Covid-19 Statistics

Covid-19 Statistics

The United NationsDepartment of Economic and Social Affairs, Statistics Division has gathered data from various agencies and makes them available in real time for an overview of the situation worldwide.

The data can be accessed here.

The website provides a space for the global statistical community to share guidance, actions, tools and best practices to ensure the operational continuity of data programmes by National Statistical Offices, and to address issues of open and timely access to critical data needed by governments and all sectors of society to respond to the global COVID-19 crisis.

Science for Democracy’s statement on the resignation of the ERC’s president

Science for Democracy’s statement on the resignation of the ERC’s president

Since 2007 the ERC has financed and supported the execution of more than 9,500 projects throughout the EU Member States and the associated countries. Applying for the ERC funding at the early stage of one’s research career (Starting Grant), mid-stage (Consolidation Grant) and mature stage (Advanced Grant) is part of the professional development track-record of any promising scientist across all fields of knowledge. 

Two features of the ERC funding make it a unique opportunity for scientific career and freedom of research: 1) the bottom-up application process driven by the curiosity of the researcher, consisting of the elaboration of a detailed ‘high risks, high gains’ research proposal to investigate the research questions that the candidate identifies as the most urgent and innovative in her field, and 2) the assignment of the entire budget to the applicant, who earns the freedom of identifying the most appropriate research institution to carry out the project. These two elements of the ERC grants are reflected in the high level of the respective competition and in the rigorous peer-reviewed process of assessment of the proposals submitted each year. 

The rationale of this funding mechanism is enabling talented scientists to identify innovative research trajectories without being influenced by ‘top-down’ preferences about the themes and topics that the EU considers priority areas of research. As such, we must protect the ERC and its defining features. 

Whilst Science for Democracy cannot comment on the actual reasons that on Tuesday, April 7th led to the resignation of Professor Mauro Ferrari from the presidency of the ERC, the motivation offered by Ferrari in his interview with the Financial Times seems not to be consistent with the rationale of the ERC’s funding mechanism described here.

Professor Ferrari’s proposal to create a programme directed at combating the coronavirus through the ERC funding mechanism is not consistent with the respective bottom-up approach and with the very spirit of the Council. That alone is a strong reason for rejecting any interference of the ERC president with the institution that he seems not to have understood and, with his declarations, supported. We echo the ERC’s scientific council’s statement regarding Professor Ferrari’s departure and reminding that 50 ERC projects initiated by the respective applicants do already contribute to advance knowledge and instruments relevant to the current pandemic.

At the same time, Science for Democracy urges the European Parliament to steer a systemic and common response to the Covid-19 crisis throughout the European Union. For this purpose Science for Democracy is among the promoters of the official Petition to the European Parliament deposited together with multiple European organisations and supported by over 7,000 citizens which calls for a joint strategy to address the Covid-19, social, economic, and climate crises. The Petition will be discussed by the PETI Committee of the European Parliament in a special session. You can read and sign it here.

Wellcome Trust urges firms to donate £6bn for Covid-19 research

Wellcome Trust urges firms to donate £6bn for Covid-19 research

It is ‘the best investment your business can make’, says medical research charity

The Wellcome Trust is calling on big businesses to donate $8bn (£6.4bn) for research into developing diagnostic tests, therapies and vaccines to tackle the coronavirus pandemic.

Jeremy Farrar, the director of the London-based medical research charity, said a huge investment in scientific research was “the only exit strategy” to save millions of lives and drag the global economy out of an inevitable recession.

Farrar said that while businesses and governments had acted fast to help support staff and keep the global economy ticking along, the only long-term solution was to quickly develop vaccines and treatments.

“The only exit strategy for this that I see is the development of diagnostics, therapies and vaccines,” he said. “That’s the only way we can return to normal.”

On a conference call later on Tuesday, Farrar will tell the chief executives of the world’s biggest companies that pledging funds to the Covid-Zero fund “is the best investment your business can make today”.

He said: “Businesses and governments are rightly concerned with tackling immediate concerns – how to support staff, keep trading and bolster economies. But we also need a way out of this pandemic as fast as possible.”

Farrar, who is an infectious disease researcher as well as director of the Wellcome Trust, said: “Drugs, vaccines and rapid diagnostics are the only way we have of saving lives, bringing this pandemic to an end and preventing it reappearing. This is the only exit strategy – but we do not have the funding we need to execute it.”

