Daily briefing: Has the COVID-19 pandemic peaked?


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Multiple groups of researchers have created synthetic blastocysts like this one from human stem cells.Credit: UT Southwestern

Scientists have used human stem cells to imitate the earliest stage but of embryo progress. Multiple analysis teams independently report that they grew balls of cells that look like human blastocysts, which type about four days after an egg is fertilized by sperm. These experiments supply a window into an important time in human improvement and a possibility to higher perceive being pregnant loss and infertility with out experimenting on human embryos.

Nature | 6 min read

Reference: Nature paper 1, Nature paper 2, bioRxiv preprint 1 & bioRxiv preprint 2

NASA’s InSight spacecraft has revealed the dimension of Mars’s core by listening to seismic power ringing by means of the planet’s inside. InSight’s measurement, taken from the Martian floor, means that the radius of the Martian core is 1,810–1,860 kilometres — roughly half of Earth’s. That’s bigger than some earlier estimates, which means the core is much less dense than had been predicted. The solely different rocky planetary our bodies for which scientists have measured the core are Earth and the Moon. Adding Mars will permit researchers to match and distinction how the Solar System’s planets advanced.

Nature | 5 min read

Three beforehand unknown strains of micro organism have been discovered growing on the International Space Station. All are members of the Methylobacteriaceae household, concerned in nitrogen fixation and plant progress. Researchers counsel that the three new strains, and a fourth that was from a beforehand recognized species, may in the future assist to domesticate crops in house or on Mars.

CNN | 5 min read

Reference: Frontiers in Microbiology paper

COVID-19 coronavirus replace

People shop while wearing face masks in Singapore

Mask-clad Singaporeans throng the metropolis’s Chinatown on the eve of Lunar New Year in February 2021. Singapore has been extra profitable than many different areas at controlling outbreaks of COVID-19.Credit: Maverick Asio/SOPA Images/LightRocket by way of Getty

Global COVID-19 circumstances have fallen considerably since they peaked in early January. Scientists are asking whether this is the beginning of the end of the pandemic. It’s too quickly to make sure — particularly with the rise of recent variants that threaten to bypass vaccines. There are additionally many locations which can be nonetheless weak as a result of charges of immunity, both by means of vaccination or an infection, are low. And the international development doesn’t reveal the true scale of an infection in some components of the world.

Nature | 7 min read

The rise and fall of COVID-19: Line chart showing the number of new cases of COVID-19 for a selection of countries and regions.

Source: Our World in Data

The subsequent wave of vaccine builders are putting offers with producers and institutes in low- and middle-income international locations. They are engaged on vaccines that combat fast-spreading variants, that are stable outside the fridge and that can be self-administered or more easily given. Nature Biotechnology enumerates these up-and-coming contenders and explores how they work.

Nature Biotechnology | 10 min read (due to everybody who tell us that {that a} glitch prevented a few of you from studying this text in yesterday’s Briefing)


With international locations determined to ramp up COVID-19 vaccinations, considered one of the greatest bottlenecks is the skill to truly make and ship the jabs. I actually loved this New Yorker article for geeking out on the complexities involved in manufacturing millions of vaccine doses: from rising plasmids and sourcing lipids to securing sufficient rubber stoppers for vials. This quote from Chaz Calitri, Pfizer’s head of operations, captures it. “We’re not making widgets. We’re making a product people inject into their bodies — into healthy humans — and it has to be perfect,” he says. “That takes engineering, it takes science, it takes time.”

Helen Pearson, Nature Chief Magazine Editor

The New Yorker | 11 min read

Features & opinion

Social-media platforms should reward users for reliable, accurate and trustworthy posts, argues cognitive neuroscientist Tali Sharot. “As a neuroscientist who studies motivation and decision making, I have seen how even trivial rewards strongly influence behaviour,” writes Sharot. She factors to Sweden — the place drivers had been supplied prizes for obeying the velocity restrict, and common velocity was diminished by 22% — and descriptions how a reward system may overcome the attraction of sharing misinformation.

Nature | 5 min read

In 1871, the Oke Au Okoa newspaper documented a serious hurricane, together with the actual time that flooding occurred and the altering wind instructions. It’s one instance of how the islands’ Hawaiian-language newspapers, which as soon as numbered greater than 100, supply a detailed historical record of extreme weather in the region. Language researcher Puakea Nogelmeier uncovered the knowledge as a part of a undertaking to translate multiple million pages of newspaper archives. His group then collaborated with meteorologists to carry the info to gentle, finally influencing local weather laws in the state.

Future Human | 8 min read

Reference: Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society paper

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