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New Scientist International Edition

New Scientist International Edition 15-May-21

New Scientist covers the latest developments in science and technology that will impact your world. New Scientist employs and commissions the best writers in their fields from all over the world. Our editorial team provide cutting-edge news, award-winning features and reports, written in concise and clear language that puts discoveries and advances in the context of everyday life today and in the future.

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i denne udgave

2 min
elsewhere on new scientist

Virtual event The future of healthcare The coronavirus pandemic has put the spotlight on human health like never before. In this one-day event, we will hear from 15 fantastic speakers about what the future of healthcare will look like, covering everything from long covid to regenerative medicine and robot surgery to gut health. There will be plenty of time for live audience questions too. Join us on 26 June from 10am to 5pm BST or watch on demand later. Tickets available now. newscientist.com/events Podcast Weekly The team is joined by climate scientist Tamsin Edwards, who has published a crucial analysis of what climate change beyond a 1.5°C rise will look like. Plus: the science of self-reflection, the climate impact of Bitcoin and the first species of ant with a gender-neutral name. newscientist.com/podcasts Online Covid-19 daily briefing All the most important…

2 min
in need of a fix

CARBON is in the news a lot these days. Story after horrifying story tells of how carbon emissions are turning up Earth’s thermostat with dire consequences. But when it comes to the environment, there is another element we need to worry about. Nitrogen, carbon’s next-door neighbour on the periodic table, is at the centre of a different environmental crisis that is rarely in the limelight. Like so much in life, nitrogen is good in moderation. It is the fourth most common element in your body, an essential ingredient of DNA and other crucial biomolecules. We get this nitrogen from the food we eat. To enter the food chain, the relatively inert nitrogen gas in the air has to be converted, or fixed, to “reactive nitrogen” compounds in the soil, which are…

3 min
worries over india variant

A FORM of the coronavirus variant first identified in India, which is now spreading in the UK, appears to be passed on at least as easily as the “Kent variant” that now dominates UK infections. The variant, called B.1.617.2, was designated a “variant of concern” on 7 May by health authorities in England. B.1.617.2 is one of three sub-lineages of B.1.617, the variant that has become common in India and which some consider to be one potential factor behind the crisis that India has been facing. On 10 May, the World Health Organization designated B.1.617 as a variant of global concern. Public Health England (PHE) has moderate confidence that the B.1.617.2 variant is on a par for transmissibility with B.1.1.7, also known as the Kent variant, which originated in the UK, said…

6 min
are booster shots coming?

AS THE UK and some other wealthy countries edge towards a fully vaccinated adult population, a new question is being asked: will people need booster vaccines against covid-19? The answer depends on three unknowns: how quickly immunity fades, whether current vaccines protect against existing and future coronavirus variants, and whether booster shots actually work. There are also issues of vaccine nationalism and equity to consider (see “Boost or bust?”, right). 60m Doses of vaccine ordered by the UK for possible booster campaign Booster vaccines are routinely used for some infectious diseases, either to top up immunity or to update it for new virus variants. Tetanus boosters, for example, are recommended every 10 years to renew waning immunity, and annual flu shots are designed to protect against that season’s variants. Israel is ahead of the…

1 min
boost or bust?

Rich countries like Israel and the UK are already buying up tens of millions of extra vaccine doses for potential immunity booster campaigns (see main story), but the strategy could end up making the covid-19 pandemic worse. As the World Health Organization has repeatedly said, the pandemic can’t end until the whole world is vaccinated. Unvaccinated populations could act as a source of yet more new variants, and vaccine-resistant variants could push the vaccinated part of the world back to square one. Rich countries have already bought up far more than their fair share of vaccines, and ordering booster doses just exacerbates that problem. “When we talk about boosting and revaccination, it’s also important to bear in mind globally what is needed in terms of vaccination access where the progress has been much, much…

4 min
covid-19 ages immune system

PEOPLE who survive severe covid-19 appear to end up with a prematurely-aged immune system and other persistent immunological problems, which may be the underlying cause of long covid. The immune response to acute covid-19 is now well understood, but the longer-term effects are only just coming to light. The preliminary results from three studies looking into these long-term effects were reported last month at a virtual conference hosted by the UK Coronavirus Immunology Consortium and the British Society for Immunology. Together they suggest that the immune system gets a nasty hangover from the virus, but that it may be reversible. In one study, Niharika Duggal at the University of Birmingham, UK, and her colleagues studied the immune systems of 46 people who had been hospitalised with severe covid-19. Three months after discharge,…