Apple Store Logo

Apple Invests $45 Million In Gorilla-Glass Maker For Future Products

Apple announced this week that they will be investing an additional $45 million in US-based Corning Incorporated, the maker of Gorilla Glass. 

Apple posted a news release regarding the investment claiming it will help “expand Corning’s manufacturing capacity in the US and drive research and development into innovative new technologies that support durability and long-lasting product-life.  

Embed from Getty Images

The investment will be pulled from Apple’s Advanced Manufacturing Fund which is valued at about $5 billion. The fund was initially established back in 2017 so that Apple could invest in new manufacturing jobs, as well as infrastructure in the United States.

Up until this point Corning had already received $450 million from that fund, and that initial investment worked to develop Apple’s newest ceramic shield screen technology which is found in the new iPhone 12 lineup. This new technology was created to make these iPhone’s even more drop resistant than previous iPhones which are already equipped with strong Gorilla Glass. 

Apple released a statement about the new ceramic shield technology and how it specifically works:

“The new material was enabled by a high-temperature crystallization step which forms nano-crystals within the glass matrix. Those specialized crystals are kept small enough that the material is transparent. The resulting material makes up the revolutionary Ceramic Shield.”

Embed from Getty Images

Apple initially used the Ceramic Shield “to fashion the new front cover featured on the iPhone in the iPhone 12 lineup. Prior to Ceramic Shield, embedded crystals have traditionally affected the material’s transparency, a crucial factor for the front cover of the iPhone because so many features, including the display, the camera, and sensors for Face ID, need optical clarity to function.”

Corning and Apple have been in business together since the original iPhone hit the market. Initially, Apple wasn’t even going to use Gorilla Glass technology in their phones, and instead were going to go with a scratch-prone plastic screen. However, when the invention of Gorilla Glass first emerged from Corning, the company made a last minute switch, and Gorilla Glass has been the staple of all iPhones ever since. 

Gorilla Glass itself has since been refined multiple times to become even more durable than it was 10 years ago. Beyond Apple the glass is found in many other popular mobile products from companies like Samsung, LG, and more. 

Apple hasn;t announced yet how exactly Corning will be using this new investment, however, the Gorilla Glass inventors have been working on new forms of bendable glass that could potentially work for a future foldable iPhone. 

While we may not know the specifics of the investment, it’s an exciting step for Apple and their future product line ups.

Moderna Vaccine

COVAX Sharing Scheme Shortfall

COVAX is a global vaccine sharing initiative formed under the organizations Gavi, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and The World Health Organization. One of the main aims of the COVAX scheme is to ensure poorer countries gain fair and equitable access to the vaccination, as many lower-income nations may have not been able to afford the purchase of the COVID-19 vaccinations, leaving them at a severe disadvantage in comparison to higher-income self-financing countries – who could afford and even hoard the jab.

The COVAX scheme has paired with other organizations such as the social welfare organization UNICEF to help distribute the vaccine across the world. The arrangement is not only rooted in humanitarian aims, protecting lives across the world, but it also aims to ensure that a resurgence of the virus will not develop from a country without access to vaccines. However, the scheme has hit many roadblocks since it started delivering vaccinations earlier in the year. 

The World Health Organization’s website defines the COVAX scheme as thus: ‘the ACT Accelerator is a ground-breaking global collaboration to accelerate the development, production, and equitable access to COVID-19 tests, treatments, and vaccines. COVAX is co-led by Gavi, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and WHO. Its aim is to accelerate the development and manufacture of COVID-19 vaccines, and to guarantee fair and equitable access for every country in the world.’ 

Embed from Getty Images

Stating that the scheme would not only save countless lives and ensure global equitable access but also get the pandemic under control globally which will inevitably safeguard the world against the spread of the virus and help protect and restore the global economy. They state that COVAX’s offerings include: ‘doses for at least 20% of countries’ populations, diverse and actively managed portfolio of vaccines, vaccines delivered as soon as they are available, an end to the acute phase of the pandemic and the rebuilding of economies.’ Not only did the scheme help safely develop the vaccinations but it also helped to facilitate elements such as fair vaccine pricing and vaccine availability for lower income countries. 

