The Daily Dose: AstraZeneca setback isn’t all bad; U.S. needs a whole lotta COVID-19 tests to return to school safely

In a case of good news/bad news, the AstraZeneca-Oxford University COVID-19 vaccine trial has hit a snag. Per Nature, “Enrolment in global trials of a leading coronavirus vaccine candidate are on hold after a ‘suspected adverse event’ in a person who received the vaccine in the UK. Scientists say that it’s too soon to say what impact this might have on the global push to develop a vaccine, but that the news highlights the importance of waiting for the results of large, properly designed trials to assess vaccine safety before approving a drug for widespread use.. Researchers at the University of Oxford in collaboration with the pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca are developing the vaccine, which is one of nine coronavirus vaccines in the final, ‘phase III’ stage of being tested.” Of course, nobody wants a vaccine setback, but it’s comforting to know people are doing things right.


With COVID-19 spikes rolling through Europe, governments are attempting to get control of the outbreaks before things return to lockdown levels. One way they are trying to do his is through clearer messaging. “The British government has sought to tighten its grip on the coronavirus in England, banning gatherings of more than six people and launching a new public information campaign. The new limits on social gatherings in England are set to stay in place for the ‘foreseeable future,’ potentially until or even through Christmas, British Health Secretary Matt Hancock said Wednesday… One reason cited for the pick-up in cases is that many people have been confused over the past few months since the lockdown started to be eased over the myriad of guidelines on gatherings. Scientists say a clear message is crucial in containing pandemics.” Getting the word out to the public clearly is Epidemiology 101 stuff.

Contrary to what right-wing social media commentators preach, everyone wants to get back to school as soon as yesterday. The difference is doing it safely or just hoping for the best. The responsible thing is doing it safely as quickly as possible. According to a STAT report, “The U.S. may need up to 193 million coronavirus tests each month in order to safely reopen schools and fortify nursing homes, according to a new report published Wednesday. Current testing capacity in the U.S. is about 21 million tests per month, according to the Covid Tracking Project. The report is the first testing protocol from the Rockefeller Foundation, which has already issued several testing-related reports and is working with 10 governors to buy and distribute 5 million Covid-19 tests.” Do what you gotta do, people. Just do it right.

The pandemic has thrown everything for a loop. Arunima Malik and an international team of researchers recently assessed how the Coronavirus pandemic has caused worldwide consumption losses amounting to more than US$3.8 trillion while simultaneously spawning the largest recorded drop in greenhouse gas emissions. According to an interview with Malik in PLOS, “We formed the multi-regional multi-disciplinary team to allow us to capture insights and data related to COVID-19 for not just English, but also for a range of languages. We followed a three-tier approach to enable us to best capture global events related to the pandemic.”

IMAGE SOURCE: Creative Commons

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