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Science • Medicine
A third Pfizer dose is likely needed within 12 months, says CEO
A third Pfizer dose is likely needed within 12 months, says CEO
Credit: U.S. Secretary of Defense, via Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

Albert Bourla, CEO of Pfizer, stated that a third dose of the BioNTech-Pfizer vaccine is "likely" needed within 12 months in order to get fully vaccinated.

“A likely scenario is that there will be likely a need for a third dose, somewhere between six and 12 months and then from there, there will be an annual revaccination, but all of that needs to be confirmed. And again, the variants will play a key role,” so Bourla.

Science • Animals
Pensioner fulfils old promise by donating €750,000 to German zoo
Pensioner fulfils old promise by donating €750,000 to German zoo
Credit: Dietmar Rabich / Wikimedia Commons / “Münster, Allwetterzoo -- 2014 -- 8244” (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

An 82-year-old man from Münster (Germany) has fulfilled an old promise he made to his wife who died years ago - and has given Münster Zoo the largest single donation in its history: the zoo has now received 750,000 euros from Horst Eschler.

Zoo director Simone Schehka thanked the donor at a press event on Thursday. The zoo wants to use the money to finance the renovation of its bear house, among other things, she said. A trip to Australia was the deciding factor, the donor said. There he had seen how animals suffered from the devastating bush fires and how many people had helped them.

Science • Medicine
US health agencies recommend pausing Johnson & Johnson's Covid-19 vaccine after blood clots
US health agencies recommend pausing Johnson & Johnson's Covid-19 vaccine after blood clots
Credit: Illustration: Pendect, Ashley Winkler.

After six women developed a rare disorder involving blood clots after being administered the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine, US health agencies have called for an immediate pause of the vaccine.

“Today FDA and @CDCgov issued a statement regarding the Johnson & Johnson #COVID19 vaccine. We are recommending a pause in the use of this vaccine out of an abundance of caution,” the Food and Drug Administration wrote on Twitter.

Science • Medicine
BioNTech-Pfizer vaccine to offer protection against Covid-19 for at least 6 months
BioNTech-Pfizer vaccine to offer protection against Covid-19 for at least 6 months
Credit: Logo via Pfizer & BioNTech

According to a published research by Pfizer, the BionTech-Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine offers protection against Covid-19 for at least 6 months.

"Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE today announced updated topline results from analysis of 927 confirmed symptomatic cases of COVID-19 observed in their pivotal Phase 3 study through March 13, 2021, showing the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, BNT162b2, was 91.3% effective against COVID-19, measured seven days through up to six months after the second dose," so the statement.

Albert Bourla, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Pfizer said that the data confirmed "the favorable efficacy and safety profile of our vaccine", adding that the "high vaccine efficacy observed through up to six months following a second dose and against the variant prevalent in South Africa provides further confidence in our vaccine’s overall effectiveness."

Science • Medicine
EMA reviewing possible link between Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine and blood clots
EMA reviewing possible link between Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine and blood clots
Credit: Illustration: Pendect, Ashley Winkler. (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

The European Medicines Agency announced Friday that it is reviewing a possible connection between the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine and blood clots, Reuters reports.

"Four serious cases of rare blood clots with low platelets, one of which was fatal, have been reported after inoculation with J&J’s vaccine from its Janssen unit, the European Medicines Agency’s (EMA) said," Reuters wrote.

Science • Medicine
EMA official says there's a clear link between AstraZeneca vaccine and blood clots, EMA denies having found link
EMA official says there's a clear link between AstraZeneca vaccine and blood clots, EMA denies having found link
Credit: Illustration: Pendect, Ashley Winkler. (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

There's a clear link between the AstraZeneca vaccine and blood clots, EMA's Head of Anti-infectives and Vaccines Marco Cavaleri told the Italian daily newspaper Il Messagero on Thursday.

“In my opinion, we can now say it, it is clear that there is an association with the vaccine. However, we still do not know what causes this reaction,” so Cavaleri.

The European Medicines Agency issued a statement hours later, denying that a connection has been already established, saying it had “not yet reached a conclusion and the review is currently ongoing”, but expects to announce findings later this week.

