This Record-Breaking, LEGO-Style Mini Brick Kingdom Took 3 Years to Build

In a new YouTube video published yesterday, Guinness World Records revealed the world’s largest LEGO-style mini brick diorama, and let’s just say it’ll put the sports cars, Colosseums, and Star Wars-themed projects of your childhood to shame.

In a caption to the video, Guinness World Records explains that the structure was based on the battles from the Lord of the Rings. The interlocking plastic brick diorama took a team of 50 designers and brick builders three years and 150 million bricks to create, according to the video.

Set to sweeping, orchestral music, the flyover of the medieval kingdom reveals ornate fortresses with flowing rivers of lava, and a giant, majestic castle with looming turrets and throngs of toy soldiers, among other standout features. Designed by Smaerd Land, which bills itself as China’s largest indoor children’s museum, the diorama alone encompasses a whopping 2,060 square feet. The fantasy world featured in the video is just one of several at the museum, which also includes a “Sci-Fi Zone” and a “Window of the World” display with a realistic US capitol building.

The breathtaking display left several viewers awestruck in the comments. “Let’s be honest, this was our childhood dream to have all of this,” one viewer wrote. “Shoutout to all of those people who worked hard to build this absolute masterpiece,” added another.

If that leaves you feeling inspired, thankfully you’ve got plenty of less ambitious options to start building a kingdom—if not a full-blown movie—of your own. (We recommend LEGO’s Mandalorian ‘Razor Crest,’ which is now back in stock on Amazon.)

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Global demand for cancer surgery set to grow by almost 5 million procedures within 20 years

cancer

Demand for cancer surgery is expected to increase from 9.1 million to 13.8 million procedures over the next twenty years, requiring a huge increase in the workforce including nearly 200,000 additional surgeons and 87,000 anaesthetists globally. With access to post-operative care strongly linked to lower mortality, improving care systems worldwide must be a priority in order to reduce disproportionate number of deaths following complications.

The findings of the two studies, published in The Lancet and The Lancet Oncology, highlight an urgent need to improve cancer surgery provision in low- and middle income countries, while also scaling-up their workforces in order to cope with increasing demand. Until now, a lack of data examining outcomes of cancer surgery in different income settings, and an absence of evidence-based estimates of future demand, had limited efforts to improve cancer care globally.

Cancer is a leading cause of death and disability globally, and exerts substantial economic impacts, with recent evidence suggesting a disproportionate burden of disease in LMICs. With more than half of cancer patients predicted to require surgery at some stage, it is a pivotal component of multidisciplinary care globally and plays a key role in preventing deaths. A 2015 study estimated that US$6.2 trillion in global GDP could be lost by 2030 if surgical cancer systems are not improved.

While the new studies did not assess impacts of COVID-19, the authors acknowledge that the delivery of high-quality post-operative care is more challenging during the pandemic.

Increasing future demand

The Article in The Lancet Oncology journal is a modelling study of global demand for cancer surgery and estimated surgical and anaesthesia workforce requirements between 2018 and 2040.

Using best-practice guidelines, patient characteristics and cancer stage data, the authors calculated the proportion of newly diagnosed cancer cases requiring surgery in 183 countries. To predict future surgery demand, they applied these rates to GLOBACAN cancer incidence predictions from 2018 to 2040.

The team’s analysis estimates that the number of cancer cases requiring surgery globally each year will rise from 9.1 million to 13.8 million (52%, an increase of 4.7 million) from 2018 to 2040. The greatest relative increase will occur in 34 low-income countries, where the number of cases requiring surgery is expected to more than double by 2040 (314,355 cases to 650,164, 107%).

Current and future surgical and anaesthesia workforces needed for the optimal delivery of cancer surgery services were also predicted using staffing estimates based on optimal surgical use in high-income countries as a benchmark for global requirements. To evaluate staffing gaps, the optimal estimated workforce (median workforce of 44 high-income countries) was compared with numbers of surgeons and anaesthetists in each country.

