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Medium Coronavirus Blog
A blog from Medium for Covid-19 news, advice, and commentary.

Politics

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We need to acknowledge the Covid-relief bill for what it is: a $1.9 trillion achievement, the likes of which we haven’t seen in decades. As James Surowiecki explains on GEN, the bill’s hefty price tag is perfectly suited to our current moment — one where the unemployment rate is down to 6.2% and the economy appears poised ready for a post-pandemic rebound. The bill also features a number of targeted provisions — child tax credits, rental and homeowner assistance, and full coverage of COBRA for recently uninsured workers through September, to name just a few—that represent huge progressive swings.

“If…


Here’s what the Biden administration needs to do to end the pandemic and improve health in America

A close up of the Statue of Liberty wearing a surgical mask.
Photo: Anton Petrus/Getty Images

On January 20, Joseph R. Biden will be sworn in as the 46th president of the United States, taking the reins during an era of unrivaled conflict as a nation, divided in its battle over a deadly, worldwide contagion. The new administration will seek to change course from an anti-science, anti-health care, uber-individualistic — if not outright narcissistic — outgoing president. …


Vaccines will be a story of the process working the way it’s supposed to (and how good people get it done)

Photo by Daniel Schludi on Unsplash

With the vaccine progress today, is Operation Warp Speed for real? It’s a great story but not what it appears.

First, let’s be clear on our accomplishment. From January 11, when the sequence for the virus arrived from China, to around December 13, when needles will start to enter arms, only 11 months will have passed. Vaccine development can typically be a seven-year process or worse— HIV and the common cold have no vaccine.

Operation Warp Speed has had phases. The idea, the planning, the decisions, and the work. This was hatched by Peter Marks of the U.S. Food and…


A speculative but informed list

Credit: Pool/Getty Images

Joe Biden will be president of the United States, inaugurating what could be a major shift in how Covid-19 is being tackled. As they say in Washington, personnel is policy. So who is going to be tapped for the top health jobs under the new administration? Below is a list of potential candidates for a variety of roles that cover public health, administration, and health care policy. It’s speculative but informed based on interviews and other public reporting. (If you think I have this totally wrong, feel free to email me at alexandra@medium.com or suggest names in the comments.)

The…


Successful Covid-19 mitigation requires several layers of behavioral prevention efforts, along with testing and tracing, plus the development of therapies and vaccines. Graphic: Ian M. Mackay, PhD, a professor of virology at University of Queensland in Australia

Giving up on prevention is a death sentence for hundreds of thousands more Americans

Lest there were any doubts about the White House’s pandemic response plans, President Trump’s chief of staff, Mark Meadows, made the approach clear over the weekend. The apparent “plan” is to give up on prevention efforts and allow the virus to spread as much as possible — rip off the Band-Aid and see what happens.

“We’re not going to control the pandemic,” Meadows said Sunday. “We are going to control the fact that we get vaccines, therapeutics, and other mitigations.”

Because therapeutics have yet to offer any “cure” for Covid-19, and given that widespread deployment of any successful vaccine is…


Distribution and winning over public trust will be major challenges

Photo: Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images

On Thursday, a committee of vaccine experts met for the first time to discuss standards that would need to be met in order for the Food and Drug Administration to authorize a Covid-19 vaccine for emergency use. Such committees are assembled to advise the FDA any time the agency is considering a new drug or vaccine.

During the more than eight-hour-long virtual meeting, representatives of vaccine companies spoke about their progress, government scientists addressed plans to allocate a vaccine, and members of the public voiced their concerns about potential Covid-19 vaccines.

Read about the questions that remain after the meeting…


There are several good ways to protect Harris and Pence. Scientists doubt a see-through barrier is one of them.

Image: Commission on Presidential Debates

When vice-presidential candidates Mike Pence and Kamala Harris square off for their first debate Wednesday in Salt Lake City, they’ll reportedly be separated by plexiglass, set up as a proposed layer of protection against any possible Covid-19 infections.

The decision by the Commission on Presidential Debates appears to have settled a pre-debate debate.

Harris’s team requested the see-through barrier, in part due to the fact that Pence was potentially exposed to the coronavirus during the outbreak at the White House, thought to originate at the ceremony for Supreme Court nominee September 26, 11 days before the scheduled debate. Though several…


Fear, misinformation and the widening political divide over science and expertise threaten our democracy, experts say

Misinformation, fear, and conspiracy theories about the coronavirus are conspiring to deepen the partisan divide in America and further sow distrust in government and expert advice from scientists and health officials, new polling reveals. The growing political gap, deepening general distrust, and ever-more outrageous claims by the White House threaten the very foundations of democracy, a growing chorus of experts worry.

Just 67% of Americans say they trust the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention a great deal or a fair amount, down from 83% in April. Trust in Dr. …


Vaccines are a pact between us all to protect one another

Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash

Vaccine by November 1 come hell or high water, the current administration says. Some misunderstand the purpose of vaccines. FDA Commissioner Stephen M. Hahn, MD, is one of them. Donald Trump is another. That lack of understanding has the potential to cause Covid-19 to be here for a long time.

The purpose of a vaccine is not to protect “me,” it is to protect “we.”

Done right, vaccines end pandemics. Done wrong, pandemics end vaccines.

Let’s start with some simple math. If the goal is to stop the virus from spreading, it has to have a place to be spread…


Houses of worship are vital places we lean on for strength, we shouldn’t turn them into hotspots for coronavirus

Photo by Johannes Eisele/AFP via Getty Images

With 102,000 Covid-19 deaths, we are busy creating the conditions for tomorrow’s outbreaks. There are many things we should feel optimistic about in our fight against Covid-19. Science, more testing, masks and other interventions give us reason to believe we will be able to live alongside the virus while we try to cure it or prevent it.

And we are learning how Covid spreads. In the past week or so alone, we’ve learned:

  • That superspreaders (5–10% of infected) drive 80% of infections
  • That superspreader events are significant drivers (large crowds, bars, etc.)
  • That pre-existing conditions are especially dangerous — new…

Medium Coronavirus Blog

A blog from Medium for Covid-19 news, advice, and commentary.

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