“Roughly two and a half years into the pandemic, White House officials and health experts have reached a pivotal conclusion about Covid-19 vaccines: The current approach of offering booster shots every few months isn’t sustainable.
Though most vaccines take years to develop, the Covid shots now in use were created in record time—in a matter of months. For health authorities and a public desperate for tools to deal with the pandemic, their speedy arrival provided a huge lift, preventing hospitalizations and deaths while helping people to escape lockdowns and return to work, school and many other aspects of pre-Covid life.”
In a step towards creating intelligent cyborg brains, Cortical Labs in Melbourne have trained lab-grown brain organoids to play a classic 1970s video game. The team explains how the brain cells live in a Matrix-like, simulated world, where all they know is Pong.
The B.1.1.529 variant was first reported to WHO from South Africa on 24 November 2021. The epidemiological situation in South Africa has been characterized by three distinct peaks in reported cases, the latest of which was predominantly the Delta variant. In recent weeks, infections have increased steeply, coinciding with the detection of B.1.1.529 variant. The first known confirmed B.1.1.529 infection was from a specimen collected on 9 November 2021.
This variant has a large number of mutations, some of which are concerning. Preliminary evidence suggests an increased risk of reinfection with this variant, as compared to other VOCs. The number of cases of this variant appears to be increasing in almost all provinces in South Africa. Current SARS-CoV-2 PCR diagnostics continue to detect this variant. Several labs have indicated that for one widely used PCR test, one of the three target genes is not detected (called S gene dropout or S gene target failure) and this test can therefore be used as marker for this variant, pending sequencing confirmation. Using this approach, this variant has been detected at faster rates than previous surges in infection, suggesting that this variant may have a growth advantage.
The World Health Organization evaluates a new COVID-19 variant, while the delta strain surges in other countries. Diplomats trying to revive a nuclear deal with Iran face new demands and a harder line from Tehran.
Plus, holiday shopping could set records, despite inflation, shipping crises, and retail hiring struggles.
The variant hunters are helping us to understand how and why the COVID-19 virus is spreading, allowing us to fight back against the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hear from some of the scientists behind the UK’s nationwide sequencing effort to track SARS-CoV-2. Sir Patrick Vallance (the government’s Chief Scientific Adviser) also describes how the expertise that came together during the pandemic is now recognised across the world – and why it’s crucially important to continue to sequence to be ready for future pandemics.
This pioneering work is being carried out by the COVID-19 Genomics UK (COG-UK) consortium, which comprises numerous academic institutions, four public health agencies and the Wellcome Sanger Institute, and is administered by the University of Cambridge.
“Incredibly impressive, incredibly high quality and incredibly focused on the mission to make sure that as many people benefited from the science as possible,” Sir Patrick Vallance.
The race between covid-19 vaccines and variants is on. Alok Jha, The Economist’s science correspondent, and Natasha Loder, health policy editor, discuss what this means for the future Read more of our coverage on coronavirus: https://econ.st/3t1L6wx
The coronavirus’s Delta variant accounts for ever more infections; we ask about mutational surprises yet to emerge, and what can be done about them.
The ousting of Ethiopia’s army from the Tigray region might precipitate far wider conflict—within the country and far beyond its borders. And ahead of the Fourth of July, we find no good films about the holiday.
India’s Covid-19 crisis has resulted in record numbers of cases and deaths. WSJ breaks down the chain of events that led to the fastest-growing wave of infection since the pandemic started, and what it means for the world. Photo: Samuel Rajkumar/Reuters