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New Scientist Australian Edition 24-Apr-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

Type Virtual event A 500-year plan for humans beyond Earth Geneticist Christopher Mason outlines how humans can make new homes on other worlds. Join us at 6pm BST on 15 July. Tickets available now. newscientist.com/events Podcast Escape Pod The show that provides a distraction from life in a pandemic. This week, the team explores key locations in the story of the discovery of the chemical elements. newscientist.com/podcasts NEW Newsletter Countdown to COP26 It is a crucial year for climate negotiations, culminating in the UN’s COP26 meeting in November. Our newsletter will keep you up to date. newscientist.com/ sign-up/cop26 Online Covid-19 daily briefing All the most important developments in the pandemic in one essential briefing. Updated daily at 6pm BST. newscientist.com/coronavirus-latest Essential guide Evolution Get to grips with all the grandeur and complexity of Charles Darwin’s peerless theory of natural selection with our Essential Guide: Evolution, the sixth in the…

4 min
the climate moment

CHILLING might be the wrong word, but it is certainly a stark message that appears towards the end of our special report on the latest climate change science (page 34): if we do too little, too late, and Earth’s climate feedbacks work against us, many children today could live to see 5°C of global warming or more. As this week’s equally stark cover image of global temperature anomalies last month shows, in some parts of the world at some times, we are already there. Global warming is the greatest existential challenge of our age – perhaps of any age, measured by the scale of the societal changes necessary to mitigate it and adapt to it. Time is running out to do that – and the latest science isn’t panning out in…

9 min
three million deaths

COVID-19 has now claimed the lives of a reported 3 million people around the world and the true figure is probably far higher. Globally, the number of new cases per week has nearly doubled over the past two months, as new variants cause a surge in cases in many countries. But as we mark this sobering milestone and explore the shape of things to come, there is much reason for hope, too. Last week, the world produced its one-billionth dose of covid-19 vaccine, and the few countries that have already managed to vaccinate a large proportion of their population are seeing the benefits. No one can say for sure what will happen next, but the hope is that the worst will soon be over. “It’s in our hands,” says Andrew Noymer at…

1 min
what is the true death toll?

The real number of global coronavirus deaths is likely to be much higher than the official count of 3 million. “My guess is probably double that,” says Andrew Noymer, an epidemiologist at the University of California, Irvine. It could be even more, he says, but is almost certainly under 40 million. The reason we don’t have a clear answer is that many countries do little testing, so they don’t know which deaths are due to covid-19. In some places, especially in rural areas, many deaths aren’t recorded. Then there are countries, such as the Central African Republic, from which we have no data at all. In others, such as Russia and China, official figures are questionable. “They have good statistics, I believe, but they are not being transparent about them,” says Noymer. In a…

6 min
sputnik v vaccine goes global

IT STYLES itself as “a vaccine for all mankind”, and with some justification. Last week, the Sputnik V covid-19 vaccine, developed by the Gamaleya National Center of Epidemiology and Microbiology in Russia, was approved in India, a country of around 1.4 billion people. India is the 60th nation to approve the vaccine, meaning it is now available to a combined population of 3 billion, or 40 per cent of everyone on the planet. Add in the vaccines made by Chinese pharmaceutical companies Sinopharm and Sinovac, which between them have been approved in 64 nations including China itself (another 1.4 billion people), and it is clear that non-Western vaccines account for a significant and growing share of the global vaccination drive. If, as the World Health Organization has repeatedly stressed, nobody is safe…

1 min
mix-and-match vaccines for a boost?

A promising aspect of Sputnik V is that it is a “heterologous prime-boost” vaccine, which means the first and second doses differ. Each dose uses a different adenovirus vector to get the coronavirus spike protein DNA into human cells. This should prevent the second shot from amplifying an immune response to the vector used in the first shot rather than to the target spike protein of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Heterologous prime-boost immunisation is seen as a possible way to squeeze an even bigger response from existing vaccines. To achieve a similar effect, a team at the University of Oxford is leading a trial of various combinations of the vaccines from Oxford/AstraZeneca, Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna and Novavax in people over the age of 50. Not every possible combination will be tested as most people…