DAILY DOSE: More Republicans died from Covid-19 than Democrats thanks to vaccines, study.


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The never-ending Covid-Zero saga continues in China unabated. New infections continue to pick up steam, a bad sign for anyone insisting even single infection is unacceptable. Per the Associated Press,

“Chinese cities imposed more curbs on Wednesday to rein in rising coronavirus cases, adding to investor worries about the economy, as fresh unrest at the world’s largest iPhone plant highlighted the social and industrial toll of China’s strict COVID-19 measures.

In Beijing, malls and parks were shut and once-bustling areas of the capital resembled ghost towns as authorities urged people to stay home.

The Hainan island resort city of Sanya barred people from going to restaurants and malls within three days of arrival, and numerous cities across China have imposed localised lockdowns as infections neared highs seen in April.

The measures are darkening the outlook for the world’s second-largest economy and dampening hopes that China would significantly ease its outlier COVID stance any time soon, as China faces its first winter battling the highly contagious Omicron variant.

“While there is little prospect of the authorities opting to step back from the zero-COVID policy during the winter, there is a significant risk that containment efforts fail,” analysts at Capital Economics wrote.”

China keeps driving by off-ramps with considerable aplomb. Hope they know what they’re doing. http://bit.ly/3ETSEZI

If you’ve followed how the Covid-19 pandemic progressed in the United States, you’d be keenly aware that people on the political right tended to be more hostile to the idea of getting immunized against the virus. A recent study discovered what many people suspected instinctively. More Republicans succumbed to the disease than did Democrats. Per Futurity,

“Since the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, public health officials have warned that some of us are at higher risk of severe outcomes from the virus, due to factors such as age or preexisting medical conditions.

The new research points to another factor that puts people at greater risk of dying from COVID-19: party affiliation.

The study finds that excess deaths during the pandemic were 76% higher among Republicans than Democrats in two states, Ohio and Florida.

What’s more, the partisan gap in death rates increased significantly after vaccines were introduced.”

Even these sobering findings won’t do much to change anyone’s minds. People’s positions are already entrenched. http://bit.ly/3Ot6ZiR

People of African descent are less likely to benefit from therapies that depend on CRISPR, a recent study finds. An article in Science takes a look at what’s being called the “ancestry problem.”

“The 10-year-old gene-editing tool known as CRISPR is indispensable for engineering plants, tailoring lab animals, and probing basic biology. But there’s a caveat when it is used to tweak human genes: Unlike lab mice, which are usually inbred and genetically identical, people’s genomes differ individually and by ancestry.

These ancestry differences mean CRISPR doesn’t always edit some genomes as intended, particularly in people of African descent, whose genomes are most likely to differ from those used to steer CRISPR to a specific gene. A new analysis finds that failing to account for ancestry slightly skewed a massive sweep for cancer genes, causing it to miss genes important as drug targets in those of recent African descent.

The study, posted online, “shows a clear example of this [ancestry] problem,” says computational biologist Luca Pinello of the Harvard University–affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital, who has also studied the issue. He and the scientists behind the new work propose tools to avoid it.”

Ancestry issues with CRISPR were first reported 5 years ago, but Sean Misek. http://bit.ly/3UZJd09

As the 2022 winds down, the annual look-over-the-shoulder year-in-review articles are beginning to stream in. Fierce Biotech compiled a list of biotechnology companies that bit the dust this year. It’s a tough industry and not for the faint of heart. http://bit.ly/3Vlw9SN

An auction meant to sell a T-rex fossil has been put on hold by Christie’s. Per Smithsonian Magazine,

“Days before a highly anticipated Hong Kong auction, Christie’s removed a Tyrannosaurus rex fossil from its catalog, stating that it would “benefit from further study,” per the New York Times’ Julia Jacobs and Zachary Small.

The skeleton’s withdrawal comes after experts raised questions about the number of replica bones in the fossil and ambiguous marketing language. It was expected to fetch between $15 million and $25 million at auction.

The T. rex, which the auction house referred to as “Shen,” was a highly-anticipated object set to be auctioned on November 30. In a statement, Christie’s described Shen as a “rare, scientifically important” skeleton that had been “researched by leading paleontologists from global institutions.” The auction house did not identify Shen’s owner.”

Trouble began for Christie’s when Peter Larson, president of fossil company Black Hills Institute of Geological Research, noticed that Shen looked very similar to another T. rex fossil: “Stan,” a skeleton that Larson’s team had excavated in 1992. http://bit.ly/3XjOyB8

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

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