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High-speed Calgary to Edmonton hyperloop project proposed – Business News – Castanet.net

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The Alberta government says it will support a proposal to build a hyperloop transport system capable of whisking passengers in an elevated tube between Edmonton and Calgary at 1,000 km/h.

But the memorandum of understanding signed with project proponent TransPod doesn’t involve any financial commitment or endorsements by the province, and the system is still years away from being tested and built.

The Toronto-based company, which first announced it would seek Alberta provincial backing in 2017, says the agreement will allow it to attract private investment for what would be a multibillion-dollar infrastructure project.

It aims to conduct a feasibility study over the next two years, move into a research and development phase until 2024, then build a test track and conduct tests until 2027 before completing the full 300-kilometre line between Edmonton and Calgary.

The company envisions low-pressure sealed tubes suspended above ground on concrete posts allowing magnetically levitated pods within to transport passengers and cargo between Calgary and Edmonton in about 30 minutes.

TransPod says its system is being examined by governments and organizations for several projects around the world and it is currently in the design and development phase for a testing facility in France.

“By supporting TransPod’s feasibility study, Alberta Transportation will provide important information contributing to the research, development, testing, and construction of a full inter-city TransPod line between Edmonton and Calgary,” said Alberta Transportation Minister Ric McIver.

“We look forward to seeing this work put Alberta on the forefront of the movement of goods and people.”

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Half a million sharks may be killed to produce global Covid-19 vaccine – RFI English

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Issued on: 29/09/2020 – 15:18Modified: 29/09/2020 – 15:22

Conservationists in the United States are warning the race to a coronavirus vaccine may see the slaughter of half a million sharks, causing irreversible damage to our oceans’ ecosystems.

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This is because squalene, a natural oil made in the liver of sharks, is an ingredient in several of the candidate vaccines in clinical trials. 

According to the World Health Organisation, squalene is used as an adjuvant, meaning it increases the effectiveness of a vaccine by creating a stronger immune response. 

While more than 200 potential vaccines around the world are in development, fewer than 10 have advanced to late-stage clinical trials. 

The British pharma giant GlaxoSmithKline, which already uses shark squalene in flu vaccines, has said it would manufacture a billion doses of the adjuvant for potential use in vaccines to fight Covid-19.

Push for plant squalene

However Shark Allies, a California-based advocacy group, has launched a petition against the use of squalene from sharks for making coronavirus vaccine, calling on the industry to further explore the use of sustainable, non-animal squalene alternatives.

Some 3,000 sharks are needed to extract one tonne of squalene and, in the event a vaccine is produced globally and everyone on the planet receives two doses, Shark Allies says more than half a million sharks would need to be killed.

“Harvesting something from a wild animal is never going to be sustainable, especially if it’s a top predator that doesn’t reproduce in huge numbers,” the group’s founder, Stefanie Brendl, told The Telegraph, in London.

“There’s so many unknowns of how big and how long this pandemic might go on, and then how many versions of it we have to go through, that if we continue using sharks, the numbers of sharks taken for this product could be really high, year after year after year.”

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Moderna Coronavirus Vaccine Won't Be Available Before Election Day, CEO Says – The Motley Fool

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Dealing a blow to President Trump’s hope to have a vaccine before Election Day, Moderna‘s (NASDAQ:MRNA) CEO said the company’s coronavirus vaccine won’t be ready by Nov. 3.

Speaking at a Financial Times-organized biotech and pharmaceutical conference, Stephane Bancel said that “November 25 is the time we will have enough safety data to be able to put into an EUA [Emergency Use Authorization] file that we would send to the FDA — assuming that the safety data is good, i.e., a vaccine is deemed to be safe.”

Image source: Getty Images.

An Emergency Use Authorization is fast-track, limited approval the FDA grants for medications or vaccines that can treat or prevent diseases that post a significant enough threat to the population. 

Moderna has leapt to prominence with its MRNA-1273, considered one of the leading coronavirus vaccine candidates, if not the overall leader. It has done extremely well in early stage testing and is currently undergoing a phase 3 clinical trial.

On the hope that it would boost his popularity in the run-up to the election, Trump has promoted the idea that a safe and effective vaccine will be on the market in the very near future. A great many public health experts and pundits say that will happen next year at the earliest, however.

While biotech and pharmaceutical companies are developing a host of vaccine candidates, none has yet finished its clinical testing, and no major regulatory authority has approved any of them.

Investors didn’t react too strongly to Bancel’s pronouncement, as it’s likely few of them were expecting MRNA-1273 to finish testing and win approval over the next couple of weeks. The company’s shares inched up on Wednesday, not quite reaching the S&P 500 Index’s gain on the day. 

 

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Americans got richer than ever during the pandemic, but Canadians haven’t followed suit

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The reason for the apparent paradox, experts suggest, has more to do with economics than the epidemic itself.

Part of the explanation is the drag of Canadian consumer debt, which began the quarter at 164 per cent of household income, about 30 per cent higher than the comparable debt level in the U.S., he said.

In the second quarter, the ratio in Canada decreased to 146.4 per cent.

Canadians, typically conservative, spent less during lockdown, choosing instead to pay down their debts, said Peter Miron, senior vice-president of Environics Analytics Group in Toronto.

“People in Canada were paying off their plastic for lack of opportunity to buy things,” Miron noted, adding that many were also building their savings as a precautionary measure.

People in Canada were paying off their plastic for lack of opportunity to buy things

Peter Miron

That’s part of the reason why Canada’s recovery from the bottom of the virus-driven recession has been less dramatic than that in the U.S.

While U.S GDP is expected to produce an overall decline of 4.0 per cent this year, comparable Canadian data shows a 5.6 per cent expected GDP contraction, TD Economics found in a Sept. 18 analysis. That is reflected in the difference in unemployment rates forecast by TD’s economics unit:  8.5 per cent in the U.S. vs. 9.7 per cent for Canada.

Benjamin Tal, deputy chief economist for CIBC in Toronto, notes that government support programs in both Canada and the U.S. provided more income to households than was lost in the epidemic and market meltdown.

Source: – Financial Post

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