By: Kaitlyn Morabito
Our weekly linkpost, bringing you interesting and informative links on science policy issues buzzing about the internet.
Soaring MERS cases in Saudi Arabia Raise Alarms – A spike in the number of new MERS virus cases, over 200 in April alone, in Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates has raised concerns amid scientists, the ECDC, and the WHO. Among the fears is that the virus has mutated to enhance human-to-human transmission potentially leading to a pandemic, although there is no evidence to support this supposition. Other reasons for the surge may be increased testing, increased birth rate of camels, poor hospital hygiene or a combination of these possibilities. Scientists, including Christian Drosten of University of Bonn in Germany, are sequencing viral genomes from outbreaks, and the data seems to support recurrent camel-to-human transmission. Further understanding of the route of transmission is needed to control circulation between camels and humans. (Kai Kupferschmidt)
Science Diplomacy Visit to Cuba Produces Historic Agreement – Despite a frosty relationship between their governments, US and Cuban scientists and policy makers recently met at the Cuban Academy of Sciences in Havana, Cuba to strengthen scientific collaboration between the countries. Undeterred by periods of economic hardship, Cuba currently has a strong biotechnology industry especially in regards to infectious disease. The American group, lead by AAAS, along with Cuban scientists penned an agreement focused on cancer, antibiotic resistance, emerging infectious disease, and brain disorders as areas in which collaborations could flourish. This memorandum is just one step in continuing to grow the partnership between the US and Cuba in science and there remains significant obstacles to success. (Kathy Wren)
Climate Change Assessment Paints Stark Picture of Potential Damage – The Obama administration released the Third National Climate Assessment on Tuesday, which evaluates the local impact of and the influence of humans on climate change. The congress-mandated quadrennial report concludes that there has been an uptick in the number of extreme weather events as well as the severity of these events. The report uses scientific data to refute many aspects of climate change deniers’ arguments regarding the role of man in causing climate change. The impact on specific US regions are outlined including increased heavy precipitation in the Northeast and Midwest leading to flooding. The Southwest, on the other hand, will likely see more heat leading to drought and wild fires. This report bolsters efforts by the Obama administration to actively focus on mitigating climate change. (Neela Banerjee & Kathleen Hennessey)
Have an interesting science policy link? Share it in the comments!