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This just in: vaccines work

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Coronavirus Daily

Here’s the latest news from the global pandemic.

This Just In: Vaccines Work

Covid shots may function even better than hoped, according to some of the first real-world results from Israel and the U.K. Not only are vaccines stopping most people from getting sick, they appear to significantly reduce transmission of the coronavirus.

In the U.K., the news is especially good since new studies released this week help validate a controversial decision to extend the interval between two doses to speed up partial immunizations for more people. Data from Scotland showed that the vaccine from AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford, which some people in the European Union don’t seem to trust, may prevent more hospitalizations and deaths than one from Pfizer and BioNTech.

The usual caveats apply: These are early results. New virus strains could emerge, overwhelming existing inoculations and setting off a third wave of contagion. Vaccine skeptics could serve as a reservoir for the pathogen. Most of the rest of the world is far behind Israel and the U.K. in the pace of vaccination. Until everyone gets a shot, everyone else is at least somewhat vulnerable.

A medical staff member prepares the AstraZeneca-Oxford Covid-19 vaccine.

Photographer: ALAIN JOCARD/AFP

Still, the early results are promising, and they’re backed by data on the course of the pandemic. In Britain, virus cases have plunged to levels last seen in early October, and hospitalizations are down by more than half from a January peak.

How much of that is due to vaccinations rather than lockdown or other mysteries of the virus remains unclear. That’s one reason the U.K. government is moving so cautiously to lift anti-Covid restrictions. The latest plans, announced this week, call for schools to reopen in March. Nonessential stores will follow in April, when pubs will be permitted to serve drinks outdoors. Bars won’t be allowed to let customers inside until May, and many people will be asked to work at home until June.

Israel is easing up a little more rapidly. One of the best measures of success will be when the race to vaccinate gives way to a rush to reopen. We’re not quite there yet.—Eric Pfanner

Listen up

How the Vaccines Will Change Our Live‪s

Nine vaccines have proved effective at protecting people from developing symptoms of Covid-19. But we don’t know yet how good they are at preventing asymptomatic infections, and keeping vaccinated people from passing the virus on to others. The good news is that preliminary signs suggest they do at least some of both. Jason Gale discusses what we’re learning about how the shots work. Get the episode here.


What you should read

Astra Antibody Trials: Good Signs Against Strains
A potentially key development for populations unable to receive vaccines.
Scandal Grows on Argentina’s Secret Vaccinations
Officials, allies secretly got the shot in apparent guidelines violation.
NYC Movie Theaters Cleared to Open With Limits
Mandatory masks, assigned seating, enhanced ventilation and air filtration.
Thailand: No Quarantine for Vaccinated Tourists?
Scrapping two-week isolation may help the nation revive its tourism industry,
Money Alone Won’t Help Poor Nations Fight Covid
It won’t help if higher-income countries leave no vaccines to buy: WHO.

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