Instead of looking forward, we should be consulting the past.
When will the pandemic end? All these months in, with over 37 million COVID-19 cases and more than 1 million deaths globally, you may be wondering, with increasing exasperation, how long this will continue.
Medicago is growing a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine candidate in a relative of the tobacco plant right now.
- Canadian biotech company Medicago is growing a vaccine candidate in Nicotiana benthamiana.
- An Australian relative to tobacco, plant-based vaccines could be cheaper and more reliable than current methods.
- Medicago just completed phase 3 clinical trials of an influenza vaccine, which could be a game-changer for vaccine production.
Credit: alphaspirit / Adobe Stock<p>Clark <a href="https://www.medicago.com/en/newsroom/medicago-begins-phase-i-clinical-trials-for-its-covid-19-vaccine-candidate/" target="_blank">says</a> it's important to attack the novel coronavirus from all sides.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Creating a sufficient supply of COVID-19 vaccines within the next year is a challenge which will require multiple approaches, with different technologies. Our proven plant-based technology is capable of contributing to the collective solution to this public health emergency."</p><p>Unlike many common vaccines, VLP vaccines contain no genetic material. You won't get infected by it, which is always a risk in live vaccines. </p><p>This SARS-CoV-2 vaccine is not the only project on Medicago's hands. The company <a href="https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT03301051" target="_blank">just completed</a> phase 3 clinical trials on an influenza. While no plant-based vaccine has been approved for use, the company hopes to replace the more cumbersome and expensive egg-based model, or at least offset some of the costs of that model. The plant model could help researchers adapt more quickly to the ever-changing influenza strains each season. </p><p>Plants offer a wonderful alternative to the current vaccination model. Besides price, VLP vaccines scale much easier and faster. If the SARS-CoV-2 vaccine works, Medicago <a href="https://www.medicago.com/en/newsroom/medicago-begins-phase-i-clinical-trials-for-its-covid-19-vaccine-candidate/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">believes</a> they can produce a billion doses a year, by far the most ambitious yield to date. At a time when speed, cost, and reliability are all essential factors in vaccine development, we should put tobacco to better use: healing instead of harming. </p><p>--</p><p><em>Stay in touch with Derek on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/derekberes" target="_blank">Twitter</a> and <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DerekBeresdotcom" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Facebook</a>. His new book is</em> "<em><a href="https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08KRVMP2M?pf_rd_r=MDJW43337675SZ0X00FH&pf_rd_p=edaba0ee-c2fe-4124-9f5d-b31d6b1bfbee" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Hero's Dose: The Case For Psychedelics in Ritual and Therapy</a>."</em></p>
A new survey found that 27 percent of millennials are saving more money due to the pandemic, but most can't stay within their budgets.
Taking control of bad luck<p>According to <a href="https://themanifest.com/accounting/budgeting-money-tips-for-millennials" target="_blank">a recent survey by The Manifest</a>, a business news website, millennials agree with Cramer. The study found that, of millennials surveyed, their largest expenses were housing (66 percent), educational expenses (9 percent), and health insurance (6 percent). In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, millennials are using the remaining 19 percent of their paychecks to budget and increase their savings.</p><p>About a third of millennials said they are saving more money in response to the pandemic and creating new budgets for themselves. In fact, of all generations surveyed, millennials felt the most comfortable creating personal budgets. They were also willing to think critically and adjust budgets to match financial changes, both signs that this highly-educated generation is willing to learn and adapt.</p><p>Millennials still have a rough road ahead, though. According to the survey, about half of millennials make less than $50,000 a year. That puts them into the upper-lower or lower-middle <a href="https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2020/07/23/are-you-in-the-american-middle-class/#:~:text=In%202018%2C%20the%20national%20middle,(incomes%20in%202018%20dollars)." target="_blank">income class</a>, depending on where in the country they live. That matches <a href="https://www.bls.gov/opub/mlr/2019/article/time-use-of-millennials-and-nonmillennials.htm#:~:text=Among%20full%2Dtime%20wage%20and,with%2031%20percent%20of%20nonmillennials." target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">BLS data</a>, which shows millennials earning less than older non-millennials. <a href="https://www.bls.gov/opub/mlr/2019/beyond-bls/the-kids-are-alright-millennials-and-the-economy.htm" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">The BLS also notes</a> that while millennials have less debt than GenXers, most of that is student loan debt rather than mortgages.</p><p>And despite their budgetary plans, only 11 percent of millennials surveyed were able to stay within budget, while uncertainty still looms in the future job market.<em></em></p><p>With all this said, there are caveats to The Manifest survey. It hosted a relatively small sample size, only surveying 502 Americans. Of those, millennials made up 22 percent of respondents. They weren't even the largest cohort in the study. That was the baby boomers at 32 percent. </p><p>This makes the survey more suggestive than indicative. But the suggestion is that millennials, to borrow a phrase from writer Vicki Robin, are ready to reinterpret their relationship with finances.</p>
