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Experts foresee triumph and tragedy in COVID-19 vaccine quest

Panel on COVID-19 vaccine
GeekWire founders John Cook and Todd Bishop chat with a trio of experts involved in the quest to develop coronavirus vaccines on the first day of the 2020 GeekWire Summit. The annual event is being conducted virtually due to COVID-19 concerns. (GeekWire Photo)

The good news is that Operation Warp Speed, the multibillion-dollar effort to develop vaccines for COVID-19, is moving ahead at a pace that justifies its name.

The bad news is that despite all that effort, the coronavirus outbreak is still likely to be with us next year — and low- to medium-income countries such as India are likely to be hit particularly hard.

“We’re going to probably see a lot of deaths,” said Lynda Stuart, deputy director for vaccines and human immunobiology at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “It’s going to be a great inequity and tragedy that will unfold.”

Stuart and other experts involved in the vaccine quest laid out their assessment of the road ahead today during the first session of the 2020 GeekWire Summit.

The fact that the annual summit’s first session focused on the pandemic was apt, and not just because beating COVID-19 is the top issue facing the world today.

Safety concerns forced the GeekWire Summit to go totally virtual for the first time in its eight-year history — and you just knew there had to be a few technical glitches to overcome. (Any attendees who weren’t able to stream the panel live can access it on-demand in the event platform.)

Any technical challenges that cropped up during today’s panel would pale in comparison with the challenges being faced by Stuart and her two fellow panelists: Melanie Ivarsson, chief development officer for Moderna; and Deborah Fuller, a vaccinologist at the University of Washington.

COVID-19 vaccine panelists on Zoom
Participants in the GeekWire Summit panel on the search for COVID-19 vaccines include Moderna’s Melanie Ivarsson (top left), the University of Washington’s Deborah Fuller (top right) and the Gates Foundation’s Lynda Stuart. (GeekWire Photo)

“I’ve never worked this fast in my life, or this hard, and it’s as if everything’s moving super-fast,” Fuller said. “And yet, at the same time, it feels like it’s just one long, nine-month day.”

Fuller has been studying how the coronavirus behind COVID-19 spreads, and how next-generation vaccines can stop it. Ivarsson’s company, meanwhile, has been racing to test and distribute one of those next-gen, RNA-based vaccines. Moderna’s vaccine candidate went through its first clinical trial in Seattle, and the company is just about to finish enrolling 30,000 volunteers for the crucial Phase 3 trial.

“We are trying to save the world, and it’s a very exciting way to spend your day,” Ivarsson said.

The course of the COVID-19 vaccine race hasn’t always run smooth: One company, AstraZeneca, had to pause its Phase 3 trial last month when one of the participants suffered an unexplained illness. Johnson & Johnson paused its trial this week for similar reasons.

Ivarsson said Moderna’s vaccine development program has continued on track, but she stressed that safety is

Disc Medicine Expands Scientific Advisory Board with Leading Experts in Hepcidin Biology

CAMBRIDGE, Mass., Oct. 13, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Disc Medicine, a company dedicated to the discovery and development of novel therapeutic candidates for serious and debilitating hematologic diseases, today announced the appointment of Tomas Ganz, MD, PhD and Elizabeta Nemeth, PhD to its scientific advisory board, adding valuable expertise in hepcidin biology.

Disc Medicine is a hematology company harnessing new insights in hepcidin biology to address ineffective red blood cell production (erythropoiesis) in hematologic diseases. Focused on the hepcidin pathway, the master regulator of iron metabolism, Disc is advancing first-in-class therapies to transform the treatment of hematologic diseases. (PRNewsfoto/Disc Medicine)

“We are thrilled to welcome  Dr. Ganz and Dr. Nemeth to our Scientific Advisory Board, particularly at such an exciting time in a field that they helped pioneer,” said John Quisel, JD, PhD, Chief Executive Officer at Disc Medicine. “Together they were instrumental in characterizing the fundamental role of hepcidin in iron homeostasis, and I’m delighted to be working with them as we advance our hepcidin-targeted programs into the clinic.”

