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Binayak Dasgupta

Binayak reports on information security, privacy and scientific research in health and environment with explanatory pieces. He also edits the news sections of the newspaper.

Articles by Binayak Dasgupta

Covid-19 linked with key cardiovascular risks: Study

Covid-19 puts people at a significantly higher risk of cardiovascular disease up to a year after infection and the chances are higher if the disease was more severe, according to an analysis involving the records of over 150,000 people who were infected by the coronavirus in the United States

Representative image(Pixabay)
Published on Feb 08, 2022 11:36 PM IST
By, New Delhi

In Brazil state, a sign of Omicron’s key advantage

The earliest theory that sought to explain this originated from lab studies that showed the virus to multiply more readily in parts of the respiratory system known as the bronchus, and thrive more widely in upper air passages.

The study found no differences between monkeys receiving a conventional booster or one specifically targeting the Omicron variant(Matt Slocum/AP Photo/picture alliance )
Published on Feb 08, 2022 12:09 AM IST
By, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

In Perspective | The only answer to India vs Big Tech on moderation

While India must defend itself from adversaries that will exploit social media for information warfare, it must, at the same time, protect free speech; all while social media companies have to do much more

For companies, they can start with upholding the Santa Clara principles — to which they are all signatories. (Shutterstock)
Updated on Feb 07, 2022 08:39 PM IST

Study with deliberate infections uncovers new Covid clues

A controlled clinical study in the UK, the findings of which were made public on Wednesday, now offers more concrete insights, some of which are new.

The study found that such trials were safe, and they now provide a basis for larger such experiments including different variants,(Reuters file photo. Representative image)
Updated on Feb 04, 2022 12:50 AM IST
By, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

BA.2 likely drove 3rd wave in some states

The first real-world analysis of infection trends split by BA.2 and the other Omicron lineages offers several insights. These findings are based on the latest variant technical briefing by the UK Health Security Agency released over the weekend.

BA.2 is one of the offshoots of the Omicron variant and has recently been seen displacing its predecessor, the BA.1. (Image used for representation)
Updated on Jan 31, 2022 04:32 AM IST
By, New Delhi

‘Censorship’ in India, 5 other nations pose risk to business: US trade panel

USITC, an independent and non-partisan US federal agency, compiled the report based on a request by the Senate Committee on Finance.

Some of the instances cited by the report included “threat of arrest” of Twitter executives and increase in takedown orders sent to the microblogging service as well as Google.
Updated on Jan 30, 2022 04:43 AM IST
ByPrashant Jha and Binayak Dasgupta, Washington/new Delhi

Why fears of ‘deadly’ NeoCoV may be greatly exaggerated

There are other factors to consider as well. NeoCoV is not a new coronavirus, and it – along with Mers – belongs to a distinctly different genera (a type of subclassification) of coronaviruses known as merbecovirus.

One of the most key factors to remember is that the Chinese scientists themselves find that the NeoCoV does not infect human ACE2 at present, which means it cannot infect humans yet. (PTI)
Updated on Jan 29, 2022 04:40 AM IST
By, New Delhi

Omicron likely to make vaccine update inevitable

On January 12, a coalition of medical regulators from 37 countries and regions (including all of EU, UK, US and India) agreed that there was now a need to reconsider the current vaccine design.

Representative Image
Published on Jan 28, 2022 12:01 AM IST
By, New Delhi

Omicron offshoot now under watch

The Omicron variant comprises four sister lineages. The earliest, detected in South Africa, was the B.1.1.529. Then came BA.1, which is now globally the predominant one, followed by BA.2 and BA.3.

What makes BA.2 different from BA.1 is 28 unique mutations, including 12 in what is known as the receptor binding domain (RBD) – a portion of the virus that has a key role in infection.(AFP)
Updated on Jan 25, 2022 01:52 AM IST
By, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

Few admissions during 5th wave question need for ongoing curbs

In Delhi, the peak of recorded cases came on January 12, and that of the test positivity on January 14. Since then, the number of people in the hospital have remained in the 2,600-2,700 range, even in fact dipping slightly in the last three days.

