Flu Has Disappeared Worldwide during the COVID Pandemic

Since the novel coronavirus began its global spread, influenza cases reported to the World Health Organization have dropped to minuscule levels. The reason, epidemiologists think, is that the public health measures taken to keep the coronavirus from spreading also stop the flu. Influenza viruses are transmitted in much the same way as SARS-CoV-2, but they are less effective at jumping from host to host.

As Scientific American reported last fall, the drop-off in flu numbers was both swift and universal. Since then, cases have stayed remarkably low. “There’s just no flu circulating,” says Greg Poland, who has studied the disease at the Mayo Clinic for decades. The U.S. saw about 600 deaths from influenza during the 2020–2021 flu season. In comparison, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated there were roughly 22,000 deaths in the prior season and 34,000 two seasons ago.

Because each year’s flu vaccine is based on strains that have been circulating during the past year, it is unclear how next year’s vaccine will fare, should the typical patterns of the disease return. The WHO made its flu strain recommendations for vaccines in late February as usual, but they were based on far fewer cases than in a common year. At the same time, with fewer virus particles circulating in the world, there is less chance of an upcoming mutation, so it is possible the 2021–2022 vaccine will prove extra effective.

Public health experts are grateful for the reprieve. Some are also worried about a lost immune response, however. If influenza subsides for several years, today’s toddlers could miss a chance to have an early-age response imprinted on their immune system. That could be good or bad, depending on what strains circulate during the rest of their life. For now, future flu transmission remains a roll of the dice.

Influenza Cases Worldwide, by Region

The World Health Organization tracks influenza transmission in 18 zones. Three of those regions appear here. Only people who get tested for influenzalike illnesses—typically about 5 percent of individuals who fall ill—are tallied.

 

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By Katie Peek on

 

Source: Flu Has Disappeared Worldwide during the COVID Pandemic – Scientific American

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Choosing the strains for the flu vaccine

Creating the influenza vaccine this year has been more difficult than in the past.

Every year, scientists evaluate the strains of influenza that are circulating around the world, and meet to decide which strains to protect against in that year’s vaccine. They look at the strains that are getting people sick, and use that information to predict which strains are most likely to infect people when flu season sets in.

“We met at the end of February to make those recommendations,” said Dr. Webby, referring to the World Health Organization panel that assesses the flu vaccine. “And it was tricky. The amount of data was orders of magnitude less than it typically is.”

Dr. Olsen, the C.D.C. epidemiologist, pointed out that the vaccine choices are based on more than just existing strains. Scientists also consider other data, including forecasts of “the likelihood of any emerging groups of influenza viruses becoming more prevalent in coming months.”

And, she said, the uncertainty around the return of influenza makes getting vaccinated against the flu more important, not less.

There’s another hard-to-predict factor that could play a significant role when the flu comes back: whether society will carry on behaviors learned in the pandemic that benefit public health. Will mask-wearing become the norm? Will employers give their employees more physical space?

The last time Americans had a chance to make those behaviors part of the culture, Dr. Baker pointed out, they did not.

“The 1918 influenza pandemic should have been something that gave us some sort of societal learning,” said Dr. Baker, but behavior did not change. “So what is the journey you are about to go on from the Covid-19 pandemic, along that axis?” she added. “Will you wear your mask, even if no one else is?”

We Need to Change How We Share Our Personal Data Online in the Age of COVID19

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A few months into the coronavirus pandemic, the web is more central to humanity’s functioning than I could have imagined 30 years ago. It’s now a lifeline for billions of people and businesses worldwide. But I’m more frustrated now with the current state of the web than ever before. We could be doing so much better.

COVID-19 underscores how urgently we need a new approach to organizing and sharing personal data. You only have to look at the limited scope and the widespread adoption challenges of the pandemic apps offered by various tech companies and governments.

