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Covid-19: a new variant called « Mu » monitored by the WHO

PANDEMIC – The health institution is keeping an eye on this new strain of Covid-19 which presents mutations that could indicate a risk of « immune escape ».

With each new variant, the same worry. The World Health Organization (WHO) is monitoring a new strain of the coronavirus, dubbed « Mu », which was first detected in Colombia in January. This is what the institution indicated on the night of Tuesday to Wednesday. Its code name: B.1.621. For now, this variant has been classified as « variant to follow, » said the WHO in its weekly epidemiological bulletin on the evolution of the pandemic. But what do we know about this new mutation? 

The WHO specifies that the variant has mutations that could indicate a risk of  » immune escape » – in other words resistance to vaccines. However, the Geneva-based institution stresses that further studies are needed to better understand its characteristics. All viruses, including the SARS-CoV-2 responsible for Covid-19, mutate over time. Note that most mutations have little or no effect on the properties of the virus.

However, certain mutations can affect the properties of the virus and influence, for example, how easily it spreads, the severity of the disease it causes, or the effectiveness of vaccines, drugs, diagnostic tools or other social and public health measures.

The « Mu » variant detected in Latin America and Europe

The « Mu » variant was first recorded in Colombia in January. It has since been reported in other South American countries and in Europe. « Although the global prevalence of the Mu variant among sequenced cases has declined and is currently less than 0.1%, its prevalence in Colombia (39%) and Ecuador (13%) has steadily increased, » the WHO explained. .

The appearance, at the end of 2020, of variants that presented an increased risk to global public health led the WHO to characterize variants to be monitored and variants of concern, in order to prioritize surveillance and research activities at the global level. 

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What will be the best places to live if society collapses?

A study by the scientific journal Sustainability lists the best places to settle in the event of economic or climate collapse. A list that gives pride of place to several islands such as Iceland or Tasmania.

According to the authors of this study published on July 21, 2021 in the scientific journal Sustainability , a collapse of our societies could be illustrated in different ways in the years to come:

“Since its inception, human civilization has experienced a continuous trajectory of increasing socio-political complexity, a trend which has accelerated dramatically recently. This phenomenon has resulted in increasingly serious disturbances of the Earth system, which have recently manifested themselves in planetary effects such as climate change . These effects create an increased risk of a global collapse event, « said the researchers behind the survey.

These alarmist predictions sadly recall the report of the IPCC – Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – which revealed last week that two regions of the globe have now become almost uninhabitable for humans . Worrisome data, published a few days before Overshoot Day , which occurred this year on Thursday July 29, the date from which we have exhausted all of the resources that the planet is capable of generating in a year.

Countries better prepared for environmental change

To carry out this study, the journal Sustainability drew on research results from the American University of Notre Dame-Global Adaptation Index , which in 2015 assessed and ranked countries in terms of vulnerability and preparedness to climate change to to come.

Several criteria were taken into account such as:

  • the ability to produce food for the population;
  • the ability to maintain an electricity grid;
  • overall production capacity.

Islands with a temperate climate and sparsely populated

The best-suited places in the world to survive a possible societal collapse according to the Sustainability report are:

Results that can be explained in particular by fertile agricultural land, low energy consumption, temperate climates and low population density.

« These places which have not suffered the most glaring effects of previous societal collapses are described as ‘lifesavers’ for human populations in the event of collapse, in particular thanks to the persistence of agriculture » , concludes l ‘study.

Source : Geo

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Nine new billionaires propelled into the Forbes rankings thanks to vaccines

According to the count of the NGO Oxfam, at least nine people have become billionaires thanks to the profits from the sale of vaccines against Covid-19.

The statement fell just before the G20 World Health Summit to be held this Friday in Rome. The NGO Oxfam, which fights for the reduction of inequalities, points to the nine new fortunes that have been built up « thanks to the huge profits of the pharmaceutical groups which have a monopoly on the production of vaccines against the Covid ».

 These figures, published by the “People’s Vaccine Alliance” which brings together organizations and personalities demanding free vaccines against Covid all over the world and of which the NGO Oxfam is a part, are based onthe ranking of the American magazine Forbes .

