COVID-19


last update: 18 January 2021

Introduction


The
World Health Organisation has a Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic website, and a dashboard with the latest confirmed cases, new cases, and deaths around the world. They also issue daily 'situation reports'.

Useful sources of information include:-
The US
Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, which has a 'Situation Summary'.
The
European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control has a webpage dedicated to COVID-19.
The US Food & Drug Administration has a
press announcements page, with regular COVID-19 updates
The UK has a "
what you need to know" webpage, and the French government has a Coronavirus information webpage. Every other European country also has a dedicated COVID-19 website, e.g. Luxembourg has a website COVID-19 in English.
Johns Hopkins provides
an up-to-date guide to the Coronavirus COVID-19.
The Pharmaceutical Journal provides "
Everything you should know about the coronavirus outbreak" and they have a Coronavirus (COVID-19) webpage with information updated daily.
The Lancet hosts a
COVIS-19 Resource Centre, and Nature has the COVID-19 Watch.
Oxford University hosts the
Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine, which has a specific Oxford COVID-19 Evidence Service.

In addition Google publishes the
COVID-19 Community Mobility Reports.
World Mapper provides a '
Chronology of a Pandemic', which includes a map animation showing how the virus spread across the world.

Finally several publications make reference to the long-term leadership that the '
One Health Commission' could provided. They are trying to address the fact that nearly 75% of all emerging human infectious diseases in the past three decades originated in animals.

Initially I started by isolating a few interesting publications in the early months of the pandemic, but now the task is daunting because there are nearly 2,500 new articles and reports on COVID-19 published or "pre-published" every week. I might still adding to the list of useful publications, but I now focus on isolating key messages from selected publications in the hope that I capture the most important facts as they emerge.

Key messages


2021.03.15 In this
report the results of the COVID-10 Genomics UK consortium were discussed. It showed that in the winter of 2019-20 the controls were always one step behind the virus. The UK epidemic was primarily brought into the country by travellers from, first Italy, then Spain and France, at a time when restrictions were focussed on travellers from Asia.

2021.03.12 A
Chinese team studied samples from 342 live bats in the province of Yunnan (where the first outbreak of COVID-19 disease was found). The bats were from more than 20 different species (there are more than 1,400 species of bat known), and were collected only over a small area (about 1,100 hectares). The team sequenced 24 coronavirus genomes, of which 4 were new viruses closely related to SARS-CoV-2, and one of which was the second-closest known relative to SARS-CoV-2 (at 94.5% similar). The conclusion was that viruses closely related to SARS-CoV-2 continue to circulate and are quite common in bats in the region.
"Sequencing" refers to determining the order to the nucleotides in the DNA, and genome is all the genetic material (the DNA) in the organism. DNA is the instruction set for the growth and reproduction of all known organisms and many viruses. Coronaviruses are a group of related RNA viruses that cause diseases in mammals and birds, some of which can be lethal to man (SARS, MERS and COVID-19). SARS-CoV-2 is the virus that causes the COVID-19 disease. The similarity between the DNA code of the rhesus monkey and man is also 94.5%, but that does not make us "nearly identical" (we actually share 99% of our DNA with chimps and bonobos).

2021.03.11 People infected by Lineage B.1.1.7, commonly known as the "British variant", have a higher risk of dying that those infected with other variants, regardless of age, sex and pre-existing health problems.

2021.03.10 The
South African variant is called Lineage B.1.351, and it's possible that several vaccines are less effective against it. However a team of researcher now suggest that vaccines based upon B.1.351's genetic sequence might protect people from multiple strains of the coronavirus.