The schemes rollout hit supply and production limitations of the AstraZeneca shot (the main vaccine included in the COVAX scheme), this was then further aggravated by a hold on exports from the Serum Institute in India, due to a surge of infections in the country. According to Reuters, ‘Serum said on Wednesday it hoped to raise its monthly output of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 shot to 100 million doses by July from 60-70 million now, later than a previous timeline of end-May.’ 

According to The Guardian ‘the organizations that run Covax had predicted countries would receive fewer vaccines than expected after the Indian government restricted exports from its largest manufacturer in response to a catastrophic second wave there, but the figures reveal the shortfall to be severe, leaving many governments scrambling to secure doses elsewhere. Large countries such as Indonesia and Brazil have so far received about one in 10 of the Oxford/AstraZeneca doses they were expecting by May, while Bangladesh, Mexico, Myanmar and Pakistan are among those that have not received any doses of the vaccine through the program so far.’

Embed from Getty Images

However, some countries such as Moldova, Tuvalu, Nauru and Dominica have already received their full allocation, but the majority are still waiting on their allocation, only receiving a third or less so far. Countries such as Rwanda have received 32% and Nigeria, Kenya, Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo only approximately 28%.

The Guardian reported that: ‘Overall, as of Wednesday this week, the program had delivered about 40.2m or 21.5% of the 187.2m doses it planned to distribute during or by the end of May. The analysis is based on data drawn from Airfinity, a life sciences analytics firm, and Unicef and Gavi, two of the organizations that are helping to run Covax.’ This has caused a major issue in countries such as Bangladesh, where their limited supply of the vaccine will shortly run out, which leaves millions facing the prospect of being unable to access their second dose – unless a re-supply is issued quickly.  

A GAVI spokesperson told Reuters, “Anticipating these types of barriers is one of the reasons COVAX has sought to diversify its portfolio from the beginning… We are in conversations with other manufacturers of other candidates on supply schedules…’ Reuters continued: “we also anticipate announcing new deals for vaccines and vaccine candidates,” the spokesperson added, but gave no further details of when and with which manufacturers such deals would be agreed.

Apple Software

New iOS Update From Apple Includes App Tracking ‘Transparency’ Feature 

iPhone users will now be able to prevent advertisers from tracking them and their search activity across all the apps on their phone thanks to a new software update from Apple. Despite protests from advertisers and Facebook, the company introduces the new feature as a part of its iOS 14.5 update. 

The setting is listed in your phone as “app tracking transparency,” which will require all applications to ask for a user’s consent before they’re able to track their activity across all other apps and websites on their device. 

If a user decides to decline, the applications won’t be able to access the digital footprint that they normally can automatically, which allows them to track you from app to app. The prompt reads: “Allow [insert app name here] to track your activity across other companies’ apps and websites?” The prompt will appear with any app that requests access to that digital footprint. 

Embed from Getty Images

Apple initially announced that app tracking transparency would be implemented in all iPhones last summer, and was originally projected to be implemented in fall 2020, however, the company decided to delay the release of the update six months to give advertisers and other industry leaders time to prepare. 

Dan Levy, Facebook’s head of advertisements and business products, spoke out greatly with Facebook this past winter about Apple’s new policy. “The app transparency setting is about control of the entire internet. This is about a long-term view that is anti-personalized advertising and we think is trying to take the world back 10 to 20 years.” 

Facebook even went as far as to launch an advertising campaign arguing that “the real victim of the changes are your neighborhood coffee brewery, your friend who owns their own retail business, your cousin who started an event planning service and the game developers who build the apps you use for free. Those small businesses would lose out if they were no longer able to target customers with personalized adverts.”

Embed from Getty Images

Facebook’s not alone either, digital publishing house Axel Springer has filed a complaint on behalf of Germany’s biggest tech, media, and advertising companies, to the German competition regulator in which they argue that the new rules could lead to a 60% fall in advertising revenues for app developers. 

In France, consumer group Noyb argued the complete opposite, claiming that Apple should not only roll out the privacy tools as soon as possible, but also remove the ability for advertisers to see what you’re doing on your phone all together. “With our complaints we want to enforce a simple principle: trackers are illegal, unless a user freely consents,” said Stefano Rossetti, a privacy lawyer at Noyb.

Apple’s director of global privacy, Jane Horvath, wrote a letter to a slew of privacy and advertising groups to address these criticisms.

