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Public-health researchers have renewed their warnings of the harms that will come from the US Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the constitutional right to an abortion. They say the upcoming abortion restrictions could push women denied an abortion further into poverty — especially people of colour and poorer people. They could also increase the average distance that people in the US need to travel to receive abortion care from 58 kilometres to 441 kilometres. People might try to end their pregnancies without clinical supervision, and those with pregnancy complications or adverse pregnancy outcomes could be vulnerable to legal surveillance and criminal prosecution.
The United Kingdom seems to be seeing a rise in unexplained cases of hepatitis, or liver inflammation, in children. Researchers seeking an explanation have hypothesized a link to the coronavirus pandemic. Now, US data cast doubt on that idea, because the number of cases there has remained flat. Some scientists have speculated that the rise in UK cases is connected to infections with a family of common viruses known as adenoviruses. Researchers are ramping up reporting and tracking in several countries to try to discover the truth.
Mere weeks after the BA.2 lineage of the Omicron coronavirus variant caused surges globally, two more Omicron spin-offs are on the rise worldwide. Their spread seems to stem from their capacity to infect people who were immune to earlier forms of Omicron and other variants. So far, the latest Omicron variants seem to be causing fewer deaths and hospitalizations — a sign that growing population immunity is tempering the immediate consequences of COVID-19 surges. Scientists caution that future variants won’t necessarily be milder than those that came before.
Features & opinion
Inequality — the unequal or unjust distribution of resources and opportunities — is on the rise and is proving horrifically tenacious. Scientists are responding by expanding their research, often through challenging interdisciplinary approaches, to disentangle the multidimensional and dynamic root causes. “There’s a broad feeling that this monster is too big for any one academic profession to claim as the job,” says social anthropologist Don Kalb. They are also grappling with how to meaningfully involve the public, to prevent the production of science from becoming yet another site of inequality.
David (Dave) Evans discovered reactions that he applied to the synthesis of biologically active natural products as potential drug therapies, including antibiotics and anti-cancer agents. He also co-developed ChemDraw, the now-ubiquitous software for drawing chemical structures. And his lecture notes transformed how organic chemistry is taught. He has died, aged 81. “He leaves behind some of the finest synthetic sequences ever devised for making nature’s most complex naturally occurring bioactive molecules,” writes organic chemist Mark Lautens.
Immunobiologist Akiko Iwasaki offers her advice for fellow scientists interested in creating ‘tweetorials’ and Twitter threads to communicate research. Her guiding principles:
• Keep the thread concise (if possible, keep it under ten posts).
• Get to the point of the study in the first post.
• Use graphics and links to supporting evidence.
• Keep the language as accessible as possible.