2021.03.05 New
coronavirus variants might be able to partially evade antibodies generated in response to vaccination and previous infection. This could mean that vaccines will be less effective against other variants than again the original strain of the virus. However research suggests that T cells from those people who had received an mRNA vaccine or who had recovered from a previous infection could still recognise and target these variants.
T cells are part of a persons immune system, and are key in the way our immune system adapts to a threat. The T cell can sense and destroy pathogens inside infected cells, something an antibody can't do. Antibodies can only latch onto and help destroy pathogens outside cells. According to this discussion, there is evidence that the immune system, including T cells, can clear certain types of infection without help from antibodies. Another advantage of the T cell is that they respond to many different parts of the virus, not just the Spike, and are equally effective for mild or asymptomatic cases where there are few or no detectable antibodies. One problem is that apparent the T cell will not mobilise against a pathogen if the vitamin D level is low. Adequate vitamin D in critically important for activating T cells, and high levels of vitamin D are also critical for first line immune defences. Vitamin D is made in the skin from the action of UV sunlight, food usually being a poor source. There have been small trials with spectacular results, and some doctors recommend up to 6,000 IU daily (recommended levels are usually 400-800 IU daily). Men produce fewer T cells than women, and unlike women, their T cell response reduces with age. There are alternative reports that question the role of T cells, suggesting that they have a role to play in the early control and clearance of many viral infections, but they may have a detrimental impact on clinical outcomes and contribute to long COVID symptoms.

2021.03.02 This publication looks at what are called "silent COVID infections", i.e. people who have as much coronavirus in their nose and throats as those with symptoms. The study looked at 8,900 health-care workers without symptoms, who had received one dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine (official name BNT162b2 mRNA COVID-19 vaccine). The question was whether this vaccine prevented or promoted asymptomatic infection, rather than symptomatic disease, because sub-clinical infection following vaccination could continue to drive transmission. The results showed that after 12 days participants had an infection rate of only 0.2% as compared to 0.8% for unvaccinated participants. This provided real-world evidence for a high-level of protection against asymptomatic infection after a single dose, and in a situation where the "British variant" (Lineage B.1.1.7) was active among a population with a relatively low frequency of prior infection (7.2% antibody positive).
"Asymptomatic individuals" represent at least one quarter of all those infected, and because they are likely to go unnoticed they are an important vector for the transmission of the virus. Results in early 2021 suggest that "asymptomatic individuals" could be responsible for more than half of all transmissions, and to this we must also add transmission by pre-symptomatic individuals.

2021.02.22 This work showed that the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine (official name ChAd0x1 nCoV-19 vaccine) was more effective if the second of the two doses was given after a long wait rather than a short one. The results showed that the vaccine was 55% effective for those receiving the second dose less than 6 weeks after the first, whereas it was 81% effective for those receiving the second dose more than 12 weeks after the first. In addition they found that single dose was 76% effective for the first 90 days.

2021.02.12 This
work looked at the question if existing vaccines would be effective against emerging variants (the South African variant Lineage B.1.351). The looked at both the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, which are known to have a high effectiveness in prevent COVID-19 caused by the original form of SARS-CoV-2. Nine out of 10 individuals who had recovered from COVID-19 had neutralising antibodies against the original virus, but levels were highly variable. Only five could neutralise the South African variant. Following a single dose of vaccine, their neutralising antibodies against both forms of the virus increased by approximately 1,000-fold.

2021.02.09 It has
been shown that some coronaviruses can jump directly from bats to people, and "could have the potential to cause the next pandemic". They went on to show that an oral antiviral drug known as EIDD-2801 could significantly reduce infectious particles of SARS-CoV-2 in lung tissue.
The Wikipedia article on COVID-19 tells us that the virus is thought to be natural and have an animal origin, through spillover infection, i.e. contact between bat and humans, possibly through an intermediary wildlife host (the pangolin). Bats carry at least 28 different families of viruses (mostly RNA viruses), but they rarely become ill and rabies is the only viral illness known to kill bats. The pangolin is the world's most trafficked animal, and its scales are believed to have medicinal properties in China, and its meat is also considered a delicacy.

