Speaking of wet markets, a new research paper offers the results of an exhaustive review of the animals sold in the wet markets in Wuhan before the outbreak of COVID-19. Perhaps most surprisingly, the review of more than 36,000 animals of 38 species in 17 wet market shops concludes that pangolins and bats were not sold in the wet markets of the city. But the study cannot rule out that some other species of animal sold in the city’s wet markets was the source of the virus.
The investigation of the animals sold sounds pretty thorough:
X.X. was granted unique and complete access to trading practices. On each visit, vendors were asked what species they had sold over the preceding month and in what numbers, along with the prices and origin of these goods (wild caught or captive bred/ farmed). Additionally, to substantiate interview data, the number of individuals available for sale at the time of each visit was noted, and animals were checked for gunshot wounds (from homemade firearms—gun ownership is strictly regulated in China) or leg-hold (snap) trap injuries, indicative of wild capture.
Across all 17 shops, vendors reported total sales of 36,295 individuals, belonging to 38 terrestrial wild animal species, averaging 1170.81 individuals per month Including species sold by weight inflated this total to 47,381 individuals. Notably, no pangolin or bat species were among these animals for sale.
But this information doesn’t completely slam the door on the wet market theory, because bats and pangolins are not the only species that could have carried the virus.
Almost all animals were sold alive, caged, stacked and in poor condition. Most stores offered butchering services, done on site, with considerable implications for food hygiene and animal welfare. Approximately 30 percent of individuals from 6 mammal species inspected had suffered wounds from gunshots or traps, implying illegal wild harvesting. Thirteen of these 17 stores clearly posted the necessary permits from Wuhan Forestry Bureau allowing them to sell legitimate wild animal species (e.g., Siamese Crocodile (Crocodylus siamensis), Indian Peafowl (Pavo cristatus), Common Pheasant (Phasianus colchicus) and Amur hedgehog (Erinaceus amurensis)) for food; four shops had no such permit. Species names were given in Chinese only, with no clear taxonomic binomial designation. None of the 17 shops posted an origin certificate or quarantine certificate, so all wildlife trade was fundamentally illegal. Notably, vendors freely disclosed a variety of protected species on sale illegally in their shops, therefore they would not benefit from specifically concealing pangolin trade or the trade in any particular species, and so we are confident this list is complete.
So which other animals have been found with SARS-CoV-2? This March, Nature listed “cats and dogs, to pumas, gorillas and snow leopards in zoos, and farmed mink” as animals that have been infected with SARS-CoV-2 after encountering an infected human being. Another study noted, “sporadic SARS-CoV-2 virus cases have been recorded in kept ferrets in Slovenia and in Spain.”
Newly reported information has revived scrutiny of this possible origin for the coronavirus, which experts still call unlikely though worth investigating.BYJILLIAN KRAMERPUBLISHED JUNE 4, 2021• 7 MIN READ
Months after a World Health Organization investigation deemed it “extremely unlikely” that the novel coronavirus escaped accidentally from a laboratory in Wuhan, China, the idea is back in the news, giving new momentum to a hypothesis that many scientists believe is unlikely, and some have dismissed as a conspiracy theory.
The renewed attention comes on the heels of President Joe Biden’s ordering U.S. intelligence agencies on May 26 to “redouble their efforts” to investigate the origins of the coronavirus. On May 11, Biden’s chief medical adviser, Anthony Fauci, acknowledged he’s now “not convinced” the virus developed naturally—an apparent pivot from what he told National Geographic in an interview last year.
Also last month, more than a dozen scientists—top epidemiologists, immunologists, and biologists—wrote a letter published in the journal Science calling for a thorough investigation into two viable origin stories: natural spillover from animal to human, or an accident in which a wild laboratory sample containing SARS-CoV-2 was accidentally released. They urged that both hypotheses “be taken seriously until we have sufficient data,” writing that a proper investigation would be “transparent, objective, data-driven, inclusive of broad expertise, subject to independent oversight,” with conflicts of interest minimized, if possible.
“Anytime there is an infectious disease outbreak it is important to investigate its origin,” says Amesh Adalja, an infectious disease physician and senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Security who did not contribute to the letter in Science. “The lab-leak hypothesis is possible—as is an animal spillover,” he says, “and I think that a thorough, independent investigation of its origins should be conducted.”
The origins of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 and has infected more than 171 million people, killing close to 3.7 million worldwide as of June 4, remain unclear. Many scientists, including those that participated in the WHO’s months-long investigation, believe the most likely explanation is that that it jumped from an animal to a person—potentially from a bat directly to a human, or through an intermediate host. Animal-to-human transmission is a common route for many viruses; at least two other coronaviruses, SARS and MERS, were spread through such zoonotic spillover.
Other scientists insist it’s worth investigating whether SARS-CoV-2 escaped from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, a laboratory that has studied coronaviruses in bats for more than a decade.
