Weekly Digest #67
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In this digest-
1. Vaccine inequality- stereotypes, biases, and deadly time loops!
2. Happiness Quotient from around the world
3. Did you Know?
4. Entertainment Quotient
Vaccine inequality- stereotypes, biases, and deadly time loops!
By: Abhimanyu Rao
Just as we thought the pandemic was finally over, the virus decided to do what it does best, change! This change not only created the Omicron variant, but also brought forth a lot of confusion, along with a few jarring issues with the current state of the world. We have discussed one of those issues in the past(Weekly Digest #37), but need to again, since a lot about the situation has changed, and this time, it’ll shock you! Before the shock, let’s get you all caught up on what exactly is going on.
What is the Omicron Variant?
The Omicron Variant is a variant of the SARS-CoV-2 that supposedly has a higher transmissibility. However, it is also supposed to be lower on the deadliness scale instead! It has made changes to its spike protein. Unfortunately this spike protein is what most of the vaccines protect people against, so there is a possibility that the current vaccines may not work against Omicron. On the bright side, there are some theories that this variant will not only eliminate the Delta variant, but since it is weaker, it may just dissolve into nothing more than a common cold!
Why is there another variant???
That is the question that everyone is asking. Everyone was fed up with the Alpha, Delta, and Lambda variants, and we keep on wishing for the end of this pandemic, and now there’s yet another variant! Well, here’s where it gets interesting!
The reason there are newer variants is because a huge part of the world is not vaccinated. Furthermore, the reason why a lot of the world is not vaccinated is because all concern is directed towards major world powers like the United States, leaving places like Botswana vulnerable.
Why did I bring up Botswana? Well, that’s because that is where Omicron was first discovered, and I know why! There have been 8 billion vaccines given till date, but only 6% of that massive amount was administered in Africa, which evidently wasn’t enough! This vaccine inequality is what has stretched the pandemic for almost two years.
Between March and September, the US had thrown away 15 million doses of the Covid Vaccines! This was for a wide range of reasons, which included improper storage! Had these doses been sent to Africa instead, they could have helped vaccinate people, and maybe even prevented the creation of the new variant!
A WHO initiative known as COVAX is working on ensuring vaccine equity. COVAX believes that no one wins the vaccine race until everyone wins. This is a very true statement, and they are ensuring that all countries are at least 20% vaccinated, which will help prevent the rise of new variants. This is extremely important, which is why I have talked about it in such detail, and this is why I brought up the US’s scenario.
Incorrect Prevention measures!
The new variant stirred up quite a lot of drama, but it also seems that it caused several countries to make senseless decisions! Sure, Omicron was detected in southern Africa first, but shortly, it was detected in parts of Europe as well. As more information unravels, it turns out that it is quite likely that the variant was already present in other parts of the world.
Even with all of this information, countries have imposed travel bans on the entire southern part of the African continent, even areas where there hasn’t even been a single case of Covid detected! On the contrary, there are no travel bans to the European countries where Omicron has been detected with certainty! What’s even worse is that South Africa has 3000 new cases every day, the countries in Europe who aren’t banned have more than 50000 cases!
Many have pointed out that European countries with very high daily Covid cases had not even imposed mask wearing requirements on their own people or even stop large scale gatherings, but were trigger happy enough to ban people from other countries. Imagine the absurdity of a situation where Namibia had less than 20 cases a day and Germany had 75000 daily Covid cases, but flights from Namibia were not allowed to enter Europe.
Why is this? Well, it’s because of an implicit bias that the world had developed towards Africa. While Africa is a continent that is behind in economic development, studies conducted brought forth a lot of disturbing results. It turns out that old epidemics like Ebola have had a lasting effect on the mindset of the world.
This is an awfully harmful time loop, because this stigma against Africa causes decisions like the travel bans, which slow down their development. This decrease in development makes it look like countries are right in their beliefs about the continent, which obviously doesn’t do wonders for Africa’s public image.
Even worse, this huge travel ban was discouraged by the WHO for an extremely important reason! This negative reaction from other countries to a country that reports new Covid might discourage countries from reporting infections to protect their economy. That could lead to a potential superspreader event, and even re-escalate the pandemic again.
Effects of the Travel Ban
This travel ban is inherently wrong, but that isn’t the only issue with the ban. The ban will OBVIOUSLY affect the economies of the countries who will no longer get visitors, and therefore not get any income from the tourist industry!
