The Daily Dose: Oxford vaccine trial positives; Polar bears may be extinct in 30 years

Results from the much anticipated Oxford University/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine trials report positive news. According to an Oxford press release, “The results of the Phase I/II trial published today in the scientific journal, The Lancet, indicate no early safety concerns and induces strong immune responses in both parts of the immune system… The vaccine provoked a T cell response within 14 days of vaccination (white blood cells that can attack cells infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus), and an antibody response within 28 days (antibodies are able to neutralise the virus so that it cannot infect cells when initially contracted).” Recipients of the vaccine reported headaches and fatigue as the more prominent side effects. The experimental vaccine is being called ChAdOx1 nCoV-19. It combines genetic material from the coronavirus with a modified adenovirus that is known to cause infections in chimpanzees.

Europe has done relatively well getting its COVID-19 outbreaks under control. Now, governments across the continent are looking for safe ways to exit their non-pharmaceutical interventions. A study in Science offers suggestions. “We find that a resurgent continental epidemic could occur as many as 5 weeks earlier when well-connected countries with stringent existing interventions end their interventions prematurely. Further, we found that appropriate coordination can greatly improve the likelihood of eliminating community transmission throughout Europe.” Nice to see some people humble enough to follow the science.

Forget the nuclear club. That was 20th Century news. Now, it’s all about the Mars Club. This past weekend, the United Arab Emirates joined exclusive company when it launched the Arab world’s first mission to Mars. “The first Arab space mission to Mars has blasted off aboard a rocket from Japan, with its unmanned probe – called Al-Amal, or Hope – successfully separating about an hour after liftoff… A live feed of the launch showed the rocket carrying the probe lifting off from the Tanegashima Space Centre in southern Japan at 6.58am (9.58pm GMT).” One hint that needs saying… Take-offs are tricky, but landings have proven even trickier. Good luck.

It’s been well established that Arctic climates have been experiencing a warming trend. Local wildlife has been suffering as a result. A new study reports that according to its findings, polar bears, in particular, will suffer. “By as early as 2040, it is very likely that many polar bears will begin to experience reproductive failure, leading to local extinctions, according to a study published in Nature Climate Change… The study examines how the bears will be affected under two different greenhouse gas emissions scenarios. The researchers found that under a business-as-usual emissions scenario, polar bears will likely probably only remain in the Queen Elizabeth Islands – the northernmost cluster in Canada’s Arctic archipelago – at the end of the century.” With no signs of significant progress on the climate change front, things look bleak.

IMAGE SOURCE: Creative Commons

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