Indian Express Explained 17/06/2020

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1)Explained: What is Axone?:- Axone — also spelled akhuni — is a fermented soya bean of Nagaland, known for its distinctive flavour and smell. As much an ingredient as it is a condiment, axone used to make pickles and chutneys, or curries of pork, fish, chicken, beef etc. “It imparts a lot of flavour to anything you cook — even vegetables,”

There are two ways of making axone: either dry or like a paste.

2) The pangolin: can the protection upgrade by China curb its trafficking?:-

Chinese state-run publication, says that the State Forestry and Grassland Administration had issued a notice on June 5 upgrading its protection of pangolins and banning all commercial trade of the endangered mammal.

The move came about after the 2020 edition of the “Chinese Pharmacopoeia” excluded traditional medicines made from four species, and also listed alternatives sourced from species which are not endangered, reported the Health Times.

Is there a link with COVID-19 :-Reports linking the transmission of the virus to wet markets in Wuhan emerged, China banned the consumption of wild animals, including pangolins, in an attempt to limit the risk of diseases being transmitted to humans from animals.

Pangolins and Health :- pangolin meat is considered a delicacy in China and Vietnam, and their scales — which are made of keratin, the same protein present in human nails — are believed to improve lactation, promote blood circulation, and remove blood stasis. These so-called health benefits are so far unproven.

But while the link between pangolins and Covid-19 remains unproven, the mere suspicion has increased public discussion on health risks from human-wildlife interactions, and raised awareness of the exploitation of pangolins, said Faith Hornor, an analyst at C4ADS, an American non-profit tracking and analysing global conflict and transnational security issues.

3)Explained: What is NASA’s Gateway lunar orbiting outpost?:- NASA recently finalised the contract for the initial crew module of the agency’s Gateway lunar orbiting outpost. The contract, which is worth $187 million has been awarded to Orbital Science Corporation of Dulles, Virginia, which is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Northrop Grumman Space.

NASA has described the Gateway as key to the new era of lunar explorations both in the orbit and on the surface of the Moon.

One of the most unique features of the Gateway is that it can be moved to other orbits around the Moon to conduct more research. The Gateway is being built by both international and commercial partners and will support exploration on and near the Moon and later to Mars as well.

NASA has issued this contract to design the habitation and logistics (HALO) support for the Gateway, which is a part of NASA’s Artemis program that aims to send the first woman and the next man to the Moon by 2024.

Gateway is a small spaceship that will orbit the Moon, meant for astronaut missions to the Moon and later, for expeditions to Mars. It will act as a temporary office and living quarters for astronauts, distanced at about 250,000 miles from Earth.

4)Explained: What are the prospects for a second wave of COVID-19?:-

What’s a second wave?

It’s not a scientific term with well-defined parameters. Rather, it’s used to refer to a subsequent, serious increase in cases that occurs after the original surge has been quashed in a given area. Pandemics are caused by new pathogens that the vast majority of humans have no immune protection against. That’s what allows them to become global outbreaks. Pandemics are uncommon, but influenza is one of the more frequent causes. What often happens is that a novel variant of flu virus spreads around the world and then recedes, kind of like a tsunami. A few months later, it comes back and spreads around the world, or large parts of it, again.

So how does a virus come back?

Lifting containment measures too quickly may allow cases to start rising anew. Other factors could lead to a more dramatic increase that might be clearly recognizable as a second wave. In the case of influenza, there’s the onset of cool weather, a factor that may affect the coronavirus, too. Or the pathogen can mutate. This is another feature of flu, which evolves more or less constantly. In the latter part of 1918, a second wave of the historic influenza outbreak occurred and caused most of the deaths in that pandemic. Some researchers believe it was brought about by a mutation that made the virus again unrecognizable to most people’s immune systems. Another important variable is the movement of the virus to populations that haven’t been exposed before and don’t have immunity.

What could prevent it?

The WHO has recommended lifting movement restrictions in stages to test the effect of each before moving to greater openness. In any case, experts say, the key to keeping infections low without locking down everyone is to scale up testing and contact tracing. Health authorities need to find infected people, isolate them and identify their recent contacts, so they can be tested as well and isolated if necessary. Eventually, it’s possible that enough people will become exposed to the coronavirus that herd immunity will develop and it will stop spreading, or that a vaccine against it will be licensed.

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