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Life and Culture

Life and Culture

The COVID-19 pandemic has drastically altered our habits. Bars, restaurants, and entertainment spots have temporarily closed down and are being forced to consider how they might have to restructure in response to a new, post-pandemic world. “Seeing an empty restaurant is a bit sad: such a vital space, normally with so much energy and young people from all over the world working, but we want to be optimistic,” says chef Joan Roca, owner of El Celler de Can Roca, one of Spain’s most celebrated gastronomic venues. The hospitality industry is facing a considerable challenge, and insight from industry leaders like the Roca brothers can shed some light on what we might expect from restaurants in a post-COVID-19 reality.

At the end of 2019, when the first cases of COVID-19 began to be detected in China, a lockdown seemed like a remote scenario. Four months later, isolation and social distancing have emerged as the most effective measures to stop the virus from spreading, forcing more than 3.6 billion people around the world to isolate themselves in their homes.

The mathematical community has committed all its resources to support the fight against COVID-19. Specifically, the Spanish Mathematics Committee (CEMat) has launched Mathematical Action against Coronavirus, an initiative geared towards putting the Committee’s analysis and modeling capabilities at the service of authorities to help them better understand the problem and design possible solutions. David Gómez-Ullate and Justo Puerto, both recipients of several BBVA Foundation grants and scholarships, are two of the mathematicians who are contributing to the project.

The BBVA Foundation has awarded Susan Fiske and Shelley Taylor the Frontiers of Knowledge Award in the category of Social Sciences for her pioneering insights, which have elucidated the role of cognitive shortcuts in shaping social interactions. The American social psychologists, two of the most influential working today, have been instrumental for understanding how these shortcuts in mental processing intervene in the formation of value judgments about other people or social situations.

One month before confining at home due to the coronavirus pandemic, chef Jordi Roca opened the doors to the latest proposal to come out of the Roca brothers’ world. Casa Cacao is one of their most personal projects to date, one that’s inspired by the pastry chef’s passion for chocolate. A boutique hotel that houses a chocolate workshop, right in the heart of Girona. Obviously, the hotel’s debut was tarnished by the events that unfolded soon afterwards. The youngest Roca brother is taking this isolation time to ponder about the problems that was the catering and hospitality industry will be facing after things go back to normal.

Scientific information, and many essential niche concepts to tackle it, have lept into the spotlight. Understanding certain key scientific concepts behind the battle against COVID-19 and how SARS-CoV-2’s biological mechanisms actually work will allow us to navigate in the sea of information to better gauge the scope of the problem and the prospects concerning the development of potential treatments.

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The anti-malaria medication has made headlines in recent weeks as a potential solution against coronavirus. How accurate are these news reports? "Hydroxychloroquine does have properties that could turn it into a new asset," says Elena Gómez-Díaz, a researcher at the Institute of Parasitology and Biomedicine ‘López-Neyra’ (IPBLN-CSIC) and recipient of a BBVA Foundation Leonardo Grant in 2017. The proven efficiency of hydroxychloroquine in malaria treatments could contribute to speeding up the development of a COVID vaccine.