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Coronavirus Vaccine: 9 Drug Companies Pledge to ‘Stand With Science’

The Coronavirus Outbreak ›

Frequently Asked Questions

Updated September 4, 2020

  • What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

    • In the beginning, the coronavirus seemed like it was primarily a respiratory illness — many patients had fever and chills, were weak and tired, and coughed a lot, though some people don’t show many symptoms at all. Those who seemed sickest had pneumonia or acute respiratory distress syndrome and received supplemental oxygen. By now, doctors have identified many more symptoms and syndromes. In April, the C.D.C. added to the list of early signs sore throat, fever, chills and muscle aches. Gastrointestinal upset, such as diarrhea and nausea, has also been observed. Another telltale sign of infection may be a sudden, profound diminution of one’s sense of smell and taste. Teenagers and young adults in some cases have developed painful red and purple lesions on their fingers and toes — nicknamed “Covid toe” — but few other serious symptoms.
  • Why is it safer to spend time together outside?

    • Outdoor gatherings lower risk because wind disperses viral droplets, and sunlight can kill some of the virus. Open spaces prevent the virus from building up in concentrated amounts and being inhaled, which can happen when infected people exhale in a confined space for long stretches of time, said Dr. Julian W. Tang, a virologist at the University of Leicester.
  • Why does standing six feet away from others help?

    • The coronavirus spreads primarily through droplets from your mouth and nose, especially when you cough or sneeze. The C.D.C., one of the organizations using that measure, bases its recommendation of six feet on the idea that most large droplets that people expel when they cough or sneeze will fall to the ground within six feet. But six feet has never been a magic number that guarantees complete protection. Sneezes, for instance, can launch droplets a lot farther than six feet, according to a recent study. It’s a rule of thumb: You should be safest standing six feet apart outside, especially when it’s windy. But keep a mask on at all times, even when you think you’re far enough apart.
  • I have antibodies. Am I now immune?

    • As of right now, that seems likely, for at least several months. There have been frightening accounts of people suffering what seems to be a second bout of Covid-19. But experts say these patients may have a drawn-out course of infection, with the virus taking a slow toll weeks to months after initial exposure. People infected with the coronavirus typically produce immune molecules called antibodies, which are protective proteins made in response to an infection. These antibodies may last in the body only two to three months, which may seem worrisome, but that’s perfectly normal after an acute infection subsides, said Dr. Michael Mina, an immunologist at Harvard University. It may be possible to get the coronavirus again, but it’s highly unlikely that it would be possible in a short window of time from initial infection or make people sicker the second time.
  • What are my rights if I am worried about going back to work?

    • Employers have to provide a safe workplace with policies that protect everyone equally. And if one of your co-workers tests positive for the coronavirus, the C.D.C. has said that employers should tell their employees — without giving you the sick employee’s name — that they may have been exposed to the virus.
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And on Tuesday, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, said he believed that researchers would know whether the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines were effective by “November or December.”

In a statement on Tuesday, Dr. Slaoui said the goal of Operation Warp Speed was “to ensure that no technical, logistic or financial hurdles hinder vaccine development or deployment without curtailing the critical steps required by sound science and regulatory standards.” He added that the pledge “reiterates the position of Operation Warp Speed, that this project is driven by science and that any vaccine must meet the gold standard of the Food and Drug Administration.”

Drug companies have had to carefully navigate the political landscape. A successful vaccine could help restore the industry’s battered image and offer an end to the pandemic. But rushing a vaccine to market that winds up causing serious side effects — or simply does not work — could do catastrophic damage to their reputations.

In the nine companies’ statement on Tuesday, they did not mention Mr. Trump, saying only that they have “a united commitment to uphold the integrity of the scientific process.”

The other six companies that signed the pledge were BioNTech, which is developing the vaccine in partnership with Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Merck, Novavax and Sanofi.

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