2021.02.04 This research looked at so-called "super spreaders", i.e. people who appear more likely to spread COVID-19. They found that only about ⅓ of infected people spread the virus, and it was because they had a relatively high 'viral load', the amount of the virus in the body. Super spreaders who coughed were no more likely to spread the virus.
In general 'viral load' just means having more of the virus in an infected person's blood. With COVID-19 'viral load' means that if there are more virus particles in the respiratory droplets in what a person emits when coughing, sneezing, speaking, singing, or breathing, the more chance they will pass on the disease to others who were in close contact with them. It's not a straightforward relationship, but more virus particles you have in you, the bigger the risk to fall ill. That's why each little barrier you employ helps, e.g. masks, hand-washing, social distancing, disinfecting, etc. Simple actions can help, don't sit in front of people, keep windows open, avoid physical contact, all reduces the risk. And we should not forget that these measures also reduce the severity of the illness if caught. It's the initial dose of the virus that a person receives that most likely determines the ultimate illness severity, i.e. the higher the initial dose the higher the risk that the immune system is rapidly overwhelmed.

2021.02.02 This research showed that the Russian Sputnik V vaccine is more than 91% effective against symptomatic COVID-19.

2021.01.04 The
clinical trials of the approved Moderna vaccine showed a 94% effectiveness at preventing symptomatic COVID-19. About half the people experiences side effects such as headaches after the second dose, but serious side effects were rare.

2020.12.11 This
work looked at who should be vaccinated first. Vaccinating people over 60 before other age groups will save the greatest number of lives, but vaccinating younger age groups first will prevent more people from getting infected.

2020.12.01 This
research showed that the coronavirus was most like to spread between member in the same household, followed by contacts with extended family.

2020.11.20 This work looked at the immune response of people who had COVID-19 symptoms. The immune response varied widely, but there were indications that several components of immune memory of SARS-CoV-2 tended to persist for at least 6 months.
Immune memory is the ability for the immune system to quickly and specifically recognise an antigen that the body has previously encountered and initiate a corresponding immune response. The antigen is part of the outside of a pathogen that can be bound to by specific antibodies. It is the antigen that triggers an immune response.


