Every Vaccine and Treatment in Development for COVID-19
As the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases continues to skyrocket, healthcare researchers around the world are working tirelessly to discover new life-saving medical innovations.
The projects these companies are working on can be organized into three distinct groups:
- Diagnostics: Quickly and effectively detecting the disease in the first place
- Treatments: Alleviating symptoms so people who have disease experience milder symptoms, and lowering the overall mortality rate
- Vaccines: Preventing transmission by making the population immune to COVID-19
Today’s graphics provide an in-depth look at who’s in the innovation race to defeat the virus, and they come to us courtesy of Artis Ventures, a venture capital firm focused on life sciences and tech investments.
Editor’s note: R&D is moving fast on COVID-19, and the situation is quite fluid. While today’s post is believed to be an accurate snapshot of all innovations and developments listed by WHO and FDA as of March 30, 2020, it is possible that more data will become available.
Knowledge is Power
Testing rates during this pandemic have been a point of contention. Without widespread testing, it has been tough to accurately track the spread of the virus, as well as pin down important metrics such as infectiousness and mortality rates. Inexpensive test kits that offer quick results will be key to curbing the outbreak.
Here are the companies and institutions developing new tests for COVID-19:
The ultimate aim of companies like Abbott and BioFire Defense is to create a test that can produce accurate results in as little as a few minutes.
In the Trenches With Coronavirus
While the majority of people infected with COVID-19 only experience minor symptoms, the disease can cause severe issues in some cases – even resulting in death. Most of the forms of treatment being pursued fall into one of two categories:
- Treating respiratory symptoms – especially the inflammation that occurs in severe cases
- Antiviral growth – essentially stopping viruses from multiplying inside the human body
Here are the companies and institutions developing new treatment options for COVID-19:
A wide range of players are in the race to develop treatments related to COVID-19. Pharma and healthcare companies are in the mix, as well as universities and institutes.
One surprising name on the list is Fujifilm. The Japanese company’s stock recently shot up on the news that Avigan, a decades-old flu drug developed through Fujifilm’s healthcare subsidiary, might be effective at helping coronavirus patients recover. The Japanese government’s stockpile of the drug is reportedly enough to treat two million people.
The progress that is perhaps being watched the closest by the general public is the development of a COVID-19 vaccine.
Creating a safe vaccine for a new illness is no easy feat. Thankfully, rapid progress is being made for a variety of reasons, including China’s efforts to sequence the genetic material of Sars-CoV-2 and to share that information with research groups around the world.
Another factor contributing to the unprecedented speed of development is the fact that coronaviruses were already on the radar of health science researchers. Both SARS and MERS were caused by coronaviruses, and even though vaccines were shelved once those outbreaks were contained, learnings can still be applied to defeating COVID-19.
One of the most promising leads on a COVID-19 vaccine is mRNA-1273. This vaccine, developed by Moderna Therapeutics, is being developed with extreme urgency, skipping straight into human trials before it was even tested in animals. If all goes well with the trials currently underway in Washington State, the company hopes to have an early version of the vaccine ready by fall 2020. The earliest versions of the vaccine would be made available to at-risk groups such as healthcare workers.
Further down the pipeline are 15 types of subunit vaccines. This method of vaccination uses a fragment of a pathogen, typically a surface protein, to trigger an immune response, teaching the body’s immune system how to fight off the disease without actually introducing live pathogens.
No Clear Finish Line
Unfortunately, there is no silver bullet for solving this pandemic.
A likely scenario is that teams of researchers around the world will come up with solutions that will incrementally help stop the spread of the virus, mitigate symptoms for those infected, and help lower the overall death toll. As well, early solutions rushed to market will need to be refined over the coming months.
We can only hope that the hard lessons learned from fighting COVID-19 will help stop a future outbreak in its tracks before it becomes a pandemic. For now, those of us on the sideline can only do our best to flatten the curve.
Comparing the Size of The World’s Rockets, Past and Present
This infographic sizes up different rockets used to explore space, from the USSR’s Soyuz to the SpaceX Starship.
The Size of The World’s Rockets, Past and Present
The SpaceX Starship might be the next rocket to take humans to the moon, but it won’t be the first, and likely not the last.
Starting in the mid-20th century, humanity has explored space faster than ever before. We’ve launched satellites, telescopes, space stations, and spacecrafts, all strapped to rocket-propelled launch vehicles that helped them breach our atmosphere.
