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pandemic news from trusted sources around the globe.
Today is the last day of 2020; a day that many of us are happy to see come and go. As we move into 2021, we have hope for vaccines for COVID-19, and a possible end of some of the chaos revolving around the pandemic.
However, we still have a long, long way to go. And an article in VOX explains that a major reason why has to do with new mutations of the novel coronavirus.
The article explains,
"A new, seemingly more contagious variety of SARS-CoV-2 — the virus that causes Covid-19 — that has been spreading rapidly in the United Kingdom has now been found in the United States in at least two locations.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced December 30 that the new strain, known as B.1.1.7 (we’ll call it the UK variant, for simplicity’s sake), was detected in the southern part of the state. It’s the second report of the UK variant in the US in as many days, following news that the variant was found in a male Colorado National Guard member in his 20s with no history of travel, a sign that the virus is spreading locally.
“There is a lot we don’t know about this COVID-19 variant, but scientists in the United Kingdom are warning the world that it is significantly more contagious,” said Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, in a statement.
The evidence that this new strain spreads more easily between people is not rock solid, but it’s concerning enough to have forced dramatic action, like shutting down travel from the United Kingdom earlier this month. But it wasn’t enough: The variant has now been detected in Canada, Spain, Sweden, France, and Italy, among others."
Click here to read the fascinating article. And here's to a healthy and happy 2021, friends.
I hope all of you are staying safe, friends.
There's good news and not-so-good news to report this evening:
First, the good news: COVID-19 vaccines are being developed and deployed rapidly. And the USA has just passed a new coronavirus stimulus package to help individuals in need.
The bad news: I don't want to sugarcoat this: The virus is out of control. And a new, mutated version of the virus is spreading throughout Europe at an alarming rate.
According to an article in New York Magazine:
"The variation found in the U.K., known as “VUI – 202012/01” was first identified there in mid-September, according to the World Health Organization. Its mutations have occurred on the genetic material that controls the spike protein, which allows COVID and other similar viruses to penetrate host cells, causing infection.
According to the U.K.’s chief scientific adviser Patrick Vallance, there are 23 changes in the virus’s genetic material, an unusually large number that appears to be helping it spread more quickly. British officials have now estimated that “VUI – 202012/01” is as much as 70 percent more transmissible — a number that is based on modeling, but not yet confirmed in lab experiments. Though there is no evidence to-date that the strain causes a more intense illness or leads to a higher fatality rate, faster transmission does mean more cases, which can lead to a higher hospitalization rate."
Click here to read more.
In one of Governor Newsom's most sobering press briefings, he explained that the state of California has activated it's "Mass Fatality" program, with the expectation of a continued surge of COVID-19 patients, and with ICU beds nearing a level that is incredibly low.
Friends, this is serious, serious news. Please be safe.
An update on CNN explains:
"The day after California began its Covid-19 vaccination rollout, the state activated its "mass fatality" program, including the purchase of 5,000 body bags.
In a news conference Tuesday, Gov. Gavin Newsom said the activation of the program, which coordinates mutual aid activity between state and local agencies in a crisis, is in direct response to the surge of Covid-19 cases and deaths.
A total of 60 refrigerated storage units, each more than 50 feet long, will be used throughout the state for emergency overflow for coroners and morgues.
Newsom said the program addresses what he called "sobering realities" in the state's battle against the pandemic.
"I don't want people to scare folks, but this is a deadly disease. And we need to be mindful of where we are in this current journey together, to the vaccine. We are not at the finish line," he said.Rising infections: On Tuesday, California reported its fifth consecutive day of more than 30,000 new infections.
The state's death toll stands at 21,188. Nationally, the death toll for the pandemic surpassed 300,000 on Monday as health officials warn of no immediate sign of abating."
Click here to read the full update on CNN here.
There's great news today regarding vaccines for COVID-19.
According to an update on CNBC,
"CDC Director Robert Redfield has signed off on Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine, allowing inoculations to officially move forward for people ages 16 or older.
The decision comes one day after the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, an outside group of medical experts that advises the agency, voted 11 to 0 to recommend the vaccine. The FDA approved an emergency use of authorization on Friday.
