COVID-19 VACCINE *UPDATE*
The road ahead in the U.S. as the U.K. becomes the first country in the West to approve a COVID-19 vaccine.
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The road ahead in the U.S. as the U.K. becomes the first country in the West to approve a COVID-19 vaccine.
“We are committed to expediting the development of COVID-19 vaccines, but not at the expense of sound science and decision making. We will not jeopardize the public’s trust in our science-based, independent review of these or any vaccines. There’s too much at stake.”
To date, all the data we have regarding vaccines has come from the companies themselves -- NOT the federal gov't -- or peer-reviewed studies. There's still A LOT we don't know, like how soon after a vaccine dose does immunity protection occur. Vaccine trials are ongoing both in the U.S. and abroad.
What to know as the U.S. reports more than 1 million COVID-19 cases among the youngest Americans.
Last Week: The *total* number of cases among children surpassed 1 million as America also reported 1 mil *new* cases.
This Week: The country’s largest school district (NYC) reverted back to remote-only learning.
Next Week: At least two states (Kentucky & West Virginia) will temporarily cease all in-person school instruction.
According to COVID-19 data compiled in a report by the American Academy of Pediatrics and Children’s Hospital Association, as of November 12:
“As a pediatrician who has practiced medicine for over three decades, I find this number staggering and tragic.”
Based on what we know so far, most children experience milder symptoms of COVID-19 than adults, and some who test positive may not have any symptoms at all but still can spread illness. While some argue schools risk higher infection rates, others say school rules help keep families safe. What do you think?
The U.S. Supreme Court tackles the Affordable Care Act… again.
The latest legal challenge to the ACA (aka “Obamacare”).
We won’t know the results of the case until next spring, and as late as June 2021.
If the law is struck down, the ripple effects are truly TBD.
If the law is upheld, there’s still a possibility of legislative changes as Democrats discuss adding a public option, and Republicans have promised to create a separate plan.
The incoming Congress could take actions (ex: eliminating the individual mandate or increasing the tax penalty to a nominal amount) which would influence how the Court ultimately rules. This is one of the reasons why the future of the Senate, with two tie-breaking seats in Georgia in a runoff for Senate party majority, matter so much.
Are these commonly-found household items part of your defense against COVID-19?
What the studies say…
“While we wait for a vaccine to be developed, methods to reduce transmission are needed… The products we tested are readily available and often already part of people’s daily routines.”
“Listerine® Antiseptic mouthwash is not clinically proven to kill the coronavirus that causes COVID-19… To date, the available data is not sufficient to support a conclusion that the use of Listerine® Antiseptic or mouthwashes could be helpful against coronavirus as further research is needed.”
“If our finding is confirmed, it would make aspirin the first widely available, over-the-counter medication to reduce mortality in COVID-19 patients.”
All of the studies' researchers agree that while the results are promising as a starting point, people should continue to follow the preventive measures issued by federal, state, and local health officials, including mask wearing, frequent handwashing, and maintaining social distance.
One mysterious, lingering symptom of COVID-19 catches the attention of top health officials & perplexes doctors, sufferers alike.
“If you talk to a significant number of people, they will tell you that, for anywhere from weeks to months and possibly longer, that they have symptoms that are characterized by fatigue and a thing that they refer to as brain fog, which really means the difficulty concentrating.”
“It’s all related. The fact that people are losing their sense of smell, the fact that people are losing their sense of taste, and the brain fog — all this whole system is neurological.”
“Everything in my brain was white static … I was sitting on the edge of the bed, crying and feeling ‘something’s wrong, I should be asking for help,’ but I couldn’t remember who or what I should be asking. I forgot who I was and where I was.”
“It’s subtle, but it is very real.”
No one knows 100%.
Here’s some early thinking:
One encouraging note: Doctors and those recovering from COVID-19 say this fog can "lift" - that it's not permanent. A reminder: This week marks 9 months since the first diagnosed case of COVID-19 in America; research on the impact of COVID - both mentally and physically - remains limited.
A testing method for COVID-19 puts the spotlight squarely on man’s best friend.
Can Dogs Save The World?
“As far as we know, no other airport has attempted to use canine scent detection on such a large scale against COVID-19.”
“With covid detection, you are not recognizing the virus. You are recognizing the volatile byproducts of cells dying because they have been infected with the virus.”
“Their noses work very differently than ours. We breathe in and out through the same passages. But dogs breathe in one passage and out another so they can separate out the odor that they want to focus on.”
Those optimistic think dogs may be more accurate than current testing, offering a powerful surveillance tool for returning communities back to "normal" by working at schools, stadiums and airports. Critics say training dogs is too expensive and time consuming to scale effectively.
A new study sheds light on the increased frequency of alcohol consumption amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
″We’ve had anecdotal information about people buying and consuming more alcohol, but this is some of the first survey-based information that shows how much alcohol consumption has increased during the pandemic.”