https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-00502-w


Useful articles and publications


2021.03.12 Hong Zhou,
et.al., "Identification of novel bat coronavirus sheds light on the evolutionary origins of SARS-CoV-2 and related viruses"
2021.03.12 Jad A. Elharake,
et.al., "The Association of COVID-19 Risk Perception, County Death Rates, and Voluntary Health Behaviours among US Adult Population"
2020.03.12 James D. Chalmers,
et.al., "Management of hospitalised adults with coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19): A European Respiratory Society living guideline"
2021.03.12 Rekha R. Rapaka,
et.al., "Are some COVID vaccines better than others? Interpreting and comparing estimates of efficacy in trials of COVID-19 vaccines"
2021.03.11 Sallay Kallon
et.al., "Vaccines: Underlying Principles of Design and Testing"
2021.02.24 Noa Dagan,
et.al., "BNT162b2 mRNA Covid-19 Vaccine in a Nationwide Mass Vaccination Setting"
2021.02.19 Merry Voysey,
et.al., "Single-dose administration and influence of the timing of the booster does in immunogenicity and efficacy of ChAdOx1 nCoV-10 vaccine - a pooled analysis of four randomised trials"
2020.02.02 Michael Marks,
et.al., "Transmission of COVID-19 in 282 clusters in Catalonia, Spain: a cohort study"
2020.02.02 Denis Y. Logunov,
et.al., "Safety and efficacy of an rAd26 and rAd5 vector-based heterologous prime-boost COVID-19 vaccine: an interim analysis of a randomised controlled phase 3 trial in Russia"
2021.01.25 Kai Wu,
et.al., "mRNA-1273 vaccine induces neutralising antibodies against spike mutants from global SARS-CoV-2 variants"
2021.01.11 Houriiyah Tegally,
et.al., "Emergence and rapid spread of a new severe acute respiratory syndrome-related coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) lineage with multiple spike mutations in South Africa"
2020.12.31 Fernando P. Polack,
et.al., "Safety and Efficacy of the BNT162b2 mRNA Covid-19 Vaccine"
2020.12.18 Andrew Rambaut,
et.al., "Preliminary genomic characterisation of an emergent SARS-CoV-2 lineage in the UK defined by a novel set of spike mutations"
2020.12.17 Edward E. Walsh,
et.al., "Safety and Immunogenicity of Two RNA-Based Covid-19 Vaccine Candidates"
2020.12.07 Delphine Sterlin,
et.al., "IgA dominates the early neutralising antibody response to SARS-CoV-2"
2020.11.18 Sanjay Mishra, "
How mRNS vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna work, why they're a breakthrough and why they need to be kept so cold"
2020.11.09 David A. Kennedy and Andrew F. Read, "
Monitor for COVID-19 vaccine resistance evolution during clinical trials"
2020.10.30 Jeffrey Shaman and Marta Galanti, "
Will SARS-CoV-2 become endemic?"
2020.10.30 Michael Worobey,
et.al., "The emergence of SARS-CoV-2 in Europe and North America"
2020.10.28 Ania Wajnberg,
et.al., "Robust neutralising antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 infection persist for months"
2020.10.27 James Gallagher, "
Covid: Antibodies 'fall rapidly after infection'"
2020.10.23 Jordan Cates, ,
et.al., "Risk for In-Hospital Complications Associated with COVID-19 and Influenza"
2020.10.23 Eric J. Topol, "
COVID-19 can affect the heart"
2020.10.23 Elizabeth C. Lee,
et.al., "The engines of SARS-CoV-2 spread"
2020.10.23 David B. Beck and Ivona Aksentijevich, "
Susceptibility to severe COVID-19"
2020.10.23 Paul Bastard,
et.al., "Autoantibodies against type I IFNs in patients with life-threatening COVID-19"
2020.10.22 James Gallagher, "
Covid: Why is coronavirus such a threat?"
2020.10.21 Marc Lipsitch and Natalie E. Dean, "
Understanding COVID-19 vaccine efficacy"
2020.10.20 Sandhya Bangaru,
et.al., "Structural analysis of full-length SARS-CoV-2 spike protein form an advanced vaccine candidate"
2020.10.20 Natasha Hinde, "
Covid-19 has 7 Key Strains. Here's What You Need to Know"
2020.10.12 Steven H. Woolf,
et.al., "Excess Deaths From COVID-19 and Other Causes, March-July 2020"
2020.10.09 Jeremy Rossman, "
COVID-19: Is the virus imitating?"
2020.10.09 Alexandra I. Wells and Carolyn B. Coyne, "
Inhibiting Ebola virus and SARS-CoV-2 entry"
2020.10.01 Takuya Sekine,
et.al., "Robust T cell Immunity in Convalescent Individuals with Asymptomatic or Mild COVID-19"
2020.09.30 Ugur Sahin,
et.al., "COVID-19 vaccine BNT162b1 elicits human antibody and TH1T cell responses"
2020.09.30 Debanjali Bose, "
How 11 of the world's most momentous pandemics changed the course of human history"
2020.09.21 Chadi M. Saad-Roy,
et.al., "Immune life history, vaccination, and the dynamics of SARS-CoV-2 over the next 5 years"
2020.09.03 David M. Morens and Antony S. Fauci, "
Emerging Pandemic Diseases: How We Got to COVID-19"
2020.09.02 Emma P. Fischer,
et.al., "Low-cost measurement of face mask efficacy for filtering expelled droplets during speech"
2020.09.01 Thomas Smith, "
A Supercomputer Analysed Covid-19, and an Interesting New Theory has Emerged"
2020.08.19 Sebastian Duchene,
et.al., "Temporal signal and the phylodynamic threshold of SARS-CoV-2"
2020.08.11 Ugur Sahin,
et.al., "Individualised vaccines for cancer" (US Patent).
2020.08.05 Megan Molteni, "
Front-Runners Emerge in the Race for a Covid-19 Vaccine"
2020.08.11 Anna R. Yousaf,