The authors estimate there is currently a global shortage of 199,000 (56%) surgeons and 87,000 (51%) anaesthetists (current workforce of 766,000 surgeons and 372,000 anaesthetists, compared with 965,000 and 459,000 optimal workforce, respectively, estimated by the team’s model). The gap is estimated to be greatest in low-income countries, where the current surgeon availability is 22,000 fewer than the model estimated optimal number of 28,000 surgeons. The current number of anaesthetists in low-income countries falls 11,000 below the model estimated demand of 13,000 anaesthetists.

In recognition of the rising global demand for cancer surgery, estimates were calculated for the optimal surgical and anaesthesia workforces needed in 2040. Extrapolating 2018 data, taking account of predicted future cancer incidence burden in each country, revealed that the surgical workforce will need to increase from 965,000 in 2018 to 1,416,000 (47% increase) in 2040. The anaesthetist workforce would need to rise from 459,000 in 2018 to 674,000 (47% increase) in 2040.

The greatest relative increase in optimal workforce requirements from 2018 to 2040 will occur in low-income countries, where surgeon numbers are required to rise from 28,210 to 58,219 by 2040 (106%). Anaesthetist numbers will also need to increase from 13,000 to 28,000 by 2040 (115%).

However, to match the current benchmark of high-income countries, the actual number of surgeons in low-income countries would need to increase almost 400% (increase from 6,000 to 28,000), and anaesthetists by nearly 550% (increase from 2,000 to 13,000), of their baseline values. This is because the current workforce in these countries is already substantially smaller than in high-income countries.

Dr. Sathira Perera, from the University of New South Wales, Australia, said: “Our analysis has revealed that, in relative terms, low-income countries will bear the brunt of increased future demand for cancer surgery, bringing with it a need to substantially increase numbers of surgeons and anaesthetists. These findings highlight a need to act quickly to ensure that increasing workforce requirements in low-income countries are adequately planned for. There needs to be an increased focus on the application of cost-effective models of care, along with government endorsement of scientific evidence to mobilise resources for expanding services.”

Estimates in the study relied on several assumptions. Predictions of future cancer rates were based on 2018 estimates, however, country-level changes—such as economic developments or altered capacity to screen for early diagnosis—could alter cancer incidence and therefore surgical demand and workforce requirements. Observed gaps in the workforce could also be narrower than the actual gaps in practice, as predictions were conservative because they only considered initial surgical encounters and did not account for any follow-up interactions.

Cancer surgery outcomes

The Article in The Lancet is an observational study exploring global variation in post-operative complications and deaths following surgery for three common cancers.

Deaths among gastric cancer patients were nearly four times higher in low/lower middle-income countries (33 deaths among 326 patients, 3.72 odds of death) than high-income countries (27 deaths among 702 patients).

Patients with colorectal cancer in low/lower middle-income countries were also more than four times more likely to die (63 deaths among 905 patients, 4.59 odds of death), compared with those in high-income countries (94 deaths among 4,142 patients). Those in upper middle-income countries were two times as likely to die (47 deaths among 1,102 patients, 2.06 odds of death) as patients in high-income countries.

No difference in 30-day mortality was seen following breast cancer surgery.

Similar rates of complications were observed in patients across all income groups, however those in low/lower middle-income countries were six times more likely to die within 30 days of a major complication (96 deaths among 133 patients, 6.15 odds of death), compared with patients in high-income countries (121 deaths among 693 patients). Patients in upper middle-countries were almost four times as likely to die (58 deaths among 151 patients, 3.89 odds of death) as those in high-income countries.

Patients in upper middle-income and low/lower middle-income countries tended to present with more advanced disease compared with those in high-income countries, however researchers found that cancer stage alone explained little of the variation in mortality or post-operative complications.

Between April 2018 and January 2019, researchers enrolled 15,958 patients from 428 hospitals in 82 countries undergoing surgery for breast, colorectal or gastric cancer. 57% of patients were from high-income countries (9,106 patients), with 17% from upper middle-income countries (2,721 patients), and 26% from low/lower middle-income countries (4,131 patients). 53% (8,406) of patients underwent surgery for breast cancer, 39% (6,215) for colorectal cancer, and 8% (1,337) for gastric cancer.