The WHO investigation—a joint effort between WHO-appointed scientists and Chinese officials—concluded it was “extremely unlikely” the highly transmissible virus escaped from a laboratory. But the WHO team suffered roadblocks that led some to question its conclusions; the scientists were not permitted to conduct an independent investigation and were denied access to any raw data. (We still don’t know the origins of the coronavirus. Here are 4 scenarios.)
On March 30, when the WHO released its report, its director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, called for further studies. “All hypotheses remain on the table,” he said at the time.
Then on May 11, Fauci told PolitiFact that while the virus most likely emerged via animal-to-human transmission, “it could have been something else, and we need to find that out.”
Recently disclosed evidence, first reported by the Wall Street Journal, has added fuel to the fire: Three researchers from the Wuhan Institute of Virology fell sick in November 2019 and sought hospital care, according to a U.S. intelligence report. In the final days of the Trump administration, the State Department released a statement that researchers at the institute had become ill with “symptoms consistent with both COVID-19 and common seasonal illness.”
Most epidemiologists and virologists who have studied the novel coronavirus believe that it began spreading in November 2019. China says the first confirmed case was on December 8, 2019. During a briefing in Beijing this week, China’s foreign ministry spokesperson, Zhao Lijian, accused the U.S. of “hyping up the theory of a lab leak,” and asked, “does it really care about the study of origin tracing, or is it trying to divert attention?” Zhao also denied the Wall Street Journalreport that three people had gotten sick.
Lab leak still ‘unlikely’
Some conservative politicians and commentators have embraced the lab-leak theory, while liberals more readily rejected it, especially early in the pandemic. The speculation has also heightened ongoing tensions between the U.S. and China.
On May 26, as the U.S. Senate passed a bill to declassify intelligence related to potential links between the Wuhan laboratory and COVID-19, Missouri Senator Josh Hawley, a Republican who sponsored the bill, said, “the world needs to know if this pandemic was the product of negligence at the Wuhan lab,” and lamented that “for over a year, anyone asking questions about the Wuhan Institute of Virology has been branded as a conspiracy theorist.”
Peter Navarro, Donald Trump’s former trade adviser, asserted in April 2020 that SARS-CoV-2 could have been engineered as a bioweapon, without citing any evidence.
The theory that SARS-CoV-2 was created as a bioweapon is “completely unlikely,” says William Schaffner, a professor of infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. For one thing, he explains, for a bioweapon to be successful, it must target an adversarial population without affecting one’s own. In contrast, SARS-CoV-2 “cannot be controlled,” he says. “It will spread, including back on your own population,” making it an extremely “counterproductive biowarfare agent.”
The more plausible lab-leak hypothesis, scientists say, is that the Wuhan laboratory isolated the novel coronavirus from an animal and was studying it when it accidentally escaped. “Not knowing the extent of its virulence and transmissibility, a lack of protective measures [could have] resulted in laboratory workers becoming infected,” initiating the transmission chain that ultimately resulted in the pandemic, says Rossi Hassad, an epidemiologist at Mercy College.
But Hassad adds he believes that this lab-leak theory is on the “extreme low end” of possibilities, and it “will quite likely remain only theoretical following any proper scientific investigation,” he says.
Biden ordered U.S. intelligence agencies to report back with their findings in 90 days, which would be August 26.
Based on the available information, Eyal Oren, an epidemiologist at San Diego State University, says it’s apparent why the most accepted hypothesis is that this virus originated in an animal and jumped to a human: “What is clear is that the genetic sequence of the COVID-19 virus is similar to other coronaviruses found in bats,” he says.
Some scientists remain skeptical that concrete conclusions can be drawn. “At the end, I anticipate that the question” of SARS-CoV-2’s origins “will remain unresolved,” Schaffner says.
In the meantime, science “moves much more slowly than the media and news cycles,” Oren says.
The demand for eggs, which had fallen during January-February due to the bird flu outbreak, has bounced back with rise in consumption of key poultry commodity to boost immunity amid the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to government officials and industry experts.
The revival in demand amid tight supplies after bird flu outbreak and a sharp rise in poultry feed cost have led to an increase in retail prices to Rs 6-7 per egg depending on the areas.
But farm gate rates have not gone up commensurate to rise in input cost, affecting farmers, they said.
Egg is among the protein-rich foods prescribed for COVID-19 patients and is the cheapest source of protein available to people, experts said.
“There is a trend in increase in consumption of eggs in the last few months. Egg has the highest 11 per cent protein content,” O P Chaudhary, Joint Secretary in the Animal Husbandry, Poultry and Dairy Ministry, told PTI.
Another official in the ministry said it is difficult to estimate a monthly rise in egg consumption.
However, he said India’s annual consumption has increased to 86 eggs per person in 2019-20 from 79 eggs per person in the previous year.
Indian Broiler Group Managing Director Gulrej Alam said the poultry industry was impacted badly during April-May 2020 last year due to the lockdown as demand for both eggs and chicken declined.
However, he said demand revived between June and December last year.
Alam said the demand got again impacted in January-February this year due to bird flu outbreak. In June 2020, monthly consumption stood at average 7 eggs per person, which fell to 4 eggs per person due to bird flu scare.
