AsianScientist (Dec. 31, 2021) – As the second year of living with COVID-19 closes, researchers from Asia continue to devise novel interventions against the biggest public health issue of our era. While a post-pandemic future is within grasp, combatting the virus has evolved into a race against time, with scientists fighting new fires including emerging viral variants and patient anecdotes of long COVID.
Amid this fast-evolving scenario, Asian Scientist Magazine turned the spotlight on evidence-driven strategies making a difference on the healthcare front. Our deep dives featured Vietnam’s low-cost but highly effective COVID-19 response and China’s historic eradication of malaria after seven long decades.
Indeed, the pandemic remains top-of-mind, but the region’s researchers have not lost sight of other critical issues including sustainability and gender parity in STEM. From diving into SARS-CoV-2’s molecular world to zooming out to the full picture of Earth’s climate, 2021’s top 10 pieces highlight how scientific developments in Asia rendered significant benefits for society.
- The Chinese Academy Of Sciences Flags 65 ‘Risky’ Journals
China has established itself at the leading edge of global science, churning out impactful research in international journals each year. To drive publication in high-quality journals, the Chinese Academy of Sciences identified 65 ‘risky’ international journals to avoid in January—with some even coming from major publishers. As elevating the local research sector is a national priority, the list also encourages scientists from China to prioritize homegrown publications.
- A Spray A Day Keeps COVID-19 Away
Between vaccination roll-outs and repurposed drugs to alleviate symptoms, no one intervention is the silver bullet to thwarting COVID-19. To help curb viral transmission, clinician-scientists from Singapore trialed various preventative therapies in the healthcare setting. Reporting in April, the team found lower infection rates among health workers who used hydroxychloroquine or povidone-iodine throat sprays, compared to vitamin C and oral ivermectin regimens.
- 2021 Edition Of Asian Scientist 100 Announced
Whether resolving uncertainties around COVID-19 or fighting to continue research endeavors amid pandemic restrictions, Asia’s top minds ushered in exceptional discoveries and innovations in 2020. To recognize these remarkable efforts, the sixth annual edition of the Asian Scientist 100 unveiled in April highlights both rising stars and veteran scholars from 13 different countries.
- SARS-CoV-2 Variants, Explained
As it spreads through populations, SARS-CoV-2 racks up mutations in its genetic material, potentially leading to new variants. Some variants are more infective or can evade the immune system, imposing novel challenges on the pandemic frontlines. In May, we peered into the virus’ molecular world, where tiny genetic errors can mean large health consequences, and explored how scientists are combatting these emerging threats.
- In It For The Long Haul
While majority of COVID-19 cases are described as mild, many survivors are finding that returning to their normal lives is much less straightforward than initially thought. Even months after supposed ‘recovery’, COVID long-haulers are contending with debilitating physical and mental struggles. From heart complications to brain fog, read about how patients and physicians are clamoring for recognition of the disease’s long-term effects.
- Attracting Singapore’s Girls And Women Into STEM
Women account for less than 30 percent of researchers and engineers globally and in Singapore. In collaboration with market research firm YouGov, Asian Scientist Magazine surveyed 1,064 Singapore-based parents of children under 18, uncovering several gender-based differences in their perceptions.
Many parents believed that humanities subjects like literature are more suitable for girls, while ‘hard science’ subjects such as advanced mathematics are better suited for boys. However, most respondents indicated support for efforts like media visibility and scholarship programs to encourage girls and women to pursue STEM careers.
- How Vietnam Beat COVID-19
In the first 100 days after Vietnam detected its first COVID-19 case, the national tally hit only 270 with zero deaths. The Southeast Asian country has implemented one of the most successful strategies against the pandemic, despite being a low-middle-income economy that shares its northern border with the outbreak’s origin in China. In this feature, delve into how Vietnam’s swift and strict response saved citizens from the viral threat.
- The Vaccine Vanguard
As the world looks toward a post-pandemic future, vaccines are a shot of hope for protecting countless lives and returning to a sense of normalcy. Asia’s top scientists have joined forces to develop effective COVID-19 vaccine options. Meanwhile, policymakers and vaccine manufacturers are carving the quickest paths to delivering the shots to as many as possible.
- How China Beat Malaria
In late June, the World Health Organization declared China as officially malaria-free, marking four consecutive years of zero cases. During the nation’s 70-year battle with the mosquito-borne parasitic disease, infection rates had fallen by 99 percent by end-1990. To achieve total elimination, however, China needed a novel strategy called the 1-3-7 norm, combining high-quality surveillance data with strict response timelines.
- Crunching The Numbers Of Climate Change
Unearthing the intricacy of climate patterns—and changes to them—comes with a deluge of data. As such, scientists are tapping supercomputers to run complex models, analyzing several parameters such as wind flows and nutrient cycles. With more detailed data and the processing power to make more accurate predictions, researchers can better understand the impacts of human activities on the planet.
Copyright: Asian Scientist Magazine; Illustration: Ajun Chuah/Asian Scientist.
Disclaimer: This article does not necessarily reflect the views of AsianScientist or its staff.
#AS100 #China #Chinese Academy of Sciences #Climate Change #COVID-19 #Editor's Pick #Environment #Epidemiology #Infectious Disease #Malaria #Mosquito #Parasitic Infections #People #Public Health #SARS-CoV-2 #Singapore #Supercomputing #Top News #Vaccines #Vietnam #Virology #Women in Science #Women In Tech