Think of all the data about your life accumulated in the various applications you use – social gatherings, frequent contacts, recent travel, health, fitness, photos, and so on. Why is it that none of that information can be combined and used to help you, especially during a crisis?

It’s because you aren’t in control of your data. Most businesses, from big tech to consumer brands, have siphoned it for their own agendas. Our global reactions to COVID-19 should present us with an urgent impetus to rethink this arrangement.

For some years now, I, along with a growing number of dedicated engineers, have been working on a different kind of technology for the web. It’s called Solid. It’s an update to the web – a course-correction if you will – that provides you with a trusted place or places to store all your digital information about your life, at work and home, no matter what application you use that produces it. The data remains under your control, and you can easily choose who can access it, for what purpose, and for how long. With Solid, you can effectively decide how to share anything with anyone, no matter what app you or the recipient uses. It’s as if your apps could all talk to one another, but only under your supervision.

There’s even more that could have been done to benefit the lives of people impacted by the crisis – simply by linking data between apps. For example:

What if you could safely share photos about your symptoms, your fitness log, the medications you’ve taken, and places you’ve been directly with your doctor? All under your control.

What if your whole family could automatically share location information and daily temperature readings with each other so you’d all feel assured when it was safe to visit your grandfather? And be sure no-one else would see it.

What if health providers could during an outbreak see a map of households flagged as immuno-compromised or at-risk, so they could organize regular medical check-ins? And once the crisis is over, their access to your data could be taken away, and privacy restored.

What if grocery delivery apps could prioritize homes based on whether elderly residents lived there? Without those homes or the people in them having their personal details known by the delivery service.

What if a suddenly unemployed person could, from one simple app, give every government agency access to their financial status and quickly receive a complete overview of all the services for which they’re eligible? Without being concerned that any agency could pry into their personal activity.

None of this is possible within the constructs of today’s web. But all of it and much more could be possible. I don’t believe we should accept the web as it currently is or be resigned to its shortcomings, just because we need it so much. It doesn’t have to be this way. We can make it better.

My goal has always been a web that empowers human beings, redistributes power to individuals, and reimagines distributed creativity, collaboration, and compassion.

Today, developers are creating exciting new applications and organizations are exploring new ways to innovate. The momentum for this new and vibrant web is already palpable, but we must not let the crisis distract us. We must be ready to hit the ground running once this crisis passes so we are better prepared to navigate the next one. To help make this a reality, I co-founded a company, called Inrupt, to support Solid’s evolution into a high-quality, reliable technology that can be used at scale by businesses, developers, and, eventually, by everyone.

Let’s free data from silos and put it to work for our personal benefit and the greater good. Let’s collaborate more effectively and innovate in ways that benefit humanity and revitalize economies. Let’s build these new systems with which people will work together more effectively. Let’s inspire businesses, governments, and developers to build powerful application platforms that work for us, not just for them.

Let’s focus on making the post-COVID-19 world much more effective than the pre-COVID-19 world. Our future depends on it.

BY TIM BERNERS-LEE

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Cryptocurrency vs COVID-19: Bloomzed Project Founder Allocated $ 10 Million to Fight Against Coronavirus

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Today, there is almost no place in the world left untouched by COVID-19. People suffer losses, businesses are counting their damage. The IMF assessed the economic impact of COVID-19 and considered the observed global downturn to be the worst since the Great Depression of the 1930s. The pandemic plunged the world into crisis and had a negative impact on industry, tourism, trade, stock markets, and cryptocurrencies.

After the WHO officially announced the coronavirus pandemic, almost all investment mechanisms in the world responded with a decline. The Dow Jones, FTSE, and Nikkei indexes posted the biggest quarterly falls in the first three months of 2020 since 1987. The stock market was going through its worst days in the previous decade. The cryptocurrency market also sunk.

