Moderna Vaccine Approved

Another panel of FDA experts gave their approval for Moderna’s COVID vaccine. Emergency use authorization is expected later today.

In other news:

  • According to data from the Census Bureau, more Americans are going hungry than at any point during the COVID pandemic.
  • Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Drs. Jay Bhattacharya and Sunetra Gupta say dissemination of vaccines can (and should) end lockdowns by giving focused protection of people who face a high risk of mortality.
  • In the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, microbiologist David Relman says a full investigation into origins of COVID necessitates “addressing some uncomfortable possibilities,” including a release from a lab.
  • Clashes between anti-lockdown protestors and police officers grow violent in Ukraine.

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Additionally, we just released an update on how COVID-19 is playing out on university campuses.

COVID News

Tracking an FDA advisory panel’s review of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine

An advisory panel on Thursday recommended that the Food and Drug Administration issue an emergency use authorization for a Covid-19 vaccine developed by Moderna, all but guaranteeing the agency will do so.

The authorization, expected on Friday, will mark the second Covid-19 vaccine cleared by the agency — and amount to one more step toward curbing a pandemic that has infected an estimated 17 million people and killed more than 300,000 in the United States.

Both Moderna’s vaccine and the one developed by Pfizer and its partner BioNTech, which was granted an EUA last week, use messenger RNA to instruct the body’s cells to produce copies of the spike protein found on the exterior of the SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19. Those vaccine-induced proteins teach the immune system to recognize the coronavirus as an invader and attack it when an immunized person is exposed to the virus.

Hunger spikes, demand rises for US food banks

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-55307722

Food banks across the country are straining to meet rising demand during the pandemic, even in some of the country’s wealthier regions.

Karla Candelario, 30, never thought she and her husband would have to rely on a food bank to feed their family.

Before the pandemic, the couple, who live in Loudoun, Virginia, were getting by with their combined salaries, Karla caring for the elderly and her husband working in construction.

But last June, Candelario lost her job. “That’s when everything changed,” she says.

The sudden loss of income and an unexpected and necessary $3,000 (£2,250) dental procedure that Candelario had to undergo put the family, which includes four children – an 11-year old, a nine-year-old, and four-year-old twins – under serious financial strain.

Commentary/Analysis

How to End Lockdowns Next Month

https://www.wsj.com/articles/how-to-end-lockdowns-next-month-11608230214

The approval of several Covid-19 vaccines is an impressive technological development that should rapidly end the lockdowns and allow normal life to resume. But authorities like Anthony Fauci and Bill Gates argue that lockdown restrictions may have to continue through the fall and even into 2022, notwithstanding the catastrophic harms the lockdowns have caused, especially to young people, the poor and the working classes.

The imminent dissemination of vaccines can help end lockdowns by the end of January. The Great Barrington Declaration, which we wrote with Martin Kulldorff of Harvard Medical School, provides the key idea: focused protection of people who face a high risk of mortality should they become infected.

The risk of mortality from Covid-19 infection is now well established by seroprevalence studies conducted world-wide. Seroprevalence studies measure a lower bound on the number of people who have been infected. There is a sharp age gradient in the survival rate after infection. At least 99.95% of people under 70 survive infection; that figure is only 95% for 70 and older.

Opinion: To stop the next pandemic, we need to unravel the origins of COVID-19

https://www.pnas.org/content/117/47/29246

We find ourselves ten months into one of the most catastrophic global health events of our lifetime and, disturbingly, we still do not know how it began. What’s even more troubling is that despite the critical importance of this question, efforts to investigate the origins of the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) virus and of the associated disease, coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), have become mired in politics, poorly supported assumptions and assertions, and incomplete information.

SARS-CoV-2 is a betacoronavirus whose apparent closest relatives, RaTG13 and RmYN02, are reported to have been collected from bats in 2013 and 2019, respectively, in Yunnan Province, China (1). COVID-19 was first reported in December 2019 more than 1,000 miles away in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China. Beyond these facts, the “origin story” is missing many key details, including a plausible and suitably detailed recent evolutionary history of the virus, the identity and provenance of its most recent ancestors, and surprisingly, the place, time, and mechanism of transmission of the first human infection. Even though a definitive answer may not be forthcoming, and even though an objective analysis requires addressing some uncomfortable possibilities, it is crucial that we pursue this question. Preventing the next pandemic depends on understanding the origins of this one.

Research

Assessment of Racial/Ethnic Disparities in Hospitalization and Mortality in Patients With COVID-19 in New York City

https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamanetworkopen/fullarticle/2773538

Question: Do outcomes among patients with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) differ by race/ethnicity, and are observed disparities associated with comorbidity and neighborhood characteristics?

Findings: This cohort study including 9722 patients found that Black and Hispanic patients were more likely than White patients to test positive for COVID-19. Among patients hospitalized with COVID-19 infection, Black patients were less likely than White patients to have severe illness and to die or be discharged to hospice.

Meaning: Although Black patients were more likely than White patients to test positive for COVID-19, after hospitalization they had lower mortality, suggesting that neighborhood characteristics may explain the disproportionately higher out-of-hospital COVID-19 mortality among Black individuals.

Charts and Graphics

California and Florida: Current Hospitalizations Per 1 Million

Nearly 3 months after Fauci said Florida was “asking for trouble” by removing capacity restrictions & mask enforcement, California’s hospitalization rate is now 60% higher. That’s despite California having no indoor or outdoor dining, bars, no theme parks or zoos & strict universal masks.

US Midwest States, Cases 7 Day MA per 100k

The post-Thanksgiving surge in cases predicted by Fauci and other doomsayers never materialized in the Midwest.

International News

Ukraine says dozens of police hurt in clashes with lockdown protesters

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-ukraine-lockdown-idUSKBN28P2FV

KYIV (Reuters) – One police officer was knocked unconscious and 40 others received chemical eye burns from gas on Tuesday in clashes between police and thousands of people protesting a government lockdown to fight the coronavirus, the interior ministry said.

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s government has announced a tight national lockdown starting in January to fight the spread of COVID-19, in the wake of a recent spike in cases.

At a rally of entrepreneurs and representatives of small businesses on Kyiv’s Independence Square, clashes between helmeted riot police and demonstrators erupted after the protesters tried to set up tents.

“One policeman was hit on the head – and he lost consciousness. Another 40 received chemical eye burns,” the interior ministry said in a statement.

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