Sunday, January 31, 2021

This Doomsday Clock Says The Time Is--Part I

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Sustainability, Sustainable Development, Pollution

Ed Hessler

The results of the 29th annual "Questionnaire On Environmental Problems and the Survival of Humankind" conducted by the Asahi Glass Foundation were released in September 2020. The respondents are self-selected environmental experts working for national or local governments, NGOs, NPOs, universities and research institutions, corporations, mass media, and so on, worldwide. The respnse rate for the 2020 questionnaire was 6.5% (27,935 questionnaires; 1813 returned).

The feature of this annual report that attracts the most attention is what time it is according to the Environmental Doomsday Clock. This clock is divided into 4 quadrants: 12 to 3  (Okay--barely concerned); 3 to 6 (concerned--slightly concerned); 6 to 9 (worried--fairly concerned); and 9 to 12 (fearful--extremely concerned). 

What time is it in the year 2020? 9:47 (last year it was 9:46).

In 1992, the time was 7:49. The 29th annual respondents 60 or over set the clock at 9:55; those in their 40s and 50s at 9:41; and those in their 20s,30s at 9:45. Regional times--9 regions worldwide--on the clock ranged from 8:34 (Africa) to 10:53 (North America). 

Contents include: a survey interview, summary of questionnaire results + the results, the Environmental Doomsday Clock, environmental issues to be taken into account in responding to questions, awareness of signs of improvement in the approach to environmental issues, closing comment, Data, and the questionnaire as distributed to respondents. There is a discussion of changes in the Environmental Doomsday Clock. I want to comment on two of these.

Environmental issues to be taken into account include climate change; biodiversity; land use; pollution/contamination; water resources; population; food, lifestyle (consumption habits) and Society, Economy and Environment, policies and measures. These are also categorized by the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). There are 17.

Awareness of signs of improvement in the approach to environmental issues. These are in comparison with before 2015 when both the Paris climate agreement and SDGs were adopted. There are two questions: do you think we are shifting to a decarbonized society and where do you see signs of improvement based on environmental issues to be taken into account. Overall, for both questions a slight uptick. However, there "are not many perceived signs of improvement." These two questions were introduced in 2019. A greater percentage of the respondents in the USA and EU selected 'Public Awareness' as showing signs of improvement, while a greater percentage of the respondents in China selected 'Policies and Legal System; as a category showing signs of improvement."

In closing, the Foundation notes that the "will continue using the questions for a while and continue conducting the survey, paying attention to the average score for the entire world and variances among regions and countries. 

A short summary which covers the main features of the report may be read here. The Canadian Association for the Club of Rome provides details on the Environmental Doomsday Clock results for 2020.  For those interested in complete details, the Asahi Glass Foundation provides annual reports on the surveys and the results from 1992. Here is the questionnaire for the 29th annual survey although it is included in the annual report.                                                                        

Saturday, January 30, 2021

Gravitational Waves: Listen to Them

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Cosmology, Astrophysics

Ed Hessler

Writing for Science News , Emily Conover and Nadieh Bremer explore every gravitational wave event spotted to far. The fifty events shown in a splendid interactive graphic, some with sound (the music of  spheres?), reveal the similarities and differences in these cosmic smashups.

View and listen at the link above--the blue rings marked with the music symbol--click on the outer ring to hear these other worldly sounds and their variety.

Detection of these waves was an incredible achievement involving many scientists, engineers, construction workers, technicians, administrators, office staff, and others.

The result amazes and the graphic gives you an idea of what has been learned so far and also what remains for future graduate students, post-docs and their professors to learn. I like the way the authors put it:  'Welcome to a new era of astronomy in which black holes and neutron stars regularly communicate their secrets to Earth."

Friday, January 29, 2021

Friday Poem(s)

Environmental & Science Education, Poetry, Art and Environment 

Greetings from St. Paul on the 29th day of 2021. Sunrise will be at 7:35 am and sunset at 5:16 pm giving us 9h 41m 24s of sunlight. Today 7.5% of the year or 4 weeks and 1 day are past. And it has been 28 days since perihelion (Jan 2 at 7:50 am) when we were closest to the sun.

Puzzles have seen renewed interest during the COVID-10 pandemic and today is National Puzzle Day.

Notable Quotable. Human beings are members of the a whole/ In creation of one essence and soul.--Persian poet Sa'adi, 13th century. Woven into a carpet in a United Nations meeting room--a gift from the people of Iran (2005).