“We developed [app tracking transparency] for a single reason: because we share your concerns about users being tracked without their consent and the bundling and reselling of data by advertising networks and data brokers. Facebook and others have a very different approach to targeting. Not only do they allow the grouping of users into smaller segments, they use detailed data about online browsing activity to target ads.”

France Is Testing Digital Covid Travel Certificates For Vaccinated Individuals

France has become the first member state of the European Union to begin testing a digital Covid-19 travel certificate as a part of Europe’s larger plan to allow people to travel between countries more easily once they’re vaccinated.  

The TousAntiCovid app is a part of the nation’s overall contact tracing program, which has recently been updated to store negative Covid-19 test results on travelers’ mobile phones. The app is now being trialed on flights to Corisca and overseas to accommodate for vaccinated individuals as well. 

The trial is being extended from April 29th in order to include vaccination certificates as more citizens receive them. If the trial runs end up being successful, the application could eventually be used for entry into public events like concerts, festivals, and sporting events; officials did mention that the technology would not be used for entry into bars and restaurants. 

Embed from Getty Images

Cedric O, the minister for digital transition discussed how the trial in France will become one part of a larger more standardized system to be used all throughout Europe. Several other EU member states are already in talks with France over expanding the technology to reach more countries. 

The European commissioner for justice, Didier Reynders, said last week he expected “the EU’s digital green certificate to be operational by June 21st because the certificate is an urgent priority for southern European member states whose economies have been devastated by the pandemic.”

The program has not been referred to as a “vaccine passport” so that citizens know its not being created to discriminate against those who haven’t been vaccinated yet, especially since it’s original purpose was to carry negative Covid tests for travelers. 

Embed from Getty Images

Ideally, those who have a certificate of approval will be able to travel without quarantining, and will have proof of vaccination, negative testing, or antibodies all on their phone. Those in France being vaccinated this week, and the weeks after this, will receive a text message or email that will give them access to a state-certified online document that can be downloaded or printed out, or stored in the TousAntiCovid app. 

According to reports “the app will generate a secure QR code containing a range of information including the traveler’s name, the date and type of their test or vaccine, and details of the relevant doctor or laboratory, all of which can be checked against a national database.”

Several EU member states are already working on similar programs for their citizens, which has some experts concerned over how well multiple systems will work together. Data security and privacy is also being viewed as top concern. 

So far every app and digital proof of vaccination/negative Covid tests is in its trial phase, and they will likely continue to advance as vaccinations continue throughout the world.

Spotify on Phone

Spotify Announces New ‘Car Thing’ Device To Bring Music Streaming To Your Vehicle 

Spotify has announced that the “Car Thing experiment,” which it’s been working on for the past year, will become an official product that will ship to selected Spotify Premium customers who sign up!

Yes that’s right, Car Thing is the official name of this device, and it works by “syncing up with your car’s stereo system, either via Bluetooth or with an included 3.5mm aux cable. The idea is that Car Thing will work with all older cars that don’t use CarPlay or Android Auto, and still rely on older head units for their audio,” according to Tech Radar Magazine. 

Car Thing essentially looks like a smart phone that attaches to your car vent. Once synced to your car, the screen will display your favorite music, podcasts, playlists, and trending content on Spotify; essentially it shows you what appears on your “Home” screen when you log onto the Spotify app on your phone. 

Embed from Getty Images

All of your music library can be selected using touch controls, or a dial which is appropriately located in the upper right corner of the screen. There are also four quick select buttons on the top of the device to easily assist with skipping songs, pausing, or stopping music all together. 

Additionally, Spotify included a built-in voice assistant that can be used to control your music hands-free while your driving. You simply say “Hey Spotify” and you can change your playlist, pause your music, and so much more. 

“The player is expected to cost $79.99 (around £60, AU$100) when it’s available to the public, but Spotify will make it available for just $6.99 (the shipping cost in the US) for Spotify Premium subscribers who sign up on Spotify’s website to get one during the limited window,” according to reports. 

Embed from Getty Images

As of right now Spotify announced that Car Thing is only available for US customers, and the company has yet to reveal if it would become available internationally or not. Spotify made the official Car Thing announcement on their blog this month, in which they emphasized that the reasoning they created this product was to assist the Spotify users who complained that they couldn’t get Spotify in their older cars. 

