Here’s some good news to start your day: A Covid-19 vaccine developed by the biotechnology company Moderna looks promising.
The vaccine has triggered immune responses in all of the 45 volunteers who received it in a Phase 1 trial, according to early results published yesterday. The study also revealed some mild side effects — fatigue, chills, headache, muscle pain and pain at the injection site.
While the immune responses are encouraging, the scientists behind the trial cautioned it was not clear whether the levels they were seeing would actually protect against infection. A Phase 3 trial involving 30,000 volunteers is scheduled to start in less than two weeks. Moderna said if all goes well, it would be “on track to be able to deliver approximately 500 million doses per year, and possibly up to 1 billion doses per year, beginning in 2021.”
America’s top infectious diseases expert Dr. Anthony Fauci was optimistic. “So right away, I’m feeling much better about getting a vaccine that’s distributed not only within our country, but then to be able to have doses for people throughout the world,” Fauci said during a Georgetown University webinar. He said the world should see a vaccine that protects people from Covid-19 within the next year to year and a half.
The Moderna vaccine is just one of at least 23 that are in human trials around the world. Another 140 are in preclinical trials, according to the World Health Organization.
However, some health experts have warned that a vaccine may not be the holy grail for eradicating the disease and ending the lockdown misery. Even if scientists succeed in finding a vaccine soon, it almost certainly won’t be 100% effective for everyone. Moreover, the anti-vaccine movement is alive and well, putting the prospect of achieving a herd immunity at risk.
“This sense that when the vaccine comes, it will be over … it’s a dangerous promise,” said Heidi Tworek, a health communication expert at the University of British Columbia. “The truth is, we’ve only ever eliminated one disease through vaccines and that was smallpox and it took hundreds of years.”
YOU ASKED. WE ANSWERED
Q: How can I volunteer to be a vaccine trial participant?
A: Go to www.coronaviruspreventionnetwork.org to fill out a quick questionnaire.
The website will handle registration for the four large vaccine studies that are expected to start this summer and fall, and any others that follow. Several of the questions are designed to assess how likely you are to become infected and sick with Covid-19, including your race, what kind of work you do and how many people you come into contact with on a daily basis.
Tens of thousands of volunteers will be needed to help with trials before a vaccine could be made available to the public. There will be more than 100 sites in the US and elsewhere, and after registering on the website, your information will be sent to the study site closest to you.
The website is currently intended for people in the US, but it says it will be expanding its reach internationally soon.
Send your questions here. Are you a health care worker fighting Covid-19? Message us on WhatsApp about the challenges you’re facing: +1 347-322-0415.
WHAT’S IMPORTANT TODAY
A “pandemic of historic proportions”
Fauci yesterday compared the current crisis to the 1918 influenza pandemic that killed more than 50 million people globally and about 675,000 in the US.
More than a million new cases were recorded globally in the past five days, according to figures from Johns Hopkins University. Almost half came from just three countries: the United States, Brazil and India, according to the JHU tally.
The US added more than 67,000 new cases yesterday, in the highest one-day jump so far. Florida alone has more cases than all but eight entire countries. India too saw a new record high, registering nearly 30,000 new cases yesterday. More than 578,000 people have died from the virus worldwide.
France will give $9 billion in pay raises to health care workers
France is giving its health care workers a massive pay raise in recognition of their work during the pandemic. The workers had held protests in June demanding better working conditions, triggering a nationwide debate about their treatment.
In April, the French government said it would pay medical health care workers a bonus of up to $1,634 for treating Covid-19 patients. Hospital staff will receive $544 and those working directly in coronavirus-impacted areas will get $1,634.
It’s official: The CDC wants you to wear a mask
The science shows face masks work both to protect the wearer and to protect others, and everyone needs to wear one when around other people in public, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said yesterday. There is “ample evidence” that people who have no symptoms and may not realize they are infected may be driving the ongoing surge in infections, the agency warned.
It’s not exactly breaking news — experts have been urging people to cover their mouths and noses for months. There are some indications that countries that made masks compulsory early in the pandemic have seen fewer cases and deaths.
The ‘war on women’ didn’t stop during lockdown
Scores of cases of violence against women and children have come to light as South Africa has lifted its lockdown, David McKenzie and Brent Swails report. President Cyril Ramaphosa called the situation a “war against women,” and said “violence is being unleashed on the women and children of our country with a brutality that defies any form of comprehension.”
But activists are not convinced the authorities are doing enough. “I don’t think they are serious about it. If they could deal with gender-based violence the exact same way they are dealing with Covid-19, we would be fine,” says Mandisa Monakali, the founder of Ilitha Labanthu, an NGO that helps support victims of gender-based violence.
ON OUR RADAR
- WFH may soon be WFBarbados. The country’s government is planning to introduce a 12-month Barbados Welcome Stamp for visitors working remotely.
- A recent coronavirus outbreak in Victoria, Australia is spreading across the state’s borders. The ‘patient zero’ in Sydney’s latest outbreak came to the city from Melbourne, then went to a hotel pub with coworkers.
- The Trump administration is dropping immigration restrictions on online-only instruction for foreign students.
- Hospital data on coronavirus patients will now be rerouted to the Trump administration instead of first being sent to the CDC. The change comes as four former CDC directors blasted the administration’s efforts to disregard and politicize guidelines from the agency in a scathing Washington Post op-ed.
- A nursing home that has been in lockdown since March 12 found a creative way to keep busy. It has recreated famous album covers using its residents as models.
- One day into the new mask law, one man is dead and another injured over a dispute in a Michigan store.
- One of America’s largest megachurches says it’s canceling all in-person services for the rest of 2020 over coronavirus concerns.
- Banksy’s latest artwork featuring rats — one sneezing, another using a mask as a parachute and yet another holding a bottle of sanitizer — has been removed from the London Underground.
- US border closures with Canada and Mexico will be extended for another month.
Summer is the perfect time to get healthy. Just remember to be kind to yourself, especially if your desire to engage in healthful summertime habits is also a reaction to a few or more pounds gained over the past few difficult months.
While we may have indulged in bigger portions or more snacks than usual due to the stresses associated with being quarantined or sick at home, it’s important not to judge ourselves for the ways we chose to cope during such an uncertain time.
Here are seven simple steps anyone can take:
- Water up
- Get moving!
- Find a carb compromise
- Pair low-carb foods with protein
- Find your fiber fix
- Pick one indulgence daily
- Come up with a food curfew
“Some people said, I don’t care. I do not need to wear a mask. That is very selfish because you expose your germs to other people.”
— Peter Tsai, the inventor of the N95 mask.
Peter Tsai isn’t exactly a household name, but his invention is. In 1995 he patented the fabric used to make N95 masks, which are one of the most effective face coverings to prevent the spread of Covid-19. CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta talks to Tsai about the role his creation has come to play in this global pandemic. Listen Now.