“After March, the demand has bounced back to average 7 eggs per person as demand for eggs as immunity booster caught the minds of people during the second wave of the pandemic,” he said.
The demand for eggs is more in urban areas when compared with rural areas. When the urban demand rises, prices automatically go up, said Praveen Garg, Zonal Chairman at National Egg Coordination Committee.
“Egg is still the cheapest source of protein today. At a retail price of Rs 7 per egg, you are getting 11 per cent protein. In no other source of protein, you will get this much protein at just Rs 7. Therefore, there is good demand for egg,” said Prasanna Pedgaonkar, general manager of poultry-focused Venky’s.
The supply of eggs is tight as poultry farms are not operating at their full capacity in many parts of the country after bird flu early this year, covid-induced restrictions and other reasons like rising feed cost, he added.
As per the government data, India’s egg production rose to 140 billion in 2019-20 from 103 billion in 2018-19. And 98 per cent of the eggs produced is consumed in the country itself.
Gurugram-based startup Eggoz cofounder Abhishek Negi said: “We have seen huge surge in demand for branded and Eggoz eggs in the past few months since the onset of second wave of covid pandemic.”
Eggoz branded business has grown by more than 100 per cent month-on-month over the past few months, he said.
“Customers are becoming increasingly aware of health and immunity boosting benefits of eggs,” Negi said.
He informed that Eggoz has launched an enriched variant called Nutraplus where two eggs can fulfill daily recommended intake of Vitamin D and B12 among other vitamins.
“An egg that used to fetch around Rs 3-3.5/piece for the farmers in the months of April, May in Haryana touched all time high of Rs 5.5 and is now trailing at Rs 4.8/piece,” Negi said.
This has provided much-needed financial boost to layer farmers in the country and will help them meet their higher cost of production due to increased prices of soya, Negi said.
Unpackaged eggs in retail are currently being sold at around 7-8 per piece in untraceable format which has increased from normal Rs 5-6 per piece, he said.
Branded eggs are sold at higher rates, around Rs 10 and above.
Eggoz has its own poultry farm in Bihar and Madhya Pradesh. It also has tie ups with other poultry farms for procurement of eggs.
Several days ago, the mega-popular podcast host Joe Rogan advised his young listeners to skip the COVID-19 vaccine. “I think you should get vaccinated if you’re vulnerable,” Rogan said. “But if you’re 21 years old, and you say to me, ‘Should I get vaccinated?’ I’ll go, ‘No.’”
Rogan’s comments drew widespread condemnation. But his view is surprisingly common. One in four Americans says they don’t plan to take the COVID-19 vaccine, and about half of Republicans under 50 say they won’t get a vaccine. This partisan vaccine gap is already playing out in the real world. The average number of daily shots has declined 20 percent in the past two weeks, largely because states with larger Trump vote shares are falling off the pace.
Your guide to life on a warming planet
Discover Atlantic Planet, a new section devoted to climate change and the ways it will reshape our worldExplore
The people I spoke with were all under 50. A few of them self-identified as Republican, and none of them claimed the modern Democratic Party as their political home. Most said they weren’t against all vaccines; they were just a “no” on thisvaccine. They were COVID-19 no-vaxxers, not overall anti-vaxxers.
Many people I spoke with said they trusted their immune system to protect them. “Nobody ever looks at it from the perspective of a guy who’s like me,” Bradley Baca, a 39-year-old truck driver in Colorado, told me. “As an essential worker, my life was never going to change in the pandemic, and I knew I was going to get COVID no matter what. Now I think I’ve got the antibodies, so why would I take a risk on the vaccine?”
Some had already recovered from COVID-19 and considered the vaccine unnecessary. “In December 2020 I tested positive and experienced many symptoms,” said Derek Perrin, a 31-year-old service technician in Connecticut. “Since I have already survived one recorded bout with this virus, I see no reason to take a vaccine that has only been approved for emergency use. I trust my immune system more than this current experiment.”
Others were worried that the vaccines might have long-term side effects. “As a Black American descendant of slavery, I am bottom caste, in terms of finances,” Georgette Russell, a 40-year-old resident of New Jersey, told me. “The fact that there is no way to sue the government or the pharmaceutical company if I have any adverse reactions is highly problematic to me.”
Many people said they had read up on the risk of COVID-19 to people under 50 and felt that the pandemic didn’t pose a particularly grave threat. “The chances of me dying from a car accident are higher than my dying of COVID,” said Michael Searle, a 36-year-old who owns a consulting firm in Austin, Texas. “But it’s not like I don’t get in my car.”
And many others said that perceived liberal overreach had pushed them to the right. “Before March 2020, I was a solid progressive Democrat,” Jenin Younes, a 37-year-old attorney, said. “I am so disturbed by the Democrats’ failure to recognize the importance of civil liberties. I’ll vote for anyone who takes a strong stand for civil liberties and doesn’t permit the erosion of our fundamental rights that we are seeing now.” Baca, the Colorado truck driver, also told me he didn’t vote much before the pandemic, but the perception of liberal overreach had a strong politicizing effect. “When COVID hit, I saw rights being taken away. So in 2020, I voted for the first time in my life, and I voted all the way Republican down the ballot.”
