Shem Lawlor comments

Posted in: FDA advisers back Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for young kids See in context

To: Sanjinosebleed, Happy Day, Raw Beer and others.

Even though COVID doesn't directly pose a significant health risk to most young people; vaccinating children is a very important step in ending the COVID pandemic.

The reason is because ending the pandemic will require not only keeping the effective Reproduction (R) rate below 1.0 for the overall population, but also reducing the number and size of social clusters where the R rate is above 1.0. The R rate has been below 1.0 nationally in Japan since early September, meaning the number of cases has steadily fallen. However, there are still some social groups and communities where the vaccination rate is low and/or where behaviors continue to allow the virus to spread, like people who frequent bars or live houses and go drinking without masks.

Hoikuens, kintergardens and elementary schools are large pools of completely unvaccinated people where the virus can continue to spread. Even though most of the kids themselves aren't likely to get seriously sick, they can spread the virus to the teachers, their parents, siblings, and grandparents, who all can get sick and even die; despite being vaccinated.

The point is that without vaccinating Japan's children, the virus will continue to circulate at low levels throughout the country for a long time or in perpetuity. On the other hand, if we can vaccinate most children, the virus could essentially die out. There simply won't be enough naive immune systems for the virus to maintain its spread.

-1 ( +8 / -9 )

Posted in: Major companies, universities apply for on-site vaccinations See in context

This is a smart move by the government. Most mid-sized and above companies in Japan have their own in-house nurses who manage the annual health exams (they don't do the exams themselves, but they handle the post exam consultations). My company of 450 employees in Tokyo has it's own full-time nurse. It seems large companies could relatively easily handle the administration of millions of vaccinations and thereby take a lot of pressure of the municipalities.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Posted in: Chevron, Toyota announce alliance on hydrogen technology See in context

HillclimberToday  01:05 pm JST

BEVs are cheaper and more advanced than Fuel Cell vehicles. What I mean by this is that the electric motors, batteries and other components necessary for BEVs have seen far more development than those for Fuel Cell vehicles over the past decade and the costs for batteries, in particular, have fallen significantly and continue to drop.

Consider that the 2021 Nissan Leaf (BEV) has a starting price of $32,620 (excluding government subsidies) and has a driving range of 150 miles on a charge. Meanwhile, the 2021 Toyota Mira (Fuel Cell) starts at $49,500. And as someone who has driven both vehicles, I can tell you the Nissan Leaf has a more powerful motor and drives much better.

Regarding the stepping stone issue, yes...the reason many people 5-10 years ago thought that Fuel Cell vehicles could be better than BEVs was due in large part to the refueling time issue. However, this was based on a narrow view of how people actually fuel up their vehicles. For people who don't know any better, of course a 5-min refueling time sounds much better than 30 minutes or several hours. But this is not how BEV owners actually refuel their vehicles. The vast majority of EV owners charge their vehicles at home, when they aren't using the vehicles. It really doesn't matter whether it takes 5 minutes or 5 hours because it only takes a few seconds to plug/unplug the vehicles.

Really, the bigger issue than charging time has been range anxiety over how far you can drive between charges. Most of today's EVs come with 200 miles plus of driving range, far more than most people need for a single day. Furthermore, there is a growing network of DC fast charging stations around the world for people who occasionally might need a quick charge during a long driving day or road trip.

Hydrogen refueling stations are much more expensive to build than even DC fast charging stations which can charge at 50kW, adding ~140km of driving range in 30 minutes. And EV owners have found that it is quite feasible even during road trips to plug into a fast charging station and refuel their vehicles while they eat lunch or have a cup of coffee.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Posted in: Chevron, Toyota announce alliance on hydrogen technology See in context

This is throwing good money after bad. The race for clean vehicle technologies is already over and Hydrogen lost. Battery electric vehicles are significantly cheaper and more advanced than Fuel Cell vehicles today and the gap is only getting wider each year. Ultimately, the nail in the coffin for hydrogen is the fact that the round trip efficiency converting electricity (from grid) to hydrogen and then hydrogen back to electricity (via fuel cell in the vehicles) will never exceed 25-30%. Meanwhile battery electric vehicles are 85-90% efficient (grid to battery to wheels).

This means that even if fuel cell vehicles are able to make technological leaps and catch up to battery electric vehicles in price and performance, it'll always cost 3-4x as much per km to drive a hydrogen vehicle than a battery electric. At 11 yen per kWh, it'll cost around 370 yen to drive 100km with a battery electric vehicle, but around 1250 yen to drive 100km with a hydrogen vehicle. That reality is never going to change. Hydrogen has lost the ball game.

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

Posted in: Japan's vaccination rate lowest in G7: Here's why See in context

The Japanese government has been embarrassingly slow and inept in dealing with the COVID pandemic since the very beginning. The only reason Japan never had a major outbreak like Italy or NYC is because Japanese residents have all been wearing masks at extremely high rates (95%+) since the pandemic started. Basically, the government lucked out that masks were very effective at containing the spread and that Japan already had a culture of wearing masks.

Regarding the horrible vaccination roll-out: Japan's requirement to have trials completed within Japan is stupid, but at least somewhat understandable. However, the government knew about that issue from and very beginning and should have been working with all major vaccine developers (Moderna, Pfizer, J&J, AstraZenica, etc.) to start trials in Japan LAST SUMMER when Phase III trials were starting elsewhere. Instead, the Japanese government put up additional barriers that made in country trials more difficult.

The government should also have anticipated global vaccine supply issues and more deals with all the companies above for in-country production of vaccines. They did that with AstraZenica, but that vaccine is still dealing with issues and hasn't gotten off the ground yet.

People talk about the deaths, but the main thing is that the economic impact of the pandemic is costing the Japanese economy trillions of yen every month. The slower the vaccination roll-out the higher the long term economic costs. The government should have spent tens of billions (USD) more money expediting vaccine trials and in-country manufacturing (with the companies listed above). But they didn't. Instead, they've been dragging their heals at every step of the process.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

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