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Monday, November 30, 2020

Good and bad news leading into the holidays

For many, the recent rise in COVID-19 cases has left the usual holiday celebrations in a state of limbo. With more than 61,000,000 cases globally and more than 12,000,000 in the US alone, the CDC issued new guidelines ahead of Thanksgiving and the remaining holiday season. Although challenging, increased isolation over the next few weeks may prove vital in curbing the spread of the virus, but there is additional good news on the horizon in the form of a potential vaccine.

In fact, November 2020 has seen promising results for three vaccine candidates. First, Pfizer and Biontech announced that their vaccine appeared to be 90% effective ahead of the conclusion of a phase III clinical trial. Upon its conclusion, the efficacy looks to be about 95%. A week later, Moderna announced similarly notable early results in one of its vaccines, with a 94.5% efficacy. Another domino soon fell, as AstraZeneca and Oxford University announced a third promising vaccine result. This final vaccine was 90% effective in one regimen consisting of a half-dose followed by a full dose a month later, and 62% effective in another regimen that consisted of two full doses separated by a month: a combined efficacy of 70%. It may also be less expensive and easier to store, as it does not require storage at freezing temperatures.      ​

Despite rising hope in the new vaccines, the world certainly is not out the woods yet regarding the COVID-19 pandemic and the US is encouraging citizens to continue wearing masks in the meantime. Additionally, public expectations on a timeline for the widespread availability of any vaccine remain uncertain, as does individual willingness to take an initial vaccine in the US. With any luck, the push for continued isolation will help nurses and healthcare staff during their effort to combat the recent surges in cases, just as the news of a potential vaccine—much less three—is sure to help many of those struggling with isolation over the holidays.