Also: comparing COVID to the 1918 flu; the truth about neck gaiters
(Julie Steenhuysen, Reuters, 8/14/20)
Scientists from the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) have started the process of manufacturing a SARS-CoV2 strain for possible human challenge trials. These trials would administer the strain to volunteers who have received a COVID-19 vaccine in order to test the vaccine’s efficacy. Phase III trials rely on the risk of possible natural infection with a large enough sample size of volunteers, while challenge trials administer the virus directly. There is no formal plan to run challenge trials, and manufacturers say they have no plans to run the trials unless ethical considerations are worked out.
(Jen Christensen, CNN, 8/14/20)
Researchers have compared the worst two months of the 1918 flu pandemic with the first two months of the COVID-19 pandemic in New York City, and have found comparable mortality rates. Comparing the two, COVID-19 had over 70% as many deaths per capita as 1918, an unsurprising figure considering modern healthcare improvements. Co-author Dr. Jeremy Faust stated that considering the intervention of modern healthcare, COVID is overall worse.
(Yasemin Saplakoglu, Live Science, 8/14/20)
The article responds to recent reports that neck gaiters are worse than wearing no mask in terms of spreading SARS-CoV2. The study cited by other articles was testing a methodology for evaluating face coverings and was not intended as a definitive evaluation in itself. The gaiter, for example, was tested on only one participant, so the conclusion that it is worse than no mask is not yet supported by evidence, though it is of course still a possibility.
—Stories compiled by Senior Scientific Writer Mary Parker