Nature Podcast


Coronapod: detecting COVID variants in sewage

Since early in the pandemic, scientists have searched for signals of SARS-CoV-2 transmission by sampling wastewater. This surveillance method has provided vital information to inform public health responses. But the approach has never been particularly specific - pointing to broad trends rather than granular information such as which variants are spreading where. But now a team from the University of California have created two new tools to sample waste water in much greater detail - and spot variants and their relative concentrations up to two weeks faster than testing-based surveillance methods. In this episode of Coronapod, we discuss the paper and ask how a system like this could help countries around the world respond to the COVID pandemic and beyond.

News: COVID variants found in sewage weeks before showing up in tests

More Episodes


A trove of ancient fish fossils helps trace the origin of jaws

In this episode:00:45 Piecing together the early history of jawed vertebratesA wealth of fossils discovered in southern China shed new light onto the diversity of jawed and jawless fish during the Silurian period, over 400 million years ago. Nature editor Henry Gee explains the finds and what they mean for the history of jawed vertebrates like us.Research article: Zhu et al.Research article: Gai et al.Research article: Andreev et al.Research article: Andreev et al.News and Views: Fossils reveal the deep roots of jawed vertebrates09:09 Research HighlightsMice studies help explain why some people with a rare genetic condition have heightened musical abilities, and high-resolution images reveal how bees build honeycomb.Research Highlight: How a missing gene leads to super-sensitivity to soundResearch Highlight: X-rays reveal how bees achieve an engineering marvel: the honeycomb11:27 A lack of evidence in transgender policy makingAround the world, many laws are being proposed – and passed – regarding the rights of transgender people to participate in various aspects of society. We talk to Paisley Currah, who has written a World View for Nature arguing that these policies are frequently not backed up by data, and that policy affecting trans people’s lives needs to take a more evidence-based approach.World View: To set transgender policy, look to the evidenceWatch our video about research trying to crack the nature of consciousness by dosing volunteers with psychedelic drugs and scanning their brains.Subscribe to Nature Briefing, an unmissable daily round-up of science news, opinion and analysis free in your inbox every weekday.