Continue reading the Guardian article

Lockdown in Italy: personal stories of doing science during the COVID-19 quarantine

Lockdown in Italy: personal stories of doing science during the COVID-19 quarantine

Four researchers explain how they’re keeping going through the coronavirus pandemic.

Italy is at the epicentre of the coronavirus pandemic in Europe. More than 100,000 people have been infected in the country (including at least 8,956 health-care workers) and more than 11,000 have died. Lombardy, the region of northern Italy around Milan, is the area most affected so far. Northern Italy went into emergency lockdown on 8 March, and the government expanded the quarantine to the entire nation three days later.

The lockdown will last until at least 3 April — and probably longer. Many scientists have had their professional lives upended because they are sequestered at home or, if they can still go into work, they cannot collaborate in person with colleagues. Here, four researchers in northern Italy describe how they are navigating the lockdown.

Continue reading the Nature article

Rome Consensus 2.0

Rome Consensus 2.0

“The Rome Consensus 2.0 statement is a call from professionals to governments to make clear and urgent moves towards health and rights based approaches”

Science for Democracy has signed the The Rome Consensus 2.0 – Towards a Humanitarian Drug Policy Statement as it reflects its belief in a scientifically sound, human rights approach to drug policy.

The document is a follow up to the 2005 Rome Consensus for a Humanitarian Drug Policy, signed by the leaders of 121 National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies across the world.

The goal of the statement is to reduce the health and social harms caused by drug policies that are too often not humane nor based on evidence. Rather than punitive approaches, the Rome Consensus 2.0 calls for prevention, treatment, harm reduction, overdose management, deflection from arrest, human rights and ensuring access to medicines.

The ideas behind the statement reflect the anti-prohibitionist approach taken by Science for Democracy since its inception, and that it implements through regular participation in the Commission on Narcotic Drugs at the United Nations in Vienna, where it organizes side-events and meets like-minded organizations.

The full statement is available here.

US is using drugs as a pretext for political gain

US is using drugs as a pretext for political gain

Today, April 1st 2020, the arguments against drug prohibition were once again published on the Financial Times, the world’s most prestigious financial newspaper. Guido Long from Science for Democracy wrote a letter responding to the news of the US charging Maduro of Venezuela with “narco-terrorism”. As usual, the US use prohibition as a pretext for political gain, with total disinterest for their citizens’ health.

Below you can find the text of the letter:

US is using drugs as a pretext for political gain

Your report “US charges Venezuela’s Nicolás Maduro with narco-terrorism” (FT.com, March 27) is further proof that prohibition is merely a means to an end. And that end is not public health, but political gain. In the past it was about discriminating against minorities such as African-Americans (who predominantly used cocaine), Mexicans (cannabis) and Asians (opium). Now it is about deposing a foreign leader.

There is no doubt that Mr Maduro is a tyrant and a criminal, but his main victims are Venezuelans, not Americans. The claim that he used cocaine “as a weapon” is ludicrous, not least because America’s biggest drug problem at the moment is the opioid epidemic. The cause of that cannot be found in a foreign leader, though, but in a flawed health system in which doctors too often put profit before public health. Counterproductive drug policies and conservative approaches did the rest.

Until drug supply is legal and regulated by the state, the black market will inevitably have to step in. Drug users should be treated as human beings (or patients, in cases of problematic use). Dictators should be treated as such, and made-up terms such as “narco-terrorist” are unnecessary.

Response to COVID-19 in Taiwan

Response to COVID-19 in Taiwan

Big Data Analytics, New Technology, and Proactive Testing

 

Taiwan is 81 miles off the coast of mainland China and was expected to have the second highest number of cases of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) due to its proximity to and number of flights between China. The country has 23 million citizens of which 850 000 reside in and 404 000 work in China. In 2019, 2.71 million visitors from the mainland traveled to Taiwan. As such, Taiwan has been on constant alert and ready to act on epidemics arising from China ever since the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) epidemic in 2003. Given the continual spread of COVID-19 around the world, understanding the action items that were implemented quickly in Taiwan and assessing the effectiveness of these actions in preventing a large-scale epidemic may be instructive for other countries.