et.al., "A prospective cohort study in non-hospitalised household contacts with SARS-CoV-2 infection: symptom profiles and symptom change over time"
2020.07.31 Nicholas J. Matheson and Paul J. Lehner, "
How does SARS-CoV-2 cause COVID-19?
2020.07.24 Angus Liu, "
Columbia team pinpoints potent antibody cocktail for COVID-19"
2020.07.21 Matt Reynolds, "
How does the trial Oxford coronavirus vaccine work?"
2020.07.20 Zaria Gorvett, "
The people with hidden immunity against Covid-19"
2020.07.17 Nicola Davis, "
Coronavirus symptoms fall into six different groupings, study finds"
2020.07.14 John T. Brooks,
et.al., "Universal Masking to Prevent SARS-CoV-2 Transmission - The Time is Now"
2020.07.14 Andrea M. Lemer,
et.al., "The COVID-19 Serology Studies Workshop: Recommendations and Challenges"
2020.07.13 Polly Hayes, "
Here's how scientists know the coronavirus came from bats and wasn't made is a lab"
2020.07.07 Gregory Barber, "
A Mathematicians Guide to How Contagion Spreads"
2020.07.01 Muhammad Adnan Shereen,
et.al., "COVID-19 infection: origin, transmission, and characteristics of human coronaviruses"
2020.06.26 Victoria Turk, "
These four coronavirus vaccines are the closest to becoming reality"
2020.06-26 Kimberly A. Prather,
et.al., "Reducing transmission of SARS-CoV-2"
2020.06.25 Golzar Hossain,
et.al., "SARS-CoV-2 host diversity: An update of natural infections and experimental evidence"
2020.06.25 Jim Morrison, "
A Virus Study You're Never Heard of Helped Us Understand COVID-19"
2020.06.15 Christopher Giles,
et.al., "Coronavirus: Fact-checking claims it might have started in August 2019"
2020.06.12 Edward A. Belongia and Michael T. Osterholm, "
COVID-19 and flu, a perfect storm"
2020.06.10 James Gallagher, "
Coronavirus came to UK on at least 1,300 separate occasions"
2020.06.08 Kaitlyn Folmer and Josh Margolin, "
Satellite data suggests coronavirus may have hit China earlier"
2020.06.04 Lois Parshley, "
How long does the coronavirus last inside the body?"
2020.06.03 Giovanni Salvatori,
et.al., "SARS-CoV-2 Spike Protein: an optical immunological target for vaccines"
2020.06.02 Kelly Servick and Martin Enserink, "
A mysterious company's coronavirus papers tin top medical journals may be unraveling" (this is related to tests on the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine)
2020.06.01 Megan Molteni, "
Meet ACE2, the Enzyme at the Centre of the Covid-19 Mystery"
2020.05.28 Jeremy Rossman, "
Herd immunity in Europe - are we close?"
2020.05.28 Adam Rogers, "
To Beat Covid-19, You Have to Know How A Virus Moves"
2020.05.28 Sotiris Georganas, "
Mobile data shows which European countries took lockdown seriously"
2020.05.21 Nicole Lurie,
et.al., "Developing Covid-19 Vaccines at Pandemic Speed"
2020.05.20 Ahmed S. Abdel-Moneim and Elsayed M. Abdelwhab, "
Evidence for SARS-CoV-2 Infection of Animal Hosts"
2020.05.15 Inayat Singh, "
The coronavirus is mutating - and that can help us track it"
2020.05.07 Kate Kelland, "
A study reveals that coronavirus had spread around the world by late 2019"
2020.05.05 "
Statement on essential principles and practices for COVID-19 contact tracing applications"
2020.04.29 Tara C. Smith, "
What other coronaviruses tell us about SARS-CoV-2"
2020.04.16 Ana Sandoiu, "
COVID-19: how long is this likely to last?"
2020.04.16 Wildlife Watch, "
Wet markets likely launched the coronavirus, here's what you need to know"
2020.04.16 Rachel Donadio, "
I can't stop thinking about patient one"
2020.04.14 Fatima Amanat and Florian Krammer, "
SARS-CoV-2 Vaccines: Status Report"
2020.03.30 Adam Rogers and Megan Molteni, "
The mathematics of predicting the course of the coronavirus"
2020.03.21 Roy M. Anderson,
et.al., "How will country-based mitigation measures influence the course of the COVID-19 epidemic?"
2020.03.20 Own Jarus, "
20 of the worst epidemics and pandemics in history"
2020.03.17 Kristian G. Andersen,
et.al., "The proximal origin of SARS-CoV-2"
2020.03.15 Jun Kheng, "
SARS-CoV-2: an emerging coronavirus that causes a global threat"
2020.03.14 Nicholas LePan, "
Visualising the history of pandemics"
2020.03.09 Shengjie Lai,
et.al., "Assessing spread risk of Wuhan novel coronavirus within and beyond China, January-April 2020: a travel network-based modelling study"
2020.02.25 Tara C. Smith, "
The animal origins of coronavirus and flu"
2020.02.16 Botao Xiao, "
The possible origins of 2019-nCoV coronavirus"
2020.02.03 Peng Zhou,
et.al., "A pneumonia outbreak associated with a new coronavirus of probable bat origin"
2020.01.21 Nsikan Akpan, "
New coronavirus can spread between humans - but it started in a wildlife market"
2020.01.03 "
China pneumonia outbreak: Mystery virus probed in Wuhan"
2018.12.10 Jie Cui,
et.al., "Origin and evolution of pathogenic coronaviruses"
2018.08.10 "
Past Pandemics"
2016.11.16 "
Coronaviridae" in Fenner's Veterinary Virology (fifth edition)
2016.10.12 Diego Forni,
et.al., "Molecular evolution of human coronavirus genomes"
2015.04.01 Andrew J. Broadbent,
et.al., "Respiratory virus vaccines"
2012.06.20 Sandrine Belouzard,
et.al., "Mechanisms of Coronavirus Cell Entry Mediated by the Viral Spike Protein"
2011.06.15 Yonggun He,
et.al., "Emerging Vaccine Informatics"

