DAILY DOSE: NASA’s lunar mission crew announced and its a diverse group of astronauts; Bill Gates bemoans lack of TB vaccine funding.

It’s been a long time since the last NASA crew made its way to the moon. Times have changed (to a degree, at least) and American society is a bit more inclusive. That reality was reflected in the selection of the team — the Artemis II crew — that will head to the moon after nearly half a century. Per the Associated Press,

NASA on Monday named the four astronauts who will fly around the moon late next year, including the first woman and the first African American assigned to a lunar mission.

The first moon crew in 50 years — three Americans and one Canadian — was introduced during a ceremony in Houston, home to the nation’s astronauts as well as Mission Control.

“This is humanity’s crew,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson.

The four astronauts will be the first to fly NASA’s Orion capsule, launching atop a Space Launch System rocket from Kennedy Space Center no earlier than late 2024. They will not land or even go into lunar orbit, but rather fly around the moon and head straight back to Earth, a prelude to a lunar landing by two others a year later.

This is really exciting news. 2024 feels like it’s so far away and 2025 even further. http://bit.ly/3zy4SUi

There’s a reality when it comes to funding research on “big” diseases. When a new one comes along or an old one becomes resurgent, the limited funds available drains away from the others and goes to the “big” one. That happened with HIV/AIDS for a long time. Now, it happened with Covid-19. Bill Gates has bemoaned the lack of funding for tuberculosis funding. Per Reuters,

A lack of funding could delay late-stage trials of the first new vaccine against tuberculosis for more than a century, warned Bill Gates, whose foundation is backing the development of the shot.

The Microsoft co-founder turned philanthropist said there were a raft of promising innovations in the fight against TB, the world’s biggest infectious disease killer, but that more funding was essential.

"The failure to fund these things… like we can’t go full speed ahead on these vaccine trials - that’s a huge mistake," he told Reuters in an interview on Monday.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is the largest funder of the battle against TB, he said, and the work on the M72/AS01 vaccine, originally developed by GSK (GSK.L) and the Gates-backed non-profit Aeras, is now being led by the Bill and Melinda Gates Medical Research Institute.

Each year, roughly 10 million people fall ill with TB and 1.5 million people die. Those are big numbers. http://bit.ly/40ZwCgb

A massive oil spill is threatening to destroy the delicate marine environment in the southern Philippines. Per Channel News Asia,

Livelihoods remain in limbo in fishing villages on the eastern oil-slicked shores of the Philippines’ Mindoro island a month after an oil tanker sank off its coast, leaking massive amounts of industrial fuel into the ocean.

At least 19,000 fishermen in nine towns on the island are now barred from fishing due to the oil spill, based on the country’s fisheries agency’s registry.

The Philippines is losing an estimated 5 million pesos (US$91,916) daily, due to this fishing ban in areas considered critical marine habitats, according to the agency.

The oil tanker Princess Empress, was carrying some 800,000 litres of industrial fuel when it suffered engine trouble on Feb 28 near the eastern Mindoro town of Naujan.

The shores of nearby fishing town Pola remain the worst hit.

Six fish sanctuaries and a marine reserve fall within Pola’s community-guarded coastal waters, protected by law due to their contribution to marine biodiversity.

The rest of Mindoro island, including dive destination Puerto Galera in the island’s north-west, also suffered losses due to implications from the spill.

The oil spill will severely hamper the ability of local villagers to even get food. https://bit.ly/3ZFobWu

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


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