29 June 2021

It's my birthday

It's my birthday and I'm not crying, but I never thought I'd be alive at 67. None of us who were around in the '70s thought we would be. Better to burn out than it is to rust. 

But I don't feel rusty. Sometimes, I get a little creaky. Inside I'm 35 and always will be. But today, my biggest regret is not being able to use my free rail pass because of Covid-19 pandemic restrictions. At least I have both doses of the AZ vaccine in me, and I hope to get a mRNA booster later in the year. Then I will venture forth, not before. Until then, I will do a Dr Seuss...

“Why fit in when you were born to stand out?”

- Dr. Seuss

What a long strange trip it's been. 

31 May 2021


Science was very much a part of my life and still is. I trained in Biology and Chemistry with minors in politics (of all things) and anthropology. I completed University in three years instead of the traditional 4 because I was in a hurry to get to work. 

My first job was as a research assistant at Rockefeller University in NYC. It had the highest concentration of Nobel Prize winners of any institution. I hated it. Backstabbing academia. Writing grant requests and grovelling for money. Sacrificing hundreds if not thousands of rats after stressing them to study how the brain works -- at a time when the movie Ben was released -- was stressful, to say the least. Nightmares, insomnia Sunday through Thursday every week.  I couldn't wait to leave, yet I was running the lab and had several assistants myself. 

Went from there to Roche Labs to work in a lab studying drug metabolism. Sacrificed many more rats and injected rabbits with antigen to manufacture antibodies to study as well. Couldn't work with the beagle dogs as they were testing carcinogens that cause breast cancer. I hated bench research. It was not at all as pure as I had envisioned. At Roche, we didn't have to write grant requests but we did have to justify our programs and publish or perish. I only stayed a year in that job before moving into the marketing area. 

So, I was stunned to come across a paper I'd written so long ago online. My name then was Daria Korzeniowski. As the junior member of the team, you got to write the first draft of the paper. Mine was published almost exactly as I had written it. Apparently, it is still thought of as a seminal work in the discovery of how p450 works. Well, I'll be! I suppose if I had stayed in science I might have achieved high ranks but I wouldn't have been President of companies nor an entrepreneur. 

Did it work out well?  You bet. I got to retire early and go sailing. What's wrong with that? 

17 April 2021

Coronavirus stats

Funeral of Prince Philip

I have not paid much attention to global coronavirus stats lately, only local ones. For several weeks, we had no cases in Westport, while we now have had 7 cases in the last 14 days. Today I noticed a headline that caused me to pause. The world had surpassed 3 million dead from this infection with more than 141,000,000 confirmed cases. That is astounding. 

Tomorrow, I get to sign up for the vaccine. I will be getting the AstraZeneca version, an adenovirus vector surface protein vaccine. It's not the most effective and the clinical trials have been plagued by missteps, but it protects against severe infection and hospitalization, which counts for a lot. After vaccination, we won't be able to let down our guard, but at least we won't have to hold our breath anymore. Let's hope we don't suffer the rare blood clots associated with the disease, but this rare SE has been mostly associated with younger women. The risks of Covid far outweigh the risks of vaccination. When available, we'll get the Pfizer vaccine as a booster later on. 

Several weeks ago, Alex's mother had a stroke that left her right side impaired. She was released from hospital where no one was permitted to visit her on Thursday. Alex and Kirstin are caring for her until Monday when a trained nurse (though not licensed here yet) from the Philippines will take over. She will be living in for 5 of 7 days. We need to find someone for the remaining two. We also have a physio, an occupational therapist, a podiatrist, her doctor and a nurse visiting. Meike has one dose of vaccine in her thank goodness. None of the others are vaccinated which worries me. 

Today's Prince Philip the Duke of Edinborough was buried at Windsor. It was a remarkably simple but moving funeral. To see the Queen sitting alone in the pew was heartbreaking. Only the family could attend and they all had to sit in their family pods distanced from the others. 

