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DAILY DOSE: Covid-19 therapy drugs making progress; Returned lunar samples paying dividends.

The first oral drug designed specifically to treat Covid-19 infections has inched a step closer to being available to healthcare professionals. According to the Associated Press, “Drugmaker Merck asked U.S. regulators Monday to authorize its pill against COVID-19 in what would add an entirely new and easy-to-use weapon to the world’s arsenal against the pandemic. If cleared by the Food and Drug Administration — a decision that could come in a matter of weeks — it would be the first pill shown to treat COVID-19. All other FDA-backed treatments against the disease require an IV or injection.” It’s difficult to overstate the importance of having non-intravenous options available, in terms of popular adoption. https://bit.ly/3iSrCGJ

Even as AstraZeneca made positive strides toward the development of a Covid-19 therapy drug, uncertainty continues to cloud its future. Per FierceBiotech, “AstraZeneca has chalked up another win for its anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibody combination, revealing the prospect cut the rate of severe COVID-19 or death in patients recently infected with the coronavirus. But with AstraZeneca arriving late to the market with efficacy results that fall short of its rivals, the commercial prospects of AZD7442 in the treatment of COVID-19 are uncertain.” https://bit.ly/3mEVEih

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Air pollution in South East Asia is a very serious problem, locally and internationally. Malaysia recently made what amounts to a significant pledge to knock down its carbon emissions. Some experts remain wary. Per Channel News Asia, “On paper, the 12th Malaysia Plan (12MP), tabled by Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob and passed in parliament on Thursday (Oct 7), is a bold statement with climate change mitigation featuring prominently. The country aims to be carbon neutral by 2050 at the earliest and overhaul its energy, transportation as well as land use sectors… While there is optimism around the level of aspiration, there is also concern among experts that a lack of detail and the limited capacity to implement complex policies could be hurdles to transformative climate action.” The thing with pledges and plans is that they’re… well.. Pledges and plans. https://bit.ly/3Dufsvn

The return of lunar samples from China’s Chang’e-5 lunar mission is paying dividends. A recent report in Science indicates that estimates on the moon’s volcanic activity based on U.S. and Russian samples retrieved are in need of revision. Per Reuters, “Remnants of solidified lava brought back by a Chinese mission were 1 billion years younger than material acquired by other missions decades ago, according to an article in the journal Science, suggesting the moon cooled down later than thought. Samples brought back from U.S. and Soviet missions were more than 2.9 billion years old. The samples acquired on China’s Chang’e-5 mission late last year – around 1.96 billion years old – suggests volcanic activity persisted longer than previously expected.” With more nations pushing to visit the moon in the near future, expect the discoveries to increase from a trickle to a flood in the coming decades. https://reut.rs/3lqtlod

While we’re on the topic of space discoveries, the Martian rover Perseverance is also allowing scientists to learn more about the geological history of Mars. A study in the journal Science explored the features of crater on the red planet. According to the authors, “Observations from orbital spacecraft have shown that Jezero crater, Mars, contains a prominent fan-shaped body of sedimentary rock deposited at its western margin. The Perseverance rover landed in Jezero crater in February 2021… We interpret the presence of inclined strata in these outcrops as evidence of deltas that advanced into a lake. In contrast, the uppermost fan strata are composed of boulder conglomerates, which imply deposition by episodic high-energy floods. This sedimentary succession indicates a transition, from a sustained hydrologic activity in a persistent lake environment, to highly energetic short-duration fluvial flows.” https://bit.ly/3iSqXVL

Thanks for reading. Let’s be careful out there.

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