A cumulative fortune that would allow the poorest countries to be vaccinated

The fortune accumulated by these nine billionaires, which amounts to $ 19.3 billion, would, again according to Oxfam, « vaccinate 1.3 times all low-income countries » which « have received only 0, 2% of vaccines produced in the world, in particular due to the large deficit of available doses ”. The press release also adds that by taking into account the fortunes of eight other billionaires with « large equity portfolios » in pharmaceutical companies that have experienced a cumulative increase in their assets of $ 32.2 billion, there would be  » enough to vaccinate the entire Indian population ”.These figures revolt Sandra Lhote-Fernandes, health advocacy officer at Oxfam France, who believes that « these vaccines were financed by public funds and should above all be a global public good ». It also calls for « an urgent end to these monopolies ».

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3 million deaths from Covid-19 have been recorded worldwide since its discovery

The toll is heavy: at least 3 million deaths from Covid-19 have been recorded worldwide, since its discovery in China in December 2019, according to a count carried out by Agence France-Presse (AFP), from reports provided by health authorities, Saturday April 17. 

After a slight lull in March, the number of daily deaths is on the rise again around the world, with an average of more than 12,000 deaths per day last week, approaching the 14,500 daily deaths recorded at the end of January, at the highest of the pandemic. The situation is very heterogeneous in the different countries.

 In the  United States , the most affected country in the world with more than 566,000 deaths, the epidemic has fallen sharply since the end of January, even if the figures are on the rise again in some states. 

 The  United Kingdom , a country in Europe yet the most bereaved by the Covid-19 (with more than 127,000 deaths recorded), now deplores only around thirty deaths each day. The country launched a mass vaccination campaign at the beginning of December which allowed at least one dose to be administered to 60% of its adult population.

Conversely, several countries are struggling to contain a new epidemic outbreak. Particularly in  Brazil , where some 3,000 deaths are announced every day, or nearly a quarter of the deaths announced daily in the world.

In  India , a weekend lockdown came into effect on Saturday in New Delhi. The capital has ordered the closure of all non-essential services: historic sites, restaurants, shopping centers and sports halls are closed and the streets emptied.

Other states have also imposed traffic restrictions. But in the north of the country, the state of Uttarakhand has exempted the huge Hindu festival Kumbh Mela, which has been taking place since January, from health restrictions, and has already attracted some 25 million people without masks or distancing. The rise in Covid-19 deaths in India is extremely rapid. More than 1,000 daily deaths are recorded in this country of 1.3 billion inhabitants, nine times more than at the beginning of March.

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How is it possible to be tested positive for covid-19 between the first and the second dose of the vaccine?

Illustration of a syringe with illustrations of the virus in the background.
It takes about 14 days for our bodies to make antibodies after receiving the vaccine.

Nurse Maria Angelica Sobrinho, 53, was the first to be vaccinated against covid-19 in the city of Bahia in Brazil. A few days later, she started showing symptoms and was diagnosed with a coronavirus infection.

Many of the vaccines already in use in different countries require two doses to ensure full protection, such as Pfizer, Oxford / AstraZeneca, Coronavac, Moderna or Sputnik V.

The time between doses varies depending on the manufacturer. Pfizer recommends 21 days and the University of Oxford about three months, for example.

« No vaccine available is able to protect within 14 days of the first dose, whether against covid-19 or another disease, » says Dr Isabella Ballalai, vice president of the Brazilian Immunization Society.

Regardless of the technology used, vaccines usually contain antigens, substances that interact with the immune system and create the antibodies needed to fight off a future viral invasion.

The point is, this process takes time: immune cells have to recognize the antigens, “interact” with them and create an effective response. This job usually takes about two weeks.

This is why it is necessary for a patient who receives a first dose to continue to protect himself by wearing masks, social distancing and frequent hand washing, among other measures.

Getting both doses does not mean you are free to lead a « normal life » either. As far as we know, the vaccine protects against the most serious consequences of covid-19, but immune people could still pass the virus to others, ”adds Ballalai.

Whether the vaccination will also slow the spread of the virus is the subject of preliminary studies in the first months of the campaign.

Therefore, as long as the virus continues to circulate at high levels and a large portion of the population is unvaccinated, the recommendation is to follow control measures and adhere to restrictions.