Science • Medicine
BioNTech-Pfizer and Moderna vaccines 90% effective at preventing infections study shows
BioNTech-Pfizer and Moderna vaccines 90% effective at preventing infections study shows
Credit: unsplash.com/Marisol Benitez

A study from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has shown that both BioNTech-Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are 90% effective at preventing infections, including asymptomatic infections, with the first dose showing 80% efficacy.

“Reducing the risk for transmissible infection, which can occur among persons with asymptomatic infection or among persons several days before symptoms onset, is especially important among health care personnel, first responders, and other essential and frontline workers given their potential to transmit the virus through frequent close contact with patients and the public,” the report concluded.

Science • Medicine
BioNTech-Pfizer to start pediatric Covid-19 vaccine trial
BioNTech-Pfizer to start pediatric Covid-19 vaccine trial
Credit: Illustration: Pendect, Ashley Winkler (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

BioNTech and Pfizer announced Thursday that they are launching pediatric trials of their Covid-19 vaccine on children 12 years and under.

"Together with our partner BioNTech, we have announced a global study to further evaluate our #COVID19 vaccine in healthy children ages 6 months to 11 years. We are proud to start this much needed study for children and families eagerly awaiting a possible vaccine option," Albert Bourla,

Chairman and CEO of Pfizer, announced on Twitter. "As a father and a scientist, I would like to thank our participants and their parents and caregivers for enrolling in the study. We need to continue gathering evidence on the safety and efficacy of #COVID19 vaccines for important populations, including children."

Science • Space
NASA plans first flight of Mars helicopter Ingenuity on April 8
Ingenuity Mars Helicopter on the Martian Surface
Ingenuity Mars Helicopter on the Martian Surface Credit: NASA (Public Domain)

NASA is targeting no earlier than April 8 for the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter to make the first attempt at the powered, controlled flight of an aircraft on another planet. Before the 4-pound (1.8-kilogram) rotorcraft can attempt its first flight, however, both it and its team must meet a series of daunting milestones.

“When NASA’s Sojourner rover landed on Mars in 1997, it proved that roving the Red Planet was possible and completely redefined our approach to how we explore Mars. Similarly, we want to learn about the potential Ingenuity has for the future of science research,” said Lori Glaze, director of the Planetary Science Division at NASA Headquarters.

Science • Medicine
Independent US board "concerned" AstraZeneca may have included outdated information from its Covid-19 vaccine trial
Independent US board "concerned" AstraZeneca may have included outdated information from its Covid-19 vaccine trial
Credit: Gencat, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) has released a statement, saying that the Data and Safety Monitoring Board (DSMB), an independent group of experts that advises US National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, was concerned "that AstraZeneca may have included outdated information from that trial, which may have provided an incomplete view of the efficacy data."

"Late Monday, the Data and Safety Monitoring Board (DSMB) notified NIAID, BARDA, and AstraZeneca that it was concerned by information released by AstraZeneca on initial data from its COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial,” the statement says. “The DSMB expressed concern that AstraZeneca may have included outdated information from that trial, which may have provided an incomplete view of the efficacy data. We urge the company to work with the DSMB to review the efficacy data and ensure the most accurate, up-to-date efficacy data be made public as quickly as possible.”

Science • Medicine
AstraZeneca: US trial confirms vaccine safety
AstraZeneca: US trial confirms vaccine safety
Credit: Gencat, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

A US trial with over 32,000 participants has shown that the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine is both safe and effective, preventing symptomatic infections with a 79% efficacy and severe infections and hospitalizations with a 100% efficacy. The trial has also shown no safety concerns associated with blood clots.

Science • Space
Artemis missions completes second main engine test
The core stage for the first flight of NASA’s Space Launch System rocket is seen in the B-2 Test Stand during a second hot fire test, Thursday, March 18, 2021, at NASA’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi.
The core stage for the first flight of NASA’s Space Launch System rocket is seen in the B-2 Test Stand during a second hot fire test, Thursday, March 18, 2021, at NASA’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. Credit: NASA/Robert Markowitz

Humans might soon visit the Moon again. NASA has completed a test on the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket, igniting the four main engines for eight minutes and nineteen seconds on Thursday whereas the first test in January only ran for a minute.