COVID-19 occurred just before the Lunar New Year during which time millions of Chinese and Taiwanese were expected to travel for the holidays. Taiwan quickly mobilized and instituted specific approaches for case identification, containment, and resource allocation to protect the public health. Taiwan leveraged its national health insurance database and integrated it with its immigration and customs database to begin the creation of big data for analytics; it generated real-time alerts during a clinical visit based on travel history and clinical symptoms to aid case identification. It also used new technology, including QR code scanning and online reporting of travel history and health symptoms to classify travelers’ infectious risks based on flight origin and travel history in the past 14 days. Persons with low risk (no travel to level 3 alert areas) were sent a health declaration border pass via SMS (short message service) messaging to their phones for faster immigration clearance; those with higher risk (recent travel to level 3 alert areas) were quarantined at home and tracked through their mobile phone to ensure that they remained at home during the incubation period.

Moreover, Taiwan enhanced COVID-19 case finding by proactively seeking out patients with severe respiratory symptoms (based on information from the National Health Insurance [NHI] database) who had tested negative for influenza and retested them for COVID-19; 1 was found of 113 cases. The toll-free number 1922 served as a hotline for citizens to report suspicious symptoms or cases in themselves or others; as the disease progressed, this hotline has reached full capacity, so each major city was asked to create its own hotline as an alternative. It is not known how often this hotline has been used. The government addressed the issue of disease stigma and compassion for those affected by providing food, frequent health checks, and encouragement for those under quarantine. This rapid response included hundreds of action items.

Continue reading the JAMA Network Article

EU CAN DO IT!

EU CAN DO IT!

Sign the petition to the European Parliament on Covid-19, the social, economic and climate crises.

We are living in extraordinary and risky times.

 

We need the EU to take the leadership in putting in place an action plan able to address in the short and in the medium term concrete actions to answer to the global challenges we are facing today. No State can face alone the consequences of Covid19.

 

We call on the EP to implement the adequate mechanisms to resume its work as soon as possible, and to organize a space for the elaboration, proposal and mobilization of all possible instruments. The current EU institutional system has shown its weakness and inadequacy.

 

In addition to short term measures, it is necessary to relaunch the initiative of democratic reform of the EU in order to make it fit for purpose.

 

The EP must be at the forefront of this effort, and push urge the EU to for a strategy to trigger this path, based on 5 pillars:

➡ giving a systemic and common response of the European Union to the Covid-19 crisis;

➡ enhancing reforming the EU healthcare and civic protection instruments and competences to respond to outbreaks;

➡ implementing all economic, financial and monetary policy measures to allow the EU to unlock resources and common measures to support citizens with the consequences of the pandemic, including measures for the mutualisation of public debts, own resources for the EU budget, according to a radical ecological reform of european taxation (including the acceleration of the Green New Deal);

➡ turning the first stages of the Conference on the Future of Europe into a public online assembly and reshape its goals;

➡ contributing to a global mechanism to prevent and face epidemics and pandemics

With your signature you can endorse the official petition to the European Parlament submitted on the 24th of March 2020 and expedite the process of evaluation from the “Peti Commission”


View the supporters of the petition Eu can do it! 

Go to the full text of the petititon


Supported by

The Petition to the European Parliament was elaborated during the 1st Meeting of the Council on Participatory Democracy on the 19th and 20th of March 2020.

NOBEL PRIZE:
Richard Roberts – Nobel Prize for Medicine

MAYORS:
Leoluca Orlando, Mayor of Palermo (Italy)
Gabriela Staszkiewicz, Mayor of the City of Cieszyn (Poland)
Basílio Horta, Mayor of Sintra (Portugal)
Rui Moreira, Mayor of Porto (Portugal)
Emil Boc, Mayor of Cluj-Napoca
Michele Abbaticchio, Mayor of Bitonto (Italy)
Enea Emiliani, Sindaco di Sant’Agata sul Santerno (Italy)
Christos Doulkeridis, Mayor of Ixelles, Region Bruxelles capitale (Belgium)
Jacek Majchrowski, Mayor of Krakow (Poland)
Joan Ribó Canut, Mayor of Valencia (Spain)
Ullrich Sierau, Lord Mayor of Dortmund (Germany)
​​​​​​​Philip Close, Mayor of Bruxelles (Belgium)