The Covid-19 care centre at the Shehnai Banquet hall.(HT Photo)
Published on Jan 22, 2022 03:08 AM IST
By, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

Variant watch: What Omicron means for future immunity

Three recent studies now come to similar conclusions on post-Omicron immunity: the protection is different in people who were infected for the first time, had a repeat infection, or had a repeat infection after vaccination.

In those who got a repeat infection but were unvaccinated, the antibodies were somewhat better at neutralising other variants.
Updated on Jan 21, 2022 03:18 AM IST
By, New Delhi

Variant watch: Why symptom link is key to Omicron

The researchers found that during the Omicron wave, close to 30% of the people who turned up had an asymptomatic infection.

Viral load is often seen as a proxy for how infectious someone is.
Updated on Jan 20, 2022 07:22 AM IST
By, New Delhi

Variant watch: Even mild cases may leave a mark on brain

The finding holds implications for rehabilitation of people with even mild cases and those suffering from so-called long Covid symptoms, which are still not properly understood.

A healthworker collects a nasal swab sample for Covid-19 test at a hospital in Amritsar. (PTI)
Updated on Jan 19, 2022 03:19 AM IST
By, New Delhi

No-vax? What the sceptics get wrong

In Serbian tennis star Novak Djokovic’s 2010 book, Serve to Win, he writes about how he improved his performance by removing gluten from his diet

Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic walks in Melbourne Airport before boarding a flight, (File image)(REUTERS)
Updated on Jan 18, 2022 03:14 AM IST
By, New Delhi

Variant watch: Updated UK data shows efficacy drop after 6 months

The UK Health Security Agency, in its Technical Briefing 34, said that it found vaccine efficacy against hospitalisation remained at around 64% till 24 weeks, but the protection dropped if the second doses were taken more than 24 weeks ago.

Over 700,000 Omicron cases were taken into account for the analysis.(AFP)
Updated on Jan 15, 2022 12:09 AM IST
By, New Delhi:

240mn Covid-19 vaccine doses in rich nations to expire by March

The report, released by science analytics company Airfinity, came on a day when Unicef officials told Reuters that 100 million doses were rejected last month by poorer countries because they were nearing their expiry date.

Vials of Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine against the coronavirus disease Covid-19 in a social center of La Gavotte Peyret popular neighbourhood, in Septeme-Les-Vallons, near Marseille.(AFP)
Updated on Jan 14, 2022 12:39 AM IST
By, New Delhi

New study shows how coronavirus loses infectivity once exhaled

It also suggests that most infection happens when transmission is at a shorter range. This is why outdoor spaces have consistently proven to be safer.

If the person is talking loudly or singing, they are consistently spewing out more viral particles, which increases the chances of someone getting infected.(Bloomberg)
Updated on Jan 13, 2022 04:52 AM IST
By, New Delhi:

Variant watch: Omicron likely evolved in mice, say Chinese researchers

The Omicron variant of the Sars-CoV-2 virus may have evolved within mice and jumped back into humans, according to new research by scientists from the Chinese Academy of Sciences

A person gets tested for the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) amid a potential third wave of infections caused by the spread of the Omicron variant. (REUTERS / Representational Image)
Published on Jan 12, 2022 12:09 AM IST
By, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

Variant watch: Ending isolation after Omicron

Now, a study from Japan, albeit with a small sample size involving 21 people, suggests people can in some cases remain infectious up to 9 days after their symptoms begin.

A person gets tested for the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) amid a potential third wave of infections caused by the spread of the Omicron variant. (REUTERS / Representational Image)
Updated on Jan 11, 2022 12:03 AM IST
By, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

India’s true Covid toll could be over 3 million: Study

The new report, published by the journal Science early on Friday, estimates the true toll in this period was between 3.1 million and 3.4 million, with roughly 2.7 million of these happening in the April-July period, when the second wave tore through the country.

