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February has been a tumultuous month on the earth of COVID. As vaccines proceed to roll out, studies of states concurrently operating out of doses and scrambling to make use of doses earlier than they expire appear equally frequent. However manufacturing is ramping up, and as of this week, the US has vaccinated roughly 1 in 10 folks. We nonetheless have a protracted solution to go earlier than we attain something approaching herd immunity, however at the very least we’re getting on observe.
Listed here are some key COVID-19 tales that you will have missed within the rush of reports this week.
WHO warns we have to vaccinate the world, not simply rich international locations
As of early February, greater than 75 p.c of the 128 million COVID-19 vaccine doses administered thus far have been in simply 10 international locations, which account for roughly 60 p.c of world GDP. That leaves 130 international locations which have but to get a single dose for his or her residents.
In a press launch this week, the World Well being Group warned that “This self-defeating technique will price lives and livelihoods, give the virus additional alternative to mutate and evade vaccines and can undermine a world financial restoration.” A research printed on the finish of January from the Nationwide Bureau of Financial Analysis echoes the identical level: that failing to vaccinate poor international locations will have an effect on the whole world. Thus far, rich international locations are shopping for up the provides of obtainable vaccines, with little thought for anybody else. A part of that’s an comprehensible effort to guard their very own residents. However the fact is that, even except for the financial threat, giving SARS-CoV-2 secure havens the place it might probably multiply and mutate is a well being threat to the whole world. As we’ve seen with the UK and South Africa variants, mutations could cause new outbreaks quickly.
The WHO is urging international locations to share vaccine provides as soon as their very own well being employees and high-risk populations are vaccinated, in addition to encouraging producers to allocate vaccine equitably. But it surely stays to be seen how selfless we might be.
[Related: What you can do right now to protect yourself from the new COVID-19 variants]
Greater than 10,000 pregnant ladies have gotten the COVID vaccine with out subject
Anthony Fauci, director of the Nationwide Institute of Allergy and Infectious Illnesses and chief medical advisor to President Biden, stated this week that greater than 10,000 pregnant ladies have gotten the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines with “no crimson flags.”
That’s excellent news for anybody involved concerning the potential results on each the mom and unborn fetus. The Facilities for Illness Management has formally suggested that girls seek the advice of their physicians earlier than getting the vaccine, whereas the World Well being Group has acknowledged that till a pregnant girl is at excessive threat of COVID-19 an infection, they don’t suggest she get a shot (although they’ve flip-flopped loads on the topic).
Nonetheless, that official steerage has largely been because of an absence of knowledge on the vaccine’s security amongst pregnant folks, somewhat than any knowledge that means the vaccine is perhaps dangerous. However that’s a aspect impact of the best way scientific trials are all the time performed: they typically don’t embody pregnant people.
Loads of public well being specialists explicitly suggest that you simply get the COVID vaccine in case you’re pregnant, because the dangers of getting COVID -19 itself outweigh the pretty small likelihood of getting points with the vaccine. As one obstetrician instructed newsonthecloud, “there’s really no biologic plausibility that an mRNA vaccine could cause hurt to a pregnant individual or their child.”
Pfizer is chopping manufacturing time for its vaccine by virtually half
As they ramp up manufacturing, Pfizer is drastically chopping the time it takes to make its vaccine doses. They’re estimating the time will come down by practically 50 p.c, from 110 days to extra like 60, largely resulting from producers getting higher at making every dose. Initially, for instance, making the DNA required to start the method took 16 days. Producers at the moment are taking pictures for extra like 9 or 10.
Pfizer can be including extra manufacturing gear to extend the amount of vaccines they’re in a position to make directly. Simply within the final month, the pharmaceutical firm says they’ve doubled their output. Hopefully, that may translate rapidly to better availability, as states are at present operating out of doses usually.
[Related: Here’s where all the COVID-19 vaccine candidates currently stand]
The CDC recommends doubling-up on masks or carrying a extra tightly becoming one
New analysis by the CDC reveals that carrying a material masks over a surgical one, or carrying a tight-fitting medical masks, can lower aerosols by about 95 p.c. Including a masks becoming system or a nylon masking, each of which might seal off the perimeters higher, can even assist. The aim of all of those choices is to direct airflow by the masks, somewhat than permitting aerosols to leak across the sides.
The CDC’s suggestions are according to what different researchers have been suggesting as of late: that individuals have to be bettering the match and protection of their masks. Increased charges of mask-wearing are strongly correlated with decrease transmission charges, and particularly because the nation faces terribly excessive case counts it’s extra essential than ever to masks up correctly.
The WHO discredits (once more) the idea that COVID-19 got here from a lab leak
There was by no means any precise scientific proof that SARS-CoV-2 got here from wherever besides animals, however because the very starting of the pandemic, there have been conspiracy theories that the virus originated in a lab in China. This week, the WHO but once more denied these claims after they’ve continued to supply proof that COVID-19 originated in bats or pangolins.
A few of the confusion could come from the truth that there nonetheless isn’t a definitive reply to precisely the place the virus got here from. Although virologists are assured that it got here from animals, it’s not clear which kind of animal or precisely the way it hopped over to people. But it surely’s price remembering that the origins of Ebola, which has been round for roughly 40 years, nonetheless aren’t clear both. The reality is that it’s troublesome to trace down precisely how a virus traveled very early in its origin story, particularly when the origin is in wild animals which we don’t typically observe carefully. However the truth that the origin level isn’t clear doesn’t imply that it got here from a secret lab—we all know already that it didn’t.