Alex Boyd Profile picture
Alberta-based reporter for @TorontoStar currently writing about COVID-19 vaccines. aboyd@thestar.ca
10 May
As a vaccine reporter I actually wondered if I should tweet about getting it, like how political reporters don't talk about voting. But honestly I've never devoted anywhere near this much thought to anything else I've put in my body, so here's what clinched the deal for me. 👇
My main memory of high school bio is playing with the lizards, so while I've learned a *ton* about science this year, for me, it's about the people. For starters, there are the people who made the vaccine. For example, Derrick Rossi, a Moderna co-founder. thestar.com/news/canada/20…
What struck me about Rossi is how he'd been working on this technology for a decade. Or Tom Madden. When we were still wandering around maskless, he saw what was coming and had jumped into action. These vaccines were fast because people worked really hard. thestar.com/news/canada/20…
Read 7 tweets
2 May
Alberta has the highest COVID cases in Canada, and it's not even really a contest. Ontario is the next worst off. Alberta's rate this week was 70 per cent higher. @dougquan and I attempt to figure out how we got here. thestar.com/news/canada/20…
In the north, Fort Chip is the canary in the oilsands mine. The tiny fly in town has its first serious outbreak; they believe it was spread from nearby oil hub Fort McMurray. They have no hospital so they're debating adding ventilators to isolation rooms. thestar.com/news/canada/20…
Fort Mac itself is suffering. There are multiple outbreaks in oilsands camps, but a dependence on fly in, fly out workers makes containment hard. The regional rate is a staggering 1,655 per 100k. (To put that in national context, that's 4x the Peel rate.) thestar.com/news/canada/20…
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18 Nov 20
After a sneak peek at their results last week, Pfizer and BioNTech are now finished testing of their vaccine. Results say it's 95 per cent effective with no serious safety concerns. A few other notable things 👇thestar.com/news/canada/20…
The size of the trial: People have asked about the speed which which these vaccines are being made. It is fast! But mostly because there's tons of money/support, not because testing isn't happening. Pfizer so far has trialed 43,661 volunteers at 151 sites in 6 countries.
Seniors: your immune system ages as you do, and seniors often need specially made vaccines. Experts have worried these first doses might not work for those who need them most. But Pfizer says their data shows 94% efficacy in those over 65. thestar.com/news/canada/20…
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17 Nov 20
So that promising Moderna COVID-19 vaccine news from yesterday? There's actually a cool Canadian connection. Toronto-born stem cell biologist Derrick Rossi co-founded the company, and their work is based on his research. It involved... a glowing mouse. thestar.com/news/canada/20…
What's cool about what Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech are doing is they're pioneering a new way of making vaccines. (And drugs in general!) They use mRNA, which takes instructions from DNA to make protein. Basically they're tricking your cells into making the proteins they want.
Back in 2010, Rossi had figured out how to do this in a petri dish. But he hadn't done it in a living thing yet. So he took the mRNA that had the instructions for making the protein that fireflies make. He injected it into a mouse. What happened? It glowed!
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