“Our focus remains on becoming the world’s number one audio platform – not on creating hardware – but we developed Car Thing because we saw a need from our users, many of whom were missing out on a seamless and personalized in-car listening experience. 

“No matter the year or model of your vehicle, we feel everyone should have a superior listening experience.” 

If you have an older model car, there are also already a multitude of devices on the market that can either plug into your car’s auxiliary cable, cassette player, or car lighter, depending on how old your vehicle is. These devices sync up with your phone’s audio via Bluetooth or direct connection. 

UK Flag

UK Race Report and Its Fallout

The response to the devastating murder of George Floyd in 2020 rippled across the globe, inspiring protests and inquiries into various countries own levels of structuralized racism. In the UK, Prime Minister, Boris Johnson set up Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities to examine inequality in the UK. The resulting document, which covers areas such as health, education, criminal justice and employment was recently published.  The report paints a picture of a UK that is less marred by racial injustice than believed.

The Guardian summarized that it ‘says that while racism and racial injustice do still exist, geography, family influence, socio-economic background, culture and religion all have a greater impact on life chances. The subsequent response to the report has been one of condemnation, experts have pointed out the gaping holes in its coverage and accused it of downplaying issues, misrepresenting expert views and cherry-picking evidence in order to paint a more positive picture of the UK’s race issues. 

The full 258-page report made claims that there were very few ethnic disparities, that Britain was no long a system “deliberately rigged against ethnic minorities,” that hardship was instead due to issues such as family breakdown and geographical inequalities.  It made claims that social media “amplifies racist views” and more, criticizing “bleak new theories about race that insist on accentuating our differences” and an “increasingly strident form of anti-racism thinking that seeks to explain all minority disadvantage through the prism of white discrimination”.

Embed from Getty Images

The BBC wrote: ‘The commission’s report concluded that the UK is not yet a “post-racial country” – but its success in removing race-based disparity in education and, to a lesser extent, the economy, “should be regarded as a model for other white-majority countries”.’

Expert commentary and further reports in response to the ‘Race Report’ have demonstrated just how misleading these conclusions are. In one instance the report claims that stop and search is only four times as likely to target black people, however it only produces data for London, not the entirety of the UK – skewing the conclusions. Experts that were cited in the document have also claimed that they were not properly consulted and not tasked to produce research specifically for the commission. Many have highlighted how important it is not to play the presence of structural racism in the UK.

According to the Guardian there has been an ‘an outcry over the 258-page report from the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities (CRED), which claimed the term “structural racism” was “too liberally used” and that factors such as socioeconomic background, culture and religion had a “more significant impact on life chances”. Shortly after the report’s publication the government admitted that a “considerable number” of people giving evidence – particularly from ethnic minorities – had in fact told the commission that structural racism was a real problem.’

One section of the report discussed health, making such conclusions that ethnicity is ‘not a major driver of health inequalities.’ However, The Guardian reported: ‘Public health experts have condemned an official report on racial disparities in the UK as flawed and misleading for stating there was little evidence of systemic health differences due to ethnicity, saying the authors had “cherry-picked” data and lacked expertise.’

Embed from Getty Images

Adding quotes from Prof Azeem Majeed, head of the department of primary care and public health at Imperial College London, who said “It’s very poorly done, very weak, the panel doesn’t contain any health experts, and they overlook 30 or 40 years of evidence about health inequalities,” adding that health one of the areas that most affects minorities in the UK. Majeed added that it was “a political manifesto rather than an authoritative expert report”.

At a virtual event organized by De Montfort University, Doreen Lawrence, who has campaigned for justice for 18 years after her son Stephen was murdered in a racist attack, who said: “My son was murdered because of racism and you cannot forget that. Once you start covering it up it is giving the green light to racists. You imagine what’s going to happen come tomorrow. What’s going to happen on our streets with our young people? You are giving racists the green light.”

Lawrence said that when she first heard about the report “…my first thought was it has pushed [the fight against] racism back 20 years or more.” She pointed out how the report ignores the fact that it took eighteen years to get justice for the murder for her son, those people that experience structural racism, when an employer ‘speaks to them in a certain way’ or is denied a promotion. How the pandemic has shown structural racism exists – “we talk about the pandemic when you look at how many of our people have died, all the nurses, the doctors, the frontline staff, of Covid, and to have this report denying that those people have suffered?”