The U.S. has begun to ship the doses from a Pfizer facility in Michigan to hundreds of distribution centers across the country.
Here is Redfield’s statement:
Last night, I was proud to sign the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices’ recommendation to use Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine in people 16 and older. This official CDC recommendation follows Friday’s FDA decision to authorize the emergency use of Pfizer’s vaccine. As COVID-19 cases continue to surge throughout the U.S., CDC’s recommendation comes at a critical time. Initial COVID-19 vaccination is set to start as early as Monday, and this is the next step in our efforts to protect Americans, reduce the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and help restore some normalcy to our lives and our country."
This is a great step in the right direction. However, it will take many more months for a meaningful impact to be seen, and we must continue to be as safe as possible, friends.
Click here to read the full update page on CNBC.
According to data, signs of a post-Thanksgiving surge in America are currently occurring.
An article published in "The Hill" explains:
"The first signs of a post-Thanksgiving surge in coronavirus cases are beginning to show up in data released by states across the country in a troubling prelude of what may become the deadliest month of the pandemic so far.
Those hints of an uptick in case counts come as the country faces an already substantial wave of infections that began in the Upper Midwest and spread to every corner of the map as summer turned to fall and the weather cooled.
The United States has averaged nearly 200,000 new confirmed cases a day over the last week, according to The Covid Tracking Project, run by a group of independent researchers. More than 2,200 people a day have died on an average during that period. The number of patients being treated in hospitals has crested 102,000, the highest levels of the pandemic."
Click here to read the full article.
Friends, please wear a mask and stay at home as much as possible as this dangerous and potentially deadly virus continues to run rampant in all areas across the country.
The message has never been so clear and so strong: we all must do our part to help slow the spread of COVID-19.
Somehow, there are still seemingly many individuals who feel that this virus is either not a threat, or that they do not want to give up their "freedoms" by wearing a face covering. At this point in the pandemic, people who continue to refuse to do their part are simply not paying attention and are now part of the problem, and are contributing to more unnecessary suffering and more unnecessary deaths.
California - where I am located - is about to enter another stay at home order at 11:59PM tonight - mandated by Governor Newsom. Hospitals here in CA - as well as many other locations around the USA - are at a "breaking point," according to numerous healthcare professionals.
Today, Dr. Deborah Birx - a member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force issued one of her most startling warnings thus far in the pandemic.
Friends, this is extremely serious. Please, wear a face covering, and most importantly, do your best to stay socially-distant throughout this winter. The decisions that we make right now can either continue to cause pain and suffering, or our decisions to follow the advice of healthcare professionals can save lives. We need to do what we can until vaccines become widely available, which will likely not be until mid next year.
Click here to read the full article on CNBC.
With a massive surge in cases of COVID-19 currently occurring all over the USA, we all need to hunker down until vaccines are widely available.
And today, there is more good news about the efficacy of masks.
An update on CNN explains,
"Mandatory mask usage in parts of Germany last spring helped significantly reduce the number of new Covid-19 infections, a team of German researchers reported in a new analysis.
The team used public data on coronavirus cases to compare regions with and without mandatory mask policies last April.
“Depending on the region we consider, we find that face masks reduced the number of newly registered severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 infections between 15% and 75% over a period of 20 days after their mandatory introduction,” researchers wrote. “Assessing the credibility of the various estimates, we conclude that face masks reduce the daily growth rate of reported infections by around 47%.”The study, which was published Thursday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, also found that certain age groups benefited more from mask usage.
The researchers looked at data from mask use in Jena, a city in central Germany, after a mandatory mask policy took effect between April 1-10.
They compared Jena’s mandatory mask policy with a control group, a similar city that experienced comparable growth in coronavirus cases before the mandatory mask policy in Jena.
They found a “significant difference” in Covid-19 case reductions in Jena.
“Our findings indicate that the early introduction of face masks in Jena has resulted in a drop in newly registered COVID-19 cases of around 75% after 20 days,” the team reported.
“Put simply, if the control region observes 100 new infections over a period of 20 days, the mask region observes only 25 cases,” they wrote.
