The Download: a battle is raging over long covid in children

This is today’s edition of The Download, our weekday newsletter that provides a daily dose of what’s going on in the world of technology.

A battle is raging over long covid in children

Before Jasmin got covid-19 last year, she was an especially active 10-year-old. She loved dancing, swimming, and gymnastics. “She was always upside-down, doing handstands,” says her mother, Binita Kane. Although she only had a mild case of the virus, she developed lasting, debilitating symptoms that kept her out of school. Jasmin, now 11, has abandoned her activities. Today, she uses a wheelchair. 

Jasmin is one of an unknown number of children with long covid. She regularly suffers from fevers, a sore throat, weak and achy limbs, dizziness, and exhaustion, but the symptoms of long covid in children vary greatly. We don’t know how many children are affected, and we don’t know which symptoms result from infections, and which were caused indirectly by the pandemic. Scientists can’t even agree over what it means for children to have long covid.

This is more than just an academic spat. The lack of understanding means that, two years into the pandemic, potentially millions of sick children are still not getting the treatments they need. Read the full story.

—Jessica Hamzelou

The must-reads

I’ve combed the internet to find you today’s most fun/important/scary/fascinating stories about technology.

1 Stop saying Ukraine is winning the information war
Look beyond the West, and you’ll see Russian disinformation is gaining a worrying amount of traction. (The Atlantic $)
  + Russia is targeting internet users who speak Spanish. (ABC)
  + Twitter has limited content from more than 300 official Russian government accounts. (BBC)
  + Russia has become a major target for hackers. (NBC)
  + Russian troops seem to have tortured and murdered civilians in the town of Trostianets. (The Guardian

2 Protection from second boosters wanes quickly, a large study found 💉
But protection against severe infection seems to hold up. (Reuters $)
  + Could computer models help us to make better covid vaccines? (Nature)
  + Covid deaths may rise among older people in England, experts have warned. (The Guardian

3 Elon Musk is going to join Twitter’s board
Instantly shattering any illusion he was going to sit quietly and collect his dividends. (WSJ $)
  + We can expect him to push for his version of free speech. (The Atlantic $)
  + This is going to be yet another headache for regulators. (WSJ $)
  + Twitter is going to get an edit button. (NBC

4 The global impact of the invasion of Ukraine is becoming clearer
Higher energy and food prices are going to have far-reaching consequences around the world.  (Nature)
  + Surging food prices will exact a huge toll on poorer countries, for example Sri Lanka. (The Economist $)
  + European companies are struggling to adjust to sanctions. (NYT $)
  + German law enforcement agencies have shut down a vast Russian-language dark web site. (Wired $) 

5 Women face relentless misogynistic abuse on Instagram
And it seems the platform does very little about it. (WP $)
  + Why are so many gaming communities still so toxic? (FT $)
  + A feminist internet would be better for everyone. (TR

6 The Amazon union wave may just be starting
Staff at more than 50 US warehouses have contacted organizers expressing an interest in creating unions of their own. (The Guardian)

7 Elizabeth Warren is frustrated by the lack of progress to break up Big Tech
She’s not the only one. (Recode)
  + Big Tech firms aren’t going to stop tracking you voluntarily. (NYT $) 

8 Can we teach computers common sense?
It’s much harder than it sounds. (New Yorker $)
  + Meta’s new learning algorithm can teach AI to multi-task. (TR

9 NFT-based portrait piracy is a growing problem 
Who’s making money off your image? (Wired $)

10 Google Docs is getting emoji reactions 
👎 (The Verge)

Quote of the day

“I’m just wiped out. I don’t know how I used to do it.”

—Lauren Scott, a 37-year-old assistant at a media company, tells the Washington Post that even going into the office three days a week feels exhausting after two years of fully remote work.

We can still have nice things

A place for comfort, fun and distraction in these weird times. (Got any ideas? Drop me a line or tweet ’em at me.)

  + This TikTok of a guy being fed a five-course meal via conveyor belt is horrifying and amazing in equal measure.
  + No way I’m going to share any controversial food takes on Twitter, but I’m enjoying reading other people’s
  + Prince had masses of respect for teachers.
  + You can book castles (yes, actual castles) on Airbnb.
  + The Bob’s Burgers movie looks like chaos. Fun, silly chaos. 
  + Christy Lee Rogers takes photos of people underwater, and they look totally otherworldly.
  + Tetris, but everyone gets to vote on the next move.
  + The Wordle clones just keep coming. This one’s for guessing movies.
  + A train is an excellent way to travel around Europe. 
  + Love surfing? Get yourself over to North Devon.

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