Racing to understand Covid-19 immunity
Nine drug companies pledged today to “stand with science” and not release a coronavirus vaccine until it met rigorous safety and efficacy standards. Normally in competition with one another, the companies banded together in an effort to reassure the public that they would not bow to pressure from the Trump administration and prematurely rush out a vaccine.
The promise came after repeated claims from President Trump that a vaccine could be available by Election Day. “We’ll have the vaccine soon, maybe before a special date,” he said just yesterday. “You know what date I’m talking about.”
The companies said they would follow guidance from agencies like the Food and Drug Administration and complete large clinical trials before any potential vaccine was released.
But until the day that the first vaccine arrives, your face covering could act as a stand-in. Researchers have proposed the new theory that masks might offer a crude form of immunization, by allowing some but not all virus particles to be breathed in, lowering people’s chances of getting sick while potentially provoking an immune response to fight the pathogens. Though outside experts were intrigued by the idea, they were reluctant to embrace it, in part because trying to prove the theory would involve unethical experiments that expose masked and unmasked people to the virus.
Immune systems may be an important driver of risk for older Covid-19 patients. Some scientists suggest that aging can prompt the immune system to enter a heightened state of alert, increasing inflammation and depleting certain disease-fighting cells. That could help explain why people who are 80 and over are hundreds of times more likely to die from the virus than those under 40.
The long-haul patients: For some, battling Covid-19 can mean daily fevers, fatigue and other grueling physical symptoms that last months. But the long bouts of illness can also prompt mental health issues like anxiety and depression.
Back to school tips
For millions of American schoolchildren, the Tuesday after Labor Day traditionally marks the return to their classrooms. This year, instead of boarding buses and lugging backpacks, most of those students are opening their laptops at home.
If you’re among the parents, students or teachers trying to navigate this new educational landscape, we’ve got some resources that may be helpful:
What else we’re following
What you’re doing
I started restoring old rusted tools that had been in the garage for years. The repetitive manual activity over many hours of scrubbing, sanding and polishing has a calming effect. One item was a handsaw that belonged to my grandfather. It was made in 1917. It survived the 1918 Spanish flu and has now found a new “life” during Covid-19.
— Walter Doubell, Gauteng, South Africa
Let us know how you’re dealing with the pandemic. Send us a response here, and we may feature it in an upcoming newsletter.