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Daily briefing: How Vietnam acheived zero deaths from coronavirus

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The largest urban plant farm in the world on a rooftop in Paris, France

Credit: Bureau233/eyevine

The month’s best science images

The world’s largest urban rooftop farm opened to the public on 1 July. Located on top of an exhibition centre in southwest Paris, the farm stretches over 15,000 square metres and aims to produce several hundred kilograms of fruit, vegetables and spices each day. It will use space-saving methods such as aeroponics, in which plants are grown in vertical columns without soil and are fed liquid nutrients.

See more of the month’s sharpest science shots, selected by Nature’s photo team.

Nature | Leisurely scroll

Pig hosts can repair damaged human lungs

Some 80% of donated lungs have to be discarded because of damage. But after researchers connected rejected lungs to pigs, the lungs recovered and were fit for transplant. The method revived lungs that ex vivo lung perfusion, the normal method of maintaining and repairing lungs outside the body, had failed to fix. “All of a sudden, [the lungs are] attached to a functioning liver, a functioning gut,” says thoracic surgeon Matthew Bacchetta. “We used a fairly standard immunosuppressive regimen and took these rejected lungs and showed that we could actually sustain them and make them better.” Researchers say the effect could work just as well if the lungs were connected to a human — allowing a person in need of a lung transplant to heal the lungs they require, themselves.

STAT | 6 min read

Reference: Nature Medicine paper

COVID-19 coronavirus update

Fall International Earth and space science meeting 2019, 9-13 December 2019.

In-person conferences are cash cows for many scholarly societies.Credit: AGU

Pandemic batters scientific societies

As conference cancellations cut revenue, some scholarly organizations are fighting to stay afloat. Small societies are the most vulnerable: many operate on a break-even basis. But many such groups have managed to rapidly shift activities, such as conferences, online — a move that has some benefits and might yield lasting change.

Nature | 5 min read

How Vietnam protected every life

Vietnam has a population of 97 million people, limited health-care capacity and a border shared with China. Yet it has had fewer than 400 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and no deaths. Analysts from the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security look at how Vietnam achieved it: preparedness, an early and aggressive response, good public communication and an emphasis on testing, tracing and quarantine.

Outbreak Observatory | 5 min read

Features & opinion

How ancient cities got through hard times

The coronavirus pandemic has shaken our faith in urban life, notes author Andrew Robinson in his review of a book by historian Greg Woolf. Starting from Uruk, in Mesopotamia — arguably the first city ever — Woolf offers a deeply researched and ambitious natural history of the origins and growth of urbanism. Though written before the coronavirus pandemic, the book offers insight into how disease nudged the courses of great cities as they rose — and inevitably, fell.

Nature | 6 min read

Help Koalas, help ourselves

Vaccine trials being run in Australia to protect koalas from chlamydia could help lead to a human vaccine, too. Chlamydia is ravaging the animals’ population (aided by habitat destruction and road kill). Animal- and human-health researchers are working together on projects that benefit both species. “You’re better off doing a bad experiment in koalas than a good experiment in mice,” says microbiologist Peter Timms. “We don’t need a vaccine for mice.”

The New York Times | 10 min read

Quote of the day

“Despite the limitations and difficulties that come with lockdown, we can still ask interesting questions and explore our — sometimes overlooked — immediate surroundings.”

Locked down at home with a new baby, invasion ecologists Florencia Yannelli and Wolf-Christian Saul kicked off an experiment on their balcony. (Nature | 4 min read)


I can’t stop staring at this data-driven animation of New York City’s wind by artist Refik Anadol. It’s the latest of his Wind Data Paintings, and you can read all about how they’re created in this 2017 article in Vice.

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Flora Graham, senior editor, Nature Briefing

With contributions by David Cyranoski

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