Mass Protests, Russia’s New Treatment, and the Risk Posed by Your Boss
A roundup of stories we’re reading about Covid-19 today
- This weekend, enormous crowds gathered across the country to protest the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer, stoking tensions with law enforcement — and concerns about a surge of Covid-19 cases. One medical historian who spoke to the New York Times points to the bond parades held in the midst of the U.S. influenza epidemic in 1918, many of which were followed by spikes in flu cases.
- Russia’s sovereign wealth fund, the RDIF, announced that the nation has an “effective treatment” against the coronavirus: a flu drug known as favipiravir. According to CNBC, favipiravir apparently shortened recovery time for Covid-19 patients in early trials, and Russia is planning to get the drug to hospitals this month. The drug was first developed under the name Avigan in Japan, but as Nikkei Asian Review notes, Japan’s government has not yet approved it as a coronavirus treatment.
- While the rest of the world was brought to heel by the coronavirus, Iceland didn’t even impose a lockdown. The isolated nation has essentially eliminated Covid-19, reports Elizabeth Kolbert in her fascinating account in the New Yorker, thanks to extremely aggressive quarantining and contact tracing. Meanwhile, an Icelandic biotech company called deCODE sequenced the virus from every Icelander who tested positive, allowing geneticists to map the spread of the disease.
- Flawed U.S. sick leave policies are exacerbating the dangers of Covid-19, writes Olga Khazan in The Atlantic. While many have been fortunate to have employers who are understanding about taking time off, that’s by far the exception to the rule. The U.S. law that makes it easier for workers to take paid leave if they get Covid-19 or have to take care of their kids doesn’t apply to large companies, and small companies can claim an exemption. Ultimately, the employees of those companies are at the mercy of their bosses when trying to mitigate their own Covid-19 risk.