COVID-19 day 330:📈 Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine approved as US deaths hit new record : 14 December 2020

US passed 16M cases on Saturday and will pass 300K deaths with Monday's report; Turkey radically revised its case numbers; must-read from Ed Yong in The Atlantic; should PSAs be scary?

Today is day 330 since the first case of coronavirus disease was announced in the United States. Vaccines are on their way to health care workers and first responders, but deaths and hospitalizations continue climbing, predictably. Of the six most populous countries in the world, the United States has the worst outbreak, with 66 new cases daily per 100,000 population. FDA gave the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine emergency authorization Friday night.

Sections (no jump links, sorry!)
1, One big thing; 2, Recommendations; 3, Politics, economics & COVID; 4, Key metrics;
5, Resources

⓵ One big thing - deaths keep rising

On Friday, the US set a new record for reported deaths: 3,659 from state reports (3,503 from Covid Tracking Project, CTP, plus ID/NE/WA) and 3,309 from Johns Hopkins. About one-in-nine deaths this year can be attributed to COVID-19.

Deaths are a function of hospitalizations which are a function of cases. The seven-day average for each of four metrics - tests, cases, deaths, hospitalizations - set a record on Friday. From Friday-to-Friday, CTP reported that deaths per capita increased in 44 states and territories. The prior seven-day period: 35.

And this is where we stand with cases: the absolute worst by population based on WHO regions, which groups countries geographically. It is possible that a smaller country, one comparable in size to one of our states, might have more per capita cases. On Saturday, Johns Hopkins reported 16,062,299 cumulative cases.

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⓶ Recommendations

🤓 Recommended reading

How Science Beat the Virus. And what it lost in the process. The Atlantic, 14 December 2020 (January/February 2021 cover story)

▪️ What we've done for 10 months hasn't worked. Why not try a different, realistic, form of reality TV?

Mister Rogers-type nice isn’t working in many parts of the country. It’s time to make people scared and uncomfortable. It’s time for some sharp, focused terrifying realism.

It’s Time to Scare People About Covid. NYT Opinion, 07 December 2020

▪️ Expect data on the Moderna vaccine this week and inactivated vaccines from China soon. How to translate predictable media hype and buzzwords.

New Vaccine Data Is Coming: Watch Out for These 3 Claims. Wired, 08 December 2020.

What to expect as the country begins rolling out a massive vaccination program, one that makes polio look like a kindergarten project? Keep in mind that vaccination means two shots: Pfizer-BioNTech three weeks apart and Moderna, four.

The next six months will almost certainly bring delays in vaccine timelines, fights over vaccine priority, and questions about how immune the newly vaccinated are and how they should behave. We’ve spent 2020 adjusting to a pandemic normal, and now a strange, new period is upon us. Call it vaccine purgatory.

The Next Six Months Will Be Vaccine Purgatory. The Atlantic, 11 December 2020.

🔬 Research and medical news

▪️ With Trump threatening to fire him unless he acted, the head of the US Food and Drug Administration, commissioner Stephen Hahn, approved the Pfizer Inc and BioNTech SE vaccine on Friday night. Whether or not you should get the vaccine if you have allergies depends on who’s speaking.

Vanity Fair quoting the Post:

The two-shot vaccine, which has been shown to be 95% effective in randomized trials involving tens of thousands of people, has already been cleared by Britain, Canada, Bahrain, and Saudi Arabia. U.S. officials have engaged in a more rigorous review process that they believe will boost public confidence.

FDA authorizes the first coronavirus vaccine, a rare moment of hope in the deadly pandemic. Washington Post, 12 December 2020.
Most Americans with allergies should be safe to get Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine: FDA. Reuters, 12 December 2020.
UK issues anaphylaxis warning on Pfizer vaccine after adverse reactions. Reuters, 09 December 2020.

▪️ Literature review examines optimism bias (bad things happen to other people) and how we respond to fear. The goal: to contextualize public health messaging for COVID-19. DYK: massive violence during the bubonic plague led to thousands of communities being “eradicated.” Reading this report now, at year’s end, spotlights how Trump/Pence public health messaging put us in this corner.

[B]eing threatened with disease is often associated with higher levels of ethnocentrism; greater fear and perceived threat are associated with greater intolerance and punitive attitudes toward out-groups…

Perceived norms are also most influential when specific to others with whom common identities are shared.

Using social and behavioural science to support COVID-19 pandemic response. Nature, 30 April 2020.

▪️ MIT has released an online tool based upon this paper, to provide guidance on indoor safety. It is a theoretical model; the paper has yet to be peer-reviewed and published in a journal. Use the tabs to customize the environment.