ACADEMICS:
Pr. Mikel Mancisidor – Universidad de Deusto
Pr. Tara Dasgupta Dasgupta – University of the West Indies
Pr. Blanca Mendoza – University Autónoma Madrid
Pr. John Erik Fossum – University of Oslo
Pr. Heiko Pääbo –    University of Tartu”
Maria José Gama Caldas – Université libre de Bruxelles
Richelle Jean – Université libre de Bruxelles
Jose M Requena – Universidad Autonoma de Madrid
Heidi Mertes – Ghent University
Pr. Claudio Radaelli – University College London
Prof. Simona Giordano – University of Manchester, CSEP
Paola Bonfanti – The Francis Crick Institute / UCL
Pr. Alessandro Pluchino – Universitá di Catania
Pr. Andrea Rapisarda – Universitá di Catania
Pr. Bruno Dente – Politecnico di Milano
Frank Neumann – University of Leicester
Paul Arne Oestvaer – University of Oslo
Roberto Aringhieri – University of Turin
Mita Marra – University of Naples “Federico II”
Rosa Colmenarejo – Universidad Loyola Andalucía
K Mohan Raidu Konatham – INFORMATICS INDIA

ORGANIZATIONS:
Enrico Giovannini, co-founder of ASVIS and former Italian Minister of Labour and Social Policies
Istvan Hegedus, Hungarian Europe Society and supporter of the Petition against the Authorisation Law
Charles Jenkins – Association of European Journalists (UK)
Mihaela-Ruxandra Sava – LegalUp.ro (you can find the petition translated in Romanian on the LegalUp blog: https://legalup.ro/eucandoit/)
Roger Casale – New Europeans
Ulrike Guerot – European Democracy Lab
Iga Kamocka – Polish Robert Schuman Foundation
Tony Simpson – Permanent EU Citizenship ECI and Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation
Omri  Preiss – Alliance for Europe
Francois Xavier Mombelli – Le Cannabiste
Simon de Leeuw – DutchCulture, Center for International Cooperation
Reyet Margot – Association Vent d’Ouest
Martina Helmlinger – Grow Scientific Progress
Milutin Milošević – Drug Policy Network South East Europe
Anne Chamayou – Vice President, Volt France
Nikolas Spanoudakis – Euroafederalisterna
Mátyás Bercsényi – Financial Consumer Protection Association
Katja Sinko – The European Moment / European Democracy Lab
Hervé Parmentier – Centre d’Action LaÏque
Toni Venable, Anna Comacchio, Beniamino Brunati – ECIT Foundation
Jesse Colzani – The Good Lobby
Lorenzo Marsili, Niccolò Milanese, Martin Pairet, Susana Carp – European Alternatives
Marco Cappato, Lorenzo Mineo, Virginia Fiume – Eumans
Marco Perduca, Guido Long, Ersilia Vaudo– Science for Democracy
Pier Virgilio Dastoli – Movimento Europeo
Filomena Gallo – Associazione Luca Coscioni per la libertà di ricerca scientifica
Michele Fiorillo – EU Networks Coordinator, Civico Europe
Monica Frassoni – Federalist and Green
Leonardo Monaco – Chairman Certi Diritti
Prof. Roberto Castaldi – CESUE
Prof. Fabio Masini – CESUE
Stefano Rimini – Policy Advisor, European Parliament
Lavinia Scudiero – Grow Scientific Progress
Carlo Caldarini – Bruxelles Laïque
Sabina Ratti – Sustainable Development Solutions Network
Samuele Nannoni – ODERAL
Daniela Vancic – Democracy International
DIEM25 Italia (national collective)
Mateusz Wojcieszak, The Field of Dialogue Foundation (Poland)
Filip Pazderski – Institut of Public Affair (Poland)
Vasile Craciunescu and Dragoi Ionelia – geo-spatial.org (Romania) and promoters of the manifesto to ask complete publication of data on the evolution of the Covid-19 
Nicolaj Grabert – Mother Earth Bodyguards
Ettore Costa – Centro studi e iniziative europeo
Herman Joanne – Federation des maisons médicales francophones

POLITICIANS:
Violeta Bulc – Former EU Commissioner for Transport
Brando Benifei – MEP
Eleonora Evi – MEP
Daniela Rondinelli – MEP
Elisabetta Gualmini – MEP
Pascal Durand – MEP
Sandro Gozi – MEP
Gianna Gancia – MEP
Pietro Fiocchi – MEP
Frédérique Ries – MEP
Massimiliano Smeriglio – MEP
Lia Quartapelle – Italian MP, Democratic Party
Giorgio Trizzino – Italian MP, 5 Stars Movement
Gea Schirò – Former MP
Michele Usuelli – Regional Counsellor Lombardia, +Europa – Radicali
Giorgio Andreoli – Municipal Counsel, II Municipality of Rome

..TOGETHER WITH MORE THAN 6,500 CITIZENS (AND GROWING)

JOIN US AND ASK THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT TO ADOPT MEASURES TO ADDRESS COVID-19, THE ECONOMIC, SOCIAL AND CLIMATE CRISIS.