The alcohol consumption increase was most notable among two groups:
Additionally, women reported a 41% increase in heavy drinking (i.e., drinking 4 or more drinks within 2 hours).
Why are women drinking more frequently? This study doesn't say. Separately, a UK study found those with the greatest increase in mental distress during the pandemic included young adults (18-24), women, and those with small children.
New research on COVID-19 infections from exercise classes as states weigh whether to reopen gyms.
“Because of the increased possibility of infection through droplets, vigorous exercise in closely confined spaces should be avoided during the current outbreak, as should public gatherings, even in small groups.”
Unlike other industries (ex: schools, restaurants, places of worship), the CDC has not issued specific reopening guidance for gyms. Check out the CDC's guidance for other industries on our source page.
One of America’s oldest companies will stop selling one of its most iconic products.
“Demand for talc-based Johnson’s Baby Powder in North America has been declining due in large part to changes in consumer habits and fueled by misinformation around the safety of the product and a constant barrage of litigation advertising.”
“Today’s victory means that children and families no longer will be endangered by this baby powder.”
Not Just The Powder: Johnson & Johnson says it decided to cut 100 products, including talc-based baby powder, after assessing its product line in light of COVID-19. J&J will continue to sell its cornstarch-based powder, but will keep the talc-based product on market shelves until it is sold out. Will you continue using it?
New Questions About
COVID-19 & Children As a Rare Set of Symptoms Surface
Monday: NYC Health Dept. issued alert after flagging 15 children with similar symptoms hospitalized since mid-April.
Patients: Aged 2-15 years old; some tested positive for COVID-19 (or antibodies) while others tested negative.
Symptoms: Similar to toxic shock and/or “Kawasaki disease” (an illness that causes inflammation), persistent fever.
“We want to reassure parents – this appears to be uncommon.”
This bulletin from NYC is corroborated by reports from doctors in Europe and the U.S, (mainly on the East Coast) and notably in areas with high COVID-19 infection rates.
Health officials have been baffled at the low rates of COVID-19 among children — this raises questions about a more nuanced, rare response in otherwise healthy children.
The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases among U.S. children remains low. However, children are not extensively tested.
According to the most recent CDC data, about 21,000 Americans under 18 tested positive for COVID-19, a small percentage of the 1M+ cases.
For context - the 2019-2020 flu season was particularly deadly for children under the age of 4 (CDC reported 170 deaths), and had historically-high hospitalization rates for those under 18 years old.
The results of a drug trial provide an important clue to treating COVID-19.
Nat’l Inst. of Health’s Dr. Fauci shared the results today of “the first truly high-powered randomized placebo control trial” on a drug used to treat COVID-19.
There are no *proven* therapeutics to specifically treat COVID-19.
Dr. Fauci: “What it’s proven is that a drug can block this virus…We think it’s really opening the door to the fact that we now have the capability of treating.”
This will encourage further research, testing, and innovation on remdesivir and other therapeutics.
Remdesivir blocks an enzyme used by the virus to gain strength or replicate.
Administered through an IV.
Interesting to Note: Though tested for treating SARS & MERS (coronaviruses), leading to positive results for shortening disease and symptoms in animals, remdesivir has NOT been approved anywhere in the world.
“It’s active against every coronavirus that we’ve ever tested. It was very hard for the virus to develop resistance to remdesivir. That means the drug would likely be effective over longer term use.”
In a separate study on remdesivir in China, the drug did not lead to shorter recovery times. Patients receiving the drug vs. placebo did not experience any significant benefit.
The study was smaller and ended early. Researchers wanted more than 450 people enrolled, but ended up with just over half of that, due to decreasing number of COVID cases.
Dr. Fauci says the drug's impact on COVID-19 mortality is TBD. Initial data reflects a trend that those treated with remdesivir have lower mortality rates but a lot more information is needed. That said, the FDA says its already working with the drug-maker to secure availability of the treatment *if* approved.
How COVID-19 impacts what you and your family are able to buy, cook & eat.
The U.S. food supply chain is impacted by COVID-19 in these two ways:
Why It Matters: Livestock farmers have too much product & nowhere to send it.
“As pork, beef and chicken plants are being forced to close, even for short periods of time, millions of pounds of meat will disappear from the supply chain… Farmers across the country will not have anywhere to sell their livestock to be processed, when they could have fed the nation… The food supply chain is breaking.”
“They say, ‘How dare you throw away food when so many people are hungry?.’ They don’t know how farming works. This makes me sick, too.”
Even if individual families buy more at the grocery store, we can’t make up for the large, bulk purchasing power of restaurants, corporate cafeterias, event catering and beyond.
Some economists believe the disruption in the supply chain (lower supply due to closed processing plants) will lead to higher prices for all in the weeks and months ahead.
Currently, meat produced for food-service (like restaurants) cannot be repackaged and sold in grocery stores, or donated easily. The USDA has set up an emergency network to try to coordinate oversupply, funneling it to places of need.