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Pandemic, Productivity, and Optimism

Both the productivity and mental health of scientists have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, Nature News reports.

A team led by Northwestern University's Dashun Wang has conducted two surveys of scientists in the US and Europe nine months to find that, early on, scientists reported a decrease in the amount of time they spent on research, but by January 2021, that largely rebounded.

However, as the team reported recently in Nature Communications, scientists have started fewer new research projects. For example, about 9 percent of scientists didn't start any new projects in 2019, but about 27 percent said didn't start any new projects in 2020. Another analysis of Brazilian researchers found that scientists of color or scientists who are mothers were especially hard hit by the pandemic's effect on productivity, Nature News adds.

Meanwhile, a survey of staff at UK institutes of higher education conducted by the charity Education Support found that about two-thirds of respondents felt emotionally drained at least once a week, Nature News says. That survey additionally found that only 17 percent of respondents felt optimistic often or all the time.

"If people are facing so much anxiety and stress and their mental health is not good, it's not the ideal circumstance to be dreaming up one's most innovative, high-impact, rigorous research-study designs for the next year," the University of Michigan's Reshma Jagsi tells it.

The Scan

Rise of BA.5

The New York Times reports that the Omicron subvariant BA.5 has become the dominant version of SARS-CoV-2 in the US.

UK Health Secretary Resigns

Sajid Javid, the UK health secretary, resigned along with Chancellor Rishi Sunak, saying they cannot work with Prime Minister Boris Johnson's government, CNN reports.

Clones From Freeze-Dried Cells

A team in Japan has cloned mice from freeze-dried skin cells, according to the Guardian.

Genome Research Papers on Craniosynostosis, Macaque Retrotransposition, More

In Genome Research this week: structural variants in craniosynostosis, LINE-1 activity in rhesus macaque brain, and more.