Dr. Ganz is a Distinguished Professor of Medicine and Pathology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, where he studies the role of small peptide regulators in human physiology and disease and is credited for the discovery of the iron-regulatory hormone hepcidin. Dr. Ganz received his PhD in Applied Physics from Caltech and his MD from UCLA, joining UCLA as a faculty member in 1983 after having completed training in Internal Medicine and Pulmonary Medicine. In 2005 he received the Marcel Simon Prize of the International Bioiron Society for the discovery of hepcidin and in 2014 was honored by the E. Donnall Thomas Award from the American Society of Hematology for his research in iron homeostasis, including the discovery of the iron-regulatory hormone hepcidin and investigation of its roles in iron metabolism.

“It has been immensely gratifying to see the hepcidin story unfold as our understanding of hepcidin’s role across different diseases has grown,” said Tomas Ganz, MD PhD. “Disc has taken a compelling approach to targeting hepcidin with two programs guided by human genetic findings. I’m delighted to be a part of this vision, particularly as they look to enter the clinic with their first program next year.”

Dr. Nemeth is a Professor of Medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, and Director of the UCLA Center for Iron Disorders. Dr. Nemeth received her PhD in Cell, Molecular and Neurosciences at the University of Hawaii and completed a postdoctoral fellowship studying the pathobiology of hepcidin at UCLA. During her tenure she has made major contributions to the understanding of iron homeostasis and its dysregulation in disease, such as characterizing the regulation of hepcidin production by inflammation and iron and elucidating the mechanism of action of hepcidin in regulating dietary iron absorption and release from stores. Dr. Nemeth also described the role of hepcidin in various iron disorders including hereditary hemochromatosis, iron-loading anemias and iron-restricted anemias. Dr. Nemeth was a standing member of the Molecular and Cellular Hematology Study Section of the National Institutes of Health, is President-Elect of the International BioIron Society, and an associate editor of the American Journal of Hematology. Dr. Ganz and Nemeth co-founded three biotechnology companies focused on hepcidin-targeted

Amid rising Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations, local leaders and public health experts worry of a coming surge

With 33 states reporting a rise in new Covid-19 cases and a nationwide uptick in hospitalizations, local officials worry this could be the beginning of the coming surge experts have warned about.



a person standing in a parking lot: A medic prepares to transfer a patient on a stretcher from an ambulance outside of Emergency at Coral Gables Hospital where Coronavirus patients are treated in Coral Gables near Miami, on July 30, 2020. - Florida has emerged as a major new epicenter of the US battle against the disease, with confirmed cases recently surpassing New York and now second only to California. The state toll has leapt over the past week and more than 6,500 people have died from the disease there, according to health officials. More than 460,000 people have been infected with the virus in Florida, which has a population of 21 million, and a quarter of the state's cases are in Miami. The US has tallied a total of 151,826 deaths from COVID-19, making it the hardest-hit country in the world. (Photo by CHANDAN KHANNA / AFP) (Photo by CHANDAN KHANNA/AFP via Getty Images)


© CHANDAN KHANNA/AFP/Getty Images
A medic prepares to transfer a patient on a stretcher from an ambulance outside of Emergency at Coral Gables Hospital where Coronavirus patients are treated in Coral Gables near Miami, on July 30, 2020. – Florida has emerged as a major new epicenter of the US battle against the disease, with confirmed cases recently surpassing New York and now second only to California. The state toll has leapt over the past week and more than 6,500 people have died from the disease there, according to health officials. More than 460,000 people have been infected with the virus in Florida, which has a population of 21 million, and a quarter of the state’s cases are in Miami. The US has tallied a total of 151,826 deaths from COVID-19, making it the hardest-hit country in the world. (Photo by CHANDAN KHANNA / AFP) (Photo by CHANDAN KHANNA/AFP via Getty Images)

In Colorado, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock said Covid-19 cases are rising at a “concerning rate,” while the city’s seven-day average daily case rates are as “high right now as they were at the height of the pandemic back in May.”

