The COVID-19 pandemic hits new highs and new lows

The COVID-19 pandemic hits new highs and new lows

This week, COVID-19 headlines have been cut up between cautious optimism and abject despair.

On the constructive facet, Monday morning introduced us a scrap of hope — claims from Pfizer and BioNTech that their vaccine candidate was extremely efficient. Their checks up to now confirmed that it has an efficacy of about 90 p.c, although that quantity may change with time. And earlier than we get away the bubbly, there are nonetheless loads of caveats to the information.

Among the downer highlights: the complete knowledge hasn’t been launched but, and this occurred in a medical trial the place situations have been extra managed than they are going to be in the true world. It must be delivered in two doses, weeks aside, and it’s extra fragile than frost on a sunny morning — it must be saved at temperatures of -75 levels Celsius (-103 levels Fahrenheit), making a logistical nightmare for services ill-equipped to inventory one thing that frigid.

Put all these asides apart, and the vaccine information remains to be a spark of pleasure in a darkish time. By subsequent week, the businesses declare that they need to have sufficient knowledge to start out constructing their case for emergency authorization from the FDA. That’s a reasonably thrilling mile marker to stay up for, even when there’s nonetheless an extended strategy to go earlier than we get to a vaccine.

Meanwhile, the dangerous information was constructing. Here within the US, circumstances hit report highs, with a median of 134,078 circumstances per day over the previous week, in keeping with The New York Times. The surge in circumstances is overwhelming emergency rooms and ICUs throughout the nation. Deaths are on the rise. Again. States are ordering lockdowns. Again.

Healthcare employees, already exhausted, dread what comes subsequent. “The wave hasn’t even crashed down on us yet,” Eli Perencevich, an infectious-disease physician on the University of Iowa, informed The Atlantic’s Ed Yong. “It keeps rising and rising, and we’re all running on fear. The health-care system in Iowa is going to collapse, no question.”

Skyrocketing caseloads and healthcare methods teetering getting ready to collapse imply that the US has a number of work to do to get via the subsequent stage of this pandemic. It’s now not nearly flattening the curve. We’ve obtained a cliff to beat.

We additionally know that the work can be value it if we are able to save lives. As The Verge’s Nicole Wetsman wrote this week, “The light is still months away, but it’s there. We only have to make sure as many people as possible can get to it.”

Here’s what else we have been watching this week.

Research

New Type of Test May Better Discern Immunity to the Coronavirus

Antibodies aren’t the one sort of immune cell within the physique. T cells also can struggle viruses. An organization has provide you with a blood check to detect these cells, which might be thrilling. Caveat: the info of the check has not been reviewed by different researchers.
(Apoorva Mandivalli/NYT)

New Science Suggests How to Shorten Quarantine

An early examine discovered that taking two COVID checks may let individuals persist with an eight-day quarantine as a substitute of a 14-day quarantine. It’s an intriguing concept, however for it to actually work, testing must be broadly obtainable. Another caveat right here: This examine has not been reviewed by different researchers.
(Roxanne Khamsi/Elemental)

We helped a New York sewage plant verify poop for the coronavirus

This is a enjoyable one. We despatched a video workforce to a sewage plant to get a more in-depth take a look at how wastewater services are serving to communities observe the unfold of coronavirus.
(Nicole Wetsman/The Verge)

Development

Pfizer’s announcement reveals the promise of gene-based vaccines

The vaccine outcomes this week have been a giant enhance for mRNA-based vaccines typically. If this one succeeds, we may see extra prefer it sooner or later.
(Nicole Wetsman/The Verge)

Pfizer’s ultra-cold vaccine, a ‘very complex’ distribution plan, and an exploding head emoji

CNN has a very attention-grabbing look into a number of the planning occurring at a state degree to deal with a possible vaccine that must be stored a lot colder than ice chilly.
(Elizabeth Cohen, John Bonifield and Sierra Jenkins/CNN)

‘We’re being left behind’: Rural hospitals can’t afford ultra-cold freezers to retailer the main Covid-19 vaccine

The CDC shouldn’t be recommending that hospitals top off on ultra-cold freezers, however some rich hospitals are doing it anyway. Rural hospitals with fewer assets wish to do the identical, however can’t afford the gear, whilst provides dwindle.
(Olivia Goldhill/STAT)

Russia’s declare of a profitable COVID-19 vaccine doesn’t cross the ‘smell test,’ critics say

After Pfizer and BioNTech made their announcement, Russia additionally introduced that it had outcomes on its ‘Sputnik V’ vaccine. Experts are skeptical of each the timing and the truth that the outcomes solely checked out 20 COVID-19 circumstances, in comparison with Pfizer and BioNTech’s 94.
(Jon Cohen/Science)

Pfizer says placebo sufferers will ultimately get its Covid-19 vaccine. The query of when is difficult

During medical trials some individuals get the remedy being examined, and others get a placebo. The query now could be what occurs to the individuals who obtained a placebo as soon as a vaccine is allowed — and when can they get a working vaccine?
(Matthew Herper/STAT)

Perspectives

“They don’t want to be watched over or babysat or told what to do, and I can understand that, but I’d like to believe we’re still capable of making a communal sacrifice. Stay home. Be reasonable. Wear a mask.”

—Tom Dean, a health care provider in South Dakota on the dire state of affairs in his residence. As informed to Eli Saslow, The Washington Post

“My grandfather’s death, six months into the pandemic, is more than a tragedy. His fate is as political as it is biological. And I am furious.”

—From COVID took my grandfather. But it wasn’t what killed him by Sarah Jones in The Cut

More than numbers

To the greater than 53,492,701 individuals worldwide who’ve examined constructive, could your highway to restoration be clean.

To the households and buddies of the 1,304,864 individuals who have died worldwide — 244,364 of these within the US — your family members should not forgotten.

Stay protected, everybody.

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