June 3, 2023
Daily briefing: China reports first roll-out of inhalable COVID-19 vaccine

Daily briefing: China reports first roll-out of inhalable COVID-19 vaccine

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Lula in a crowd of smiling people, holding a Brazilian flag.

Luiz Inácio Lula Da Silva gives a speech celebrating his victory in the Brazilian presidential election.Credit: Alexandre Schneider/Getty

Many scientists breathed a sigh of relief on Sunday as Brazil narrowly elected Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva as president. “Today is a very hopeful day here in Brazil,” says chemist Elisa Orth. “We voted for somebody who believes in science, who believes in education.” Although Lula came out on top in the election, Bolsonaro’s supporters prevailed in many of the congressional elections that took place on 2 October, which means the incoming president will face hurdles when implementing his agenda.

Nature | 5 min read

Some residents of Shanghai, China, are inhaling their COVID-19 boosters. The vaccine, produced by biotechnology firm CanSino Biologics, is a mist that is sucked through the mouthpiece of a sealed cup — in what might be the first roll-out of a needle-free COVID-19 vaccine. “It was like drinking a cup of milk tea,” said one person in an online video posted by a state media outlet. “When I breathed it in, it tasted a bit sweet.” Developers hope that vaccines that prime immune cells in the mucous membranes that live in the nose and mouth, where SARS-CoV-2 enters the body, will quickly stop the virus from spreading, preventing even mild cases and blocking transmission. More than 100 oral or nasal vaccines are in development globally.

Associated Press | 5 min read

Read more: How nasal-spray vaccines could change the pandemic (Nature | 10 min read, from September)

A study of 5.6 million papers finds that early-career biomedical scientists are more innovative and creative than their more senior peers. Researchers looked at authors’ academic positions, whether a paper cited fresh findings from a wide range of fields and how many times the paper was cited by others. The evidence is particularly salient because biomedicine relies heavily on grant funding, where older, established scientists tend to have the edge, says economist and study coauthor Gerald Marschke.

The Scientist | 7 min read

Reference: Journal of Human Resources paper


Doing science can take courage. In many parts of the world, researchers are facing increasing hostility and threats to their personal safety while attempting to inject evidence into public debates and better the lives of others.

That’s why Nature, together with the UK-based charity Sense about Science, organizes the John Maddox Prize to publicize the work of scientists in particularly challenging contexts. At a ceremony in London last week, it was my honour to hand this year’s award to a truly courageous researcher, Eucharia Oluchi Nwaichi.

A biochemist and soil scientist at the University of Port Harcourt in Nigeria, she has spent the past decade and more working with local communities to clean up oil pollution in the Niger Delta. This is a region marked by often violent confrontation between oil companies and local communities, and Nwaichi’s work has seen her abused, threatened and detained without cause. But by slowly winning the trust of both sides, she has managed to spearhead remediation efforts and help to ensure a healthier, harmonious existence for people living in the area — an inspiring case of science done for the common good.

Richard Webb, Nature Chief Magazine Editor

BBC | 15 min read

Features & opinion

Africa doesn’t have one single path to low-carbon development: each country has different starting points and uncertainties when it comes to using renewables or fossil fuels. For example, Ethiopia is headed for an accelerated green-growth pathway, but Mozambique is at a crossroads of natural-gas expansion. An interdisciplinary group of authors, most of whom are African, outlines how to identify the ways forward for specific countries on the continent.

Nature Energy | 26 min read

From shoals of fish-bots to cheetah-inspired robo-runners, engineers are looking to nature for ideas on how to make robots move through the world. And the inspiration goes both ways: designs that make drones fly in a more energy-efficient way might help to explain how birds and insects have evolved to do something similar, for example. Don’t miss the video of an adorable soft-legged turtle-bot in this delightfully illustrated feature.

Nature | 11 min read

Nature Outlook: Robotics and artificial intelligence is an editorially independent supplement produced with the financial support of FII Institute.

Where I work

Henri Vallès dives next to a boat in Barbados to develop indicators for coral reef management.

Henri Vallès is a coral-reef ecologist at the University of the West Indies at Cave Hill in Barbados.Credit: Micah B. Rubin for Nature

Surveys taken every five years reveal how the coral reefs around Barbados are changing, says ecologist Henri Vallès. “Barbados no longer has populations of large fish, such as groupers and snappers, because of overfishing,” he says. “And numbers of sponges and algae, which can damage corals when too abundant, have gradually increased in the deeper reefs.” Still, there are positive signs. “The populations of parrotfish, Barbados’s most important species ecologically and economically, have seemed stable for the past decade…. [and] Staghorn corals (Acropora cervicornis), which nearly went extinct here in the 1970s, are making a slow comeback.” (Nature | 3 min read)

Quote of the day

Ahead of this month’s COP27 climate conference in Egypt, Madeleine Diouf Sarr, the chair of the Least Developed Countries Group on Climate Change, calls for concrete support for the people and communities that have been most affected by irreversible climate-related devastation. (Nature | 5 min read)

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