Full text

Petition to the European Parliament – Empowering the EU to address global challenges: from Covid-19 to social, economic and climatic crises

Submitted to the European Parliament on the 24th of March 2020

We are living in extraordinary and risky times. We need the EU to take the leadership in putting in place a plan able to address in the short and in the medium term concrete actions to answer to the global challenges we are facing today. No State can face alone the consequences of Covid19.

We call on the EP to implement the adequate mechanisms to resume its work as soon as possible, and to organize a space for the elaboration, proposal and mobilization of all possible instruments. The current EU institutional system has shown its weakness and inadequacy.

In addition to short term measures, it is necessary to relaunch the initiative of democratic reform of the EU in order to make it fit for purpose.

The EP must be at the forefront of this effort, and push  the EU to trigger this path, based on 5 pillars:

➡ giving  a systemic and common response of the European Union to the Covid-19 crisis;

➡ enhancing  the EU healthcare and civic protection instruments and competences to respond to outbreaks;

➡ implementing all economic, financial and monetary policy measures to allow the EU to unlock ressources and common measures to support citizens with the consequences of the pandemic, including measures for the mutualisation of public debts, own resources for the EU budget, according to a radical ecological reform of  european taxation;

➡ turning the first stages of the Conference on the Future of Europe into a public online assembly and reshape its goals;

➡ contributing to a global mechanism to prevent and face epidemics and pandemics;

The first pillar refers to measures needed to face the Covid-19 emergency in the short term, and should be implemented immediately:

➡ 1. Emergency measures and rule of law

The EU should strengthen and implement its resources and instruments (including the solidarity clause ex art. 222) to support national healthcare and civil protection instruments. This includes harmonizing criteria for the measurement and classification of cases fully activating the EU Mechanism of Civil Protection – with particular attention to the prevention of future epidemics and pandemics – for the supply of the necessary medical equipment and its distribution to the countries and regions most in need.

The EU should also monitor and provide guidelines on the respect of fundamental guarantees of the Rule of Law and civil liberties under restriction policies implemented by Member States during the emergency. Other necessary reforms refer to measures needed to empower the EU to face global challenges such as social and economic recession, climate change. Some of these proposals address a constitutional change of the European Union. Where needed, the EP should activate its powers to propose treaty changes in view of the establishment of a constituent process.

➡ 2. Eu competences on healthcare and civic protection

As proposed in the Treaty establishing a EU approved by the EP in 1984, healthcare and protection should become concurrent competences of the EU, subject to the ordinary legislative procedure. Rather than merely sustain or coordinate the action of Member States under particular circumstances, the EU should frame a harmonic legislation in these strategic fields, in particular through the establishment of a European Civil Protection Corps.

➡ 3. Financial instruments and constitutional reforms

The EP should call on the European Commission to implement a coordinated financial intervention to face the current economic depression and its aftermath. Part of these resources should be used to ensure the ecological conversion of european taxation and promote green investments. In order to facilitate the approval of these measures, the EU should introduce ordinary legislative procedures for all EU competences, including fiscal, budget, financial and foreign policy, by removing unanimity vote.

The following financial measures should be proposed by the EP

  • triggering and increasing the budget of the European Globalization Adjustment Fund to provide financial help for workers made redundant due to the emergency. This funding should be also addressed to poor and homeless people, in order to ensure the right to dignity and housing;
  • withdrawing the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) of  2 May 2018 scheduled to start on 1 January 2021, and proposing a new 5-year MFF providing means to transform the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) into a tool for sustainable growth, and funding for European investment;
  • introducing loans and mortgages (EUROBOND or «European Health Bonds») to finance the immediate strengthening of the European and national health systems to cope with the pandemic, which threatens the lives of millions of citizens, as well as the whole economic and financial sustainable growth stability of the EU;
  • moving fiscal issues to the ordinary legislative procedure and provide the EU with fiscal powers to adopt new own resources – such as a  border carbon tax (and carbon tariffs) – to finance the EU budget (or the Euro-area Budgetary Instrument, if the decision could be reached only at the Euro-area level);
  • reviewing the emission reduction targets of the EU in order to make them coherent with the Paris agreement (between -55% to -65% by 2030) and to equip the EU to become climate neutral by 2050.
  • accelerating the implementation of the Green New Deal.