This will hinder their development, which will slow down the process of innoculation against Covid-19, causing new variants to form, and the cycle will repeat itself! If this happens, not only will it greatly affect the African economy, but it will definitely not change people’s perception of Africa, and may actually worsen it!
Furthermore, a travel ban is simply a way to buy time, and isn’t actually a definite solution. It isn’t a holistic solution to the new variant, and unless it is paired with other measures (which it isn’t right now!), it will only harm Africa, and won’t help any other country.
We have seen today that this problem has more layers than the most layered onion in the world! In order to fix this, we need to start by ensuring that Africa gets the vaccine doses that it needs. Once we have done that, we have security against a new variant, which will prevent one of the cycles that I explained.
Once that is done, we need to start working towards completely obliterating the biases that exist in the world. I know that it is a very idealistic task, but we need to take some steps towards it, because that is the solution to another one of the deadly time loops that I talked about. Once we have destroyed the possibility of the occurrence of the time loops, it will significantly decrease stigma and biases against Africa, which will finally solve this problem!
By: Mihir Rao
1. Apart from being symbolic of several things, including life and happiness (quotient😁), Butterflies also look great, and pollinate plants! Obviously, I’m talking about butterflies, the delicate yet beautiful insects that are almost universally loved by people across the world! These animals also achieved an amazing feat recently! There were 156 different species of butterflies found in the small 242 km2 of the Peechi-Vazhani wildlife division. This increase in butterfly population once again goes to show one of the biggest plus sides of the pandemic- that it allowed nature to heal!
2. If you had to count the number of single-use plastic items you saw in a day, before all else, it would make your head spin. That’s because the world uses far too much plastic for everything! Luckily, steps are finally being taken in some parts of the world, as the British Government is trying to completely remove most single-use plastics from their daily lives. This is a plan which gives people 12 weeks to find sustainable alternatives to their daily plastics, and use only those! I for one am glad that governments are finally taking big steps to fight plastic pollution.
3. The sad truth about our world is that many people can be very selfish. They act solely for their own gain, and might even harm others in the process! Luckily, there are still several good people in this world as well! Two examples are Mr. Rafiq, and Mr. Affroz. The two of them live in Kashmir, where they offer pony rides to people. A family who left their jewellery on the pony were worried sick, and thought that they would never see their jewellery again. Nevertheless, they managed to contact the pony keepers, who went to the family’s home and gave them their jewellery!
By: Agastya Rao
1. The last thing that anyone would think was the cause of Earth having water on it is a giant ball that is practically water’s #1 enemy, the Sun! No! I’m not crazy! The sun was actually responsible for our planet having water. Its solar winds have a lot of hydrogen ions that hit any asteroid in the way. These ions struck the asteroid so hard that they separated some of the oxygen ions from it, which combined with the hydrogen to become water! Then these asteroids hit earth, which brought forth water!
2. Poop jokes are a staple here at The Paperless Press, and while many frown on the noble excreta-related humour, us poop joke supporters are getting a chance to shine! As we all know, cow dung releases massive amounts of methane, which is a greenhouse gas. Luckily for the Earth, Norwegian scientists have found a way to stop the methane from escaping the dung, by striking it with lightning! I’m not kidding! They harness the power of Thor, and use artificial lightning, and say, “Methane! You wish to escape? Verily I say thee nay!”, and use lightning to keep the gas inside!
3. You know who would live the dream, anyone who lived on the planet TOI-2109b. A year on that planet is only 16 hours long! Imagine, If you lived there, you would get a birthday present quicker than a day on Earth! Imagine, you would probably have to work for an hour per year! The only minor issue is that the planet is going to spiral into its star soon, so, the apocalypse will ruin the everyday's your birthday feeling that you get.
4. Armed with a metal detector, a 13 year old girl named Milly found no less than 20 axes from the Bronze age! She had recently started accompanying her father on his trips, and they used to run metal detectors across various fields, and hope for interesting finds! This is another example of young people changing the world!
5. In the next step of robots becoming more human, some can now be creative and artistic as well! The robot Ai-Da recently performed a self-written poem. The most interesting thing about the poem is how it was created! Since it was in honour of Dante’s 700th birthday, Ai-Da recognised patterns of Dante’s own poetry, as well as a ginormous bank of words, and made a mesmerising poem, and also made some artworks!
A Boy Called Christmas
Diary of a Wimpy Kid(2021)
Visit these pages to see some of our other endeavours!
Visit A Dogs Daily Antics to laugh your heart out with crazy captioned dog photos!
Visit The Chinappa Channel to see some quirky but nice videos that will make you roll with laughter
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