A version of this story appeared in the November 23 edition of CNN’s Coronavirus: Fact vs. Fiction newsletter. Sign up here to receive the need-to-know headlines every weekday.
Some Americans could receive a coronavirus vaccine as early as the second week of December. But that’s if everything goes to plan and Pfizer receives emergency use authorization for its vaccine candidate around December 10.
How long before life returns to normal? Based on the level of protection that the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines offered in trials, “70% or so of the population being immunized would allow for true herd immunity to take place,” Moncef Slaoui, the head of the US government’s vaccine efforts, told CNN on Sunday. He added that based on his plans, that figure could be achieved in May “or something like that.”
It comes as a new Gallup poll found that most Americans (58%) would be willing to get vaccinated if there was an FDA-approved vaccine available right now at no cost. The last poll in September found only 50% of Americans were up for the jab. “If you have a highly efficacious vaccine, and only a relatively small 40, 50% of the people get vaccinated, you’re not going to get the herd immunity you need,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, told CBS.
Until herd immunity is achieved, limiting close social contacts and wearing masks are the main things that can temper the coronavirus resurgence America is experiencing. More than 3 million US infections were reported this month, about a quarter of all US cases since the start of the pandemic. At least 83,227 Covid-19 patients were hospitalized Saturday, the same day the country topped 12 million cases.
Daily confirmed cases have been averaging at over 100,000 for more than 20 days, but it has not stopped millions from ignoring CDC advice and traveling this weekend ahead of Thanksgiving. According to one poll, a third of parents believe the benefits of gathering the family together for Thanksgiving is worth the risk of catching or spreading Covid-19.
YOU ASKED. WE ANSWERED
Q: Can life return to normal now that Covid-19 vaccines are going to be rolled out in the US?
A: The White House coronavirus task force warned states in a weekly report that current vaccination plans won’t reduce the spread of the disease for months.
- Wear a mask properly.
- Wash your hands.
- Use hand sanitizer.
- Stay home, if possible, and reduce your risk by cutting down on errands and trips to the store.
- Be prepared and stock up.
- Check for symptoms and get tested.
- Don’t stress about disinfecting packages.
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WHAT’S IMPORTANT TODAY
AstraZeneca’s Oxford coronavirus vaccine is 70% effective on average, data shows
Drugmaker AstraZeneca announced on Monday that its experimental coronavirus vaccine has shown an average efficacy of 70% in large-scale trials. The vaccine, developed with the University of Oxford, showed 90% efficacy in one dosing regimen – when the vaccine was given as a half dose, followed by a full dose at least a month later – and 62% efficacy in a second regimen – when two full doses were given at least a month apart. That averages out to a 70% efficacy, AstraZeneca said.
While the Oxford vaccine appears to be less effective than the Pfizer and Moderna jabs, it will be easier to distribute as it can be stored in standard refrigerators.
“The really good news is twofold. Firstly the vaccine can be stored in ordinary refrigerators, which helps in high-income countries but is of enormous importance for low-income countries,” said one independent expert.
China’s Xi Jinping is pushing for a global QR code
Chinese President Xi Jinping is pushing for a global Covid-19 tracking system using QR codes to help fast-track international travel and business during the pandemic, Ben Westcott reports. China’s QR-based health certification system, which uses an electronic barcode to store a person’s travel and health history, has been credited with helping to curb the spread of the virus. But apps of this sort have been dogged by privacy concerns in western democracies and there would likely be serious questions about how a QR system coordinated with Beijing would function.
It comes as several cities in China have reported new cases over the past week – all of which have been met with immediate action by authorities, from extensive testing and contact tracing to partial lockdowns. Yet Shanghai’s biggest international airport momentarily descended into chaos Sunday night after authorities ordered a mass testing drive in response to a small outbreak of Covid-19 linked to several cargo handlers.
European countries believed that Germany would always have spare ICU beds for them. Now they’re almost full
Germany was seen as a beacon for other European countries during the first wave and hailed for one of the world’s best health care systems. But it is now beginning to struggle with more severe infections than at any other point during the pandemic, Frederik Pleitgen, Nadine Schmidt and Claudia Otto report.
Infection numbers in Germany hit an all-time record Friday, with nearly 24,000 new daily cases recorded – and so did the number of patients in the country’s intensive care units. Europe’s largest economy has gotten through the pandemic fairly well for now compared to its neighboring countries. This is in part due to its high intensive care capacity with 33.9 beds per 100,000 people. But the government warned Friday that the system could collapse in weeks if the current trajectory continues.
ON OUR RADAR
- A Royal Caribbean cruise ship has returned to port in Singapore after an 83-year-old passenger tested positive for Covid-19. The “cruise to nowhere” itinerary around Singapore was part of a much-vaunted program to reinvigorate domestic travel in the country amid the pandemic.
- Nine months into the pandemic, 42% of Americans say their household income is still below what it was before the coronavirus outbreak.
- A woman in Oklahoma with worsening cold-like symptoms tested negative for Covid-19 three times before receiving a positive test. She is now urging others not to rely on test results if they feel sick.
- The home of Rebekah Jones, who was fired from her job as a state data scientist after accusing Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration of minimizing the pandemic and skewing state data, was raided. She worries her seized computer and phones will reveal sources who leaked her damaging information on the state’s coronavirus response.
Looking for a job? This college shared its database with thousands of remote job openings.
California State University, East Bay, published a public database of remote job vacancies across the country to help people struggling to find employment due to the pandemic. In a press release last week, the university said it wants to help “pull the rising unemployment level in the country back to its normal level.”
The database, which the university says is regularly updated, has more than 3,000 active job openings across different fields and industries.
“We did not say that it’s safe to fly … what we did say is that the risks of flying are significantly reduced. And that’s an important difference.” – Leonard Marcus, member of the aviation public health initiative at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health
“Most of the experts that I’ve spoken to have suggested that 70% of the population will have to be immune. Now, it could be smaller. It could be larger. But that’s the guess right now in order to really shut down the virus and frankly, make it go away.” – FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn