A medical worker demonstrates a vial with Sputnik V (Gam-COVID-Vac) vaccine during the vaccination against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at a clinic in Moscow, Russia December 5, 2020. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

An advisory panel for the Food and Drug Administration endorsed the widespread use of the Pfizer vaccine on Thursday, clearing the way for the FDA to grant emergency use as early as Friday. While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued guidance for who should receive the first doses, the final say is up to state governors, meaning the makeup of the priority list could vary from state to state. Many businesses in restaurants and aviation are lobbying public health officials to convince them that their employees are the most essential. Among them are executives with Cargill, Perdue Farms and meat-industry groups, who have suffered numerous outbreaks that killed employees and shut down plants earlier this year.

Drugmakers GlaxoSmithKline and Sanofi said Friday that early-stage trials of their coronavirus vaccine produced an insufficient immune response in older adults, setting back the potential for widespread use of the vaccine until late 2021. In Australia, researchers abandoned their own vaccine candidate after drugmaker CSL Ltd. and the University of Queensland found that some trial participants had false positive tests for HIV. 

A Gallup poll published Thursday found that 73% of Americans believe the pandemic is worsening, while 50% worry about hospitals becoming overwhelmed. Those numbers mark a tie for the highest percentage since Gallup started the survey in April. More states are announcing new restrictions as COVID-19 cases spiral into new records, settling on “modified” stay-at-home orders such as one in Virginia that imposes a curfew at midnight. 

New Hampshire’s House Speaker Dick Hinch died due to COVID-19 complications just one week after he was sworn in as Speaker. The state’s health department began investigating last week after several GOP lawmakers tested positive for COVID-19 following an indoor caucus meeting.

Some states are asking workers who received benefits from a pandemic relief program to pay back the money they received. Administrative errors and a hastily conceived program led those states to overpay workers for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, a federal program that covers gig workers and part-time workers who do not qualify for regular benefits. Many recipients say they did not know they were being overpaid.

A federal agency has warned K-12 schools that cybercriminals are specifically targeting their distance-learning programs. The Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency said in an advisory that hackers view schools as an opportunity specifically for ransomware, which encrypts the target’s files and demands payment in return for releasing them. As remote learning continues, hackers are betting that schools will be more willing to pay a ransom for their distance programs. 

While theater and other performance art have experienced a dire year, virtual cabaret is thriving during the pandemic. Producers found that they can easily replicate the atmosphere of cabaret online, which is often in front of a smaller audience.

NAVIGATING THE PANDEMIC

Why paying people to get the coronavirus vaccine won’t work – The Conversation – 12/11/2020
If levels of vaccination are not robust, it will take longer to reach herd immunity, or widespread protection within a population. In response to these concerns, several people have suggested that the government should provide a monetary incentive to COVID-19 vaccination.

How Facebook decided to deploy its AI lab when the pandemic hit – Protocol – 12/11/2020
Fast forward to today, and Facebook’s AI lab has built software that forecasts the spread of COVID-19 at the county level in the U.S., an early version of which was used to predict demand on hospitals in New York during that first peak of cases.

Covid-19 vaccine-distribution timeline will keep slipping, experts say – STAT – 12/11/2020
At every stage of production, manufacturers must test the product to show that each batch, from each different facility, is equivalent to the original. This will inevitably reveal issues that need addressing as Covid-19 vaccines are produced at unprecedented scale and speed. “Not only do we want it yesterday, but we need a lot of it yesterday,” said Thomas Denny, chief operating officer of the Duke Human Vaccine Institute.

Fear of Vaccine Threatens to Delay Pandemic’s End – Washington Post – 12/11/2020
After the first vaccines against Covid-19 demonstrated efficacy, public health officials began to foresee a gradual end to the pandemic. Getting there with a minimum of additional suffering will require using vaccines to achieve so-called herd immunity. Some health specialists warn that vaccine hesitancy — a reluctance to accept immunization — threatens to undermine that goal.

‘I’m pleased it is being used for people’s safety’: QR code inventor relishes its role in tackling Covid – The Guardian – 12/10/2020
Having helped develop a barcode reader in the early 1980s, Hara knew the method had its limitations. “Having to read so many barcodes in a day was very inefficient, and workers were tired of scanning boxes multiple times,” Hara, now a chief engineer at the company, said in an online interview from its headquarters in Aichi prefecture, central Japan.

WHAT INFLUENCERS ARE SAYING

Reuters @Reuters 10 Dec With Christmas parties off, some Spanish firms are sending gift baskets instead to thank their employees this holiday season

The Denver Post @denverpost 10 Dec Jewish Americans from a variety of branches of the faith are celebrating Hanukkah with smaller-than-usual gatherings this year, in hopes of keeping the year-end holiday safe but still joyful as coronavirus cases spike across the country.

𝙎𝙥𝙖𝙦𝙭 ⚡⚡ @spaqx 11 Dec The end of the office holiday party – or simply time to get creative?

Echo Press @echopress 10 Dec Have that difficult holiday conversation about COVID-19 early

ABC10 @ABC10 10 Dec ‘Now more than ever, the world needs light’ | Holiday celebrations look different with stay-at-home orders

CONTENT FACTS

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