Watch Adele's 'SNL' Monologue And HER's New Songs - NPR
Adele sang a bit in one sketch, but left most of the music to H.E.R., who performed a new song called "Hold On."
It's been nearly five years since Adele released her blockbuster, Grammy-festooned album 25 so you'd be forgiven for wondering whether fans would be treated to new material during the singer's return to Saturday Night Live. But she was the host, not the musical guest. In her opening monologue, Adele offered an explanation that doubled as an update of sorts: "I know there's been a lot of chatter about me just being the host," the singer said. "Like why isn't she the musical guest and stuff like that, and there's a couple of reasons: My album's not finished, and I'm also too scared to do both." Still, lest SNL be accused of leaving a high-performing sports car idling in the garage, it did find an opportunity for Adele to sing excerpts from four of her best-known songs "Someone Like You," "Hello," "When We Were Young" and "Rolling in the Deep" in a sketch set during a season opener of The Bachelor. (Later, the singer derailed a different sketch by busting out laughing repeatedly, but she otherwise held her own.) Of course, SNL booked a different high-octane musical guest in H.E.R., who performed "Damage" the single she'd released just a few days earlier and an even newer song called "Hold On." The studio version of the latter track dropped on streaming services Saturday night. Always a smooth and low-key presence onstage, H.E.R. kept both performances fairly subdued, but "Hold On" did give her a welcome opportunity to bust out some of her signature guitar heroics. And, speaking of welcome guests, John Mulaney will host SNL next week, with musical guest The Strokes.
15-Year-Old Computer Whiz Who Died In 2006 Could Become 1st Millennial Saint - NPR
Carlo Acutis, an Italian teenager who devoted his last years to the Catholic Church after being diagnosed with leukemia, was beatified at the Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi on Saturday.
Cardinal Agostino Vallini, left, holds a relic of 15-year-old Carlo Acutis, an Italian boy who died in 2006 of leukemia, during his beatification ceremony celebrated in the St. Francis Basilica, in Assisi, Italy, on Saturday. Gregorio Borgia/AP A teenage computer gamer and programmer from Italy who devoted the final years of his life to the church until his death in 2006 was beatified over the weekend, making him the first millennial to be put on the path to Catholic sainthood. A portrait of Carlo Acutis, who died of leukemia at age 15, was unveiled at the beatification ceremony at the Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi. In it, he is wearing a red polo shirt and his curly hair is ringed by a faint halo of light. Acutis has been called the "patron saint of the Internet." He created a website to catalog miracles and managed sites for local Catholic organizations. "Carlo used the internet in service of the Gospel, to reach as many people as possible,'' Cardinal Agostino Vallini, the papal legate for the Assisi basilicas, said during his homily. Vallini kissed the boy's mask-wearing parents, Andrea Acutis and Antonia Salzano, after reading the proclamation decreed by Pope Francis. "He was considered a computer genius," his mother told Vatican News. "But what did he do? He didn't use [computers] to chat or have fun." She told an Italian newspaper that from age from age 3 her son would ask to visit churches the family passed in Milan. ''There was in him a natural predisposition for the sacred," she said. Acutis was born in 1991 in London and moved with his parents to Milan. As a teenager, he was diagnosed with leukemia after which he offered his sufferings for then-Pope Benedict XVI and the Church, according to the Catholic News Agency. He asked to be buried at Assisi because of his love for St. Francis of Assisi. He was canonized in 2013 and made "Venerable" in 2018. With his beatification, he is designated "Blessed," according to CNA. The next step is sainthood, which requires two miracles verified by the Church. However, the second miracles can be waived by the pope. Acutis' first miracle was proclaimed in 2013 when the Vatican says he interceded from heaven to save the life of a Brazilian who was suffering from a rare pancreatic disease. Although it is rare for someone so young to become a saint, two Portuguese shepherd children living in the early 1900s who reported seeing a vision of the Virgin Mary were proclaimed saints in 2017.
