According to the UN, a "perfect storm" is underway for the coronavirus in India

According to the UN, a perfect storm is underway for the coronavirus in India

According to the UN

A UN spokesperson explains that the surge in cases is likely due to multiple factors in India, not just the potentially more infectious variant

(Photo: Trinity Care Foundation via Flickr CC) If there is a What we have (perhaps) learned in over a year of the pandemic is that getting out of it will require efforts on multiple fronts, from investing in vaccination policies, to taking containment measures to spreading the virus to early isolation of outbreaks where possible . As well as the solution, the triggering of critical situations is often due to several factors: this is what World Health Organization (WHO) spokesman Tarik Jasarevi recalled, commenting on the new dramatic wave of cases that is affecting the India. The fault could be yes of the new Indian variant, but not only: large gatherings, low vaccination rates and excessive recourse to hospitals could have created a "perfect storm", reports Reuters citing the spokesperson.

In recent days the new wave of cases in India has been the center of global attention. Even with all the considerations of the case that we had made bearing in mind the populousness of India, the surge of the epidemic is evident - to exceed two million cases and 15,000 deaths per week - and the images of the bonfires set up in New Delhi to cremate the bodies of Covid-19 victims and the lines outside hospitals have gone around the world. The surge is there, probably smaller than the real one, due to the submerged and underestimates according to some. Immediately there was talk of a new variant as a possible responsible for the resumption of the epidemic in the country, the B.1.617, which has some mutations that could make it more infectious and able to escape the immune responses of those who have already had a ' infection.

However Jasarevi stressed that it is not yet clear to what extent the changes in the virus have contributed to the surge in cases. The low vaccination rates, the large gatherings of people and the excessive use of the country's hospitals, proven by the lack of oxygen, probably also weighed.

The mobilization to come to the rescue of the country has begun, with aid promised and arriving from various quarters, reports the Guardian, especially for medical material and oxygen. But Jasarevi also called on countries that are more advanced in vaccinations and that have already secured the most vulnerable people to share their vaccine doses with the Covax program and with other countries. Due to the surge in cases, India had in fact interrupted the export of vaccines produced in the country and destined for the program.

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Astronomers ask UN committee to protect night skies from megaconstellations

a close up of a computer: The image shows diagonal lines caused by the light reflected by a group of 25 Starlink satellites passing through the field of view of a telescope at Lowell Observatory in Arizona during observations of the NGC 5353/4 galaxy group on May 25, 2019. © Provided by Space The image shows diagonal lines caused by the light reflected by a group of 25 Starlink satellites passing through the field of view of a telescope at Lowell Observatory in Arizona during observations of the NGC 5353/4 galaxy group on May 25, 2019.

At first, they provided a new type of heavenly spectacle. But Space's Starlink internet satellite trains traveling across the sky in neat formations after the launch of each batch of the megaconstellation's spacecraft have long annoyed astronomers.

The IAU has now decided to take the issue to the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UN COPUOS), according to Thomas Schildknecht, the deputy director of the Astronomical Institute of the University of Bern, Switzerland, who represents Switzerland in the IAU. The organization of astronomers is requesting that UN COPUOS protect the sky's darkness for the sake of future advancements in astronomy.

'These trains are nice and impressive, but do we really want to see them everywhere?' Schildknecht said on April 20 in a news conference organized by the European Space Agency (ESA) during the 8th European Space Debris Conference held virtually from Darmstadt, Germany, April 20 to 23. 'Do we want to see them in the Australian outback? In Antarctica? Or in the very dark regions of Chile? Probably not.'

Related: No, they're not aliens — SpaceX's Starlink satellites surprise skywatchers

Astronomers have complained about the streaks ruining their observations ever since SpaceX, Starlink's operator, started lofting the Internet-beaming megaconstellation into low Earth orbit in 2019. SpaceX currently has approval to launch 12,000 satellites, but the company's plans call for launching as many as 30,000 spacecraft. The launches are coming thick and fast, up to four a month, each injecting up to 60 satellites into orbit.

'It's not just the streaks but also the diffuse background light and the radio noise from these satellites that may prevent us from accessing the sky,' Schildknecht said. 'It may cut us off from accessing knowledge about our universe.'

SpaceX has acknowledged the problem and tried to reduce the amount of light reflected by the satellites. Astronomers, however, said the mitigation measures so far have been insufficient.

The IAU, Schildknecht said, asks UN COPUOS to create regulations that would restrict the brightness of the satellites in megaconstellations and request operators to share data about their satellites' orbits with astronomers so that they could more easily avoid streaks in their observations. 

Report: Satellite megaconstellations could have 'extreme' impact on astronomy

The efforts of SpaceX, as well as other aspiring megaconstellation developers like Amazon and OneWeb, which launched 36 new satellites for its own constellation on Sunday, concern the global space community not only because of the impact on astronomical observations but also because of the hazards these satellites pose to the already cluttered orbital environment. 

Operators at the European Space Operations Centre in Darmstadt, Germany, have to conduct avoidance maneuvers on average every two weeks over the fleet of 20 ESA spacecraft controlled from the center, said Holger Krag, the head of ESA Space Safety Program, during the news conference. But many more events generate alerts and have to be evaluated, even though an avoidance maneuver is at the end not conducted.

Nearly half of all of these alerts involve objects in large constellations or small satellites, the agency added in a written statement to 'These two classes are those that increased most in the past few years and are forecast to continue increasing,' ESA said.

Related: This is what SpaceX's Starlink satellites first looked like in the sky

Space debris experts have long warned about the deteriorating orbital environment. Regulations, they say, were drawn up long ago when there were far fewer satellites hurtling around the Earth. What is worse, the guidelines, such as the requirement to deorbit a spacecraft within 25 years of a mission's end, are not always observed. According to ESA, only about 20% of satellites in low Earth orbit are successfully deorbited at the end of their mission.

According to ESA, about 11,370 satellites have been launched since 1957, when the Soviet Union successfully orbited a beeping ball called Sputnik. About 6,900 of these satellites remain in orbit, but only 4,000 are still functioning. 

Starlink, with its monthly rate of over a hundred launched satellites, might wreak havoc in the already perilous orbital environment. 

'Within one month, hundreds of satellites are being launched, and that is much more than we used to launch during an entire year,' Schildknecht said. 'Even with post-mission disposal, if we want to ensure long-term sustainable use of space, we will come to a point in certain orbital regions when we have to decide about the maximum capacity. We will need to decide whether we can safely launch another 10,000 new satellites.'

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