Science Friday

Fauci On Vaccines and Variants, Mummy Mystery, Texas Power Grid Failure. Feb 19, 2021, Part 1

Feb. 19, 2021

Fauci Says Majority Of U.S. Adults Likely To Be Vaccinated By Late Summer

We’re about a month shy of a big anniversary: one year since the World Health Organization officially labeled COVID-19 a pandemic. Since then, a lot has changed—and a lot has not.

We have more information than ever about COVID-19, but there are still a lot of unknowns about the illness. While about 40 million people in the U.S. have received at least one dose of a vaccine, it’s unclear when we can expect to return to a sense of normalcy.

Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, joins Ira to shed some light on the latest news about variants and vaccines—and the light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel.

He predicts vaccines are likely to be open to all adults starting in May or June. “By the time you get everyone vaccinated who could be vaccinated, that’s going to take several months,” Fauci says. “So it won’t be until the end of the summer.”

Fauci and Ira also discuss when it’s ok for families to get together without a laundry list of precautions, as well as his legacy from decades at the NIH.


 

Uncovering An Ancient Mummy Mystery

Ever since the discovery of King Seqenenre-Taa-II’s mummy in Egypt in the mid-1800s, it was clear that the king had met an untimely demise. His hands were clenched in a claw-like gesture, and the pharaoh’s head bore several fatal wounds. But the exact nature of his death was lost to time: Had he died in some sort of palace intrigue? Or was he executed?

Writing in the journal Frontiers in Medicine, radiologist Sahar Saleem and her collaborators argue that a CT scan of the mummy supports the theory that the king died during conflict with the Hyksos, an Asian group that invaded and controlled northern Egypt. The researchers say that the wounds and other signs on the body suggest the king was captured, bound, and executed by multiple assailants.

SciFri’s Charles Bergquist spoke with Saleem about her research, and how it fills in clues about the ancient mystery.


Why Did The Texas Power Grid Fail?

More than 500,000 Texans were still without power Thursday as another round of snow and ice moved through the state, three days after a historic wave of cold and snow that prompted the state power regulator to initiate rolling blackouts in an effort to prevent a larger, months-long outage.

But as Texans remain without power in freezing temperatures, the side-effects of infrastructure failure are their own disaster: people freezing in their homes, risking carbon monoxide poisoning, or struggling to get food and water.

Why was the electric grid so damaged by winter weather? The MIT Technology Review’s Amy Nordrum explains the fragility of Texas’ power grid, and how a lack of winterized infrastructure has ripple effects for the whole state.

Plus, she talks about the successful landing of NASA’s Perseverance rover on Mars, new smells in the toolbox against invasive bark beetles, and more recent science stories.

 

 

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