Covid Wave 2.0: What You Need To Know

Covid Wave 2.0: What You Need To Know

With ~3 lakh new Covid cases coming every day in wave 2 in India, let’s answer some of the questions many of you have regarding the second.

Crux of the Matter

The new strain is escaping the RT-PCR test, which is considered a gold standard test.

Many cases have come to fore, where a patient has symptoms of Covid-19 but get RT-PCR -ve report. So a CT-scan is used to confirm the infection.

Dr Sarman Singh, AIIMS Bhopal director

Covid-19 Wave 2 Symptoms

This time we have witnessed more cases of breathlessness while in the last wave, symptoms like dry cough, joint pain, headaches were more.

Dr Bhargava, ICMR Chief

After Getting The Shot, Can You Be Covid +ve?
Yes. As per CDC, after the first shot, you have  50% immunity. The 2nd shot gives 95% immunity. It then takes 1-2 weeks for maximum protection to kick in.
Even then you can contract Covid with less severity, i.e either you will be asymptomatic or have mild symptoms.

Number of people contracting Covid after getting vaccine in India are given below:

What Is The Primary Mode Of Transmission?
As per latest CDC findings, the principal mode by which people are infected with SARS-CoV-2 is through exposure to respiratory droplets carrying infectious virus. The risk of being infected through contact with contaminated surfaces or objects (fomites) is considered low.

Can The Virus Survive On Surfaces?
Researchers suggest a 99% reduction in infectious SARS-CoV-2 and other coronaviruses can be expected under indoor environmental conditions within 3 days on common non-porous surfaces like stainless steel, plastic, and glass.

Misinformation On Twitter
medRxiv did a detailed analysis of COVID19 vaccine disinformation executed by tracing all postings of #AstraZeneca over “blood clot” time frame. The paper said misinformation was spread by powerful individuals, conspiracy websites, state-owned media outlets, as well through co-tweeting bot network. 

Negative News Coverage By US Media
As per a recent study, 87% of Covid coverage in national US media last year was negative. The share was 51% in international media, 53% in US regional media and 64% in scientific journals.

  • RT-PCR has risen to become the benchmark technology for the detection and/or comparison of RNA levels. Due to its simplicity, specificity and sensitivity, RT-PCR is used in a wide range of applications from experiments as simple as quantification of yeast cells in wine to more complex uses as diagnostic tools for detecting infectious agents. 
  • As of 21 April 2021, more than 143 million cases have been confirmed, with more than 3.04 million deaths attributed to COVID-19, making it one of the deadliest pandemics in history.
  • On 11 February 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) named the disease “COVID-19”, which is short for coronavirus disease 2019.

How Is Digital Yuan Different?

How is Digital Yuan Different?

In our last story on Digital Yuan, we saw the composition of Digital Yuan and some of its disruptive features. In this story we dive deep into some strategic areas of the currency and try to understand how it is positioned to impact the global economy in long run. And of course, this story answers many of the questions surrounding the new digital currency.

Crux of the Matter

How Is Digital Yuan Different From Bitcoin?

  • Bitcoin is a decentralized currency which means that it has no controlling authority like a government or a central bank. Digital Yuan on the other hand is the legal tender issued by China’s central bank.
  • In bitcoin, the identity of its users is not known. While Digital Yuan with its innate traceability feature overcomes the user anonymity issue.

Currency Stability
China will not increase its money supply by introducing new form of currency. With every Yuan introduced digitally in the market, an equivalent worth of physical cash will be drawn out from the circulation thus ensuring the stability of economy.

Will Digital Yuan Disrupt The Global Financial System?
The US Dollar holds 88% share in international foreign-exchange trades. Moreover, at present most of the international settlements happen over the SWIFT technology which is a messaging network used to securely transmit information through a standardized system of codes. The US administration has a significant authority over both the mechanisms.

The Chinese Renminbi holds mere 4% of share in international foreign-exchange trades. Hence, simply with its own digital currency, China cannot replace US Dollar in international transactions. But it will definitely open up new options for people to transfer money and maybe at better margins.

Dollar Weaponization
With US being the prime source of dollar, it has the ability to freeze institutions and nations by laying various sanctions on them. Sanctioned nations are kicked out of the global financial system as banks and financial institutions are prohibited from doing transactions with them. This entire phenomena is known as Dollar Weaponization.

