Reaching Herd Immunity

Summary: “The idea behind herd immunity is that if others are immunized and you’re not, the virus has a harder time finding you. And if it does get to you, it has no place to go.” Estimates based on experience with COVID spread in prisons and cruise ships, indicate that herd immunity can be achieved by immunizing 70% or more of the population. NBC News. Joe Rosato Jr. (December 9, 2020).

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Reevaluating Children’s Role in the Pandemic

Summary: “A large study from Austria shows that SARS-CoV-2 infects just as many schoolchildren as it does teachers. Other surveys indicate that while young children may show no symptoms, they are quite efficient at spreading the virus….'Children reflect the infection levels they are surrounded by,' says microbiologist Wagner. But because they are so often asymptomatic, they are 'severely under tested,' leading him to believe that there is a rather significant number of unreported cases.”Reevaluating Children's Role in the Pandemic, Der Spiegel. Rafaela von Bredow (December 11, 2020).

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Colorado confirms first known US case of new COVID-19

Summary: U.K. models have shown the new variant to have an increased transmission rate of 70% compared to other strains in the U.K. This strain was first found in southeastern England in September, but by November, the new variant was responsible for 25% of the cases in London. A month later, it was responsible for 60% of cases in the city. Lockdown measures were mandated in London and large areas of southern England, while a number of nations banned travel from the U.KColorado confirms first known US case of new COVID-19 strain believed to be more contagious, USA Today. Grace Hauck (December 29, 2020).

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Covid-19: Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine approved for use in UK

BBC News.Summary: The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine was approved for use in the UK with the first doses to be given out next week. The UK intends to vaccinate 50 million people. The Oxford vaccine does not require complicated storage procedures, unlike the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine which requires a -70 degrees C storage container.James Gallagher and Nick Triggle (December 30, 2020).

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Many US Health Experts Underestimated the Coronavirus … Until It Was Too Late

A year ago, while many Americans were finishing their holiday shopping and finalizing travel plans, doctors in Wuhan, China, were battling a mysterious outbreak of pneumonia with no known cause. Chinese doctors began to fear they were witnessing the return of severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, a coronavirus that emerged in China in late 2002 and spread to 8,000 people worldwide, killing almost 800. The disease never gained a foothold in the U.S. and disappeared by 2004. Although the disease hasn’t been seen in 16 years, SARS cast a long shadow that colored how many nations — and U.S. scientists — reacted to its far more dangerous cousin, the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19. When Chinese officials revealed that their pneumonia outbreak was caused by another new coronavirus, Asian countries hit hard by SARS knew what they had to do, said Dr. Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. Taiwan and South Korea had already learned the importance of a rapid response that included widespread testing, contact tracing and isolating infected people.The U.S., by contrast, learned all the wrong lessons. This country’s 20-year run of good luck with emerging pathogens —including not just SARS, but also the relatively mild H1N1 pandemic, Middle East respiratory syndrome, Ebola, Zika virus and two strains of bird flu — gave us a “false sense of security,” Adalja said. KHN’s in-depth examination of the year-long pandemic shows that many leading infectious disease specialists underestimated the fast-moving outbreak…

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