For COVID-19 researchers, the new year brings a strong sense of déjà vu. As in early 2020, the world is anxiously watching a virus spread in one country and trying to parse the risk for everyone else. This time it is not a completely new threat, but a rapidly spreading variant of SARS-CoV-2. In southeastern England, where the B.1.1.7 variant first caught scientists’ attention last month, it has quickly replaced other variants, and it may be the harbinger of a new, particularly perilous phase of the pandemic.
As vaccine distribution ramps up across the U.S., and globally, skepticism remains. Many cite the speed at which vaccines have rolled out as one of their main concerns. In this episode we explore how we got here, how the biopharmaceutical industry readied for this very moment that allowed them to move at warp speed.
Scientists at the National Institutes of Health and Moderna Inc may take about two months to determine whether doses of the company’s COVID-19 vaccine can be halved to double the supply of the shots in the U.S., according to the agency.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released data Monday tracking the progress made by states to administer COVID-19 vaccine.
Moderna Inc.’s Covid-19 vaccine won European Union approval, opening the way for a second weapon in the bloc’s battle against a resurgent virus. The European Commission granted conditional marketing authorization to the vaccine on Wednesday, hours after a signoff by the EU’s medicines regulator. Deliveries will start next week, Moderna said.
Scientists have found no trace of SARS-CoV-2 in the brains of people with the infection. However, they have observed blood vessel damage caused by the body’s inflammatory response in the post-mortem brains of patients who tested positive for COVID-19, which suggests the virus may indirectly attack the organ. [Related study NEJM]
Official Reporting for January 7, 2021
World Health Organization
Confirmed Cases: 85 091 012
Deaths: 1 861 005
Confirmed Cases: 80 316 555
Deaths: 1 770 695
Confirmed Cases: 87,108,902
Total cases: 20,960,096 (+227,692 New Cases)
Total deaths: 356,005 (+3,541 New Deaths)
Boston, Massachusetts: With the pandemic still raging, Boston extends restrictions for another 3 weeks – Boston.com
Southern California: Los Angeles is running out of oxygen for patients as covid hospitalizations hit record highs nationwide – Washington Post
Florida: Florida breaks daily coronavirus record for second time in a week – Tampa Bay Times
Chile: Chilean lawmakers propose making coronavirus vaccine mandatory – NBC News
Germany: Germany Urges Patience With Covid Vaccine Rollout Under Fire – Bloomberg
UK: Swamped Hospitals Expose Depth of Britain’s Unfolding Crisis – Bloomberg
India: Delays Over Pricing Holds Back India’s Vital Vaccine Rollout – Bloomberg
China: China steps up COVID-19 curbs near Beijing as infections rise – Reuters
Japan: Japan calls for limited emergency declaration as COVID-19 cases surge – Reuters
Science and Tech
Many doses of the monoclonal antibody drugs that treat mild to moderate COVID-19 are sitting unused around the country. There are logistical problems with providing these drugs and skepticism over whether they work. But two major health systems have had good success in deploying these medications, and they’re reporting hopeful results.
Researchers with Shenzhen Institutes of Advanced Technology in China used a variety of computational techniques to simulate drug-virus interactions. They then screened 1,906 existing drugs to evaluate which ones might inhibit replication of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
Psychological and Sociological Impact
Microvascular Injury in the Brains of Patients with Covid-19 – NEJM
Open Schools, Covid-19, and Child and Teacher Morbidity in Sweden – NEJM
Misinformation, Disinformation, and Conspiracy Theories
America’s Frontline Doctors, an organization that claims to provide uncensored, accurate information about the pandemic, became infamous in July after a viral press conference that protested government lockdown restrictions and spread inaccuracies ranging from the ineffectiveness of masks to claims that hydroxychloroquine could “cure” COVID-19.
Coping in 2020 (and probably most of 2021)
Remember the series Dexter? Dexter is apparently coming back in 2021, and he has a band called “Princess Goes to the Butterfly Museum” as well. Reminds me of David Bowie… Today was weird, so enjoy this escape for a moment. Full article at the Daily Beast.