And today's poem--three of them may be found here with information about each, including the poets. They were written by three school-age students who won the American Academy of Poetry's Inaugural Poem Contest for Students. They were chosen from nearly one thousand submissions. The three poets received cash awards, too, thanks to an anonymous donor: 1st $1000; 2nd $600; and 3rd $300.

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Clean Water

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Water, Sustainability, Children, Sustainable Development

Ed Hessler

Project 17 is a World Service series produced in collaboration with the The Open University, the United Kingdom's largest academic institution and a pioneer in distance learning.

This BBC video (4m 11s) tells the story of a seventeen-year-old living in The Republic of Rwanda, Africa who "set out to discover out why some rural communities in her country don't have access to clean water."

"Access to clean water for all" is goal six in the UN's Sustainable Development Goals, a set of targets announced in 2015 to transform lives around the world by 2030.

The introduction below the video notes that this "was filmed before the coronavirus pandemic" when social distancing and masks were not daily practices.

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Improving Pandemic Preparedness: Council on Foregin Relations Report

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Health, Medicine, Government, Society

Ed Hessler

No matter many past warnings, the world's nations, including the U.S. were caught by surprise by the Covid-19 pandemic according to a blistering report from the bipartisan Council on Foreign Relations (CFR).

The report was compiled by a 22-person task force co-chaired by President Barack Obama's HHS secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell and President George H. Bush's Homeland Security Council chair Frances Fragos Townsend. Among the many reasons why things went bad so quickly: inadequate funding for preparedness programs, an uncoordinated patchwork of response measures from different countries, and the U. S. waste of  "precious weeks" instead of implementing public health interventions to slow new infections early on. The report includes this recommendation for the U. S.: stay on as a member of WHO and work with other nations to strengthen the capacity to respond to future pandemics. They are coming.

You may read the here, I copied the the headings from the What Went Wrong Domestically (there is a similar section on What Went Wrong Globally)from the major section of the report on findings. Each includes a short summary of what is discussed. The report includes descriptions of task force members and other relevant information.

Action came too late.The United States did not act early enough in mobilizing a federal response to COVID-19, and the delay increased both the human and economic toll of the disease.


Lessons were not learned.The United States has declared pandemics to be a national security threat but has not acted accordingly, failing to integrate the lessons of past epidemics, multiple crisis simulations, and blue-ribbon reports underscoring the need for pandemic response capabilities, or to organize itself effectively to coordinate such a response.  


Communications were unclear, inconsistent, and often politicized. Communicating clear, credible, and timely information is essential during pandemics. During the first months of the COVID-19 pandemic, U.S. communication campaigns were scattered, inconsistent, and too often politicized rather than grounded in science and public health.


More testing and tracing were needed. The U.S. response to COVID-19 was undermined by the failure to rapidly stand up a reliable nationwide system of testing and tracing. Without a way to accurately identify infected people and those with whom they had been in recent contact, public health authorities were too often operating without crucial information. 


The federal government underinvested in local preparedness.Years of federal underinvestment in pandemic preparedness at the local and hospital level undercut the U.S. response to COVID-19.


The U.S. stockpile was not well stocked.The pandemic has exposed shortcomings in—and disagreements over the purposes of—the Strategic National Stockpile.


Lines of authority in the United States were unclear.Mounting an effective U.S. response to pandemics and other major crises requires clear delineation of authority and responsibility among local, state, and national officials and agencies, as well as strong coordination at the federal level. In the absence of such clarity, U.S. political authorities often worked at cross purposes, increasing the human and economic toll of the pandemic. 


These are followed by a section sub-headed The United States lacks adequate mechanisms to coordinate its domestic and international activities on supply chains, vaccine development, and disease surveillance. The United States cannot afford to develop and implement domestic preparedness policies and initiatives in isolation, without considering international factors that will help determine their success.











Tuesday, January 26, 2021

When Can We Get "It"?

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Health, Medicine, Society

Ed Hessler

The great roll-out has left many with criticisms and questions, certainly to be expected after all the promise. And the supply of vaccine? Not enough by a lot of doses. 

 Perhaps like you, I'm waiting and waiting and waiting.

Reporting by Helen Branswell (STAT) provides some explanations not that this brings the shot any closer to your upper arm but at least provides perspective.

