Back to Reality: Covid-19

November 9, 2020

With the majority of the election coverage and news now behind us, it’s time to get back on with life in 2020. Over the past week, while we all watched the election coverage on the edge of our collective seats, over 720,000 Americans tested positive for Covid–19. 49,953 in Texas alone. Yikes. This is going in the wrong direction.

A few potentially good notes to be optimistic about:

Pfizer announced this morning its vaccine has been 90% effective in preventing the disease:

Today is a great day for science and humanity. The first set of results from our Phase 3 COVID–19 vaccine trial provides the initial evidence of our vaccine’s ability to prevent COVID–19," said Dr. Albert Bourla, Pfizer Chairman and CEO. “We are reaching this critical milestone in our vaccine development program at a time when the world needs it most with infection rates setting new records, hospitals nearing over-capacity and economies struggling to reopen. With today’s news, we are a significant step closer to providing people around the world with a much-needed breakthrough to help bring an end to this global health crisis. We look forward to sharing additional efficacy and safety data generated from thousands of participants in the coming weeks.

From the New York Times feature by Katie Thomas, David Gelles, and Carl Zimmer:

The company said that the analysis found that the vaccine was more than 90 percent effective in preventing the disease among trial volunteers who had no evidence of prior coronavirus infection. If the results hold up, that level of protection would put it on par with highly effective childhood vaccines for diseases such as measles. No serious safety concerns have been observed, the company said.

Pfizer plans to ask the Food and Drug Administration for emergency authorization of the two-dose vaccine later this month, after it has collected the recommended two months of safety data. By the end of the year it will have manufactured enough doses to immunize 15 to 20 million people, company executives have said.

This is extremely encouraging news. (Pfizer stock is up 11% as of this writing, wow.)

Also this morning, the Biden-Harris transition team announced its Covid–19 task force members. They also have a seven-point plan to beat the virus, including:

  • Ensure all Americans have access to regular, reliable, and free testing.
  • Provide clear, consistent, evidence-based guidance for how communities should navigate the pandemic – and the resources for schools, small businesses, and families to make it through.
  • Plan for the effective, equitable distribution of treatments and vaccines — because development isn’t enough if they aren’t effectively distributed.
  • Rebuild and expand defenses to predict, prevent, and mitigate pandemic threats, including those coming from China.

Sounds like a great start to me. Looking forward to seeing the follow-through on all of these items. I’m optimistic, but this is going to be tough.