“The Swiss Cheese Model of Pandemic Defense” – The New York Times / Source: Adapted from Ian M. Mackay (virologydownunder.com) and James T. Reason. Illustration by Rose Wong.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

A 90-year-old woman was the first to receive the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine in the U.K. on Tuesday, a landmark moment in the global fight against the pandemic. About 800,000 vaccines are expected to be administered throughout the day, bringing to the forefront questions in the U.S. of whether it will be ethical to require proof of immunity. Even so, scientists caution that it is still soon to know whether the vaccine will prove it has lasting efficacy.

The U.S. may not have purchased enough doses of the Pfizer vaccine to provide a substantial number of inoculations until late June or July, according to anonymous federal sources. They say the Trump administration passed up the opportunity to purchase 100 million more doses of the vaccine, raising questions of whether the U.S. allowed other countries to take its place in line. The U.S. has secured 100 million doses of the vaccine, which requires two doses – the total is enough to inoculate 50 million Americans. Officials with the Trump administration disputed the story, saying they are confident that everyone who wishes to get a vaccine should be able to do so by summer of 2021. President Donald Trump will sign an executive order on Tuesday proclaiming that other countries will not receive vaccine supplies until Americans have been inoculated, a move that is largely symbolic. 

Every state is expected to make its election results official by the end of the day on Tuesday, meaning that the deadline for the federal safe harbor provision will be met. The law requires Congress to accept election results of states that have completed post-election certification by Dec. 8. The final count will award 306 electoral votes to President-elect Joe Biden and 232 to President Trump.

Florida police have raided the home of a former health department employee who accused the state of misrepresenting COVID-19 data. Law enforcement took the computer and phones belonging to Rebekah Jones after alleging that she hacked into the health department website and urged Florida emergency personnel to speak out against the state’s pandemic response in an unauthorized message. Jones was fired by the department in May for what she argued was retaliation for her refusal to minimize the scale of the outbreak by changing the numbers.

An onslaught of interest in pet adoptions in the pandemic has led to an equal surge in pet scams. Reports of pet scams to the Better Business Bureau have more than doubled this year, with victims projected to have lost more than $3 million. Victims say they were more desperate to get their pets because of social isolation and exacerbated feelings of loneliness.

NAVIGATING THE PANDEMIC

For Airlines, Dry Ice in Vaccine Transport Demands Special Attention – Wall Street Journal – 12/8/2020
Dry ice, the solid form of carbon dioxide, is a critical part of plans to transport the vaccine developed by Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE, which must be kept at ultracold temperatures. Pfizer expects to ship 50 million doses world-wide by the end of the year. The vaccine was the first to be authorized in the West, receiving clearance for emergency use in the U.K. last week. 

Biden health picks signal a bottom-up approach to the Covid-19 pandemic – STAT – 12/8/2020
But the mechanics of the government’s response, pandemic experts told STAT, will likely fall increasingly to health agency deputies focused on pandemic response as well as longtime agency scientists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The strategy would represent a marked contrast from Trump-era pandemic response, where career scientists at several health agencies, especially the CDC, quickly fell out of favor with the White House and played little public role in the federal Covid-19 effort.

Covid-19 Is Impacting Progress On Diversity And Inclusion Initiatives When Urgent Focus Is Required, New Report Finds – Forbes – 12/8/2020
New research reveals that nine out of ten executives are finding it hard to execute their diversity and inclusion (D&I) strategies; a convincing fail by any standard and a particularly bitter pill when diverse employees are living through a period when these strategies are most needed.

‘Is it safe to have more than one type of COVID vaccine?’ – Qrius – 12/8/2020
If we are ever to return to some semblance of normality, then the world’s population needs to be immune to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. But with so many different vaccines in production, questions are undoubtedly going to be raised, such as can I still have a vaccine if I have been involved in a trial testing other versions? And, what if I’ve already had COVID – do I still need a vaccine?

Here’s Why Vaccinated People Still Need to Wear a Mask – The New York Times – 12/8/2020
The new Covid-19 vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna seem to be remarkably good at preventing serious illness. But it’s unclear how well they will curb the spread of the coronavirus. That’s because the Pfizer and Moderna trials tracked only how many vaccinated people became sick with Covid-19.

WHAT INFLUENCERS ARE SAYING

Matthew Tostevin @TostevinM 7 Dec Coronavirus safety measures could include on-arrival tests, pre-event and periodic antigen testing, as well as contact tracing of attendees – many potentially from countries with raging epidemics.

Reuters @Reuters 7 Dec California becomes biggest U.S. state to launch virus contact-tracing app

Mikko Huovila @mikkohuo 8 Dec “In a study of contact tracing in Zurich, researchers calculated that for every 100 people who tested positive, the app correctly notified 24 contacts who had caught the virus — a success rate similar to what is seen in human contact tracing.”

Los Angeles Times @latimes 7 Dec Navajo Nation government officials have said in recent days that intensive care unit beds are at 100% capacity.The work of contact tracing here is especially difficult and tiresome because of the logistical challenges.

Norman Spector @nspector4 7 Dec the chances of a person with coronavirus passing it on to a close contact ranged from 2.6% in the community to 9% in the household. The researchers found that children and young adults were especially key to transmitting the virus #bcpoli

CONTENT FACTS

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