Amazon Using ‘Fake’ Twitter Accounts To Defend Working Conditions 

Amazon has received a slew of criticism within the past year of the pandemic due to the harsh working conditions their warehouse/lower level employees have had to endure at the sake of their own health and safety. Now, a surge of “fake” Twitter accounts have emerged to defend the corporation and push back on criticisms presented during the pandemic. 

Many of the accounts are meant to be Amazon warehouse employees who love working for the company and believe Unions aren’t actually helpful. A majority of the account handles begin with “AmazonFC” followed by the first name of the “employee” and warehouse designation. The accounts often only tweet about Amazon in response to criticism and refute any tweets claiming the company enforces “robotic” working conditions that lead to “high injury rates.” 

Embed from Getty Images

One account, which has since been suspended, tweeted: “Unions are good for some companies, but I don’t want to have to shell out hundreds a month just for lawyers!”

This is not the first time Amazon has used social media to try to combat criticism. Many Amazon employee accounts from 2018 and 2019 have since been deleted due to exposure. Amazon did confirm, however, that the latest tweets being spread online were fake. 

“Many of these are not Amazon FC Ambassadors – it appears they are fake accounts that violate Twitter’s terms. We’ve asked Twitter to investigate and take appropriate action.” 

The spokesperson for Amazon who released the statement above refused to acknowledge how many Twitter accounts were run by real Amazon ambassadors and how the company regulates fake accounts. Bellingcat is an investigative journalism site that compiled a list of at least 56 Amazon Ambassador Twitter accounts. 

Embed from Getty Images

Some of the accounts only recently became active and were almost immediately suspended by Twitter. Some Twitter users have even created their own parody accounts to make fun of the corporation’s attempt at combating criticism. 

Recently, Amazon CEO Dave Clark and the official Amazon News Twitter account criticized Senator Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Congressman Mark Pocan over certain policies. Those tweets backfired for Amazon after it was revealed that Amazon engineers flagged the tweets because they were concerned that they were “unnecessarily antagonistic which would risk Amazon’s brand reputation.” 

Other leaked memos that initially sparked these fake Twitter accounts cited complaints from Amazon managers over delivery truck drivers leaving bottles of their urine and bags of their feces in trucks, despite the fact that Amazon’s PR account claimed all reports of workers needing to urinate in bottles to keep up with their workload was false. 

The National Labor Relations Board is also currently determining “whether to consolidate multiple complaints from workers over the past year alleging interference from Amazon against workers’ attempts to organize or form a union,” according to the Guardian.

Asian Americans

Survey finds Asian Americans Endured the Largest Rise in Online Hate in 2020

A recent survey published by the Anti-Defamation league – which is an anti-hate speech organization established in 1913, looked at online hate and harassment specifically on social media platforms. Its annual report, entitled ‘Online Hate and Harassment: The American Experience 2021’, found that despite the reported regulations from social media platforms and technology companies, the levels of online hate and harassment had not decreased.

The report, published on the Anti-Defamation League’s website, opened with a summary which outlined: ‘This is the third consecutive year ADL has conducted its nationally representative survey. Forty-one percent of Americans who responded to the survey said they had experienced online harassment in this year’s survey, comparable to the 44% reported in ADL’s 2020 “Online Hate and Harassment” report. Severe online harassment comprising sexual harassment, stalking, physical threats, swatting, doxing and sustained harassment also remained relatively constant compared to the prior year, experienced by 27% of respondents, not a significant change from the 28% reported in the previous survey.’ 

Notably, the survey found that Asian American saw the largest increase of online hate in 2020. The report outlined that ‘Asian-American respondents have experienced the largest single year-over-year rise in severe online harassment in comparison to other groups, with 17% reporting it this year compared to 11% last year.’

The Anti Defamation League’s (ADL) findings also sadly showed that LGBTQ groups hit a rate of 64% which was, for the third year, the highest rate of overall harassment compared to all other demographics. Jewish respondents experienced an increase of 33% to 36% when it came to online harassment.

Embed from Getty Images

Further, in a different category than the Asian American increase, African American’s experienced another horrifyingly large rise in race-based harassment –2019’s survey reported that 42% of African Americans experienced this kind of harassment, 2020 survey found 59% did. Forbes reported that the ‘ADL [identified] months of anti-racist protests sparked by the death of George Floyd as a driving factor, noting that derogatory posts against African Americans quadrupled on Facebook pages shortly after Floyd was died in police custody last May.’