Is It COVID-19, Allergies, The Flu Or A Cold? How To Stay Healthy This Fall : Shots - Health News - NPR
Coughs, sore throats and runny noses are common in fall and winter, and they rarely signal dire disease. But with COVID-19 a threat this year, and flu an annual hazard, here's what you need to know.
Is that sneezing or coughing fit a sign of allergies, a cold, the flu or COVID-19? If you also have a fever a temperature above 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit those symptoms probably signal infection and not just allergies acting up. sestovic/Getty Images You might have hoped the pandemic would cancel what we doctors usually think of as "sick season," but as cool weather signals the annual arrival of autumn allergies, colds and flu in the U.S., sick season is still right on schedule. In my clinic, that means a flurry of visits and calls from patients worried about their runny noses, coughs and sore throats. Before COVID-19, it was already tough for patients to know how seriously to take those common symptoms. Allergies and colds are mostly just a nuisance, but a severe case of the flu can kill. Now our unprecedented times are about to merge with the highly precedented. The flu routinely kills between 12,000 and 61,000 people in America each year, and COVID-19 has already killed more than 200,000, just since February. Those big combined numbers of deaths can be scary, especially if you've skipped or postponed your usual health routines and check-ins with a doctor this year. Now's the time to get back in gear: Here are a few steps to improve your chances of staying healthy, even in "sick season." Establish a relationship with a primary care provider before you get sick Do this now. Being an established patient can help you more quickly get in to see a doctor or other health care provider when you get sick. Havinga clinician who already knows your medical history when you call helps, too they may feel more comfortable making certain treatment recommendations online or over the phone and to know when it's better to have you come in for a physical exam because you have certain risk factors. Keep your vaccinations up to date Primary care providers, as well as pharmacists, can help track whatever vaccinations you need and those immunizations are especially important during a pandemic. This fall, as every year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends vaccines against influenza for pretty much everyone older than 6 months, including pregnant women and the elderly. The agency also recommends immunization against pneumococcal pneumonia as part of routine vaccines for children and for healthy people ages 65 and older, or sooner for some adults with underlying health problems. These are two respiratory illnesses seen more often in the fall and winter months that can turn nasty. But other serious, vaccine-preventable illnesses can circulating in your community, too whooping cough and measles, just for starters. Talk to your clinician about which vaccines are appropriate for you and for the kids in your life. There's no benefit to waiting to get this year's flu shot, by the way-- the CDC says September and October are "good times to get vaccinated." Dr. Justin Ortiz, a critical care doctor and professor of medicine at the University of Maryland, notes that vaccines are lifesaving in another way this year by helping to reduce cases of flu and pneumonia that would otherwise deplete resources needed to fight the pandemic. "Severe flu can fill up our hospitals," he says. "If another wave of COVID-19 coincides with influenza and pneumonia season, there will be fewer health care resources to treat both." Got seasonal allergies that flare in the fall? Nip symptoms in the bud with early treatment While vaccines can help keep some respiratory infections away, they don't prevent ragweed, pollen, dust or mold in the air from triggering symptoms like runny nose, sneezing, itchy or watering eyes, headache and even fatigue. If you know you struggle with airborne allergens this time of year, start your usual medicines before symptoms develop, or at the first sign, to prevent or help stop the inflammation that makes symptoms escalate. Allergies can develop at any age; if your symptoms are new, talk to a health care providerabout your best treatment options. Timing is key, says Dr. Stuart Cohen, chief of primary care for the University of Alabama at Birmingham. "The one thing we're telling our patients is go ahead and start taking their non-sedating antihistamines or use their steroidal nasal sprays if they usually suffer with allergies. They shouldn't wait until their symptoms progress to start using those every day." It's important to remember that although allergies can cause upper respiratory symptoms and possibly a change in your