The global burden of COVID-19 has predominantly been measured using metrics like case numbers, hospitalisations and deaths. But the long term health impacts are more difficult to capture. In this episode of Coronapod we discuss one way that public health experts are trying to get to grips with the problem using metrics such as disability adjusted life years (DALYs) and quality adjusted life years (QALYs). As new data suggests that COVID could leave millions with lasting disability or...
Published 06/11/21
An AI that designs computer chips in hours, and zooming in on DNA’s complex 3D structures. In this episode: 00:46 An AI computer microchip designer Working out where to place the billions of components that a modern computer chip needs can take human designers months and, despite decades of research, has defied automation. This week, however, a team from Google report a new machine learning algorithm that does the job in a fraction of the time, and is already helping design their next...
Published 06/09/21
Since the beginning of the pandemic, there have been allegations that SARS-CoV-2 could have originated in a Chinese lab. A phase one WHO investigation concluded that a 'lab-leak' was "extremely unlikely" and yet, the theory has seen a resurgence in recent weeks with several scientists wading into the debate. In this episode of Coronapod, we delve into what scientists have been saying and ask how and why the 'lab-leak' hypothesis has gained so much traction. We ask if the way we communicate...
Published 06/04/21
The cross-discipline effort to work our how ancient humans learned to count.   See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
Published 06/02/21
A vaccine candidate for a neglected tropical disease, and calls to extend the 14-day limit on embryo research.   See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
Published 05/26/21
Pervasive plastic specks are of great concern to scientists – but are they really harmful?   See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
Published 05/24/21
Smouldering fires lay dormant before bursting back into flame in spring. 07:39 Research Highlights Aesthetic bias means pretty plants receive the most research attention, and ancient tooth gunk reveals the evolution of the mouth microbiome. Research Highlight: Flashy plants draw outsize share of scientists’ attention Research Highlight: Microbes in Neanderthals’ mouths reveal their carb-laden diet 10:04 Briefing Chat We discuss some highlights from the Nature Briefing. This time,...
Published 05/19/21
Over the past few weeks, India has been experiencing a devastating second wave of COVID-19, recording hundreds of thousands of new cases a day. Evidence is growing that a new variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus known as B.1.617, first detected in India in October, may be driving this wave. On this week’s Coronapod we talk about the race to learn more about B.1.617, with early results suggesting it may be more transmissible and could cause more severe disease. News: Coronavirus variants are...
Published 05/14/21
A new neural interface lets people type with their mind, and a crafting journey into materials science.   See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
Published 05/12/21
In surprise news this week, the US government announced its support for waiving patent protections for COVID-19 vaccines, in an effort to boost supplies around the world.As fewer than 1% of people living in low-income countries have received COVID-19 vaccines, it is hoped that this move is a major step towards addressing this inequity by allowing manufacturers to legally produce generic versions of vaccines. We discuss the next steps that need to be taken to make this a reality, and why there...
Published 05/07/21
Uncovering the earliest evidence of deliberate human burial in Africa, and a metal-free rechargeable battery.   See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
Published 05/05/21
For more than a century, public health researchers have demonstrated how poverty and discrimination drive disease and the coronavirus pandemic has only reinforced this. In a Coronapod special, Nature reporter Amy Maxmen takes us with her through eight months of reporting in the San Joaquin valley, a part of rural California where COVID's unequal toll has proven deadly. News: Inequality's deadly toll This piece was supported by grants from the Pulitzer Center and the MIT Knight Science...
Published 04/30/21
Ultra-precise measurements connect brain activity and energy use in individual fruit-fly neurons.   See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
Published 04/28/21
Despite warnings, and a number of close calls, drugmakers failed to develop and stockpile drugs to fight a viral pandemic. Now, in the wake of SARS-CoV-2, they are pledging not to make the same mistake again.   See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
Published 04/26/21
As clinical trials to test COVID vaccines in children begin, what are the key questions researchers want to answer?   See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
Published 04/23/21
The self-supporting structures that snap into place, and how a ban on fossil-fuel funding could entrench poverty in sub-Saharan Africa.   See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
Published 04/21/21
Reports of rare and unusual blood clots have resulted in several vaccine roll outs being paused while scientists scramble to work out if the vaccines are responsible and if so how. The unusual combination of symptoms, including a low platelet count and clots focussed in the abdomen or brain, seems similar to a rare side effect from treatment with the drug blood thinning drug Heparin - however it is not clear how the vaccines could cause the syndrome. In this episode of Coronapod we...
Published 04/16/21
The lack of adequate sanitation in parts of the rural US, and physicists reassess muons’ magnetism.   See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
Published 04/14/21
Rick Bright exposed former president Trump's political meddling in the US COVID response. Now he is championing a new privately funded initiative to track viral spread and combat new variants.  We discuss the challenges of collecting data on a rapidly spreading virus, from transmission dynamics to genomic surveillance. We also ask why a veteran government scientist like Bright, the ex-director of the US Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, would take a new path in the...
Published 04/09/21
This is an audio version of our feature: Robo-writers: the rise and risks of language-generating AI   See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
Published 04/06/21
From a sore arm to anaphylaxis, a wide range of adverse events have been reported after people have received a COVID-19 vaccine. And yet it is unclear how many of these events are actually caused by the vaccine. In the vast majority of cases, reactions are mild and can be explained by the body's own immune response. But monitoring systems designed to track adverse events are catching much rarer but more serious events. Now scientists need to work out if they are causally liked to the vaccine,...
Published 04/02/21
Laser-cooled antimatter opens up new physics experiments, and the staggering economic cost of invasive species.   See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
Published 03/31/21
Since the beginning of the pandemic the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine has been plagued by confusion and controversy. The vaccine has been authorised in over 100 countries, tens of millions of doses have been administered, and it has been demonstrated to be safe and effective. However, over the past few weeks the vaccine has again been in the headlines. In this episode of Coronapod, we discuss all of these controversies and ask how they may the reputation of the vaccine, and what that could mean...
Published 03/26/21
A web of three optical atomic clocks show incredibly accurate measurements of time, and the trailblazing astronomer who found hints of dark matter.   See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
Published 03/24/21
In the early days of the pandemic, researchers raced to identify the most potent antibodies produced by the immune system in response to SAR-COV-2 infection and produce them in bulk. The resulting ‘monoclonal antibodies’ have since been tested in a variety of settings as treatments for COVID-19. But despite promising clinical trial results and several therapies having already been approved, antibody therapies have not yet played a large role in the fight against COVID-19. In this episode of...
Published 03/19/21