The report also drew attention to the lack of trust people had in social media platforms when it came to online hate and harassment. It found that those who experienced physical threats online were less likely to report the abuse in comparison to the previous year. The report outlined: 

‘41% of respondents who experienced a physical threat stated that the platform took no action on a threatening post, an increase from the 38% who had reported a similar lack of action the year before.

38% said they did not flag the threatening post to the platform, up from 33% the prior year.

Only 14% of those who experienced a physical threat said the platform deleted the threatening content, a significant drop from 22% the prior year.

Just 17% of those who experienced a physical threat to the platform stated that the platform blocked the perpetrator who posted the content, a sharp decrease from the prior year’s 28%.’

The ADL added: ‘There was a relatively small drop in perceived religion-based harassment reported by Muslim respondents from 61% last year to 57% this year. Likewise, Asian-American respondents reported a relatively small decrease in online race-based harassment this year (50% from 55%). Regardless, these levels of harassment remain disturbingly high.’

Embed from Getty Images

The report comes just as the Asian American community and America faced another horrifying act of terrorism, with the murders of six Asian women at three spas in Atlanta, Georgia. It has been classed as yet another Anti-Asian hate crime, with President Joe Biden stating: “vicious hate crimes against Asian-Americans who have been attacked, harassed, blamed and scapegoated.”

It has sparked a wave of support on social media for the Asian community, with many people drawing much-needed attention to the prejudices, hate, racism and harassment Asian’s in America have to face every day. 

The rise in targeted harassment and hate towards the Asian-American community, can also be attributed to hateful bias surrounding the coronavirus pandemic. Forbes wrote that the ADL researchers ‘identified former President Donald Trump as a contributing factor to the rise in online hate and harassment, noting the center saw an 85% increase in anti-Asian sentiment on Twitter after Trump announced he had contracted Covid-19, which he repeatedly referred to as the “China virus,” the “China plague” or “kung flu.”

“The spike in physical violence against Asian Americans across the nation was whipped up in large part by bigotry and conspiracy theories that grew online, fanned by national leaders, including former President Trump’s incendiary rhetoric,” the report read.’

Microsoft

Microsoft To Potentially Buy Discord In $10 Billion Deal

Microsoft and Discord are currently in talks to reach an acquisition deal worth $10 billion. Jason Citron and Stan Vishnevskiy are the programmers and entrepreneurs who founded Discord back in 2015 as a platform for people to talk while they play video games. The service is free and offers voice, video, and text chat, and has become extremely popular especially within the past year since so many people were stuck at home and investing in more at-home entertainment.

“During the pandemic, with people stuck at home and playing more video games than ever and also looking for ways to safely socialize, Discord became a hub for communities interested in the Black Lives Matter movement, homework help, book clubs and more, pitching itself as a place to talk,” said new Chief Financial Officer Tomasz Marcinkowski.

Embed from Getty Images

The site itself now has more than 140 million monthly users and has brought in over $100 million in revenue last year. Last December Discord also doubled its valuation to $7 billion, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Users can create their own communities, or servers, on the platform which can range from having under 10 people, to hundreds of thousands. For Microsoft, the variation in communities on Discord is the biggest selling point. Microsoft in general has been looking for assets that would “provide access to thriving communities of users,” according to inside sources.

Discord’s popularity also stems from the fact that there’s no advertisements on it either. Instead, Discord offers a subscription service called Nitro that gives members the ability to customize tags next to their usernames, upload large files, and stream at a higher video quality; Nitro costs $10 a month and is how Discord makes its money.

Embed from Getty Images

The platform has also allowed smaller video game creators to have their own space where they can chat with fans and discuss ideas. Megan Fox is the founder of the independent game development studio Glass Bottom Games, and she uses Discord to create communities for all the games her company develops.

“We really just wanted to build a low-key community that was nice to hang out in. Our first game, Skatebird, is about birds on skateboards and has a Discord community of about 900 users that mostly use the server to talk about birds, or skateboarding. Our studio also has a channel solely intended for users to share your attempt at a kickflip. Many Discord servers lean on humor and inside jokes, which is part of the appeal,” Fox explained.