A place for an
alternative perspective
2020.12.01 Annalisa Merelli, "
How drug companies will profit from making Covid-19 vaccines"
2020.06.03 Samuel Cohn and Mona O'Brien "
Contact tracing: how physicians used it 500 years ago to control bubonic plague"
2020.05.27 Benjamin Strick,
et.al., "Coronavirus: Inside the pro-China network targeting the US, HK and an exile tycoon"
2020.04.26 Jean-Dominique Michel, "
Anatomie d'un désastre" (video), plus a blog
2020.04.24 Beth Mole, "
Experts demolish studies suggesting COVID-19 is no worse than flu"
2020.04.02 Amanda Glassman,
et.al., "Does one size fit all? Realistic alternatives for COVID-19 response in low-income countries"
2020.03.28 Charles F. Manski, "
COVID-19 policy must take all impacts into account"
2020.03.27 Richard Baldwin, "
Coronavirus: An economist's view of the epidemiological curve"
2020.03.17 John P.A. Ioannidis, "
A fiasco in the making: As the coronavirus pandemic takes hold, we are making decisions without reliable data"
2020.03.16 Philip Ball, "
Coronavirus: Why scientists are divided over the effectiveness of the UK's strategy"
2020.03.10 "
COVID-19: How does coronavirus compare to other outbreaks?"
2020.02.21 Catherine Offord, "
How COVID-19 is spread"



