• Tonga struggles with ash, psychological trauma after eruption and tsunami
    por noreply@blogger.com (Unknown) el día 23.01.2022 a las 12:24

    A satellite image shows Mango islands after Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano eruption, in Tonga, January 20, 2022. Satellite Image @2022 Maxar Technologies/Handout via REUTERSFamilies have prevented children from playing outside as Tonga struggles to deal with the ash and  psychological effects of last week’s volcanic eruption and tsunami, aid workers and local residents said. Telephone service interrupted. The Red Cross said it was providing 173 households on the main island of Tonga not only with tents, food, water and toilets  but also comforts. «Right now everyone is still having issues,» said Drew Havea,  vice president of the Tonga Red Cross. Because of the ashes, «families make sure their kids aren’t playing outside, that everyone is inside,» he said. Although some residents of the hardest-hit Ha’apai outlying islands  had been evacuated to the main island of Tongatapu, others refused to go, Havea said. The psychological effects of waves breaking through and destroying villages will affect their lives for some time, he said. “All the kids grew up, they were taught in their geography class that this is the ring of fire we  all live in. Now I think we’re pretty worried and we’re starting to think, ‘How active are these places?he told Reuters. The eruption of HungaTongaHungaHa’apai volcano, which sits on the seismically active Pacific Ring of Fire, sent tsunami waves across the Pacific Ocean and was heard about 2,300 km (1,430 miles) away in New Zealand.The eruption was so powerful that space satellites captured not only huge clouds of ash but also an atmospheric shockwave that radiated out from the volcano at close to the speed of sound.»I thought the world was ending,» recalled John Tukuafu, owner of  beach resort Vakaloa, who had to rush to save his wife from the tsunami. The resort was in Kanokupolu, one of the worst-hit areas of Tongatapu. and uprooted trees and debris now lie in the area where the complex was located. it has taken a week for many people to recover from the «throbbing and terrifying» sound of the eruption, he said. «It was too loud to hear, but I could feel it. Until the big bang,» She told Reuters by phone on SundayResidents were wishing for tropical rain to wash off the «awful and itchy» volcanic dust, said Fonua. Leaves on trees had turned brown and were falling off.Fonua said she was in her seafront office talking on the phone to her son in New Zealand when the tsunami struckWhen the line went dead, he feared she had been swept away. The anxiety of many Tongan families overseas was prolonged in the days it took for limited international call capacity to be restored.Cut off from the world, Tongans got on with immediate rescue efforts, Fonua said.Older Tongans with a tradition of self-reliance remarked that young people had been forced to stop looking at their smart phones and had leapt into action, she said.With power restored after a week, the Matangi Tonga website posted its first story on Saturday since the eruption and tsunami, describing the «pumice rain», as volcanic debris fell from the sky, and waves that engulfed cars.Still, her office cannot send email and Tonga needs more satellite capacity, Fonua said.The international navy ships and flights arriving had brought much needed supplies and communication equipment, she said.

  • People with this certain gene version less likely to develop severe COVID-19
    por noreply@blogger.com (Unknown) el día 23.01.2022 a las 12:09

    The new results show that people with a specific version of a gene are less likely to develop severe COVID-19. Earlier research had identified a specific group of genes, called the OAS1/2/3 gene cluster, as being involved in the risk for severe COVID-19. One version of a gene in that cluster –passed down from Neanderthals, appeared to protect against serious disease, reducing  risk by about 23%. Previous research was mostly done on people of European ancestory. Researchers are now seeing the same association of this genetic variant with less severe COVID-19 in people of African ancestory, according to a report published in Nature Genetics. «The fact that people of African descent had the same protection allowed us to identify the only variant in  DNA that actually protects against COVID19 infection. co-author dr. Jennifer Huffman  said in a statement. OAS genes are involved in a cascade of effects that help cells fight viruses, the researchers said. Understanding these genes and their impact on COVID19 risks could aid in the development of future drugs, they added.Fewer Delta breakthroughs with Moderna vs Pfizer/BioNTechWhen the delta variant  coronavirus was widespread in the United States, recipients of two doses of Moderna’s mRNA vaccine (MRNA.O) were less likely to have breakthrough infection  and  were slightly less likely to be hospitalized  than recipients of two doses of  mRNA vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech, found a large study. The researchers analyzed the medical records of more than 637,000 vaccine recipients who had not previously been infected with the virus and had not received a booster shot. As reported in JAMA on Thursday, advanced infections increased steadily each month from July through November 2021, with higher rates in the Pfizer/BioNTech group. In November, there were 2.8 cases per thousand people vaccinated with the Pfizer/BioNTech injections compared to 1.6 cases per thousand recipients of the Moderna vaccines.

  • Scientists scrutinise characteristics of new Omicron sub-variant
    por noreply@blogger.com (Unknown) el día 23.01.2022 a las 11:57

