A third vaccine candidate, this one from AstraZeneca, has shown the capability to be 90% effective as pharmaceutical companies around the world race for answers to conquering the pandemic as early as this spring.
Vaccines can’t come soon enough. Since June 12, the United States has reported more coronavirus cases than it did in any full month of the pandemic while hospitalizations set new highs every day.
The University of Oxford said Monday it is working with AstraZeneca in submitting interim Phase III data to global regulators for emergency-use approvals. Large scale manufacturing is already underway in more than 10 countries to support “equitable global access,” the university said in a statement.
“The vaccine’s simple supply chain and our no-profit pledge and commitment to broad, equitable and timely access means it will be affordable and globally available supplying hundreds of millions of doses on approval,” said AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot.
Pfizer/BioNTech has already applied for U.S. Food and Drug Administration emergency authorization for a vaccine that could move forward early next month. Moderna says it will seek FDA authorization for its candidate soon. Both are claiming 95% efficacy rates. Operation Warp Speed chief science adviser Dr. Moncef Slaoui said Sunday that 20 million Americans could be vaccinated next month, with relative normalcy returning to the country as soon as May.
📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has reported more than 12.2 million cases and more than 256,700 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The global totals: 58.5 million cases and 1.3 million deaths.
🗺️ Mapping coronavirus: Track the U.S. outbreak in your state.
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Americans are flocking to airports ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday despite the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urging Americans not to travel. Sunday was the single busiest day at U.S. airports since the pandemic began, with more than 1 million air travelers. Friday’s air traffic also exceeded 1 million and was the second highest daily total since March, according to the Transportation Security Administration. The CDC has stated the concern is not just with the travel, but with the resulting large family gatherings around the holiday, which could spread the highly contagious virus.
“The tragedy that could happen is that one of your family members is coming to this family gathering and they could end up severely ill, hospitalized or dying,” said Dr. Henry Walke, the CDC’s COVID-19 incident manager. “We don’t want that to happen.”
– Bryan Alexander
The federal safety net that has propped up households financially battered by the pandemic is set to vanish unless a divided Congress can break a monthslong impasse. At the end of the year, millions of unemployed Americans will lose jobless benefits. Tenants can be evicted from their apartments. People with student debt will have to resume payments. Small businesses will lose a critical financial lifeline. President-elect Joe Biden’s administration and a new Congress are likely to reinstate most or all of the relief programs, analysts said, but their interruption could disrupt lives and cause additional financial heartache during the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.
“The economy will be operating without a safety net in January,” Bank of America economists wrote in a research note.
– Paul Davidson
In the last 12 days, the United States has reported more coronavirus cases than it did in any full month of the pandemic. From Nov. 12 through Sunday, the country reported 1,978,287 new coronavirus cases, a USA TODAY analysis of Johns Hopkins data shows. In the previous worst month of new cases, July, the United States reported 1,922,766 cases. And while more than a week remains of November, this month already has more deaths reported than in February or March, when the pandemic was building, but also more than in June, September or October. At current rates November’s death toll will surge past July’s tonight, and then take on August’s.
The death toll this month alone – more than 25,600 Americans – roughly equals the death toll of the Revolutionary War.
– Mike Stucka
A man accused of forcefully exhaling on two women outside President Donald Trump’s Virginia golf course has been charged with assault. Raymond Deskins, 61, was charged with misdemeanor assault after a private citizen obtained a warrant through a county magistrate, the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office said. Deskins did not immediately return a request for comment. Video widely shared on social media shows Deskins blowing air on two unidentified women after one of them asks him to get away and points out that he’s not wearing a mask. Virginia mandates masks be worn in certain locations, but they are not required to be worn outside.
“That’s assault,” one of the women said afterwards.
“I breathed on you,” Deskins replied.
The altercation happened Saturday outside Trump National Golf Club, where the president was playing. Protestors and supporters regularly gather outside the club’s entrance when he plays.
