Pandemics always end. But how and when?
History tells us that vaccines have never played a big role in ending pandemics. Of course, this time they are playing a critical role. Far fewer people will die from Covid-19 because of vaccines.
So how do pandemics like the Spanish Flu in 1918 end without vaccines?
Such viruses don’t just go away. A descendant of the Spanish flu virus (H1N1) circulates to this day.
We humans didn’t develop herd immunity to the viruses, either.
Instead, the viruses that caused pandemics underwent a big change. Or to be more accurate, we did. Our immune systems learned enough about them to fend off the worst effects of the viruses . . . at least most of the time.
In effect, humans and viruses reached a “ceasefire.” Instead of causing possibly fatal illnesses, over time the viruses came to trigger small surges of milder illness.
Pandemic flu became seasonal flu. The viruses became endemic.
So, when will this change occur?
That’s the part that puzzles scientists. You see, past pandemics saw the switch to an endemic virus within two years. But those were influenza pandemics.
We’re now dealing with a coronavirus. The best guess at the moment by scientists for when it becomes endemic is double the length of time for influenza.
The Big News
Covid Doubles Risk of Premature Birth
Premature and stillbirths are about twice as common in pregnant women who are infected with coronavirus. That is the result of a UK study. Obstetric researchers analyzed the rate of pregnancy complications in more than 342,000 women in England between last May and January, of whom 3,500 had Covid-19. The study, published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, identified 30 cases of fetal death in women with Covid-19. That is equivalent to 8.5 per 1,000. That compared with 3.4 per 1,000 among those who were free from the disease. The rate of premature births, meanwhile, was 12.1% among women with coronavirus compared with 5.8% among their healthy peers. Translation: prospective mothers should be prioritized for vaccination.
UK Launches Trial for Third Booster Shot for Covid
The UK is laying the scientific foundations for giving third booster shots of Covid-19 vaccines in the autumn. A wide-ranging clinical trial will assess the effects of seven different shots on people who have already received two Oxford/AstraZeneca or BioNTech/Pfizer doses. The new Cov-Boost study will provide data on immunity and side effects to help the government decide whether people should be re-vaccinated in the fall. And if so, which vaccines to use in what doses for different age groups. Researchers at 18 trial sites across the UK will recruit 2,900 volunteers who were fully immunized earlier this year for the study.
A New Coronavirus From Dogs?
Eight people hospitalized with pneumonia in Malaysia several years ago had evidence of an infection from a novel coronavirus. It’s one that might have come from dogs. A test designed to detect all coronaviruses — even unknown ones — picked up the genetic signature of a canine coronavirus in samples from the people. It’s the first time that a canine coronavirus — which the researchers have named CCoV-HuPn-2018 — has been found in a person with pneumonia. It is not known whether the virus caused the people’s illness. And there’s no evidence that it can pass from person to person. If it is confirmed that the virus causes disease in humans, it will be the eighth unique coronavirus known to do so.
Mixed Vaccines Trigger Potent Response
Vaccinating people with both the Oxford–AstraZeneca and Pfizer–BioNTech Covid-19 vaccines produces a strong immune response against SARS-CoV-2. Preliminary results from a trial in Spain of more than 600 people are the first to show the benefits of combining coronavirus vaccines. Some researchers wonder what will happen if people need a third dose to prolong immunity. Or to protect against emerging coronavirus variants.
FDA Eases Vaccine Cold Storage Rules
The FDA has eased the cold storage rules for the Covid-19 vaccine made by Pfizer and BioNTech. Doses can be now kept longer at normal refrigerator temperatures. The move will simplify the transport and delivery of this highly effective vaccine that has to be stored at ultra-cold temperatures in special freezer units. Previously, once the vials had been thawed, they could only be stored in a normal refrigerator for five days. That time period has now been extended to a month.
The Coronavirus Numbers
Here are the numbers from Friday at 8 a.m. ET from Johns Hopkins University:
- 165,594,437 Infected Worldwide
- 1,556,148,760 Vaccines Given Globally
- 3,432,022 Deaths
- 33,057,386 Infected in the U.S.
- 279,397,250 U.S. Vaccine Doses Administered
- 588,546 Deaths in the U.S.
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Stocks – led by tech – enjoyed a strong rebound yesterday. And futures indicate further upside today.
The rebound is being aided by good data out of Europe. Its purchasing managers index of manufacturing and services activity hit a 39-month high.
The spot gold price rose to $1,880 an ounce on Friday, its highest level since January. Bitcoin is hovering around $40,000.
In a sign of market confidence, the IPO of Sweden’s Oatly (NASDAQ: OTLY) jumped 18% on Thursday in its debut. The oat milk company, which also makes other plant-based foods, was up another 6% in premarket trading on Friday.
Yours in Health & Wealth,