This infographic from designer Tyler Skarbek stacks up the many different rockets of the world side-by-side, showing which country designed them, what years they were used, and what they (could) accomplish.
How Do The World’s Rockets Stack Up?
Before they were used for space travel, rockets were produced and developed to be used as ballistic missiles.
The first rocket to officially reach space—defined by the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale as crossing the Kármán line at 100 kilometers (62 miles) above Earth’s mean sea level—was the German-produced V-2 rocket in 1944.
But after World War II, V-2 production fell into the hands of the U.S., the Soviet Union (USSR), and the UK.
Over the next few decades and the unfolding of the Cold War, what started as a nuclear arms race of superior ballistic missiles turned into the Space Race. Both the U.S. and the USSR tried to be the first to achieve and master spaceflight, driving production of many new and different rockets.
|Origin Country||Rocket||Years Active||Payload (Range)||Success/Failure|
|U.S.||Vanguard||1957–1959||9 kg (LEO)||3/8|
|USSR||Sputnik||1957–1964||1,322 kg (LEO)||6/1|
|U.S.||Juno 1||1958–1958||11 kg (LEO)||3/3|
|U.S.||Juno II||1958–1961||41 kg (LEO)||4/6|
|USSR||Vostok||1958–1991||4,725 kg (LEO)||106/3|
|U.S.||Redstone||1960–1961||1,800 kg (Suborbital)||5/1|
|U.S.||Atlas LV-3B||1960–1963||1,360 kg (LEO)||7/2|
|U.S.||Atlas-Agena||1960–1978||1,000 kg (LEO)||93/16|
|U.S.||Scout||1961–1994||150 kg (LEO)||121/27|
|USSR||Voskhod||1963–1976||5,900 kg (LEO)||281/14|
|U.S.||Titan II||1964–1966||3,100 kg (LEO)||12/0|
|Europe (ELDO)||Europa||1964–1971||360 kg (GTO)||4/7|
|France||Diamant||1965–1975||160 kg (LEO)||9/3|
|U.S.||Atlas E/F||1965–2001||820 kg (LEO)||56/9|
|USSR||Soyuz||1965–Present||7,100 kg (LEO)||1263/44|
|USSR||Proton||1965–Present||23,700 kg (LEO)||375/48|
|U.S.||Saturn 1B||1966–1975||21,000 kg (LEO)||9/0|
|U.S.||Saturn V||1967–1973||48,600 kg (TLI)||13/0|
|USSR||Kosmos-3M||1967–2010||1,500 kg (LEO)||424/20|
|UK||Black Arrow||1969–1971||135 kg (LEO)||2/2|
|U.S.||Titan 23B||1969–1971||3,300 kg (LEO)||32/1|
|USSR||N1||1969–1972||23,500 kg (TLI)||0/4|
|Japan||N-1||1975–1982||1,200 kg (LEO)||6/1|
|Europe (ESA)||Ariane 1||1976–1986||1,400 kg (LEO)||9/2|
|USSR||Tsyklon-3||1977–2009||4,100 kg (LEO)||114/8|
|U.S.||STS||1981–2011||24,400 kg (LEO)||133/2|
|USSR||Zenit||1985–Present||13,740 kg (LEO)||71/13|
|Japan||H-I||1986–1992||3,200 kg (LEO)||9/0|
|USSR||Energia||1987–1988||88,000 kg (LEO)||2/0|
|Israel||Shavit||1988–2016||800 kg (LEO)||8/2|
|U.S.||Titan IV||1989–2005||17,000 kg (LEO)||35/4|
|U.S.||Delta II||1989–2018||6,100 kg (LEO)||155/2|
|Europe (ESA)||Ariane 4||1990–2003||7,600 kg (LEO)||113/3|
|U.S.||Pegasus||1990–Present||443 kg (LEO)||39/5|
|Russia||Rokot||1990–Present||1,950 kg (LEO)||31/3|
|U.S.||Atlas II||1991–2004||6,580 kg (LEO)||63/0|
|China||Long March 2D||1992–Present||3,500 kg (LEO)||44/1|
|India||PSLV||1993–Present||3,800 kg (LEO)||47/3|
|Japan||H-IIA||1994–2018||15,000 kg (LEO)||40/1|
|Europe (ESA)||Ariane 5||1996–Present||10,865 kg (GTO)||104/5|
|Brazil||VLS-1||1997–2003||380 kg (LEO)||0/2|
|USSR||Dnepr-1||1999–2015||4,500 kg (LEO)||21/1|
|U.S.||Atlas III||2000–2005||8,640 kg (LEO)||6/0|
|Japan||M-V||2000–2006||1,800 kg (LEO)||6/1|
|U.S.||Minotaur 1||2000–2013||580 kg (LEO)||11/0|
|India||GSLV MK1||2001–2016||5,000 kg (LEO)||6/5|
|U.S.||Atlas V 400||2002–Present||15,260 kg (LEO)||54/1|