The seven-day average of hospitalizations also rose about 37% in a little more than a week, he said during a Monday news conference, and warned residents could soon see tighter Covid-19 restrictions if the city’s numbers continue to trend in the wrong direction.

Officials across the country warn of similar patterns. White House coronavirus task force coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx last week warned the Northeast was seeing “early surggestions” of alarming trends. Kentucky’s governor said recently the state is seeing a third major escalation in infections. In Wisconsin, a field hospital is opening this week in response to a surge of Covid-19 patients — days after the state reported record-high numbers of Covid-19 cases, hospitalizations and daily deaths.

The US is now averaging more than 49,000 new infections daily — up 14% from the previous week, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. And last week, the nation recorded more than 50,000 new cases for at least four days in a row. The last time that happened was in early August.

“I think we’re facing a whole lot of trouble,” Dr. Anthony Fauci told CNBC on Monday. “We’ve got to turn this around.”

That doesn’t have to mean another lockdown, the infectious disease expert has previously said. Instead, it means more people heeding to safety guidelines like wearing masks and social distancing.

Otherwise, the US could be in for a devastating winter. Researchers from the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation project more than 135,000 Americans could die within the next three months.

Healthcare professionals ‘deeply afraid’

Hospitalizations nationwide are also on the rise. At least 10 states have recorded record-high hospitalization

CDC says teen gave COVID-19 to 11 relatives across 4 states during a family vacation. Experts see a cautionary tale for holidays

A COVID-19 outbreak that infected 11 people across four states began with a 13-year-old girl who transmitted the virus during a three-week family vacation over the summer, according to a Centers for Disease Control report.

In Illinois — one of the states involved — a Cook County Department of Public Health spokeswoman said that the community where some of the family members live is not currently at risk from this particular outbreak, which occurred months ago.

But the case shows that kids and teens can contract and spread the virus, public health experts say. It also serves as a cautionary tale before the holiday season, a traditional time for many large family get-togethers.

“(The) outbreak highlights several important issues that are good to review before the holidays., a Cook County Department of Public Health spokeswoman said in an email.

The CDC noted that the case underscores the risk of exposure during gatherings, as well as the benefits of social distancing.

“SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) can spread efficiently during gathering, especially with prolonged, close contact,” the CDC report said. “Physical distancing, face mask use and hand hygiene reduce transmission; gatherings should be avoided when physical distancing and face mask use are not possible.”

The three-week family gathering involved five households from four states, according to the CDC report, which was released earlier this month. The report in a footnote mentioned public health departments in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Illinois and Georgia; it did not give any other information about where the family gathering took place or the states where various relatives lived.

The report said the initial patient, a 13-year-old girl, was exposed to COVID-19 during a large outbreak in June. A rapid antigen test four days after her exposure came back negative, before her symptoms began. Two days later she had some nasal congestion, her only symptom. That day she traveled with her parents and two brothers to attend a large family gathering, which began the following day, according to the CDC report.

She was one of 14 relatives ranging in age from 9 to 72 who shared a five-bedroom, two-bathroom home for eight to 25 days, the report said. The relatives did not wear face masks or practice physical distancing, according to the report.

Eleven other family members contracted the virus; one was hospitalized and another went to the emergency room for treatment of respiratory symptoms, but both recovered, according to the report.

“This outbreak highlights several important issues,” the report said. “First, children and adolescents can serve as the source for COVID-19 outbreaks within families, even when their symptoms are mild. Better understanding of transmission by children and adolescents in different settings is needed to refine public health guidance.”

Six additional family members did not stay at the home but did visit on different occasions, maintaining physical distance from relatives from other households. None of those individuals developed symptoms, and four tested negative for the virus, the CDC found.

