Coronavirus Now: COVID-19 Updates for December 2

As of December 2, confirmed cases of COVID-19 now number more than 64 million around the world, including more than 14 million cases in the United States and more than 276,000 U.S. deaths. You can see a breakdown of coronavirus cases throughout the world and within the U.S. on the map and chart above.

Below you’ll find updates on the latest news about the coronavirus.

December 1 News Updates

White House Task Force Says Texas Has ‘Unsustainable Increase in Hospitalizations’

The White House Coronavirus Task Force has warned Texas that the state has an “unsustainable increase in hospitalizations” and “mitigation efforts must intensify,” Statesman reported. The report was submitted before Thanksgiving, but it was just made public. The Task Force advised that Texas is in “full resurgence.” 

Mitigation efforts should include reducing indoor occupancy limits and testing people in the community like teachers and hospital personnel more. The report also recommended masks in all public areas.

Additional restrictions were triggered in Amarillo, Lubbock, El Paso, Midland-Odessa, Waco, and Laredo when 10 out of Texas’ 22 hospital regions exceeded thresholds for stricter lockdown efforts.

New Cases in Alabama Could Overrun Hospital Capacity

An upward trend in coronavirus hospitalizations could overrun Alabama’s capacity, Fox News reported. Hospitals aren’t overrun yet, but Jeanne Marrazzo, director of the division of infectious diseases at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, said the next two to three weeks might “compromise… our ability to provide health care.” She warned that ancillary care might be needed in about three weeks, but “I hope that doesn’t happen.”

UK Approves Pfizer/BioNTech Vaccine for Use

The UK has authorized using the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, UK’s government website reported. Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said in a government press release: “The government has today accepted the recommendation from the independent Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) to approve Pfizer/BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine for use. This follows months of rigorous clinical trials and a thorough analysis of the data by experts at the MHRA who have concluded that the vaccine has met its strict standards of safety, quality and effectiveness. The Joint Committee on Vaccinations and Immunisations (JCVI) will shortly publish its final advice for the priority groups to receive the vaccine, including care home residents, health and care staff, the elderly and the clinically extremely vulnerable.”

Fauci Believes We’ll See Full Stadiums Again Sometime in 2021

Dr. Anthony Fauci said that we will see full stadiums again sometime in 2021, USA Today reported. He said he could envision this happening by the fall, depending on vaccination rates.

He said: “So it probably will be well into the end of the summer before you can really feel comfortable (with full sports stadiums) — if a lot of people get vaccinated. I don’t think we’re going to be that normal in July. I think it probably would be by the end of the summer.”

Researchers Find COVID-19 Can Cause Lung Damage Similar to Pulmonary Fibrosis in Rare Cases, Requiring Lung Transplants

Northwestern Medicine researchers found that COVID-19 can cause lung damage similar to pulmonary fibrosis, requiring lung transplants, according to a press release. Ankit Bharat, MD, noted: “Think of it this way: after an earthquake, if the basic structure of a building survives, it can still be refurbished. However, if it is levelled, the only option is replacement.”

Eight COVID-19 patients at Northwestern Medicine have received double-lung transplants.

Vaccine Updates

GettyA woman leaves Life Care Center of Kirkland on February 29, 2020, in Kirkland, Washington.

Robert Redfield, CDC Director, said he believes a vaccine will be released by the second week of December, The Hill reported. Redfield said the vaccine would most likely be given to nursing home residents first, then health care providers and high-risk individuals. The decisions are still being finalized. It likely won’t be widely available until the middle of next year.

Early results from Pfizer’s (and Germany’s BioNTech) vaccine trial point to the vaccine being more than 90% effective, The New York Times reported in early November. The trial also didn’t note any serious safety concerns, but as The New York Times pointed out, the details from its clinical trial are “sparse” so far. Pfizer is going to request emergency authorization from the FDA for the vaccine’s use after two months of safety data are collected. Some said the vaccine gave them the symptoms of a severe hangover that subsided in a few days, The Indian Express reported.

In mid-November, company data indicated that Moderna’s vaccine was 94.5% effective, CNN reported. Out of 15,000 participants who got the vaccine, only five developed COVID-19 and none were severely ill. Out of 15,000 given a placebo, 90 developed COVID-19 and 11 had a severe form of the disease. Minor side effects like body aches and headaches in a small percentage were reported.

