Coronavirus Special Coverage

A collection of news posted throughout the week for those that want signal, not noise.

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Key developments for Thursday, August 27, 2020

Welcome to the newly revamped Key Developments, now twice weekly and with non-COVID news. Right now, it’s actually still just COVID news, but we’ll be slowly morphing it into something broader as we go.

The world has over 24.6 million cases.  The world has been adding 1.8 million cases per week, and this rate of case growth has been maintained for at least 6 weeks. There have been over 834,000 deaths. The US has over 6 million cases and has had almost 185,000 deaths. 1,000 or more Americans are dying from COVID-19 each day and this rate of death has been maintained for the last six weeks as well. US has gained over 45,000 new cases since yesterday. India leads the world in case growth, gaining over 76,000 cases in 24 hours.

Moderna’s vaccine trials are going well, and there’s evidence that the vaccine can stimulate immunogenicity in people over 55. This is good news considering older adults and the elderly are at the greatest risk of mortality if infected with the pandemic virus. Interestingly, mRNA vaccines like Moderna’s and Pfizer’s need to be stored at extremely low temperatures. This means that they can’t be used as easily in small clinics, pharmacies, or doctor’s offices, and will likely need to be stored and administered at hospitals or specialized laboratories.

The mayors of Nashville, New York, and California will defy the CDC and continue to recommend and offer testing to asymptomatic people. The mayors these states insist that the CDC’s recent change in guidance on the testing of asymptomatic people is flawed and scientifically and medically baseless:

Hawaii is experiencing a rise in cases. Hawaii has the highest R in the country at the moment. Oahu is going back into lockdown for two weeks. Testing will be expanded in Oahu to help flatten the curve once again.

Four world-class experts in disciplines including immunology, virology, and vaccinology agree that at the very least, some kind of functional immunity is probably likely. Waning immunity is a possibility, but even then most people will produce some kind of immune response durable enough that if reinfection occurs, it won’t be as severe as the initial infection. None of the experts think lost immunity is likely.

Abbott is launching a fast, cheap test, and it might be a game-changer:

We know there’re sex differences in response to this disease, with men suffering worse outcomes. But why? Nature delves into these differences and discovers that T cells might be acting differently in men than women. These differences might have implications in targeted therapeutics:

Sending people infected with a pandemic respiratory illness to nursing homes, where the elderly would clearly be fodder for the disease (common sense would tell you this, but so did the early data from China), is a horrible idea. And yet, many state leaders pushed for it. The Justice Department is investigating:

A third of students at UNC tested positive. UNC has had to close back down and move to online instruction:

Over 9,000 students in Florida K-12 schools tested positive in the first two weeks of school.

Over 1.5 million people were under evacuation orders before Hurricane Laura made landfall near the Texas-Louisiana border. Despite huge numbers of evacuees fleeing the storm and spreading out to other areas, the numbers of tests for COVID-19 have remained steady in that periphery. Folks with COVID-19 infections have been flung to all corners, evacuees are being housed together in shelters, and testing has not been ramped up to help control the inevitable increase in disease spread.

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