“None of the six family members

Why experts say the pandemic-led virtual fitness boom is here to stay

  • Much like how Netflix and Amazon disrupted the way Americans watch television and shop, experts say the on-demand fitness boom is ushering in the next wave of digitization in our lives. 
  • While the pandemic was integral to the rise of digital fitness, Matthew Schopfer, head of research at Infusive, said it ultimately served to accelerate a push towards digital fitness that had long been in the works.
  • “The virtual component was already a big deal for us as a brand,” Retro Fitness Chief Marketing Officer Victor Bao told Business Insider. “And then as the pandemic shut down every single business in the world, we made a big thrust into virtual.”
  • We talked to leaders in the fitness industry and analysts about why they think virtual fitness is here to stay, even when the pandemic subsides. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The pandemic has drastically changed the way Americans exercise, and now experts say it will have lasting effects on the long-term digitization of fitness. 

With gyms and fitness studios temporarily shuttered earlier this year to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, consumers found alternate outlets to break a sweat — namely virtual, on-demand fitness programs.

According to Matthew Schopfer, head of research at investment management firm Infusive, while it is true that the pandemic was integral to this shift, the coronavirus ultimately served to accelerate a push toward digital fitness that had long been in the works. 

Much like how Netflix and Amazon disrupted the way Americans watch television and shop, Schopfer says the on-demand fitness boom is another example of digitization infiltrating all aspects of our lives.  

“We’ve seen this across all sorts of different industries and categories, whether that’s e-commerce or digital entertainment or food delivery, and also of course on-demand fitness,” he told Business Insider. “The rising penetration of digital consumption was already an ongoing global secular trend.” 

Infusive’s early research also indicates that there will be a “permanent consumer behavior change” regarding how Americans exercise over the long term, Schopfer added.

“We’re less of the view that as soon as the economy reopens everything goes back to normal,” he said. “[Virtual fitness] may decelerate from the current growth level, but broadly speaking, we think this shift toward things being more digital at the consumer level is really here to stay.”

Gyms and studios find their virtual footing 

For Retro Fitness — a chain of 150 gym locations across the US — wading into virtual programming during the pandemic ultimately helped to accelerate the company’s pre-pandemic push towards becoming a “lifestyle brand,” according to Chief Marketing Officer Victor Bao. 

“The virtual component was already a big deal for us as a brand,” Bao told Business Insider. “And then as the pandemic shut down every single business in the world, we made a big thrust into virtual.”

He added that this effort included streaming classes taught by Retro instructors, but also mental health and nutritional content. Just last week, the company launched “Retro Fitness Kitchen,” a

Being Physically Active Is The Best Medicine, Believe Experts

World Arthritis Day 2020: Being Physically Active Is The Best Medicine, Believe Experts

World Arthritis Day 2020: Inflammatory kind of arthritis can develop rapidly

Highlights

  • Osteoporosis and osteoarthritis are sometimes mistaken for one another
  • Osteoarthritis refers to degeneration of joints
  • Osteoporosis leads loss of bone mass and increases risk of fracture

World Arthritis Day 2020: October 12 is observed as World Arthritis Day. Arthritis is inflammation of the joints which affects movement. The urban population has become increasingly sedentary, resulting in poorer muscle mass and bone strength. We are now faced with a modern epidemic where prevalence of arthritis (especially knee arthritis) has become very common in men and women post a certain age. This age related arthritis which is by far the most common type of arthritis is called osteoarthritis.

World Arthritis Day: What you need to know about osteoporosis and osteoarthritis

In India, osteoarthritis occurs in the age of 55-60. Not only is the patient profile of those suffering from arthritis in the subcontinent, getting younger but they also tend to have much more severe arthritis with more deformities and disabilities than earlier generations.

Also read: Here’s What You Can Do To Control Your Arthritis Risk: Save Your Joints With These Precautions

Osteoporosis and osteoarthritis are sometimes mistaken for one another. While osteoarthritis refers to degeneration of joints, osteoporosis refers to the loss of bone mass that raises the risk of fracture.

