World Coronavirus Dispatch: Snow leopards the latest cats to get infected

The ideal christmas celebrations for many in Europe are likely to remain a fantasy this year as the region struggles with severe coronavirus second wave of infections.
Should companies require employees to take the vaccine?

As vaccine hesitancy takes centre stage around the world, authorities fear any delay in immunisation presents a challenge to their nations and economies. In this context, employers and business leaders are uniquely positioned to propagate vaccine literacy. For Instance, they can ask their employees to get vaccinated in order to return to offices. Apart from the argument of social responsibility, it also helps businesses return to the pre-pandemic normal faster. If more people and customers are vaccinated, international travel can resume, employees can feel safe about their workplaces and thereby higher productivity. Read more here

Let's look at the global statistics

Global infections: 72,849,650

Change Over Yesterday: 578,957

Global deaths: 1,621,154

Nations with most cases: US (16,519,462), India (9,906,165), Brazil (6,927,145), Russia (2,656,601), France (2,433,859).

Snow leopards are the latest cats to be infected

After Tigers and Lions, Snow Leopards are the latest big cats to get infected with coronavirus. One female leapord has shown a positive result and two other male cats are suspected to have caught the virus in America. The animals, from a zoo in southeastern state of Kentucky, are reportedly down with coughing and wheezing. Among the many animals that got infected, from what we have seen so far, minks are the only animals to get severely ill if infected, and are likely to transmit the virus back to humans. Read more here

Europe struggles to free Christmas from shackles

The ideal christmas celebrations for many in Europe are likely to remain a fantasy this year as the region struggles with severe coronavirus second wave of infections. Germany has already announced a harsher lockdown and barred firework events for the new year. Belgium too has extended restrictions during the  holiday season and will allow only limited gatherings. France is set to impose a night curfew. The hasty lifting of restrictions during the first wave led to a more devastating second wave of infections. The authorities are not repeating the same this time, even at the risk of fanning public anger against the establishment. Read more here

Scientists pinpoint genes common among people with severe Covid

From what we have known so far, people with older age and underlying co-morbidities are more vulnerable to severe coronavirus infections and most likely to succumb to the disease. But genetic predispositions could also lead to a severe disease, a study conducted on more than 2,000 severely ill covid-19 patients has found. The researchers from Europe aim to know why some people fend off the  infection with mild symptoms, while others progress to severe stages. They say study helps in finding better treatments for the disease. Read more here

Brazil’s vaccination plan does little to assuage concerns

Brazil has released a coronavirus vaccination plan to gain public trust, but the 93-page document did very little to assuage concerns over immunisation. Medical professionals criticised the release of the plan. According to the document, Brazil has already secured millions of doses of Astrazeneca Covid-19 vaccines. The country plans to get more vaccines from World Health Organization (WHO) led initiative Covax. The list of planned vaccines doesn’t include China’s Sinovac vaccine candidate, which has been at the center of many of the political controversies around vaccines in Brazil. Read more here

Singapore tries to become Southeast Asia's vaccine distribution hub

One of the largest transportation hubs in Asia, Singapore's Changi airport has put in place an action plan to ensure smooth distribution of vaccines around the Asian region. The airport, in collaboration with business leaders, is ramping up its cold storage facilities, logistic infrastructure, and is coordinating with the industry for vaccine delivery. Changi airport has the experience of delivering medical products in recent years and has invested heavily in the business. The vaccines will be distributed in Southeast Asia and Oceania, according to airport group. Read more here


What conferences after Covid will look like

Even assuming that the end to pandemic is in sight, physical conferences, hosting large gatherings, are unlikely to happen anytime soon. Organisers will likely stick to many of the virtual events, that they were quick to adapt after Covid disrupted their plans. Contrary to the expected gloom, there might actually be some unexpected benefits in this, which include no costs for physical space and tickets. Events that don’t require in-person gatherings can attract diverse set of speakers as well as reach out to a wider audience. Read more here

How science beat the virus

In December last year, almost none in the intellectual world had a clue about a mysterious virus that was causing unknown pneumonia and resulting in thousands of deaths. Nine months later, scientists have developed a vaccine that might potentially be the last weapon to end the pandemic. Many researchers dropped whatever intellectual puzzles they were solving and worked on the pandemic instead at breakneck speed. This might have been possible due the years of research the scientific community established conducting unique experiments before the pandemic hit us. The other striking is revelation is how they moved away from established practice of opaque peer-reviewed research. During the pandemic, the scientific world uploaded preliminary versions of their papers, allowing others to immediately dissect and build upon their results. Read more here

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