The Latest: An important vaccine update


Dear Reader,

There’s some good news to report this week. Moderna, one of the companies developing a Covid-19 vaccine, published new data on its vaccine, revealing that it spurred an immune response to Covid-19 in people in the trial. The vaccine did produce some side effects: More than half of people in the trial reported fatigue, headache, chills, or soreness or pain in their injected arm. But none of the effects are considered serious. It’s still early to say whether the vaccine will be successful, but optimism is warranted.

Also, you may have read some recent stories about how immunity to Covid-19 might wane over time. There’s more to the story, and I recommend this explainer that covers both how to read the latest news and how to understand the complexities of the human immune system.

Here’s what’s new:

  • Case count: There are over 3.3 million confirmed cases in the U.S. and over 13.1 million confirmed cases worldwide. So far more than 135,600 Americans have died from Covid-19. There are surely more.
  • Hospital data to bypass the CDC: The New York Times reports that the Trump administration has ordered hospitals to bypass the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and send all coronavirus information to a central database in Washington. The decision has alarmed the agency and public health experts. Read more.
  • Los Angeles and San Diego school districts will not return to the classroom: The districts have decided to do online-only schooling throughout the fall. Read more.

Follow our Medium Coronavirus Blog for regular updates, and read some of the essential stories we’ve curated below.

Be well,

Alexandra Sifferlin
Editor, Medium Coronavirus Blog

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A quick Q&A: What’s the issue with reopening schools in the fall?

The question of whether schools can and should reopen in the fall is becoming fraught. While so far the research suggests that children are not at a high risk of getting severe Covid-19, there are still several risks.

Opening schools requires adults to congregate, and that puts teachers and school staff at risk. In an Arizona school district, three teachers conducting virtual learning in a shared room caught and spread Covid-19, and one of the teachers died. While groups like the American Academy of Pediatrics have argued that it’s important for children to go to school in person for the sake of learning and to receive benefits like meals and mental health care, there are many precautions that need to be put in place.

With cases of Covid-19 surging throughout the United States, it’s harder to envision American schools having the same success as schools in Europe, where case counts are substantially lower.

Read more here.

New on the blog

Moderna’s Covid-19 Vaccine Spurs an Immune Response in Healthy People

How to Make Sense of the New Immunity Findings

Lessons From New York

What the Heck Is Going On in Florida? Part 2

Disney World Has Reopened 🙃

The U.S. Has Forgotten the Past and Can’t See the Future

Essential explainers

Covid-19 Case Counts Have Been Spiking for Weeks. Why Aren’t Deaths?

What to Make of Research Suggesting Immunity to Covid-19 Is Short-Lived

6 smart reads

What ‘Mini Brains’ Are Teaching About Covid-19

American Passports Are Worthless Now

Yes, You Might Be Becoming a Bit of a Jerk

My Therapist Says the Pandemic Is the Perfect Time to Set Boundaries

Covid Vaccine Front-Runner Is Months Ahead of Her Competition (Bloomberg Businessweek)

How to Make Masks That Everyone Will Want to Wear (National Geographic)



Alexandra Sifferlin
Medium Coronavirus Blog

Health and science journalist. Former editor of Medium’s Covid-19 Blog and deputy editor at Elemental. TIME Magazine writer before that