sense of smell, they don't cause fever, which is common with COVID-19 and the flu. And, speaking of fever, be ready to check for one Keep a thermometer in your home, since checking your temperature is a good place to start distinguishing allergies from an infection if you're feeling unwell. Just remember the definition of true fever a temperature at or above 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit, or 38 degree Celsius. Fever is a key symptom that helps clinicians make a diagnosis and decide what level of care you need, so having that information when you first reach out can be important. Even if you have a slight fever, recognize that your doctor may tell you to simply rest, drink plenty of fluids and 'watch-and-wait' to see how the symptoms develop. Many of the old rules still apply, even in a pandemic COVID-19, colds and flu are all caused by viruses, not bacteria, so antibiotics won't treat them. Make online tools work for you Many medical offices now have links online to help you sign up for an telehealth appointment, even for routine health maintenance. If you have chronic health issues, call or check online with your health provider soon before cold and flu season is in full swing. A clinician can review your routine medications and doses, help make sure you have an ample supply at home, and may also suggest more ways you can reduce your risk of getting sick, based on your individual history. Also, familiarize yourself now, before you get sick, with the CDC's 'Coronavirus Self-Checker' or other online support tools from your local healthcare system, like this one put together by Johns Hopkins Medicine. These resources can help you differentiate among symptoms and provide a way to search for, and contact, health care providers if you don't already have one who routinely manages your care. Keep maintaining social distance, wearing a mask and washing your hands We're likely to see a jump in coronavirus cases as cooler weather pushes us together indoors for longer periods, so don't let down your guard. Thesenow familiar basics of public hygiene will be even more important over the next several months. And while the cool air alone is enough to cause a runny nose, it can also be a symptom of the common cold, flu or COVID-19 all very contagious respiratory diseases. So while wearing a mask when you have a runny nose may be uncomfortable, doing so will help keep you from spreading whatever you have to people you love, and help protect you from catching another bug. Mask wearing may be even more important if you have allergies that make you sneeze propulsive sneezes are definitely a way the novel coronavirus spreads. When patients ask Ortiz if they can be co-infected with COVID-19 and another virus like flu, he says "absolutely," and reminds them that while it may feel harder to breathe when you have an upper respiratory illness and wear a mask, covering your nose and mouth this way "won't cause problems with air exchange," even for many people with asthma or COPD. Mask wearers, even those with bad head colds or the flu, can still get plenty of oxygen. Pay attention to your symptoms and know the red flags It's helpful to keep track of any respiratory symptoms you develop as they begin or change, to help distinguish the signs of allergies versus an infection. But don't go it alone check with the doctor's office if you're uncertain, to let them also help you triage symptoms and decide on a plan. And if you have chronic medical problems, especially lung disease, it's important to reach out for care at the first sign of illness. How do you know if what you're experiencing is an emergency?Some common red flag symptoms that signal you should call 911 include sudden chest pain or pressure; new confusion, a change in consciousness or inability to stay awake; or any signs of a lack of oxygen (such as blue or purple lips or gasping for air). Bottom line this fall: Don't panic. Do ask for help Never hesitate to seek help from your primary care provider when it comes to your health worries, no matter how small, because no one is immune to the fear of getting really sick. The medical community has adapted to COVID-19 by building more ways for patients to be informed and get guidance and this should be welcome news, since good communication may save lives and ease us all through the challenging months ahead. Dr. Kristen Kendrick is a board-certified family physician in Washington, D.C., and a health and media fellow at NPR and Georgetown University School of Medicine.
Time Travel Theoretically Possible Without Leading To Paradoxes, Researchers Say - NPR
In the peer-reviewed journal article, University of Queensland physicists say time is essentially self-healing. Changes in the past wouldn't necessarily cause a universe-ending paradox. Phew.