➡ 4. A constitutional debate to relaunch the Conference on the Future of Europe

The social and political context of the Conference on the Future of Europe, scheduled for the beginning of May 2020, has been disrupted by the pandemic.

The European Parliament should propose a new framing and composition, taking stock from the current health crisis and the devastating impact on the economy. The Conference on the Future of Europe should be confirmed and reshaped , in its first stage, as  a public web conference accessible to all European citizens, with a portion of participants in the Conference randomly selected from the the entire EU population in order to obtain a highly diverse cross-section of European society in terms of geography, gender, age, socio-economic background and/or level of education.

The main goals and topics discussed by the the assembly should be:

  • involving citizens in the debate on the public policies needed to tackle the crisis and the post-crisis recovery;
  • drafting proposals for a new Constitutional Pact among citizens and Member States with the aim of empowering and democratizing European Institutions.

➡ 5. European contribution to global measures

The EP should urge the EU to contribute to:

    • increase financial aid for low and middle-income countries (LMICs) to strengthen and prepare their healthcare systems for new epidemics;

    • ensure global access to essential medicines as listed by the WHO;

    • promoted the ratification of international human rights instruments (in particular the additional protocol to the ICESCR) allowing individual remedies in case of denial of the right to health and the “right to science”, and use the UN General Comment on Science to clarify the obligations under art. 15 of the ICESCR establishing a special rapporteur on the “right to science”;

    • promote international collaboration on data sharing and foster the production of open data – with all the necessary measures to ensure individual privacy – including disease surveillance, creating databases of cases that are immediately and easily accessible to relevant organizations, providing rules requiring countries to share the information produced free of charge;

    • reach consensus on research priorities and trial protocols, in order to allow vaccines and antiviral candidates to move quickly through planned decision-making processes strengthening coordination and platform sharing so that regulatory reviews can take place quickly, based on evidence and medical-scientific needs, enabling suppliers to produce low-cost doses on a large scale in a simple way;

    • strengthen the coordination and sharing of lists including local and international trained teams that can be quickly mobilized;

    • ensure adequate funding, in partnership with the private sector, to enable existing structures to be rapidly reorganised for production during a pandemic, including through proper emergency funds to finance the procurement and distribution of vaccines to populations in need wherever they are.

All these are global issues needing a trans-national mobilisation – only through a widespread and inclusive participation will we be able to tackle the political, diplomatic, technical and budgetary obstacles that are necessary to improve the individual and collective quality of life protecting and promoting our human rights.

How unlocking the secrets of African DNA could change the world

How unlocking the secrets of African DNA could change the world

The continent’s genomic data could spur a scientific revolution. Why have we ignored it for so long?

More than 7,000 years ago, during the last Green Sahara period, when the vast north African desert was rain-fed and lush, a child was born with extraordinary powers – and the seed of a curse.

Locked inside the child was a genetic mutation that gave a heightened immunity to malaria. Over the following 259 generations, the disease would become the deadliest in human history. Indian scribes of the Vedic period called it “the king of diseases”. Malaria hastened Rome’s fall. It killed up to 300 million people in the 20th century alone – one in every 20 deaths.

The child survived because of a change in haemoglobin, the molecule in red blood cells that carries oxygen, which was then passed on to its descendants. The mutation persisted because it was a means of survival in malarial sub-Saharan Africa. But its potency held a dark secret.

Sometimes, when two of those descendants procreated, their children inherited two mutated genes, and their red blood cells collapsed into crescents, clogging their blood vessels. The result is what we now call sickle cell anaemia – a painful, sometimes deadly genetic disorder that afflicts 300,000 babies every year, mostly in Africa.

The link between sickle cell and malaria was established in the 1950s and had a profound impact on the field of human molecular genetics. But the existence of the child – which may be crucial in finding a cure – was not discovered until 2018, by Charles Rotimi and his colleague Daniel Shriner at the US National Institutes of Health.

Continue reading the Financial Times article