Timeline 2020: Week 29

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This week, the publication of detailed results of a phase 1, dose-escalation, open-label trial (14 July) reminded us that the race for a vaccine is gaining momentum. More encouraging results from competitor researchers are expected within days.

Meanwhile, the pandemic is gaining momentum, too, with sad records recorded from all over the world. A new area of concern is Europe, where a second wave may be building up (18 July). In contrast to what happened in March, local epidemics seem now to be fueled by the infection of younger people. Wearing face masks may soon be required in many European countries (16 July).

In the US, daily new SARS-CoV-2 cases are on track to go beyond 100,000. As Rudolf Virchow, the great 19th century father of pathological anatomy, liked to say: “An epidemic is a social phenomenon that has some medical aspects.” (Cited by Bernard Henri-Lévy in Ce virus qui rend fou, Grasset, June 2020)

Sunday, 12 July

Fourteen renowned doctors (Antoine Pelissolo, Jimmy Mohamed Philippe Amouyel, Francis Berenbaum, Eric Caumes, Robert Cohen, Anne-Claude Crémieux, Gilbert Deray, Vianney Descroix, Philippe Juvin, Axel Kahn, Karine Lacombe, Bruno Megarbane and Christine Rouzioux) demand “the wearing of a mandatory mask in all enclosed public places” in order to prevent a second COVID-19 wave (Le Parisien, Le Monde).

In Sydney, thousands of pub-goers have been asked to self-isolate for two weeks after a hotel staff member and three other people became the latest cases in an emerging coronavirus cluster (The Guardian).

Will COVID-19 help to cure over-tourism in the future? Many cities around the world are searching for a new balance. Reflections about the current situation in Paris (Le Monde, Édition abonnés).

If you read Spanish, read Los delirios mortales del rey Donald, by Paul Krugman, and Jornaleros de la pandemia, by Guillermo Abril.

Monday, 13 July

California, 40 million people, return to the closure of all indoor operations for restaurants wineries, movie theaters and family entertainment, zoos, museums and cardrooms bars. The state is one of the main SARS-CoV-2 foci in the United States (more than 300,000 cases, 7,000 deaths).

A study examining data for 355 Dutch municipalities finds evidence of a positive relationship between air pollution and Covid-19 cases, hospital admissions and deaths (Cole MA, Ozgen C, Strobl E (PDF); The Guardian).

The Guardian: 30-year-old dies after attending ‘Covid party’ in Texas | ‘I think I made a mistake, I thought this was a hoax, but it’s not.’ See also the video by Jane Appleby.

Do men without a mask look tough? (The Guardian)

Returning German tourists as superspreaders? The CEO of the World Medical Association Frank Ulrich Montgomery proposes a two-week quarantine for holidaymakers returning from the Mallorca island (audio in German) after hundreds of drunken tourists celebrate in a pre-COVID atmosphere.

No re-opening of discos in France as the French Council of State estimates that the prolonged closing of the night clubs is not “disproportionate” (Le Monde).

Tuesday, 14 July

Jackson et al. publish a preliminary report about 45 healthy adults, 18 to 55 years of age, who received two vaccinations, 28 days apart, with mRNA-1273 in a dose of 25 μg, 100 μg, or 250 μg. Read also the editorial by Editorial by Penny M. Heaton: The Covid-19 Vaccine-Development Multiverse and the audio interview Covid-19 Vaccine Development, by Rubin, Baden and Morrissey.

Israel, Uzbekistan, Melbourne, California – certain states, areas and cities enter new lockdowns. Le Monde updates a non-exhaustive list of new pandemic hotspots, classified by number of inhabitants concerned and by country.

Jeneen Interlandi publishes Why We’re Losing the Battle With Covid-19. (The New York Times)

Michelle Goldberg publishes In Some Countries, Normal Life Is Back. Not Here. (The New York Times)

Twitter comment on British tourists in Spain: “Parts of Spain in lockdown, the elderly shut away in care homes, we all wear masks in the street, but in Magaluf the antisocial and irresponsible Brits do whatever they please. It’s shameful.” (The Guardian, text and video)

Wednesday, 15 July

If you read Spanish, read Una sanitaria en L’Hospitalet de Llobregat: “El ambulatorio roza el colapso, peor que en abril”. (El País).

Matthew J. Belanger, Michael A. Hill, Angeliki M. Angelidi, Maria Dalamaga, James R. Sowers, and Christos S. Mantzoros publish Covid-19 and Disparities in Nutrition and Obesity. (The New England Journal of Medicine)

Renee N. Salas, James M. Shultz, and Caren G. Solomon publish The Climate Crisis and Covid-19 — A Major Threat to the Pandemic Response. (The New England Journal of Medicine)

Thursday, 16 July

The French government decides that wearing mask will be compulsory in closed public places from next week. They describe the situation as “problematic” in Mayenne, “worrying” in New Aquitaine, and increasing number of cases in Paris and in Finistère. (Le Monde)

In Spain, 40% of recent outbreaks might have been associated with family events (“…a wedding in Tudela, a celebration of San Juan in a neighborhood of Castellón, a meal with friends in Alcanar (Tarragona).” (El País).

In a response to the paper by Jackson et al. (see 14 July), British researchers working on another Covid-19 vaccine at the University of Oxford spread the word that their vaccine, too, triggers two types of immune response: the production of antibodies – proteins that can bind to the virus, preventing it from entering cells and flagging it to immune cells – but it also seems to result in the production of “killer” T cells – immune cells that attack infected human cells. (The Guardian)

Danielle Renwick publishes How quickly will there be a vaccine? And what if people refuse to get it? (The Guardian)

Merlin Chowkwanyun and Adolph L. Reed publish Racial Health Disparities and Covid-19 — Caution and Context. (The New England Journal of Medicine)

If you read Spanish, read Miguel Ángel Criado: Más de la mitad de los españoles ingresados por coronavirus han desarrollado problemas neurológicos (El País)

Friday, 17 July

Israel returns to partial lockdown. All indoor gatherings of 10 or more people are banned. Restaurants return to takeaways and deliveries only. During the weekend, all shops, hairdressers and attractions are closed. All gyms and fitness studios are closed at all times.

Saturday, 18 July

Spain seems on the brink of a second COVID-19 wave. In the last 7 days, the country had 10 times more new cases than a month ago (El País). Four million residents of Barcelona and 12 municipalities around the city have been urged to stay at home. The regional Government announces that the restrictions also include the reduction of capacity in bars and restaurants and closure of nightlife venues, cultural activities and gyms, and a ban on gatherings of more than 10 people from Saturday.

In France, which already announced plans to make mask wearing mandatory in enclosed public spaces, authorities reported a sharp rise in the infection rate in Brittany. According to data released on Friday, the disease’s reproduction rate in Brittany has risen from 0.92 to 2.62 between 10-14 July.

Infections in India pass one million.

Tom McCarthy publishes ‘The virus doesn’t care about excuses’: US faces terrifying autumn as Covid-19 surges (The Guardian).