Positive News is an ongoing series from The Latch turning the spotlight on all the good in the world that you may have missed.
Life is tough and the news cycle ain’t helping anything right now. Disaster, drama, and death sell papers and get eyeballs on the page but they don’t do much for our mental health.
If you’ve felt like simply switching off from the constant barrage of updates charting the world’s lurch from one crisis to the next, we’re here to provide you with a much-needed antidote.
Good stuff happens all the time. It just doesn’t get quite the same coverage as bad stuff. That means we end up thinking that everything that’s going on in the world is terrible when it really isn’t.
So, here are five of the best news stories from the past week that will put a spring in your step and give you a little something to smile about.
COVID: India Vaccinates 10 Million in a Single Day, Vaccines Cut Risk of Long COVID, New Treatments in The Works
While the pandemic continues to rage – and for many Aussies, feels unending – the world is very much getting on top of the virus in a lot of great ways.
It was once a serious worry that countries like India, with massive populations and poor infrastructure, wouldn’t be able to vaccinate their populations effectively. That’s being proven wrong as India smashed a personal record by vaccinating 10 million people in a single day last Friday. The country still has a long way to go, with a population of 1.3 billion, but they are moving rapidly.
A study in the UK has found that being fully vaccinated against Covid-19 not only cuts the risk of catching it but also of that infection turning into long COVID. Researchers at King’s College London have shown that, for the minority of people who get COVID despite two jabs, the odds of developing symptoms lasting longer than four weeks are cut by 50%.
The pharmaceutical giant Pfizer has started testing new treatments for COVID, with single-dose pills being given to people with mild symptoms to test its effectiveness. The oral antiviral treatment has entered a mid-to-late-stage trial and, if the trial is successful, Pfizer has said it would file for emergency approval between October and December this year. The drug manufacturer has said the pill could be prescribed at the first sign of infection, without requiring hospitalisation.
A team of researchers in California may have found an antibody that can neutralise all known novel coronavirus strains, including the developing variants. GlaxoSmithKline and Vir Biotechnology recently conducted a huge collaborative study by scientists and developed a new antibody therapy, called Sotrovimab. During the project, they discovered a new natural antibody “that has remarkable breadth and efficacy,” according to the Berkeley Lab. Structural biologist Jay Nix, who was involved with the project, said the antibody can potentially stop all coronaviruses similar to COVID-19.
Australia’s Paralympians Now Get The Same Medal Payments as Olympians
Olympics gold medallists got a $20,000 reward but there was no similar bonus for Paralympians. The news sparked outrage across the country as the funding discrepancies were revealed, forcing the government to announce that Paralympian’s would receive the same medal bonuses as Olympians.
On Thursday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he wanted to share “Australia’s joy and pride” in its para-athletes.
“I’m very pleased to announce that the government will provide additional support to Paralympics Australia to ensure our Paralympic medallists will receive equivalent payments to our Olympic medallists,” Morrison said.
At Tokyo, Australia’s Olympic silver medallists and bronze medallists were also rewarded with $15,000 and $10,000 respectively, but Paralympics Australia does not have the financial resources to invest in such reward schemes, as most of its available funding goes towards preparing and sending teams to the Summer and Winter Games.
The discrepancy had been highlighted to a wider audience during these Games after the Olympic rugby sevens champion and AFLW player Chloe Dalton launched a campaign to fund bonuses and provide parity for Paralympians.
The Era of Leaded Petrol is ‘Officially Over’ as Last Country Finishes its Supply
The era of leaded petrol is officially over, the UN has announced, eliminating a major threat to human and planetary health.
UN experts have called the use of the fuel, which began in 1922, a “catastrophe for the environment and public health”.
Lead is an extremely poisonous metal and there is no safe level of exposure but before its toxicity was fully understood, it was used widely in the production of petrol. By the 1970s, nearly all petrol produced around the world contained lead.
Algeria was the last country to use it, and now that they have finally stopped selling it in petrol stations, the world is entirely free from lead exhaust fumes from vehicles.
Officials claim the end of the use of leaded petrol will prevent more than 1.2 million premature deaths a year. This is part of a wider push to improve air pollution levels across the world.
“The successful enforcement of the ban on leaded petrol is a huge milestone for global health and our environment,” said Inger Andersen, executive director of the UN environment programme.
“Overcoming a century of deaths and illnesses that affected hundreds of millions and degraded the environment worldwide, we are invigorated to change humanity’s trajectory for the better through an accelerated transition to clean vehicles and electric mobility.”
Clean Energy Interest Soars in NSW as States Resist Rules to Prop Up Coal
A plan to develop Australia’s largest renewable energy zone in New South Wales has been overwhelmed with interest from investors. The state’s New England region has seen registrations of interest at more than four times the available capacity, the state government says.
The New England renewable energy zone had received 80 registrations of interest from investors offering to build a total of 34GWs of new wind, solar and storage projects. The proposed 8GW-capacity zone is one of five designated clean energy areas in the state under legislation passed with multiparty support last year.
The announcement comes as some states and territories push back against suggestions from Canberra for a new energy plan that would seek to prolong the life of existing coal-fired generators.
Sydney Zoo Throws Birthday Party for a Cassowary
A lot of Australians have been having low key birthday celebrations during lockdown – but not Princess the Southern Cassowary – celebrating his 20th birthday in style at WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo this weekend.
Given Princess has been missing his usual interaction with guests and enjoys nothing more than being spoiled, his birthday was the perfect opportunity for the Darling Harbour attraction’s keepers to throw him a surprise lockdown party with all the trimmings, including his favourite treats and even a gift to unwrap!
Princess, who was mistaken for a female before a DNA test proved otherwise, lives up to his name with his high-maintenance personality. Princess hates getting his feet wet, even though most Cassowaries love water and he refuses to eat grapes with seeds in them.
“We know Princess is a very picky eater, so we made sure his birthday cake was made up of his favourite foods; watermelon, tomatoes and of course red SEEDLESS grapes,” said Renee Howell, keeper at WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo.