Category Archives: Science

Coexisting with the coronavirus

Katherine S. Xue writes: In the spring of 1846, a Dutch physician named Peter Ludwig Panum arrived on the Faroe Islands, a volcanic chain about two hundred miles northwest of Scotland. He found the Faroes to be a harsh and unforgiving place. The islands’ eight thousand inhabitants, who were Danish subjects at that time, spent… Read More »

Ivermectin Covid-19 scandal shows how vulnerable science is to fraud

James Heathers and Gideon Meyerowitz-Katz write: Most scientists assume they will never come across a single case of fraud in their careers, and so even the thought of checking calculations in reviewable papers, re-running analyses, or checking if experimental protocols were properly deployed is deemed unnecessary. Worse, the accompanying raw data and analytical code often… Read More »

Will Covid-19 change science? Past pandemics offer clues

Science reports: Although the past may not presage the future, epidemic history illuminates how change unfolds. “Historians often say that what an epidemic will do is expose underlying fault lines,” says Erica Charters, a historian of medicine at the University of Oxford who is studying how epidemics end. But how we respond is up to… Read More »

The story of songbirds is a story of sugar

Ed Yong writes: Australia’s unique forests are the birthplace of birdsong. The plants there are drenched in sunlight and can readily mass-produce sugars through photosynthesis. But with few nutrients in the soil, they struggle to convert those sugars into leaves, seeds, and other tissues. They end up with excess, which they simply give away. Flowers… Read More »

Covid origins mirror SARS’s genesis in animals, study finds

Bloomberg reports: Early Covid-19 cases traced to markets in Wuhan, China, mirror the initial spread of SARS 17 years earlier, scientists said in a paper that concludes that an animal contagion is the most likely explanation for the pandemic’s genesis. The epidemiological history of SARS-CoV-2 is comparable to previous animal market-associated outbreaks of coronaviruses and… Read More »

Birthday parties as virus vector

Margot Sanger-Katz writes: At the height of the pandemic, it was easy to worry that strangers would give you the virus. But a new study of what happened after people’s birthdays suggests that people we trust were also a common source of viral spread. Private gatherings have been harder for researchers to measure than big… Read More »

A lack of coronavirus genomes could prolong the pandemic

Puja Changoiwala writes: Back at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, before the disease had even drawn the attention of much of the world, researchers in China and Australia mapped the genome of the coronavirus isolated from one of the first patients in the Wuhan outbreak. This first genetic blueprint of the SARS-CoV-2 virus was… Read More »

Virologist Danielle Anderson paints a very different picture of the Wuhan Institute

Bloomberg reports: From her first visit before it formally opened in 2018, Anderson was impressed with the institute’s maximum biocontainment lab. The concrete, bunker-style building has the highest biosafety designation, and requires air, water and waste to be filtered and sterilized before it leaves the facility. There were strict protocols and requirements aimed at containing… Read More »

When a good scientist is the wrong source

Thomas Levenson writes: Six weeks ago, a reporter, Nicholas Wade, published what seemed to be a blockbuster story, one that, if true, would expose the greatest scandal in recent history. SARS-CoV-2, he wrote, or SARS2 for short, the virus that has driven the global COVID-19 pandemic, had likely been modified in a lab at the… Read More »

Chinese Covid-19 genetic data that could have aided pandemic research removed from NIH database

The Wall Street Journal reports: Chinese researchers directed the U.S. National Institutes of Health to delete gene sequences of early Covid-19 cases from a key scientific database, raising concerns that scientists studying the origin of the pandemic may lack access to key pieces of information. The NIH confirmed that it deleted the sequences after receiving… Read More »