Timeframe: December 17th – December 23rd, 2021
Contributors: Adiba Tahsin, Sabyasachi Karmaker, Redwan Reham, and Farhan Uddin Ahmed.
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Omicron less likely to put you in the hospital, studies say
Scientists stress that even if the findings of these early studies hold up, any reductions in severity need to be weighed against the fact omicron spreads much faster than delta and is more able to evade vaccines.
Still, the new studies released Wednesday seem to bolster earlier research that suggests omicron may not be as harmful as the delta variant, said Manuel Ascano Jr., a Vanderbilt University biochemist who studies viruses.
An analysis from the Imperial College London COVID-19 response team estimated hospitalization risks for omicron cases in England, finding people infected with the variant are around 20% less likely to go to the hospital at all than those infected with the delta variant, and 40% less likely to be hospitalized for a night or more.
A separate study out of Scotland by scientists at the University of Edinburgh and other experts suggested the risk of hospitalization was two-thirds less with omicron than delta. Younger people are much less likely to develop severe cases of COVID-19.
But he added: “It’s important to emphasize that if omicron has a much higher transmission rate compared to delta, the absolute number of people requiring hospitalization might still increase, despite less severe disease in most cases.
Salim Abdool Karim, a clinical infectious disease epidemiologist in South Africa, said earlier this week that the rate of admissions to hospitals was far lower for omicron than it was for delta.
Source: ABC News
2. Economics & Business
EU to combat taxation ‘race to the bottom’ with 15% rate for big companies
The EU has taken a first step in setting a 15% minimum corporate tax for multinationals, in line with a global agreement struck earlier this year, as the White House has hit a hurdle in its efforts to turn the pact into law. The draft directive, which sets an effective corporate tax rate of 15% for multinationals and other large businesses with a turnover in excess of €750m, enacts an agreement signed by 136 countries and jurisdictions earlier this year.
Source: The Guardian
UK loses appetite for pre-Christmas dining out because of Omicron
Andrew Goodwin, a UK economist at the consultancy firm Oxford Economics, said: “Though the government has opted to defer a decision on introducing further restrictions until after Christmas, it seems likely that a mix of greater consumer caution and reduced mobility will ensure that the UK’s GDP falls in December.”
The number of seated diners fell by 14 percentage points in the week ending 20 December to 88% of the level in the same period of 2019.
Source: The Guardian
Pillar of Shame: Hong Kong’s Tiananmen Square statue removed
A famous statue at the University of Hong Kong marking the Tiananmen Square massacre was removed late on Wednesday. The statue showed piled-up corpses to commemorate the hundreds – possibly thousands – of pro-democracy protesters killed by Chinese authorities in 1989.
It was one of the few remaining public memorials in Hong Kong commemorating the incident. Its removal comes as Beijing has increasingly been cracking down on political dissent in Hong Kong. The city used to be one of few places in China that allowed public commemoration of the Tiananmen Square protests – a highly sensitive topic in the country.
Putin accuses west of ‘coming with its missiles to our doorstep’, warns NATO ‘everyone will be turned to radioactive ash’ over Ukraine moves
Vladimir Putin has accused the west of “coming with its missiles to our doorstep” as he reiterated demands for no further Nato expansion in Europe.
The Russian president did little to reduce tensions over Ukraine as he spoke at a televised press conference, saying he would be prepared to launch an intervention if he felt Ukraine or its western allies were preparing an attack on Russia’s proxies in the country.
Dmitry Kiselyov, a media mogul known as Putin’s mouthpiece, warned US-led aggression could lead to a nuclear war. He told NATO to back off, adding: “Otherwise, everyone will be turned into radioactive ash.”
A Ukrainian paratroop regiment dug into positions 50 meters from opposing Russian troops near the town of Avdiyivka in Ukraine. Around 175,000 Russian combat forces are expected to be near Ukraine’s borders by January, and pro-Russian separatists attack Ukrainian troops daily.
Source: The Guardian
4. Science & Technology
World’s oldest family tree reconstructed from Stone Age tomb
Researchers extracted DNA from the bones and teeth of 35 individuals buried at Hazleton North long cairn in the Cotswolds-Severn region, England.
DNA was removed from the bones and teeth of 35 individuals buried at Hazleton North long cairn in England. The findings provide fascinating new insights into kinship and burial practices during Neolithic times — the latest period of the Stone Age. Iñigo Olalde, the lead geneticist and co-author of the study, said in a statement: “The excellent DNA preservation at the tomb and the use of the latest technologies in ancient DNA recovery and analysis allowed us to uncover the oldest family tree ever reconstructed and analyze it to understand something profound about the social structure of these ancient groups.
According to the study, the right to use the tomb ran through patrilineal lines — but the choice on whether individuals were buried in the north or south chambered area depended on the first-generation women they were descended from.
This suggests that these first-generation women were socially significant in the community’s memories in Hazleton North and helps to shed some light on Neolithic kinship and the significance of family lines in Stone Age burial practices, researchers said.
Disclaimer: The information provided here is obtained solely from the third parties mentioned above. Youth Policy Forum (YPF) is not responsible for any misinformation or misrepresentation.