Covid phase III vaccines, new risk calculators and more news on the coronavirus

On the flip side, all humans in lockdown have given environmentalists unprecedented access to other species. A new study reports that male white-crowned sparrows in the San Francisco Bay Area changed their tone in April and May. Previously, birds sacrificed quality of song for volume, crying out to be heard in a noisy world. But once it calmed down, they switched to a smoother, higher quality call.

New tools aim to help you calculate risk as cases increase and country reopens

This week, the death toll in the United States topped 200,000 as new weekly cases increased for the second week in a row. Yet the country’s non-linear path to reopening continues. In the absence of reliable guidelines, we’ve all had to figure out how to calculate coronavirus risk for ourselves every time we go out. Ezra Klein of Vox recently described the equation as: “The danger of an act = (the risk of transmitting the activity) x (the local prevalence of Covid-19) / (by your region’s ability to control a new epidemic). “

Two technological tools aim to make this equation a little clearer. Google Maps unveiled a Covid-19 overlay on Wednesday, which uses data from Johns Hopkins, The New York Times, and Wikipedia to view the weekly average of confirmed cases in an area, as well as information on the upward or downward trend in local cases. Meanwhile, the Instagram co-founders have developed a site called rt.live that tracks the speed of the spread of Covid-19 at the state level. “If the cases are increasing in California, does that mean things are worse or better, or is it just that we are testing more? We take all of these things together and synthesize or summarize what’s really going on right now, ”one of them told WIRED’s Steven Levy. So far, more than a million people have accessed the site, including some officials, who use it to plan the reopening of their states.

Daily distraction

What is the latest cutting edge development in artificial intelligence? It would be Curly, a robot who has just beaten two Korean national teams in the fine sport of curling.

Something to read

What exactly is QAnon, where does it come from, and how should we be talking about it now that it’s here? It looks a bit like Pokémon Go, writes Virginia Heffernan of WIRED, except that “QAnon has become a holy war, while PoGo remained a game, requiring a voluntary suspension of disbelief. Part conspiracy theory and alternate reality game, QAnon encourages crowdsourcing and linking of seemingly unconnected events in a way that embodies internet culture. Once a person is attracted, algorithmically generated recommendations on platforms such as YouTube and TikTok can identify and reinforce the patterns of potential believers with astonishing accuracy. Examining these algorithms is essential to understanding how QAnon came to be what it is today.

Sanitary verification

If you’re running a distance class of any sort this fall, you’ll know it’s hard to foster community through a screen. Setting the mood, assigning group work, and shaking things up are all good places to start.

A question

How will the Covid-19 collide with the flu and the cold season?

As more people begin to contract colds and the seasonal flu, whose symptoms may resemble those of Covid-19, testing labs will likely be even more strained. Hospitals are also preparing for the possibility of coronavirus and influenza occupying the same emergency space and ventilation beds. And no one knows how these other viruses will interact with the coronavirus. All that to say: stay alert and get your flu shot.


More WIRED on Covid-19

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