After many conversations and email exchanges, I came to understand what I think of as the deep story of the American no-vaxxer. And I think the best way to see it clearly is to contrast it with my own story.
My view of the vaccines begins with my view of the pandemic. I really don’t want to get COVID-19. Not only do I want to avoid an illness with uncertain long-term implications, but I also don’t want to pass it along to somebody in a high-risk category, such as my grandmother or an immunocompromised stranger. For more than a year, I radically changed my life to avoid infection. So I was thrilled to hear that the vaccines were effective at blocking severe illness and transmission. I eagerly signed up to take both my shots, even after reading all about the side effects.
The under-50 no-vaxxers’ deep story has a very different starting place. It begins like this:
The coronavirus is a wildly overrated threat. Yes, it’s appropriate and good to protect old and vulnerable people. But I’m not old or vulnerable. If I get it, I’ll be fine. In fact, maybe I have gotten it, and I am fine. I don’t know why I should consider this disease more dangerous than driving a car, a risky thing I do every day without a moment’s worry. Liberals, Democrats, and public-health elites have been so wrong so often, we’d be better off doing the opposite of almost everything they say.
Just as my COVID-19 story shapes my vaccine eagerness, this group’s COVID-19 story shapes their vaccine skepticism. Again and again, I heard variations on this theme:
I don’t need some novel pharmaceutical product to give me permission to do the things I’m already doing. This isn’t even an FDA-approved vaccine; it’s authorized for an emergency. Well, I don’t consider COVID-19 a personal emergency. So why would I sign up to be an early guinea pig for a therapy that I don’t need, whose long-term effects we don’t understand? I’d rather bet on my immune system than on Big Pharma.
For both yes-vaxxers like me and the no-vaxxers I spoke with, feelings about the vaccine are intertwined with feelings about the pandemic.
Although I think I’m right about the vaccines, the truth is that my thinking on this issue is motivated. I canceled vacations, canceled my wedding, avoided indoor dining, and mostly stayed home for 15 months. All that sucked. I am rooting for the vaccines to work.
But the no-vaxxers I spoke with just don’t care. They’ve traveled, eaten in restaurants, gathered with friends inside, gotten COVID-19 or not gotten COVID-19, survived, and decided it was no big deal. What’s more, they’ve survived while flouting the advice of the CDC, the WHO, Anthony Fauci, Democratic lawmakers, and liberals, whom they don’t trust to give them straight answers on anything virus-related.
The no-vaxxers’ reasoning is motivated too. Specifically, they’re motivated to distrust public-health authorities who they’ve decided are a bunch of phony neurotics, and they’re motivated to see the vaccines as a risky pharmaceutical experiment, rather than as a clear breakthrough that might restore normal life (which, again, they barely stopped living). This is the no-vaxxer deep story in a nutshell: I trust my own cells more than I trust pharmaceutical goop; I trust my own mind more than I trust liberal elites.
So what will change their minds?
I cannot imagine that any amount of hectoring or shaming, or proclamations from the public-health or Democratic communities, will make much of a difference for this group. “I’ve lost all faith in the media and public-health officials,”said Myles Pindus, a 24-year-old in Brooklyn, who told me he is skeptical of the mRNA vaccines and is interested in the Johnson & Johnson shot. “It might sound crazy, but I’d rather go to Twitter and check out a few people I trust than take guidance from the CDC, or WHO, or Fauci,” Baca, the Colorado truck driver, told me. Other no-vaxxers offered similar appraisals of various Democrats and liberals, but they were typically less printable.
From my conversations, I see three ways to persuade no-vaxxers: make it more convenient to get a shot; make it less convenient to not get a shot; or encourage them to think more socially.
1.Try something like “DoorDash for vaccines.”
To get people to participate in an activity they don’t really care about, you make it as easy and tantalizing as possible. Some people have already suggested offering money, free food, or even lottery tickets in exchange for vaccination. But one source who asked to remain anonymous suggested that state health departments should offer something like DoorDash for vaccines.
With any new technology, the early adopters are the ones most willing to tolerate glitches and a bad experience. That’s fine when supply is limited, but as you try to get to mass market, you need to perfect the product and experience.
All of which to say: Cities should start to roll out a vaccine in-home service, which people can book on short notice. Providers come to you, and maybe bring you some sort of gift along with the vaccine. Cities should have enough capacity and staff to do that at this point, and a service such as this would be key to getting young people in particular to take it.
2.Make it suck more to not be vaccinated.
Governments and companies may find that soft bribery is the best way to get the no-vaxxers to the clinics. Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, for example, has linked her state reopening policies to progress in shots, letting restaurants and bars increase their occupancy once 60 percent of the state has been vaccinated, and promising to lift mask orders when 70 percent of Michiganders have received both doses.