The success of two COVID-19 candidate vaccines marks a turning point in the long history of vaccines and could lead to major advances against a variety of diseases. Vaccines developed by Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna depend on a technology never before used in a commercial vaccine that could upend the way future ones are made. This new messenger RNA technology, as well another method that depends on viruses to deliver vaccines, are transforming the field, said Brendan Wren, a professor of vaccinology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
“It could be quite a new era for vaccines and vaccinology,” he said. “We seemed to move ahead – in this one year – 10 years.”
– Karen Weintraub
Wisconsin Rep. Bryan Steil has tested positive for COVID-19, the Republican congressman announced Sunday.
“After working in Washington, D.C., all of last week, I began experiencing mild symptoms this weekend and contacted my health care provider while at home in Janesville. I took a COVID-19 test today and the test results came back positive,” Steil said in a Twitter post. Steil said he is quarantining and will work from his home. He was first elected in 2018 and held his seat in this month’s election.
Hundreds of bodies are still stored in freezer trucks at a disaster morgue set up during New York City’s coronavirus surge in the spring, according to the city’s Office of Chief Medical Examiner. Many of the 650 bodies at the disaster morgue on the Brooklyn waterfront are of people whose families can’t be located or can’t afford a proper burial, officials told The Wall Street Journal.
Normally, the deceased would have been buried within a few weeks in a gravesite for the indigent on Hart Island in the Long Island Sound. But as COVID-19 deaths surged in New York in April, with as many as 800 deaths in one day, Mayor Bill de Blasio pledged that mass burials in temporary graves wouldn’t take place.
The city is slowly reducing the number of bodies in storage, with the number declining from 698 to 650 since mid-September, according to Dina Maniotis, the chief medical examiner’s office’s executive deputy commissioner.
Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak strengthened Nevada’s mask mandate among other new restrictions announced Sunday. The new restrictions, referred to as a “statewide pause,” go into effect at midnight Tuesday and will be in place for three weeks.
“From the start of this pandemic, there aren’t any decisions that don’t have negative consequences. Weighing the loss of jobs and businesses versus the loss of health and lives is painful, without a perfect solution,” Sisolak said.
Private gatherings will be limited to 10 people from no more than two households. Public gatherings limits will also be reduced from 250 people to 50, including churches. Masks are required at any time you are around someone not part of your immediate household, including during private gatherings inside and outside.
Thirty-seven states, plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, have mask mandates. What are the rules in your state? Check our list.
– Kristin Oh and Chelcey Adami, Reno Gazette Journal
Dining at restaurants, bars, breweries and wineries will be restricted in Los Angeles County, beginning Wednesday at 10 p.m.
“To reduce the possibility for crowding and the potential for exposures in settings where people are not wearing their face coverings, restaurants, breweries, wineries and bars will only be able to offer take-out, drive thru, and delivery services,” the county’s public health department said in a news release posted on its website.
The statement added that in Los Angeles County, the country’s most populous with 10 million people, there are 1,401 COVID patients currently hospitalized, and 26% of them are in intensive care. Hospitalizations rose by 35% over the last week.
Drivers caravaned from around Oregon to the Capitol in Salem on Saturday, calling on Gov. Kate Brown to “stop the pause” regarding restrictions spurred by COVID-19. More than 100 people, most of whom not wearing masks, gathered Saturday afternoon in 41-degree weather, with hot coffee in hand, holding signs with phrases such as, “Mask = Muzzle,” “Stuff your mandate” and “We will not comply.” Some held American, Trump or “Don’t tread on me” flags on either side of the street as cars drove by.
“The government … can’t decide what’s best for people,” said Joyce Stafford. “They can’t make unconstitutional mandates and expect people to follow them.”
Brown ordered a two-week “freeze” earlier this month to slow the spread of the virus. The statewide restrictions run from Nov. 18 through Dec. 2 and include Thanksgiving. They limit restaurants to take-out only; close gyms, museums and outdoor recreational facilities; limit capacity at stores; and limit social get-togethers even in private homes.
– Natalie Pate, Salem Statesman Journal
COVID-19 resources from USA TODAY
Contributing: The Associated Press