Branswell comments on the following:

Why is the vaccination process moving so slowly? Like it or not the reality is that it takes time to "get vaccination programs up and running." Distribution is far more complicated than we know, especially since "the two vaccines...have stringent cold-chain requirements." This adds another wrinkle.  In the end, though there just isn't that much vaccine available.

When will we get more vaccine? This is, as Branswell notes what falls under the category of "Good Question." A rough timeline: 40 million doses by end of January (this week); 200 million by the end of March. How does this translate into arms? 20 million by the end of January; 100 million by the end of March.

When will the other vaccines the government invested in become available? The expert, Anthony Fauci has been all over the news the past week saying that clinical trial data will be available for review this week of another, the one-dose vaccine. If it passes this review, Johnson & Johnson will ask for an emergency use authorization perhaps to be put in use mid-February. The common phrase is that this could be a "game-changer." One shot, fridge stable. However it will be April before there would be a decent supply. A couple more are in the emergency use clearance category, too.

Who is eligible to get vaccinated at this point? It all depends on geography--which state. Each state has set different priorities. Still there is the issue of not enough vaccine for all the various groups identified: 65 and older, essential workers such as teachers and those who work bringing food to us.

How are we supposed to find out when and where we can get vaccinated?  Branswell recommends and links the CDC website where you will find a pull-down menu and links. In somewhat of an understatement she writes, "Some states seem to have established fairly orderly systems — though you probably need to be computer-savvy to take advantage of them — while others, not so much."

Where will vaccines be administered? The current situation is one of great fluidity but "relying on...standard approaches isn't going to be enough."  Tradition must include innovation in terms of places as well as those making the injections.

Have we learned more about side effects of the vaccines or serious problems associated with their use? In the language of vaccination, "Covid-19 vaccines are all a bit reactogenic," i.e., some arm pain, fatigue, chills, even a fever for a day or two. These are good signs: Your plaster over the injection site should have a sign  saying "Vaccine at Work." The 15-minute period of monitoring is for a reason: to see whether an allergic reaction occurs. Quite a few Americans have a history of severe allergies. Even one person who received a placebo developed "Bell's palsy, a partial and generally temporary paralysis of some facial muscles."

Will Covid vaccines prevent people from getting infected and transmitting SARS-2?  Or do they only prevent people from developing symptomatic disease? It isn't known and had this requirement been part of the specifications it would have added time to the development of a vaccine. Branswell asked Aikiko Iwasaki, a virologist and immunologist at Yale University who responded by saying that "because vaccines are not designed to prevent symptoms, they're designed to prevent infection. And so I just don't see the possibility of such a disconnect between asymptomatic infection and symptomatic infection in vaccinated people."

How much will Vovid-19 shots cost? Nothing out of pocket. Taxes do work!

And, of course, this question which must be asked even though it makes one wonder about our literacy and concern for others. I've been vaccinated. Can I party? I'm prone to yell NO! however, Branswell tell us why, noting that "so long as there is a lot of SARS-2 virus making the rounds, people will need to continue to take precautions. We are not, everyone of us going to be vaccinated at the same time and we don't/can't know how well the vaccines are working" for a while.

Mask up! Social Distance! Wash your hands! Do not attend large indoor/outdoor events which bring you in close contact with others.

Monday, January 25, 2021

What Beautiful Eyes You Have

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Behavior, Nature

Ed Hessler

The Atlantic science writer, Ed Yong discusses how animals see the world in a lively animation from the Animalism series that show a "spectacular range of styles, shapes and sizes. There are eyes with lenses made of rock, eyes that can look up and down at the same time, and eyes that can spot prey from a mile away." One animal "has the most incredible--an certainly the strangest--eyes of all."

All here and presented in 5m 07s. And accurate, for he is a thorough science journalist.

In this series, Yong takes a look at how animals live and the evolution of behavior and structures.

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Moon Phases: 2021

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Astronomy, Solar System, Earth Science, Earth Systems

Ed Hessler

In 4m 53s you can see the moon phases in 2021. It includes more information than just the phases, too and the music is fitting.

Thanks to Astronomy Picture of the Day (AWAD) for the video, explanation and useful links.

Saturday, January 23, 2021

2020 Ties Earth's Heat Record

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Climate Change, Earth Systems, Earth Science, Sustainability

Ed Hessler

2020, Dateline Earth.

Not only was the past year another hot one but tied the record for heat (2016). 

The Guardian reports with graphs, maps and relevant quotes.

