The coronavirus is constantly mutating and changing. Most of these mutations have no effect, but when random chance happens to tweak important parts of the virus – like its spike protein – new variants emerge. The concern is that these differences will make existing vaccines less effective. It’s still not clear if this is the case with the latest variant Omicron. But if it is, current vaccines may need to be updated. Deborah Fuller explains what that process would look like.

Kenyans who haven’t been vaccinated against COVID-19 can expect to be banned from access to a range of public spaces from December 21. In a country that has struggled for months to secure adequate and freely available vaccine doses, the mandate is premature, writes Catherine Kyobutungi. Mandates should be considered only when all the geographical, financial and cultural access issues have been addressed.

Caroline Southey

Founding Editor

How can scientists update coronavirus vaccines for omicron? A microbiologist answers 5 questions about how Moderna and Pfizer could rapidly adjust mRNA vaccines

Deborah Fuller, University of Washington

The new omicron variant of coronavirus has a number of mutations that may require manufacturers to update vaccines. The unique attributes of mRNA vaccines make updating them fast and easy.

Kenya has imposed a holiday season COVID-19 vaccine mandate: why it’s premature

Catherine Kyobutungi, African Population and Health Research Center

Mandates should be considered only when all geographical, financial and cultural access issues have been addressed. They should be a last resort.

Are you binge-watching too much? How to know if your TV habits are a problem – and what to do about it

Mark Griffiths, Nottingham Trent University

Problem binge-watching is associated with anxiety and depression.

Football: English fans want an independent regulator – here’s how it could help save clubs from ruin

Mark Middling, Northumbria University, Newcastle

The fan-led review into the English leagues could be a game changer.