A dog dressed as Marty McFly from Back to the Future attends the 25th Annual Tompkins Square Halloween Dog Parade in 2015. New research says time travel might be possible without the problems McFly encountered. Timothy A. Clary/AFP via Getty Images "The past is obdurate," Stephen King wrote in his book about a man who goes back in time to prevent the Kennedy assassination. "It doesn't want to be changed." Turns out, King might have been onto something. Countless science fiction tales have explored the paradox of what would happen if you do something in the past that endangers the future. Perhaps one of the most famous pop culture examples is Back to the Future, when Marty McFly went back in time and accidentally stopped his parents from meeting, putting his own existence in jeopardy. But maybe McFly wasn't in much danger after all. According a new paper from researchers at the University of Queensland, even if time travel were possible, the paradox couldn't actually exist. Researchers ran the numbers, and determined that even if you make a change in the past, the timeline would essentially self-correct, ensuring that whatever happened to send you back in time would still happen. "Say you travelled in time, in an attempt to stop COVID-19's patient zero from being exposed to the virus," University of Queensland scientist Fabio Costa told the university's news service. "However if you stopped that individual from becoming infected that would eliminate the motivation for you to go back and stop the pandemic in the first place," said Costa, who co-authored the paper with honors undergraduate student Germain Tobar. "This is a paradox an inconsistency that often leads people to think that time travel cannot occur in our universe." A variation is known as the "grandfather paradox" in which a time traveler kills their own grandfather, in the process preventing the time traveler's birth. The logical paradox has given researchers a headache, in part because according to Einstein's theory of general relativity, "closed time-like curves" are possible, theoretically allowing an observer to travel back in time and interact with their past self and potentially endangering their own existence. But these researchers say that such a paradox wouldn't necessarily exist, because events would adjust themselves. Take the coronavirus patient zero example. "You might try and stop patient zero from becoming infected, but in doing so you would catch the virus and become patient zero, or someone else would," Tobar told the university's news service. In other words, a time traveler could make changes but the original outcome would still find a way to happen. Maybe not the same way it happened in the first timeline; but close enough so that the time traveler would still exist, and would still be motivated to go back in time. "No matter what you did, the salient events would just recalibrate around you," Tobar said. The paper, "Reversible dynamics with closed time-like curves and freedom of choice," was published last week in the peer-reviewed journal Classical and Quantum Gravity. The findings seem consistent with another time travel study published this summer in the peer-reviewed journal Physical Review Letters. That study found that changes made in the past won't drastically alter the future. Best-selling science fiction author Blake Crouch, who has written extensively about time travel, said the new study seems to support what certain time travel tropes have posited all along. "The universe is deterministic and attempts to alter Past Event X are destined to be the forces which bring Past Event X into being," Crouch told NPR via email. "So the future can affect the past. Or maybe time is just an illusion. But I guess it's cool that the math checks out."
Video: Watch BTS Play A Tiny Desk From Home - NPR
The most popular band in the world performs three songs with a live band for Tiny Desk's quarantine series.
Credit: Courtesy of the Artist The Tiny Desk is working from home for the foreseeable future. Introducing NPR Music's Tiny Desk (home) concerts, bringing you performances from across the country and the world. It's the same spirit stripped-down sets, an intimate setting just a different space. We've been trying to make a BTS Tiny Desk concert happen for years now even gaming out ways we might move Bob Boilen's desk far enough forward to accommodate the superstar Korean boy band's dance moves. In the end, it took a global pandemic and the launch of Tiny Desk (home) concerts back in March to make something happen. With BTS cooped up in Seoul, the group held true to the series's spirit by convening a live band for its Tiny Desk debut, and even arranged to perform in a workspace with a music-friendly backdrop: the record store VINYL & PLASTIC by Hyundai Card in BTS's hometown. Opening with this summer's inescapable "Dynamite" the group's first single to hit No. 1 in the U.S., as well as its first song to be fully recorded in English BTS leaned hard into the new track's celebratory, "Uptown Funk"-adjacent vibes. From there, the group dipped into its back catalog, seizing on the opportunity to showcase its quieter side while (mostly) staying uncharacteristically seated. The breezily propulsive "Save ME," from 2016, ultimately gave way to a full-on power ballad in 2017's reflective "Spring Day." The latter track seemed especially true to BTS's hopeful nature: Introduced with a few optimistic words from rapper and singer RM ("It's been the roughest summer ever, but we know that spring will come"), the song reflects on a need to wait out hard times, even as the weight of present-day pain feels oppressive. BTS had intended to spend 2020 delighting the BTS Army in arenas around the world, only to spend these last few months performing in isolation. Released on the last day of a grim season, "Spring Day" provides a nice reminder of what awaits us on the other side. We just have to get through fall and winter first. SET LIST
- "Save ME"
- "Spring Day"
Rare Meteorites Show How The Earth Got Its Life-Giving Water - NPR
Some unusual meteorites suggest that Earth got its water at its start, rather than forming dry and being watered by comets later on.