"The SLS is the most powerful rocket NASA has ever built, and during today's test the core stage of the rocket generated more than 1.6 million pounds of thrust within seven seconds. The SLS is an incredible feat of engineering and the only rocket capable of powering America's next-generation missions that will place the first woman and the next man on the Moon," said acting NASA Administrator Steve Jurczyk in a statement.

Science • Medicine
More European countries to resume AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccinations after it was deemed "safe and effective" by the EMA
More European countries to resume AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccinations after it was deemed "safe and effective" by the EMA
Credit: gencat cat, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Several European countries, inclduing France, Italy, Cyprus, Latvia, Portugal, Germany, the Netherlands and Lithuania will resume administering AstraZeneca's Covid-19 vaccine in the following days after European Medicines Agency (EMA) announced the vaccine was "safe and effective".

Emer Cooke, head of the EMA, said that while "a small number of cases of rare and unusual but very serious clotting disorders" were uncovered, the agency did not find that the vaccine caused an increase in the risk of blood clots.

Science • Space
Scientists spot a supermassive black hole that wanders through space
Scientists spot a supermassive black hole that wanders through space
Credit: unsplash.com / Jacob Granneman

Astronomers have detected a highly unusual case of a black hole wandering through space.

Astronomers previously believed it was possible for supermassive black holes to be actively on the move, but it has been difficult to gather evidence for that theory -- until now. The supermassive black hole is located in the galaxy J0437+2456 230 million light-years away from Earth.

Science • Medicine
AstraZeneca finds "no evidence" of increased risk of blood clots
AstraZeneca finds "no evidence" of increased risk of blood clots
Credit: gencat cat, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

AstraZeneca has released a statement, saying its Covid-19 vaccine has shown no evidence of an increased risk of blood clots.

"Following a recent concern raised around thrombotic events, AstraZeneca would like to offer its reassurance on the safety of its COVID-19 vaccine based on clear scientific evidence. Safety is of paramount importance and the Company is continually monitoring the safety of its vaccine," the report said. "A careful review of all available safety data of more than 17 million people vaccinated in the European Union (EU) and UK with COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca has shown no evidence of an increased risk of pulmonary embolism, deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or thrombocytopenia, in any defined age group, gender, batch or in any particular country."

Science • Medicine
Novavax vaccine up to 96% effective in UK trial
Novavax vaccine up to 96% effective in UK trial
Credit: Novavax

American vaccine development company Novavax said its Covid-19 vaccine has shown a 96% efficacy against the original Coronavirus strain and a 86% efficacy against the more potent UK strain B117 in Phase 3 clinical trials in the United Kingdom. The vaccine has also shown to be 100% effective against severe Covid-19 infections.

Trials are still running in the United States, and the company will apply for US emergency use authorization as soon as those trials are complete.

Stanley Erck, Novavax's president and CEO, said that the company was "very encouraged by the data".

“We are very encouraged by the data showing that NVX-CoV2373 not only provided complete protection against the most severe forms of disease, but also dramatically reduced mild and moderate disease across both trials. Importantly, both studies confirmed efficacy against the variant strains,” so Erck. “Today marks one year since the WHO officially declared the COVID-19 pandemic, and with this data in hand, we are even more motivated to advance our vaccine as a potential weapon in the fight to end the suffering caused by COVID-19.”

Science • Space
China and Russia to build lunar space station
China and Russia to build lunar space station
Credit: William Andrus (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

Russian space agency Roscosmos says it has signed an agreement with China's National Space Administration to develop research facilities on the moon's surface, in orbit or both. Both countries' space agencies say the facilities will be available for use by other nations.

The news comes as Russia prepares to celebrate the 60th anniversary of its first-ever crewed space flight.

