ZINIO logo

New Scientist Australian Edition 13-Feb-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.

New Scientist Ltd
51 Issues

in this issue

1 min
elsewhere on new scientist

Virtual event The handshake: A gripping history You don’t get many handshakes during a lockdown. Some have even suggested they are a thing of the past. Palaeoanthropologist Ella Al-Shamahi thinks otherwise. In this talk, she reveals the true history of the handshake and argues it has a biological purpose that means it is going nowhere. Join us from 6pm GMT on 25 March or watch on demand later. Tickets on sale now. newscientist.com/events Podcasts Weekly How to spot pandemic burnout and what to do about it. Also on the pod this week are touch-sensitive robots, hydrogen fuel and the origins of flowering plants. newscientist.com/podcasts Escape Pod This week’s brief journey of escapism is all about music. Learn more about singing gorillas, jazzy birds and why we humans seem to love music so much anyway. newscientist.com/podcasts Newsletter Launchpad Get our weekly round-up of the…

2 min
your best shot

FOR many people, one of the most unsettling things about living through the coronavirus pandemic is the feeling of lacking control – whether it is over our daily lives, the broader situation or both Vaccines promised a return to some kind of normality and, with it, a greater sense of control. But this week has brought sobering news: South Africa has decided to pause its roll-out of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine because of findings that it doesn’t offer enough protection against the B.1.351 coronavirus variant first detected in that country (see page 7). That promised sense of more control may now seem to be slipping through our fingers. In this week’s issue, however, we throw a spotlight on some of the ways in which we can influence our own course through the pandemic – beyond…

3 min
vaccine put on hold

ON 1 FEBRUARY, there was joy in South Africa when 1 million doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine arrived. But on 7 February, the health minister announced that the vaccine’s roll-out would be put on hold after a small study suggested that it doesn’t prevent mild or moderate illnesses caused by the B.1.351 variant responsible for almost all covid-19 cases in the country. The finding is worrying, not least because the B.1.351 variant is now spreading in several other countries. The number of cases detected outside South Africa remains very low in most places but Austria has found nearly 300, leading the neighbouring German state of Bavaria to threaten to close the border. The UK has stepped up testing to try to halt its spread. It also seems past infection by other…

11 min
how to give your vaccine a boost

SIMPLE behaviour changes could improve how your body responds to a covid-19 vaccination and the speed at which you are protected from the coronavirus, evidence from studies on other vaccines suggests. These factors could be so important that some scientists believe that ignoring them could reduce the overall success of the covid-19 vaccine roll-out. More than 130 million doses of vaccine against covid-19 have been administered at the time this magazine went to press. But not everyone who gets a shot will respond in the same way. Although the majority will build their immunity over the following weeks, a small percentage of people won’t become immune at all (see page 12). But even among those who do respond, factors such as age, sex, stress levels and the time of day that…

2 min
out of your hands

Sex The evidence is largely consistent on this: overall, women tend to have higher antibody responses to most vaccines than men, creating a stronger immune response to dengue, hepatitis A, rabies and smallpox vaccination, among others. Given the early stage of covid-19 vaccine roll-out, it isn’t yet clear whether we will see a similar sex difference in response to these shots. Age Probably the most well-researched factor here is age. Newborn babies produce low levels of antibodies in response to vaccines, and the antibodies they passively acquired from their mother during pregnancy can interfere with vaccine response, although it isn’t well understood why this might be. The optimal age to start vaccination differs depending on the pathogen you are protecting against. For instance, giving the oral polio vaccine during the first week of life…

4 min
how to tell if your vaccine worked

TO TACKLE the covid-19 pandemic, we need the most effective vaccines we can get. But even the best vaccines don’t work in everyone. How do you know if yours has worked? All of the vaccines in use against the coronavirus can cause side effects, including a sore arm, fever, chills, headache and nausea, usually in the first two days after a jab. These are more common after a second dose, and in people who have already been naturally infected with the coronavirus, according to data from the Covid Symptom Study on nearly 36,000 people in the UK who had the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. While side effects show your immune system is reacting to the virus, the absence of such signs doesn’t mean the jab has failed to work. Even with the second dose, only…