Facts in News

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    Facts in News

    New variant T478K

    • Recently, Italian researchers have identified a new coronavirus mutation, whose scientific name is T478K.
      • An analysis of more than one million SARS-CoV-2 genome sequences has led to the identification of a new variant.
    • Like other strains, this presents a mutation in the spike protein.
    • This variant covers more than 50% of the existing viruses in this area.
    • The variant spreads evenly across males and females and age ranges. 
    • This variant has been increasingly spreading among people in North America, particularly in Mexico. 
    •  This variant represents 52.8% of all sequenced coronaviruses in Mexico, whereas in the US it shows up only in 2.7% of the sequenced samples.

    What is Spike Protein?

    • It is a protein that protrudes from the surface of a coronavirus, like the spikes of a crown or corona hence called ‘coronavirus’
    • In the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, it is the spike protein that initiates the process of infection in a human cell.
    •  It attaches itself to a human enzyme, called the ACE2 receptor, before going on to enter the cell and make multiple copies of itself.

    Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation

    • New Zealand is pushing Asia-Pacific trade group APEC to remove all tariffs on COVID-19 vaccines and related medical products
    • The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) is a regional economic forum established in 1989 to leverage the growing interdependence of the Asia-Pacific.
    •  It aims to create greater prosperity for the people of the region by promoting balanced, inclusive, sustainable, innovative and secure growth and by accelerating regional economic integration.
    • APEC has 21 members. 
    • It ensures that goods, services, investment and people move easily across borders.
    •  Members facilitate this trade through faster customs procedures at borders; more favourable business climates behind the border; and aligning regulations and standards across the region. 
    • APEC works to help all residents of the Asia-Pacific participate in the growing economy. 
      • For example, APEC projects provide digital skills training for rural communities and help indigenous women export their products abroad.
    •  APEC members also implement initiatives to increase energy efficiency and promote sustainable management of forest and marine resources

    Incredible India Tourist Facilitator Certification Programme (IITFC)

    • The Incredible India Tourist Facilitator Certification (IITFC) Programme is a digital initiative of the Ministry of Tourism (MoT) for the citizens of India to become a part of the booming Tourism Industry. 
    • It is an online programme where one can learn about tourism at their own time, space, path and pace. 
    • The successful completion of this programme would enable the learner to become a Certified Tourist Facilitator of the Ministry of Tourism.

    37th anniversary of Operation Blue Star 

    • Recently, the 37th anniversary of Operation Blue Star was observed.
    • The 1984 Operation Blue Star was the biggest internal security mission ever undertaken by the Indian Army.
      • The Indian military entered into the premises of the Golden Temple to drive out the Sikh extremist religious leader, Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and his armed followers.
        • It was carried out between June 1 and June 8, 1984, in Amritsar.
    • Operation Blue Star was divided into two parts:
      • Operation Metal: It was limited to Golden Temple but it also led to Operation Shop – the capturing of suspects from the outskirts of Punjab.
      • Operation Woodrose was launched throughout Punjab. The operation was carried out by the Indian Army, using tanks, artillery, helicopters and armoured vehicles.
    • Origin 
      • Operation Blue Star took birth after the rise of the Khalistan movement in India. 
      • The Khalistan movement was a political Sikh nationalist movement that aimed at creating an independent state for Sikhs inside the current North-Western Republic of India.
      • Operation Blue Star was Indira Gandhi’s solution to maintain the law and order situation in Punjab.
    • Indira Gandhi, the then Prime Minister of India, ordered the military operation to remove Sikh militants who were accumulating weapons in the Harmandir Sahib Complex (Golden Temple).
    • Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated by her Sikh bodyguards after Operation Bluestar, triggering a further wave of retaliation.

    Lynetteholm Island

    Recently, Denmark has approved the building of Lynetteholm, an artificial island off the coast of Copenhagen (capital of Denmark, located near Baltic Sea).

    • The 275-hectare project was designed as a housing and business district for around 35,000 people.
    • It will be built using soil from construction projects in Copenhagen and the surrounding area.
    • The artificial island will be located between Nordhavn and Refshaleøen.
    • It will protect the city’s harbour from rising water masses and from more frequent storm surges
    • Concerns Raised
      • Include a dam system around the perimeter.
      • Transportation of materials by road will involve a large number of vehicles.
      • Movement of sediment at sea and the possible impact on water quality, ecosystems of the Baltic Sea environment.

    (Image Courtesy: Twitter)

    World Oceans Day

    Every year, World Oceans Day is celebrated on 8th June.

    • It was designated by the United Nations General Assembly in 2008.
    • Aim: To create awareness about the benefits that mankind gets from the ocean and calls for conservation efforts.
    • Theme for 2021: The Ocean: Life and Livelihoods.
      • It leads up to the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development, which will run from 2021 to 2030.
    • Significance of Oceans
      • Covers over 70 per cent of the planet and holds 97 per cent of the planet’s water.
      • Provides life source, supporting humanity’s sustenance and that of every other organism on earth.
      • More than 90 per cent of trade is done using sea routes and an estimated 40 million people will be employed by ocean-based industries by 2030.
      • Absorb about 30 per cent of carbon dioxide produced by humans, buffering the impacts of global warming.
      • Produces at least 50 per cent of the planet’s oxygen.
      • The Sustainable Development Goal 14 is ‘Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development’.
    • Threats
      • Plastic waste, pollution, oil spills and increasing oven acidity, overfishing, invasive species, development plans hampering the natural ecosystems. 
      • With 90 per cent of big fish populations depleted, and 50 per cent of coral reefs destroyed, humans are taking more from the ocean than can be replenished.
    • Suggestions
      • Strengthen international cooperation to develop the scientific research and innovative technologies that can connect ocean science with the needs of society.
    • Other Related Days and Observations
      • World Wildlife Day: 3rd March
      • Earth Day: 22nd April
      • World Water Day: 22nd March
      • Earth Hour: Second-to-last and last weekend of March, every year. (27th March in 2021)
      • World Biodiversity Day: 22nd May
      • World Environment Day: 5th June

    Aducanumab

    Recently, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), US’s pharma regulator, has conditionally approved the use of Aducanumab.

    • Aducanumab is a drug for Alzheimer’s disease and goes by the brand name Aduhelm.
    • Aducanumab is based on the amyloid hypothesis of the disease, that plaques made of beta amyloid peptide (a type of protein) form in the patient’s brain leading to cognitive decline and problems with thinking.
    • The drug, a monoclonal antibody, supposedly binds to beta amyloid molecules and removes them.
    • It is given monthly via injection to patients who suffer from early stages of Alzheimer’s with mild cognitive challenges.
    • It was pulled out of trials in 2019 after it was thought not to be working.
    • Alzheimer’s Disease
      • A progressive brain disorder that typically affects people older than 65 and it is also irreversible.
      • It slowly destroys brain cells and nerves, disrupting the message-carrying neurotransmitters which leads to compromised memory, thinking ability and the capability to carry out simple tasks.
      • Drugs can delay cognitive decline by months but there is no cure for the diseases because the exact cause is not known yet.
      • An estimated 44 million people globally have Alzheimer’s.