What a cruel time this has been. 

16 January 2021

Dire straights

Trump was impeached for a second time. He made history. It's never happened before. Whether the Senate convicts him and removes him from office after he leaves to prevent him from ever running for office again, or whether NYS or Georgia are successful in prosecuting him for fraud or trying to overturn a fair election remains to be seen. In any case, Deutsche Bank is distancing themselves and probably going to call in his loans. He will never get credit again. 

Meanwhile, the world surpassed 2 million dead from Covid-19 while the US reported more than 100,000 Covid-19 hospitalizations for the 40th day in a row. Biden unveiled his vaccination rollout plan and it is sound. It is all surreal. And now, 400,000 dead in the US and more to come. 

And there are 25,000 National Guard troops in Washington DC and 9-foot high fencing with barbed wire around the Capitol building. None of this would have been predicted a year ago. 

God bless America and keep it the Land of the Free. 

10 January 2021

Pandemic surge

Factors around the world conspired to cause a surge in coronavirus transmission in the final weeks of 2020.  In the US, the US elections and corresponding rallies were followed by the Thanksgiving holiday with noncompliant holidaymakers and Trumpers travelling to all corners of the country.  Last week, on the 6th of January when the electoral college met to count the votes and confirm Joe Biden and Kamal Harris' election victory, Trump incited his supporters to storm the Capitol and riot in protest. The country is in a very serious situation, and I'm afraid that like Pandora's Box the evil will not be suppressed this time. How very sad to watch the world's oldest democracy decline. I suppose that's how the Roman Empire went down. 

That was followed by Christmas and New Year celebrations around the world, fueled by virus variants in the UK and SA with enhanced transmissibility. That caused a massive surge in cases in the UK and Ireland as well as throughout Europe. Even the Pope's personal doctor died of complications of Covid. Meanwhile, the bells rang in Brexit as it took its final toll even with a deal. So long and enjoy all the fish. 

The world has surpassed 90 million confirmed Covid-19 cases and almost 2 million dead. In Ireland, I think our peak was reached on January 8 at 8227 cases. That makes sense as it is 7 days after New Year's parties and ocean swims that turned out to be superspreaders events. Even Westport, which has had little prevalence, has now experienced a surge. We know of multiple cases personally. Lockdown should mean that the transmission will slow from yesterday on, but it's in the community and its not going away. 

Meanwhile, two vaccines have been approved in the EU -- Pfizer's and Moderna's -- both mRNA vaccines. We won't be among those immunised early on. I can't believe we'll get it before the end of March in this country as they are quite slow to roll it out. I am weary of the fear and anxiety. But I will take maximum precautions even after immunization and into the summer months. 


Last updated: January 10, 2021, 11:36 GMT

Coronavirus Cases:






05 January 2021

03 January 2021

Vaccines against SARS-CoV-2


I am compiling basic information about the Covid-19 vaccines here as it is published. I am reporting both peer-reviewed publications and press release information because this is the era of clinical trial reporting by PR channel. I do not certify the accuracy of anything on this page. I will be updating it as information is released primarily for myself.


Reuters Vaccine Tracker


Vaccine type

Seroconversion Rate

Protective Efficacy


Pfizer/BioNTech – US/Germany

mRNA spike LNP

95.2% CD4+ T cell 

95% after 2 doses
Effective against variants

75%+ against variants and 97% against severe inf

FDA Dec 10
EU Dec 21

Children 12-15 US

Booster recommended

Moderna/NIAID - US Prescribing info

mRNA spike

100% @30mcg

94.1% after 2 doses

FDA Dec 17
EU Jan 6
UK Jan 8

Oxford/Astra Zeneca - UK



Chimp adenovirus vectors - spike 

Germany approve use only in under 65s due to lack of data

Over 65s now getting it preferentially due to blood clots in younger subjects

70.4% overall
(90% w/low-high dose regimen)
11-03-21 EU countries suspend use due to clots

UK  30 Dec
EU Jan 29

US submission 25/03/21

Several countries hold off due to rare blood clots.  
Approved in Japan and sublicensed to 165 countries.

