Chicken little forecast

Still Chugging Along

Volcanoes are erupting in The Philippines, but on-fire Australia received some welcome rain. The Iran war cries have been called off and The Donald’s military powers are about to be hamstrung by the Senate. Meanwhile, his impeachment trial is starting, and we’re all on Twitter for a front-row seat.


What Could Go Right? The kids are safe

We ask whether it's time to reassess the risk profile of mass-vaccinated countries and Scotland builds the world's first tidal energy farm in the latest edition of the newsletter.

Emma Varvaloucas

Emma Varvaloucas

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The kids were safe the whole time. If you, like the markets, are nervously trying to assess where the Delta variant is about to take us, we suggest heading into the weekend with “The Kids Are Alright” from New York Magazine, a long read on children’s risk of death, hospitalization, or severe disease from COVID-19—what writer David Wallace Wells calls “a vanishingly tiny threat.” To give that tiny threat a number: only 331 Americans under the age of 18 have died from COVID. That’s less than half as many, Wells points out, as have died of pneumonia. Out of 126,000 Brits who have died, only 26 were under 18, and data from China has backed up this mortality rate from the beginning of the pandemic as well.

It’s understandable that parents are worried about their children; understandable, too, that during the pandemic children’s activities have been curtailed so that they wouldn’t pass the virus on to the much more vulnerable elderly. But as the second part of the piece goes into, despite the hand-wringing over the lower-than-we-want national vaccination rate, the vaccination rate for seniors is at 90%. 90%! We have done well in substantially reducing the risk to our most vulnerable. Now it’s time for a new framework for assessing the country’s—and any mass-vaccinated country’s—risk profile.

What does that look like? “We might stop worrying so much about cases,” Wells writes, “stop treating them as a proxy for the severity of the pandemic at any time, and stop believing they tell us something obvious about near-future deaths. . . . we could track the course of the disease instead through hospitalizations or deaths, which now have a very different relationship to case numbers than they did a year ago.”

This is something to keep in mind as Britain heads into a fully unrestricted life and outlets report that the rate of daily infections is the highest it has been since winter. COVID deaths in the United Kingdom’s second wave, pre vaccine rollout, and its third wave, which was post, are so far a completely different story:

It goes without saying—although we’re saying it for perhaps the tenth time—that this is just one more reason to ensure speedy global vaccination. Wells mentions the frustration and unfairness around that process in his article. We’ve noted it in this newsletter too, as well as shared ideas, like fractional dosing, on how to improve. One thing to remember as we continue the push is that there really is an incredible number of people all over the globe devoting their attention to solving this specific vaccination issue and the pandemic at large. We are finding new drugs to treat the disease, developing variant boosters, and making moves toward speedier vaccine trials—a process that’s already in place for yearly flu vaccines—so that we can stay ahead of COVID (and maybe stabilize the markets, too).

Meanwhile, we’re happy to see Canada’s vaccination numbers shooting upward. Any Canadians out there, let us know if you want to hang in August, when the border reopens!

Assaad Razzouk did the dirty work on clean energy for us this week. Here’s Razzouk’s, aka “The Angry Clean Energy Guy’s,” listicle of good environmental news:

It’s a twofer! Last week’s good news is listed, too.

Not mentioned is that Scotland is building the world’s first major tidal energy farm, which will generate electricity for over 175,000 homes. (A tidal energy farm is like a wind farm, but it harnesses power from the ocean’s tides instead of the wind.) In a momentous conservation effort, Nepal has doubled the number of its wild tigers, and France has joined Germany and Switzerland in banning the shredding and gassing of male chicks, which are killed within three days after hatching since they don’t produce eggs. We’re keeping an eye out for the rest of the European Union to follow. 

Before we go, a couple follow-ups to topics we’ve explored recently. Insider read our minds on this one, after our spotlight last week on the much-hyped crime rates in the US: “Yes, violent crime is up—but don’t expect the spike to last.” 

Last month, we discussed the possibility of ending the HIV/AIDs pandemic by 2030. The HIV prevention pill PrEP, as well as the associated clinic visits and lab tests, are now free under almost all insurance plans due to a federal US mandate.

Below in the links section, women in the UK will now be able to buy some types of birth control over the counter, some progress on male birth control—and men taking responsibility for it!—and more.

Last week we also talked about the decline in many common cancers in the US, including lung cancer. Public policy—eventually—for the win.

From us: Most of the University of Mosul’s library, once home to over one million titles, was destroyed in a US-led airstrike in 2016. The Islamic State burned what was left in 2017. Today, the nonprofit Ideas Beyond Borders (IBB) is helping to rebuild it, book by book. IBB Founder and TPN Member Faisal Saeed Al Mutar, who as a young man fled his home in Baghdad for the US after being put on an Al-Qaeda death list, tells the story in his latest piece, After the Burning.

Progress, Please

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Other good stuff in the news

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Until Next Time

Until next time, remember what Mom said: Always triple-check the date before booking multimillion-dollar trips. 

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Emma Varvaloucas

Emma Varvaloucas is the Executive Director of The Progress Network. An editor and writer specializing in nonprofit media, she was formerly Executive Editor of Tricycle: The Buddhist Review and is the editor of two books from Wisdom Publications.