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Two large recent studies show that people hospitalized for COVID-19 in March were more than three times as likely to die as people hospitalized for COVID–19 in August.

The first study used data from three hospitals in New York City. The chance of death for someone hospitalized for the coronavirus in those hospitals dropped from an adjusted 25.6% in March to 7.6% in August. The second study, which looked at survival rates in England, found a similar improvement.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently revised its guidance to acknowledge that COVID-19 can be spread through tiny airborne particles, known as aerosols. It had earlier removed a similar guidance from its website, saying it was “posted in error.”

Sporting history is littered with tales of defeat snatched from the jaws of victory. Famously, the US golfer Doug Sanders was a three-foot putt away from winning the 1970 Open Championship in St Andrews. He missed. Not only did it lose him the championship, it cost him several sponsorship and endorsement deals too.

This year’s Nobel prize in chemistry was awarded for a genuine revolution in modern science. The Crispr-Cas9 gene-editing tool allows scientists to precisely alter DNA by cutting and pasting sections of it.

In April, the editors of the Oxford English Dictionary did something unusual. For the previous 20 years, they had issued quarterly updates to announce new words and meanings selected for inclusion. These updates have typically been made available in March, June, September and December.

In the late spring, however, and again in July, the dictionary’s editors released special updates, citing a need to document the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the English language.

Why are some humans cruel to people who don’t even pose a threat to them – sometimes even their own children? Where does this behaviour come from and what purpose does it serve? Ruth, 45, London.

Humans are the glory and the scum of the universe, concluded the French philosopher, Blaise Pascal, in 1658. Little has changed. We love and we loathe; we help and we harm; we reach out a hand and we stick in the knife.

We understand if someone lashes out in retaliation or self-defence. But when someone harms the harmless, we ask: “How could you?”