tao, currently on unpaid leave from KU, based in Lawrence, had committed research fraud by failing to tell his employer and federal funding agencies about an alleged faculty appointment in China.” https://go.nature.com/3xz0K6T


SWINE FLU OUTBREAK IN U.S.

There’s a major agricultural outbreak occurring in the U.S. and things are beginning to border on bleak. Per The Scientist, “In the worst US outbreak of bird flu since 2015, more than 24 million domesticated birds have died of the disease or been killed as of yesterday (April 7) as a highly infectious strain has been making its way through poultry farms and yards, the Associated Press reports. The majority of that tally were culled to try and prevent the spread of the disease, driving up the cost of poultry meat and eggs across the US. NPR reports that so far, the deadly bird flu has spread to at least 24 US states less than two months after the first domestic outbreak was reported in a commercial turkey flock on February 9.” https://bit.ly/3LYSl0r


SNEAKY BUSINESS.

The Scientist is exclusively reporting about a deal between the U.S. government and science institutions that will surely rile animal rights activists. According to the article, “The lawsuit, which was filed on behalf of the animal welfare organizations Rise for Animals and the Animal Legal Defense Fund, centers around the USDA’s decision to change how it handles inspecting research facilities that house animals for scientific study. Instead of conducting a full annual inspection itself, the agency decided to hire a third-party organization called the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care (AAALAC) International in February 2019, according to internal documents obtained through the Harvard team’s FOIA requests that were described in the suit and in an interview with The Scientist. But the USDA never publicly announced the change, which involved conducting only partial inspections of AAALAC-accredited facilities. Previous reporting on that documentation suggests the USDA made the decision in order to ease the workload of its inspectors, but the lawsuit suggests that the agency is effectively shirking its responsibilities under the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) while still claiming to perform robust inspections of research sites.” Call it what you will. We’ll call it an unnecessary own goal. https://bit.ly/3JvY10e

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


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