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Why North Korea wanted to hack Pfizer vaccine data

North Korean hackers have carried out a cyberattack on Pfizer’s computer systems in order to steal data on the coronavirus vaccine. The Pyongyang regime, which has yet assured for months that the country has not been affected by the epidemic, the country has just demanded from the United Nations the delivery of vaccine aid with a volume of two million doses. 

A state that behaves like a hacker. According to media reports, citing South Korean intelligence services on Tuesday, North Korea sought to break into the computer systems of pharmaceutical giant Pfizer. The goal: to find information on the vaccine and treatments against  the coronavirus . The Pyongyang regime, led by  leader Kim Jong-Un, nevertheless maintains that the country has not been affected by the pandemic . This cyberattack thus tends to prove the reality of the health situation in North Korea .

Spies from pyongyang have tried to hack other laboratories, the objective is still to steal the manufacturing secrets of the vaccines against the Covid-19 virus. They have attempted to break into the computer systems of Johnson and Johnson, AstraZeneca, Novavax and virtually every leading pharmaceutical research center. Which says a lot about the reality of the health situation in North Korea, a priori particularly degraded so that its diet is reduced to such extremes. 

The irony of this case being that, since the start of the pandemic, Kim Jong-un has been shouting from the rooftops that his country is the only one in the world that has not been affected by the coronavirus. This is obviously a shameless lie since Pyongyang has just demanded from the United Nations the delivery of vaccine aid with a volume of two million doses. 

Source: Europe 1

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DOES YOUR BLOOD TYPE PROTECT YOU AGAINST COVID-19? 

Several studies support the hypothesis that blood groups have an impact on Covid-19 contamination. Group O would be more protective.

What if your blood type protected you against Covid-19?

This is what Inserm researchers are saying in a study published in the journal Viruses at the end of January. It confirms around forty other studies on the subject carried out around the world since March 2020.

« A general consensus is emerging in which group O blood is associated with a lower risk of contracting Covid-19, » the document argues.

The risk of infection is between 10% and 33% lower for people with this blood type. The figure varies by country but does not differ by age or sex.

« O’S ARE LESS CONTAMINATED BY A’S AND B’S »

Covid-19 is transmitted from person to person and upon arriving in a healthy body, it is marked by the blood of the previous host.

Groups O naturally develop antibodies against groups A and groups B (which is why they are universal donors), so when the virus arrives from a person of one of these groups, it would be partially blocked by this natural barrier. « The O’s are therefore less contaminated by the A’s and the B’s » , suggests Professor Le Pendu.

This would partly explain the slower rate of spread of the epidemic in certain countries where the distribution of blood groups is balanced (as in South Korea), or, on the contrary, fast in those where a particular group is largely in the majority (such as in Brazil).

Another hypothesis put forward to explain this less infection as well as fewer serious forms: the blood clots less in people in group O.

They are less prone to have cardiovascular problems or thromboses, which are aggravating factors against the coronavirus.

NOT A GUARANTEE OF IMMUNITY

The study was conducted before the exponential growth of the variants. Data are therefore lacking on this point. But if the « mechanism [of the variants] is the same » as the original strain, then the hypothesis « could also apply to the variants » , advances Jacques Le Pendu.

If the people of group O seem, because this is only a hypothesis still, more protected, it is not for all that a guarantee of immunity against Covid-19. 

Already because in the best of cases, it would « only » reduce the risk of infection by 33%, but above all because the O’s contaminate each other, without any barrier this time, and contaminate all the others.

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The life of a small second on Earth for man

published by Jules bercy

99.9% of species that lived on earth have now disappeared

The earth is the cradle of humanity. Man reigns supreme there, without anything seeming to be able to stop him. Yet planet earth did not wait for man to begin its history.

Since life appeared, the earth has hosted countless species, which have followed one another for more or less long time. But 99.9% of the species that lived on earth have now disappeared. Some have gradually evolved into other species. Others died suddenly. On average, their passage on earth lasts only a few million years.

If the history of the earth were written in a thousand-page book, life would appear there around page 185. This life would only be represented by single cells for more than 700 pages. Until the explosion of the multicellular species, from pages 870 to 880. The outflow of the waters was only found on page 916.

