Where’s the Vaccine?

The United Kingdom has officially approved Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine while the U.S. FDA digs into the data. President Trump asks why the UK is beating us on the vaccine, while Switzerland holds off on approval until more data is released.

In other news:

  • More rules for thee but not for me: Austin Mayor Steve Adler flew to Mexico for a vacation despite his official admonishments to Austinites to stay home. 
    • The list of hypocrites continues to grow. 
  • New analysis of blood donations finds the coronavirus was present on the West Coast earlier than previously believed.
  • A report from the CDC states that, compared to 2019, mental health-related emergency department visits during the period of Jan. 1 to Oct. 16, 2020, were up 24 percent in children ages 5 to 11 and up by 31 percent in 12 to 17 year olds.
  • Pushback by liberals: The Beverly Hills City Council unanimously voted to oppose Los Angeles County’s public health order that prohibits outdoor dining across the county. As of December 1, Pasadena is the only L.A. county that remains open for outdoor dining.

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

COVID News

Austin mayor was vacationing in Cabo when he said residents ‘need to stay home’

https://www.statesman.com/story/news/coronavirus/2020/12/02/austin-mayor-stressed-residents-lsquoneed-to-stay-homersquo-he-was-vacationing-in-cabo-at-time/115087704/

In early November, as health officials warned of a impending COVID-19 spike, Austin Mayor Steve Adler hosted an outdoor wedding and reception with 20 guests for his daughter at a trendy hotel near downtown.

The next morning, Adler and seven other wedding attendees boarded a private jet bound for Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, where they vacationed for a week at a family timeshare.

One night into the trip, Adler addressed Austin residents in a Facebook video: “We need to stay home if you can. This is not the time to relax. We are going to be looking really closely. … We may have to close things down if we are not careful.”

In hosting the wedding and traveling internationally, Adler said he broke neither his own order or those established by Gov. Greg Abbott.

But at the time, the city was recommending people not gather in groups of more than 10, and the day after Adler’s departure, Austin’s health authority warned that “it’s important that we drive the (COVID-19) numbers down in advance of Thanksgiving.”

As he pressed the public to help stop the spread of the virus in recent weeks, Adler had not previously disclosed details of his private actions. He gave no indication in his Facebook video that he was outside the city as he discussed Austin’s rising number of cases and reviewed the number of hospital patients.

Covid-19 Likely in U.S. in Mid-December 2019, CDC Scientists Report

https://www.wsj.com/articles/covid-19-likely-in-u-s-in-mid-december-2019-cdc-scientists-report-11606782449

The new coronavirus infected people in the U.S. in mid-December 2019, a few weeks before it was officially identified in China and about a month earlier than public health authorities found the first U.S. case, according to a government study published Monday.

The findings significantly strengthen evidence suggesting the virus was spreading around the world well before public health authorities and researchers became aware, upending initial thinking about how early and quickly it emerged.

Scientists at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found evidence of infection in 106 of 7,389 blood donations collected by the American Red Cross from residents in nine states across the U.S., according to the study published online in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases.

The scientists based their study on blood samples that the American Red Cross collected between Dec. 13 and Jan. 17 and later sent to the CDC for testing to see if any had antibodies to the new coronavirus, which is named SARS-CoV-2.

Beverly Hills City Council votes to oppose L.A. County’s outdoor dining ban

https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2020-12-02/beverly-hills-council-oppose-los-angeles-county-outdoor-dining-ban

The Beverly Hills City Council has unanimously voted to oppose Los Angeles County’s outdoor dining ban amid the worst COVID-19 surge the state has seen.

In a resolution approved Tuesday that calls for the L.A. County Board of Supervisors to repeal the ban, the council cited the detrimental impact on local businesses and said there was a lack of scientific evidence to support the ban.

The council also asked city staff to research the idea of forming a Beverly Hills public health department, which would allow the city to set its own rules for combating a pandemic.

“I am enraged by what the majority of the county supervisors voted on without having the data to do so, especially after all of us, these many, many months, have learned that eating outdoors was the safest way during COVID,” Councilwoman Lili Bosse said during Tuesday’s meeting.

New restaurant rules to take effect in Pasadena, the only L.A. County city still open for dining

Pasadena will continue allowing people to dine outdoors at restaurants in opposition to a Los Angeles County order, but the city will limit tables to a single household as of Wednesday as people flock to the city.

As of Tuesday, Pasadena was the only city in the county where people could still dine in at restaurants after L.A. County ordered restaurants to operate only for takeout and delivery as of Nov. 25.

The new restaurant restrictions are part of several taking effect in L.A. County amid a record-setting coronavirus surge, including a revised stay-home order.

Hospitalizations countywide reached a new peak Tuesday as the county reported its largest single-day increase in virus cases yet, close to 7,600. Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer called Tuesday L.A. County’s “worst day thus far” in the pandemic, adding that those to follow will likely be worse.

Pasadena has its own health department, which has allowed restaurants to stay open for outdoor dining. Over the weekend, people packed the city’s restaurants — leading to long wait times but also large earnings for the businesses.

