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Winter Covid surge is the ‘worst event that this country will face,’ White House health advisor Birx says

Deborah Birx warned on Sunday that the escalating coronavirus surge is likely to be the most trying event in U.S. history….

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President Donald Trump listens as Response coordinator for White House Coronavirus Task Force Deborah Birx speaks during the daily briefing on the novel coronavirus, which causes COVID-19, in the Brady Briefing Room of the White House on April 16, 2020, in Washington, DC.

Mandel Ngan | AFP | Getty Images

Dr. Deborah Birx warned on Sunday that the escalating coronavirus surge is likely to be the most trying event in U.S. history, as hospital systems around the country strain to combat its mounting daily death toll.

“This is not just the worst public health event. This is the worst event that this country will face, not just from a public health side,” Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, said during a masked appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Birx’s comments add to a chorus of public health officials expressing concern about the growing wave of infections.

On Wednesday, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Robert Redfield said that the coming months will be “the most difficult time in the public health history of this nation.”

“This fall/winter surge is combining everything that we saw in the spring with everything we saw in the summer — plus the fall surge going into a winter surge. I think that’s why Dr. Redfield made this absolute appeal to the American people,” Birx said.

The Covid-19 pandemic is killing record numbers of Americans on a daily basis, and the numbers are expected to worsen as a result of gatherings held for the Thanksgiving holiday.

More than 2,000 people in the U.S. are dying from Covid-19 on a daily basis, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. On Thursday, more than 2,800 deaths from the disease were recorded, a new high.

Much of the concern related to the new surge in cases has to do with hospitals around the country filling up with patients. More than 100,000 in the U.S. were currently hospitalized with Covid-19 as of Saturday, according to the Covid Tracking Project, at The Atlantic.

James Linder, the CEO of the Nebraska Medicine Health System, said on CBS’s “Face The Nation” on Sunday that many hospitals are at the “breaking point.”

“Some may have broken,” he said.

Birx called on Americans to change their behavior ahead of the winter holidays. Despite her dire warning, she said that at this point “we know what behaviors spread the virus and we know how to change those behaviors.”

“We cannot go into the holiday season, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza, with the same kind of attitude, that those gatherings don’t apply to me,” Birx said. “They apply to everybody.”

“If you do not want to lose your grandparents, your aunts, let’s be clear: If you’re over 70, 20 percent of those over 70 who contract Covid are hospitalized, and still, 10 percent of them are lost,” Birx added.

“So if you have anyone in your family with comorbidities or over 70, you cannot do those things. You cannot gather with your mask off, you cannot hug and kiss people outside,” she said.

Birx acknowledged the existence of a number of vaccines that have shown promising results in clinical trials. But, she said, those won’t be available for the most vulnerable Americans until February.

“So we need to do this now. Yes, the nursing homes will be vaccinated, but there are 100 million Americans that have these comorbidities that put them at substantial risk,” Birx said, referring to underlying medical conditions that can make people more vulnerable to the virus.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday that “more general vaccination” could be available around February or March, and that there would be enough vaccines for every American seeking one by the second quarter.

The frustration and alarm from a senior member of the White House’s effort to combat the virus stands in contrast to the relative silence from the president himself.

President Donald Trump, who will leave office next month, has avoided mentioning the death toll from the disease. He has instead remained focused on personal grievances since losing the November election to President-elect Joe Biden.

Biden’s team began formally coordinating with the current administration’s Covid-19 response officials last week, after a delay caused by the White House’s efforts to delay the formal transition.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the longtime director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said on Thursday that he agreed to serve as Biden’s chief medical advisor. He was scheduled to brief Biden’s team the same day.

On Wednesday, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Robert Redfield said that the coming months will be “the most difficult time in the public health history of this nation.”

Source: https://www.cnbc.com/2020/12/06/birx-winter-covid-surge-the-worst-event-that-this-country-will-face.html

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Ventureburn

ZwartTech launches Talent Foundation to equip Africans with digital skills

Lagos-based ZwartTech has announced the launch of its new edtech, Zwart Talent Foundation (ZTF) in a statement on 30 July 2021.

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Lagos-based ZwartTech has announced the launch of its new edtech, Zwart Talent Foundation (ZTF) in a statement today.

The foundation aims to equip young Africans with ICT skills necessary to close the growing African skills gap. The project has also set aside 70% of recruitment positions for African women.

87% of African CEOs are concerned about the digital skills gap

According to a report by PwC, featured in 2020’s Digital Skills Insights publication, 79% of global CEOs are worried about the availability of digital skills in their workforces, with 87% of African CEOs sharing the same concern.