During this constant transformation, the planet has also undergone 5 major crises including one, 250 million years ago, during which life on earth almost disappeared. This mass extinction has led to the disappearance of 70% of terrestrial species and 96% of marine species. The planet took nearly 10 million years to recover and resume dance of evolution, with its disappearances, and its newcomers like this time the dinosaurs on page 960 of the history of the Earth.

 At the end of the book, the entire history of Homo sapiens from its appearance until today, would be the subject of only a handful of lines, at the very bottom of the very last page. Its presence on earth therefore represents only 0.004% of its very long history. Man has not been around for a long time, but it does not mean to evolve any more.

 All species are at the peak of evolution, and all are perfectly adapted to their natural environment, from the barnacle, firmly anchored on its whale … to the tiny Dik-Dik apparently so fragile but which survives the repeated attacks of eagles , pythons and lions since time immemorial.

There is no indication that the human species should be eternal. Nor even that it will take longer than the others to disappear. The most probable is that its passage on earth represents only a blink of an eye on the scale of the history of its planet.

A derisory duration. Almost… insignificant?

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Gorillas at the San Diego Zoo test positive for coronavirus

Officials at the zoo’s Safari Park said several gorillas had tested positive for the virus and believed an asymptomatic staff member had infected the animals.

“Aside from a little congestion and cough, gorillas are fine,” said Lisa Peterson, executive director of the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

Several gorillas at San Diego Zoo Safari Park have tested positive for the coronavirus, becoming  what federal officials said  Monday were the first known apes in the country to be infected.

Zoo officials said on  Monday they believed the gorillas were infected by an asymptomatic staff member who followed safety recommendations, including wearing personal protective equipment near animals.

Vets are keeping a close watch on the troop, which is made up of eight western lowland gorillas. The infected animals are expected to make a full recovery, officials said.

Three animals show symptoms such as coughing, officials said. But since the gorillas live together in herds, « we have to assume, » the zoo said, « that all members of the family group have been exposed.

Zoo officials have learned that at least two gorillas have been infected with the coronavirus after they were seen « coughing and showing other mild symptoms, » Wednesday, the zoo said in the statement.

Tests by the California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory System on Friday showed the coronavirus to be present in the troop’s feces, the zoo said. Tests by the National Veterinary Services Laboratories, which provide testing for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, confirmed the troop as infected on Saturday, the zoo said.

source: NYtimes

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Valéry Giscard the former President of the French Republic died of the consequences of Covid-19

Giscard had been hospitalized since mid-November, the former head of state in France from 1974 to 1981, he died of Covid-19, he was 94 years old. On September 14, « VGE » had already been hospitalized on September 14 at the Georges Pompidou hospital, in Paris, for « a slight infection in the lungs ».

Valéry Giscard d’Estaing died this Wednesday evening at the age of 94 , his entourage announced. He passed away  « surrounded by his family »  on his property in Authon in Loir-et-Cher. He died  « as a result of the Covid »  then said his family.

The former head of state was admitted to  » the cardiology department  » of  the Tours hospital on November 17 for  « heart failure »  , said his entourage. In September, the former head of state had already been hospitalized at the Georges Pompidou hospital in Paris for  « a slight infection in the lungs » . He had already been hospitalized several times at the Georges Pompidou hospital a few years ago, in cardiology for the placement of stents.

The youngest president of the Fifth Republic when he was elected in 1974, he had made one of his last public appearances on September 30, 2019 during the funeral in Paris  of another President of the Republic, Jacques Chirac , who was his prime minister from 1974 to 1976.

Valéry Giscard was only 48 years old when he acceded to the Élysée in 1974, beating François Mitterrand on the wire, and thus became, in a France which buried the Thirty-Glorious Years and digested May-68, the first non-Gaullist to seize the Élysée. He wanted to be the incarnation of a triumphant modernity, resulting from the liberal center-right and Christian Democrat which built post-war Europe.

Polytechnician and Enarque, from a large bourgeois family, VGE had entered the government since 1959, multiplying the ministerial posts in the Economy and Finance in the 1960s and 1970s. However, on May 10, 1981, he lost the elections facing François Mitterrand. A convinced European, in 2001 he took the helm of the Convention for Europe, responsible for drafting a European constitution, which would be rejected by referendum. A brilliant economist, author of several books, he was elected in 2003 to the French Academy.