The Pacific Ocean from space. In both liquid and frozen form, water covers most of Earth's surface and there's been a debate among scientists about where all the water originated. Stocktrek Images/Getty Images/Stocktrek Images Water on Earth is omnipresent and essential for life as we know it, and yet scientists remain a bit baffled about where all of this water actually came from: was it present when the planet formed, or did the planet form dry and only later get its water from impacts with water-rich objects like comets? A new study in the journal Science suggests that the Earth likely got a lot ofits precious water from the original materials that built the planet, instead of having water arrive later from afar. The researchers who did this study went looking for signs of water in a rare kind of meteorite. Only about 2 percent of the meteorites found on Earth are so-called "enstatite chondrite" meteorites. Their chemical makeup suggests that they're very close to the kind of primordial stuff that glommed together and produced our planet 4.5 billion years ago. You wouldn't necessarily know how special these meteorites are at first glance. "It's a bit like a gray rock," says Laurette Piani, a researcher in France who works at the Centre de Recherches Pétrographiques et Géochimiques (CRPG). What she wanted to know about these rocks is how much hydrogen was in there--because that's what could produce water. Compared to planets like Jupiter and Saturn, the Earth formed close to the Sun. Scientists have long thought that the temperatures must have been hot enough to prevent any water from being in the form of ice. That means there would be no ice to join with the swirling bits of rock and dust that were smashing into each other and slowly building up the young Earth. If this is all true, our home planet must have been watered later on, perhaps when it got hit by icy comets or meteorites with water-rich minerals coming from farther out in the solar system. Even though that's been the prevailing view, some planetary scientists don't buy it. After all, the story of Earth's water would be a lot more simple and straightforward if the water was just present to begin with. So Piani and her colleagues recently took a close look at 13 of those unusual meteorites, which are also thought to have formed close-in to the Sun. "Before the study, there were almost no measurement of the hydrogen or water in this meteorite," says Piani. Those measurements that did exist were inconsistent, she says, and were done on meteorites that could have undergone changes after falling to the Earth's surface. "We do not want to have meteorites that were altered and modified by the Earth processes," explains Piani, saying that they deliberately selected the most pristine meteorites possible. The researchers then analyzed the meteorite's chemical makeup to see how much hydrogen was in there. Since hydrogen can react with oxygen to produce water, knowing how much hydrogen is in the rocks indicates how much water this material could have contributed to a growing Earth. What they found was much less hydrogen than in more ordinary meteorites. Still, what was there would be enough to explain plenty of Earth's waterat least several times the amount of water in the Earth's present-day oceans. "It's a very big quantity of water in the initial material," says Piani. "And this was never really considered before." What's more, the team also measured the deuterium to hydrogen ratio in the meteorites, and found that it's very similar to what's known to exist in the interior of the Earth--which also contains a lot of water. This is additional evidence that there's a link between our planet's water and the basic building materials that were present when it formed. The findings pleased Anne Peslier, a planetary scientist at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, who wasn't part of the research team but has a special interest in water. "I was happy because it makes it nice and simple," says Peslier. "We don't have to invoke complicated models where we have to bring material, water-rich material from the outer part of the solar system." She says the delivery of so much water from way out there would have required something unusual to disturb the orbits of this water-rich material, like Jupiter having a little trip inside the inner solar system. "So here, we just don't need Jupiter. We don't need to do anything weird. We just grab the material that was there where the Earth formed, and that's where the water comes from," says Peslier. Even if a lot of the water was there at the start, however, she thinks some water must have arrived later on. "I think it's both," she says. Despite these convincing results, she says, there's still plenty of watery mysteries to plumb. For example, researchers are still trying to determine exactly how much water is locked deep inside the Earth, but it's surely substantialseveral ocean's worth. "There is more water down beneath our feet," says Peslier, "than there is that you see at the surface."
