Welcome to our weekly collection of things we thought were good, but didn’t have the space to cover in bigger pieces.
Greening the cities If we are going to survive at all, we need to make our cities much much greener. There are enormous ecological bonuses in refurbishment, if it’s done correctly. Here Phineas Harper of the Guardian discusses exciting new ideas from those prize winning Parisiens Anne Lacaton and Jean-Phillipe Vassal
Immunity-don’t follow the herd About a year ago there was an enormous buzz around herd immunity, and how it would protect us from Covid-19 wihout the need for lock downs and vaccines. We at LSS always had our doubts. However Nature seems to have shot that fox once and for all. Read this,if you dare
Even with vaccination efforts in full force, the theoretical threshold for vanquishing COVID-19 looks out of reach, say scientists who are modelling the pandemic’s progress. Most estimates had placed the threshold at 60–70% of the population, but several factors seem to be pushing it up:
- Authorized vaccines can prevent people from getting sick with COVID-19. But it is still unclear to what extent they block infection and transmission. If vaccines don’t prevent SARS-CoV-2 from spreading, then many more people must be vaccinated to achieve herd immunity.
- A perfectly coordinated global vaccination campaign might have wiped out COVID-19, but the roll-out is wildly uneven. For example, Israel is closing in on the theoretical herd-immunity threshold, but its neighbours Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Egypt have yet to vaccinate even 1% of their respective populations. This leaves pockets of vulnerability where the disease can surge and then spread.
- There are no authorized vaccines for children, so most adults would need to be immunized to achieve herd immunity.
- We’re in a race with new variants of SARS-CoV-2 that might be more transmissible and resistant to vaccines. A new variant could undo our progress.
- It’s not yet clear how long naturally acquired immunity to SARS-CoV-2 infection lasts, but it’s probably not forever. As immunity wanes, people become susceptible to reinfection and no longer contribute to herd immunity.
- The herd-immunity threshold gets higher when people relax their vigilance. “The vaccine is not bulletproof,” says biomedical data scientist Dvir Aran. Imagine that a vaccine offers 90% protection: “If before the vaccine you met at most one person, and now with vaccines you meet 10 people, you’re back to square one.”
So what does the future look like without herd immunity? The spectacularly speedy development of vaccines that reduce hospitalizations and deaths still implies a hopeful outcome. But in the long term, scientists think COVID-19 might become an endemic disease, much like influenza.Nature | 10 min read
Read more: The coronavirus is here to stay — here’s what that means (Nature | 11 min read)
Lightning never strikes twice Lots of planets moons and asteroids seem to have some of the conditions for life-but why did seem to have kicked off only on earth? One theory is that lightning strikes gave our ancestral molecules the necessary push. Seems a bit like those old Frankenstein films, doesn’t it? Here’s The Conversation with Benn Hess and his pals.
We too have an enormous reading programme this weekend, gentle readers. It’s the sign of an open mind. So let’s all get on with it-now!
#originoflife #astrobiology #sars-cov-2 #covid-19 #herdimmunity #greencities #environment #pollution #globalwarming