Examples Include:

  • Crippling Economies of Iran and North Korea owing to US laid sanctions.
  • Blocking the movement of top military officials financial assets in Myanmar amidst the coup.
  • The unending US – China conflict followed by multitude of economic and financial sanctions laid on China.

Aim Of China
One of the prominent aims of Beijing for introducing Yuan is to limit the power of US dollar in international settlements.
Thus, nations that are penalized by US can transact and transfer their money through Digital Yuan – without the knowledge of US.

This takes away sanction leveraging power of the US.

Nicholas Burns, American diplomat

Final thoughts?
It is maybe farfetched to say that Digital Yuan will take over US Dollar. Nevertheless, the building blocks are too important to be ignored.

  • The official currency of China is Renminbi. Yuan is the basic unit of the renminbi, but internationally the word is also used to refer to the Chinese currency.
  • One yuan is divided into 10 jiao and one jiao is divided into 10 fen.
  • The United States dollar is called Meiyuan in Chinese, and the euro is called Ouyuan.

Time Travel To 1984 With Google Earth

Google Earth recently added a fourth dimension to its 3D mapping tool- a time-lapse of millions of photos stiched together that showus how the world changed in the past 37 years. Let's dive deeper into this.

Google Earth recently added a fourth dimension to its 3D mapping tool – a time-lapse of millions of photos stitched together that show us how the world changed in the past 37 years. Let’s dive deeper into this.

Crux of the Matter

Earth As We Know It, From 1984-2021
Google has crunched 24 million satellite images from the past 37 years to form the 4D video. It tells us how human habits have affected the earth and its climate.

So Is It Really Interactive?
Yes, You can zoom in and out, change angles to get a better view of the changing forests and urban expansion. The satellite imagery is rquivalent to 530,000 videos in 4K resolution. Google also added that the computing was done inside its “carbon-neutral, 100% renewable energy-matched data centers.

As far as we know, Timelapse in Google Earth is the largest video on the planet, of our planet.

Says Google

Who Made Google Earth?
The tech was originally developed by Intrinsic Graphics that built visual databases. In 2004, Google purchased Keyhole Inc., which became Niantic, the Google subsidiary that made for “Pokemon Go.”

2D To 3D Via Minimaps
Mipmaps are collections of bitmap images that create the illusion of depth. They work in an inverted pyramid structure, stacked on each other with each level having twice the resolution of the one under it.

Google Earth is used by explorers for a virtual travel experience. While Google Maps helps in point to point navigation for real life commuting.

How Does Maps Make Money?
Google Maps Platform earns from selling Google Maps API to companies that require navigation. Eg: To Uber for drivers and customers to track each other’s movements.

  • John Hanke is the founder and current CEO of Niantic, Inc. Hanke previously led Google’s Geo Product division, which includes Google Earth, Google Maps, StreetView, SketchUp, and Panoramio.
  • Google Earth has been viewed by some as a threat to privacy and national security, leading to the program being banned in multiple countries. Some countries have requested that certain areas be obscured in Google’s satellite images, usually areas containing military facilities.
  • Former President A. P. J. Abdul Kalam expressed concern over the availability of high-resolution pictures of sensitive locations in India. Google subsequently agreed to censor such sites.

Solving the Mystery of Digital Yuan

Let us know about the disruptive nature of world's first digital currency designed by China's Central Bank- Digital Yuan.

Since 2014, China’s Central Bank has been working on designing its very own Digital Currency and is now making real world trials across China’s major cities. But what is Digital Yuan and why is it making such a huge buzz in the global economy. Read the story to know more.

Crux of the Matter

What Is Digital Yuan?
Digital Currency Electronic Payment (DCEP) i.e Digital Yuan is a digital version of China’s physical currency Yuan. Simply put, the aim is to to digitize Yuan currency notes and coins in circulation. The currency is designed by China’s central bank People’s Bank of China (PBOC)

What Is So Amusing About It?
Digital Yuan will be the world’s first Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC). It is at present only digital currency that has a legal tender backed by nation’s central bank PBOC.

How Is It Different From Regular E-Wallets?
To avail the services of an online payment, we need to link the wallet to our existing bank account. Thus, a bank is an intermediary for the transactions to happen. Now the money that is transacted via banks is still the physical currency in circulation. Hence in online payments, we are simply transacting physical money via electronic mode.

However, that is not the case with Digital Yuan. To use this digital currency, one will have to install an app, put the digital currency in the wallet and then directly start transacting – just like we do with normal (physical) cash.

