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New Scientist Australian Edition 13-Mar-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

Video A timeline of the pandemic It has been a year since the covid-19 outbreak was declared a pandemic. To mark this moment, our latest in-depth video charts the course of the crisis, from the first reported case of the coronavirus to the efforts to develop viable vaccines. This is a retrospective on a year that changed the world forever. youtube.com/newscientist Podcasts Escape Pod A podcast to distract you from life in a pandemic. This week’s theme is escape: how insects evade predators, escaping Earth’s gravity and more. newscientist.com/podcasts Weekly This week, the team discuss a self-sustaining “moon base” on Earth. They also talk warp drives and the fundamental rules of human friendship. Plus, acclaimed environment writer Elizabeth Kolbert drops in to talk about her new book. newscientist.com/podcasts Newsletter Lost in Space-Time Our free, monthly newsletter untangles the weirdness of reality. The latest…

2 min
vaccine conundrums

THE global covid-19 vaccine roll-out is accelerating, with in excess of 300 million doses now administered. This time last year, such an achievement would have been almost a pipe dream. Great challenges remain in ensuring the equitable distribution of vaccines across the world and persuading those who are hesitant that vaccination is in their best interests and in the interests of those around them. But even in countries where vaccines are available and take-up is high, emerging issues threaten the success of comprehensive vaccination programmes. One concern is that the vaccination strategies of some countries might not be the best path in the long term. Vaccinating the most vulnerable people first will undoubtedly save lives now, but could spur the emergence of potentially dangerous “escape” variants of the virus, and come at…

3 min
us vaccine benefits

PEOPLE can mix in private properties without social distancing or wearing face masks once they have been fully vaccinated against covid-19, US authorities have said. They can also visit unvaccinated people from a single household without masks or distancing, provided that household is at low risk for severe disease, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said on Monday. A person is deemed to be fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving their second dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna vaccines or two weeks after being given the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The guidance, which marks a significant relaxation in restrictions, will allow many families to meet again. The CDC said the decision was underpinned by mounting evidence on the effectiveness of covid-19 vaccines at preventing asymptomatic infection and maybe transmission. While face…

4 min
the border problem

THE UK may have experienced nearly a year of lockdowns and social restrictions, but there are areas of the world where life is approaching normality. Good governance and strict border policies mean residents in Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Vietnam are enjoying relaxed restrictions and little to no community transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes covid-19. But as vaccine roll-outs progress and plans are made to resume less-restricted international travel, how will countries with zero or very few covid-19 cases safely reopen their borders? In the short-term, it is unlikely that countries pursuing an elimination approach to the virus would be willing to settle for anything less, says Michael Baker at the University of Otago in New Zealand, who devised the country’s elimination strategy. The evidence for trying to eliminate…

2 min
vaccinating the vulnerable first may be a flawed strategy

THE vaccine strategy most nations are following – of vaccinating the most vulnerable first rather than those who are likeliest to spread the coronavirus – may be the best way to save lives in the short term. But it is also the strategy with the greatest risk of driving the evolution of variants that can escape vaccine protection, according to a model developed by Julia Gog at the University of Cambridge. “What is the absolutely worst strategy? You vaccinate all of the vulnerable and none of the ‘mixers’,” Gog said in an online presentation in February. Gog isn’t calling for a change in vaccine strategy. But her finding reinforces the importance of keeping case numbers down as vaccines are rolled out. “We’ve got to get prevalence down, otherwise we’re [creating] a real…

2 min
vaccines may help clear up long-term covid-19 symptoms

SOME people with long covid, the term for long-lasting symptoms after a covid-19 infection, have had health improvements after being vaccinated against the coronavirus. Reports are based on anecdotes and an informal survey, but may offer clues to the cause of long covid For most people, the symptoms of covid-19 clear up within weeks, but some are still ill many months after the infection. It is unclear what causes symptoms such as fatigue and trouble concentrating to persist. People with long covid have expressed fears in support groups that getting the vaccine will worsen symptoms, says Gez Medinger, who began making YouTube videos about long covid after developing it himself. “People are very anxious about it,” he says. Medinger carried out a survey using Facebook groups of 473 people with long covid…