Ancient 'Terror Crocodiles' Preyed On Dinosaurs - NPR
A new study reveals there were multiple species of Deinosuchus, the giant crocodylians that lived 75 million years ago. They were among the largest predators in the ecosystem and ate dinosaurs.
A new study of Deinosuchus or "terror crocodiles," led by Adam Cosette, offers a fuller picture of the ancient creature from head to tail. Cossette said Deinosuchus had large, robust teeth, ranging from six to eight inches long, as shown in the photo. Adam Cossette Enormous "terror crocodiles" once roamed the earth and preyed on dinosaurs, according to a new study revisiting fossils from the gigantic Late Cretaceous crocodylian, Deinosuchus. The research, published in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, reiterates that Deinosuchus were among the largest crocodylians ever in existence, reaching up to 33 feet in length. New in this study is a look at the anatomy of the Deinosuchus, which was achieved by piecing together various specimens unknown until now, giving a fuller picture of the animal. Adam Cossette, a vertebrate paleobiologist at the New York Institute of Technology College of Osteopathic Medicine at Arkansas State University, led the study that corrected some misunderstandings about the Deinosuchus. "Until now, the complete animal was unknown," Cossette said. "These new specimens we've examined reveal a bizarre, monstrous predator with teeth the size of bananas." Past studies on cranial remains and bite marks on dinosaur bones led paleontologists to believe the massive Deinosuchus were an opportunistic predator, according to the press release. Fossil specimens now make it clear that Deinosuchus did indeed have the head size and jaw strength to have its pick of prey, including large dinosaurs. "Deinosuchus was a giant that must have terrorized dinosaurs that came to the water's edge to drink," Cossette said. University of Iowa vertebrate paleontologist Christopher Brochu, the study's co-author, said another important realization from the paper is that there were several species of Deinosuchus that roamed North America between 75 and 82 million years ago. The study notes Deinosuchus hatcheri and Deinosuchus riograndensis lived in the west, from what is now Montana to northern Mexico. Deinosuchus schwimmeri lived in the east from New Jersey to Mississippi. "Some of them were separated by a seaway that at one point cut North America in half from what's now the Gulf of Mexico up to the Arctic Ocean," Brochu said. "And that may have driven what we call speciation. There might have been one ancestral dinosaur form in North America, and then the seaway cut that population in half and on one side it evolved in one direction, the other side in a different direction." Despite the nickname "terror crocodiles," Brochu said Deinosuchus were more closely related to alligators than to crocodiles but "didn't look like either one of them." Deinosuchus had a snout that was long and broad, with the front appearing inflated unlike any other living or extinct crocodylian. On the tip of the snout is a large pair of holes. Researchers are still unsure of their function. Both Brouchu and Cossette assert this paper disproves the idea that crocodylians are living fossils, or in other words, animals which never evolved. "There's this concept out there that crocodylians are unchanging forms," Brochu said. "That they appear way back in the distant past and haven't changed since the days of the dinosaurs. That is simply not true." If you look at the modern species of crocodylian, Cossette explained, there are just a handful and they all look and act very similar. But if you look at the fossil record there is diversity of size, shape, diet and lifestyle. "Most people think crocodiles haven't changed in 75 million years," Cossette said. "This study shows that the ancestors of today's American alligator didn't look anything like them." "Crocodiles are actually these incredibly dynamic creatures that have experienced incredible evolutionary histories, have lived in places that modern crocodiles don't live, done things that modern crocodiles don't do and have grown to sizes that modern crocodiles never achieve. That I think is the cool part [of the study], at least for me," Cossette added.
Stream Billie Eilish's New Song, 'My Future' - NPR
If anyone could take her career to the next level during lockdown, it's Billie Eilish. "My Future," written and recorded in Los Angeles during lockdown, is a dreamy ode to freedom.
