Tulane Outbreak Daily – December 15, 2020

Featured Headlines

Millions More COVID-19 Vaccine Doses Are On The Way, U.S. Officials Say – NPR

At least 55 immunization sites across the U.S. received doses of Pfizer and BioNTech’s long-awaited vaccine Monday morning, says Army Gen. Gustave Perna, chief operating officer of Operation Warp Speed. The effort to get the vaccine into medical professionals’ hands, he said, has gone “incredibly well.”

New genetic variant of coronavirus found in U.K. – NBC News

Scientists stress that the change – spotted in cases in the south of England – is not yet linked to changes in how the virus behaves.

U.S. Coronavirus Hospitalizations Reach All-Time High – Forbes

A record 109,331 people were in the hospital for coronavirus in the U.S. on Sunday, according to the Covid Tracking Project, as new diagnosed cases and deaths have continued to surge and concern has risen that hospitals nationwide will be overwhelmed.

White House Security Director Suffers Amputations, Three-Month Hospital Stay For Covid-19 – Forbes

The director of the White House’s security office is reportedly recovering from Covid-19 after a difficult three-month hospitalization which involved the amputation of his right foot and lower leg, one of the most horrific cases to emerge out of a wave of infections that has swept through the White House.

What Seniors Can Expect When COVID Vaccines Begin to Roll Out – Kaiser News

Seniors in nursing homes and assisted living centers will be among the first Americans vaccinated, following recommendations last week by a federal advisory panel. Older adults living at home will need to wait a while longer.

The coronavirus at 1: A year into the pandemic, what scientists know about how it spreads, infects, and sickens – STAT

It’s dangerous enough that it dispatches patients to hospitals in droves and has killed more than 1.6 million people, but mild enough that most people shrug it off. It blocks one arm of the immune system from responding as it takes hold, but lures other parts into dangerous hyperdrive. It homes in on cells high up in the airway — think the nose and throat — but also burrows deeper into the lungs, maximizing infectiousness without ceding how sick it can make people.

First case of the coronavirus detected in the wild – National Geographic

An infected wild mink was found in the “immediate vicinity” of a Utah fur farm that had an outbreak, officials say.

Fauci Explains How to End the COVID Pandemic – Scientific American

If we, uniformly throughout the country, implement public health guidelines—wearing masks, keeping physically distanced, avoiding crowded situations, doing things outdoors more than indoors and washing hands frequently—I believe we will see an effect. We know from experience that the states or cities or countries that have done this have always been able to blunt and mitigate the slope of a surging curve such as this one.

25 Face Masks We Actually Like to Wear – Wired

In April, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended all citizens wear nonmedical face masks to slow the spread of Covid-19. Earlier this year, we wrote about how to make your own mask. But months into the pandemic, a number of new studies have shown that simple T-shirts or bandanas might not be the most effective face coverings to reduce spread. [My personal favorite is the masks made by Vistaprint. They fit well, have the nose thingie, comfortable, adjustable, no gaps, they come with a filter pocket, and washable.]

Vaccine Headlines

First coronavirus vaccine shots given in U.S. – Washington Post

Washington Post Video Here – The injection to Sandra Lindsay’s arm at Long Island Jewish Medical Center made her the first American to receive the coronavirus vaccine outside a clinical trial. The small dose of mRNA represented a giant leap in efforts to beat back the virus, a moonshot worth of hope amid a pandemic that has infected more than 16 million and killed more than 300,000 nationwide.

What are the ingredients of Pfizer’s covid-19 vaccine? – MIT Tech Review

(spoiler alert! No gluten, microchips, or autism added) Pfizer’s vaccine is the first on the market that consists of actual genetic information from a virus in the form of messenger RNA, or mRNA, a type of molecule whose usual job is to transport copies of genetic instructions around a cell to guide the assembly of proteins. Imagine an mRNA as a long ticker tape carrying instructions. It’s fairly delicate stuff, and that’s why Pfizer’s vaccine needs to be kept at around -100 °F (-73 °C) until it’s used.

Development of unique Australian COVID-19 vaccine halted – Science

The backers of Australia’s homegrown COVID-19 vaccine candidate today announced a halt to its further development, after some of the first people to receive the vaccine in a safety trial generated antibodies to an unintended target, the AIDS virus. A small fragment of an HIV protein is a component of the vaccine used to add stability to the intended antibody target, the spike protein of the pandemic coronavirus SARS-CoV-2.

Clinical Considerations

Viral RNA load in plasma is associated with critical illness and a dysregulated host response in COVID-19 – BMC Critical Care

COVID-19 can course with respiratory and extrapulmonary disease. SARS-CoV-2 RNA is detected in respiratory samples but also in blood, stool and urine. Severe COVID-19 is characterized by a dysregulated host response to this virus. We studied whether viral RNAemia or viral RNA load in plasma is associated with severe COVID-19 and also to this dysregulated response.

Official Reporting for December 15, 2020

World Health Organization

Weekly Epi Update December 14, 2020

Confirmed Cases: 71 051 805

Deaths: 1 608 648


Confirmed Cases: 71 503 614

Deaths: 1 612 833

Johns Hopkins

Confirmed Cases: 72,818,538
Deaths: 1,620,294

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Total cases: 16,113,148 (+181,032 New Cases)
Total deaths: 298,266 (+1,448 New Deaths)

Surveillance Headlines


California: Explosive surge continues over the weekend – Mercury News

Florida: Florida is in coronavirus ‘red zone,’ needs to take immediate action – WFLA


UK: London to move into tier 3 as infections rise – BBC

Spain: Study Estimates 76 Percent of Brazilian City Exposed to SARS-CoV-2 – The Scientist

Italy: Overtakes U.K. as European Country With Most Covid Deaths – Bloomberg

Science and Tech

Scientists pinpoint genes common among people with severe coronavirus infections – Washington Post

Certain gene variants are linked to severe coronavirus infections, according to a team of scientists in Europe who studied the genomes of 2,200 critically ill covid-19 patients. Their results provide robust support that genetic makeup plays a role in the potentially fatal illness experienced by some people infected by the coronavirus.

COVID and 2020: An extraordinary year for science – Nature

The coronavirus pandemic shaped the year in research — from vaccines and treatments to campus shutdowns and virtual meetings.


These Drugs Might Prevent Severe COVID – Scientific American

Even with vaccines on the way, treatments are needed to prevent the disease from getting worse—and to be ready for COVID-25, COVID-37, and so on

Psychological and Sociological Impact

Virtual events are here to stay – Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard

“Seems like Anthony Fauci was a headline speaker at just about every major (and even) minor event in 2020. That never would have happened if the events were in person.”

How Do We Grieve 300,000 Lives Lost? – NPR

More than 300,000 people have died from COVID-19 in the United States. It is the latest sign of a generational tragedy — one still unfolding in every corner of the country — that leaves in its wake an expanse of grief that cannot be captured in a string of statistics.

Published Research

Household Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 – JAMA

Clinical Characteristics and Disease Severity Among Infants With SARS-CoV-2 Infection in Montreal, Quebec, Canada – JAMA

Misinformation, Disinformation, and Conspiracy Theories

Social media use increases belief in COVID-19 misinformation – Washington State University

The more people rely on social media as their main news source the more likely they are to believe misinformation about the pandemic, according to a recent survey analysis by Washington State University researcher Yan Su.

Coping in 2020

A TikTok Doctor Talks Vaccines – NYT

He brings the energy of popular short videos to cancer screenings and infection rates.



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