New Scientist International Edition

New Scientist International Edition 28-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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2 minuti
a strange new world

HARD times lie ahead. Not only do we all have to contend with the threat of covid-19 itself, and its economic fallout, but as nations lock down movement outside our homes, there are extra mental pressures to cope with too. Fortunately, there are constructive things we can do. Our individual actions can slow the spread of the virus. We can help our neighbours to get through this. We can reach out electronically to support others. Such actions may help us develop a new sense of togetherness, and that will help. There is something else, though, that we can do to improve both our physical and mental resilience: exercise. As we report on page 44, exercise is a sure-fire route to a stronger immune system. This isn’t your typical well-being advice, issued alongside adjuncts…

3 minuti
world in lockdown

THE covid-19 pandemic is speeding up, the World Health Organization’s director general has warned. As New Scientist went to press, 382,000 cases of the disease had been confirmed, although the actual number is likely to be much higher. More than 16,500 people have died. “It took 67 days from the first reported case to reach the first 100,000 cases, 11 days for the second 100,000 cases and just four days for the third 100,000 cases,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told journalists at a press briefing on Monday. “The virus is accelerating.” On the same day, the UK government announced that everyone should stay at home, leaving the house only for basic necessities like food and medicine, to meet the medical needs of themselves or others, to travel to and from work if necessary…

4 minuti
drug search continues

DESPITE what you may have heard, although several potential drugs for covid-19 are being trialled around the world, few results have been reported yet, and we don’t know if any could help save people who are already seriously ill when diagnosed. Some enthusiastic news stories and claims being spread on social media are based on little more than anecdotal reports. However, the World Health Organization (WHO) is coordinating an international trial of the most promising drugs – and with case numbers soaring, we should find out soon if any of them work. “This trial focuses on the key priority questions for public health. Do any of these drugs reduce the mortality? Do any of these drugs reduce the time the patient is in hospital? And whether or not the patients receiving any…

4 minuti
analysis uk scientific advice

AS THE covid-19 pandemic rages on, governments are turning to teams of scientists for guidance on how to proceed. On 20 March, the UK government finally published the scientific advice it had received. At first, most commentators welcomed the transparency. But closer reading of the documents made available online suggests a few causes for concern. The strongest advice from the World Health Organization (WHO) on controlling outbreaks of the coronavirus – abundant testing – barely gets a mention, for example. And the guidance seems to lean heavily on a single model of the outbreak, one that some scientists suggest contains systematic errors. The UK government is advised by a panel of epidemiologists, infectious disease modellers, virologists, medical doctors and groups that focus on pandemic influenzas. The exact members vary, a government representative…

5 minuti
infectious without symptoms

WITH more than 380,000 confirmed cases worldwide, one thing is clear about the new coronavirus: it is very good at infecting people. Now studies are starting to reveal just how infectious it is – and when a person with covid-19 is most likely to spread the virus. While we know some people are more vulnerable to the virus than others, it is capable of putting a healthy adult of any age into a critical condition and in need of intensive care. However, the virus can also be asymptomatic, causing no noticeable illness in some people. Such cases were first recognised in China in January (Science China Life Sciences,, but it wasn’t known how common they were. Research published last week by Jeffrey Shaman of Columbia University in New York and his…

3 minuti
do you become immune once you have been infected?

SAY you have caught covid-19 and recovered – are you now immune for life, or could you catch it again? We just don’t know yet. In February, reports emerged of a woman in Japan who had been given the all-clear after having covid-19 but then tested positive for the SARS-CoV-2 virus a second time. There have also been reports of a man in Japan testing positive after being given the all-clear, and anecdotal cases of second positives have emerged from China, too. This has raised fears that people may not develop immunity to the virus. This would mean that, until we have an effective vaccine, we could all experience repeated rounds of infection. But the science is still uncertain. “There is some anecdotal evidence of reinfections, but we really don’t know,” says Ira…