The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday authorized the first coronavirus test that people will be able to buy at a local store without a prescription and use for immediate results at home to find out if they’re positive or negative.
In December 21, 1918, the Ohio State Journal published a warning about the lingering flu pandemic from the state’s acting health commissioner: “Beware the mistletoe.” Not only should readers resist the temptation of a holiday kiss, but they shouldn’t even be at a social gathering where it might come up.
Analysis of 772 complete SARS-CoV-2 genomes from early in the Boston area epidemic revealed numerous introductions of the virus, a small number of which led to most cases. The data revealed two superspreading events. One, in a skilled nursing facility, led to rapid transmission and significant mortality in this vulnerable population but little broader spread, while other introductions into the facility had little effect. The second, at an international business conference, produced sustained community transmission and was exported, resulting in extensive regional, national, and international spread. The two events also differed significantly in the genetic variation they generated, suggesting varying transmission dynamics in superspreading events. Our results show how genomic epidemiology can help understand the link between individual clusters and wider community spread. [Related Study in Science]
Measures meant to tame the coronavirus pandemic are quashing influenza and most other respiratory diseases, which could have wide-ranging implications.
The Food and Drug Administration released a detailed analysis Tuesday morning of the COVID-19 vaccine from drugmaker Moderna that supports the authorization of the company’s vaccine for emergency use. The FDA’s briefing document along with one from Moderna were posted two days before a group of experts will convene to advise the agency on whether to grant the vaccine emergency authorization for use, or EUA, during the pandemic.
The vaccines — the elixirs that will help drag this pandemic to a close — had finally arrived. There they were on Monday, being readied for health care workers in New York, Colorado, Ohio, Texas, and beyond, each rolled-up sleeve marking an initial step in curbing Covid-19.
With the first doses of Covid-19 vaccine being administered across the United States, questions abound about who can safely get them.
6 min audio at the link – The first COVID-19 vaccines are being administered. There are, however, still great challenges ahead when it comes to making sure that people receive the vaccine sooner rather than later.
The nation’s top infectious disease expert and leading scientific voice during the pandemic, Anthony Fauci, M.D., stars in the first phase of the government’s $250 million campaign to build public confidence in the COVID-19 vaccine.
As the first shots of the Covid-19 vaccines in the U.S. are administered, one of many big hurdles has yet to be cleared: States must transport and distribute the massive orders to the millions who need it. The state of Louisiana has been thinking about this problem for months. In November, they decided to test their vaccination strategy, using the flu vaccine. Angelica Lavito went to Shreveport as the project was unfolding, to find out what a mass vaccination looks like during a pandemic.
When the COVID-19 pandemic descended last winter, Catherine Ross was filled with dread. Her 36-year-old sister, Amanda Ross, has Down syndrome (DS), which makes her especially vulnerable to respiratory viruses. Amanda Ross had been hospitalized repeatedly with pneumonia. In 2017, she ended up on a ventilator and nearly died.
Among the pathways and mediators that may be dysregulated in COVID-19 infection, there are proinflammatory cytokines, lymphocyte apoptosis, and the coagulation cascade. Venous and arterial thromboembolisms also are frequent in COVID-19 patients with the increased risk of some life-threatening complications such as pulmonary embolism, myocardial infarction, and ischemic stroke.
Many people with long COVID — who keep experiencing COVID-19 symptoms months after the disease should have subsided — have been pointing out that it has also affected their menstrual cycles
Baricitinib is an oral Janus kinase (JAK) inhibitor that is selective for JAK1 and JAK2. It is being evaluated for the treatment of COVID-19 because it may prevent cellular immune activation and inflammation. Baricitinib is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis. On November 19, 2020, the FDA issued an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for the use of baricitinib in combination with remdesivir in hospitalized adults and children aged ≥2 years with COVID-19 who require supplemental oxygen, invasive mechanical ventilation, or extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO).
Official Reporting for December 16, 2020
World Health Organization
Confirmed Cases: 71 581 532
Deaths: 1 618 374
Confirmed Cases: 71 503 614
Deaths: 1 612 833
Confirmed Cases: 73,418,181
Total cases: 16,317,892 (+204,748 New Cases)
Total deaths: 300,032 (+1,766 New Deaths)
South Korea: South Korea Cases Hit Record – Bloomberg
The Netherlands – Dutch leader announces tough new nationwide virus lockdown – ABC News
Sweden: Hospitals Now Face Nationwide Staff Shortages – Bloomberg
Science and Tech
The year’s best science images, breakthroughs in allergy medicine, and which countries nailed COVID contact tracing (and which didn’t).
For COVID-19 patients with serious lung disease, targeting endothelial cells — cells that comprise the blood vessel wall which regulate oxygen exchange between airways and the bloodstream — may be a novel approach restoring normal lung function.
Psychological and Sociological Impact
While taxes spur relocations by the rich, lower costs, bigger living spaces and better quality of life are driving other Americans during the pandemic.
SARS-CoV-2 and Viral Sepsis: Immune Dysfunction and Implications in Kidney Failure – Journal of Clinical Medicine
SARS-CoV-2 antibody seroprevalence in the general population and high-risk occupational groups across 18 cities in Iran: a population-based cross-sectional study – The Lancet
Misinformation, Disinformation, and Conspiracy Theories
There are now businesses that sell fake people. On the website Generated.Photos, you can buy a “unique, worry-free” fake person for $2.99, or 1,000 people for $1,000. If you just need a couple of fake people — for characters in a video game, or to make your company website appear more diverse — you can get their photos for free on ThisPersonDoesNotExist.com. Adjust their likeness as needed; make them old or young or the ethnicity of your choosing. If you want your fake person animated, a company called Rosebud.AI can do that and can even make them talk.
Fifteen percent of Americans in a new Kaiser Family Foundation poll say they definitely won’t take coronavirus vaccines.
The two leading coronavirus vaccines seemed to work well in elderly trial volunteers. “I just can’t understand why people are afraid,” one 95-year-old said.
Coping in 2020
Thanks Tara, and Toastie, this is for you.