     Image Credit:CIPhotos via Getty ImagesStudies are underway to find out the precise characteristics of the latest Covid-19 variant ‘BA.2’. It already accounts for the majority of most recent cases in a number of countries, including India, Denmark and Sweden. But, for French Health Minister Olivier Véran, this sub-variant’s arrival in France is not “a game changer”.BA.2, nicknamed “Omicron’s little brother”, made its first appearance in France a few weeks ago. Mentioned for the first time by Véran during a press conference on January 20, this new Covid-19 derivative is being scrutinised by scientists.Where does BA.2 come from?  BA.2 was first identified in India and South Africa in late December 2021. It is a sub-variant, believed to have emerged from a mutation of Omicron (officially known as BA.1). Omicron itself was born from a mutation of Delta. Other sub-lineages have already been referenced, such as BA.3 or BB.2, but they have attracted less attention from epidemiologists because of the dramatic increase in cases of people who have contracted BA.2.BA.2 has more than 20 mutations, about half of them in the spike protein. This is the famous protein that interacts with human cells and is the key to the virus entering the body.Is this sub-variant as dangerous as Omicron?  The World Health Organization (WHO), which had classified Omicron as a “variant of concern”, does not at this stage distinguish between it and its BA.2 sub-lineage. For his part, Véran said that “as far as we know at the moment, it corresponds more or less to the characteristics we know about Omicron”. It is not “a game changer” at this stage, added Véran in an attempt to reassure.BA.2 is being closely studied by the scientific community, but there is as yet no precise data on its resistance to vaccines or the severity of the cases of Covid-19 it causes. Scientists are beginning to speak out on the subject, while remaining cautious.Virologist Tom Peacock of Imperial College London tweeted that “very early observations from India and Denmark suggest there is no dramatic difference in severity compared to BA.1. This data should become more solid (one way or another) in the coming weeks.”Peacock added that “there is likely to be minimal differences in vaccine effectiveness against BA.1 and BA.2. Personally, I’m not sure BA.2 is going to have a substantial impact on the current Omicron wave of the pandemic.“Several countries are near, or even past the peak of BA.1 waves. I would be very surprised if BA.2 caused a second wave at this point. Even with slightly higher transmissibility this absolutely is not a Delta-Omicron change and instead is likely to be slower and more subtle,” he predicted.For epidemiologist Antoine Flahault, director of the University of Geneva’s Institute of Global Health, infection monitoring should make it possible to test the resistance of BA.2, in particular if people infected with the classic Omicron are again contaminated with the sub-variant. However, it is necessary to have the means to detect contamination with BA.2 in the population, which seems delicate at this stage and which does not seem to be self-evident.Why is BA.2 so difficult to trace?  BA.2 poses certain challenges to scientists, as it is not easy to track. A variation in PCR test protocols and the fact that the type of kit varies from one laboratory to another makes it difficult to reliably identify BA.2, according to Florence Débarre, a biologist at the Institute of Ecology and Environmental Sciences in Paris, interviewed by Libération. “In the UK, the way the tests are carried out does not allow us to distinguish between BA.2 and Delta,” explains Débarre.There is a more accurate but less commonly used tool for tracking variants: genetic sequencing of the virus. This allows the exact presence of this sub-variant to be identified. But in France, for example, only some of the laboratory tests are randomly subjected to this more in-depth and expensive form of analysis. Sequencing also has the drawback of being slow, which means it is not suitable for monitoring a rapidly spreading variant.Where is BA.2 most dominant? The sub-variant has been detected in at least 43 countries on all continents. It is believed to have become the most common variant in a number of countries, including India, Denmark and Sweden. In Denmark, the number of daily cases of Covid-19 has started to rise again, just when the Danes thought they had already reached the peak.The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) identified more than 400 cases in Britain in the first 10 days of January.“The Danish authorities have no explanation for this phenomenon, but it is being closely monitored,” said France’s public health agency, which is following the latest developments in Denmark. This “suggests that BA.2 is even more transmissible”, agreed Débarre. In Europe, BA.2 has also been sequenced in the UK, Germany, Belgium, Italy and France, while North America, Asia and Australia have recorded cases, too.Is BA.2 evolving as fast in France?To date, the sub-variant has been detected “at very low levels” in France, says France’s public health agency. “We have an international situation where the Omicron variant is circulating a lot, so it is normal that we observe sub-variants over time,” the agency said on January 21.

  • WhatsApp plans transfer of data between Android, iOS devices
    por noreply@blogger.com (Unknown) el día 23.01.2022 a las 11:52

     WhatsApp chat could now be transferred between Android and iOS devices after the Meta-owned messaging app  plans to roll out a new update. This was revealed by the found source code  of WhatsApp 22.74 Beta for iOS. However, the migration process would not be easy and would require both devices to have the app installed and would likely involve a wired or  private WiFi connection. In comparison, other messaging apps store and sync user data with Google Drive, iCloud or their own cloud service. WhatsApp recently added new features to its desktop and Android apps. The Android app will get new pencil and drawing  tools in a future update, while WhatsApp Desktop will get new chat bubble colors. The desktop app  also gets a new dark blue color that is only visible in dark theme mode.The instant messaging app is also testing a new emoji message reaction info tab and new  message reaction notification settings. WhatsApp feature tracker WABetaInfo said that WhatsApp is introducing new drawing tools to its Android app. You get two pens, including one thinner and one thicker than the existing pen. The app is also working on a blur  tool that may be added  in the future. The new features appeared in the WhatsApp Beta for Android 2.22.5 update, but they are disabled by default. These features are still under development and may be made available to WhatsApp beta testers soon.

  • Bitcoin Extends Slide, Has Fallen More Than 50% From Record High
    por noreply@blogger.com (Unknown) el día 22.01.2022 a las 13:35

     Bitcoin, the largest digital asset, extended its decline Saturday, and has now shed more than 50% from its record high in November.Bitcoin’s decline since hitting the record has wiped out more than $600 billion in market value, and over $1 trillion has been lost from the aggregate crypto market. While there have been much larger percentage drawdowns for both Bitcoin and the aggregate market, this marks the second-largest ever decline in dollar terms for both, according to Bespoke Investment Group.With the Fed’s intentions rocking both cryptocurrencies and stocks, a dominant theme has emerged in the digital-asset space: cryptos have twisted and turned in nearly exactly the same way as equities have.Bitcoin fell as low as $34,042 Saturday, a drop of 7.2%.