NOTHING HAPPENED THIS WEEK: A Look at What Didn’t Happen

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Both virus variants and brain wave frequencies are named using letters from the Greek alphabet. But the names have no connection. As news about the delta COVID-19 variant made headlines, posts online began falsely claiming that the new variants were being named after brain waves or frequencies. Some posts falsely claimed this connection had to do with a secret conspiracy to control humans through technology. For example, posts suggested that one COVID-19 variant was named delta because it largely impacts children, and they claimed that delta is a brain wave specific to children. But delta waves are actually more closely associated with deep sleep. “Sleep is critical for development so in a contorted way you could say kids have more delta waves,” said David McCormick, professor of biology and director of the Institute of Neuroscience at the University of Oregon. The brain has billions of neurons that are all oscillating or generating brief signals, which are also known as brain waves. The first brain wave that was discovered was the alpha rhythm, which is the rhythm prominent in the visual cortex when you close your eyes, McCormick said. The delta COVID-19 variant was first discovered in India and is known for being more transmissible than other variants. But the variant did not get its name as part of a plot to control brains. The delta variant was named after the World Health Organization announced in May it would change its system for labeling COVID-19 variants. The Greek alphabet is often used for naming purposes in math and science, not just for brain waves. Before the change, COVID-19 variants were referred to by the location where they were found along with complex alphanumeric identifiers that have to do with how a given variant has descended from those that came before. For example, a variant found in South Africa was known as the South Africa variant, or B.1.351. In order to get away from naming variants after their locations, which WHO said was “stigmatizing and discriminatory,” the system was changed, and the Greek alphabet was selected as the source for labeling.

Experts say the small study that this claim is based on proves nothing, and that enough evidence now exists from well-run studies to indicate that hydroxychloroquine is not effective for treating COVID-19. The study in question is being misrepresented online to falsely suggest that top health officials were wrong when they found that hydroxychloroquine, a drug used to treat malaria, had no benefit as a COVID-19 treatment. The observational study, which has not been vetted by independent scientists, gained attention on social media after it was posted on May 31 to Medrxiv, a website that displays medical papers that have not been published. Posts online, many from supporters of former President Donald Trump, claimed the study shows that health officials and media were wrong to discount the benefits of hydroxychloroquine against COVID-19, which Trump had championed. Several health professionals told The Associated Press that using the new study to tout the benefits of hydroxychloroquine is misleading.

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  • NOTHING HAPPENED THIS WEEK: A Look at What Didn’t Happen
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