News that Russia has approved use of a vaccine is raising alarm in the scientific community because the authorization shortcut typical safety and efficacy testing and its developers published no data on early trials. Epidemiologist Abram Wagner explains how the process should work and why this move could actually backfire, not only in medical risks to people who get the vaccine but in degrading public trust.

Also in this week’s science and research news: practical science on ventilation to reduce COVID-19 risk, sorting our male-female brain differences, and how how thunderstorms can become even more dangerous derechos.

Martin La Monica

Deputy Editor

On Aug. 11, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that a coronavirus vaccine developed in the country has been registered for use. Russian Health Ministry/Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

A COVID-19 vaccine needs the public’s trust – and it’s risky to cut corners on clinical trials, as Russia is

Abram L. Wagner, University of Michigan

As Russia fast tracks a coronavirus vaccine, scientists worry about skipped safety checks – and the potential fallout for trust in vaccines if something ends up going wrong.

Are there innate differences between female and male brains? SebastianKaulitzki/Science Photo Library via Getty Images

Brain scientists haven’t been able to find major differences between women’s and men’s brains, despite over a century of searching

Ari Berkowitz, University of Oklahoma

Attempts to find brain structures responsible for supposed cognitive sex differences have not succeeded.

Fitness information from wearable devices can reveal when the body is fighting an infection. Nico De Pasquale Photography/Stone via Getty Images

Wearable fitness devices deliver early warning of possible COVID-19 infection

Albert H. Titus, University at Buffalo, The State University of New York

Fitness information like resting heart rate collected by wearable devices can't diagnose diseases, but it can signal when something is wrong. That can be enough to prompt a COVID-19 test.

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