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New Scientist Australian Edition 22-May-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

2 min
elsewhere on new scientist

Academy Your immune system and how to boost it As we live through a pandemic, understanding the immune system has never been so important. This new offering from New Scientist Academy will provide you with a vital primer on how your body’s defences work, when they change and what you can do to keep the system healthy. This course will be released in June but you can pre-purchase now and save £50. Book a place or find out more online. newscientist.com/immune-course Podcast Weekly This week, the team looks at vaccine booster shots to keep on top of the coronavirus and how they could work. Also on the pod: how measuring time makes the universe more disordered; neuroscientist David Eagleman on the marvels of brain plasticity; and why it is a special year for cicadas. newscientist.com/podcasts Online Covid-19 daily briefing All…

2 min
take vaccines global

IN THE long term, the future is looking bright. Several coronavirus vaccines are proving far more effective than we dared hope, and while some aren’t as effective against new variants, most do still work. In the short term, however, things may get worse before they get better. Despite many countries, including the UK, starting to return to “normality” with the relaxing of restrictions, we now have another dangerous new variant – B.1.617.2, first detected in India – to contend with. It might be even better at spreading than the B.1.1.7 variant from the UK (see page 7). Even the UK, which has given at least one vaccine dose to more than half its adult population, may not have vaccinated enough people to prevent another wave of cases, although it has, hopefully, vaccinated…

3 min
caution needed in the uk

ON 17 MAY, many people in the UK regained some of the freedoms surrendered to the coronavirus pandemic. But there are concerns that the relaxation has come too soon, with B.1.617.2 – a variant first identified in India – set to become the dominant strain in England over the coming week. England, Wales and most of Scotland have now proceeded in line with step three of the UK government’s plan for easing lockdown. That means most businesses can fully reopen, including pubs and restaurants, entertainment venues, museums, galleries and gyms. People can welcome others into their homes, and the ban on foreign travel has been lifted to some extent. However, Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged caution and said that B.1.617.2 “could pose a serious disruption to our progress”. A complete lifting of…

8 min
how to share vaccines

THE covid-19 pandemic has entered a dangerous new phase, with new variants spreading widely and overwhelming healthcare systems in some countries, such as India. Vaccines promise to bring an end to the pandemic, but with supplies still severely limited, many believe we need to think more wisely about how best to use the doses we have. “Our vaccinations should go to those that are most vulnerable, in most urgent need and where they can make the most difference,” says Krishna Udayakumar at Duke University in North Carolina. That isn’t what is happening. High-income countries have bought the vast majority of vaccine doses made so far, and the small amount being distributed by the global scheme set up by the World Health Organization (WHO) and others, known as COVAX, are initially being allocated…

2 min
how is covax distributing vaccines?

Countries followed two main routes to get hold of vaccines. Some dealt directly with vaccine companies. Others signed up to a global initiative to fairly distribute vaccines, called COVAX. Some are doing both. Countries that can afford it pay COVAX for the doses they get via the scheme, while others get them free, funded by donations. Broadly, higher-income countries buy vaccines while lower-income countries rely on COVAX. There are some exceptions. South Korea initially relied on COVAX, choosing to wait its turn. But after public criticism, it started buying vaccines directly. The initial aim of COVAX is to ensure first 3 per cent, then 20 per cent, of everyone in the world gets vaccinated, a proportion that will cover the most vulnerable. The World Health Organization (WHO) wanted higher-income countries to start sharing…

1 min
would an ip waiver boost supplies?

“These extraordinary times… call for extraordinary measures,” tweeted US trade representative Katherine Tai, as she threw the country’s backing behind a waiver of intellectual property rights for covid-19 vaccines. The announcement earlier this month turbocharged an idea pushed by India, South Africa and many campaigners: that lifting IP protections on covid-19 vaccines would boost supplies by allowing the vaccines to be made in greater numbers, in more countries. There has, however, already been strong opposition to the idea. “IP rights weren’t the practical problem to scaling up global vaccine production,” said the UK Bioindustry Association in a statement. The trade body’s members include Pfizer and AstraZeneca. The response is unsurprising. A World Health Organization-backed plan to scale up vaccine supplies, the Covid-19 Technology Access Pool (C-TAP), was launched a year ago. Companies were…