If anyone could take her career to the next level during lockdown, it's Billie Eilish. The Los Angeles wunderkind attained superstardom, after all, with an album she made at home with her brother and producer Finneas. She'd go on to prove herself on arena stages and at awards shows, but Eilish is a spirit of the threshold, making very private music that appeals to millions, and she does it again with the sophisticated, sweet single "My Future," released tonight. Over some simple chord changes from a vintage soft synth, Eilish begins the song in a quiet, museful mode. This is AMSR Billie but also jazz Billie, moving beyond teen stardom to stand in satin alongside vocal stylists like Jorja Smith and Corinne Bailey Rae skilled and serious artists as interested in the history of the chanteuse as they are in current trends. There are even shades of the universal appeal achieved, in her best songs, by Adele. The sound is subdued, but the lyrics and her artful delivery take very Eilishian giant steps. Chiding a narcissistic companion, the singer resolves to partner with a being (presence? realm?) that really loves her: the future itself, decidedly cast as feminine. "I can't wait to meet her," she murmurs. "I'm in love, but not with anybody else." As the beat kicks in with a slight turn toward the bossa nova, Eilish's voice loses its hiccup-y whisper, growing sure and smooth. Finneas' backing vocals support her steps into freedom: "You're so handsome," she sings to her bad beau, "but I know better than to drive you home." The song ends back in the private realm of voice and keyboard: "I'll see you in a couple years," she dreamily pronounces. Eilish represents a generation now spending a significant youthful moment in quarantine mostly with family members, often online, but crucially, also in solitude. "My Future" offers encouragement for those young fans. It's OK to focus on yourself, she says, you'll grow. The lyric video by Australian animator Andrew Onorato casts Eilish as a fairy tale heroine wrapped up in a beanstalk lifting her toward the stars. Like the song, it dwells within the magic cultivated by an autonomous young woman who's ready to claim her future as it comes.
How To Make A Coronavirus Vaccine: Scientists Pursue Old And New Techniques : Shots - Health News - NPR
Some of the technology behind coronavirus vaccine development dates back to the first vaccines; other techniques are much newer. Here are eight top strategies scientists are pursuing.
A laboratory technician holds a dose of a COVID-19 vaccine candidate ready for a trial in May 2020. Mladen Antonov/AFP via Getty Images Approximately 200 COVID-19 vaccines are being actively developed. All vaccines have one main goal: to prepare a person's immune system to fight off an invading organism should the body encounter it. To accomplish that, a vaccine presents the immune system with something that looks like the invader and is essentially harmless, but nonetheless tricks the body into developing an immune response that would fight off the real virus if it appeared. It's a bit like showing someone a picture and saying, "If this person shows up at your door, don't let them in." There are lots of ways of making that viral "picture," and COVID-19 vaccine developers are pursuing all of them. Inactivated virus vaccines This approach has been around for decades. Jonas Salk used it in making his polio vaccine. Researchers take the virus of interest and treat it with heat or a chemical like formaldehyde. That makes it no longer capable of causing disease, but it can still display the proteins on its surface that the immune system can recognize as an invader. Four companies in China have already begun clinical trials using this approach: Wuhan Institute of Biological Products; Beijing Institute of Biological Products; the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences; and Sinovac Research and Development. One drawback to the inactivated-virus approach is that the vaccine doesn't always generate a strong enough immune response to effectively fight off the virus and sometimes a second dose is needed to get protection. Live attenuated virus vaccines This is also a well-known approach. Here, the virus is modified, or attenuated, in the lab so that it is still "live" in the sense that it's still capable of infecting cells, but it is rarely capable of spreading rapidly and causing disease. This is how the Sabin polio vaccine works. These vaccines can generate a strong immune response, but in some cases they can also cause the disease they are trying to prevent, since the weakened virus can sometimes be harmful to someone who has a weakened immune system. A list of vaccine candidates prepared by the World Health Organization includes only three companies developing live attenuated virus vaccines. Non-replicating viral vector vaccines Instead of killing or modifyinga virus to use in a vaccine, researchers can use just the proteins a virus makes that stimulate the immune system. Once researchers know a virus's complete genetic sequence, it's relatively straightforward to isolate the genes for those proteins. But how do those genes get into someone's cells without the actual or attenuated virus to carry it there? One approach involves turning to other viruses, not necessarily related to the virus that causes the illness at