Today’s Top Health Stories

U.S. vaccinations in 2020 falling far short of target of 20 million people

Only about 2.6 million Americans had received a COVID-19 vaccine going into the last day of December, putting the United States far short of the government’s target to vaccinate 20 million people this month. Reuters/NPR

World risks ‘moral catastrophe’ if COVID shots delayed in Africa, its CDC chief says

The world risks a “moral catastrophe” if COVID-19 vaccinations are delayed in Africa while wealthier regions inoculate their entire populations, the head of the continent’s disease control body said on Thursday. Reuters.

Wuhan one year on: normality returns, but pain over handling of Covid outbreak endures

As China’s leadership celebrates national triumph over virus, some residents want an investigation into the start of the pandemic . TheGuardian.

EXPLAINER: Scientists trying to understand new virus variant

Does it spread more easily? Make people sicker? Mean that treatments and vaccines won’t work? Questions are multiplying as fast as new variants of the coronavirus, especially the one moving through England and now popping up in the U.S. and other countries. Scientists say there is reason for concern and more to learn but that the new variants should not cause alarm. AP.

Explainer-What we know about China-made vaccines

China was ahead in the global race to develop coronavirus vaccines with the most candidates in late stage of trials earlier in the year and its first approval of a homemade shot for the general public came on Thursday, yet with no detailed efficacy data. Following is what we know about China’s vaccine development, efficacy data and approval timeline. Reuters.

‘It decimated our staff’: Covid ravages Black and brown health workers in US

Covid-19 has taken an outsized toll on Black and Hispanic Americans. And those disparities extend to the medical workers who have intubated them, cleaned their bedsheets, and held their hands in their final days . . . People of color account for about 65% of fatalities in cases in which there is race and ethnicity data. TheGuardian.

Health Care Workers Try To Bring COVID-19 Patients Joy, Less Isolation As Life Ends 

. . . The CDC recommends that hospitals limit visitation, especially during times of community spread. Figuring out how to do so requires balancing safety with the emotion and trauma faced by patients and their families. NPR.

The Covid turning point: when did the pandemic become unstoppable?

Scientists describe the moment they realised this was ‘the big one’, and the chances that were missed

The stories they tell, sometimes conflicting, have one thing in common: a sudden realisation early in scientific circles that this was the long predicted “big one” and how they encountered feet of clay in policy circles geared primarily to respond to a flu pandemic, not a novel coronavirus. While some have argued that the epidemic’s spread was, by its very nature, exponential and unpredictable in its dynamics, others point to missed opportunities at multiple points soon after Covid-19’s first emergence in China as it began to make incursions elsewhere. TheGuardian.