Coronavirus Now: COVID-19 Updates for December 3

As of December 3, confirmed cases of COVID-19 now number more than 65 million around the world, including more than 14.2 million cases in the United States and more than 278,000 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 3 News Updates

Smartphone Data Reveals Many Americans Ignored Travel Warnings, But More Stayed Home than in 2019

Smartphone data reveals that about 13% of Americans still traveled a long distance for Thanksgiving despite travel warnings, NPR reported. But the good news is that 42% with smartphones stayed home compared to 36% the year before. Air travel was less than half what it had been in 2019, NPR noted.

Obama, Bush & Clinton Would Get Coronavirus Vaccine on Camera

Former Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush, and Bill Clinton have all announced that they would be willing to get the coronavirus vaccine on camera for others to see, NPR reported. Obama said his decision would be based on Dr. Anthony Fauci saying the vaccine was safe.

Freddy Ford, Bush’s chief of staff, reached out to Fauci to see how he could help promote the vaccine, NPR reported.

Obama said he understood why the Black community would be hesitant about the vaccine, but he will trust it if Fauci says it’s OK. Obama said: “I understand you know historically — everything dating back all the way to the Tuskegee experiments and so forth — why the African American community would have some skepticism. But the fact of the matter is, is that vaccines are why we don’t have polio anymore, the reason why we don’t have a whole bunch of kids dying from measles and smallpox and diseases that used to decimate entire populations and communities.”

23-Year-Old Had Near-Stroke After Contracting COVID-19

Riley Behrens, 23, had a near-stroke days after contracting COVID-19, USA Today reported. His only pre-existing condition was previous exercise asthma he had in middle school.

He was supposed to go home for Thanksgiving after quarantining for two weeks, but he allowed a friend who lost his home to stay at his house. His friend had attended a wedding and they both ended up with COVID-19.

Behrens said he had a headache Wednesday night and then trouble breathing Thursday and Friday. He said he had weakness on his left side on Saturday and was dizzy, with spotty vision. An MRI diagnosed him with a mild blood clot on the brain called a TIA. Most don’t cause permanent damage, but about one-third can lead to a stroke.

Austin Mayor Was in Mexico When He Recorded a Video Urging Residents to Stay Home

Austin Mayor Steve Adler was vacationing in Mexico when he released a video asking residents to stay home to slow the virus’ spread, KVUE reported. He had told the city in a video: “Now is not the time to relax.”

Amid COVID-19, Austin mayor says ‘stay home’ in video recorded on vacation in Mexico | KVUEAustin Mayor Steve Adler confirmed to the KVUE Defenders that in November, he hosted his daughter’s wedding and went on a vacation with a group of people to Mexico. Both happened while Austin was under Stage 3 guidelines, which advised against gatherings of more than 10 people. Here's a video he recorded Nov. 9 from…2020-12-02T19:53:32Z

Adler had hosted his daughter’s wedding with 20 guests and then went on a vacation in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, with eight people from the wedding in early November. Adler told KVUE that he didn’t violate his own order and he and his guests took tests first to ensure they weren’t infected. He said that he and his guests had flown to Mexico on a private jet.

However, KVUE reported that some attendees flew to Austin for the wedding from across the country. Dr. Mark Escott, the top health authority in Austin, issued a warning the day after Adler left asking people to only do activities with people within their household and to decrease travel.

Adler later said in a statement: “I regret this travel. I wouldn’t travel now, didn’t over Thanksgiving and won’t over Christmas.  But my fear is that this travel, even having happened during a safer period, could be used by some as justification for risky behavior.  In hindsight, and even though it violated no order, it set a bad example for which I apologize.”

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.

The UK authorized using the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in early December, UK’s government website reported. A 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.”

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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