|U.S.||Delta IV Medium||2003–Present||9,420 kg (LEO)||20/0|
|U.S.||Delta IV Heavy||2004–Present||28,790 kg (LEO)||12/1|
|U.S.||Falcon 1||2006–2009||180 kg (LEO)||2/3|
|China||Long March 4C||2006–Present||4,200 kg (LEO)||26/2|
|U.S.||Atlas V 500||2006–Present||18,850 kg (LEO)||27/0|
|Iran||Safir||2008–Present||65 kg (LEO)||4/1|
|U.S.||Minotaur IV||2010–Present||1,735 kg (LEO)||6/0|
|Europe (ESA)||Vega||2012–Present||1,450 kg (SSO)||14/1|
|U.S.||Minotaur V||2013–Present||532 kg (GTO)||1/0|
|Japan||Epsilon||2013–Present||1,500 kg (LEO)||4/0|
|U.S.||Antares||2013–Present||8,000 kg (LEO)||11/1|
|U.S.||Falcon 9 FT||2013–Present||22,800 kg (LEO)||96/0|
|India||GSLV MK3||2014–Present||4,000 kg (GTO)||4/0|
|Russia||Angara 5||2014–Present||13,450 kg (LEO)||3/0|
|New Zealand||Electron||2017–Present||225 kg (SSO)||17/2|
|U.S.||Falcon 9 Heavy||2018–Present||54,400 kg (LEO)||3/0|
|U.S.||Starship||2021–Present||100,000 kg (LEO)||0/0|
|U.S.||SLS||2021–Present||36,740 kg (TLI)||0/0|
As the Space Race wound down, the U.S. proved to be the biggest producer of different rockets. The eventual dissolution of the USSR in 1991 transferred production of Soviet rockets to Russia or Ukraine. Then later, both Europe (through the European Space Agency) and Japan ramped up rocket production as well.
More recently, new countries have since joined the race, including China, Iran, and India. Though the above infographic shows many different families of rockets, it doesn’t include all, including China’s Kuaizhou rocket and Iran’s Zuljanah and Qased rockets.
Rocket Range Explained and Continued Space Aspirations
Designing a rocket that can reach far into space while carrying a heavy payload—the objects or entities being carried by a vehicle—is extremely difficult and precise. It’s not called rocket science for nothing.
When rockets are designed, they are are created with one specific range in mind that takes into account the fuel needed to travel and velocity achievable. Alternatively, they have different payload ratings depending on what’s achievable and reliable based on the target range.
- Suborbital: Reaches outer space, but its trajectory intersects the atmosphere and comes back down. It won’t be able to complete an orbital revolution or reach escape velocity.
- LEO (Low Earth orbit): Reaches altitude of up to ~2,000 km (1242.74 miles) and orbits the Earth at an orbital period of 128 minutes or less (or 11.25 orbits per day).
- SSO (Sun-synchronous orbit): Reaches around 600–800 km above Earth in altitude but orbits at an inclination of ~98°, or nearly from pole to pole, in order to keep consistent solar time.
- GTO (Geosynchronous transfer orbit): Launches into a highly elliptical orbit which gets as close in altitude as LEO and as far away as 35,786 km (22,236 miles) above sea level.
- TLI (Trans-lunar injection): Launches on a trajectory (or accelerates from Earth orbit) to reach the Moon, an average distance of 384,400 km (238,900 miles) from Earth.
But there are other ranges and orbits in the eyes of potential spacefarers. Mars for example, a lofty target in the eyes of SpaceX and billionaire founder Elon Musk, is between about 54 and 103 million km (34 and 64 million miles) from Earth at its closest approach.
With space exploration becoming more common, and lucrative enough to warrant billion-dollar lawsuits over contract awards, how far will future rockets go?
