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The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has given emergency authorization to the Moderna and Pfizer–BioNTech vaccines for children aged five and younger. An advisory panel agreed that the benefits of protecting children from severe COVID-19 — even though it is rare in young kids — outweigh the tiny risk of side-effects from the shots. But there are questions about the vaccines’ efficacy against the Omicron variant and the practicality of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which requires three doses.
A wildfire has forced the evacuation of the storied Kitt Peak National Observatory in the Tohono O’odham Nation in Arizona. All of the telescope domes are still standing, but four non-science buildings have been destroyed. Scientists might not be able to return for at least six weeks, and won’t be able to determine the state of their instruments until they do. Damage could “pause the progression of cosmology for years to come”, says astrophysicist David Schlegel.
Scientists, the public and policymakers are grappling with a wave of discordant results from studies of long COVID. We still don’t have answers to basic questions, such as how frequently it occurs and how vaccination or reinfection affects the risk. Part of the problem is that there is no agreement on how to define and diagnose long COVID. Researchers are turning to huge data sets, such as the millions of medical records held by the US Department of Veterans Affairs and information from the UK Office for National Statistics. But those databases, too, have their weaknesses.
Features & opinion
Small-scale fisheries are remarkably efficient at using the whole fish and directing both food and income to those who need them most, notes food-security researcher Sheryl Hendriks. (Compare that to industrial fleets, which waste an estimated 20% of fish caught.) Hendriks explains how a focus on artisanal fishers’ rights, smarter subsidies and local communities can reduce overfishing, improve livelihoods and strengthen food systems.
Mental-health researcher Mary Bitta uses art and artistic performance to tackle public mistrust in science across communities in Kilifi, Kenya. For example, her work has tackled the stigma facing those with mental health problems, which are widely blamed on supernatural causes or personal failings. She tells Akin Jimoh, chief editor of Nature Africa, about a form of participatory action research — in which communities are involved in song, dance, video and radio productions — she uses to change attitudes.
Human–computer interaction researcher Amanda Baughan calls losing track of time on social media the “30-minute ick factor”. “People mean to check their social media briefly but then find that 30 minutes have passed, and when they realize how much time they spent, they have this sense of disgust and disappointment in themselves,” she says. Baughan and her colleagues created a custom Twitter app called Chirp to find solutions. “First, don’t pile a bunch of shame onto your social media habits,” she advises — blame the apps instead. Use the well-being tools on offer, such as screen-time prompts and lists, so you don’t get caught up in endless scrolling. “Most importantly, vote for people who are interested in regulating technology,” says Baughan.