Archive - Sections that could be useful, but might now be out of date



One of the most impressive national efforts concerning prevention, detection, and documentation of COVID-19 is in Iceland. They have a
multi-lingual website and have tested more citizens per capita than any other country in the world. Possibly the most important result is "about half of all those who tested positive are non-symptomatic" (i.e. asymptomatic). That means that they do not have symptoms, would usually not be in self-quarantine, but could still be spreading the virus. Previous to this data there were no reliable studies on the percentage of asymptotics, i.e. figures ranged for 5% to 80%.

The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine


On
9 November 2020 Pfizer and BioNTech announced that they had a candidate vaccine with a more than 90% effectiveness. The core technology comes from a German company called BioNTech working on patient-specify approaches to immunotherapy. e.g. using messenger RNA (mRNA) for personalised cancer treatment and more generally as vaccines. The Wikipedia articles and the BioNTech website offer a collection of useful background reading, however you might want to also checkout the following:-
2020.09.30 Ugur Sahin,
et.al., "COVID-19 vaccine BNT162b1 elicits human antibody and TH1T cell responses"
2020.08.11 Ugur Sahin,
et.al., "Individualised vaccines for cancer" (US Patent).

There are a number of questions raised by this announcement, for example:-
What is the situation concerning vaccine development? On the World Heath Organisation website there is a "What we know about COVID-19 vaccine development" dated 2020.10.06. A more technical overview "SARS-CoV-2 immunity: review and applications to phase 3 vaccine candidates" was published on 2020.11.14.
What do these vaccines do? A valuable overview is "Will COVID-19 vaccines save lives? Current trials aren't designed to tell us", published 2020.10.21.
How would a vaccination program work? Probably the best overview is that of the US CDC who have a "COVID-19 Vaccination Program Interim Playbook for Jurisdiction Operations", dated 2020.10.29. The European Commission has a much lighter overview "Preparedness for COVID-19 vaccination strategies and vaccine deployment", dated 2020.10.15.
How has industry approached the need for vaccines? The US FDA provides a decent starting point for defining what is expected from industry "Development and Licensure of Vaccines to Prevent COVID-19: Guidance for Industry", published June 2020.
What exactly are the Pfizer/BioNTech trials? Pfizer has published "A Phase 1/2/3, Placebo-Controlled, Randomised, Observer-Blind, Dose-Finding Study to Evaluate the Safety, Tolerability, Immunogenicity, and Efficacy of SARS-CoV-2 RNA Vaccine Candidates against COVID-19 in Healthy Individuals". The clinical trial protocol was first published on 2020.04.30 and was last updated on 2020.11.13. The start date of the trials was 2020.04.29 with a primary completion date of 2021.06.13, and with the final completion planned for 2022.12.11.
What about misinformation? The World Heath Organisation maintains a 'Mythbusters' webpage, covering topics from bleach, garlic, masks to supplements.

COVID-19 Travel Options


The most recent thing I checked out were COVID-19-related travel options. Clearly the best option is to stay at home. If you travel, focus on remote and outdoor locations, and avoid public transport and crowded areas. If you must travel, or want to travel for a holiday, remember:-
  • Always wear a mask on any form of public transport and in transport hubs

  • The risks increase rapidly with the size of your 'holiday' population (e.g. in a large resort hotel, etc.)

  • The more varied your 'holiday' population (e.g. people coming from many places, etc.) the higher the risk

  • Indoor gatherings involve a higher risk than outdoor gatherings

  • If you stay in a hotel look for ways to reduce contact with others, e.g. take meals in your room, etc.

  • Interestingly, there is no evidence that handling food or eating is associated with directly spreading Covid-19, but avoid touching food, packaging, and utensils, and prefer places that serve food and avoid buffets, salad bars, and drink stations

  • Air travel involves waiting in line with people and touching a lot of different surfaces, but viruses and germs don't spread easily inside aircraft because of the way air circulates and is filtered

  • Prefer flights with blocked middle seats and where passengers must always wear masks, however Covid-19 transmission on planes is considered low

  • Advice is don't remove masks and don't eat and drink on planes, carry lots of disinfecting wipes, and consider wearing a face screen when boarding and deplaning

  • When driving, stops for fuel, food, and bathroom breaks increases the risk of contamination (when outside the car always wear a mask and gloves and dump them before re-entering the car)

  • Travelling by car is the safest option, in part because you don't travel with other people (i.e. don't share breathing space) and in part because you control better the scope for contamination

  • Always use hotels that have high levels of Covid-19 safety procedures, but evidence so far is that hotels and motels don't present a high risk

  • The reality is that Covid-19 risks associated with any form of travelling are considered lower than the risk of a road accident

  • After travelling, take extra precautions for 14 days, and get tested.


There is a
'reopen' website that tries to collect the latest news about travelling within the EU.

I found it useful to check the
'travel corridors' on the UK government website, which list the places that that you can return from without having to self-isolate back at home (i.e. places that have a lower risk than your home location).

Recent Emerging Infectious Diseases

Unfortunately it looks as if you can't really travel anymore without first checking for emerging or re-emerging viruses, etc. Above we can see the different types of infectious diseases, defined as newly emerging (e.g. HIV/AIDS, SARS, MERS, COVID-19), re-emerging (historical known but re-appear in new locations or new resistant forms) and 'deliberately' emerging (e.g. bioterrorism). Check out this ref.