DAILY DOSE: Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine nears approval for children under 5; Two pits, one toilet, and ancient tamales.


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Parents of toddlers are finally hearing the welcome news that a Covid-19 vaccine may be available to their young children. Per the Associated Press, “Federal health officials said Sunday that kid-sized doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccines appear to be safe and effective for kids under 5, a key step toward a long-awaited decision to begin vaccinating the youngest American children. The Food and Drug Administration posted its analysis of the Pfizer shot ahead of a Wednesday meeting where outside experts will vote on whether the shots are ready for the nation’s 18 million babies, toddlers and preschoolers. Kids under 5 are the only group not yet eligible for COVID-19 vaccination in the U.S.” Late last week the FDA posted a similar analysis of Moderna’s shots for children under 6. If the FDA approves the vaccines for under-5s, vaccinations can start as early as next week. https://bit.ly/3tv6VpG


Beijing has suffered a setback in its efforts to return to pre-Covid-19 normalcy. A few weeks after tentatively re-opening businesses after a brief lockdown, a new outbreak threatens a return to uncertainty. According to Reuters, “Authorities in China’s capital Beijing on Monday raced to contain a COVID-19 outbreak traced to a raucous 24-hour bar known for cheap liquor and big crowds, with millions facing mandatory testing and thousands under targeted lockdowns. The outbreak of nearly 200 cases linked to the city centre Heaven Supermarket Bar… The bar cluster was caused by loopholes and complacency in epidemic prevention, state-backed Beijing Evening News wrote in a commentary piece on Monday. ‘At a time when … normality in the city is being restored, the fall of Heaven Supermarket Bar means the hardship and effort of countless people have been in vain,’ the newspaper wrote.’” It’s worth noting that the current outbreak has already surpassed the minimum level that caused lockdowns in the past. Maybe it’s a sign that Beijing is beginning to adjust its model now. https://reut.rs/3zAqvES


Astronomers have been handed a massive amount of data collected by Europe’s Gaia space mission. According to the Associated Press, “The European Space Agency has released a trove of data on almost 2 billion stars in the Milky Way, collected by its Gaia mission in an effort to create the most accurate and complete map of our galaxy. Astronomers hope to use the data to understand better how stars are born and die, and how the Milky Way evolved over billions of years. The new data includes new information such as the age, mass, temperature and chemical composition of stars. This can be used, for example, to determine which stars were born in another galaxy and then migrated to the Milky Way.” It’s hard to understate how gorgeous the images/data coming from Gaia is. Check out today’s Daily Dose main image above.) https://bit.ly/3aTQRY6


In late May, the multi-billion dollar James Webb Space Telescope was hit by a small space-based projectile. It caused some damage. However, according to NASA’s blog, the telescope was designed to weather minor collisions. “Webb’s mirror was engineered to withstand bombardment from the micrometeoroid environment at its orbit around Sun-Earth L2 of dust-sized particles flying at extreme velocities. While the telescope was being built, engineers used a mixture of simulations and actual test impacts on mirror samples to get a clearer idea of how to fortify the observatory for operation in orbit. This most recent impact was larger than was modeled, and beyond what the team could have tested on the ground.” That said, the micrometeoroid did hit something of significant importance – one of its primary mirrors – that may affect the data it receives. https://go.nasa.gov/3MMXTec


A study of two pits in an ancient home in Guatamala describes how people made tamales and flushed toilets over a thousand years ago. Per Futurity, “The study in the Journal of Archaeological Science, reveals how the pits were full of maize starch spherulites, a microscopic byproduct of nixtamalization—a food preparation process essential to making tamales and tortillas, where corn kernels are soaked and washed in an alkaline solution of water and lime. Because the pits were also dotted with parasitic worm eggs from human feces, the archaeologists think the Maya were using the pits as latrines, flushing their toilets with lime water leftover from making tamales.” Hopefully, they didn’t cook in their latrines as well. https://bit.ly/3Qw6W6H

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

IMAGE CREDIT: European Space Agency.

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