(alarm rings)

- Alexa, stop.

Okay, I gotta get dressed.

I gotta get dressed.

I have a sense of
guilt sometimes

when I'm at home and
I'm browsing Twitter

and I'm seeing all
this work going on

and people being in a lab 24/7

and I almost feel like
I'm not doing enough.

I'm working more
than I usually work,

which is already quite a bit.

Ten to 14 hours a day, probably.

Trying to protect humanity
from a number of diseases.

My goal in life is to
contribute to that.

(gentle music)

I grew up in South Africa,

and while I was there I had
encephalitis as a child.

And so I think since
that experience

I've always been curious about
viral diseases in particular.

When I moved to Seattle
to start my post hoc,

there was a zika outbreak,

so I worked on a vaccine
for zika at that point.

But of course those
diseases never reached

the global proportion that
we see today with COVID-19.

We could study it right
here in our back yard.

That's exactly why
I'm drawn to science,

the opportunity
to work on things

that we don't know a lot about.

What I have been working
on for the last four years,

is what's called RNA vaccines.

(gentle music)

So RNA is basically
a piece of code,

like you would think of
in software engineering.

We can encode the
sequence for that protein

and we can deliver that RNA
directly into your cells,

and your cells will
basically become

this manufacturing facility
and produce the protein

in your own body.

And now your immune system
can come and interact

with those proteins and
ideally those antibodies

will neutralize the actual virus

if you ever come
into contact with it.

So it went from clear to
somewhat white and milky

and that's because
the RNA is interacting

with the formulation and the
particle size is growing.

RNA vaccines that are
currently being used in humans

as a product, zero.

COVID-19 could potentially
be probably one

of the first RNA
vaccine products,

if it makes it past all
three of the clinical trials.

There's definitely more
urgency at this point.

The time that it takes
to develop a vaccine,

it's historically
10 to 20 years.

The fact that we're
trying to do this in one

to two years is a huge change.

Since the outbreak, though,

the ferry schedule has
been all messed up,

so my time in the lab is
shortened significantly.

I am trying to do this work,

but at the same
time I'm also trying

to maintain social
distancing so that

I come home to my family.

I want to make sure
my family's safe.

- [Children] Hi Daddy.

- Oh, hey guys.

I have a three, a six,
and a nine year old.

What did you guys do today?

They don't fully
comprehend what's going on.

My son the other
day was so upset

that he found out that he's
not going on his field trip.

We had to tell him there's
no field trips going

on anywhere right now.

He doesn't fully
grasp that, but,

so the hardest part, I
guess, is the disappointment.

I haven't really
thought too much

about my personal
reaction to the outbreak.

My wife always says
that she's struggling

with dealing with this and how
this is gonna impact humanity

and meanwhile I'm just
happy-go-lucky, my normal self.

I'm just so focused on the work

that I'm not really
thinking too much about

how this is impacting
personal lives.

Working on this and staying busy

and just focusing on this
is just helping me to cope.

I think vaccines are
going to be very important

in the long run.

We can maintain
social distancing

and we can continue
to flatten the curve,

but if we resume normal
daily life activities

we are very likely
gonna see an increase

in case counts again.

I think vaccines are
essential to protecting

the human race from
infectious diseases, period.

I guess it's definitely
opened up my eyes

to the fact that
we're pretty fragile.

We can definitely
be rapidly impacted

by something as small as a virus

and it definitely
makes me feel like

I've chosen the right field.

(gentle music)

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