Rod Breslau is an esports and gaming consultant who believes that “if Discord is going to sell, Microsoft may actually be one of the safest places for it to go without experiencing any major changes. Their recent acquisitions of LinkedIn and GitHub were both hands-off acquisitions, so this would likely be the same.”

The deal is still in the talking stages, and there’s no actual confirmation regarding if Discord plans to sell or not.

Older Woman Getting Covid Vaccine

Gender Equality in BioNTech Workforce Made Vaccine Possible

International Women’s Day, which lands on March 8th each year, looks to celebrate the achievements and plight of women and girls across the world, who so often face barriers and pitfalls due to inequality. Over the course of 2020 and 2021 the world has faced the horrific consequences of, and endured the direct effects of the coronavirus pandemic. Much hope lay in science and its fast development of a vaccine, which was delivered in record time.

Now many countries are undertaking the vital rollout of vaccination programs to bring an end to the health crisis. BioNTech’s co-founder, Özlem Türeci, said that the speed of producing a viable vaccine can be credited to the fact that more than fifty percent of its workforce is female. 

The Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine was the first to be approved in the UK and was made in just 11 months. In a briefing with the World Health Organization, Türeci said: “At BioNTech, women make up 54% of our total workforce and 45% of top management. We like to think that being a gender-balanced team has been critical to making the seemingly impossible possible – developing a Covid-19 vaccine within 11 months without shortcuts.”

However, she pointed also out that the fact that women were still so underrepresented in decision making roles in medicine was “destroying value” for stakeholders, and that the lack of gender equity in patient care, medical research and the biopharma industry is “obvious everyday”.

Embed from Getty Images

WHO data suggests that women only occupy 25% of decision-making roles despite making up 70% of the global healthcare workforce. Türeci stated that “the higher the ranks, the more value-destroying [is] the lost opportunity of mobilizing precious talent.” 

The sentiment that women’s contributions allowed for the successful development of the vaccine is also echoed in the production of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine. Professor Sarah Gilbert, developer of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine and founder of Vaccitech, stated that:  “On the vaccine team in Oxford, two-thirds are female and all have worked incredibly hard for over a year, often while dealing with family responsibilities. However, of the senior positions on the team, only one-third are women.”

Stating that she was now examining the barriers that women face at Oxford University, and that “there are concerns that the pandemic has had more of an effect on the careers and livelihoods of women than men, and as we begin to make our plans for recovery we must not neglect this.”

There is a plethora of evidence that women are vital in science and medicine and addressing the barriers that women face in these roles is essential for the betterment of all. Science Business wrote: ‘I would like to stress that having more women in science serves another, maybe even greater purpose: better science. The reason that we could start vaccinations in less than a year from the start of the coronavirus outbreak in Europe is because of the discoveries of amazing women scientists.

Because of Katalin Karikó, a scientist from Hungary that since 1990 has worked tirelessly on developing mRNA technologies that are now at the basis of our COVID-19 vaccines. Because of Özlem Türeci, a German physician, scientist and entrepreneur who co-founded BioNTech, the first company to receive vaccine approval from the European Medicines Agency. Because of all the women in research and innovation across Europe and the world that have contributed to new treatments, diagnostics and vaccines.’ 

Embed from Getty Images

Gender inequality has been a prevalent and growingly prominent topic of discussion when it comes to medicine, and not only in the workforce but also in the level of care that women are receiving when it comes to their personal health. Recently the UK government launched a campaign to survey women across the UK on their experiences of healthcare in an aim to begin to close the ‘gender health gap’.

Evidence has suggested that female specific conditions are under researched, women are not receiving the level of care needed, are more likely to be misdiagnosed and generally although women are likely to live longer their level of health poorer than men for a larger portion of their lives. Reasons for a gender health gap has been pointed to a historical lack of research and overlooking of women’s health conditions. 

On the government’s move to better tackle the gender health gap in the UK, Janet Lindsay, Director at women’s health research charity Wellbeing of Women said:

‘The research landscape is also bleak. Women’s health research has not been prioritized, which means there are still important gaps in our knowledge and a lack of effective treatment options across all areas of women’s health. As one of the only funders of women’s health research, Wellbeing of Women believes that only by ensuring that research, evidence and data support improvements in women’s health can we improve outcomes for women. When we get it right for women, everyone benefits.’