That doesn’t prove it works. It was a small trial — just eight people, all healthy volunteers between 18 and 55 — and the data hasn’t been shared publicly. Still, it would appear to be an important step in the right direction, one the world has been desperate to take.
A company called Moderna is collaborating on the vaccine with the agency led by Dr. Anthony Fauci, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which has been leading the clinical trials (more are being conducted).
The company said the eight volunteers all produced at least as many virus-neutralizing antibodies as you would see in someone who recovered from Covid-19. That’s the point of a vaccine, to get the body to produce those antibodies without becoming sick. And when they were tested in the lab, Moderna said, the antibodies stopped the virus from replicating — another good sign.
It will take larger, longer studies to determine whether this vaccine can protect people from getting the virus in real-world conditions. It’s not even certain yet that antibodies can do that for this virus, or how long the protection might last.
Moderna’s technology, involving genetic material called mRNA, is relatively new and has yet to produce an approved vaccine for any disease. Even so, the positive signs for this one thrilled Wall Street.
That’s good, experts say, because the world will need multiple vaccines from multiple manufacturers to meet the urgent need for billions of doses. Even so, there is widespread concern that all this haste could compromise safety: It usually takes several years, at least, to test a new vaccine thoroughly for unexpected problems.
Medical workers may pay a heavy mental price
Many doctors, nurses and emergency responders working on the front lines of the pandemic are struggling with mental health consequences that are likely to continue and could worsen, experts say, even when the numbers of new Covid-19 cases and deaths begin to wane.
As the adrenaline from facing the first wave of infections wears off, medical workers may be left with the trauma of witnessing so much death and extreme illness. Recent international studies of health care workers who treated virus patients have found soaring rates of anxiety and insomnia, among other issues.
“There is a wave of depression, letdown, true PTSD and a feeling of not caring any more that is coming,” said the chairman of the emergency department in one New Jersey hospital.
The other problems many health care workers face because of the pandemic — spouses who have lost jobs, children who now need home schooling, an end to socializing with colleagues after work — can make decompression nearly impossible. And there is no finish line in sight.
Some medical workers are being offered specialized therapy meant to keep long-term psychological harm from taking root, and to help them keep doing their jobs effectively.
Where poor health makes more people vulnerable
We know that having an underlying health issue like diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, heart disease or chronic lung disease can make someone who contracts the virus much more likely to die or become severely ill.
Those conditions aren’t found uniformly everywhere. They are much more prevalent in some areas of the United States than others.
To help us understand which areas may be particularly vulnerable, PolicyMap, a company that analyzes local health data, created a health-risk index for The Times. The index uses C.D.C. data to estimate the share of people in each county who have at least one of the illnesses mentioned above.
Counties with health-risk indexes above the national average are shaded red on the map. They include large parts of the South and Appalachia, along with much of the Midwest and the Great Plains. In some, nearly half of all residents are estimated to be medically vulnerable.
Many of those areas have not yet had a significant outbreak; if they do, it could be especially severe.
What you can do
Time travel (mentally). Imagining the future — how you want to feel when the pandemic is over, for example — and recalling memories, both pleasant and painful, can help you build resilience in the face of adversity, according to Adam Grant, a psychologist.
Avoid burnout. It’s normal to have some feelings of futility in a time like this. To stay motivated, try breaking large goals into small, specific tasks, avoid perfectionism, and think about what you could do to help others.
Give a fitting graduation gift. Recognize your 2020 graduate with a certificate good for a future experience, photos of cherished school memories, or a durable gift that can last a lifetime, like a cast-iron skillet.
What you’re doing
When my company mandated that everyone take at least a week of vacation, I created staycation postcards from Backyardia and sent them to all my friends and family. On the back, I jotted a note about how much fun I was having in Los Basementos and on Isle o’ Couch, and about my visit to West Porch. It was a fun and funny way to reach out to everyone and let them know that I was thinking about them.
— Emily Tuzson, Shaker Heights, Ohio
Let us know how you’re dealing with the outbreak. Send us a response here, and we may feature it in an upcoming newsletter.