“We launched the Zwart Talent Foundation to help Africans quickly combat poverty by giving them the chance to acquire tech skills as well as connecting them to international job opportunities. This will enable them to earn more and boost their economic status,” commented Nelson Tosin Ajulo, Chairman of ZTF in a statement.

ZTF’s three-pronged approach to tackling this skills gap means participants are led through the process from initial skills training to launching successful, sustainable careers.

The foundation aims to equip 2 000 Africans with critical ICT skills and recruit them into global companies over the next five years.

The Zwart Academy

Participants are first trained through the Zwart Academy in cybersecurity and Javascript for six months at no cost, giving them the necessary foundation to complete a one-year internship with Zwart Tech on completion.

“We have also realised that the quality of ICT education in Africa is inadequate. Considering this, students who join the Foundation will become Junior Developers in less than three years compared to attending a university and spending four or five years on the same course,” stated Ajulo.

Zwart Recruit

Zwart Recruit aims to support African ICT developers by connecting them with international companies looking for employees specialising in digital skills.

The Zwart Hub

The Hub is an accelerator programme that takes startups from concept to scaling their business on a global scale through mentorship and support from successful, experienced startup owners and investors.

While the global skills gap is worrying, considering automation may render many digital jobs obsolete in the near future, ZTF’s approach is different, according to Ajulo.

“Our approach is not only innovative, but it also saves time and will help tackle inequality faster, bridging gaps between social classes. The Academy training program involves a lot of practicals and it is free,” she concluded.

Read more: Edtech Go1 is SA’s first unicorn after closing $200m round

Read more: Transforming B2B payments could grow Africa’s local businesses [Opinion]

Featured image: Zwart Talent Foundation Chairman, Nelson Tosin Ajulo (Supplied)

“We launched the Zwart Talent Foundation to help Africans quickly combat poverty by giving them the chance to acquire tech skills as well as connecting them to international job opportunities. This will enable them to earn more and boost their economic status,” commented Nelson Tosin Ajulo, Chairman of ZTF in a statement.

Source: https://ventureburn.com/2021/07/zwarttech-launches-talent-foundation-to-equip-africans-with-digital-skills/

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Reduced microbial stability linked to soil carbon loss in active layer under alpine permafrost degra

Credit: NIEER Chinese researchers have recently discovered links between reduction in microbial stability and soil carbon loss in the active

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Chinese researchers have recently discovered links between reduction in microbial stability and soil carbon loss in the active layer of degraded alpine permafrost on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau (QTP).

The researchers, headed by Prof. CHEN Shengyun from the Northwest Institute of Eco-Environment and Resources (NIEER) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), and XUE Kai from University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, conducted a combined in-depth analysis of soil microbial communities and their co-occurrence networks in the active permafrost layer along an extensive gradient of permafrost degradation.

The QTP encompasses the largest extent of high-altitude mountain permafrost in the world. This permafrost is different than high-latitude permafrost and stores massive soil carbon. An often ignored characteristic of permafrost is that the carbon pool in the active layer soil is more active and directly affected by climate change, compared to deeper layers.

Triggered by climate warming, permafrost degradation may decrease soil carbon stability and induce massive carbon loss, thus leading to positive carbon-climate feedback. However, microbial-mediated mechanisms for carbon loss from the active layer soil in degraded permafrost still remain unclear.

In this study, the researchers found that alpine permafrost degradation reduced the stability of active layer microbial communities as evidenced by increased sensitivity of microbial composition to environmental change, promoted destabilizing network properties and reduced resistance to node or edge attacking of the microbial network.

They discovered that soil organic carbon loss in severely degraded permafrost is associated with increased microbial dissimilarity, thereby potentially contributing to a positive carbon feedback in alpine permafrost on the QTP.

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The results were published in PNAS in an article entitled “Reduced microbial stability in the active layer is associated with carbon loss under alpine permafrost degradation”.

This research was financially supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China, the Strategic Priority Research Program (A) of CAS and the Second Tibetan Plateau Scientific Expedition and Research Program.

Triggered by climate warming, permafrost degradation may decrease soil carbon stability and induce massive carbon loss, thus leading to positive carbon-climate feedback. However, microbial-mediated mechanisms for carbon loss from the active layer soil in degraded permafrost still remain unclear.

Source: https://bioengineer.org/reduced-microbial-stability-linked-to-soil-carbon-loss-in-active-layer-under-alpine-permafrost-degra/

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