• New Tool Assesses Risk of Wild-Life Origin Viruses

    Researchers have a developed a new framework and interactive web tool, SpillOver, which “estimates a risk score for wildlife-origin viruses, creating a comparative risk assessment of viruses with uncharacterized zoonotic spillover potential alongside those already known to be zoonotic.”

  • The U.S. Water and Wastewater Crisis – How Many Wake-up Calls Are Enough?

    In February, much of Texas plunged into darkness when the state’s electricity grid failed due to extreme cold weather conditions. What started as a foreseeable blackout quickly became a life-threatening calamity. “This catastrophe illustrates what happens when aging and inadequate infrastructure is hit by extreme rain or snow—an increasingly regular occurrence due to climate change,” Lucía Falcón Palomar, Obinna Maduka, and JoAnn Kamuf Ward write. “And, the matter extends well beyond Texas. It is easy to forget that, within U.S. borders, communities have long endured the conditions seen in Texas in February.”

  • What Has the Pandemic Revealed about the U.S. Health Care System — and What Needs to Change?

    With vaccinations for Covid-19 now underway across the nation, seven MIT scholars engaged in health and health care research share their views on what the pandemic has revealed about the U.S. health care system — and what needs to change.

  • Retaining Knowledge of Nuclear Waste Management

    Sandia National Laboratories have begun their second year of a project to capture important, hard-to-explain nuclear waste management knowledge from retirement-age employees to help new employees get up to speed faster. The project has experts share their experience with and knowledge of storage, transportation, and disposal with next generation scientists.

  • Florida Governor Working to Prevent “Catastrophic Flood” of Toxic Wastewater in Tampa Area

    Florida governor Ron DeSantis has vowed to prevent a “catastrophic flood” near the major city of Tampa. A leaking toxic wastewater reservoir has the potential to cause an environmental crisis in the region.

  • Monitoring Current and Future Biological Threats

    DHS S&T has awarded $199,648 to Mesur.io Inc., for analysis and reporting of outbreak-related data. The Mesur.io project proposes to adapt their Earthstream Platform to provide DHS and NBIC with data that tracks metrics related to an outbreak or emergence to predict various risks of a biological threat.

  • U.K. Launches the U.K. Health Security Agency

    On Thursday, 1 April, the U.K. launched the U.K. Health Security Agency, tasked with protecting the U.K. from future health threats and ensure the U.K. can respond to pandemics quickly and at greater scale. The primary focus for UKHSA in its initial phase of operation will be the continued fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, but the longer term goal is to work with global partners in an effort to create “a more robust international health architecture that will protect future generations.”

  • Biohazard: A Look at China’s Biological Capabilities and the Recent Coronavirus Outbreak

    When people think about weapons of mass destruction (WMD), they tend to think of things that go “boom.” The bigger the weapon, the bigger the boom, and the worse the impact. However, not all weapons need a big boom to be effective. Every day, millions of people are affected by a weapon that has the potential to do far more damage than a nuclear bomb, a weapon we cannot see, a weapon we call germs.

  • Pathogens Have the World’s Attention

    The novel coronavirus has demonstrated just how devastating a transmissible pathogen can be—and just how difficult to contain. Nathan Levine and Chris Li write that “the sobering truth is that, as deadly diseases go, the world got lucky. The global case fatality rate of COVID-19 is around 2 percent. One need only compare this to SARS (10 percent), smallpox (30 percent), pulmonary anthrax (80 percent), or Ebola (90 percent) to consider that the coronavirus could easily have been much, much worse.”

  • Intentional Youth Firearm Injuries Linked to Sociodemographic Factors

    Firearm injuries are a leading and preventable cause of injury and death among youth - responsible for an estimated 5,000 deaths and 22,000 non-fatal injury hospital visits each year in American kids. The researchers  identified distinct risk profiles for individuals aged 21 and younger, who arrived at emergency departments with firearm injuries over an 8-year period.

  • One in Five Colorado High School Students Has Access to Firearms

    Twenty percent of high school students in Colorado have easy access to a handgun, according to a new study. “Our findings highlight that it is relatively easy to access a handgun in Colorado for high school students. This finding, combined with the high prevalence of feeling sad or depressed and suicide attempts, is concerning for the safety of adolescents,” said the lead author of the study.

  • Climate Change Has Cost 7 years of Ag Productivity Growth

    Despite important agricultural advancements to feed the world in the last 60 years, a Cornell-led study shows that global farming productivity is 21 percent lower than it could have been without climate change. This is the equivalent of losing about seven years of farm productivity increases since the 1960s.

  • Report on COVID Origins Highlights Clues to Animal-Human Jump

    The international team that traveled to Wuhan, China, to investigate the source of SARS-CoV-2 published its full findings Monday, which cover four possibilities, but the experts say a jump to humans from an intermediate animal carrier is the likeliest scenario based on promising clues. Release of the findings, however, prompted high-level calls for more transparency from China, including from the WHO’s director-general.

  • U.S. Leads Group of 14 Countries Casting Doubt over WHO Virus Origin Report

    The U.S. and thirteen other countries have lamented the lack of access given to WHO experts during an investigation into the origins of the coronavirus. The U.S.-led group expressed skepticism over the investigation, saying it lacked the data and samples required. China has accused opponents of “politicizing the issue.”

  • World Leaders Call for Treaty to Prepare for Next Pandemic

    COVID-19 will not be the last pandemic. Leaders from 23 countries, the World Health Organization and the EU called for a new international treaty to better prepare for future pandemics in an op-ed published on Tuesday.