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Daily briefing: The evidence is stacking up for Sputnik V vaccine

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Vials of the Sputnik COVID-19 vaccine pass along a production line at a manufacturing facility in Russia

Vials of the Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine pass along a production line at a manufacturing facility near St Petersburg, Russia.Credit: Olga Maltseva/AFP/Getty

Sputnik V vaccine seems safe and effective

Russia’s Sputnik V sparked controversy when it became the first COVID-19 vaccine to be authorized by any nation, before early-stage trial results had been published. It has since been approved in 67 countries, including Brazil, Hungary, India and the Philippines, but has not yet garnered World Health Organization approval. Mounting evidence from Russia and other countries now suggests that it is safe and effective — but questions remain about the quality of surveillance for possible rare side effects.

Nature | 10 min read

Dolphins learn their teammates’ names

Male dolphins learn the signature whistles — unique ‘names’ given to dolphins by their mothers — of each member of their extensive, lifelong network of allies. The finding suggests that the cetaceans have a concept of team membership — a first in the animal kingdom. Scientists used underwater sound systems and drones to observe how dolphins responded to each other’s hails. The animals were quickest to heed the call of pals who had helped them in the past.

Science | 5 min read

Reference: Nature Communications paper

Editors quit over flawed vaccine paper

A peer-reviewed paper that misrepresented the risks of COVID-19 vaccines has prompted an exodus from the editorial board of the journal Vaccines. High-profile virologist Florian Krammer and immunologist Katie Ewer, who worked on the Oxford–AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, were among the editors who resigned in protest. “The data has been misused because it makes the (incorrect) assumption that all deaths occurring post vaccination are caused by vaccination,” says Ewer. It’s a case of “garbage in, garbage out”, says vaccinologist Helen Petousis-Harris, who also resigned as a Vaccines editor. The paper’s three authors stand by their results. “The data are weak, we do and did say that,” they said in a statement. “But they are the best we currently have.” The paper was retracted on Friday.

Science | 8 min read

Reference: Vaccines paper (retracted)

Features & opinion

A chemist who mastered work–life balance

Nobel-prizewinning chemist Ei-ichi Negishi discovered Negishi coupling — a palladium-catalysed cross-coupling reaction used in everything from developing antibiotics to building light-emitting diodes. Negishi refused to patent his idea, and it remains one of the most widely used techniques for forming large organic compounds. Negishi was known for his approachable nature, writes journalist and historian Kit Chapman. He also “had a competitive streak — in the laboratory and at karaoke, for which he could sing more than 1,000 tunes”. Negishi died on 6 June, aged 85.

Nature | 4 min read

Beware performative reproducibility

Well-intentioned changes to improve science could become empty gestures unless underlying values change, argues research consultant Stuart Buck. As vice-president of research at the philanthropic organization Arnold Ventures, Buck dispersed more than US$60 million in grants to make sure researchers could build on others’ results. “I worry that, by adopting the trappings of reproducibility, poor-quality work can look as if it has engaged in best practices,” writes Buck. “Idealism from early-career scientists must be matched by strong signals from senior leaders and institutions that it is possible to be hired and get tenure while engaging in best practices.”

Nature | 5 min read

Digital data decisions belong to us

Smartphones, sensors and consumer habits reveal much about society. Too few people have a say in how these data are created and used, argue emerging-technology researcher Jathan Sadowski, legal scholar Salomé Viljoen and artificial-intelligence researcher Meredith Whittaker.

Nature | 10 min read

Read more: Nature Special: Computational social science

Infographic of the week

Figure 1

Figure 1 | Capillary flow and a transpiration-like process in cellular fluidic systems. Dudukovic et al. report a technological platform called cellular fluidics. a, In this platform, millimetre-scale cubes known as unit cells have internal architectures that draw up fluids through capillary action. The combined capillary action of stacked unit cells produces a vertical flow of fluid. b, The authors report that a tree-like structure built from the unit cells continuously delivers liquid from a reservoir to the tips of the branches, where the liquid evaporates — a process that mimics transpiration in natural trees.

A structure built from tiny, 3D-printed, open-faced cells can draw up fluids through capillary action and allow the absorption and desorption of surrounding gas molecules. A tree-like structure built from the cells continuously delivers liquid from a reservoir to the tips of the branches, where the liquid evaporates — a process that mimics transpiration in natural trees. (Nature News & Views article | 7 min read)

Reference: Nature paper

Quote of the day

“Don’t blind yourself and your teammates to potential solutions that could elude you, just because the entire team thinks and approaches problems in the same way.”

To solve the hardest problems, seek the broadest variety of team members that you can find, recommends social scientist Katrin Prager. (Nature | 6 min read)

doi: https://doi.org/10.1038/d41586-021-01864-5

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Flora Graham, senior editor, Nature Briefing

With contributions by John Pickrell

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