But the cultural backlash against domestic restrictions could be prodigious. If blue-state governors and sports stadiums deny economic activities to the unvaccinated while red-state stadiums allow anybody to sit at a bar or in the bleachers, it will deepen the culture-war tensions between scolding liberals and accommodating conservatives in a way that might not be good for Democrats politically, even if they have the upper hand in the public-health argument.
3.“What if natural immunity isn’t enough to protect your grandmother?”
The most common argument against the vaccines is: My immune system is good enough for me. One counterargument is: That’s right, but the vaccines are even better at protecting others.
Even for people who have already recovered from COVID-19, getting fully vaccinated strengthens the antibody and T-cell protection against the disease and likely provides superior protection from variants that can pierce our natural immunity.
Why do more levels of protection matter? Because the vaccines aren’t just about building a defensive wall around safe young bodies. We’re also collectively building a wall around the more vulnerable members of society. And little holes in the wall can lead to unnecessary deaths.
In April, the CDC reported that an unvaccinated health-care worker set off an outbreak in a mostly vaccinated Kentucky nursing home. Several vaccinated seniors got sick and one vaccinated resident died.* To be absolutely clear: The vaccines worked to protect most residents. But no vaccine is perfect, and the COVID-19 vaccines won’t stop all infections, especially for some people with weak immune systems.
I made this case to several no-vaxxers: Your grandparents, elderly neighbors, and immunocompromised friends will be safer if you’re vaccinated, even if you’ve already been infected. I played with the “COVID is no worse than driving” metaphor that many of them offered. I agree that driving is acceptably safe for most people, I said. But imagine, I added, if you could have a forward collision warning system installed in your car for free? An already-pretty-safe activity would become an even safer activity; and what’s more, you’d be protecting other people on the road at minimal cost to yourself.
I can’t tell you this argument got a lot of people to drop the phone, sprint to a vaccine clinic, and sign up for a Fauci tattoo on their arm. The truth is that I’m not sure that I changed anybody’s mind. But I can honestly say that this argument gave several no-vaxxers a bit of pause. They responded by talking about chains of transmission throughout the community, rather than focusing on their own immune system. Several of them asked to see evidence of my position so that they could examine it for themselves.
The United States suffers from a deficit of imagining the lives of other people. This is true of my side: Vaccinated liberals don’t take much time to calmly hear out the logic of those refusing the shots. But it’s also true of the no-vaxxers, who might reconsider their view if they grasped the far-ranging consequences of their private vaccination decisions. Instead of shaming and hectoring, our focus should be on broadening their circle of care: Your cells might be good enough to protect you, but the shots are better to protect Grandpa.
Russia is mass producing the world’s first coronavirus vaccines for animals. /VETANDLIFE.RU/Reuters
Russia has started mass producing the world’s first COVID-19 vaccines for animals, with its first batch of 17,000 doses soon set for local distribution.
The country’s agricultural watchdog, Rosselkhoznadzor, announced the achievement on Friday, saying that while the jabs would initially be used at home, foreign firms had also shown interest in them.
According to the regulator: “About 20 organizations are ready to negotiate registration and supply of the vaccine to their countries. The file for registration abroad, in particular in the European Union, is under preparation.”
Russia, the first country to come up with the animal jab, registered the Carnivac-Cov vaccine in March 2021, after tests showed it generated antibodies against the coronavirus in dogs, cats, foxes and mink.
The county’s regulator said the inoculation would protect vulnerable species and thwart viral mutations.
It added that companies from Germany, Greece, Poland, Austria, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Malaysia, Thailand, South Korea, Lebanon, Iran and Argentina had inquired about purchasing the vaccine.
According to local media, production capacity is at around 3 million doses per month and is expected to increase to 5 million.
The race to find such a jab became urgent following multiple reports of animals contracting the virus early on in the pandemic, with the World Health Organization expressing serious concern over the risk of transmission with other species.
Companion animals such as cats and dogs have tested positive for COVID-19, but there have also been cases in big cats in sanctuaries, gorillas in zoos, and several other mammals.
Last November, Denmark was forced to cull its population of up to 17 million mink after a mutated strain was discovered in sick animals in the country’s fur farms.
With other countries reporting similar infection spikes among the species, concerns over the virus’s impact on the livestock industry have grown.
However, the impact of the novel coronavirus has not been as deadly for animals as diseases such as Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI), better known as bird flu, or African Swine Fever (ASF), the latter of which led to the deaths of around 8 million pigs. Source(s): Reuters18
Meat, dairy and egg production in Canada involves forcing thousands of animals to live in filthy conditions. By any epidemiological standard, this is a disaster waiting to happen, write Jenny Henry and Darlene Levecque. Photo by Mercy for Animals Canada
As Canadians venture beyond the one-year mark since the official declaration of the COVID-19 pandemic, we do so with much reflection and lessons learned. We now look very differently at issues of public health, personal hygiene and even travel. However, one area that appears to be lacking the mass scrutiny and worry it deserves, especially in the wake of a pandemic caused by a zoonotic disease, is our food system, particularly how we breed, confine and slaughter animals.
