Sunday, November 15, 2020

Asparagus ... Puurs in Belgium - holding hope for mankind !!

 

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases worldwide has risen by 657,312 within the past 24 hours marking the largest daily increase since the outbreak of the pandemic, the World Health Organisation said on Saturday.  According to global data, the cases worldwide is 54083176 – USA tops with 10977635; followed by India 8814579; Brazil 5848959; Russia 1887836; France 1867721 .. … the cases apparently are coming down in India which reported 41100 new cases on a single day, yesterday. 

Alarm is spreading across Europe as the number of coronavirus cases has more than doubled in 10 days, with several southern European countries reporting their highest daily case numbers this week. The entire continent reported more than 200,000 daily infections for the first time on Thursday, overtaking on that day the number of daily cases in India, Brazil and the United States combined.

Belgium has dropped to sixth place on the European list of countries with the highest number of Covid-19 infections per inhabitants on Friday. After being at the top of the list for several days at the end of October, Belgium is now in sixth place, according to the most recent data from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).

Puurs is a former municipality located in the Belgian province of Antwerp. It is located in the Flemish Region. The municipality comprises the towns of Breendonk, Liezele, Kalfort, Ruisbroek and Puurs proper.  Puurs sits about 5 meters above mean sea level.  Puurs is mainly rural, with some low intensity industry development in the North alongside the N16 motorway. The internationally sold Duvel beer is brewed in Breendonk, by the Duvel-Moortgat brewery. Each year in August, a 100 km (62 mi) long foot march called the Dodentocht (Death March) passes by the brewery, and participants and spectators can enjoy Duvel beer for free.



Asparagus is a herbaceous, perennial plant  growing to 100–150 cm (40–60 in) tall, with stout stems with much-branched, feathery foliage. The "leaves" are in fact needle-like cladodes (modified stems) in the axils of scale leaves.  The root system, often referred to as a "crown," is adventitious and the root type is fasciculated. The flowers are bell-shaped, greenish-white to yellowish,  with six tepals partially fused together at the base; they are produced singly or in clusters of two or three in the junctions of the branchlets.  The fruit is a small red berry  which is toxic to humans. Asparagus, or garden asparagus, folk name sparrow grass, scientific name Asparagus officinalis – its  young shoots are used as a spring vegetable.  

Asparagus was first grown in Greece more than 2,500 years ago, and experts say ancient Romans enjoyed it, too. It was commonly found growing in the wild. Early cultivated versions of asparagus had thinner stalks and were darker in color than the asparagus we find at the farmers market today. It also had a more bitter flavour.  Most vegetables are annuals, meaning they need to be planted every year. Asparagus is one of only a few perennial vegetables, meaning they come back year after year.

Each spring, the Belgian town of Puurs holds a festival in honour of its bountiful asparagus – or ‘white gold’ as it is called locally. But now it has a new bumper crop, and it is hoping to export it very soon – a miracle vaccine that could finally turn the tide on the coronavirus pandemic. In anticipation of regulatory approval, hundreds of thousands of doses are already rolling off the production line at Pfizer’s hub in the sleepy town of Puurs which lies midway between Brussels and Antwerp. Its mayor, Koen Van den Heuvel, joked that residents have been asking him to put in a good word with the pharmaceutical giant so they get the first doses.


Puurs is little more than an intersection of two roads with a church, school, chemist and delicatessen. Asparagus grows in the surrounding fields, thanks to the soil’s high sand content. Until last week, Puurs was best known as the home of Dina Tersago,  a former Miss Belgium who hosts a reality TV show matchmaking women with single Flemish farmers.  For years, Puurs has also been home to the Moortgat brewery which produces the strong Duvel beer. But its fortunes changed in the 1960s when tax breaks began to lure major US multinational firms to Belgium. They included Pfizer’s predecessor Upjohn, which established a base which now employs 3,000 people. Now the talk of the town is the announcement by Pfizer and BioNTech that their vaccine is more than 90 per cent effective in preventing people from getting Covid. Optimism is, however, cautious in Puurs.

A recent job advert on Pfizer’s Puurs plant website was seeking ‘a vaccine maker.’ With more than a billion doses planned by the end of next year, it may not be the last.

Interesting and the World is looking forward to the vaccine irrespective of whichever place it could come from ..

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
15.11.2020 

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