all. There are many viruses that infect humans but cause little or no illness. Researchers can take the genes from the coronavirus that make the proteins that stimulate the immune system and then put those genes into one of these harmless viruses. Once inside cells, the harmless virus delivers the coronavirus's genes (which are, in essence, instructions), and the cells dutifully make the coronavirus proteins that will trigger the immune reaction. As a safety measure, researchers can modify the harmless virus so that it can no longer make copies of itself after it delivers its genetic payload to a cell. The University of Oxford has teamed with the pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca to make a vaccine candidate that works this way. That candidate is already being tested for efficacy, i.e., to see if it actually prevents COVID-19. CanSino Biologics, along with the Academy of Military Medical Sciences' Institute of Biotechnology, in China, also has a vaccine in human trials that works this way. Replicating viral vector vaccines Similar to non-replicating viral vector vaccines, these vaccines employ viruses that are either naturally not harmful to humans or engineered not to be. Like non-replicating viral vectors, these replicating viral vectors are modified to contain instructions for making virus proteins that can stimulate someone's immune system. The difference is that these viruses do retain the ability to make copies of themselves. That means they can continue to pump out coronavirus proteins, thereby keeping the immune system primed and ready to respond should the coronavirus turn up. Merck used this technology successfully to make an Ebola vaccine that was approved last year and is trying it with a COVID-19 vaccine candidate as well. Virus-like particle vaccine As it sounds, a virus-like particle is an assembly of proteins that resembles a virus but has none of the genetic instructions for making copies of itself. Several companies are using these virus-like particles to create their vaccines. One, Medicago, located in Quebec City, uses plants to generate the virus-like particles. RNA vaccine DNA typically is the chemical that stores the genetic instructions that are passed from one generation to the next. To make proteins from those instructions, DNA has to be converted into RNA and specific proteins are made by specific strands of RNA. In the case of RNA vaccine candidates for COVID-19, the specific strand of RNA is the one that makes a protein on the surface of the coronavirus called the spike protein. The spike protein allows the virus to insert itself into cells in our bodies. The idea behind this vaccine is to inject that RNA sequence into someone, and then the person's cells start producing the spike protein that the immune system will recognize and produce antibodies to fight against. An advantage of RNA vaccines is that they can be made rapidly. It was only a matter of days from the time in early January when Chinese scientists published the genetic sequence of the novel coronavirus before the biotech company Moderna had a vaccine candidate ready for initial testing, and it was slightly more than two months before testing began in human volunteers. Several other companies, including pharma giants Pfizer and Sanofi, are also in the RNA vaccine arena. Although many scientists are impressed with the potential of RNA vaccines, such vaccines were relatively new when COVID-19 appeared on the scene. They haven't been around long enough to complete the testing that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration would require to license them for use in humans. DNA vaccine Creating a DNA vaccine is another new approach to vaccine-making. The vaccine introduces directly into someone's body the genetic instructions for making the protein of interest. That person's cells then use those instructions to make the RNA that makes the desired protein to stimulate the immune system. However, it's harder to get DNA into a person's cells than it is to get RNA in. Inovio is the first to start into human studies with its version, which requires an electric pulse to be administered with the vaccine to make sure the DNA is taken up. Protein subunit vaccine Another vaccine approach is to inject people with copies of the actual protein against which you want them to make antibodies. This is a well-explored approach, used to make pertussis, diphtheria and tetanus vaccines. Several dozen companies are going down this path. First out of the gate in human trials was Novavax. It packages its proteins in a nanoparticle and injects them along with an adjuvant, which is a substance designed to enhance the response that the immune system makes to a protein. Timeline Normally, it can take a decade or more to develop, test and license a new vaccine, but the coronavirus pandemic is likely to speed up that process considerably because developers are doing things in parallel that they would usually do in sequence. Even before a vaccine candidate has been shown to work, companies are scaling up their manufacturing capacity with the intention of making hundreds of millions of doses of something that may never be useful. About a dozen vaccines are already being tested in humans, and proof that a particular vaccine works or doesn't may be available as soon as the end of this year.