DAILY DOSE: Mexico bans all e-cigarette sales; Meet the world’s largest organism.


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It’s D-Day for Shanghai’s reopening and, from media reports, it looks like it’s really happening. While the city’s inhabitants have approached the event with a degree of wariness – after what they’ve been through, who can blame them for being a little gun-shy – the government is in a celebratory, back-patting mood. Per the Associated Press, “Shanghai’s Communist Party committee, the city’s most powerful political body, issued a letter online proclaiming the lockdown’s success and thanking citizens for their “support and contributions.” The move came amid a steady rollback in compulsory measures that have upended daily life for millions while severely disrupting the economy and global supply chains. While defending President and Communist Party chief Xi Jinping’s hardline ‘zero-COVID’ policy, the country’s leadership appears to be acknowledging the public backlash against measures seen as trampling already severely limited rights to privacy and participation in the workings of government.” Of course, with Zero-Covid always looming in the shadows, things could change in the Asian financial hub very quickly. https://bit.ly/3zce8i2


China has been slow-walking the approval of Western mRNA Covid-19 vaccines in order to allow a locally developed version to go to market first. Reports indicate that they are very close to approving a locally designed and produced vaccine. Per Reuters, “A COVID-19 vaccine candidate from China’s Walvax Biotechnology (300142.SZ) using mRNA technology triggered a stronger antibody response against the Omicron variant of the coronavirus as a booster dose than Sinovac’s shot, clinical trial data showed. The result for Walvax’s ARCoV candidate, which is yet to be peer reviewed, comes as competition for the COVID booster market intensifies in China, where more than half of the 1.4 billion population have so far received a non-mRNA booster shot.” This is good news as if it works, it will save countless lives. That said, China really can’t have a moan – as they tend to do –  about other countries’ protectionist trade policies. https://reut.rs/3NOAJFc


Seems like there’s another controversy associated with the World Health Organization’s Covid-19. This time it has to do with how they tallied deaths associated with the disease. According to Nature, “Scientists working with the World Health Organization (WHO) have corrected some surprising errors in its estimates of how many deaths the pandemic has caused, after a flurry of questions about the original WHO report, issued in early May. In a revision to a technical paper on their methods, researchers cut Germany’s pandemic-related deaths estimate by 37%, pulling its excess death rate below those of the United Kingdom and Spain. They also raised their estimate for Sweden by 19% (see ‘Corrected estimates of pandemic death rates’).” Truth be told, WHO isn’t an outlier here. Pretty much every country’s Covid-19 response has been less than ideal. https://go.nature.com/3GEsqcQ


Think e-cigarettes are healthier alternatives to cigarettes? Maybe they are. But don’t tell that to the Mexican government. They’ve just nixed an attempt at buying e-cigs whether it’s purchased locally or imported. Per the Associated Press, “Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador signed a decree Tuesday outlawing the sale of e-cigarettes, continuing the government’s anti-vaping policy. Mexico had already prohibited imports of the devices since at least October. And even before that, consumer protection and other laws had been used to discourage sales. Despite Tuesday’s decree, many Mexicans import or buy vaping cartridges or fluid under the table or online domestically.” https://bit.ly/3PX3WzC


Unless you work in the Agricultural sector, African swine flu probably flies under your every day news radar. It doesn’t really infect humans. However, it is almost the plague to animals and spreads so easily. So far it has cost immense amounts of money since the only way to effectively combat it is to cull any pic in the vicinity of the infected one. Now, there appears to be some relief in the form of prophylaxis. According to Reuters, “Vietnam said on Wednesday it had successfully developed a vaccine to administer to pigs to fight African swine fever, with the aim of becoming the first country to commercially produce and export it. African swine fever, one of the most devastating livestock diseases, was first detected in Vietnam in February 2019 and forced the country to cull around 20% of its hog herd last year.” The vaccine has been in development since November 2019 in partnership with scientists from the United States. https://reut.rs/38E3TYN


The world’s largest organism has been discovered in Australia’s waters. Per Science, “It sounds like the stuff of science fiction: Two closely related species hybridize and create a superorganism whose growth and expansion seems unstoppable. That’s what’s happened in Western Australia’s Shark Bay, researchers say, where a seagrass meadow (see above) stemming from a single hybrid plant has extended its reach across more than 180 kilometers—an area the size of Washington, D.C. Two years ago, scientists discovered some of the seagrass there was a clone of a Poseidon’s ribbon weed (Posidonia australis) that had 40 chromosomes instead of the typical 20. They think half those chromosomes may come from the ribbon weed and half from an unknown species.” That added species appears to have provided a big survival advantage, allowing it to outcompete its neighbors. Scientists speculate that the clone’s extra genes may be providing a way for it to adapt to the various stresses that accompany climate change, the authors note. https://bit.ly/3aguNpZ

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

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