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infectious disease

2020 in Review

The Year in Biology

December 23, 2020

While the study of the SARS-CoV-2 virus was the most urgent priority, biologists also learned more about how brains process information, how to define individuality and why sleep deprivation kills.

Electron micrograph of the hepatitis C virus.
Abstractions blog

Scientists Win Nobel Prize for Discovering the Hepatitis C Virus

October 5, 2020

Harvey Alter, Michael Houghton and Charles Rice were awarded the 2020 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their discovery of the cause of a major liver disease.

insights puzzle

How to Assess Risks During the Coronavirus Pandemic

September 25, 2020

The medical research scientist and Quanta puzzle columnist Pradeep Mutalik explores how to make sense of COVID-19 data while managing your personal risk.

A false-colored scanning electron micrograph of a macrophage.
immunology

‘Trained Immunity’ Offers Hope in Fight Against Coronavirus

September 14, 2020

A novel form of immunological memory that was mostly ignored for a century extends the benefits of vaccines. It could be of help in ending the COVID-19 pandemic.

Photograph of a bat in flight.
Abstractions blog

Can Vaccines for Wildlife Prevent Human Pandemics?

August 24, 2020

Studies suggest that self-disseminating vaccines could prevent the “spillover” of animal viruses into humans as pandemic diseases.

insights puzzle

COVID-19 Is Raging. How Safe Is Your Backyard Party?

August 6, 2020

Awash in coronavirus data, misinformation and tremendous uncertainty, we need to put our risk analysis skills to the ultimate test.

insights puzzle

How to Design (or at Least Model) Mixed Dog Breeds

July 31, 2020

Readers simulated the genetics of dog breeding to solve a puzzle about mixed breed percentages and sexual reproduction.

Illustration of a woman brandishing a shield to keep viruses at bay. One virus has slipped through a small hole in it.
infectious disease

Our Genes May Explain Severity of COVID-19 and Other Infections

July 27, 2020

Researchers are examining the power of subtle genetic weaknesses in the immune system to affect the severity of infectious diseases, including COVID-19.

Animated illustration showing vulnerable red shapes become “infected” and turn green, amid immune blue shapes.
Abstractions blog

The Tricky Math of Herd Immunity for COVID-19

June 30, 2020

Herd immunity differs from place to place, and many factors influence how it’s calculated.