A silent ailment, Osteoporosis can progress over the years and go undetected without symptoms until a fracture occurs. Osteoporosis is a painless condition which becomes painful if someone experiences a broken bone or fracture.

One of the common types of arthritis is osteoarthritis; a painful condition that can affect the joints, especially the hips, knees, neck, lower back, or hands and feet. The cartilage in the joint begins to get rough and thin when osteoarthritis develops.

Symptoms of arthritis

Depending on the type of arthritis you have, symptoms may include pain, stiffness, swelling, redness and decreased range of motion.

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Arthritis can cause pain and inflammation in joints
Photo Credit: iStock

Causes of arthritis

The increasing prevalence of arthritis and its crippling effects are related to the changes in the lifestyle and the diet in the Indian populace.

The urban Indian is walking a lot less than his/her ancestors and the amount of physical activity has also decreased. Women are more affected due to various factors, including decreasing physical activity and less muscle mass.

The most common joint affected by arthritis is the joint. The knees are weight bearing joints, largely driven by a group of muscles in front of the thighs, the quadriceps. These muscles weaken quite rapidly due to inactivity and long periods of sitting. Weakness of these muscles usually increases arthritis pain which further deteriorate these muscles.

The inactivity also contributes to obesity which is one of the prime reasons for the aggravation of arthritis.

The cumulative affect deprives patients, their ability to walk, conduct activities of daily living and enjoy life in general. A more sinister effect is on the general health of a patient due

Heavy drinking is killing women in record numbers, and experts fear a COVID-related spike | Coronavirus

On her last day of consciousness, Misty Luminais Babin held onto hope. “I choose life,” the 38-year-old told her sister, husband and doctor from inside the Ochsner Medical Center ICU.

But her sister, Aimee Luminais Calamusa, knew it was a choice made too late. A former ICU nurse herself, she was trained to recognize signs of the end. Even after draining 3 liters of fluid from Babin’s abdomen, her liver — mottled and scarred by years of heavy drinking — couldn’t keep up. The fluid had started building up in her lungs and she gasped for air. Without oxygen, her other organs began to fail.

“When I left that day, I knew that would be the last time I talked to her, ever,” said Calamusa. “It was really hard to walk out that door.”

Babin died two days later, on June 14 of this year, after a long struggle with alcohol use disorder. Her family said the fight intensified in the last four or five years after a rough breakup, but may have been more stealthy and prevalent than they ever realized.

“None of us knew,” said Calamusa, who wrote a moving and honest obituary in The Times-Picayune | New Orleans Advocate about her sister’s struggles. “She hid it very well. I think she probably has been an addict for a long time. She lost control very quickly.”



NO.alcohol.adv3

Misty Luminais Babin checked into the hospital a week before she died on June 14, 2020, after struggling with alcohol use disorder for years. Her family scattered her ashes on August 31, 2020, what would have been in 39th birthday, in her “thinking spot,” a quiet place along the Mississippi River. 




With an average of 1,591 alcohol-related deaths from 2011 to 2015, Louisiana is tied for 10th among U.S. states on a per-capita basis when it comes to people succumbing to the disease, according to a recent analysis of death certificates by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Across the country, alcohol-related deaths have risen by 51% over a period covering most of the past two decades, according to a study from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism published earlier this year.

The most alarming increase was among women. Deaths increased by 85% from 1999 to 2017.

And amid all-time high levels of anxiety and economic uncertainty, public-health experts fear that deaths like Babin’s will spike in the coming years. New data examining how drinking habits have changed during the pandemic showed drinking overall has increased by 14% compared with a year ago. In women, the increase was 17%, according to the peer-reviewed study published Sept. 29 in JAMA Network Open by researchers from the RAND Corporation.

Binge drinking in women, defined as four drinks over two hours, increased by 41% from 2019 to 2020. 