Beyond Six Feet: A Guideline to Limit Indoor Airborne Transmission of COVID-19. medRxiv, 03 November 2020.

🛠 Tools

⓷ Politics, economics and COVID-19

✅ World news briefs: Most shops in Germany will close on Wednesday as the country continues to impose measures to restrict transmission. Eswatini Prime Minister Ambrose Dlamini, 52, has died; he tested positive for COVID-19 four weeks ago. South Korea has ordered schools in Seoul and surrounding areas to close. Australia “estimates there are fewer than 50 active cases remaining, mostly returned travelers from overseas in hotel quarantine.”

▪️ In Wuhan, the market at the center of the world’s attention in January remains shuttered. Since May, Wuhan has not reported any locally-transmitted cases.

❌ In Malaysia, an employee blew the whistle on worker crowding at the “world’s biggest maker of medical-grade latex gloves.” He sent photos in May to a labor advocate “in his native Nepal” that eventually made their way back to the company. In September, Top Glove fired Yubaraj Khadka.

Top Glove’s complex of factories and dormitories in Klang, 40 km (25 miles) west of Kuala Lumpur, has become Malaysia’s biggest coronavirus cluster with more than 5,000 infections, about 94% of them foreigners, the country’s health ministry said in a statement on Dec. 1.

‼️ Turkey adjusted its total number of reported cases on Thursday, bumping the report from less than a million to 1.78 million (Johns Hopkins). The lower number reported only patients who needed medical attention.

❌ This “sidewalk” restaurant in NYC is an abomination. The reason there is less risk outdoors than indoors is air flow. How did this pass any NYC permitting process? Don’t eat here (or anywhere like this, tents with multiple tables included).

⓸ Key metrics

🦠 Friday, Johns Hopkins reported 15,842,789 (231,775 new) cases and 295,450 (3,309 new) deaths, an increase of 1.48 % and 1.13%, respectively, since Thursday. A week ago, the daily numbers increased by 1.61% and 0.94%, respectively.

  • Friday
    - cases 🔻9.97% ; deaths 🔺40.23 % (seven-day average)
    - seven-day average: 🔺210,761 cases and 🔺2,360 deaths 
    - 1.86 % cases leading to death
    - 🔺62.6 cases/100K (CDC)
    - 🔺1,433,460 cases last seven days (CDC)
    - 🔺108,044 hospitalizations

  • One week ago
    - cases 🔺24.8% ,deaths🔺29.7% (seven-day average)
    - seven-day average: 182,663 cases and 2,011 deaths 
    - 1.94% cases leading to death
    🔺53.0 cases/100K (CDC)
    🔺1,214,180 cases last seven days (CDC)
    🔺101,276 hospitalizations

Note: the seven-day average is important because dailies vary due to factors other than actual case numbers, particularly over a weekend.

🇺🇸 11 December 

  • CDC: 15,474,800 (203,229 new) cases & 291,522 (2,760 new) deaths
    One week ago: 12,823,092 (324,358 new) cases & 262,673 (3,668 new) deaths (no report Thursday)

  • State data*:  15,598,772 (231,706 new) cases & 287,116 (3,659 new) deaths
    One week ago: 12,709,043 (199,475 new) cases & 254,530 (1,389 new) deaths
    KS reports only M-W-F; CT, LA, MS and RI report only M-F

  • WHO: 15,203,208 (230,852 new) cases & 287,384 (3,390 new) deaths
    One week ago: 13,563,731 (177,976 new) cases & 268,482 (2,439 new) deaths

Note: Covid Tracking Project is now including probable cases from the Texas dashboard. I discovered this 12 December 2020 when the daily case total jumped by almost 150,000. Texas includes antibody test results in probables; I am using Texas dashboard data only for confirmed cases, not CTP data.

🌎 11 December 

Johns Hopkins interactive dashboard (11.00 pm Pacific)

  • Global: 71,081,571 (1,489,020 new) cases & 1,594,777 (12,921 new) deaths
    One week ago: 65,899,436 (678,884 new) cases & 1,518,670 (12,419 new) deaths

Note: includes Turkey’s adjusted numbers.

* Johns Hopkins data, ~11.00 pm Pacific.
State data include DC, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands

The virus was not created in a lab and the weight of evidence is that it was not released intentionallyAlthough early reports tied the outbreak to a market in Wuhan, China, analyses of genomic data have suggested that the virusdeveloped elsewhere.

⓹ Resources

👓 See COVID-19 resource collection at WiredPen.
📝 Subscribe to Kathy’s COVID-19 Memo :: COVID-19 Memo archives
🦠 COVID-19 @
📊 Visualizations: USWorld
🌐 Global news (at WiredPen)

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