Environmental editor Damian Carrington writes, "Despite a 7% fall in fossil fuel burning due to coronavirus lockdowns, heat-trapping carbon dioxide continued to build up in the atmosphere, also setting a new record. The average surface temperature across the planet in 2020 was 1.25C higher than in the pre-industrial period of 1850-1900, dangerously close to the 1.5C target set by the world’s nations to avoid the worst impacts.

Only 2016 matched the heat in 2020, but that year saw a natural El Nino climate event which boosts temperatures. Without that it is likely 2020 would have been the outright hottest year. Scientists have warned that without urgent action the future for many millions of people 'looks black'”.

The Arctic and Siberia were particularly subject to extreme temperatures--"with a large region 3C (~37F) higher than the long-term average and some locations more than 6C (~49F) higher."

Carrington quotes Professor Dave Reav  (University of Edinburgh). "“Covid lockdowns around the world may have caused a slight dip in emissions, but the CO2 accumulating in the atmosphere is still going up fast. Unless the global economic recovery from the nightmares of 2020 is a green one, the future of many millions of people around the world looks black indeed.”

Friday, January 22, 2021

Friday Poem

Environmental & Science Education, Poetry, Art and Environment 

Ed Hessler

It is January 22, 2021. Welcome to the 22nd day of the year. By the end of the day 1,900,800 seconds will have passed. Sunrise is at 7:42 am and sunset at 5:05 pm. Last Saturday was the first day of the year when sunset was at 5:00 pm. Today it is at 5:07 pm as we gain light each day. Today's yield of sunlight is 9h 24m 53s of sunlight.

I've not paid any attention to sunrise. It too is changing, earlier every day. I chose last Saturday, January 17) to mark a sunset indicator of growing day length. On that day sunrise was at 7:45 am; today marked a 3 minute difference from that date--earlier. We will soon be able to talk about the return of light. Heat? Another story but in late February there will be days when it is noticeable.

Celebrate National Blonde Brownie Day (brown sugar substitutes for cocoa). Why not have both?!

Notable quotable. I miss those days so beautifully described in these words. Leaving any bookstore is hard . . . especially on a day in January, when the wind is blowing, the ice is treacherous, and the books inside seem to gather together in colorful warmth.Jane Smiley

Today's poem is by Pablo Neruda. 

It includes a couple of bonuses, too. One is a discussion of Neruda's poem by Kristel Marie Pujanes who writes for The Quarter Life Experiment. She describes her first encounter  with this poem when she was a high school junior. In addition there is a short biography of poet Pablo Neruda. And in the event you would like a refresher, a sonnet is ""a little song," 14 lines in length. The Poetry Foundation's glossary on this form likely provide more than you want to know!

Thursday, January 21, 2021

How and Why Coronaviruses Mutate

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Health, Medicine

Ed Hessler

Viruses mutate all the time and SARS-CoV-2 is no exception to this characteristic of viruses. 

Two of these mutations have been in the COVID-19 news recently--one is considerably more contagious (~50%) than the original virus, the other decreases the good that vaccines do, what is referred to as the efficacy. The disease following is not considered more serious but if a mutated virus transmits easier than the original this is cause for concern because a slower spread favors us. The mutations also add more stress to health care systems which are already chock full of patients. Similarly for mutations that decrease the efficacy of the vaccine.

Viruses tend to become weaker, more benign as they mutate but the new mutants are spreading, increasing the chance that they will become more efficient and deadly.

In this video (1m 37s) for STAT Alex Hogan explains why and how viruses mutate.

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

"I Thought It (Stuttering) Made Me a Failure"

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Children, Young Children, Education, Schooling

Ed Hessler

We know that President-elect Joe Biden has a stammer and is the first president with this condition. It is no surprise that he has become a hero and role model for children who have the same condition. It helps them know that "I can...."

According the the web page for The Stuttering Foundation, "Approximately 5 percent of all children go through a period of stammering that lasts six months or more. Three-quarters of those will recover by late childhood, leaving about 1% with a long-term problem. The best prevention tool is early intervention."

The BBC's Felicity Baker reports on what it's like to live with this often hidden disability The video is 2m 47s long.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

COVID Vaccine Differences

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Health, Medicine

Ed Hessler

Currently there are three Covid-19 vaccines:Pfizer-BioNTech, The University of Oxford and Astra-Zeneca and Moderna.