“Drinking by women is sort of overlooked,” said Michael Pollard, author of the JAMA study. “And this points out that it is a real concern. We don’t really have

Trump says he’s not contagious. Health experts say that’s not certain.

“A total and complete sign off from White House Doctors yesterday,” Trump said. “That means I can’t get it (immune), and can’t give it. Very nice to know!!!”

Trump’s claim came one day after his physician said he is “no longer considered a transmission risk to others,” in a memo that seemed to clear Trump to return to his normal activities a little more than a week after he announced he had tested positive for the coronavirus. Trump is expected to hold a campaign rally Monday in Florida.

Some experts said the letter provided some reassurance that Trump is no longer contagious, but they noted that there is no way to know for sure so soon after a covid-19 diagnosis. The White House has never made clear the severity of Trump’s illness, which could influence how long he should isolate.

The letter from Sean Conley said Trump had met the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s criteria for “safe discontinuation of isolation” and that “an assortment of diagnostic tests” found no evidence of actively replicating virus, which must be present for someone to infect others.

It did not say that Trump had tested negative for the virus, however, and its brevity left experts puzzling over what evidence had led the White House physician to conclude the president is no longer contagious.

“The honest answer is, of course, we don’t know, because they haven’t really been fully forthcoming with information either about his treatment or his clinical status,” said Arthur Reingold, who chairs the epidemiology division at the University of California at Berkeley School of Public Health.

Trump, Conley wrote, was 10 days from the onset of symptoms, had been fever-free for well over 24 hours and his symptoms had improved. That would mean he had met standards at which the CDC says people with mild to moderate cases of covid-19 can stop isolating.

But people with severe cases are advised to isolate for up to 20 days, the CDC says. Trump was hospitalized, administered supplemental oxygen and treated with the steroid dexamethasone, a drug typically used for serious cases, said Albert Ko, an infectious-disease expert at the Yale School of Public Health.

“I think the big question is whether the president had severe or he had mild, moderate disease,” Ko said. “Regardless of what the rules are, I think most physicians would want to be cautious not only about protecting the president, but protecting the people around him. That’s usually our rules of practice. Why risk it?”

Tests can provide other clues as to a person’s contagiousness, but none are foolproof, experts said.

Conley’s memo did not detail the “assortment of diagnostic” tests Trump’s health-care team has used to assess his level of illness. But it said testing throughout the president’s illness had “demonstrated decreasing viral loads that correlate with increasing cycle threshold times, as well as decreasing and now undetectable subgenomic mRNA.”

A negative PCR test, the common laboratory test that detects the virus from nasal and throat swabs,

When will things go back to normal? Experts say that’s the wrong question amid COVID-19

The coronavirus pandemic has changed the world and left countless people longing for a pre-pandemic way of life.



a man riding on the back of a bicycle:  Abdul Djiguiba, of Milwaukee, wears a mask as he gets gas at a fueling station on the corner of Green Tree Road and North 76th Street in Milwaukee on Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2020. Gov. Tony Evers issued a new public health emergency on Tuesday to extend the statewide mask mandate until late November as cases of coronavirus accelerate around the state. - Mike De Sisti / Milwaukee Journal Sentinel


© Mike De Sisti / Milwaukee Journa
 Abdul Djiguiba, of Milwaukee, wears a mask as he gets gas at a fueling station on the corner of Green Tree Road and North 76th Street in Milwaukee on Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2020. Gov. Tony Evers issued a new public health emergency on Tuesday to extend the statewide mask mandate until late November as cases of coronavirus accelerate around the state. – Mike De Sisti / Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

That desire is likely only further straining our mental health.

“Our brains really are very eager to get back to normal, to get back to January 2020,” Dr. Gleb Tsipursky, CEO of Disaster Avoidance Experts and author of a book about adapting to “the new abnormal” of COVID-19, told USA TODAY.