Both Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccines use mRNA, which teaches the body’s immune system to make antibodies to the protein spikes. This would be the first mRNA vaccine on the market.

A 28-year-old in Brazil died from coronavirus complications after participating in AstraZeneca’s vaccine trial in October. It was later determined that the volunteer had received a placebo. As of mid-November, Israel was in negotiations to receive AstraZeneca’s vaccine, which is in the middle of a Phase III trial for AZD1222, JPost reported. This vaccine is co-invented by Oxford’s Vaccitech and “uses a replication-deficient chimpanzee viral vector based on a weakened version of a common cold virus (adenovirus) that causes infections in chimpanzees and contains the genetic material of the SARS-CoV-2 virus spike protein… After vaccination, the surface spike protein is produced, priming the immune system to attack the SARS-CoV-2 virus if it later infects the body.”

On November 19, it was announced that the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine clinical trials showed it was safe and triggered a good immune response in people of all ages, CNBC reported. The vaccine (ChAdOx1 nCoV-19) had few side effects and prompted a T-cell response within two weeks of receiving the first dose, followed by an antibody response within 28 days of the second dose. 99% of participants had a neutralizing antibody response within 14 days, according to The Lancet. Phase 3 trials will now determine the vaccine’s efficacy, with results expected later this year.

The Oxford vaccine showed it was about 62% effective in people who got two full doses, BBC reported in late November. Another trial showed closer to 90% efficacy in 3,000 people who got a half-dose first and then a full dose the second time rather than two full-sized doses. Experts say they need to do more research on the Oxford vaccine’s efficacy, which is made from an adenovirus that was modified to help human cells create the spoke protein so the immune system can recognize it, Nature reported. The trial might not have had enough participants to fully judge the difference between the two dose amounts. If the results hold up in larger groups, then other reasons might account for the difference, like a lower first dose might stimulating T cells better.

The UK has ordered 100 million doses and AstraZeneca believes it can make three billion in 2021.

Russia’s Sputnik-V vaccine will start trialing in India. Russian authorities say it’s 92% effective after evaluating 16,000 participants, The Indian Express reported.

Novavax announced that in its Phase 1 vaccine trial for NVX-CoV2373, antibodies were induced in 100% of participants, The Motley Fool reported. The vaccine had mild side effects, typically worse with the second dose. On November 9, it was granted fast-track designation by the FDA and is in late-phase clinical development. this vaccine uses a proprietary MatrixM adjuvant. It’s not using an mRNA vaccine that directs protein production like Pfizer and Moderna, ScienceMag reported. Instead, Novavax is using a baculovirus to insert a gene for the spike protein, harvesting the spike proteins and using that in an adjuvant.

Inovio is working on a vaccine called the INO-4800 DNA vaccine. Inovio completed Phase 1 trial for a similar DNA vaccine for MERS. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is backing this trial. Inovio announced positive results from two Phase I clinical trials in early July. The Phase 1 trial was expanded to include older participants in June and July. On November 16, Inovio announced that it was starting the Phase 2 portion of its Phase 2/3 trial. This is a nucleic-based vaccine that will be stable at room temperature for more than a year and doesn’t need to be frozen.

Kaiser Permanente in Washington began enrolling Phase 3 volunteers for Johnson & Johnson’s subsidiary Janssen’s vaccine, KPWashington Research reported in late October. These trials are sponsored by NIAID. KPWHRI has also been testing a Moderna vaccine. Janssen’s vaccine uses a human adenovirus to express the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein. Johnson & Johnson had to temporarily pause trials for a safety concern for its modified adenovirus vaccine (similar to Oxford’s.) It has a Phase III study in place for 60,000 volunteers, The Indian Express reported.

Coronavirus Trends in the United States

An interactive map from shows recent trends in deaths per state over the last 14 and 7 days, using seven-day averages from Johns Hopkins’ data. You can view the full map here. Green means the trend is decreasing, red means the deaths are increasing. Circles show the prior 14 days and triangles show the prior seven days. When using the map, be sure and read the “Map Tips” in the upper left corner to learn how to turn overlay layers on and off. The map legend can also be found under “Map Tips.”

Open this map full screen.

If you are concerned about your symptoms, talk with your doctor right away.

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