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Dr. Deborah Birx, one of the nation's highest-ranking infectious disease experts, suggested on Tuesday she'll likely retire ... soonish.

A new variant of the coronavirus is spreading rapidly in England and raising international alarms. This new variant now accounts for more than 60% of the cases in London. And scientists say the variant is likely more contagious than previous versions of the virus.

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The Vatican says that it's "morally acceptable" to receive a vaccination for COVID-19, even if the vaccine's research or production involved using cell lines derived from aborted fetuses, given the "grave danger" of the pandemic.

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Indian superhero Priya has battled rape, acid attacks and trafficking. And now she's fighting the new coronavirus.

During the pandemic, Japan's government has been subsidizing travel and tourism to juice the economy. After a spike in coronavirus cases, it will now suspend the program for two weeks.

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There have been tears of happiness and relief. And standing outside a Pfizer plant in Portage, Mich., a reporter from the Detroit Free Press recorded these first moments of vaccine distribution trucks leaving the facility to this reaction.

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Several medical workers in hazmat suits sprint across the hallway. A heart-wrenching wail pierces the air — "Baba!" — from a woman watching as her father's lifeless body is wheeled away. The opening scene of 76 Days, a new documentary about the resilience of front-line workers and patients in the 76 days of Wuhan, China's lockdown, directed by Hao Wu, Weixi Chen and a journalist credited as "Anonymous," throws the viewer right into the fray of body bags and ventilators, mirroring the helplessness and frenzy at the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

Part 3 of the TED Radio Hour episode Making Sense of 2020

Full disclosure: As someone who grew up the big sister to a brother, I have a bit of a stake in the subject of this article. It's a new study that suggests big sisters can make a powerful difference for their younger siblings.

But there's no such personal angle for the authors of the study: economists Pamela Jakiela and Owen Ozier of Williams College in Massachusetts. "No! I'm an only child," Jakiela says with a chuckle. "And Owen is an older brother."

The fight against COVID-19 entered a new phase this week as American health care workers started getting vaccinated — the first in what will be a massive effort.

Updated at 5:50 a.m. ET

French President Emmanuel Macron tested positive for the coronavirus and will quarantine for a week, his official residence announced Thursday.

Macron was tested for the virus following the onset of symptoms, though the Élysée Palace didn't immediately explain what those symptoms might include. He will isolate himself for seven days and will continue to work remotely, his residence said.

New Zealand has advance purchased two new coronavirus vaccines from pharmaceutical companies AstraZeneca and Novavax, giving the small island country the ability to vaccinate its 5 million residents.

Government officials also announced Thursday they will go a step further and provide free doses to its population as well as neighboring nations Tokelau, Cook Islands, Niue, Samoa, Tonga, and Tuvalu, should they want them.

The Food and Drug Administration says that some of the vials of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine being distributed throughout the U.S. contain extra doses and the agency is encouraging hospitals and clinics to use the additional shots to speed up the nationwide immunization campaign.

The agency issued the guidance Wednesday after health care workers reported throwing out the excess vaccine, fearing it would be against the rules to use it.

When Dr. Paul Farmer learned that he would receive a million-dollar award for his work, he was a bit ... baffled. He is a Harvard Medical School professor, medical anthropologist and co-founder of Partners In Health, an organization whose mission is to bring modern medical care to those in need around the world. But the words "medicine" or "health" do not appear in the award, announced Dec. 16. It is the Berggruen Prize for Philosophy and Culture. "I was a little shocked to get a prize with the word 'philosophy,'" he says.

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."

China now reports few to none domestically transmitted COVID-19 cases — only 12 cases were reported on Dec. 15.

But a flurry of recent cases has Chinese public health officials worried. They claim that the cases stemmed from workers who had contact with imported food and packages.

Beijing has now banned nearly 100 suppliers from 20 countries and at one point recommended travel restrictions in at least two cities where frozen food handlers contracted the coronavirus.

Canada began administering doses of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine on Monday, with elderly people and front-line workers among the first to receive shots.

In Quebec, 89-year-old Gisèle Lévesque, a resident of the Saint-Antoine nursing home in Quebec City, became the first person in the province hit hardest by the pandemic to receive a vaccine, at around 11:30 a.m.

Federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu appeared outside the Maimonides Geriatric Centre in Montreal in the afternoon, with newly vaccinated 78-year-old Gloria Lallouz.

COVID-19 is now the second-leading cause of death in the U.S. for 2020. The virus has killed more than 90 people per 100,000, reports Johns Hopkins University.

But in other parts of the world, the virus hasn't been such a big problem. It's not a top killer. Some global health experts are beginning to ask whether immunizing large swaths of the population is the best use of resources for these countries.

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In the last hour, the first coronavirus vaccine administered in the United States was given to a critical care nurse in New York City. Applause broke out as the event was webcast.

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Even disaster experts are stunned by the devastation this fall in Honduras.

"I've been to too many disasters all over the world," says Vlatko Uzevski, who arrived in Honduras last week from Macedonia to lead an emergency response team for Project Hope.

"And I have never been to a place that was struck by two hurricanes in two weeks," says Uzevski, a physician who has been doing this type of work for 15 years.

I come from people who did what needed to be done when faced with personal or community crisis. And I have a long history of experience with vaccines.

So, when I heard about the COVID-19 vaccine trial taking place where I live in Salt Lake City, I didn't hesitate. I already knew the research team because I'd been through two unrelated vaccine trials in the last year. I was familiar with the pin pricks, protocols, clinic visits, informed consent forms and piles of paperwork. I already knew the trial's doctor, nurses and medical assistants.

Coronary heart disease and stroke are the two leading causes of death for Homo sapiens on planet Earth, according to a new report from the World Health Organization. This fact has remained unchanged for the past two decades. But this analysis of global deaths over the past 20 years finds significant shifts in how people die — as well as dramatic differences in what leads to death in different regions.

Noncommunicable diseases such as dementia and diabetes are now claiming more lives, while infectious diseases such as HIV and tuberculosis are taking far fewer.

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Kolina Koltai first heard about the coronavirus back in January, but not from newspapers or TV. Instead, she read about it in anti-vaccination groups on Facebook.

"They were posting stories from China like, 'Hey, here's this mysterious illness,' or 'Here's this something that seems to be spreading,'" she said.

Latin America Is Facing A Hunger Pandemic

Dec 9, 2020

Latin America is facing a pandemic of malnutrition. Hunger and obesity are rising side by side in the region. The working poor who can't afford a nutritious diet are suffering at times from a lack of food and at others from an overabundance of poor-quality food.

Health officials in the United Arab Emirates announced Wednesday that a Chinese vaccine provides 86% efficacy against COVID-19 infection.

Subsequently, the UAE's Ministry of Health and Prevention officially pushed for a registration of the Sinopharm vaccine following several health agencies' analysis of late-stage trials in the country, officials said in a release on the state-run WAM news agency.

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