Hello Nature readers,
Today we explore what it will take to vaccinate the world, review what the science says about long COVID and discover a vaccine trial scandal that has rocked Peru.
The Victoria Building at the University of Liverpool, UK. (Getty)
Research metrics used to target job cuts
The University of Liverpool in the United Kingdom is facing criticism after it used information about scientists’ research income and publication records to identify redundancies. In a statement to Nature’s news team, the university says that a five-year average of research income was used to identify researchers whose jobs could be at risk, and that “a range of factors that might remove colleagues from the pool of those potentially at risk were then considered, including the contribution of positive citation metrics where appropriate”. Critics say these quantitative measures of performance concentrate too much on publication records while failing to acknowledge other types of work, including teaching, committee work and peer review.
Nature | 5 min read
Levine confirmed as US health official
Paediatrician Rachel Levine has been sworn in as the assistant secretary for health, one of the top health roles in the United States. The former Pennsylvania health secretary is the highest-ranking openly transgender official in the country. Researchers familiar with her work laud her drive to improve the health of marginalized people through conventional public-health measures and by trying to remedy inequities arising from social and political factors. “COVID-19 has shown us the tip of the iceberg of the lack of health equity,” Levine told Nature last September.
Nature | 5 min read
COVID-19 coronavirus update
What it will take to vaccinate the world
Within just a few months, pharmaceutical firms have produced hundreds of millions of doses of COVID-19 vaccine. But the world needs billions — and as fast as possible. Companies say they could make enough vaccines to immunize most of the world’s population by the end of 2021. But this doesn’t take into account political delays in distribution, such as countries imposing export controls — or that the overwhelming majority of doses are going to wealthier countries. Discover how it might be possible to vaccinate the world, from unleashing the power of mRNA vaccines, to the battle for temporary intellectual-property relief.
Nature | 11 min read
Vaccine trial scandal rocks Peru
A clinical trial of the Sinopharm vaccine in Peru has sparked outrage after researchers inoculated politicians and family members, violating trial regulations — and damaging public trust. The scandal emerged on 10 February, when local media revealed that in October 2020, then-president Martín Vizcarra had received two doses of the jab. It has triggered a series of high-profile resignations at universities and in government. The public had seen the vaccine trial, and a subsequent deal for 38 million Sinopharm vaccine doses, as a turning point in the battle against COVID-19.
Nature | 7 min read
Understanding the toll of long COVID
A comprehensive review of the current literature reveals the prolonged effects of post-acute COVID-19 syndrome — also called long COVID. COVID-19 usually lasts no more than 4 weeks from the onset of symptoms, but some people experience complications such as fatigue, shortness of breath, ‘brain fog’ and chest pain for some time afterwards. “It is clear that care for patients with COVID-19 does not conclude at the time of hospital discharge,” surmise the authors. “It is crucial for healthcare systems and hospitals to recognize the need to establish dedicated COVID-19 clinics, where specialists from multiple disciplines are able to provide integrated care.”
Nature Medicine | 50 min read
“What we agreed on that bus trip was that the tsunami would arrive within a couple of weeks and we had to have a trial up and running within two weeks.”
Physician-scientist Martin Landray describes how he and Jeremy Farrar, director of the Wellcome Trust, planned the influential Recovery drug trial on a London bus in March 2020. (BBC | 7 min read)