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TONYA MOSLEY, HOST:

Early in the coronavirus pandemic, air travel looked like a risky endeavor. Some scientists even worried that airplanes could be sites of superspreading events. For example, in March a Vietnamese businesswoman with a sore throat and a cough boarded a flight in London. Ten hours later, she landed in Hanoi, Vietnam; she infected 15 people on the flight, including more than half of the passengers sitting with her in business class.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

While scientists work to develop effective treatments for COVID-19, there is good news on another disease front.

This month the U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted formal approval to an antibody cocktail from the pharmaceutical company Regeneron that's been shown to reduce an Ebola patient's chances of dying dramatically.

Ireland will be the first European country to return to a nationwide shutdown as COVID-19 cases rise, Prime Minister Micheal Martin said Monday.

Nonessential retail businesses are ordered to close. Residents are expected to stay within about 3 miles of their homes, except for work and other essential activities.

The country is entering its highest level of coronavirus restrictions for six weeks, beginning Thursday. The country expects 150,000 people to lose their jobs over the next "couple of days," Deputy Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said.

Updated at 9:00 a.m. ET

Researchers in Britain are preparing to start a controversial COVID-19 "human challenge" study in which dozens of healthy volunteers will be exposed to live coronavirus in an effort to speed up vaccine development.

Microplastics are tiny fragments of plastic, often too small for the eye to see. They're created as plastic degrades.

And they're everywhere.

They're in oceans, thanks to plastic garbage. They're in fish. They find their way into the water we drink in various ways, from surface runoff and wastewater effluent to particles deposited from the atmosphere.

Sometimes, you must go home again, no matter the risks.

That's the philosophy of the winners of the 2020 Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity, which comes with a $1 million grant.

UNICEF, the largest single buyer of vaccines in the world, wants to hit the ground running as soon as a COVID-19 vaccine is ready.

The United Nations agency said Monday it plans to stockpile 520 million syringes by the end of 2020. It also will map out global distribution and storage plans for a future COVID-19 vaccine.

Purchasing the syringes now will help reduce the pressure on the market, the organization said, and will ensure timely availability once a vaccine is rolled out.

In a remote Indian village, Ranjana Dwivedi goes door to door to educate people about the coronavirus. Once she almost fell into a river on her rounds.

In the halls of power in Iceland, Dr. Alma D. Möller leads the nation's response to the pandemic.

In a mobile testing center in California, Sheeba Shafaq works 12-hour shifts as she also seeks to become certified to practice medicine in the U.S. after fleeing Afghanistan, where the doctor's life was in danger because of her role as an advocate for women.

The world hit a new benchmark in the COVID-19 pandemic on Monday, surpassing 40 million coronavirus infections, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. With the flu season looming, the rate of new cases in the U.S. and other countries is rising at rates not seen in months.

Updated at 9:20 a.m. ET

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat is being treated for COVID-19 in a Jerusalem hospital, according to the hospital, after Israel gave the OK for his transfer from the West Bank.

"You have breast cancer," my doctor announced, faceless behind her mask. Silence. In the middle of a COVID-19 pandemic. Her eyes locked on mine and beamed as much compassion and kindness as she could muster.

"I'm so sorry," she said as we faced each other 6 feet apart in her office.

That was it.

The COVID-19 virtual hug: cold and sterile. Punishing, despite the best intents.

Each week, we answer frequently asked questions about life during the coronavirus crisis. If you have a question you'd like us to consider for a future post, email us at goatsandsoda@npr.org with the subject line: "Weekly Coronavirus Questions."

What are the biggest drivers of human suffering?

Every year an international team of researchers aims to answer that question by assembling a mammoth data set called the "Global Burden of Disease." It has become the go-to source for tracking and ranking the impact of virtually every disease or condition that is killing, sickening or otherwise disabling people in virtually every country on the planet.