A push for financial freedom<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="a463513bfbe5a2b7d5bcc59f8be265a7"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/J-B-b393epk?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>While budgeting and financial savvy have always been important, the millennial generation will need to be far more critical of their relationship with the economy. What <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T_tDthUWsVM" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Robin calls the old roadmap</a>—the idea that "growth is good, more is better, game over"—is unlikely to support millennials as it did past generations. They'll need a new roadmap, charting both a new macro (the relationship between our economic and ecological footprints, for example) and micro (our individual relationships with money).</p><p>Because the macro is a whole other article, we'll stick with the micro here:</p><p><strong>1) Track and cut your spending</strong></p><p>The first step to financial freedom is to track your spending and cut unnecessary purchases. For Robin, these are often the things, services, and subscriptions that we buy out of habit, but we no longer consider whether they add value to our lives.</p><p>A pernicious modern example is the subscription economy. We subscribe to services for food, clothes, television, exercise, self-help, video games, bric-a-brac, computer programs, and on and on. These services quickly fade into the financial background as just another bill we pay. </p><p>But if we watch Netflix nine times out of ten, why pay for Hulu and Disney+ and HBO Max and CBS All access? Instead, every month or so, we should scrutinize our subscriptions to ask whether they still add value to our lives. If they don't, unsubscribe.</p><p><strong>2) Kill your debt</strong></p><p>Debt doesn't just take away money we could save elsewhere; it's also a self-replicating devourer of wealth. Your debt interest rates are almost certainly higher than your investment returns, especially on credit cards. Because of this, no matter your saving rituals, you're likely bleeding wealth the longer you remain in debt.</p><p>Instead, focus on removing debt from your life. Again, credit card debt especially. The good news is that most companies have hardship programs to help debtors. You can call them to see if they can lower your interest rates or provide other helpful services.</p><p>"Financial accommodations are generally readily available right now," Amy Thomann, the head of consumer credit education at TransUnion, <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/29/at-home/manage-finances-save-money-millennials-coronavirus.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">told the New York Times</a><u>.</u> "Lenders, just like consumers, understand the hardships that are going on in the economy."</p><p><strong>3) Have an emergency fund</strong></p><p>Of course, you'll need some savings when the unexpected happens. Say—I don't know—a worldwide pandemic? Experts like Robin and Thomann recommend people have three to six months' worth of expenses on reserve. These should be in liquid assets so you can access them easily and quickly.</p><p>Of course, that's not always feasible, but you should save what you can. </p><p><strong>4) Find social outlets that don't cost</strong></p><p>The economic shutdown has offered one financial boon: It has revealed ways we can enjoy each other's company with overspending. We can host movies remotely with our friends. Play video games online. Enjoy physical-distance strolls through the park. And a host of other creative connections. After the pandemic, the occasional bar hop or Friday dinner out can still be a guilty pleasure. But unlike sitcom characters, we shouldn't be spending our social lives on the set of our favorite coffee shops or local watering holes.</p><p><strong>5) Reconsider your relationship with money</strong></p><p>Robin pushes her readers to be financially free. That is, to understand that there's an economy, people have a relationship with it, but it shouldn't become an obsession that runs their lives. As <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xDaBjc4QyWU" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">she told <em>Big Think</em></a>: "It's like there are so many presumptions that drive us into wage [slavery], and it doesn't matter whether you are at the low end or the high end. If you are engaged in that sort of anxious process of 'more, more, more,' you are not free."</p><p>The millennial generation has certainly been dealt a bum hand, but it's perhaps defeatist, and more than a little premature, to label them the unluckiest generation. Perhaps after being led astray by the old roadmap, they will be the generation to reconsider their relationship with money—not as an end itself but a means to a healthier and more beneficial life. </p>
Northwell Health CEO Michael Dowling has an important favor to ask of the American people.
- Michael Dowling is president and CEO of Northwell Health, the largest health care system in New York state. In this PSA, speaking as someone whose company has seen more COVID-19 patients than any other in the country, Dowling implores Americans to wear masks—not only for their own health, but for the health of those around them.
- The CDC reports that there have been close to 7.9 million cases of coronavirus reported in the United States since January. Around 216,000 people have died from the virus so far with hundreds more added to the tally every day. Several labs around the world are working on solutions, but there is currently no vaccine for COVID-19.
- The most basic thing that everyone can do to help slow the spread is to practice social distancing, wash your hands, and to wear a mask. The CDC recommends that everyone ages two and up wear a mask that is two or more layers of material and that covers the nose, mouth, and chin. Gaiters and face shields have been shown to be less effective at blocking droplets. Homemade face coverings are acceptable, but wearers should make sure they are constructed out of the proper materials and that they are washed between uses. Wearing a mask is the most important thing you can do to save lives in your community.