The environmental impacts of raising animals for food have been made abundantly clear in recent years. Animal agriculture is wiping out rainforests, causing mass extinction of species, polluting our air and waterways, and bringing us dangerously close to causing irreversible changes to the Earth’s climate systems. And now it appears that if global warming doesn’t get us, a zoonotic disease just might.
GET TOP STORIES IN YOUR INBOX.
Meat, dairy and egg production in Canada involves packing thousands of animals together in massive sheds, forcing them to live in filthy conditions, filling man-made lagoons with animal waste and making staff work in dangerously close contact with animals and each other. By any epidemiological standard, this is a disaster waiting to happen. In fact, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that “three out of every four new or emerging infectious diseases in people come from animals.”
Federal and provincial governments in Canada help fund meat, dairy and egg production to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars each year through subsidies, grants and loans. In 2019, for example, the federal government began doling out $1.75 billion over eight years to nearly 11,000 dairy farmers across Canada to compensate for market losses, while also providing up to $10 million in grants for selected dairy processors via the Dairy Processing Investment Fund. The Canadian government also announced in 2019 a $6-million investment to help promote pork exports and, last year, a $691-million gift to egg and chicken farmers. And this is all before receiving government aid for pandemic-related market disruptions. That’s a lot of taxpayer money being distributed to a food system that poses tremendous risk to the health and home of Canadians.
The government has invested some money into safer and healthier plant protein production over the last couple of years, providing nearly $100 million to Winnipeg-based Merit Functional Foods, which produces plant-based protein from Canadian peas and canola. Alberta-based Food Processing Development Centre is also receiving $2.6 million of federal funding to “support the installation of equipment specifically focused on supporting companies to develop new plant-based foods and products,” according to a Western Economic Diversification Canada statement. But this is just not enough to fund a full transition to safer food production that we so urgently need.
As a non-partisan advocacy group, Nation Rising is trying to level that playing field by lobbying governments to shiftmultibillion-dollar subsidies away from animal agriculture and towards the creation of a more sustainable, plant-based food system. We are also working to educate and empower the public to meet with their own MPs and demand change.
Canada cannot continue breeding, confining and killing animals for food on the scale that we do, and the government should not be continuing to fund it. Aside from the mass suffering of animals, the environmental degradation and noted health concerns associated with consuming animal products, we now know of the major risks that factory farming can pose to public health.
Canadian governments should be helping animal farmers transition to safer plant-based food production, write @vegan_bumblebee and @LevecqueDarlene of @NationRising.
Canadian governments should look to initiatives being led in the U.S. and Europe, such as Transfarmation, by international advocacy group Mercy For Animals, The Vegan Society’s Grow Green campaign and ReFarm’d for examples on how to help animal farmers transition to safer plant-based food production.
We’ve reached a precipice. If Canadian governments and industries don’t start planning for a fundamental shift toward more sustainable and less harmful food production, we might not last another hundred years.
Jenny Henry and Darlene Levecque are co-founders of Nation Rising, a non-partisan political advocacy group lobbying the federal government to shift subsidies away from animal agriculture and towards the creation of a plant-based food system.April 28th 2021
Descrease article font size-AIncrease article font sizeA+
You don’t have to believe in the coronavirus to get it, as musician Ted Nugent acknowledged with the revelation that he has tested positive for COVID-19.
“I was officially tested positive for COVID-19,” Nugent revealed on Facebook Live Monday. “I got the Chinese s—,” he added, in a nearly nine-minute video peppered with profanity, anti-Asian racism, conspiracy theories and false claims about the virus.
Nugent revealed that he had flu-like symptoms for 10 days, and that he finally got tested on Monday.
“I thought I was dying,” he said. He added that he could hardly crawl out of bed, and that the agony of the disease finally prompted him to get tested for it.
The revelation came less than a month after Nugent blasted lockdowns on social media.
“My common sense meter would demand the answer to: Why weren’t we shut down for COVID 1 through 18?” he said earlier this month on Facebook Live.
The number refers to 2019 — the year in which the disease was discovered. (There was no COVID 1-18.)
Nugent spent several months denouncing the pandemic as a hoax, often while voicing his support for ex-U.S. president Donald Trump. He suggested that the pandemic was “not real” and a “scam.” He also claimed that people who wore masks were “sheep.”
Despite testing positive, Nugent on Monday continued to cast doubt on the pandemic while pushing pro-Trump conspiracy theories.
His tirade was occasionally punctuated with a dry cough.
Now PlayingOverwhelmed Indian…Overwhelmed Indian hospitals are turning patients away 02:29
(CNN)Covid-19 infections have been rising at an alarming rate for eight consecutive weeks, the World Health Organization (WHO) has warned, as the virus sweeps unabated through hotspots in several corners of the globe.More than 5.2 million new cases were recorded last week — the most in a single week since the pandemic began — WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during a news briefing in Geneva on Monday.Deaths also increased for the fifth straight week, he said, with the pandemic now officially claiming more than 3 million lives.