Science • Animals
Study: low doses of the insecticide, Imidacloprid, cause blindness in insects
Study: low doses of the insecticide, Imidacloprid, cause blindness in insects
Credit: unsplash.com / Damien TUPINIER

New research has identified a mechanism by which low levels of insecticides such as, the neonicotinoid Imidacloprid, could harm the nervous, metabolic and immune system of insects, including those that are not pests, such as our leading pollinators, bees. A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, led by researchers at the University of Melbourne and Baylor College of Medicine, shows that low doses of Imidacloprid trigger neurodegeneration and disrupt vital body-wide functions, including energy production, vision, movement and the immune system, in the vinegar fly, Drosophila melanogaster. "That's an indication of the impact of the insecticide on the function of the brain," said Dr Felipe Martelli, whose PhD work conducted at the University of Melbourne and the Baylor College of Medicine in the laboratory of Professor Hugo Bellen led to the current research paper.

Science • Space
SpaceX lands Starship for the first time - then it explodes
SpaceX lands Starship for the first time - then it explodes
Credit: Courtesy of YouTube / SpaceX

SpaceX dared another test flight with a Starship on Tuesday (Texas time). The launch and flight of the SN10 were successful. The landing also looked successful at first, but then the rocket exploded. The cause could be methane leaking from the tanks of the brake engines.

Science • Space
Japanese billionaire announces that he will pay moon flight for eight people
Japanese billionaire announces that he will pay moon flight for eight people
Credit: Courtesy of Twitter

Flying to the moon just became a bit more realistic. Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa is offering eight seats on a flight around the moon - for free. He wrote on Twitter that the seats had already been paid for. At first, the billionaire only wanted to take artists. But now, everyone who does something creative is eligible.

It is not known how expensive the moon orbit will be. The launch is planned for 2023. But he wants to check the applications for it this month. Those who get through will have to expect an interview and other tasks. The medical checks will then take place in May.

The billionaire and his crew will probably be the first to fly to the moon since the last US Apollo mission in 1972. The prerequisite for this is that SpaceX can get them into space.

Science • Space
OAC announces plans to start construction of private space station in 2025
OAC announces plans to start construction of private space station in 2025
Credit: Courtesy of YouTube / Gateway Foundation

According to the Orbital Assembly Corporation (OAC), the construction of the private space station named Voyager is expected to start in 2025.

The current design features a large ring structure that is planned to spin in order to create artificial moon-like gravity.

Planned for 2021-2024 is the construction of multiple tools to construct the space station in orbit.

Science • Space
NASA engineers hid secret code in Perseverance's parachute
NASA engineers hid secret code in Perseverance's parachute
Credit: @steltzner, via Twitter

NASA engineers have hidden a secret binary code on the parachute of its Perseverance rover that was solved by internet users six hours after its discovery. The seemingly random pattern of red-and-white stripes represents letters when read clockwise and reads: "Dare mighty things." Adam Steltzner, Perseverance's chief engineer, confirmed the secret message on Twitter, writing: "It looks like the internet has cracked the code in something like 6 hours! Oh internet is there anything you can’t do?"

Science • Space
NASA releases new images from Mars by its Perseverance rover
"The moment that my team dreamed of for years, now a reality. Dare mighty things."
"The moment that my team dreamed of for years, now a reality. Dare mighty things." Credit: @NASAPersevere, via Twitter

NASA has released a set of images taken by its Perseverance rover on the surface of Mars. In one image captured from a satellite, the rover can be seen during its descent to Mars while the others show the surface of the red planet.

Science • Space
Researchers: Cyanobacteria could thrive under Martian conditions
Researchers: Cyanobacteria could thrive under Martian conditions
Credit: NASA/JPL/MSSS - http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/spaceimages/details.php?id=PIA02653 file (Public Domain)

Cyanobacteria could thrive excellently even under the inhospitable conditions on Mars, produce oxygen and thus enable astronauts to survive self-sufficiently in the future. This is the conclusion reached by Humboldt Fellow Cyprien Verseux from the Center for Applied Space Technology and Microgravity (ZARM) at the University of Bremen. He and his team now present some of their findings in the scientific journal "Frontiers in Microbiology".

Cyanobacteria are known primarily as blue-green algae, which can proliferate in lakes in summer, the scientists explain. On Mars, their full potential comes into play, as they produce oxygen through photosynthesis. This ability is found in almost all plants, but cyanobacteria can also grow on the basis of the nutrients that are present on Mars

Science • Space
NASA rover "Perseverance" has successfully landed on Mars
NASA rover "Perseverance" has successfully landed on Mars
Credit: Courtesy of Youtube / NASA

NASA's Perseverance rover successfully touched down on Mars Thursday afternoon, as part of one of the agency's most ambitious deep-space missions to search for signs of ancient life on the red planet.

