Key developments for Tuesday, December 15, 2020

The US Treasury and Commerce Departments have suffered a major data breach by state-sponsored hacking. That “state” is thought to be Russia. A US cyber security company, FireEye, failed to secure previously identified weaknesses in their product SolarWinds which is an asset monitoring and management system for critical supply chains used by affected agencies.

The impact of this data breach will reverberate for months:

Multiple strains of highly pathogenic avian flu are still circulating in Europe and killing birds:

There are over 73.7 million global COVID cases.  The world has gained over 5.2 million cases since last week. There have been over 1.6 million deaths. There are over 17.1 million cases in the US—up by over 1.6 million in a week. There have been over 310,000 deaths in the US. Over 2,500 have died in the US since yesterday. The US gained over 174,000 new cases in the last 24 hours. India is second in the world in number of cases, with over 9.9 million. Brazil is still second in the world in number of deaths, with over 182,000.

The FDA granted Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) to the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID vaccine on December 11, 2020. Shipping and logistics were already being primed in anticipation of the EUA, and the vaccine has been delivered to all 50 states already as of today. There are fewer than 500,000 doses to go around, and health care workers are the first to receive them. The elderly in care facilities will follow. In early 20201 there will be over 1 million doses of various vaccines in distribution, and hopefully hundreds of millions by mid-2021.

Children might not get as sick as often from COVID compared to adults, but they seem to spread it just fine. There have been conflicting reports on children’s role in the spread of the pandemic virus, but a large study out of Europe shows that children are, in fact, drivers of spread.

The EUA for the Moderna vaccine is likely to be granted this week.

COVID-induced blood vessel damage in children might leave behind a detectable biomarker.

There’s another variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus being detected in and around London, but there doesn’t seem to be anything to panic about yet. We’ve detected other variants before. Folks are keeping an eye on it. There’s no indication of risk to vaccine efficacy at this time because of the circulation of this variant:

If you’d like to read the FDA’s take on the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, here’s what they have to say about it.

And here’s a great (and exceptionally comprehensive) breakdown of why the vast majority of hypothetical concerns about the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine are not plausible. I highly recommend folks read this, because it’s a great weapon against disinformation that might scare people away from getting their vaccine.

We’ve finally gotten approval for an at-home COVID test that is relatively affordable ($30) and doesn’t require a prescription. It’s too expensive for frequent use, but it’s the best option we have so far:

  • 1 Comment

    • Trace

      At home Covid testing is the key — I’m glad to see things finally moving in that direction..

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