This is your Good News round-up:
The world could be only a few years away from a cancer vaccine, according to the couple behind the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine; a baby has received the world’s first successful intestinal transplant, and new research says transplanted livers can keep going for more than 100 years. If you have always wanted to move to Spain, a new digital nomad visa could let you stay there for five years; and the number of people below the poverty line in India has halved in a 15-year period. We also look at a very special Parisian dancing studio.
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1. The world could be only a few years away from a cancer vaccine
Vaccines to treat cancer could be here before 2030, say the founders of German firm BioNTech, which – along with Pfizer – manufactured the revolutionary mRNA COVID-19 vaccine.
Professors Uğur Şahin and Özlem Türeci told the BBC they had made recent breakthroughs that could see a cure for cancer before the end of the decade.
Scientists around the world have been working on a cancer vaccine for decades.
The two scientists say that their experience of trying to develop a cancer vaccine helped them develop the COVID-19 vaccine, which then in turn helped accelerate the cancer vaccine.
Researchers also think the rapid development of COVID-19 vaccines revealed the possibilities of mRNA vaccine technology and that the development of the shot in record time also opened the way for regulators to speed up the process of vaccine approvals. This will also help us accelerate any cancer vaccine.
2. A baby received the world’s first successful intestinal transplant
A 13-month-old Spanish baby girl called Emma received the world’s first intestine transplant through an asystolic donation, from a donor at the end of their life.
Thirty per cent of intestine transplant candidates die on the waiting list, and there are very few young donors. On top of that, the asystolic technique had not previously been used for the intestine because it was not thought not to be possible.
“There are very few donors of paediatric age, yet there are many more recipients who weigh barely three kilos when they need the organ,” said Francisco Hernández, head of the paediatric surgery department at Madrid’s La Paz hospital, in a press briefing.
Hernández said that asystolic donation (donations which occur after cardio-circulatory arrest) was evolving exponentially in Spain.
Doctors started realising that it was a solution for the lack of donors of solid organs, “except for the intestine,” he said.
Beatriz Dominguez Gil, director of the Spanish National Transplant Organisation, said in the same press conference that it was important to emphasise that the transplant represented a milestone. “It is the first intestinal transplant from an asystole donor to be carried out in Spain and in the world. We are really talking about an absolutely pioneering intervention.”
In similar news, new research from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center has found that transplanted livers from older people can continue working for more than 100 years, even outlasting those from younger donors.
Like Emma’s transplant, this is a significant discovery, which paves the way for a much bigger donation pool for surgeons to draw on, giving new hope to future patients.
Read Nicole Lin Chang’s story for Euronews to find out more about how older donors’ organs function just as well.
3. A new digital nomad visa could let you live in Spain for five years
If you have always wanted to move to Spain, a new digital nomad visa could let you stay for five years.
Spain could soon introduce a digital nomad visa that would give non-EU nationals the chance to live and work in the country for up to five years.
The government wants to “attract and retain international and national talents by helping remote workers and digital nomads set up in Spain,” said the former economic affairs minister Nadia Calviño.
They believe it could help the country recover from the economic impacts of the pandemic.
Close relatives of the visa holders, like children and spouses, would also be able to join the visa holder in the country. Spain is also expected to offer tax breaks for people working and living in the country under the scheme.
If the visa, which could be introduced as soon as January next year, is approved, the country will join a number of other European nations that have introduced some form of digital nomad scheme in the last few years – including Italy, Greece and Croatia.
Read Rosie Frost’s story for Euronews to get all the details:
4. The number of below the poverty line in India has halved in a 15-year period
The number of people below the poverty line in India dropped by about 415 million between 2005/06 and 2019/21, according to the new Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI).
The MPI reflects the multiple deprivations that poor people face in the areas of education, health, and living standards.
India’s Multidimensional Poverty Index value and incidence of poverty were both more than halved. And of the 415 million that exited poverty, 140 million have done so since 2015.
The biggest advances were seen in the poorest states, where deprivation of various types fell significantly. The number of children classified as living in poverty also fell faster in absolute terms.
“The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) called on countries to cut their multidimensional poverty by half in that time period, and India did. It cut its multidimensional poverty value and the percentage of people by half,” said Sabina Alkire, professor of poverty and human development and director of the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI) at the University of Oxford.
“The Sustainable Development Goals say that no one should be left behind, even in a poor state like Bihar. Bihar reduced poverty from 77 per cent in 2005/2006 to 52 per cent in 2016 to 35 per cent in 2019-2021.”
India’s progress has been called a “historic change” by the UN, who say it demonstrates that their SDGs – which aim to at least halve the proportion of men, women and children of all ages living in poverty by 2030 – is feasible, even at a large scale.
“There is a prosperous trend we need to learn from,” said Professor Alkire, “I think we need to learn what went right, because 400 million people is a big number. It can provide insights into other regions.”
There were still 97 million poor children in India in 2019/21. This major improvement shows that integrated interventions can improve the lives of millions of people, the report said.
5. Dancing beyond disability, in a wheelchair
Based on the idea that artistic practice is a means of expression and personal development that should be accessible to everyone, Kathy Mépuis, a Parisian dancer and choreographer, founded her dance company La Possible Echappée, in 2007.
The Parisian dance institution offers social inclusion to people with disabilities as well as access to culture and movement.
“For me, dancing was over,” says Gladys Foggea, a paraplegic dancer who dances with La Possible Echappée. “The accident had shattered this dream, and for me, it was impossible to dance again. [Until] one day, I discovered inclusive dance,” she said.
Foggea says dancing has reconciled her with her body, “because often when you’re paraplegic you can’t feel the bottom, and so you feel like you’re cut in two. And on the other hand, dancing really allowed me to connect the legs with the trunk, because in dancing you touch your body, you really touch all the parts of the body; the partner can also touch the body.”
Foggea says she finds the same freedom as an able-bodied person. “It’s different; it moves differently.”
“I have to combine wheelchair movements and arms because I am paraplegic, so I still have my arms. So you have to manage to combine the two, and that’s what will make the beauty of the movements, being able to move in space and at the same time have gestures in the upper body.”
Mépuis says she prefers to avoid terms such as “inclusive” dance or “adapted” dance.
The disability is there, certainly, but it is part of a difference that gives rise to another aesthetic transcended by dance, she said.
The company does around 500 dance and live performance workshops per year. And they are also working with a medical-social group on a study to measure the impact of dance on health.
Fifteen of the artists at La Possible Echappée, including Gladys, are working on a performance for the 2024 Paralympic Games ceremony.
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