Science • Space
Nasa rover "Perseverance" to land on Mars - First helicopter flight on another planet
This illustration shows NASA’s Perseverance rover casting off its spacecraft’s cruise stage
This illustration shows NASA’s Perseverance rover casting off its spacecraft’s cruise stage Credit: NASA (Public Domain)

More than a century after the first motorized flight on Earth, such a maneuver is soon to take place on another planet for the first time. As part of the "Mars 2020" mission, the U.S. space agency Nasa plans to bring its Mars rover "Perseverance" together with the ultra-light helicopter "Ingenuity" to the Red Planet on Thursday (Feb. 18). There, "Ingenuity" is to fly through the Martian atmosphere. This is a particular challenge because the Martian atmosphere is only one percent as dense as the Earth's atmosphere.

"Ingenuity" is actually more like a drone. Nasa engineers had to make the mini-helicopter as light as possible so that it could take off in the extremely thin Martian atmosphere. It weighs just 1.8 kilograms and consists of four feet, a missile, and two propellers. The propellers rotate 2400 times per minute, about five times faster than a normal helicopter.

"Ingenuity" is expected to complete up to five flights over the surface of Mars. The aircraft can ascend up to five meters and fly up to 300 meters. However, the first test will cover a much shorter distance. Each flight can last up to one and a half minutes.

Since it takes about 20 minutes to transmit data from Mars to Earth, "Ingenuity" is not remotely controlled, but flies independently. Nasa issues only basic commands after which "Ingenuity" orients itself with a series of sensors. The results of the flights will not be available until some time later.

Science • Space
Private spaceflight specialist Axiom Space raises $130 million, becoming the latest space unicorn
Axiom Space logo
Axiom Space logo Credit: Axiom Space

Axiom has begun bringing in revenue for its space stations already, with NASA awarding the company a contract to connect one habitable module to the ISS as early as 2024. The seven-year contract has a maximum award value of $140 million, which Suffredini said goes beyond development to include launching and operating the module once connected to the space station. Suffredini said that Axiom has procured the parts of its modules that take the longest to arrive from supplies, with "contracts in place with major providers" and "early design work" completed.

Science • Archaeology & History
Egypt: Archaeologists find ancient high-production brewery
Image of the brewery in Abydos
Image of the brewery in Abydos Credit: Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities (Twitter Reproduction)

An Egyptian-American team of archaeologists has uncovered a 5,000-year-old brewery capable of producing some 22,400 litres of beer at a time, the Egyptian Tourism Ministry has announced. The ministry said in a Facebook statement on Saturday that it believed that the site at North Abydos, Sohag, was "the oldest high-production brewery in the world."

Although the existence of the brewery was ascertained by British archaeologists at the start of the 20th century, its precise location has not been identified until now, according to the statement.

Science • Space
China's Tianwen-1 spacecraft has entered Mars orbit
Artist’s impression of the Tianwen-1 rover surveying on mars surface.
Artist’s impression of the Tianwen-1 rover surveying on mars surface. Credit: China National Space Administration, via Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

Mars is getting crowded! After being on the space-road for seven months, China's Tianwen-1 probe has successfully entered Mars orbit on Wednesday, just one day after UAE's Hope orbiter and eights days before NASA's Perseverance rover.

"Tianwen-1 is going to orbit, land and release a rover all on the very first try, and coordinate observations with an orbiter," mission managers wrote before launch in the journal Nature Astronomy. "No planetary missions have ever been implemented in this way. If successful, it would signify a major technical breakthrough."

Science • Archaeology & History
Mummies with golden artifact tongues found in Egypt
Mummies with golden artifact tongues found in Egypt
Credit: Courtesy of Facebook / Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities وزارة السياحة والآثار

The 2000-year-old mummies were buried with golden artifacts as tongues, in order to be able to speak in their afterlife.

"The mission discovered 16 tombs cut into the rock... in the temple of Taposiris Magna, west of Alexandria," the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities said in a statement reported.