The New York Times, January 6, 2021

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With no robust system to identify genetic variations of the coronavirus, experts warn that the United States is woefully ill-equipped to track a dangerous new mutant, leaving health officials blind as they try to combat the grave threat.

The variant, which is now surging in Britain and burdening its hospitals with new cases, is rare for now in the United States. But it has the potential to explode in the next few weeks, putting new pressures on American hospitals, some of which are already near the breaking point.

Continue reading “U.S. Is Blind to Contagious New Virus Variant, Scientists Warn”

The New York Times, January 5, 2021 (with Jonathan Corum)

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Researchers are testing 64 coronavirus vaccines in clinical trials on humans. Here are explanations about how nine of the leading vaccines work.

Messenger RNA Vaccines

How the Pfizer-BioNTech Vaccine Works

The vaccine, known as Comirnaty, has been approved or authorized for emergency use in many countries, including the United States. Clinical trials showed the vaccine has an efficacy of 95 percent.

Continue reading “How Nine Covid-19 Vaccines Work”

The New York Times, December 29, 2020 (with Bryan Pietsch)

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The first United States case of the more contagious coronavirus variant that was initially discovered in Britain was found in Colorado on Tuesday, Gov. Jared Polis said, raising the worrisome possibility that the variant is already well established in the patient’s community — and perhaps elsewhere.

“It didn’t teleport across the Atlantic,” said William Hanage, an epidemiologist at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

The variant was detected in a man in his 20s with no travel history, Mr. Polis said. The man was in isolation in Elbert County, southeast of Denver, he said.

Continue reading “First U.S. Case of Highly Contagious Coronavirus Variant Is Found in Colorado”

The New York Times, December 28, 2020

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The Maryland biotech Novavax is starting a final, so-called Phase 3 clinical trial in the United States and Mexico for its experimental coronavirus vaccine, the company announced on Monday.

The little-known firm, which has never brought a vaccine to market before, received up to $1.6 billion from the federal government’s Operation Warp Speed this summer to expedite development. The company reported robust results in earlier phases of its trial, showing that the vaccine prompted strong immune responses in monkeys and people.

Continue reading “Novavax is starting the final stage of testing for its vaccine.”

The New York Times, December 25, 2020 (with Ernesto Londoño)

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Turkish officials announced Thursday that a vaccine from the Chinese company Sinovac has an efficacy rate of 91.25 percent, but the finding was based on preliminary results from a small clinical trial and none of the data was published in a journal or posted online.

The announcement came a day after another ambiguous news conference, also about Sinovac’s vaccine, in Brazil. Officials there were expected to provide detailed results from another trial, but only reported that the vaccine had an efficacy rate over 50 percent.

Continue reading “Turkey and Brazil Say Chinese Vaccine Effective, With Sparse Supporting Data”