In late March, we were told that a “double mutant” coronavirus variant had been discovered in India. Now we’re told a “triple mutant” variant stalks the streets of Yorkshire. People are afraid that the vaccines might not work against these and other new variants, and we’ll soon be back to square one.

But should we be worried about the seemingly endless genome shuffling this virus seems to be doing of late? Luke O’Neill, a professor of biochemistry at Trinity College Dublin, says no “variant of high consequence” – variants against which current medical measures are failing – has been discovered yet. In fact, a new preprint study from Public Health England shows that the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines are highly effective against the variants that originated in the UK (B117) and India (B16172).

Elsewhere, we’ve been learning the best ways to rewild a country (tip: you don’t always have to reintroduce wolves), and why the history of British political sleaze sounds a warning about the current government.

A huge thank you to all our readers who have donated to The Conversation. Now in our campaign’s final week, if you value what we do and are able to make a donation then any amount you can spare will help us to continue producing the interesting and insightful writing you enjoy.

Clint Witchalls

Health + Medicine Editor

Guy Bell/Alamy Stock Photo

Coronavirus: so many variants, but vaccines are still effective

Luke O'Neill, Trinity College Dublin

Variants of interest and variants of concern seem to be popping up at an alarming rate. But how many of them do we really need to worry about?

A Eurasian beaver swimming in Devon’s River Otter catchment, UK. Nick Upton/Alamy Stock Photo

Rewilding: four tips to let nature thrive

Sophie Wynne-Jones, Bangor University; Ian Convery, University of Cumbria; Steve Carver, University of Leeds

By studying where rewilding has worked well around the world, we've worked out the dos and don'ts.

Lord Brougham as John Bull, calling on the Prince Regent (later George IV) to curb his extravagance. Alamy/World History Archive

A history of British political sleaze – and why we should worry about the Johnson government

Ian Cawood, University of Stirling

The excesses of political leaders have always needed checking.

Science + Technology

Politics + Society

Environment + Energy

  • How plant-based diets could help prevent the next COVID-19

    Kurtis Boyer, University of Saskatchewan

    Pandemic viruses arise from raising, harvesting and eating animals. Policy strategy for averting the next pandemic should include supporting those already seeking to make plant-based dietary changes.

Health + Medicine

Arts + Culture


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