One thing I’ve been thankful for over the last few months is National Geographic’s Coronavirus coverage – which is free online here.
To highlight a few of the very recent stories:
- The US is currently diagnosing 1 Million new cases of COVID per week. To read more and see a breakdown by state – go here.
- The rates of people who have gotten coronavirus twice is still low (a few hundred cases world-wide) – but growing. To learn more about this phenomena, go here. One theory is that immunity to the virus may decrease over time—just like it does with other coronaviruses. More research still needs to be done.
- But to end on hopeful news – the United Kingdom (UK) is the first country to grant emergency use authorization to a COVID vaccine. The US is expected to follow in coming weeks. What does this mean?
- The first doses are scheduled to be available by next week in the UK for vulnerable groups over the age of 16. This includes the elderly and front-line health care workers, to name a few.
- It can typically take 10 to 15 years to bring a vaccine to market, so the progress with the current COVID vaccines is unprecedented.
- Emergency use authorization isn’t full approval – but it does mean that in early tests, a treatment or vaccine has been found to be safe enough and to work well enough that the benefit to allowing its use far outweighs risks. This authorization is used normally during a public health emergency (such as the COVID-19 pandemic).
- In these tests, the COVID vaccines under development have been found to be 90-95% effective in preventing COVID infections in groups that have received the vaccine vs. groups who received placebo (no active vaccine). This effectiveness rate actually exceeds that of current vaccines for other diseases, such as the flu and one colleague of mine called it ‘a miracle’.
One question I was asked recently is will I get the COVID vaccine when it is available to me? Given my age and relatively low number of risk factors, this could be a few months for me. So, will I?
The answer is yes, because public health officials estimate that 70% of the population needs to be vaccinated in order to stop the spread of this virus in the community.
Stay safe, my friends!