Life is hard for everyone during a pandemic. But in a global crisis, it is women who carry extra burdens, says Raquel Lagunas, director of the gender team at the United Nations Development Programme. "Because of their reproductive role in society, they are ones taking care of the kids, the house, the food, the survival of families."

When I was growing up, I marveled at how my single mother was able to come home after a long day of work, make dinner, iron our school uniforms and help me and my sister with our homework.

I can't imagine how she would have managed during this pandemic.

What would she have done if she was laid off from her job at the airport? Would she be able to figure out — or afford — virtual school? How would she keep us safe from the virus?

London, Birmingham and other U.K. cities are now at a high alert for COVID-19, as officials tighten restrictions on people and businesses in a huge swath of England. The alert level rose Thursday as part of a new system meant to tamp down regional outbreaks.

"Things will get worse before they get better," U.K. Health Secretary Matt Hancock said as he announced the changes in Parliament. Europe is seeing a huge spike in new cases, Hancock said, "And here, we certainly saw the highest figure for daily deaths since early June."

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Today, a tale of two town halls.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Russian President Vladimir Putin has announced the approval of a second new coronavirus vaccine in as many months – but neither has completed the kind of extensive and rigorous three-phase trials required in the U.S.

Coronavirus restrictions are taking effect in the Netherlands, the U.K., the Czech Republic and other parts of Europe on Wednesday as nations try to reverse an alarming wave in new cases. The continent is now seeing more new coronavirus cases – an average of 100,000 daily — than at any other time during the pandemic.

Bars, restaurants and schools are being shut down or sharply limited, and officials are working to bolster hospital capacity, to accommodate an expected influx of new COVID-19 patients.

How have women from Wuhan, China, the former epicenter of the coronavirus crisis, been faring over the past few months?

In some ways, they were the first guinea pigs of the pandemic. As the world watched in shock while the city locked itself down to stop the spread of disease, not knowing that this extreme measure would soon be their own fate, these women faced unprecedented mental, physical and emotional hurdles.

During this pandemic, people in the United States are dying at rates unparalleled elsewhere in the world.

A new report in the Journal of the American Medical Association finds that in the past five months, per capita deaths in the U.S., both from COVID-19 and other causes, have been far greater than in 18 other high-income countries.

"It's shocking. It's horrible," says Dr. Ezekiel J. Emanuel, a professor of health policy and medical ethics at the University of Pennsylvania and one of the authors of the study.

Updated at 7:05 p.m. ET

Facebook said on Tuesday it will ban anti-vaccination ads, following widespread pressure on the social network to curb harmful content.

Under the new global policy, the company will no longer accept ads discouraging people from getting vaccines; ads that portray vaccines as unsafe or ineffective; or ads claiming the diseases vaccines prevent are harmless.

The Spanish government has declared a state of emergency in the Madrid region, making it possible to impose new anti-coronavirus lockdown restrictions, against the strong opposition of the local government.

Tensions have heightened between the center-left national government and the center-right regional government over how to fight the new wave of COVID-19 outbreaks.

Each week, we answer "frequently asked questions" about life during the coronavirus crisis. If you have a question you'd like us to consider for a future post, email us at goatsandsoda@npr.org with the subject line: "Weekly Coronavirus Questions."

How long do you need to be exposed to someone with COVID-19 before you are at risk for being infected?

This year's Nobel Peace Prize has been given to the U.N. World Food Programme for its efforts to fight hunger and to prevent the use of starvation as a weapon of war.

But did you know that the World Food Programme has a canine mascot named Foxtrot?

Life is hard for everyone during a pandemic. But in a global crisis, it is women who carry extra burdens, says Raquel Lagunas, director of the gender team at the United Nations Development Programme. "Because of their reproductive role in society, they are ones taking care of the kids, the house, the food, the survival of families."

China has joined a global effort aimed at fair and equitable distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine once one becomes available — an effort the Trump administration has shunned.

The COVID-19 Vaccine Global Access Facility, known as COVAX, is jointly led by the World Health Organization and Gavi, an alliance promoting access to vaccines.

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