The Forgotten Pandemic Roars Back to Life

In a pre-Thanksgiving poll from Yahoo News and YouGov, 74 percent of respondents said their lives had “returned to normal” since the pandemic. As we learned on a particularly Black Friday, that was an inaccurate and even destructive fiction.
The desire for normalcy is human, and reasonable. Most of us are not conditioned to isolating ourselves from friends and loved ones, and require social interaction. The 2020 election was predicated on a new president returning the country to normalcy, a century after Warren Harding ran and won explicitly on that theme.

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Here’s What We Know About the COVID-19 Omicron Strain So Far

Michael Ciaglo/Getty

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Yes, a new variant has emerged. On Friday, the WHO designated a fourth, possibly more transmissible “variant of concern”—B.1.1.529 or Omicron—after a steep increase in COVID-19 infections in South Africa.
Health officials have detected the variant in Belgium, Britain Botswana, Hong Kong, Israel, and the United Kingdom. As of Friday, there have been no cases of Omicron detected in the United States, according to the CDC.

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What you need to know about the omicron variant

A new Covid-19 variant, now named the omicron variant, was detected in South Africa on Wednesday, prompting renewed concern about the pandemic, a major stock market drop, and the imposition of new international travel restrictions to stop the spread.
Though the variant’s existence was first reported by South Africa, it has also been found in Belgium, Botswana, Germany, Hong Kong, Israel, Italy, and the United Kingdom, meaning the variant has already spread — though how far is unclear, as new cases continue cropping up around the world.

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The hunt for coronavirus variants: how the new one was found and what we know so far

Prof. Wolfgang Preiser, Stellenbosch University; Cathrine Scheepers, University of the Witwatersrand; Jinal Bhiman, National Institute for Communicable Diseases; Marietjie Venter, University of Pretoria, and Tulio de Oliveira, University of KwaZulu-Natal
Since early in the COVID pandemic, the Network for Genomics Surveillance in South Africa has been monitoring changes in SARS-CoV-2. This was a valuable tool to understand better how the virus spread. In late 2020, the network detected a new virus lineage, 501Y.V2, which later became known as the beta variant.

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Yes, plant-based meat is better for the planet

Plant-based meat has gone mainstream. The Impossible Burger, which debuted at a single restaurant five years ago, is now on Burger King’s permanent menu. And McDonald’s is testing its McPlant burger, featuring a Beyond Meat patty, in select US locations. Both plant-based startups are now veterans in a product category that did $1.4 billion in sales and grew 27 percent in 2020.
Under the tagline “Eat Meat.

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One of the billionaire scientists behind the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine on what’s next

When the novel coronavirus first reached Europe, the married scientists Uğur Şahin and Özlem Türeci were working in the small town of Mainz, Germany, at the helm of a biotech company that relatively few people had heard of. The couple founded BioNTech in 2008 to develop individualized vaccines for cancer patients. But the company specialized in a type of genetic material, messenger RNA, that had also shown promise for other diseases — including viral infections.

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Opinion: Don’t be a turkey (hoarder) this Thanksgiving. A run on birds hurts everyone

My friend — I’ll call her Nellie, as in Nervous — wants her usual pasture-raised, organic turkey, on the small side, for Thanksgiving. But her usual supplier has told her it’s not clear that will be possible. Small turkeys of all kinds could be in short supply this year.
So Nellie bought a large frozen turkey from a local supermarket, the loss-leader version that sells for a half dollar per pound or so, and tossed it into the freezer just in case her trendier bird doesn’t arrive in time.

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