“No Vaccine Will Help Us in This Covid Winter” – Bloomberg / Source: CovidExitStrategy.org

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

First-time claims for unemployment in the last week fell again to 709,000, marking the fourth consecutive week in declines from the previous period of jobless claims. Some economists warn the number of claims could be going down for the wrong reason, meaning some people have rolled into programs for long-term unemployment.  

Empty office buildings, hotels and apartments have plunged property values in downtown areas, resulting in commercial real estate losses that could translate to a massive loss in real estate loans for U.S. banks. Banks and bond investors hold an estimated $3.4 trillion in commercial real estate debt, threatening to undermine financial stability in the rest of the market.

Pfizer Chairman and CEO Albert Bourla is facing scrutiny after he sold $5.6 million worth of stock in the pharmaceutical company on Monday, the same day that the company announced its coronavirus vaccine under development with BioNTech was more than 90% effective. Experts in insider trading say the timing of Bourla’s trading plan, which should prevent executives from taking advantage of inside news, appears suspicious.  

The European Union has secured an agreement for up to 300 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine, although one official told the news media on Wednesday that the bloc will initially pay less for the vaccine than the U.S. In Russia, scientists said an early analysis of their Sputnik V vaccine indicates it is 92% effective, but independent scientists warn that the data is “far from conclusive.”

President-elect Joe Biden has named Ron Klain as his White House Chief of Staff, who has been an ardent critic of President’s Trump’s handling of coronavirus outbreaks. A handful of world leaders spoke with Biden on Thursday on efforts to coordinate their responses in the pandemic, even as Trump continues efforts to block certification of Biden’s win in some states, complicating the post-election transition. 

The World Health Organization is holding out hope that Biden will reverse Trump’s decision earlier this year to leave the agency, even as some public health experts criticize the WHO for not taking a stronger, more vocal role at the onset of outbreaks. With no enforcement powers or authority to mandate responses, they say the agency has failed at preventing some countries from stopping the spread.

The United Nations is warning that the pandemic has worsened human trafficking on social media, dark web and messaging platforms. A rise in demand on platforms in “cyberspace,” which provides anonymity for traffickers, has also resulted in easy access to potential victims, most of who are women and girls. 

While the coronavirus has trickled in to more remote corners of the world, including the Pacific island nation of Vanuatu, other nations are still holding out. Numerous other countries in the South Pacific remain untouched, and Antarctica remains virus-free thanks to vigilant efforts to prevent outbreaks.

NAVIGATING THE PANDEMIC

Accuracy of rapid COVID test may be lower than previously suggested – Science Codex – 11/11/2020
It is possible that other lateral flow devices detecting antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 may also work less well at lower antibody concentrations; while this study did not investigate this, the authors note that their work “highlights the scope for overestimation of SARS-CoV-2 antibody test sensitivity in other studies in which sensitivity has been estimated only from PCR confirmed cases.”

Solar fridges and powdered vaccines: How to get a COVID-19 vaccine to the developing world – Fast Company – 11/12/2020
The “cold chain” involves maintaining low temperatures at each step of the journey. Doses of the vaccine will travel on flights to a country, where the government will typically have them delivered to a national cold storage facility. Next, the vaccines will go on to other distribution centers and clinics.

The way we use data is a life or death matter – from the refugee crisis to COVID-19 – The Conversation – 11/12/2020
Yet 2020 has also highlighted the dangers of this. The interpretations and collection of this data are not without their problems – doctors and politicians looking at the same data can draw wildly different conclusions about the right course of action.

In the future, you’ll have to prove your coronavirus status to go to concerts – Mic – 11/11/2020
[…] Ticketmaster president Mark Yovich told Billboard he thinks the demand for digital screening services will spur the growth of a new COVID-19 technology sector. In addition to sporting events and concerts, the technology could be used for things like airline travel, employment verification, and theme park entry.

Covid Winter is Coming. Could Humidifiers Help? – Wired – 11/12/2020
Even controlling for dozens of other factors, the data showed that as indoor relative humidity went up during the summer months in the northern hemisphere, deaths plummeted. In the southern hemisphere, the opposite was true—as humidity fell during those nations’ winter months, deaths began to climb. “It’s so powerful, it’s crazy,” says Taylor.

WHAT INFLUENCERS ARE SAYING

Juliette Kayyem @juliettekayyem 12 Nov “These are the dark days ahead and you have a president who’s at best checked out,” said Kayyem, echoing Biden’s warning that the country needs to brace for a “long, dark winter.”#logistics #wearamask

Guardian news @guardiannews 12 Nov ‘It’s going to be a hard winter’: restaurant workers struggle as US Covid cases rise

Adam Shaw @AdamShawNY 12 Nov The NYT editorial board says locking up schools again would be a “mistake,” noting “evidence of how little the virus has spread there so far” and the impact it would have on kids and parents.

WMAR-2 News @WMAR2News 12 Nov Isolation and loneliness are symptoms of the pandemic that could only worsen by the winter months.Experts are worried about the winter and “SILOS,” which stands for single individuals left out of social circles.

Surrey and Borders @sabpNHS 12 Nov We’ve updated our Visitors’ Guidance for family and friends of people using our inpatient wards, care homes, rehabilitation services, and all other 24/7 services. Find our how best to keep in touch with your loved ones on our website at #COVID19

CONTENT FACTS

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