Welcome to our weekly newsletter highlighting The Economist’s best coverage of the pandemic and its effects.
Our cover this week lays out the ways in which science has responded to covid-19. The spate of data, experiments and insights has had profound effects on the pandemic. It is also an inspiration.
We go into the details in a Technology Quarterly—this collection of articles examines what the scientific knowledge gained in the past year could mean for the world’s future capability to understand and treat threats to human health. We look at how molecular biology has come into its own: the ability to read and write genetic sequences rapidly and cheaply allowed scientists to examine, test for—and build vaccines against—SARS-CoV-2 at unprecedented speed. In a briefing and also in “Babbage”, our science podcast, we consider the future for mRNA technology, which had been in the lab for decades and came to the fore with the first covid-19 vaccines.
Meanwhile, AstraZeneca’s turbulent ride continues. At the start of the week the British-Swedish drugmaker’s covid-19 vaccine, developed with scientists at the University of Oxford, showed promising efficacy results from trials in America. The next day, its figures were questioned. In Europe, the same vaccine is still at the centre of a row between Britain and the EU.
In Brazil, the mismanagement of covid-19 threatens the whole world. The country is suffering a second wave far worse than the first—its recorded death toll, averaging over 2,300 a day, is a quarter of the world’s total. This is despite the fact that Brazil has less than 3% of the world’s people.
In “The Jab”, our podcast tracking the vaccination race, we focus on America. The pandemic has hit the country hard but, with vaccinations gathering pace, is the country now turning a corner? We speak to Anthony Fauci, President Biden’s chief medical adviser on covid-19.
In our sister magazine, 1843, we profile Alison Forde, who has kept one of London’s biggest hospitals running during the pandemic. She tells us about her most stressful day at work, which came as Britain’s hospitals were being overwhelmed by covid-19’s second wave.
By: The Economist Zanny Minton Beddoes Editor-In-Chief