Why You Need to Self-Isolate Before Covid-19 Spreads, Likely Prospects of Nuclear Wars and Other Top Research News of the Week

Impact Insider – Weekly Round Up of Trending Research

Volume 1 | Issue 13

The Bleak Future: What are the Unanticipated Prospects of a Nuclear War between India and Pakistan?

A nuclear winter has long been considered a dystopian possibility, since the beginning of the nuclear arms race, but most predictions calculated that it would happen between the two global superpowers: Russia and the United States. Given the current political scenario, however, it is far more likely that a smaller scale nuclear war will happen between India and Pakistan, both longtime enemies. Scientists predict that in the event of even such a limited war, the repercussions would last for years.

Apart from the direct consequences of death and destruction, the tons of soot released into the atmosphere will spread globally, deflecting the sunlight and lowering the global temperature by 1-2 degrees. This will primarily affect the global produce and ultimately result in the greatest famine recorded yet. Nuclear weapons, themselves tools of far-reaching and longstanding destruction, seem to thus have more diverse outcomes previously expected.

Novel Coronavirus Continues to Mystify Scientific Community—New Study Reveals Surprising Data

Crocodilian Friends

The novel coronavirus, also called 2019-nCoV, has swept across the world causing a deadly pandemic of severe and fatal pneumonia—a disease now designated as COVID-19. There have been several scientific discussions, research, and published data on the mortality—or the rate of death—of this infection. Reports by WHO from early March said that the mortality rate was about 3.4%; experts have long debated this number, stating that because several milder cases go unconfirmed, the number may actually be quite low. Now, scientists from China have come up with a more accurate number in a brand-new study in Nature Medicine. They additionally looked at confirmed cases with no link to Wuhan, confirmed air passenger cases, age distribution of cases, and time between infection and death.

With this more inclusive analysis, they concluded that the actual mortality rate of COVID-19 in confirmed cases is 1.4%: much lower than the initially reported number. The scientists say this is because milder and asymptomatic cases were excluded from analysis in older studies. This new study tells interesting facts about mortality: in people aged 60 and above, the mortality rate is 500% higher than in people aged 30-59. And in people aged below 30, the mortality rate is 60% lower than that in the middle group. Age-related distinction matters when considering the mortality rate of COVID-19, especially amidst false information and panic-mongering.

Why You Need to Self-Isolate: The New Coronavirus Spreads Even Before It Causes Symptoms

Evolutional Theory Challenged

The recent COVID-19 outbreak, caused by a new strain of coronavirus, has wreaked havoc in a short period of time, with some even comparing the current world situation to the beginning of an apocalypse. The government bodies of all affected countries are actively taking measures by isolating those who are or likely to be affected, but the situation seems to be getting worse every day. It makes you wonder: what is it about this virus that makes it so hard to contain?

A recent study found that the virus spreads even before it starts showing symptoms in patients. Scientists calculated its serial interval, which is the time it takes for symptoms to appear in two people with the virus: the person who infects another and the infected second person. They found that the serial interval for the new coronavirus is only 4 days, making asymptomatic transmission very likely. Asymptomatic or “silent” transmission makes it even harder to contain the virus, which explains the situation in most affected countries, including China, Italy, and Iran. This is all the more reason for people to take matters into their own hands and start implementing self-isolation and social distancing.

We’re Drinking Plastic Like Fish

AI

As though the interminable list of lifestyle diseases we’ve rained upon ourselves weren’t enough, it seems we’re drinking plastic every day. A research team at Washington State University, USA, found that about eight trillion pieces of invisible microplastics go through the US water supply system and find their way, among other destinations, into residential taps. Almost 90 percent of the US tap water had nanoplastics! One of the researchers in the team estimated that the average person in the US drank at least a few grams of plastic a day. Who knows what the consequences of this plastic diet will be over a person’s lifetime?

The researchers think that all of this plastic comes from the degradation of larger plastics or microbeads used in personal care products. So, while they ask questions such as why plastics stop degrading at a certain size and settle in water, and how different plastics react to different water environments, what the rest of us need to do is reduce the use of plastics as far as possible.

Can’t Stop Touching Your Face?

Seashell Stories

By now, the message is clear: our hands are not our friends. Public health officials are repeatedly sending out instructions to not touch your eyes or mouth as they could set the new coronavirus-19 (Covid-19) in motion inside you. But this is not an easy advice to follow. For instance, a small study among a group of Medical students has found that people touch their face at least 23 times per hour during a lecture, or once every 2.5 minutes.

Not only that, more studies conducted from fresh perspectives have attempted to measure how babies’ receive sensory feedback upon touching their own faces, and how this can facilitate feeding.

It seems we’re wired to touch our faces. So how do we refrain from doing it now?

Image courtesy:
‘Nuclear Bomb’,  ‘Coronavirus-Earth’,  ‘Business Women’,  ‘Microplastics’,  ‘Indian Woman’  by Shutterstock

Contributors:
Anupama Prakash,  Sharang Kolwalkar,  Avantika Deo,  Rachana Bhattacharjee,  Indrani Das

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