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But that’s simply not possible, Tsipursky said. Some losses in recent months are permanent. The dark cloud of coronavirus risk, meanwhile, will continue to linger – possibly for years. 

“Normality” means different things for different people. Tragically, for hundreds of thousands of Americans, a pre-pandemic life would include a loved one who has died of COVID-19 this year. 

For some Americans, a return to normal would mean restored health and financial stability. To others, it’s a world with concerts and gatherings, hugs and handshakes. 

There’s nothing wrong with hoping for a better, more stable future, New York University psychology professor Gabriele Oettingen told USA TODAY. But it’s important to realize that is likely a long-term fantasy, she said. 

Hope isn’t a luxury: It’s essential for mental health.

Is 6 feet really a safe distance?  There are still many questions about COVID-19. We asked experts for the answers.

A lingering threat

The fight against this highly contagious virus continues to define daily life: Cases are rising; the president was diagnosed with COVID-19; Disneyland is still closed and the death toll is comparable to some of our most tragic wars.

That won’t always be the case. Tsipursky described a scenario in which increasingly effective vaccines and treatments will slowly reduce the spread of the virus over the course of years – a gradual process, rather than a quick return to what life was like in January 2020.

Dr. Anthony Fauci has hinted at a similar future, warning that approval of a vaccine would not be an “overnight event” that quickly returns the nation to a normal way of life. Even “getting back to a degree of normality which resembles where we were prior to COVID” might not arrive until late 2021, he said in early September.

As long as the virus continues to spread, previously normal activities such as going to a bar, attending a crowded concert, or even hosting a family gathering over the holidays will continue to come with significant risks. And those risks aren’t only

Bicycles And Buses Will Be Future’s Dominant Modes Of Urban Mobility, Predict 346 Transport Experts

A significant new report supported by the World Economic Forum argues there must be a “transport transformation” if the planet is to benefit from the Paris Agreement’s decarbonization commitments.

The Transport for Under Two Degrees project published its Way Forward report on October 8 arguing that governments around the world should stop subsidizing motoring and must, instead, build cycleways and wider sidewalks to anticipate the likely future of “active transport” in cities.

Public transit use must also be boosted, urges the T4<2° project, which was commissioned by Germany’s Federal Foreign Office, or Auswärtiges Amt, and produced by the Berlin-based think-tank Agora Verkehrswende and Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit, or GIZ, a federal consultancy service.

Way Forward—two years in the making—is based on existing studies and new qualitative interviews with international experts from the transport and energy sectors, including from companies, NGOs and national and local governments. A further 346 senior experts, from 56 countries, were quizzed with follow-up surveys.

“As the study underlines, decarbonization of the transport sector is crucial and, at the same time, possible, given our technical advances and the international governance structure,” stressed the report’s foreword, written by Hinrich Thölken, Director for Energy and Climate Policy at Auswärtiges Amt.

Coronavirus

The report—Transport for Under Two Degrees: the way forward—acknowledges that the massive drop in motoring during national lockdowns showed that change is possible: “Responses to COVID-19 have shown potential for systemic changes to the mobility sector.”

There is now an “opportunity to align governance structures in the mobility sector towards a more sustainable, resilient, efficient and inclusive system,” adds the report which highlights ten “key insights” that policymakers worldwide should consider to decarbonize their transport systems.

The insights are hardly novel—transport can only be decarbonized if married to a massive expansion of wind and solar power, for instance—but the predictions of how we will travel in cities and rural areas within 30 years will come as a shock to those who remain wedded to their cars.

The experts say that personal car use in the cities of the future won’t be sustainable, and policymakers will have to legislate to remove cars from the urban environment. If this occurs, the majority of the experts believe the full decarbonization of the transport sector is possible by mid-century.

However, forget clever fixes: the experts overwhelmingly agree that instead of tech solutions people must be forced to switch away from planet-damaging transport modes.

“There is no technological solution to a societal problem,” said Agora Verkehrswende director Christian Hochfeld