A precarious U.S. moment
Across the United States the vaccine rollout is revving up, governors are lifting restrictions and more Americans are traveling by air than at any other time during the pandemic.
It seems as though many people see the end of the pandemic within reach, but our colleague Mitch Smith, who tracks the virus for The Times, told us that the country was actually in a precarious moment. “After six weeks of really extraordinary progress, we’ve now kind of stalled out,” he said. “And we don’t have a good sense of where it goes.”
The U.S. is averaging about 55,000 new cases and 1,200 deaths per day, vastly better than the 250,000 daily cases and 3,300 daily deaths the country saw on average only two months ago, but what had been a rapid decline in case rates has slowed considerably since late February.
In the last few weeks, some regions of the country have greatly improved, including California, the Northern Plains and the South. However, Mitch said there were strong causes for concern. Cases have remained stubbornly high in the Northeast, putting experts and public officials there on edge, and cases have recently surged again in Michigan.
safe and effective on Thursday. Officials hope the finding will alleviate concerns about possible rare side effects involving blood clots and allow countries to add the vaccine back into their arsenal against the resurgent coronavirus.
“Its benefits continue to be far greater than its risks,” said Sabine Straus, the chair of the safety committee for the regulator, the European Medicines Agency.
The green light could not come at a more dire time.
The World Health Organization said that Europe was not inoculating people quickly enough to slow transmission of the virus. New infections have risen for three successive weeks, and more European residents are dying from the coronavirus than a year ago. At a country level, new variants have crested third waves: On Thursday, France’s prime minister announced that several regions, including the Paris area, would go under a new lockdown on Friday for at least a month. Paris faces a dire shortage of hospital beds, Italy is also in lockdown and Poland is running out of ventilators.
And the AstraZeneca vaccine does appear to be safe: The regulator found that no causative link had yet emerged between the vaccine and blood clots or severe bleeding. In fact, AstraZeneca reported this week that a review of 17 million people found those who received the vaccine were less likely than others to develop dangerous clots.
Still, the pauses have shaken public confidence in AstraZeneca’s vaccine. Despite reassurances and minute numbers, Europeans reeling from policy whiplash may roll down their sleeves.
this piece from Yasmeen Serhan, in The Atlantic.
Altruism may cut cases
Large institutions — like universities, the National Football League and major corporations like Amazon or Tyson Foods — could reduce the number of Covid-19 cases among their populations by as much as 25 percent if they expanded testing to the wider community, a new study found.
“Testing in a box doesn’t makes sense,” said Dr. Pardis Sabeti, a computational biologist at Harvard University and the Broad Institute who led the analysis. “These things are communicable, and they’re coming in from the community.”
The researchers used real-world data from Colorado Mesa University. They created a baseline scenario in which 1 percent of the university and 6 percent of the surrounding county were infected by the coronavirus.