A collection of hopeful, positive news updates...
The Fauci Effect: The number of students applying to medical school for the upcoming 2021 academic year is up by 18 percent. That's a huge spike compared to the previous year and also a record considering that the Association of American Medical Colleges usually sees an increase about 1 to 3 percent year over year.
Not-for-Profit: Both AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson have decided that, until the pandemic ends, they’ll sell their vaccines using a not-for-profit model. According to the Financial Times, AstraZeneca is currently priced at about $3-$4 per dose - which just covers costs. Johnson and Johnson’s vaccine, which is still to be authorized, will be priced at around $10, but it only needs one dose in order to be effective.
Jabs Administered: The biggest vaccination campaign in history is underway. More than 159 million doses have been administered across 76 countries, according to data collected by Bloomberg. The latest rate was roughly 5.8 million doses a day. In the U.S., more Americans have now received at least one dose than have tested positive for the virus since the pandemic began. So far, 48 million doses have been given, according to a state-by-state tally. In the last week, an average of 1.62 million doses per day were administered. In the UK, the country is looking on track not only to offer but to deliver 15 million vaccinations by mid-February.
Neighbourly Generosity: India plans to offer 20 million vaccines to Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, the Maldives, and Mauritius, with many of these aid shipments being completely free. Meanwhile, the New Zealand government has earmarked $53 million to make sure its Pacific-Island neighbours have access to safe and effective vaccines, which they might not otherwise be able to afford.
Immune Memory: Good news for those who have already contracted Covid-19. The immune system appears to remember how to make antibodies that can fight off the virus for at least six months following the initial infection - and likely for much longer. A study led by scientists at Rockefeller University and published in Nature, found that - perhaps due to the “exposure to remnants of the virus hidden in the gut” - participants continued to improve their antibodies months after contracting the coronavirus.
Vaccines Approved: Currently, the Pfizer, Moderna and Oxford University vaccines are approved for use in the UK, Europe and the US. They have been shown to be many times more effective than initially predicted - by above 90 percent in some instances. More vaccines are being submitted for approval in these territories, most notably by Novavax and Johnson & Johnson. Russia's vaccine - Sputnik V - has been approved in at least 20 countries, including European Union member-state Hungary, while key markets such as Brazil and India are close to authorizing it.
Virus Variants: A considerable number of vaccines can be modified, within weeks, to deal with new mutations. However, in even better news, a 'universal vaccine' that can conquer all variants could be available within a year thanks to British scientists. It would work on all Covid-19 variants by targeting the core of the virus instead of just the spike protein. British scientists at the University of Nottingham are developing a "universal” Covid-19 vaccine which, if successful, would end the need to keep tweaking existing jabs as the virus mutates.