Assessing hospital facilities and practices across the different income groups revealed that hospitals in upper middle-income and low/lower middle-income countries were less likely to have post-operative care infrastructure (such as designated post-operative recovery areas and consistently available critical care facilities) and cancer care pathways (such as oncology services). Further analysis revealed that the absence of post-operative care infrastructure was associated with more deaths in low/lower middle-income countries (7 to 10 more deaths per 100 major complications) and upper middle-income countries (5 to 8 more deaths per 100 major complications).

Professor Ewen Harrison, of the University of Edinburgh, UK, said: “Our study is the first to provide in-depth data globally on complications and deaths in patients within 30 days of cancer surgery. The association between having post-operative care and lower mortality rates following major complications indicates a need to improve care systems to detect and intervene when complications occur. Increasing this capacity to rescue patients from complications could help reduce deaths following cancer surgery in low- and middle-income countries.

“High quality all-round surgical care requires appropriate recovery and ward space, a sufficient number of well-trained staff, the use of early warning systems, and ready access to imaging, operating theatre space, and critical care facilities. While in this study it wasn’t possible to assess cancer patients’ full healthcare journey, we did identify several parts of the surgical health system, as well as patient-level risk factors, which could warrant further study and intervention.”

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Levels of diabetes have tripled in 25 years

The proportion of adults with diagnosed diabetes trebled between 1994 and 2019, report researchers from UCL and the National Center for Social Research (NatCen), who have analyzed the latest results from the Health Survey for England (HSE).

The report, which is commisisoned by NHS Digital, analyzes data from over 8,200 adults and 2,000 children living in private households in England and shows the percentage of people who have been diagnosed with diabetes has risen since 1994, from 3% to 9% among men and from 2% to 6% among women.

The researchers found that total diabetes (which includes both diagnosed cases and people found by the survey to have undiagnosed diabetes) is much more common among people with lower incomes and also among those with obesity. For example, 16% of people in the lowest income group had diabetes but only 7% in the highest income group. The proportion of adults with total diabetes increased from 5% of those with normal weight to 9% of adults with overweight and 15% of adults with obesity.

Additionally, the report highlights that adults living in the most deprived areas are the most likely to be obese. This difference was particularly pronounced for women, where 39% of women in the most deprived areas were obese, compared with 22% in the least deprived areas. The survey also found that children’s obesity was closely associated with whether their parents’ were overweight or obese.

Professor Jennifer Mindell, co-editor of the report, (UCL Research Department of Epidemiology and Public Health) said: “Over the past few decades, diabetes has become more common in both high and low income countries. We have known for a long time that diabetes increases the risks of developing circulatory diseases and cancers.

“We have seen this year that it also increases the risks of serious infection and death in people infected with COVID-19. Diabetes is much more common in people with obesity. The COVID-19 pandemic has rightly prompted greater focus on obesity reduction, which will also help with the problem of rising diabetes.”

For the first time, the survey also asked about GP consultations. It shows that 69% of men and 82% of women had consulted a GP in the previous 12 months. GP consultations are more common in older ages, especially among men, and also increase with Body Mass Index (BMI): 80% of adults with obesity reported having a GP consultation in the last year, compared with 74% of overweight and normal weight adults.

84% of respondents said they had consulted their GP solely for a physical health problem, 5% for a mental health, nervous or emotional problem and 11% for both types of problem in the last 12 months. Women were more likely than men to have discussed a mental health problem with their GP and to use counseling or therapy services for a mental health problem.

The report finds that consultations for mental health problems were more common among those from lower incomes: 25% of adults in the lowest income group had a consultation about a mental health problem in the last year, compared with 15% of adults in the highest income group.

Additional reports on HSE 2019 include findings on adult health behaviors, carers and eating disorders.

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Years of research laid groundwork for speedy COVID-19 shots

How could scientists race out COVID-19 vaccines so fast without cutting corners? A head start helped—over a decade of behind-the-scenes research that had new vaccine technology poised for a challenge just as the coronavirus erupted.

