Remembering Carlos Tejada. Tejada, deputy Asia editor of the Times, died in Seoul on Friday at the age of 49. He helped shape coverage of the Pulitzer Prize-winning pandemic, and was known for his shrewd editing and his fierce loyalty to his colleagues. We will miss her.
… and here is some hopeful news
Investments are taking place in infrastructure. Last month, Congress approved a $1 trillion bipartisan bill to upgrade America’s roads, trains, power grid and other infrastructure. While it is unclear how these projects will be accomplished, the legislation is the most significant effort in decades to address long-term problems such as relatively poor Internet access and inefficient public transport.
New COVID-19 treatments are coming. Yesterday, the Food and Drug Administration authorized Pfizer pills for COVID patients at high risk for serious illness, and another treatment is expected to be approved from Merck this week. The hope is that these drugs substantially reduce hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19 – and both can be administered at home, unlike current treatments that are usually administered in a hospital.
The world may be closer to nuclear fusion than ever before. Although not everyone is comfortable with nuclear power, the promise of a fusion reactor to produce energy far more than that is huge in helping solve the climate crisis. Investor interest in technology has given rise to a growing number of start-ups. Employed approximately 1,100 people and raised $1.9 billion in total. MIT spinoff Commonwealth Fusion Systems recently announced the successful test of a powerful magnet needed to unlock the fusion technology. Most of these projects will probably fall short, but the research itself could prove invaluable down the road.
Infrastructure Bill at a glance
Biomedical research can be encouraged. Research in the early “translational” stage, when basic findings are applied to potential treatments, has long been notoriously difficult to finance. The pandemic has made matters worse. But relief can be found along the way. While a bill to create government-backed bonds to fund private research – known as biobonds – did not advance in the House of Representatives, the financial analyst behind the idea, Karen Petro, is in talks with the White House. , which is building a new agency to accelerate research and cure. According to a recent Morning Consulting poll, called ARPA-H and modeled after the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the proposal has broad bipartisan support. So do Biobond, Petro said, adding he expects Congress to pass the measures early next year. (The White House did not respond to a request for comment).
Americans are starting new businesses at the fastest pace in years. The pandemic helped end a multi-decade slowdown in new start-ups that had both stunned and worried economists. This year, business applications in the US are on track to exceed 5.4 million, up from 4.3 million last year. Why? Perhaps the pandemic gave people more time to think, and because the economic turmoil it caused created opportunities for small new businesses. Technology has also made it easier to become an entrepreneur, and access to capital has expanded.