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NASA’s Infrared Telescope is seen inside the dome in Hawaii during a night of observing
NASA said this week that the Apophis asteroid would pass close by Earth in 2068, as it will in 2029 and 2036, but that it was not likely to strike our planetImage: UH/IfA

ICYMI: Stories to put a smile on your face

April 2, 2021

From the asteroid that's not heading for Earth after all, to a study showing the BioNTech-Pfizer vaccine is highly effective for teens, here's a collection of positive news stories from the past seven days.


Teens get vaccine boost

While some countries' vaccine rollouts have stumbled, and pharmaceutical firms have struggled with supply issues, there is one group who have COVID vaccine news to celebrate this week — teenagers.

The BioNTech-Pfizer vaccine is safe and highly effective for children between the ages of 12 and 15, according to a new study.

In a joint statement, the German and US firms said on Wednesday that the vaccine had "demonstrated 100% efficacy and robust antibody responses" in Phase 3 trials carried out on more than 2,000 volunteers in the US. 

With infection rates soaring, many experts have suggested vaccines are the way out of the crisis.

Music to the ears

Just when you thought all coronavirus research had been exhausted, Barcelona has held a concert by the band Love of Lesbians, with 5,000 people in attendance, in order to test whether such an event could be held safely during a pandemic.

Audience members had to adhere to strict hygiene measures at the indoor, 18,000 Palau de Sant Jordi arena, and had to undergo a coronavirus test beforehand.

And it was an emotional night. "Welcome to one of the most moving concerts of our lives," lead singer of the band, Santi Balmes, told the audience. "It's been a year and half since we last set foot on a stage as a band. This is so ... some of the musicians are crying over here."

We're not going to die ... from an asteroid ... yet

NASA announced this week that a 1,100 foot (340 meters) asteroid poses no risk to Earth on a fly-past set for 2068. NASA had already ruled out the possibility of a collision in 2029 and 2036 on earlier passes of our planet.

Discovered in 2004, "Apophis" had been thought of as one of the most "hazardous asteroids that could impact Earth," NASA said. 

But now astronomers have changed that impact assessment after getting a more refined estimate of Apophis' orbit around the sun. 

Netherlands celebrates 20 years of same-sex marriage

Just after the stroke of midnight on April 1, 2001, the mayor of Amsterdam married four same-sex couples in the Dutch capital's City Hall, as the Netherlands became the first country in the world with legalized gay marriage.

Gert Kasteel, left, and Dolf Pasker, right
Gert Kasteel, left, and Dolf Pasker, right, were one of the first four couples who tied the knot when same-sex marriage was legalized in the Netherlands in 2001Image: Peter Dejong/AP Photo/picture alliance

Twenty years later, marriage between couples of the same sex is legal in 28 countries worldwide, as well as the self-governing island of Taiwan.

"If you had told me 20 years ago that today same-sex marriage would be a reality in 29 countries, I would not have believed you,'' said Jessica Stern, executive director of the global LGBTQ-rights group OutRight Action International.

jsi/nm (AP, AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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