(Reuters) – Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:
Vaccine trial success signals breakthrough
Pfizer’s experimental COVID-19 vaccine is more than 90% effective based on initial trial results, the drugmaker said on Monday.
Scientists, public health officials and investors welcomed the first successful interim data from a large-scale clinical test as a watershed moment that could help turn the tide of the pandemic if the full trial results pan out.
However, mass roll-outs, which need regulatory approval, will not happen this year, and several vaccines are seen as necessary to meet global needs.
U.S. hospitalizations surge to record
There were just over 59,000 COVID-19 patients in hospitals across the United States on Monday, the country’s highest ever number of in-patients being treated for the disease, with new infections at record levels for the sixth consecutive day.
The harsh statistics tallied by Reuters cemented the United States’ position as the nation worst affected by the pandemic.
President-elect Joe Biden urged Americans to wear masks as he noted a vaccine may not be widely available for many months.
Europe COVID death toll set to pass 300,000
The COVID-19 death toll in Europe is set to pass 300,000, according to a Reuters tally on Tuesday, and authorities fear that despite hopes for a new vaccine, fatalities and infections will continue to rise as the region heads into winter.
With just 10% of the world’s population, Europe accounts for almost a quarter of both the 50.7 million cases and 1.2 million deaths globally, and even its well-equipped hospitals are feeling the strain.
T cells could be sufficient protection
High levels of so-called “T cells” that respond to the coronavirus could be sufficient to offer protection against infection, an English study said on Tuesday, adding to the evidence of the crucial role they play in immunity to COVID-19.
T cells, a type of white blood cell that makes up part of a healthy immune system, are thought to be essential to protect against infection from the SARS-COV-2 coronavirus, and could provide longer term immunity than antibodies.
The study of nearly 3,000 people found that no participants with a high T cell response developed symptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection when researchers followed up with them.
One in 5 COVID-19 patients develop mental illness within 90 days
Many COVID-19 survivors are likely to be at greater risk of developing mental illness, psychiatrists said on Monday, after a large study found 20% of those infected with the coronavirus were diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder within 90 days.
Anxiety, depression and insomnia were most common among recovered COVID-19 patients in the study who developed mental health problems, and the researchers also found significantly higher risks of dementia, a brain impairment condition.
“People have been worried that COVID-19 survivors will be at greater risk of mental health problems, and our findings… show this to be likely,” said Paul Harrison, a professor of psychiatry at Britain’s Oxford University.
(Compiled by Linda Noakes; Editing by Jan Harvey)