A universal covid vaccine, and protecting toddlers from polio


Long before Alexander Cohen—or anyone else—had heard of the alpha, delta, or omicron variants of covid-19, he and his graduate school advisor Pamela Bjorkman were doing the research that might soon make it possible for a single vaccine to defeat the rapidly evolving virus—along with any other covid-19 variant that might arise in the future.

So in early 2020, when covid-19 hit, Cohen, Bjorkman, and other members of the lab set to engineering a universal covid vaccine—one that would provide protection not just against all its variants, but also against future illnesses caused by entirely new types of coronaviruses—thanks to its highly effective nanoparticle.

The pair and their collaborators are now tantalizingly close to achieving their goal of manufacturing a vaccine that broadly triggers an immune response not just to covid and its variants but to a wider variety of coronaviruses. And while it could take as long as two years to begin the trial, if it’s successful, it could protect us against ever having to endure another covid-related lockdown again. Read the full story.

—Adam Piore

Why I got my one-year-old vaccinated against polio

My colleague Jessica Hamzelou’s daughter will be two in October. She’s already had three doses of polio vaccine, and is scheduled to receive another when she’s three years and four months old. But thanks to the detection of polioviruses in sewage in North and North East London, where they live, she is one of hundreds of thousands of children between one and nine in the city who are being offered a booster dose.

It’s not the first time the poliovirus has been found in London’s sewage. But this time, there are signs that it may be spreading. No cases have been diagnosed in the UK since 1984, but in the US, a 20-year-old man in Rockland County, New York, has developed paralysis caused by polio—the country’s first diagnosed case of the disease since 2013. So, what’s going on? And can booster vaccination campaigns like London’s help? Read the full story.

The must-reads

I’ve combed the internet to find you today’s most fun/important/scary/fascinating stories about technology.

1 A notorious anti-trans forum has been taken offline
Host Cloudflare, said it believed there was now an “immediate threat to human life.” (NBC)
+ Trans streamer Clara Sorrenti led a campaign to get the site taken down after she was swatted. (NBC)
+ The site’s removal is a victory for true freedom of speech. (Slate $)



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