The fall in the rate of bitcoin and altcoins was not so rapid against the background of the fall in the rates of traditional assets. And to date, we can see the growth of digital assets. However, small projects that weren`t ready to take such a blow had to withdraw from the game. The ICO market actually collapsed. Only strong players remained in power. One of those who continued to implement their plans was the Bloomzed fintech project, which is developing a universal payment tool. The current situation has forced the project team to put aside their work and direct their efforts to a more important mission.

Bloomzed Facing a Global Threat

Today, the IMF says that the world economy will shrink by 3% this year, which is the worst performance since the Great Depression of the 1930s. According to the IMF’s most optimistic forecast, global economic growth could reach 5.8% as early as next year if the pandemic ends in the second half of 2020. The IMF notes the vital importance of quarantine measures and social distancing measures for achieving these indicators. In addition, more funds should be allocated to health systems and financial support for employees and businesses. The organization called on the world to work together to get out of this situation with the least losses.

The Bloomzed project team decided to support this global initiative. So, its founder, Elchin Suleymanov, a businessman, mentor with many years of experience, as well as a speaker at various events, including blockchain conferences, stressed that today it is very important for everyone, especially the business community, to support the idea of the IMF to unite the world in the face of the common threat. But how can we unite when today the world is divided not only by geographical boundaries, but also by forced boundaries of social distance? Thinking about this topic, studying the events taking place in the world, the Bloomzed team found a solution.

“High 5”

The current isolation conditions are introduced in order to slow down the spread of the virus. For many, this state of affairs is a real test. The Bloomzed team set themselves a task that they had to think about: how to unite people with a common goal that will be aimed at supporting the world community in the fight against COVID-19, while brightening their time in isolation, and providing an opportunity to get financial benefits? The result of this work was the “Bloomzed’s High5 Covid -19 Relief Movement” – charity movement, initiated by the project team. The movement consists of three directions: “Limited Charity Token Offering”, “Challenge to Businesses”, and “Social Challenge”.

“Limited Charity Token Offering” is a limited charity token offering of the Bloomzed project (BZT). The Bloomzed founders decided to allocate a limited number of BZT tokens – 2 million tokens at a price of $5 per coin, and implement them for charitable purposes. All funds collected from the sale of tokens in the period up to 31.05.2020 will be directed to international funds that are engaged in fighting the spread of COVID-19 and eliminating its consequences. Token holders will be able to use them inside the Bloomzed platform, make partial or full payment for the services of the project’s partner companies, and sell them on one of the exchanges where the token is traded – TAGZ, COINSBIT, P2PB2B, EXRATES, PROBIT.

“Challenge to Businesses” and “Social Challenge” are two types of challenges, united by the common name – “High 5”. These directions of the charity movement of the Bloomzed project are its more interactive, designed to draw attention to the global problem of the coronavirus pandemic and its consequences. The idea of the challenge is that everyone, whether a representative of a large business, a private entrepreneur, or an ordinary person, can contribute to the fight against COVID-19, give their “high five”, and draw public attention to this important issue.

Both directions imply the need to record a video message or take a photo dedicated to the “High 5” movement and post it on social networks under the appropriate hashtag. At the same time, the appeal within the “Challenge to Businesses” should be devoted to what exactly this company or private entrepreneur can offer in the fight against COVID-19. For example, the payment for goods or services can be cancelled and significant discounts can be provided for the period of isolation.

It will be possible to help people and the movement this way, as well as attract public attention. To participate in the “Social Challenge”, you must pass a virtual “High 5” to five friends, marking them under a post with the video or photo. It is important to use hands, gloves, and the image of a hand. The more creative the content, the more likely it is to receive a prize from Bloomzed and its partners.

So, the idea of the “High 5” movement is to attract as many people as possible to the problem of fighting this large-scale disease called COVID-19. The challenge allows everyone to understand what role they are ready to play in this fight – to support the movement financially or to help with the spread of information and promotion in social networks. The main thing here is not to remain indifferent!

Source:https://btcmanager.com

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Bloomzed presentation at the business club “AMG-Way”