“The speed is a reflection of years of work that went before,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top U.S. infectious disease expert, told The Associated Press. “That’s what the public has to understand.”

Creating vaccines and having results from rigorous studies less than a year after the world discovered a never-before-seen disease is incredible, cutting years off normal development. But the two U.S. frontrunners are made in a way that promises speedier development may become the norm—especially if they prove to work long-term as well as early testing suggests.

“Abject giddiness,” is how Dr. C. Buddy Creech, a Vanderbilt University vaccine expert, described scientists’ reactions when separate studies showed the two candidates were about 95% effective.

“I think we enter into a golden age of vaccinology by having these types of new technologies,” Creech said at a briefing of the Infectious Diseases Society of America.

Both shots—one made by Pfizer and BioNTech, the other by Moderna and the National Institutes of Health—are so-called messenger RNA, or mRNA, vaccines, a brand-new technology. U.S. regulators are set to decide this month whether to allow emergency use, paving the way for rationed shots that will start with health workers and nursing home residents.

Billions in company and government funding certainly sped up vaccine development—and the unfortunately huge number of infections meant scientists didn’t have to wait long to learn the shots appeared to be working.

But long before COVID-19 was on the radar, the groundwork was laid in large part by two different streams of research, one at the NIH and the other at the University of Pennsylvania—and because scientists had learned a bit about other coronaviruses from prior SARS and MERS outbreaks.

“When the pandemic started, we were on a strong footing both in terms of the science” and experience handling mRNA, said Dr. Tal Zaks, chief medical officer of Massachusetts-based Moderna.

Traditionally, making vaccines required growing viruses or pieces of viruses—often in giant vats of cells or, like most flu shots, in chicken eggs—and then purifying them before next steps in brewing shots.

The mRNA approach is radically different. It starts with a snippet of genetic code that carries instructions for making proteins. Pick the right virus protein to target, and the body turns into a mini vaccine factory.

“Instead of growing up a virus in a 50,000-liter drum and inactivating it, we could deliver RNA and our bodies make the protein, which starts the immune response,” said Penn’s Dr. Drew Weissman.

Fifteen years ago, Weissman’s lab was trying to harness mRNA to make a variety of drugs and vaccines. But researchers found simply injecting the genetic code into animals caused harmful inflammation.

Weissman and a Penn colleague now at BioNTech, Katalin Kariko, figured out a tiny modification to a building block of lab-grown RNA that let it slip undetected past inflammation-triggering sentinels.

“They could essentially make a stealth RNA,” said Pfizer chief scientific officer Dr. Philip Dormitzer.

Other researchers added a fat coating, called lipid nanoparticles, that helped stealth RNA easily get inside cells and start production of the target protein.

Meanwhile at the NIH, Dr. Barney Graham’s team figured out the right target—how to use the aptly named “spike” protein that coats the coronavirus to properly prime the immune system.

The right design is critical. It turns out the surface proteins that let a variety of viruses latch onto human cells are shape-shifters—rearranging their form before and after they’ve fused into place. Brew a vaccine using the wrong shape and it won’t block infection.

“You could put the same molecule in one way and the same molecule in another way and get an entirely different response,” Fauci explained.

That was a discovery in 2013, when Graham, deputy director of NIH’s Vaccine Research Center, and colleague Jason McLellan were investigating a decades-old failed vaccine against RSV, a childhood respiratory illness.

They homed in on the right structure for an RSV protein and learned genetic tweaks that stabilized the protein in the correct shape for vaccine development. They went on to apply that lesson to other viruses, including researching a vaccine for MERS, a COVID-19 cousin, although it hadn’t gotten far when the pandemic began.

“That’s what put us in a position to do this rapidly,” Graham told the AP in February before the NIH’s vaccine was first tested in people. “Once you have that atomic-level detail, you can engineer the protein to be stable.”