Noise pollution is terrible for our health, yet we don't discuss it often enough.
- Excess noise leads to elevated fatigue, stress, blood pressure elevation, and negative attitudes.
- Increased levels of noise have been shown to negatively impact our ability to learn.
- A new study shows that noise levels have dropped significantly during quarantine.
Daily LEX8h over time in California, Florida, New York, and Texas.<p>As with much else in our nation, <a href="https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2018/02/city-noise-might-be-making-you-sick/553385/" target="_blank">noise is also political</a>.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"The two largest sources of environmental noise are transportation and industrial activity. The cars for which early noise ordinances helped clear the streets have amplified that noise to a universal, inescapable level. Industrial areas, often designated for land close to the poorest nonwhite areas in a city, are even worse."</p><p>Industrial noise ranges from 80 dB to 109 dB (for workers regularly near furnaces and excavation sites). Police sirens come in at 120 dB; police helicopters, regular features in cities like Los Angeles, churn out 85 dB of sound. </p><p>Despite the numerous social and economic problems we've endured due to the pandemic, bright spots have emerged. Pollution levels in Wuhan, Italy, Spain, and the USA <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0048969720323378" target="_blank">dropped</a> by as much as 30 percent following quarantine. This <a href="https://www.insider.com/before-after-photos-show-less-air-pollution-during-pandemic-lockdown" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">photo</a> of New Delhi went viral in May after only a few months of reduced transportation. Now local officials in India are attempting to <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/05/world/asia/india-delhi-pollution.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">keep levels down</a>. </p><p>The sky isn't the only region to benefit. So have our ears—and by extension, our nervous systems.</p><p>That's the consensus of a group of researchers at the University of Michigan. In a new <a href="https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/abb494" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Environmental Research Letter</a>, published in the journal IOP Science, they write that social distancing practices have greatly reduced environmental noise. By measuring noise levels from the iPhones and Apple Watches of 5,894 participants, they observed a noticeable drop in noise exposure.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"COVID-19 social distancing measures were associated with an approximately 3 dBA reduction in personal environmental sound exposures; this represents a substantial and meaningful reduction in this harmful exposure."</p>
Why Noise Pollution Is More Dangerous Than We Think | The Backstory | The New Yorker<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="ae7b6bd4cac5a7abdec0d9246cc793ec"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/Is_5X2z2b0k?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>Study participants live in some of the noisiest states in the nation: California, Florida, New York, and Texas. In total, the team analyzed data from 516,729 monitored days. The study began in November 2019, so by a chance of luck, the team recorded sound exposure levels before quarantine as well as after lockdowns began. Interestingly, the team noticed noise was lowest on Mondays, rising throughout the week to peak on Saturdays.</p><p>With so many moving pieces affecting the environment, noise pollution tends to get overlooked. Excess noise is another way we unnecessarily tax nature, as well as ourselves. Though mental health is declining for a number of people due to isolation, and a global Depression is <a href="https://time.com/5876606/economic-depression-coronavirus/" target="_blank">predicted</a> for 2021, we cannot let that blind us to important research emerging on real-world interventions to ease our footprint. </p><p>Humans are loud and wasteful animals. The <a href="https://www.latimes.com/projects/california-fires-damage-climate-change-analysis/" target="_blank">worst wildfires</a> in California's recorded history are ravaging vineyards, mountains, and entire towns. With <a href="https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2020-10-11/southern-california-braces-for-another-hot-week" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">another heatwave</a> returning to California this week, these fires will likely pick up in intensity. Our current lifestyles are not sustainable, and we can only ever be as healthy as the planet we inhabit.</p><p>Noise pollution is an under-discussed problem. Increased sound exposure destroys ecosystems and wreaks havoc on our nervous systems. If anything, we can learn from these small victories for when society completely opens back up—and, hopefully, apply a lesson or two from what we've learned.</p><p>For example: say no to Amazon's drone delivery fleet, which is expected to regularly <a href="https://theconversation.com/drones-to-deliver-incessant-buzzing-noise-and-packages-116257" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">raise noise</a> levels across the country. Some technologies are simply not worth the cost. Our hearing (and much more) depends on it. </p><p>-- -- </p><p><em>Stay in touch with Derek on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/derekberes" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Twitter</a> and <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DerekBeresdotcom" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Facebook</a>. His new book is</em> "<em><a href="https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08KRVMP2M?pf_rd_r=MDJW43337675SZ0X00FH&pf_rd_p=edaba0ee-c2fe-4124-9f5d-b31d6b1bfbee" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Hero's Dose: The Case For Psychedelics in Ritual and Therapy</a>."</em></p>
Opportunistic agility is running rampant among hackers and scammers.
