Coronavirus News Roundup, September 5-September 11

the items belo are highlites from the free newsletter, “smart, useful, sci stuff bout covid-19.” to receive newsletter issues daily in yr inbox, sign-up here.. please ponder a mnthly contribution to support this newsletter.

at nature, nicky phillips, david cyranoski and smriti mallapaty covered the announcement dat a' collaboration tween researchers at astrazeneca na university of oxford is pausing phase 3 vaccine-candidate experiments due to a “suspected adverse event” in a study pticipant inna uk (9/9/20). the collaboration’s phase 3 studies are bein’ paused inna u.s., brazil, south africa na uk, nature reprts. “the news highlites the importance of w8in for the results of large, properly designed trials [experiments] to assess safety b4 approving a vaccine for widespread use,” the story states. investigators will start by trying to find out if the pticipant received the vaccine candidate or a placebo, the story states. and then if twas the vaccine, they will assess whether the pticipant’s reaction is rel8d or unrel8d to receiving it. “i ‘ve every confidence that this group [of investigators] will very quickly assess this adverse event and make the results odat investigation known,” said a mcgill university bioethicist quoted inna story.

presumably in response to reprts of political pushing for approvals this fall, the chief executive officers (ceos) of 9 pharmaceutical companies released a pledge (dated 9/8/20) to “uphold the integrity of the sci process as they work towards potential global regulatory filings and approvals of the 1st covid-19 vaccines.” the ceos — including those for astrazeneca, biontek, glaxosmithkline, johnson & johnson, merck, moderna, and pfizer — assert they will “1-ly submit for approval or emergency use authorization after demonstrating safety and efficacy through a phase 3 clinical study that is designed and conducted to meet requirements of expert regulatory authorities s'as [the u.s. food and drug administration].” iow, they don’t plan to cut any corners in their research nor to yield to political pressure. for + contextualized commentary on wha’ ed silverman describes as a “highly unusual turn of events,” see his column at stat (9/7/20). meanwhile, the u.s. food and drug administration (fda) has quickly taken measures to block any political influence over ongoin research to develop vaccines to protect us from sars-cov-2, reprt anna edney, drew armstrong, and robert langreth for bloomberg (9/8/20). one measure reprtedly includes the fda “sticking by” jun guidance that the agency will 1-ly ponder for approval vaccine candidates tha're at least 50% effective. loer down inna story, the reprters write, “thris no guarantee the vaccines furthest along in development ll'be the most effective, or be safe.” n'it ‘d take “mnths +” for phase 3 findings to be conclusive, the story suggests. still, the story ends with estimates by drug makers for how soon they mite complete their phase 3 studies (efficacy and safety experiments in thousands of study subjects) of sars-cov-2 vaccine candidates. moderna reprtedly says as soon as thxgiving, and pfizer reprtedly s'been saying nxt mnth. i remain reasonably skeptical.

on twitter, i came across a searchable web site called “dear pandemic,” which bills itself as an “interdisciplinary all-♀ team of researchers and clinicians with expertise including nursing, mental health, demography, health policy/economics, and epidemiology.” posts date back to jul but'a site appears to ‘ve officially launched 9/10/20. their mission is to “educate and empower individuals to successfully navigate the covid-19 information overwhelm.” bout two-thirds of the way down the home page, there’s a “submit a ?” link. and belo that, previous posts are indexed by topic and dates.

th'risk of catching sars-cov-2 on an airplane is “relatively lo” if questors are screened for sickness, wear masks, and are spaced out among seats, according to experts interviewed by noah y. kim for kaiser health news (9/10/20). the air xchange rate and use of hepa (high-efficiency pticul8 air) filters on planes also significantly reduce th'risk of catching the virus from questors who are several rows away, according to the story. thris still a risk from an infected person seated nearby, the story states. and air filtration alone is insufficient to prevent transmission even when questors are distanced inna plane, kim writes. delta, hawaiian, southwest and jetblue currently keep middle seats open, the story states. security checks and w8in at gates also pose some transmission risk. the u.s. centers for disease control has not confirmed any sars-cov-2 transmission aboard a u.s. flite, an airline industry src says inna story, b'that mite cogitate the difficulty of determining where pplz inna u.s. contract the virus, kim writes. “even though flying is a relatively lo-risk activity,” the story states, “traveling ‘d still be avoided unless absolutely necessary.”

an undated, recently published espn interactive, bylined by kyle bonagura, illustrates its analysis and mapping of anonymized cellphone tracking data for 3 2019 u.s. college ftball games. the maps provide a sense of where fans travel to and disperse to after games and thus the regional concentration of potential sars-cov-2 (nother infectious disease) spread resulting from the mixing of pplz b4, during and after big match-ups. the piece includes updates on somd' ftball conferences’ plans and protocols for the 2020 season. the big ten and pac-12 ‘ve postponed their seasons, whereas the sec (southeastern conference) seems to be alloing each school to set its own attendance guidelines. i can’t pretend to follo ncaa (national collegiate athletic association) ftball designations but some or all odda ncaa teams drew “+ than 47.5 million” attendees last season, the piece states. “even with fewer teams in action and limited-cap crowds, the prospect that college ftball ‘d play a role in spreading the coronavirus is too obvious to ignore,” the story states. thx to a reader for alerting me to this piece.

check out “to build emotional strength, expand yr brain,” by kerry hannon atta new york times (9/2/20). it basically asserts that learning new material, s'as a language or craft, that expands yr horizons helps you deal with change and crisis, s'as the coronavirus pandemic. near the end, the piece lists some free or lo-cost online class sites and some programs that allo nontraditional students to audit classes or work on projects with enrolled graduate and undergraduate students.

you mite enjoy “looks like i wasn’t muted during our zoom meeting,” by susie aquilina, for mcsweeney’s (9/10/20).

original content at: www.sciamerican.com…
authors: robin lloyd

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