All the Biomass of Earth, in One Graphic
Our planet supports nearly 8.7 million species. We break down the total composition of the living world in terms of its biomass.
All the Biomass of Earth, in One Graphic
Our planet supports approximately 8.7 million species, of which over a quarter live in water.
But humans can have a hard time comprehending numbers this big, so it can be difficult to really appreciate the breadth of this incredible diversity of life on Earth.
In order to fully grasp this scale, we draw from research by Bar-On et al. to break down the total composition of the living world, in terms of its biomass, and where we fit into this picture.
A “carbon-based life form” might sound like something out of science fiction, but that’s what we and all other living things are.
Carbon is used in complex molecules and compounds—making it an essential part of our biology. That’s why biomass, or the mass of organisms, is typically measured in terms of carbon makeup.
In our visualization, one cube represents 1 million metric tons of carbon, and every thousand of these cubes is equal to 1 Gigaton (Gt C).
Here’s how the numbers stack up in terms of biomass of life on Earth:
|Taxon||Mass (Gt C)||% of total|
Plants make up the overwhelming majority of biomass on Earth. There are 320,000 species of plants, and their vital photosynthetic processes keep entire ecosystems from falling apart.
Fungi is the third most abundant type of life—and although 148,000 species of fungi have been identified by scientists, it’s estimated there may be millions more.
Animals: A Drop in the Biomass Ocean
Although animals make up only 0.47% of all biomass, there are many sub-categories within them that are worth exploring further.
|Taxon||Mass (Gt C)||% of Animal Biomass|
Arthropods are the largest group of invertebrates, and include up to 10 million species across insects, arachnids, and crustaceans.
The category of chordates includes wild mammals, wild birds, livestock, humans, and fish. Across 65,000 living species in total, nearly half are bony fish like piranhas, salmon, or seahorses.
Surprisingly, humans contribute a relatively small mass compared to the rest of the Animal Kingdom. People make up only 0.01% of all the biomass on the planet.
Annelids, Mollusks, Cnidarians, and Nematodes
Annelids are segmented worms like earthworms or leeches, with over 22,000 living species on this planet. After arthropods, mollusks are the second-largest group of invertebrates with over 85,000 living species. Of these, 80% are snails and slugs.
Cnidarians are a taxon of aquatic invertebrates covering 11,000 species across various marine environments. These include jellyfish, sea anemone, and even corals.
Nematodes are commonly referred to as roundworms. These sturdy critters have successfully adapted to virtually every kind of ecosystem, from polar regions to oceanic trenches. They’ve even survived traveling into space and back.
The Microscopic Rest
Beyond these animals, plants, and fungi, there are an estimated trillion species of microbes invisible to the naked eye—and we’ve probably only discovered 0.001% of them so far.
Bacteria were one of the first life forms to appear on Earth, and classified as prokaryotes (nucleus-less). Today, they’re the second-largest composition of biomass behind plants. Perhaps this is because these organisms can be found living literally everywhere—from your gut to deep in the Earth’s crust.
Researchers at the University of Georgia estimate that there are 5 nonillion bacteria on the planet—that’s a five with 30 zeros after it.
Protists and Archaea
Protists are mostly unicellular, but are more complex than bacteria as they contain a nucleus. They’re also essential components of the food chain.
Archaea are single-celled microorganisms that are similar to bacteria but differ in compositions. They thrive in extreme environments too, from high temperatures above 100°C (212°F) in geysers to extremely saline, acidic, or alkaline conditions.
Viruses are the most fascinating category of biomass. They have been described as “organisms at the edge of life,” as they are not technically living things. They’re much smaller than bacteria—however, as the COVID-19 pandemic has shown, their microscopic effects cannot be understated.
The Earth’s Biomass, Under Threat
Human activities are having an ongoing impact on Earth’s biomass.
For example, we’ve lost significant forest cover in the past decades, to make room for agricultural land use and livestock production. One result of this is that biodiversity in virtually every region is on the decline.
Will we be able to reverse this trajectory and preserve the diversity of all the biomass on Earth, before it’s too late?
Editor’s note: This visualization was inspired by the work of Javier Zarracina for Vox from a few years ago. Our aim with the above piece was to recognize that while great communication needs no reinvention, it can be enhanced and reimagined to increase editorial impact and help spread knowledge to an even greater share of the population.
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