Likewise, Germany’s BioNTech in 2018 had partnered with New York-based Pfizer to develop a more modern mRNA-based flu vaccine, giving both companies some early knowledge about how to handle the technology.

“This was all brewing. This didn’t come out of nowhere,” said Pfizer’s Dormitzer.

Last January, shortly after the new coronavirus was reported in China, BioNTech CEO Ugur Sahin switched gears and used the same method to create a COVID-19 vaccine.

Moderna also was using mRNA to develop vaccines against other germs including the mosquito-borne Zika virus—research showing promise but that wasn’t moving rapidly since the Zika outbreak had fizzled.

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US targets mass virus vaccine campaign by year’s end

The United States hopes to begin a sweeping program of COVID vaccinations, reaching perhaps 20 million people by year’s end, top public health officials said Sunday as cases surge across the worst-hit nation.

The beginning of vaccinations could be a crucial turning point in the battle against the virus that has claimed more than 255,000 lives in the US, the world’s highest reported toll, since emerging from China late last year.

“Our plan is to be able to ship vaccines to the immunization sites within 24 hours of approval” by the US Food and Drug Administration, Moncef Slaoui, who heads the government’s coronavirus vaccine effort, told CNN.

He pointed to possible dates of December 11-12.

Slaoui estimated that 30 million people would be vaccinated per month starting in January.

‘Herd immunity’ by May?

But top US infectious disease official Anthony Fauci, who said “maybe 20 million people will be able to get vaccinated by the middle to the end December”, warned the situation could get worse before getting better if people fail to take precautions in the coming holiday season.

“We’re in a very difficult situation at all levels,” he told CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

With the Thanksgiving holiday on Thursday normally seeing a huge surge in travel, he said, “We’re really concerned” about “another spike in cases as we get colder and colder and colder into the December month—and then you start dealing with the Christmas holiday.”

FDA vaccine advisors are to meet December 10 to discuss approving vaccines which pharmaceutical firms Pfizer and Moderna say are at least 95 percent effective.

Slaoui said that by May, with potentially 70 percent of the population having been vaccinated, the country could attain “herd immunity,” meaning the virus can no longer spread widely and people can move closer to resuming their pre-coronavirus way of life.

But Fauci, separately, added a note of caution, saying herd immunity would come only if “you get an overwhelming majority of the people vaccinated with a highly efficacious vaccine.”

A recent Gallup poll showed that four in 10 Americans still say they would not get a COVID-19 vaccine, though that is down from five in 10 surveyed in September.

Officials have yet to announce which groups in the population would receive the vaccine first, though health care workers are certain to receive priority, followed by vulnerable groups like the elderly.

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Taylor Swift's Hair Hasn't Been This Dark in Years

NEWS: Taylor Swift's Dark Hair

Taylor Swift might try pink highlights and occasionally show off her natural curls, but for the most part, the singer has stuck to her bright blonde shaggy lob and bangs in recent years. That's why her new Rolling Stone cover has Swifties doing a double take.

Along with Sir Paul McCartney, Swift is the magazine's Musicians on Musicians issue cover star, and went with a darker hair color for the photoshoot.

Her light brown hair was styled in a loose braid and her bangs left in her naturally texture. Paired with her blazer, cargo pants, and combat boots, the mood of the shoot is very Folklore.

With many of us not going to the salon as often due to the coronavirus pandemic, it's tough to maintain bright blonde hair like Swift's signature color. So whether or not the singer's new light brown hair is a practical change, we're into it. And we can't wait to see what other looks are going to come out of Swift's Folklore era.

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Hello, Curves! Kim Kardashian's Body Evolution Through the Years

Beauty, brains and body — Kim Kardashian has it all! For more than a decade, the reality star has been turning heads with her curves at every event she’s attended and all over her social media.

The KKW Beauty founder started showing off her stylish figure when she first gained attention as Paris Hilton‘s devoted sidekick, donning formfitting numbers on the red carpet, gowns with high leg slits and itty-bitty bikinis at the beach. As her own stardom began to grow with her family’s reality series, Keeping Up With the Kardashians, the California native eventually landed on a signature look.

