The new Ergapa vaccine against SARS-CoV-2 has been approved for immediate emergency delivery on Kashyyyk. The rollout will be available for all Wookiees involved in border control, or over the age of 470 from May the 4th.
A demographic at great risk of contracting COVID-19 are Wookiees. Despite their shaggy exterior, Wookiees are considered an at-risk group because of their advanced age. COVID-19 is generally more severe in individuals over 60, and many Wookiees are well over 400.
Since Kashyyyk, the jungle planet inhabited by the Wookiees, does not have seasons, the planet has been somewhat neglected by early COVID-19 research due to worries the virus would spread more widely in colder climates and planets and countries that experienced winter.
Sadly, this means that COVID-19 in Kashyyyk is seriously under-researched, and testing and sequencing rates are low.
Thankfully, strict quarantine and border control measures were implemented on the planet, but with new variants arising frequently, concern is rising.
Recently, a Kamino scientist, Dr Nala Se of the University of Kamino, released a paper detailing a new Z-DNA vaccine that has passed stage 3 clinical trials. Se and their team demonstrate that the vaccine uses a small section of Z-DNA that compliments the RNA sequences of SARS-CoV-2, but is completely harmless to all species of life. The vaccine, called Ergapa, had an effectiveness of 85% – that is, 85% of all trial participants who tested positive to COVID-19 were in the placebo group.
“We are excited to be part of the vaccine rollout across our galaxy,” says Se.
Due to the critical need for vaccines on other planets, Ergapa has been granted emergency approval on Kashyyyk and is due for immediate rollout to individuals over 470 years of age. Tarfful, Chieftain of Kachirho, says they plan to deliver to the vaccines in waves to the population of approximately 56 million.
“aarrragghuuhw raaaaaahhgh huuguughghg huuguughghg aaaaahnr huurh uggguh huuguughghg,” Tarfful told Cosmos Magazine, “hnnnhrrhhh uggguh uugggh uughghhhgh wuuh huuguughghg.”
The vaccines will be delivered in specially programmed medical droids, with the hope that they will minimise the spread of SARS-CoV-2. The modified 2-1B-series have a built-in reinforced needle and sterilising unit to effectively and safely deliver vaccinations to Wookiees, who require needling that is robust enough to get past their fur and thick skin.
“When we were making Ergapa, we realised that a limiting factor of a universal vaccine was whether it could be properly delivered,” says Se. “Diversity is extremely important in these studies, and we are glad we had a diverse cohort, because we quickly realised many of our thinner needles weren’t appropriate for our Hutt subjects.
“While their skin is relatively easy to penetrate, they exude a thick mucus that clogs up the needles.
“Diversity noleeya science sa crucial, um this made da ree clear,” says co-author Bib Fortuna, who acted as Hutt advisor. “Ateema jee-jee can happily settah our vaccine sa universal.”
Se explains, “After this, we ran new trials specifically for Wookiees to try and design a complementary needle.”
A fleet of pilot droids have been reassigned to transport the medical droids and vaccines, due to the essential need to deliver in a timely manner.
“Beep boop boop beep,” says a V6-series pilot droid who volunteered to be part of the fleet. “Bop beep beep bip boop.”
May the fourth be with you
Dr Deborah Devis is a science journalist at The Royal Institution of Australia.
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