Large vaccine trials begin in the U.S.
At 6:45 a.m. today, a volunteer in Savannah, Ga., got an injection that kicked off the first large-scale coronavirus vaccine trial in the United States. Results of the trial could be available by November, said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
The study will enroll 30,000 healthy people at about 89 sites around the country this summer to determine the vaccine’s safety and effectiveness. Half of the participants will receive two doses of the vaccine, 28 days apart, while the other half will get a placebo.
Researchers will then track the subjects for side effects and to see if fewer vaccinated people contract Covid-19. Because vaccines don’t always block an infection outright, researchers will also be monitoring whether the vaccine — developed by the biotech company Moderna and the National Institutes of Health — prevents severe illness or death.
Late Monday afternoon, the drug company Pfizer announced that it will also begin a late-stage study of a coronavirus vaccine, with the first shots to be given on Tuesday. The trial will also include 30,000 people, from 39 states in the United States, and from Brazil, Argentina and Germany.
Early tests of the Moderna vaccine showed that it stimulated a strong immune response against Covid-19, with minor and temporary side effects like sore arms, fatigue, aches and fever. If the vaccine is proven to be safe and effective, Moderna said it should be able to deliver 500 million doses this year, and up to a billion per year starting in 2021.
Adults interested in participating in the Moderna trial can visit coronaviruspreventionnetwork.org.
Vaccine insiders: Well-timed stock bets have generated big profits for senior executives and board members at companies developing vaccines and treatments for the virus.
Can masks work both ways?
Face coverings have been touted as one of best ways to prevent those around you from contracting the coronavirus. Now, there is mounting evidence that masks also protect the people wearing them.
Different kinds of masks “block virus to a different degree, but they all block the virus from getting in,” said Dr. Monica Gandhi, an infectious disease physician at the University of California, San Francisco.
Dr. Gandhi and her colleagues make this argument in a paper that will be published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine. Drawing from animal experiments and observations of various events during the pandemic, they contend that people wearing face coverings will take in fewer coronavirus particles, which could make the disease less severe.
One animal study in China placed hamsters infected with the coronavirus alongside healthy ones, some of which were separated by a buffer of surgical masks. Many of the hamsters behind the masks didn’t get infected, while those that did showed milder symptoms.
But masks continue to be deeply divisive in the United States. In Illinois on Saturday, the “Million Unmasked March” drew about 150 demonstrators to the capital to protest state guidance requiring face coverings in schools this fall.
Masks as fashion: Japan is helping lead the way in innovative face coverings. Designers have made masks with pearls and high-tech fabrics, options for weddings and punk-inspired styles with leather and spikes. A start-up is even working on one that also serves as a walkie-talkie, personal secretary and translator.
The Coronavirus Outbreak ›
Frequently Asked Questions
Updated July 27, 2020
Should I refinance my mortgage?
- It could be a good idea, because mortgage rates have never been lower. Refinancing requests have pushed mortgage applications to some of the highest levels since 2008, so be prepared to get in line. But defaults are also up, so if you’re thinking about buying a home, be aware that some lenders have tightened their standards.
What is school going to look like in September?
- It is unlikely that many schools will return to a normal schedule this fall, requiring the grind of online learning, makeshift child care and stunted workdays to continue. California’s two largest public school districts — Los Angeles and San Diego — said on July 13, that instruction will be remote-only in the fall, citing concerns that surging coronavirus infections in their areas pose too dire a risk for students and teachers. Together, the two districts enroll some 825,000 students. They are the largest in the country so far to abandon plans for even a partial physical return to classrooms when they reopen in August. For other districts, the solution won’t be an all-or-nothing approach. Many systems, including the nation’s largest, New York City, are devising hybrid plans that involve spending some days in classrooms and other days online. There’s no national policy on this yet, so check with your municipal school system regularly to see what is happening in your community.
Is the coronavirus airborne?
- The coronavirus can stay aloft for hours in tiny droplets in stagnant air, infecting people as they inhale, mounting scientific evidence suggests. This risk is highest in crowded indoor spaces with poor ventilation, and may help explain super-spreading events reported in meatpacking plants, churches and restaurants. It’s unclear how often the virus is spread via these tiny droplets, or aerosols, compared with larger droplets that are expelled when a sick person coughs or sneezes, or transmitted through contact with contaminated surfaces, said Linsey Marr, an aerosol expert at Virginia Tech. Aerosols are released even when a person without symptoms exhales, talks or sings, according to Dr. Marr and more than 200 other experts, who have outlined the evidence in an open letter to the World Health Organization.
What are the symptoms of coronavirus?
Does asymptomatic transmission of Covid-19 happen?
- So far, the evidence seems to show it does. A widely cited paper published in April suggests that people are most infectious about two days before the onset of coronavirus symptoms and estimated that 44 percent of new infections were a result of transmission from people who were not yet showing symptoms. Recently, a top expert at the World Health Organization stated that transmission of the coronavirus by people who did not have symptoms was “very rare,” but she later walked back that statement.
What else we’re following
Republicans are seeking to lower the payments for tens of millions of jobless Americans to $200 a week in a $1 trillion recovery package. Democrats support a $3 trillion package that includes extending the $600-per-week federal payments, which expire on Friday, through the end of the year.
President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil said Saturday that he had been cured of the coronavirus, tweeting a photo of himself holding a box of the unproven drug hydroxychloroquine.
Google will allow nearly all of its 200,000 employees to work from home until at least next July — the first major corporation to announce such an extended timetable.
Is deep cleaning a waste of time? The Atlantic argues that some businesses are obsessed with risk-reduction rituals that only make people feel safer.
A Times photographer, Tyler Hicks, spent weeks traveling down the Amazon River, documenting how the virus is devastating remote towns.
Pool testing could allow the U.S. to test more people without actually needing more tests. Here’s how it works.
The wine market has collapsed during the pandemic, prompting winemakers across France to make a painful decision: converting unsold product into hand sanitizer.
In this era of Zoom calls, The Times is playing celebrity bookshelf detective. See which books Colin Powell, Tom Hanks and Gwyneth Paltrow have in their video backdrops.
In New York City, tailors have seen business rebound as people struggling with the “Quarantine 15” request lengthened waistbands and roomier jackets.
What you’re doing
I am having fun with my 11-year-old grandson, who is a budding artist, and a dozen friends. I email them an “art prompt” at the beginning of each week and they return artwork based on the prompt to me by Friday. I then create a PowerPoint gallery, which I return to them the next day.
— Joanna Hammond, Amesbury, Mass.
Let us know how you’re dealing with the outbreak. Send us a response here, and we may feature it in an upcoming newsletter.