- McAfee's user base has been seeing an average of 375 new threats per minute during the pandemic.
- Once everyone got situated in their home offices and their company's security teams started taking the appropriate measures, how did the attackers adjust?
- Ransomware on cloud servers, hijack attempts on IoT gadgets and business email compromise (BEC) attacks increased in volume as well as sophistication over the course of Q3 2020.
Credit: McAfee<p>But beyond the many reports that cybercrime has surged, there's been proportionately little talk about how it's changed. Once everyone got situated in their home offices and their company's security teams <a href="https://bigthink.com/technology-innovation/work-from-home-cybersecurity" target="_self">started taking the appropriate measures</a>, how did the attackers adjust?</p> <p>Here are four ways that cybercrime has visibly adapted to the changing conditions of 2020. </p>
Deploying pandemic-related attack strategies<p>One of the notable ways that attacks were especially effective at the start of the pandemic was the manner in which they directly took advantage of the confusion caused by the situation. COVID-19 related phishing emails <a href="https://news.yahoo.com/hackers-cyber-attacks-now-evolving-faster-ever-subex-063924287.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">raised phishing attacks overall by 68 percent</a>. There was also a marked uptick in business email compromise (BEC) attacks, where the criminal masquerades as a legitimate company and attempts to convince the victim that the coronavirus chaos forced them to change their banking details. </p><p>Cybercriminals have adjusted their targeting and tactics to follow the spread of COVID-19, with the spike beginning in Asia before shifting to Europe and the U.S. Now, as people are returning to work, phishing emails and malware have switched gears. Instead of claiming to educate you about the virus, they are disguised as guides to helping workers return safely to the office. </p><p>"What's clear is that hackers are hoping to capitalize on public fear," <a href="https://www.techradar.com/news/how-cybercrime-has-changed-in-the-wake-of-covid-19" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">says Dr. Alex Tarter</a>, Chief Cyber Consultant and CTO at Thales. "As a global population we have proactively sought out as much information as we can find to help inform our day-to-day lives, but also make us feel safe. Many of instances of cybercrime in the wake of COVID-19 have been designed with this fear in mind." </p><p>In this vein, malware, mobile malware and fileless malware have skyrocketed, using pandemic-related topics to play on people's fears and lure them to malicious URLs. Tarter estimates that half of all COVID-19-related domain names created since December 2019 were set up with the purpose of injecting malware, with many of these domains spoofing content from genuine websites in order to mask their intent.</p>
Aiming at broader targets<p>Another distinct trend is the shift to a broader attack surface. As work moved out of "on-premises" network environments, bad actors have followed us onto the cloud, so cloud-related breaches have increased. Protecting your server isn't sufficient; you need to connect all the dots and cover every connected device, because your cloud-connected printer is the backdoor to your entire organization. </p><p>Cybercriminals have long since woken up to the fact that IoT devices are often the weakest links in any system. IoT-focused attacks have grown in number and in impact, with a <a href="https://news.yahoo.com/hackers-cyber-attacks-now-evolving-faster-ever-subex-063924287.html" target="_blank">46 percent rise</a> in the number of attacks on smart homes, smart enterprises, and control systems that are connected to critical infrastructure.</p>
Taking advantage of urgency and pressure<p>Cybercriminals are taking advantage of the pressure that organizations are under to remain operational by expanding ransomware attacks, which doubled from <a href="https://ciso.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/cyberattacks-get-more-nuanced-as-covid-drags-on/77816357" target="_blank">200,000 in Q1 2020 to 400,000 in Q2</a>. Health centers are a popular target, because hackers know that they are overwhelmed with critical patients and can't afford the time it will take to resolve the attack, so they are more likely to give in and pay the ransom than struggle to combat and cure it.</p> <p>A few weeks ago in Germany, a patient was unable to receive care when a ransomware attack on Düsseldorf University Hospital disrupted the emergency care unit, forcing them to transfer her to another hospital to receive critical care. <a href="https://www.technologyreview.com/2020/09/18/1008582/a-patient-has-died-after-ransomware-hackers-hit-a-german-hospital/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">The patient died</a> during the journey, a cybercrime first. </p>
Credit: Trend Micro<p>New ransomware families are emerging, using more sophisticated, phased attack strategies that are more difficult to rectify. Trend Micro has identified <a href="https://documents.trendmicro.com/assets/rpt/rpt-securing-the-pandemic-disrupted-workplace.pdf" target="_blank">a 36 percent jump</a> in new ransomware families, compared with the same period in 2019. Hackers know that IT and security teams are operating remotely, without access to their usual tools and processes and often without experience in dealing with an attack remotely, which handicaps their ability to resolve it quickly. </p>