How We Make Progress – Audio Version

A new vaccine could put an end to the deadliest disease we've ever known.


Welcome to New World Same Humans, a weekly newsletter on trends, technology, and society by David Mattin.

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We’re saturated by news.

No wonder, then, that it can be hard to sort the events that are really important from those that only seem to be. We live in a culture that prioritises today’s trivia over the long view.

So this week a short note on news that is, by any measure, monumental. It’s about a vaccine; but not that one. And about the nature of human progress.

If you’d prefer to read this week’s instalment, go here for the text version of How We Make Progress.

Links in this week’s instalment

1. In a trial among 450 children in Burkina Faso, the Institute’s new R21 malaria vaccine was shown to be 77% effective.

2. The WHO estimates there were 229 million cases of malaria worldwide in 2019, the most recent year for which data is available.

3. Some napkin maths reveals that malaria is likely to be the single greatest cause of death in our history.

4. The malaria parasite contains over 5,000 genes, making it a complex puzzle to solve. Covid19, by comparison, contains 15 genes.

5. Is there progress in human affairs? For the iconic British philosopher John Gray, the answer is an emphatic no.

Keep Moving

Thanks for listening this week.

The news on R21 is heartening. But when it comes to making the world a better home for humans, we still have a long walk ahead.

This newsletter will keep working to make sense of that journey as it unfolds. And there’s one thing you can do to help with that mission: share!

Now that you’ve made it to the end of this week’s instalment, please consider forwarding the email to someone who’d also enjoy it. Or share it across one of your social networks, with a note on why you found it valuable. Remember: the larger and more diverse the NWSH community becomes, the better for all of us!

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I’ll be back on Wednesday with another New Week Same Humans. Until then, be well,


David Mattin is the founder of the Strategy and Futures Research Unit. He sits on the World Economic Forum’s Global Future Council on Consumption.