And Tedros warned that the pace of the pandemic is accelerating, even as some countries tout their own improved vaccination programs.
“It took nine months to reach 1 million deaths, four months to reach 2 million and three months to reach 3 million deaths,” said Tedros. “Big numbers can make us numb, but each one of these deaths is a tragedy for families, communities and nations.”
And, as more at-risk or older adults are fully inoculated and some economies open up, the director-general suggested the brunt of the virus’s spread may be shifting towards younger adults. He told reporters that infections and hospitalizations among people age 25 to 59 are “increasing at an alarming rate,” possibly due to highly transmissible variants and increased social mixing among younger people.Concerns about more young adults contracting Covid-19 have already been reported by doctors in some hotspots — including Brazil, where a new variant has caused a devastating surge in hospitalizations and deaths.
Shots ramp up as variants cause concern
The stark warning from WHO serves as a reminder of the state of the pandemic, which has not yet dissipated in the face of the world’s disparate vaccine rollouts.India is suffering from a calamitous second wave of the virus, and a significant portion of the world’s infections is occurring there. The country has reported more than 200,000 new cases on each of the past six days — nearly 1.5 million in the last week — and crowded hospitals are turning away patients as they battle the spread.Among India’s many active cases is former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who is in stable condition in hospital after contracting Covid-19.
India will offer Covid-19 vaccines to everyone 18+ in MayWith more than 15 million infections, the country is now only second to the United States in global case tallies. The US has reported almost 32 million infections.England added India to its travel ban list on Monday and Prime Minister Boris Johnson canceled a scheduled trip there, but political campaigning is ongoing despite the dire situation.Narendra Modi’s ruling party said it would hold “small public gatherings” with a cap of 500 people in the state of West Bengal, one of the five states where state elections are currently being held, according to a statement from the party Monday.Much of Asia is similarly grappling with increasing cases. A surge in Thailand has dampened hopes of welcoming more tourists there, with hospitality venues identified as a cause of recent outbreaks.In the US, where millions of people are being vaccinated daily, cases and hospitalizations have risen over the past month. Experts cite coronavirus variants — including the more contagious B.1.1.7 strain that recently fueled another surge in Michigan — and a spreading sense of pandemic fatigue as contributing factors.Meanwhile, in Europe, there are some signs of a plateau in the continent’s third wave of infections, and a bumpy vaccine rollout has started accelerating across the European Union.
But vaccine hesitancy and the lingering effects of earlier vaccine scares there are still evident; a mass vaccination center in the southern French city of Nice was forced to close early over the weekend after just 58 people turned up for 4,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine — which may be linked to a very small number of rare blood clot cases — a spokesman for the regional police told CNN.And European regulators face another decision about the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which US authorities paused after a handful of clotting cases were reported. A decision by the European Medicines Agency on the shot is expected Tuesday.
CNN’s Naomi Thomas, Christina Maxouris and Saskya Vandoorne contributed reporting
Although cases may be decreasing around the country, coronavirus cases are still relatively high in some areas and are spiking in Michigan.
Issues like partial vaccination of a population could come into play.
Inequitable access to vaccines remains a concern, especially globally.
With many states in the U.S. relaxing restrictions and the weather turning warmer, it may seem like we are coming out of the pandemic. However, with cases recently spiking in Michigan and concerning cases and death rates elsewhere in the world such as Brazil, it’s a reminder that we are not yet out of the woods.
Last year, we looked at the different ways the pandemic could come to an end. Now with vaccines and variants on the scene, here’s a revisit to the topic and what we know now.
There could be issues getting the pandemic under control if we’re stuck at low levels of vaccination or partial vaccination. The way that immunity works at the population level means that, depending on the pathogen’s transmission rates, immunization at a low percentage of the total population would not be enough to prevent some transmission and cases to occur.
The ideal percentage vaccinated varies by disease, but for COVID-19 some experts estimate it to be at least 70 percent, although this may change as more data become available. If in the U.S. the vaccination rate slows down before we reach a high enough percentage, that could mean that we get small outbreaks and pockets of COVID cases around the country where the vaccination rates are lowest.
Our country is in a historic fight against the Coronavirus. Add Changing America to your Facebook or Twitter feed to stay on top of the news.
Then there’s the issue of partial vaccination on the individual level. People who have gotten one dose are partially protected after a few weeks, but they may potentially interact with people who haven’t had any shots or also have had one shot. Vaccination does not totally prevent infection, as far as we know, and people who are vaccinated may be able to transmit the virus to others even if that has a very low probability of happening.
So with people around the country at varying stages of vaccination and immunity, that could lead to a patchwork of COVID cases that could allow the virus to remain in the population. Research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that even one dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines provide a good amount of protection, but more data is needed to show this is happening on a national scale.