COVID-19 infected patients getting treatment at COVID care centre, Common Wealth Games Village Sports Complex, in New Delhi.(ANI/Representative image)
Published on Jan 07, 2022 11:52 PM IST
By, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

Omicron variant watch: Scientists detect key antibodies to neutralise mutations

In a study published almost exactly a year ago, scientists at the Rockefeller University found that memory B cells, which churn out antibodies, mature over time.

Healthcare workers wait for the next vehicle at a Covid-19 testing clinic as the Omicron coronavirus variant continues to spread in Sydney, Australia. (Reuters file photo)
Updated on Jan 07, 2022 12:36 AM IST
By, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

Variant watch: Evolutionary pathways wide open for Omicron

Anthony Fauci, the top medical adviser to the US President, said it is technically possible that Omicron could hasten the end of the pandemic, if it proves true that the variant, with its high degree of transmissibility, replaces other strains of the virus that cause more severe infections.

In the last week, two studies have been noteworthy for the insight they give into the coronavirus’s evolution.(AP file photo)
Updated on Jan 06, 2022 05:03 AM IST
By, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

Omicron variant watch: Fast, even if not as furious, needs disciplined response

Lab studies in the recent month have shown the virus multiplies more intensely in the bronchus – the passage leading to the lungs – but less efficiently in the lungs.

The Omicron variant is up to 70% less likely to lead to hospitalisation.(File photo)
Updated on Jan 05, 2022 12:54 AM IST
By, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

Omicron variant watch: More hospital risk insight in South African data

South African experts have submitted a new study analysing the early days of the Omicron outbreak in the province, including the first age-wise break-up of hospitalisation rates.

In terms of headline numbers, the report reinforces the conclusion that the variant is leading to less severe cases.(Bloomberg)
Updated on Jan 04, 2022 07:33 AM IST
By, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

The year ahead: A year of hope and caution

A less virulent variant and a host of new drugs and doses bring optimism, but the virus might still pack surprises

After the horror of the Delta variant, some say Omicron brings hope in the possibility that it could tear through the world, leaving a degree of baseline immunity that would help everyone deal with the virus better. (HT Photo)
Published on Jan 01, 2022 05:02 PM IST

Variant watch: Scotland study finds Omicron made a major shift

The researchers corroborate two findings that have been reported by several scientists in the last month – the variant is very resistant to antibodies from vaccinated people, and it is bad at infecting lung cells.

Representative Image
Updated on Dec 31, 2021 10:55 PM IST
By, New Delhi

Reading a virus: From Alpha to Omicron

A sense of hope dominated the last few months of 2020 after the first coronavirus vaccines were approved and administered in some parts of the world

This was the story of 2021, which began in the shadow of Alpha, was consumed by Delta in spring, and spooked by Omicron at the end (AFP)
Updated on Dec 31, 2021 06:08 PM IST

Dec 31: What we know about the Omicron variant so far

Two studies, both released this week, confirmed the T Cell connection to the theory that Omicron is likely to lead to milder disease than Delta did.

Representative Image
Published on Dec 31, 2021 12:10 AM IST
By, New Delhi

Dec 29: What we know about the Omicron variant so far

On Wednesday, Delhi logged 923 new Covid-19 cases, its highest in a single-day in several months.

Crowded Sarojini Nagar market amid rising cases of Omicron variant of Covid-19 in New Delhi on Saturday, Dec 25, 2021. (PTI)
Published on Dec 30, 2021 12:09 AM IST
By, New Delhi

Dec 28: What more we know about Omicron

As the second week of December began, the number of new Covid-19 cases began to inch up in Delhi.

Representative Image
Published on Dec 28, 2021 11:24 PM IST
By, New Delhi
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