What Good Will It Do?
Physical currency is expensive to produce and store. Moreover, it is easy to counterfeit and can thus be employed for illegal purposes. These issues can be resolved by replacing the existing currency with Digital Yuans. Lastly, it will increase competition and thus efficiency in the online payment space.

What Is The Ruckus Around Controllable Anonymity?
Digital Yuan had been under scrutiny for invading an individual’s privacy as it is trackable. As per PBOC member Mu Changchun, monitoring is limited to the transaction undertaken, keeping the identity of parties involved private.

It Is Also Programmable Money
Digital Yuan is programmable – it means that to a larger extent the government can influence the way in which the money can be spent. Say if the Chinese govt wishes to increase monetary flow in the system, they can put expiry dates on Yuan utilisation. This will increase spending, and thus induce the required sentiment in the economy.

How Will The Money Be Distributed?
It will be in 2 tier system:

1. China’s central bank will issue digital Yuan to commercial banks.
2. In turn, commercial banks will be responsible for handing over the Digital Yuans to general public. They will also be provide the service of transforming physical currency into digital.

  • The official currency of China is Renminbi. Yuan is the basic unit of the renminbi, but internationally the word is also used to refer to the Chinese currency.
  • One yuan is divided into 10 jiao and one jiao is divided into 10 fen.
  • The United States dollar is called Meiyuan in Chinese, and the euro is called Ouyuan.

Facebook And Its Role In Global Politics

Facebook is constantly in the middle of controversies these days. The big tech giant is currently being scrutinised after more than 500 million of its users had their personal information leaked. Let's dig more into the app's role in global politics.

Facebook is constantly in the middle of controversies these days. The big tech giant is currently being scrutinised after more than 500 million of its users had their personal information leaked. It has been facing an antitrust suit endorsed by more than 40 US states since last year, with reports alleging that CEO Zuckerberg will intimidate potential competitors. Let’s dig more into the role of Facebook in global politics.

Crux of the Matter

Ex-FB Employee’s Account
After working for 6 months at Facebook, Sophie Zhang realized that Juan Orlando Hernández had received likes from 59,100 users during June to July 2018. 78% of these users were not real.

Who Is Hernández?
A supporter of Honduras’s 2009 military coup, Hernández was elected president in 2013. His re-election in 2017 is viewed as fraudulent and marked by allegations of human rights abuses and corruption.

Similar To 2016 US Elections
For these elections, Russia’s Internet Research Agency had allegedly set up Facebook accounts claiming to be Americans and used them to influence political debates on the platform. Later Facebook called it “coordinated inauthentic behaviour” (CIB).

Avaaz v/s FB
A report by advocacy group Avaaz says that Facebook altered its algorithm earlier, it could have stopped 10.1 billion views from accumulating on 100 pages. These pages had spread misinformation 8 months prior to the 2020 election.

FB Denies Such Reports
Facebook spokesperson Andy Stone told Time Magazine:
Avaaz uses a flawed methodology to make people think that just because a Page shares a piece of fact-checked content, all the content on that Page is problematic.

Making Changes For Good?
Facebook recently said it removed 14 networks representing more than 1,000 accounts seeking to sway global politics, including in Iran and El Salvador. It is also lifting its ban on political and social-issue ads put in place after the 2020 US elections.

Users Can Appeal Editorial Decisions?
Facebook’s Oversight Board will begin reviewing content that has been allowed to remain on the platform despite requests to remove it. Content eligible for appeal includes status updates, comments, videos and shares, on either Instagram or Facebook.

  • The Facebook–Cambridge Analytica data scandal concerned the obtaining of the personal data of millions of Facebook users without their consent by British consulting firm Cambridge Analytica, predominantly to be used for political advertising. The app harvested the data of up to 87 million Facebook profiles. The scandal sparked an increased public interest in privacy and social media’s influence on politics.
  • In politics, campaign advertising is the use of an advertising campaign through the media to influence a political debate, and ultimately, voters. These ads are designed by political consultants and political campaign staff. Many countries restrict the use of broadcast media to broadcast political messaging.
  • On December 8, 2020, the Federal Trade Commission, along with 46 US states launched an antitrust lawsuit against Facebook. The lawsuit concerns Facebook’s acquisition of two competitors – Instagram and WhatsApp – and the ensuing monopolistic situation.