Once domestic travel picks up again, this complicates the situation further. Then a single location is no longer a simple population on its own. It has individuals entering and leaving the population. For example, this could mean that even if New York is doing well with vaccinating its population, unvaccinated people who are traveling to New York could continue to bring in the coronavirus and add to local outbreaks. The focus on each state’s progress would be less informative and the focus would need to be on national progress.
Experts have not yet determined what a potential vaccination schedule might be for the coronavirus. Experts are also studying whether these existing vaccines protect against the coronavirus variants that have cropped up in the U.S. and around the world.
People who participated in the clinical trials for the coronavirus vaccines are receiving booster shots six months or more after their initial doses. An initial study from Pfizer and BioNTech suggests that its vaccine maintains 90 percent efficacy at the half year mark post second dose. If it turns out that the current vaccines are less effective at protecting against the coronavirus variants, the vaccine developers may need to produce adapted versions.
We are still learning about how long immunity lasts and how well the vaccines protect against the coronavirus variants. It may come to be that this time next year everyone will need a booster shot to maintain immunity against the virus. If, or when, that time comes, the urgency to get a booster shot may not be there for many people, and that could lead to varying levels of immunity within the population. That could leave many people with higher susceptibility to the coronavirus than others, which could boost infection rates and lead to more cases. This could mean that small outbreaks may move through and be sustained in the population if enough people are susceptible.
Inequitable access to vaccines
An issue that has become prominent around the world is inequitable access to vaccines, and one reason for that is intellectual property rights. The companies that developed the vaccines that are currently approved for emergency use are not willing to give up patent rights and share the methods for making their vaccines with other companies. This could slow down the long-term vaccination roll out for countries that were not able to secure doses before.
In addition, some wealthier countries prepaid for more than they needed because it wasn’t certain yet which vaccines would get emergency use approval. Other countries were lost in the free for all to buy up vaccines and are relying on a global effort called COVAX to get the shots. Many lower-income countries will be the last ones on the list to get vaccines, some not expecting any shipments until 2022 and some experts suggesting that many would not get any until 2024 if current behavior by high-income countries continues.
COVAX has purchased about 1 billion doses and could reserve 900 million more. It aims to immunize 20 percent of the people most vulnerable to the virus in low-income countries. But that falls short of getting most of the population in these countries vaccinated to stop the spread of the virus.
This presents a problem for all of us. While international travel is limited, as people start moving around more this increases the risk of arriving in a place where there are high numbers of cases or where many people are not yet vaccinated. Similar to the problem with people traveling domestically making it important to focus on national progress, this would make it important to focus on global vaccination progress.
Local outbreaks and epidemics
For all these reasons, it’s likely that there will continue to be local outbreaks and smaller epidemics around the country and in other parts of the world. The global pandemic may diminish to the point where it may not be a crisis any longer, but there could continue to be cases for a long time to come. We may stop calling it a pandemic at some point, but the novel coronavirus may still be around for a while after that.
Whether it is a pandemic or not depends on the global effects. On the other hand, COVID-19 could become endemic to humans, meaning that it will circulate in our populations indefinitely similarly to influenza. That does not mean that we will see death rates like we have in the past year. As we adapt to the coronavirus and it adapts to us, we could move towards a sort of equilibrium where the virus proliferates in our bodies but doesn’t kill us as easily.
These are all still unknowns at this point. As experts gather more data on how the vaccination roll outs have affected transmission of the virus and the number of cases, we’ll understand more about these dynamics.
Johnson & Johnson’s coronavirus vaccine is facing a double dose of problems. Georgia is the third state to temporarily shut down a vaccine site after eight people suffered adverse reactions to the shot.
Earlier this week, 18 people in North Carolina reported side effects, while 11 people in Colorado reacted to the shot with symptoms ranging from dizziness, nausea and fainting.
“This is a really potent vaccine, and what we’re seeing is some of that potency relating at a very rare side effect that we just have to be aware of,” said Dr. David Agus, a CBS News medical contributor.
All three major U.S. vaccines produced adverse reactions in more than 60,000 people nationwide. For each manufacturer — Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson — just one-tenth of 1% of all people have reported side effects.
Another problem facing Johnson & Johnson is distribution. The company is dramatically scaling back shipments to states by 86% next week.
Meanwhile, Michigan is experiencing dreadful deja vu as some hospital intensive care units near capacity.
“We all know what works and this has to be a team effort. We have to do this together. Lives depend on it,” Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer said.
Whitmer is asking for a two-week pause on indoor dining, in-person learning for high schools and youth sports — a driving factor in new cases among kids.
Pfizer is the first company to seek an expansion of its emergency use authorization to give its vaccine to children as young as 12.
In California, thousands were turned away after being told to show up to one site with extra doses. In New York City, variants comprise nearly 80% of new daily cases, with 45% homegrown. Another 30% are driven by the variant first discovered in the U.K., which is believed to be up to 70% more contagious and more lethal.
Agus is warning Americans not to panic.
“The current vaccines that are out there in the public work against all of the variants,” the CBS News medical contributor said. “Science is overcoming here. And that’s why I think that by June we’re going to overcome this virus in the United States and get to a new normal here.”