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Microsoft is working on a new kind of mosquito trap that – when coupled with machine learning and gene-sequencing techniques – could help scientists identify outbreaks of diseases like Zika, dengue fever, malaria and West Nile virus before they happen.

Why it matters: Many mosquito-borne illnesses circulate in animals before making the jump to humans. If scientists can identify disease-carrying mosquitoes early on, they can take steps to control an outbreak and prevent it from happening.

How it works: The trap is a tower with 64 tiny doors, each capable of capturing one mosquito. Different attractants, like carbon dioxide and human body odors, can be used to lure different types of mosquitoes. The trapped insects' genes are then sequenced and analyzed by a machine learning algorithm to identify the species of mosquito, what animals they may have fed on and which diseases they carry.

The advance: Currently, scientists use sentinel animals to detect mosquito-borne diseases. They might place a coop of chickens in a known mosquito breeding area, and test the chickens regularly for West Nile Virus. But Microsoft's Project Premonition uses the mosquitoes themselves as sentinels, allowing them to can catch diseases that are spread through animals and insects other than birds, like lizards and horses. "Essentially, we're turning these mosquitoes into data-collecting devices," said Ethan Jackson, the project leader.

The bells and whistles: These traps don't just catch the mosquitoes: they also track the time of day they were captured and what the temperature and humidity were, data that could help determine the best time of day to spray insecticides. They even use a beam of light to measure the rate of the trapped mosquito's wingbeats – which lets them identify the species.

Go deeper

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
2 hours ago - Technology

TikTok gets more time (again)

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The White House is again giving TikTok's Chinese parent company more to satisfy national security concerns, rather than initiating legal action, a source familiar with the situation tells Axios.

The state of play: China's ByteDance had until Friday to resolve issues raised by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. (CFIUS), which is chaired by Treasury secretary Steve Mnuchin. This was the company's third deadline, with CFIUS having provided two earlier extensions.

Federal judge orders Trump administration to restore DACA

DACA recipients and their supporters rally outside the U.S. Supreme Court on June 18. Photo: Drew Angerer via Getty

A federal judge on Friday ordered the Trump administration to fully restore the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, giving undocumented immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as children a chance to petition for protection from deportation.

Why it matters: DACA was implemented under former President Obama, but President Trump has sought to undo the program since taking office. Friday’s ruling will require Department of Homeland Security officers to begin accepting applications starting Monday and guarantee that work permits are valid for two years.

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Politics: Fauci says he accepted Biden's offer to be chief medical adviser "on the spot" — The recovery needs rocket fuel.
  2. Health: CDC: It's time for "universal face mask use" — Death rates rising across the country — Study: Increased testing can reduce transmission.
  3. Economy: U.S. economy adds 245,000 jobs in November as recovery slows — America's hidden depression: K-shaped recovery threatens Biden administration.
  4. Cities: Bay Area counties to enact stay-at-home order ahead of state mandate
  5. Vaccine: What vaccine trials still need to do.
  6. World: UN warns "2021 is literally going to be catastrophic"
  7. 🎧 Podcast: Former FDA chief Rob Califf on the vaccine approval process.