Highest Rated Comments


UniOfManchester410 karma

There are approx three different vaccines that have released interim phase three trial results currently. To create a vaccine you need some way of delivering the information on the disease to the body and we have lots of different tried and tested approaches for this. So you have the technology, then all you need is the information on the disease. The genetic sequence of the virus was analysed very early in the pandemic and so this enabled vaccine development to gets started. Lessons had also been learnt from sars which is very similar to the virus that causes COVID 19.
For all the vaccines on trial
Phase 1/2 of trials ran cocurrently- these assess safety and whether there is measurable immune responses. The Phase three trial had accelerated recruitment across countries because people interested and countries cooperated together. It can take years to recruit the numbers we have seen in the phase three trials that take in a varied population in order to see effectiveness, It can also take time to get the funds for all this. So the combination of established platforms and international coopertaion and funding has really fast tracked the vaccines without cutting corners around safety or efficacy. That is why we are in such a good place now for vaccine development.

UniOfManchester397 karma

The virus is less similar to the cold causing coronaviruses and more closely resembles the virus causing SARs. It has changed slightly since it first emerged but we have no evidence to suggest it has become less virulent or that it has changed sufficiently to evade the immune response. As such vaccination is our best route most likely. We will have to continue to monitor it to see if this changes

UniOfManchester300 karma

GREAT question!! So there are a lot of different paths that are being pursued to achieve fusion atm. I'll give a quick overview.

We have the ITER project- a consortium between EU, Russia, China, USA, India, Korea and Japan where they are trying to build the largest ever tokamak and prove that more thermal energy can be generated than is put in. ITER is scheduled to have its first plasma in 2025 and will operate in to the late 2030s where the science and technology will be tested. If this goes to plan the next step will be a demonstration power plant, DEMO which will involve more industry and then hopefully commercial fusion power.

However, there are some more near term projects, such as the UKAEA STEP programme which wants to build a prototype reactor. There are also projects such as the SPARC reactor in the USA and other private ventures such as General Fusion and Tokamak Energy that are working hard to develop their concepts. So in sort, there is a lot more industrial involvement than has been previously so hopefully this can speed things up!!

Big hurdles - Materials to cope with the harsh environment, Engineering challenges, plasma confinement, supply chains, sourcing the raw materials, developing regulation, TL:DR a lot of work still needed, optimistically commercial fusion second half of this century?! A

UniOfManchester258 karma

Personally, I think so. I think the challenges of even a single crewed trip to the Martian surface and back (let alone establishing a long-term colony) are still extremely great, and we would benefit greatly by using the moon as a stepping-stone to test and develop technologies.

UniOfManchester253 karma

We have had some reports of apparent re-infections. For any such re-infection its important that it is verified in case of false positives OR false negatives. Fortunately the majority of reports (and they are rare) have shown that reinfection is usually milder or asymptomatic because the immune system is protecting from the virus. I wrote about it here:

https://theconversation.com/coronavirus-reinfection-cases-what-we-know-so-far-and-the-vital-missing-clues-147960