Commentary/Analysis

Facing covid-19 reality: A national lockdown is no cure

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/03/21/facing-covid-19-reality-national-lockdown-is-no-cure/

Covid-19 will go away eventually in one of two ways. Either we will develop a vaccine to prevent it, or the virus will burn itself out as the spread of infection comes to confer a form of herd immunity on the population. Neither of those possibilities will occur quickly.

It is time to face reality. We urgently need a unified national strategy, one informed by the best science about stopping diseases like covid-19 and from virus control efforts in China, Singapore and Hong Kong, as well as realistic projections of the human and economic toll of any option we pursue. Our way of life cannot survive an indefinite series of short-term action plans.

We have to ask what we hope to accomplish with limited self-quarantines and shelter-in-place directives. Clearly, as one objective, we seek to “flatten the curve” in an effort to keep our already overburdened health-care system from being overrun. The ability of our hospitals to continue providing care to a flood of covid-19 patients, while still treating the other patients they normally have, all the while protecting health-care professionals, will be a major factor in reducing bad outcomes for victims of the coronavirus and other illnesses as well.

The List of Politicians Defying Their Own Lockdown Orders Is Extensive and Growing While They All Share the Same Menu Item

https://redstate.com/bradslager/2020/12/03/the-list-of-politicians-defying-their-own-lockdown-orders-is-extensive-and-growing-while-they-all-share-the-same-menu-item-n288632

Our national nightmare of a Covid outbreak has been enduring and what is making the case even harder to tolerate is the presence of politicians who are using the pandemic as a political power grab. Criticisms of these measures being imposed are frequently met with hysterical defenses; those resisting mask mandates and lockdown orders are said to be responsible for the spread, causing longer restrictions, and even guilty of causing death.

There is one factor however that mitigates these hectoring charges — the politicians who defy their own lockdown orders. Their collected hypocrisy goes beyond just the case of closing down businesses while they continue to work and collect government salaries. In recent months, for reasons which defy reason, more and more examples are found of politicians who ignore the same oppressive orders they enforce on the populace. 

Just this week we have been served a handful of new cases of these elitist prigs flaunting the very restrictions they command – sometimes even while they are delivering these orders. To give a sense of just how rampant these cases of ignorant officials living an elevated reality have been, peer over this extensive list of examples.

Research

Mental Health, Substance Use, and Suicidal Ideation During the COVID-19 Pandemic — United States, June 24–30, 2020

https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/mm6932a1.htm

Summary

What is already known about this topic?

Communities have faced mental health challenges related to COVID-19–associated morbidity, mortality, and mitigation activities.

What is added by this report?

During June 24–30, 2020, U.S. adults reported considerably elevated adverse mental health conditions associated with COVID-19. Younger adults, racial/ethnic minorities, essential workers, and unpaid adult caregivers reported having experienced disproportionately worse mental health outcomes, increased substance use, and elevated suicidal ideation.

What are the implications for public health practice?

The public health response to the COVID-19 pandemic should increase intervention and prevention efforts to address associated mental health conditions. Community-level efforts, including health communication strategies, should prioritize young adults, racial/ethnic minorities, essential workers, and unpaid adult caregivers.

Charts and Graphics

Average Monthly Hospital Discharges for Pneumonia and Influenza by Month vs. Current COVID19 Hospitalizations by State

Scientific literature notes that most hospitals see between 65% and 83% utilization at any time.

US Covid-19 Reported Deaths by Age as of 11/28/20

Know your risk.

Covid19 Cases Per Million: Texas vs. California

Despite California adopting more draconian policies, it has had a nearly identical case trajectory as Texas, which follows almost none of it. In TX, schools are open. Businesses are open. People can go for a walk. In other words, they are treated more as human beings.

International News

U.K. Approves Pfizer Coronavirus Vaccine, a First in the West

LONDON — Britain gave emergency authorization on Wednesday to Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine, leaping ahead of the United States to become the first Western country to allow mass inoculations against a disease that has killed more than 1.4 million people worldwide.

The decision cleared the way for a vaccination campaign with little precedent in modern medicine, encompassing not only ultracold dry ice but also a crusade against anti-vaccine misinformation.

Britain’s beating the United States to authorization — on a vaccine codeveloped by an American company, no less — intensified pressure on U.S. regulators, who are under fire from the White House for not moving faster to get doses to people. But it also fueled concerns that Britain was acting in haste for political reasons or trying to muscle its way to the front of the line for deliveries.

European regulators on Wednesday cast doubt on the rigor of Britain’s review and said that the authorization was limited to specific batches of the vaccine, a claim that Pfizer denied and British officials did not address.

Incomplete data stalls Swiss authorisation of Covid-19 vaccines

https://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/incomplete-data-stalls-swiss-authorisation-of-covid-19-vaccines/46196598

Switzerland’s medical regulator Swissmedic says it lacks the necessary information to sign off on three different coronavirus vaccines ordered by the government.  

The regulator said important data on safety, efficacy and quality are still missing. It has reached out to the manufacturers, who provided data from their studies. 

“We lack data on the effectiveness of the clinical trials and on the important subgroups that participated in these large studies,” said Claus Bolte, head of the authorisation division at Swissmedic, at a press briefing on Tuesday organised by the Federal Office of Public Health. 

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