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Scientists dress in full body protective suits before entering a biosafety level 4 lab in Hungary.

The lack of high-security labs in some regions became apparent during the pandemic.Credit: Akos Stiller/Bloomberg via Getty

COVID prompts global surge in biolabs

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, plans are afoot to build more than 40 high-level biosafety laboratories around the world, including in India, the Philippines and Singapore. Investments in biosafety labs often follow major epidemics, but some scientists worry about the huge cost of maintaining biosafety-level-3 (BSL-3) and BSL-4 facilities. Others fear the risks posed by these labs, such as the possibility of creating dangerous pathogens or of microorganisms escaping. But researchers in the countries that plan to build these laboratories say they are needed, especially to strengthen the response to emerging threats. “In this light, the critical element of any preparedness programme is lab preparedness,” said Bharati Pawar, India’s minister for health and family welfare.

Nature | 6 min read

Smashing success: DART diverted asteroid

NASA has announced that the spacecraft it slammed into an asteroid on 26 September succeeded in altering the space rock’s movement by even more than expected. The Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) spacecraft nudged the asteroid Dimorphos closer to its partner, Didymos, and cut its orbit time around that rock by 32 minutes. “This is a watershed moment for planetary defence, and a watershed moment for humanity,” said NASA administrator Bill Nelson.

Nature | 4 min read

Science’s no-fee public-access policy

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), which publishes Science, will soon allow the authors of its research papers to make public an almost-final version of their manuscript in a repository of their choice immediately on publication, without paying any fees. This approach, announced in a 9 September editorial, differs to that taken by the publishers of the similarly high-impact journals Cell and Nature, which levy article processing charges (APCs) on most authors to make the final, published versions of their articles open access. The policy will come into effect in January 2023, Nature has learnt.

Nature | 4 min read

Features & opinion

Kamoya Kimeu: ‘a great observer’

Field palaeontologist Kamoya Kimeu, who made key discoveries about early human evolution in East Africa, has died in his mid-80s (he did not know his exact age). Kimeu led a group of fossil finders dubbed the hominid gang, which, in partnership with palaeoanthropologist Richard Leakey, discovered the Turkana Boy, a nearly complete skeleton of Homo erectus and one of the most iconic specimens in palaeontology. “The respect and love of those who worked with him were never in doubt, but as a Kenyan fieldworker who left school in his early teens, he was not the likely recipient of national and international honours,” write palaeontologist Louise Leakey and anthropologist Robert Foley. “However, as times changed, recognition came,” they say. “Kamoya was not only a wonderful example of this, he was also someone who made the times themselves change.”

Nature Ecology & Evolution | 4 min read

What’s going to happen with monkeypox?

Almost six months after monkeypox cases started to rise globally, vaccination efforts and behavioural changes seem to be containing the current strain — at least in the United States and Europe. But the situation could still play out in several ways, say researchers. The outbreak might fizzle out over the next few months or years. Or the virus could become endemic outside Africa by reaching new animal reservoirs, making it nearly impossible to eradicate.

Nature | 10 min read

Quote of the day

“Like bears stuff their face with fish, our ballot box, too, has been stuffed.”

Fat Bear Week — the annual face-off between the big, beautiful brown bears of Katmai National Park in Alaska — was hit by attempted vote fraud in favour of fan-favourite Holly (also known as bear #435). (Rolling Stone | 5 min read)