US life expectancy fell drastically in 2020; US seizes 11M counterfeit N95s — 7 COVID-19 updates

Winter storms across the U.S. are likely to have partially resulted in artificially low COVID-19 numbers, reports The COVID Tracking Project.

For instance, Texas has seen significant reporting delays in both COVID-19 cases and deaths due to weather-related outages. 

Six more updates: 

1. U.S. life expectancy fell by one year in the first half of 2020, according to a CDC report. The Vital Statistics Surveillance Report estimates are based on provisional death counts for January through June. The provisional life expectancy at birth in the first half of 2020 was 77.8 years for the total population, the lowest it's been since 2006.

2. Federal COVID-19 data still doesn't align with state data, according to an analysis of federal data sources by The COVID Tracking Project. The Tracking Project, which will be winding down data compilation March 7, noted that federal testing data has made great improvement since last May. However, 25 states still show notable differences between state and federal testing, even after accounting for definitional differences.  

3. Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine was less potent against the South Africa variant in lab settings, according to research published Feb. 17 in The New England Journal of Medicine. Researchers found the vaccine was two-thirds weaker at neutralizing the variant, but said it's still unclear what this finding may mean for the vaccine's efficacy in people. 

4. The National Institutes of Health will study the effects of remdesivir in pregnant women, the organization said Feb. 17. Seventeen institutions across the continental U.S. and Puerto Rico will participate in the research effort. 

5. The U.K. will intentionally infect healthy volunteers with the SARS-CoV-2 virus as part of the world's first human challenge trial, reports The Washington Post. Britain received approval from its ethics body to conduct the scientific effort, which will launch within a month and involve up to 90 people.

6. The U.S. has seized more than 11 million counterfeit N95 masks ordered by healthcare facilities in the last few weeks, the Department of Homeland Security said Feb. 17, according to CNBC. For more on this story, click here.

Snapshot of COVID-19 in U.S.

Cases: 27,828,165

Deaths: 490,718

Americans receiving at least one vaccine dose: 40,268,009

Counts reflect Feb. 17 and Feb. 18 data from Baltimore-based Johns Hopkins University and the CDC.


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