By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

El Cedral (Pueblo), Cozumel, Quintana Roo, Mexico.

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Patient readers, happy April Fool’s Day to those who celebrate. I loathe “pranks,” so I don’t.

This is an open thread because I need to finish up a post connecting Boeing and Monarch Lathe (I bet we have at least one owner in the commentariat). However, I thought I’d post this one link because good news — or even news that may appear to be good — is in such short supply. –lambert

“A Huge Boost for Mucosal Covid Vax Development (Next Generation Update 15) [Hilda Bastian, Absolutely Maybe].

Mucosal vaccines go directly into the mucosal tissue where infection begins – for example, intranasally or via tablets. If they could induce strong enough mucosal immunity, such vaccines could reduce the risk of infection and transmission. That’s often called “sterilizing” immunity.

Development of these vaccines has just received a massive boost. A global consortium is being funded to develop and then run human challenge trials of intranasal or inhaled vaccines in a program called MusiCC. A human challenge trial – where participants are quarantined and deliberately infected in that controlled environment – could find out quickly and definitively establish whether or not particular vaccines can prevent infection and transmission. If very effective vaccines are tested in this program, it would vault them rapidly through development stages that could otherwise take years….

This is a new 5-year program led by Imperial College London to speed development and access to mucosal coronavirus vaccines by running placebo-controlled human challenge trials. That involves trying to infect volunteers under controlled conditions, which means trials that can establish whether infection is blocked can be completed quickly, with fewer volunteers than a standard trial.

MusiCC is supported with $57 million from the European Union and CEPI (Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations). A global consortium of more than a dozen teams and organizations specializing in human challenge studies will be involved. They are interested in inhaled and intranasal vaccines that could block transmission of betacoronaviruses (the virus group including Covid and MERS). The program “includes a commitment that any vaccines developed are made available first and at an affordable price to the most vulnerable populations.”

MusiCC = “Mucosal Immunity in Human Coronavirus Challenge.” $57 million is nothing; and nasal vaccines should have been part of Operation Warp Speed (easy to see in retrospect). But here we are. I can’t find a list of the participants; search results are pretty sparse. It would be interesting to know if NIH — or any major American institutions — are part of the consortium.

Here is a link on the ethics of challenge trials.*

NOTE * The article thought $6,200 was high (so high as to make the challenge not really voluntary. I suppose for “mild” case an optimist might agree. For neurological and vascular damage, that seems low. For Long Covid, absurdly low. I wish I knew what provisions there were for long-term medical care for the volunteers. At the same time, I do think that volunteering is a wonderful, civic-minded thing to do, and we should encourage it.

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Contact information for plants: Readers, feel free to contact me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, to (a) find out how to send me a check if you are allergic to PayPal and (b) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi, lichen, and coral are deemed to be honorary plants! If you want your handle to appear as a credit, please place it at the start of your mail in parentheses: (thus). Otherwise, I will anonymize by using your initials. See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. From DL:


DL writes: “Big Basin: Redwood Sprouts Plantidote.”

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