“With First Dibs on Vaccines, Rich Countries Have ‘Cleared the Shelves’” – The New York Times / Sources: Duke University, Airfinity and the Unicef Covid-19 Vaccine Market Dashboard. Income classifications by World Bank. / The New York Times

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

The Food and Drug Administration says Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine meets expectations for emergency use. Moderna said a final analysis of its phase three clinical trial found the vaccine was more than 94% effective in preventing coronavirus, was safe and appeared to deflect severe disease. As the U.S. began administering the country’s first doses of a vaccine to front-line healthcare workers, the death toll from the coronavirus now sits at more than 300,000 Americans. More than 3 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine are arriving at more than 600 locations in the next several days. 

Approximately one in four Americans say they will get a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as it’s available, according to a new poll. The statistic reflects an increased trust in pharmaceutical companies, which rose to 43%, up from 35% in September. In Massachusetts, among the first in line for the COVID-19 vaccine are correction workers and nearly 13,000 incarcerated people. Jails and prisons have seen some of the largest rates of coronavirus in the country.  

A bipartisan group of lawmakers proposed a $906 billion coronavirus relief package Monday, just weeks before 12 million Americans are set to lose jobless benefits and eviction protections. The expiration of a federal eviction ban could disproportionately hurt Black and Latinx tenants, who are twice as likely to rent as white people. 

Stock futures edged higher Tuesday as investors met the stimulus news with cautious optimism. Congress has been debating a coronavirus relief package for months, with Republicans advocating for liability insurance for businesses and Democrats pushing for state and local aid. 

Advocates for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities are calling on officials to add those individuals to the Phase 1 priority list when it comes to the vaccine, especially if they live in group homes. Research shows that they are significantly more likely to die of the coronavirus than those in the public. With hospitals overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients, some claim people who are disabled are not receiving the access they need. An investigation found that some doctors and hospitals denied equipment like ventilators and COVID-19 tests based on an elderly or disabled person’s signing of a DNR – even when they could not understand it and in the middle of a crisis. 

A new task force – the Infectious Disease Racial Disparities Task Force – based on legislation Vice President-elect Kamala Harris introduced in the Senate in April, highlights President-elect Joe Biden’s intention to tackle racial and ethnic inequities during the pandemic. 

Native Americans are four times as likely to be hospitalized by COVID-19, but reaching everyone who needs the vaccine in Indian Country will be a challenge despite the federal government’s allocation of some of the first vaccines. Aside from more technical difficulties, like a way to store the vaccine in ultra-cold temperatures, there is also a history of broken trust between Indigenous communities and non-Native scientists. An anthropologist at the Diné College said it starts with informed consent and community support. 

In the absence of a response from local government, indigenous peoples in the Ecuadorian Amazon took matters into their own hands, drawing on the tribe’s history of medicinal plant use. A group of experienced herbalists and two activists ventured to a remote region at the country’s eastern edge to harvest the local plants, which Secoya leaders then distributed among their citizens. Though it was not touted as a cure, it did help alleviate COVID-19 symptoms

NAVIGATING THE PANDEMIC

Inside the frantic and secretive sprint to name the Covid-19 vaccines – STAT – 12/15/2020
The United States has a Covid-19 vaccine, the result of science carried out at breakneck speed. Now, whether the country knows it or not, it’s awaiting the results of another whirlwind effort: one to come up with brand names for products that will literally change the world.

‘I can’t handle it anymore’: COVID fatigue is winning at the worst possible moment – Fast Company – 12/15/2020
When COVID-19 first began, Jim Pasant didn’t wear just a mask and gloves, but also goggles, plus he’d repeatedly disinfect his own car—steering wheel, door handle, etc.—even though he was the only person who was ever in it. As the pandemic wore on, the 49-year-old Dallas artist stopped everything but wearing a mask.

Has Covid-19 permanently altered the development timetable for other vaccines? – Quartz – 12/15/2020
In more recent years the vaccine development timeline has been shortened and in some cases is now less than five years—the vaccine for SARS, for instance, was in development for two years. That was the timeline experts were expecting for Covid-19, too—but surpassing even the most optimistic expectations, it took less than a year to deliver the first vaccines.

The great project: how Covid changed science for ever – The Guardian – 12/15/2020
For scientists, 5 January was a turning point in the fight against the coronavirus. That day, a team led by Prof Yong-Zhen Zhang at Fudan University in Shanghai sequenced the genetic code of the virus behind Wuhan’s month-long pneumonia outbreak. The process took about 40 hours. Having analysed the code, Zhang reported back to the Ministry of Health.

In a Hard Year, Families Find Joy in Real Christmas Trees – The New York Times – 12/15/2020
The stress of 2020, including an out-of-control pandemic, protests against racial injustice and a bitterly contested presidential election, left many Americans like Ms. Protsko grasping for scraps of joy wherever they could be found. The holidays offered an outlet.

WHAT INFLUENCERS ARE SAYING

San Francisco Business Times @SFBusinessTimes 14 Dec As #Covid vaccine doses arrive, employers whether to require — if they can — mandatory vaccination or followup testing​

Nikki Burdine @NikkiBurdine 15 Dec Tennessee Department of Health to scale back COVID testing hours and offer self-testing instead

USC Annenberg Media @AnnenbergMedia 14 Dec In an email to the student body, USC announced plans to extend their coronavirus testing capacity to 100,000 test per week for the spring semester, compared to 5,000 tests per week during the fall semester.

Axios @axios 15 Dec The pandemic has supercharged the market for at-home testing for a slew of common conditions — everything from cholesterol checks to cancer screenings.

KPIX 5 @KPIXtv 14 Dec The initial feedback from Santa Clara County’s new door-to-door coronavirus testing program has been encouraging, according to public health officials.

CONTENT FACTS

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