Each require two does and full vaccination does not occur until about a week after the second injection.

According to the blurb attached to the video, "BBC health correspondent Laura Foster looks at how much immunity they give, how they prevent infection and which one is better.(2m 39s)" 

I was bothered by the use of the term "better" and her basis for saying this--the evidence, that is. Well, she doesn't (thank goodness). In the end she says that they are not "up against one another" with all playing key roles in ending the pandemic. Otherwise, why would they have been approved? 

I wonder whether an editor wrote this blurb. My guess is yes.

Monday, January 18, 2021

Practicing Prosocial Skills at Home

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Early Childhood, Children, Learning

Ed Hessler 

The following link to a post by Ann Bailey, Director of the Center for Early Education and Development (CEED) at the University of Minnesota made me think about Robert Fulgham's now classic All I Really Need to Know I learned in Kindergarten. A little bit about that book and an excerpt with what he learned may be read in this excerpt.

Dr. Bailey whom I know recently sent me a post she had written about the prosocial skills of gratitude, sympathy, and sharing with suggestions on how these can be encouraged and developed at home. Because parents and caregivers are doing do much more in helping youngsters in their learning--readying them for classroom life, practice--these ideas seem especially pertinent. I thought there were some good ideas here which are based on research and can be done. And I like the intentionality of the essay.

Here is the link.

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Where Do Forest Birds of the North Go in Winter?

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Nature, Wildlife, Biodiversity

Ed Hessler

South of course but where in particular and what are their winter homes like and how do they make a living?

A rich, research-based essay may be found in the Winter 2021 Living Bird (Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology) about the journeys, destinations and quotidian details of daily lives of Prothonotory Warblers, Yellow Warblers, American Redstarts, Blackpoll Warblers, Baltimore Orioles and Bullock's Orioles. Beautifully illustrated including maps with links to full sets of maps and visualizations



Saturday, January 16, 2021

Top Photographs of 2020 All in One Place

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Art and Environment, Nature, Wildlife, Society, Earth Science, Cosmos

Ed Hessler

New Attas--devoted to lifestyle, science, technology, transport--occasionally publishes some superb photographs. I occasionally check but more often see a reference to the magazine and then take a look,

This collection of best photographs of 2020 is a gallery of stunning photographs of the world around  us--humans, wildlife, nature, society, culture, cosmos, 44 images, each one likely to evoke and exclamation or two.
h/t WEIT

Friday, January 15, 2021

Friday Poem

Environmental & Science Education, Poetry, Art and Environment

Ed Hessler 

Good morning, it is Friday, January 15 2021. 

Converted to hours 15 days is 360; to percent of year 4.11%. Sunrise is at 7:47am, sunset is at 4:57pm, and there are 9h 10m, 39m of sunlight.

On this day in 1929 was born Martin Luther King Jr. (born Michael King, Jr).

Two quotations by Dr. King on education from the Morehouse College Newspaper, The Maroon Tiger, 1947:  

The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and and to think critically.  Intelligence plus character--that is the true goal of education.

If we are not careful, our colleges will produce a group of close-minded, unscientific, illogical propagandists, consumed with immoral acts. Be careful, 'brethren!' Be careful, teachers!

Today's poem is by Dudley Randall.


Thursday, January 14, 2021

How the Coronavirus Spreads: Infra Red Footage


Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Health, Medicine

Ed Hessler

The Washington Post series (free) on the pandemic posted has an essay on how the coronavirus spreads. 

It includes a video (6m 12s)--using "a military-grade infrared camera capable of detecting exhaled breath. Numerous experts — epidemiologists, virologists and engineers — supported the notion of using exhalation as a conservative proxy to show potential transmission risk in various settings.

Even with this high tech camera, experts interviewed for the story note that "the footage underrepresents the potential risk of exposure from airborne particles. These particles may spread farther or linger longer than the visible exhalation plume, which dissipates quickly to a level of concentration the camera can no longer detect." (my emphasis).

Again: masking is a good idea even when it is inconvenient and it is for me now that winter is here and my nose tends to plug up and drip. Ugh! 