“This drop is greatest, by more than 90%, for the age group 60 years and above.”
The study also concluded that, given the low cost compared to other public health measures, masks are a cost-effective way to combat the spread of coronavirus.
The analysis did not look at the different types of face masks and whether that could have affected the conclusion.
Previous studies on the use of face masks in public have also they reduce the spread of Covid -19."
Click here to read the full update page on CNN.
Please stay home as much as possible, friends. And of course, let's all wear a mask!
There is good news on the horizon for upcoming COVID-19 vaccines, and the UK has even authorized one for emergency use, making it the first country in the Western World to do so.
However, we have a long way to go, and we need to be extremely careful.
In fact, we are likely headed into a very, very difficult period, according to the CDC director.
An update on CNN explains:
"US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director, Dr. Robert Redfield said that we could see more than 400,000 Covid-19 deaths before February.
"We're in that range potentially now, starting to see 1,500 to 2,000 to 2,500 deaths a day from this virus," Redfield said during a virtual conference with the US Chamber of Commerce Foundation. "The mortality concerns are real, and I do think, unfortunately, before we see February, we could be close to 450,000 Americans have died from this virus."
However, Redfield says that if the American public embraces social distancing, wears masks, limits gatherings and continues to follow hygiene rules currently in place, those numbers could be decreased.
"I think my disappointment at one thing, during my time as the CDC director during this pandemic, was that there was an inconsistency of the American public embracing the message, mask-wearing. This mask-wearing, it's not a political decision, this is a public health tool, very powerful, very simple, but very powerful," Redfield said. "
Click here to read the update page on CNN today.
As Americans celebrated the Thanksgiving holiday, SARS-CoV-2 did not take the day off.
The virus continues to run totally uncontrolled in the USA, and here in Los Angeles, the city just implemented another "Safer at Home" order.
And an update on CNN which featured an interview with Dr. Peter Hotez - dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine - has a dire warning: The surge of cases that will surely come in the weeks leading up to Christmas will be "destabilizing" for the country.
The CNN update explains:
"The coming coronavirus surge will be “destabilizing” for the United States, according to a health expert.
Health experts are predicting a surge in Covid-19 cases following Thanksgiving, beyond the record-breaking numbers the US is currently experiencing.
“We're going to be regularly hitting 2,000 deaths per day, but then going up to 3,000 deaths and 4,000 deaths per day,” Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, told CNN’s Jim Acosta Friday.
“We're talking about numbers that are approaching what we experienced in the 1918 flu pandemic, except it's happening over a much shorter period of time,” he added.Hotez said without a national program in place, hospitals are being overwhelmed.
“We know when hospital staff starts to get overwhelmed, that's when the death rates really go high,” he said. “This is this what happened in New York in March and April. It’s what happened in southern Europe in March and April. It’s what's happening now as we speak in the US.” Hotez said the consequences will extend beyond health.
“This is going to be very destabilizing for the country, not only in terms of health but also our economy, as well as our homeland security,” he said."
It is imperative that we all do our part to help slow the spread of this disease. If there is anyone out there reading this who still believes that this virus is not dangerous - or not "real" - I implore you to take time to understand the science and educate yourself about this illness.
Stay safe, and please, wear a mask.
Click here to read the full update on CNN.
There's more good news about potential vaccines to prevent SARS-CoV-2. And this time, the news comes from pharmaceutical company, "Astrazenca."
An excerpt from a public article in STAT news explains the following:
"AstraZeneca said Monday that its coronavirus vaccine reduced the risk of symptomatic Covid-19 by an average of 70.4%, according to an interim analysis of large Phase 3 trials conducted in the United Kingdom and Brazil.
The results, while positive, suggest the vaccine may be less effective than two others. Earlier this month, Moderna and the Pfizer and BioNTech consortium announced their messenger RNA, or mRNA, vaccines showed 95% efficacy against Covid-19 infections in their respective clinical trials.
Still, researchers at the University of Oxford, which partnered with AstraZeneca to develop the vaccine, hailed the latest data as promising."
Click here to read the full article on STAT News.