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Coronavirus Briefing: What Happened Today

2020-05-19 00:10:54
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That doesn’t prove it works. It was a small trial — just eight people, all healthy volunteers between 18 and 55 — and the data hasn’t been shared publicly. Still, it would appear to be an important step in the right direction, one the world has been desperate to take.

A company called Moderna is collaborating on the vaccine with the agency led by Dr. Anthony Fauci, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which has been leading the clinical trials (more are being conducted).

The company said the eight volunteers all produced at least as many virus-neutralizing antibodies as you would see in someone who recovered from Covid-19. That’s the point of a vaccine, to get the body to produce those antibodies without becoming sick. And when they were tested in the lab, Moderna said, the antibodies stopped the virus from replicating — another good sign.

It will take larger, longer studies to determine whether this vaccine can protect people from getting the virus in real-world conditions. It’s not even certain yet that antibodies can do that for this virus, or how long the protection might last.

Moderna’s technology, involving genetic material called mRNA, is relatively new and has yet to produce an approved vaccine for any disease. Even so, the positive signs for this one thrilled Wall Street.

As the adrenaline from facing the first wave of infections wears off, medical workers may be left with the trauma of witnessing so much death and extreme illness. Recent international studies of health care workers who treated virus patients have found soaring rates of anxiety and insomnia, among other issues.

“There is a wave of depression, letdown, true PTSD and a feeling of not caring any more that is coming,” said the chairman of the emergency department in one New Jersey hospital.

The other problems many health care workers face because of the pandemic — spouses who have lost jobs, children who now need home schooling, an end to socializing with colleagues after work — can make decompression nearly impossible. And there is no finish line in sight.

Some medical workers are being offered specialized therapy meant to keep long-term psychological harm from taking root, and to help them keep doing their jobs effectively.

We know that having an underlying health issue like diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, heart disease or chronic lung disease can make someone who contracts the virus much more likely to die or become severely ill.

Those conditions aren’t found uniformly everywhere. They are much more prevalent in some areas of the United States than others.

To help us understand which areas may be particularly vulnerable, PolicyMap, a company that analyzes local health data, created a health-risk index for The Times. The index uses C.D.C. data to estimate the share of people in each county who have at least one of the illnesses mentioned above.

Many of those areas have not yet had a significant outbreak; if they do, it could be especially severe.

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