Gamaleya (Russia)
'Sputnik V'

Human adenovirus vector - 2 spike

100% seroconversion

91.4% after 2 doses Lancet

Russia approved in Aug 2020
EMA reviews Mar 2021

CureVac (Germany)


May cover variants - no need for sub-zero

2 dose schedule

Deal w/UK to focus on variants
Has begun production- Phase 3 fully enrolled

EU begins review 03/21  

Phase 3 ends mid-May

Supply a challenge

Sanofi/Translate Bio

mRNA1 or 2 dosesPhase 1/2 Trials initiated



89.6% 18-49 yo
85% >50
62.5% >60

Interim results w/new formulation  = 95-100% seroconversion 

issue - reformulation

Delayed due to poor response in older subjects 11/12/20
Trials restarted 02/21


rDNA/Matrix-M™ adjuvant:
baculovirus spike nanoparticles

100% after dose 2

89.3% in US/Mex
60% in SA
89.3% UK

60% in SA in HIV neg subj

90.4% Efficacy in US Phase 3

Delayed (Q3)

Delayed again (Q4)

96.4% effective against original strain in UK trial, 86% UK, 55% SA strains

Effective as booster against variants

Sinopharm (China)

Inactivated virus



China approved Dec31
Serbia to produce

WHO approved 07-05-21

Clin Trial results JAMA 26/5/21

Sinovac (China) –

Inactivated virus - 2nd vaccine in China


50.4% Brazil, 78% Brazil, 65.3% Indonesia, 91.25 Turkey

 WHO approval expected 03/21

J&J /Janssen (US)

AdVac® human attenuated adenovirus vectors carrying complete spike protein rDNA

98% After 1 dose, 100% in interim results 1 vs 2 dose trial

enrolment completed -
57-72% effective in protecting against mod-sev Covid-19 28d after 1 dose

Risk of Guillain-BarrĂ© syndrome

US approved Jan 27
EU applied 16/02/21
EU approved 11-03-21

Merck/Sanofi/others to help manufacture, fill & pack

J&J temp suspended release due to rare blood clots in younger, mostly women. 


Advanced tech with Advax-SM adjuvant


Phase 2 initiated

Manufacturing scale-up in Dublin

Valneva (France)


 inactivated virus

89.8% in the medium-dose and 100% in the high-dose group after 2 doses

 Phase 1/2 results positive

 Phase 3 trial underway April 2021

Zydus Cadila

1st plasmid DNA vaccine (3 dose)



Clin trials in 50 centers
applied for emergency use

HDT Bio Corp

Lipid InOrganic Nanoparticle (LION) - protects against variants



Phase 1 in 60 patients - 2 dose
















The story of adenoviral vector vaccines and prior immunity to adenovirus. 

WHO Coronavirus vaccine landscape tracks 173 vaccines in development, 64 have reached clinical trials. 

Merck drops two candidate vaccines due to poor results in early-stage trials. 

AZ vaccine data lacking in over 65. 

Coronavirus stats Worldometer and Johns Hopkins
Animated graphic covid-related deaths by week
Animated graphic shows deaths due to Covid-19 vs other causes over time

Which vaccines are in use around the world - Feb 2021. 

Cov-Boost Trial in UK is evaluating 7 different vaccines as boosters. Data due Sep 2021.


Veklury (remdesivir)


IV 10 days

Shorter time to recovery and less progression to severe disease

Viral RNA polymerase inhibitor




5 days no detectable virus

nucleoside analog antiviral

Yeliva (opaganib)

RedHill Biopharma


Reduces need for oxygen in hospitalised patients

sphingosine kinase-2 (SK2) selective inhibitor


RedHill Biopharma



Serine protease inhibitor Phase 2/3 trial



IV infusion

Reduces risk of hospitalisation and death by 87%