Kardashian married rapper Kanye West in May 2014, nearly one year after welcoming her first child, daughter North. When she walked down the aisle in Florence, Italy, the entrepreneur stunned in a custom Givenchy Haute Couture gown designed by her go-to designer, Riccardo Tisci.

In December 2015, Kardashian gave birth to son Saint and was eager to snap back to her pre-baby weight. Within six months, she told E! News that she had reached her goal after supplementing her workout regimen with the Atkins diet.

“I think I’m almost at 70 [pounds] down,” she told the outlet in July 2016. “I’ve recently gone into extra gear, just staying more focused. You do get comfortable and then you start to get off track a little bit but I’ve kind of like pumped it up a little bit, just started to stay focused and follow the Atkins diet again. I feel like I lost another last few pounds that I really had to lose so that makes me happy.”

The SKIMS founder and the “Stronger” rapper share two more children, daughter Chicago and son Psalm, who were welcomed via surrogate in January 2018 and May 2019, respectively. After spending time wrangling her four little ones, Kardashian committed herself to getting into tip-top shape ahead of the 2019 holidays.

“Kim is really focused on getting back to her goal weight and to a place where she feels totally fit and comfortable with her body,” a source told Us Weekly exclusively after the social media mogul gained “18 additional pounds” before November 2019. “She has been working out very diligently, so she can feel like ‘herself’ again and wear the items she wants to without worrying about how they will fit.”

Scroll down to see how the Keeping Up With the Kardashians star’s body has transformed since 2006.

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If we spent the cost of COVID-19 on pandemic preparations it would have lasted 500 years

COVID-19 has taken advantage of a world in disorder, causing catastrophic health, social, and economic consequences and irreparable harm to humanity. The virus has killed close to a million people and many more may die as a result of its impact on health systems, food supplies, and the economy. The financial cost will be in the trillions.

This will not be the last global health emergency. The world simply cannot afford to be unprepared again, warns the Global Preparedness Monitoring Board (GPMB) in its second report “A World in Disorder,” released today.

Last year, the GPMB warned that the world was unprepared for the very real likelihood of a deadly pandemic spreading around the globe, killing millions of people, disrupting economies, and destabilizing national security. The Board called for urgent action to break the cycle of panic and neglect that has characterized the response to global health crises in the past.

In its new report, the GPMB provides a harsh assessment of the global COVID-19 response, calling it “a collective failure to take pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response seriously and prioritize it accordingly.” In many countries, leaders have struggled to take early decisive action based on science, evidence and best practice. This lack of accountability by leaders has led to a profound and deepening deficit in trust that is hampering response efforts.

“Transparency and accountability are essential in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Elhadj As Sy, co-Chair of the GPMB. “Trust is the foundation of government-community relationships for better health but that trust dissipates when governments and leaders do not deliver on their commitments.”

Responsible leadership and good citizenship have been key determinants of COVID-19’s impact, the report finds—systems are only as effective as the people who use them.

The report also finds that, while COVID-19 has demonstrated that the world is deeply interconnected through economics, trade, information, and travel, one of the greatest challenges of the pandemic has been faltering multilateral cooperation. Leadership by the G7, G20, and multilateral organizations has been hampered by geopolitical tensions. The Board calls on leaders to renew their commitment to the multilateral system and strengthen WHO as an impartial and independent international organization. Weakening and undermining the multilateral action will have serious consequences on global health security, it warns. No-one is safe until all are safe.


https://youtube.com/watch?v=newsxe0Fmro%3Fcolor%3Dwhite

“Viruses don’t respect borders. The only way out of this devastating pandemic is along the path of collective action, which demands a strong and effective multilateral system,” said H.E. Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland, co-chair of the GPMB. “The UN system, which includes the WHO, was created after World War II and has helped make the world a better place for billions of people. It needs to be defended, strengthened, and revitalized, not attacked and undermined.”