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Researchers from Seven Different Nations Describe Their Pandemic Experience

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Health, Medicine, Culture, Society

Ed Hessler

In a series of letters to the scientific journal Nature, government researchers who helped guide the responses to the COVID-19 pandemic in Belgium, Bolivia, Canada, Costa Rica, Ghana,Lithuania and Taiwan write about their experiences. 
The responses point out how differently nations responded depending on where they started in terms of institutions, health care systems, barriers, level of preparedness (the development of a plan), staffing, money, the role of evidence-based decision making, concepts of government, leadership, international relationships and so on They may be seen here which also includes information about the researchers whom I've named only. (About a 10 minute read). Below are a few highlights from each entry.

--Belgium (Emmanuel Andre). A health care system that had been constructed over centuries had been dismantled, severing the tie between prevention and curative care. The nation was unprepared, starting with no protective equipment and an insufficient number of trained health care workers from bottom to top. Management of the pandemic was severely hampered by a complex institutional system and politics. "But epidemiological risk-taking ultimately led to prolonged lockdown and extra damage to an economy that requires stability and consumer confidence. Next year must be different."

--Bolivia (Mohammed A. Mostajo-Radji). "Every international agency we spoke to predicted that Bolivia would be hit harder by COVID than most nations. It has one of the worst health-care systems in the world, with several regions refusing to share information with the central government. ... So on 17 March, we implemented one of the strictest lockdowns in the world. This gave us time to take stock of the health-care system." COVID-19 also became highly polticized and slowed by protestors, thefts, and ageism). Often cabinet were officials reluctant/refused to take advice from younger advisors. "Still, Bolivia has one of the lowest infection rates in the Americas."

--Canada (Mona Nemer). "(S)cience guided decision-making in real time like I have never seen before. The contrast with some other parts of the Americas has been striking. It has been gratifying to witness public appreciation of, and government interest in, science. This has provided welcome encouragement in such stressful and uncertain times. The sheer objectivity of science can go a long way in a crisis, especially when response is hampered by inaccessibility to data, reagents and personal protective equipment. To take on future existential threats, nations need to strengthen their science advisory systems locally and globally, and build public trust in research."

--Costa Rica  (Eugenia Corrales-Aguilar). "When the pandemic began, politicians and journalists in Costa Rica started talking to me because I am a virologist and had worked with bats and coronavirus. I thought that maybe we would be able to control this virus with the same public-health measures that we used for severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 2003. We were naive. One of the things that’s been really different this time has been the response of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States. We’d always looked to it for guidance on everything to do with infectious disease — until now. The lack of unpoliticized, evidence-based information from the CDC has been a challenge throughout this outbreak. ... There’s so much nonsense and disinformation. I think vaccine communication — reaching people who do not want to understand that vaccines are game-changers — will take up much of my time for next year."

--Ghana (Gordon Awandare). "In Ghana, the pandemic has not been severe, and deaths have been very low compared with those in other parts of the world. Our group was among the first to sequence SARS-CoV-2 in Africa. We achieved this because we are building capacity for next-generation sequencing for other research purposes, including malaria-parasite genomics. ... In responding to pandemics, leadership has to be decisive. For example, masks should have been mandated early on. And lockdowns would have worked better had they been targeted, imposed quickly and enforced strictly." Looking ahead, "African governments need to build scientific capacity sustainably rather than resorting to firefighting only when a pandemic hits. We should be preparing for the next pandemic as soon as this one ends."

--Lithunia (Ligita Jancoriene). "In the hospital, the first challenge was redeploying medical staff to work with people with COVID-19, and setting up new units to treat them. Everyone had to leave their comfort zone, and it was not easy. Some staff refused; others volunteered. ... As we face future waves, we need to strengthen resources for health-care workers on the front lines. Clear guidelines must be prepared on how to manage COVID-19 infection in a regional hospital or nursing home, rather than every patient being referred as quickly as possible to a larger centre. Early on, health authorities focused on university hospitals equipped with personal protective gear and other specialized equipment. Now, there are simply too many patients, and each facility must be prepared to diagnose and treat those who are infected."

--Taiwan (Chien-jen Chen). "Almost everyone in Taiwan complied with guidelines and regulations for epidemic control. Only around 1,000 of around 400,000 people isolated or quarantined at home violated the restriction. The rest sacrificed 14 days of freedom to let 23 million people live, work and go to school normally. We have been COVID-free now since 13 April. Key elements of Taiwan’s success include prudent action, rapid response (we took action on 31 December) and early deployment of control measures, together with transparency and public trust with solidarity. We did not need to implement city lockdowns or mass screening. Instead, we applied information technology and artificial intelligence to carry out precision disaster prevention and mitigation."