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We still don’t know enough about the Omicron variant to panic

By November 30, 2021 No Comments

Hello, we hope you had a restful break because it’s been a hectic few days news-wise thanks to the Omicron variant. Today we are sharing the Download from MIT Technology Review, because, well, we figured they know what they are talking about.

While we like to focus on sharing legal and business information with you, we think this is important


The news: Just five days ago, South African scientists informed the World Health Organization that they’d identified a new covid-19 variant. The situation has escalated rapidly since then. The variant, known as B.1.1.529, has already been identified in many countries across the world, and was designated a variant of “concern” by the WHO on Friday, which opted to name it “Omicron,” the 15th letter of the Greek alphabet, following the WHO’s naming system. Governments are reimposing border restrictions and closures, and new measures to mitigate covid’s spread among their populations. Health ministers from G7 countries are set to meet today to discuss their response.

What we know: Viruses mutate all the time, and that isn’t cause for alarm on its own. Part of the reason why the Omicron variant is worrying people is the high number of mutations in the spike protein of the virus—approximately 30, which is roughly double the number Delta has. This is the part of the virus which helps it to enter human cells. Preliminary evidence suggests this variant brings a higher risk of reinfection, according to the WHO.

What we don’t know: Amid all the panic, it’s important to remember we still know very little about the new variant—and we’ve been worried about variants that have come to nothing in the past. The crucial questions are around whether it increases transmissibility, whether it worsens health outcomes—so pushes up deaths and hospitalizations—and crucially, whether it erodes immunity afforded by vaccines, or previous infections. We don’t have firm answers to any of these questions yet—but we should know more very soon. Read the full story.

MIT combed the internet to find you today’s most fun/important/scary/fascinating stories about technology.

1 Vaccine makers are already racing to combat Omicron 💉
It isn’t clear that new vaccines will be needed, but work is underway to turn them around quickly if so. (WSJ $)
  + This is the data we’ve got on Omicron so far. (NYT $)
  + Zoom and Peloton shares are up thanks to Omicron fears. (CNBC)
  + Omicron adds further urgency to global vaccine programs. (Axios)

2 These former employees can’t escape the Uber spying scandal 
The company managed to mostly move on from this uncomfortable chapter. These men didn’t. (NYT $)

3 Can a DIY rocket program send an astronaut to space? 🚀🧑🚀
You certainly can’t accuse this team of lacking ambition. (IEEE Spectrum)
  + In future, the spacecraft itself will be a scientific instrument. (IEEE Spectrum)

4 Ordinary people are getting caught in the Iran-Israel cyberwar crossfire
Tit-for-tat attacks are heading into dangerous territory. (NYT $)

5 Online spending on Black Friday fell for the first time
It might be because lots of retailers have been offering deals for weeks before the actual day itself. (The Verge)

6 The next target for crypto enthusiasts: an NBA franchise
This seems… optimistic, to say the least. (NPR)
  + Google warned that crypto miners are using compromised cloud accounts. (CNBC)
  + Crypto miners in Kazakhstan face a brutal winter of power cuts. (FT $)

7 Robots aren’t going to fix the warehouse worker shortage 🤖
Even the smartest bots still can’t handle very basic tasks. (Wired $)

8 Game streaming is an exhausting job
It’s no coincidence that many of the most successful streamers are still living with their mothers. (The Guardian)

9 A British man has become the first person to get a 3D-printed eye
It’s meant to look more realistic, and the procedure to fit it is less invasive. (CNN)

10 Is the “Aesthetic Mom” Instagram trend bad for babies?
There’s no real evidence that beige nurseries are hindering kids development—but people sure do love to judge. (Wired $)
  + Instagram is starting to suck, as it tries to become all things to all people. (Mashable)

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