New Scientist International Edition

New Scientist International Edition 21-Mar-20

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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1 minuti
editor’s note

Dear reader, Firstly, as ever, thank you for reading. Secondly, as will be obvious to you, the emergence of this novel coronavirus has led us into uncertain times, and alongside every business and institution in the world, we are having to plan, on the basis of the best data we have access to, for what could be difficult times ahead. New Scientist already has plans in place to keep its staff as safe as possible, and to ensure the smooth production of our journalism in the event that public life is curtailed even further in the days or weeks ahead. We are also talking to all our colleagues in our publishing and supply chain to try to ensure the continued production of the magazine in those circumstances. We must also plan for the possibility,…

2 minuti
testing times

ABRUPTLY, the world is in lockdown. Many of the countries that aren’t there yet will be there shortly. In the UK, advice to stay at home and government restrictions have arrived more slowly than in neighbouring nations. That has sparked criticism from a number of scientists outside the government science advisory team. Such disagreement has been confusing for a public so often encouraged to trust the experts, especially in the middle of this pandemic. Who do they trust when the experts disagree? The fact is: no one knows what the correct course of action is. Epidemiologists have a saying: “If you’ve seen one pandemic, you’ve seen one pandemic.” We are in an entirely novel situation, not least because coronavirus is so notably different from flu. We will understand this pandemic only when we have…

3 minuti
covid-19 escalates

THE total number of coronavirus cases and deaths outside China has now overtaken those within the country. Around the world, countries have closed borders and ramped up social distancing measures. When New Scientist went to press, there had been more than 180,000 confirmed cases and more than 7000 deaths globally. China has still had the highest number of cases, followed by Italy and Iran. Spain is now fourth, having overtaken South Korea. Many countries are imposing border restrictions to reduce the spread of the virus, including Canada, Costa Rica and Tunisia. The European Union closed its external borders on Tuesday. The World Health Organization’s director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Monday that there has been a “rapid escalation” of cases in the past week. He said that while governments had increased efforts…

8 minuti
the countries getting it right

LAST month, the World Health Organization’s assistant director general Bruce Aylward set out to learn more about China’s response to the covid-19 outbreak and generate recommendations for China and other countries. He told Jessica Hamzelou what we have learned so far. Jessica Hamzelou: Cases in China are declining – we are now only seeing a handful of new reported cases every day. Does China have the virus under control? Bruce Aylward: It has absolutely turned it around. [But] governors, mayors and others that I talked to in China would never say things were “under control”. When I asked them if they felt good about falling cases, they said no. They said they were building more beds and buying more ventilators because they were worried that they might never get something like this…

1 minuti
no, this virus isn’t a bioweapon

New diseases have emerged throughout human history, and we have seen two major coronavirus outbreaks in the last two decades: SARS and MERS. So we shouldn’t be surprised by the arrival of the covid-19 virus. However, rumours on social media suggest that the outbreak was human-made. Some say the virus leaked from a Chinese lab studying coronaviruses. Others suggest the virus was engineered to spread among humans. Even the most secure laboratories do sometimes have accidents, and a human-engineered pandemic has been identified as a possible risk to our civilisation, but there is no good evidence that either has happened. Many similar viruses are found in wild bats, and it seems likely that is the origin of this one, probably via an intermediate host. Similarly, we know that both SARS and MERS came…

6 minuti
public enemy number one

THE covid-19 virus is humanity’s newest foe, with the potential to prematurely end millions of lives. To control this new coronavirus, we need to understand it. Labs around the world are now working around the clock in a bid to know their enemy. Three crucial questions are occupying virologists. What makes the new virus so good at infecting people? How does it reproduce so quickly once it is inside us? And why doesn’t the virus cause symptoms straight away, allowing it to spread undetected? The answers will suggest ways to treat the disease and develop vaccines (see “Race for a vaccine”, page 44). Clues can be found in the virus’s biology. Like all viruses, the covid-19 virus must infect living cells in order to reproduce. Each virus strives to burrow into a…