The report highlights how the devastating social and economic impact of pandemics, especially for the vulnerable and disadvantaged, is often underestimated and ignored. COVID-19’s long-term socioeconomic impacts are predicted to last for decades, with the World Bank’s conservative scenario estimating a US$ 10 trillion earning loss over time for the younger generation as a result of pandemic-related educational deficits.

COVID-19 has demonstrated the importance of protecting lives and livelihoods and widening our understanding of preparedness to make education, social, and economic sectors pandemic proof. “A World in Disorder” reveals that the return on investment for pandemic preparedness is immense. It would take 500 years to spend as much on preparedness as the world is currently losing due to COVID-19.

“The pandemic has shown the fragility of not only our health systems, but also our global economy. The impact of COVID-19 has been huge in the world and particularly in my region, the Americas, with a sharp increase in health, social and economic inequities,” said Jeannette Vega, GPMB member and Chief Medical Innovation and Technology Officer, La Red de Salud UC-Christus, Chile. “Let’s hope that this time we finally learn the lesson and invest in preparedness and public goods for health to avoid similar tragedies in the future.”

The report highlights the actions that must be taken to end the COVID-19 pandemic and avoid the next catastrophe—to bring order out of chaos. It calls for responsible leadership, engaged citizenship, strong and agile systems for health security, sustained investment, and robust global governance for preparedness.

“A World in Disorder” identifies the specific commitments and actions leaders and citizens must take—boldly, decisively, and immediately. These include sustainable and predictable financing for global and national health security, and a call to hold a UN Summit on Global Health Security to develop an international framework for health emergency preparedness and response.

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Children notice race several years before adults want to talk about it

Adults in the United States believe children should be almost 5 years old before talking with them about race, even though some infants are aware of race and preschoolers may have already developed racist beliefs, according to new research published by the American Psychological Association.

Delays in these important conversations could make it more difficult to change children’s misperceptions or racist beliefs, said study co-author Jessica Sullivan, Ph.D., an associate professor of psychology at Skidmore College.

“Children are capable of thinking about all sorts of complex topics at a very young age,” she said. “Even if adults don’t talk to kids about race, children will work to make sense of their world and will come up with their own ideas, which may be inaccurate or detrimental.”

In an online study with a nationally representative sample, more than 600 participants were asked the earliest age at which they would talk with children about race. They were also asked when they thought children first develop behaviors and cognitive abilities relating to race and other social factors. More than half of the participants were parents while 40% were people of color. The research was published online in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General.

The participants believed conversations about race should begin near a child’s fifth birthday even though children begin to be aware of race when they are infants. Previous research has shown that 3-month-old babies prefer faces from certain racial groups, 9-month-olds use race to categorize faces, and 3-year-old children in the U.S. associate some racial groups with negative traits. By age 4, children in the U.S. associate whites with wealth and higher status, and race-based discrimination is already widespread when children start elementary school.

Participants who believed children’s capacities to process race developed later also believed conversations about race should occur later. The researchers were surprised that the participants’ race did not affect the age at which they were willing to talk with children about race. The participants’ parental status, gender, education level, or experience with children also didn’t have any bearing on the findings.

Another online experiment in the study found that when participants learned about children’s developmental abilities relating to race, they said adults should start talking about it when children are 4 years old. This was approximately a year earlier than in the previous experiment.

Many white parents often use well-meaning but ineffective strategies that ignore the realities of racism in the United States, said study co-author Leigh Wilton, Ph.D., an assistant professor of psychology at Skidmore College. Some harmful approaches include a colorblind strategy (e.g., telling children “Skin color doesn’t matter,” or “We’re all the same on the inside”) or refusing to discuss it (e.g., “It’s not polite to talk about that”).

The study didn’t address exactly when or how adults should talk with children about race, but Wilton said this can begin early.

“Even if it’s a difficult topic, it’s important to talk with children about race, because it can be difficult to undo racial bias once it takes root,” she said. “Toddlers can’t do calculus, but that doesn’t mean we don’t teach them to count. You can have a conversation with a toddler about race that is meaningful to them on their level.”

Parents, especially white parents, need to become comfortable talking about race or it will only get more difficult as their children get older, Wilton said.

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