Medium Elemental: The first documented case of Covid-19 in the United States was reported half a year ago, days before early warnings from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that a “very serious public health threat” loomed. Yet health officials had only a rough idea of how the novel coronavirus spread, who the disease affected most, and how to best combat transmission and provide treatment. Public messaging on the seriousness of the virus was at times conflicting and confusing, including the early advice not to wear masks. Six months later, scientists have a firm handle on how the virus spreads and what should be done to get the pandemic under control. Here are nine things we know about Covid-19 now that we didn’t know then.
CNN: Drug giants GlaxoSmithKline and Sanofi Pasteur said Friday they had won a commitment from the US federal government to pay up to $2.1 billion to help the two companies move forward with their proposed joint coronavirus vaccine as part of Operation Warp Speed. The companies had said in April they would work together to make a vaccine against Covid-19, using Sanofi’s flu vaccine technology and Glaxo’s adjuvant — a compound that boosts the power of a vaccine.
The Atlantic: In May, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its guidelines to clarify that while COVID-19 spreads easily among speakers and sneezers in close encounters, touching a surface “isn’t thought to be the main way the virus spreads.” Other scientists have reached a more forceful conclusion. “Surface transmission of COVID-19 is not justified at all by the science,” Emanuel Goldman, a microbiology professor at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, told me. He also emphasized the primacy of airborne person-to-person transmission.
ABC News: As coronavirus cases continue to climb in hot spots across the U.S., positive results from the first phase of several drug trials have raised hopes that a vaccine will soon help Americans return to a normal life. But experts are stressing that even if the vaccine is not 100% effective, it will still be a safe and important tool in the fight against the virus.
U.S. News & World Report: The fate of more than 3,600 quarantined passengers and crew on the cruise ship Diamond Princess made headlines in the early weeks of the coronavirus pandemic in February. An outbreak aboard the ship eventually led to nearly 700 infections and seven deaths from COVID-19. Now, a genetic retracing of events shows the outbreak likely stemmed from just one infected person, with the virus spreading rapidly as people mingled at crowded shipboard events, Japanese researchers report.
Reuters: One person in the United States died about every minute from COVID-19 on Wednesday as the national death toll surpassed 150,000, the highest in the world The United States recorded 1,461 new deaths on Wednesday, the highest one-day increase since 1,484 on May 27, according to a Reuters tally.
STAT News: Never before have prospective vaccines for a pathogen entered final-stage clinical trials as rapidly as candidates for Covid-19. Just six months ago, when the death toll from the coronavirus stood at one and neither it nor the disease it caused had a name, a team of Chinese scientists uploaded its genetic sequence to a public site. That kicked off the record-breaking rush to develop vaccines — the salve that experts say could ultimately quell the pandemic.
Associated Press: As the world races to find a vaccine and a treatment for COVID-19, there is seemingly no antidote in sight for the burgeoning outbreak of coronavirus conspiracy theories, hoaxes, anti-mask myths and sham cures. The phenomenon, unfolding largely on social media, escalated this week when President Donald Trump retweeted a false video about an anti-malaria drug being a cure for the virus and it was revealed that Russian intelligence is spreading disinformation about the crisis through English-language websites.
Washington Post: As the death toll escalates in coronavirus hot spots, evidence is growing that young people who work outside the home, or who surged into bars and restaurants when states relaxed shutdowns, are infecting their more vulnerable elders, especially family members. Front-line caregivers, elected officials and experts in Houston, South Florida and elsewhere say they are seeing patterns of hospitalization and death that confirm fears this would happen, which were first raised in May and June. That was when Florida, Texas, Arizona, California and other states reopened in efforts to revive their flagging economies.
CIN: Victory Cruise Lines, operated by American Queen Steamboat Company (AQSC), has created health and safety protocols to keep guests, crew and the communities the vessels visit safe ahead of the 2021 cruise season, according to a press release. New steps being implemented include pre-cruise screening, crew screening, updated boarding processes and increased sanitation measures. These new policies are in place and ready to be implemented when the cruise operator resumes operations in 2021.