The latest coronavirus stats are out from King County, and the numbers are looking fantastic! ...if you happen to be in a death cult. Otherwise they’re pretty bad. The number of cases are up. The outbreak continues to grow. The risk of death is slightly up. Not enough people are getting tested.

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And those aren’t the only alarming stats: Unemployment is at an all-time high. Food insecurity is up, with over 17,000 households receiving Basic Food assistance from the county in June. Domestic violence is up 16% over last year. Calls to crisis lines are up 12%.

Is there any end in sight to this awfulness? Actually, yes, it’s starting to look like there is.

Moderna, one of the companies working frantically to find a vaccine, just announced some very encouraging results from Phase I testing. Based on a very small sample (45 people) their vaccine appears to be safe — and better yet, effective, triggering the kind of immune response researchers were hoping for. The vaccine caused participants to generate antibodies that were effective (in lab tests) against the virus.

There are some caveats here. For one thing, there were minor side effects for some people: Fatigue, muscle aches, fever. One of the 45 people developed hives. A higher-dose version caused worse side effects, including the hospitalization of a Seattle patient, and will not be tested further.

Another complication: the safer, lower-dose vaccine required two injections, four weeks apart, to be effective.

And an even bigger issue is that the initial phase was pretty small, and we don’t yet know if the antibodies are effective out in the real world. They might not be enough to fend off the virus, and they might not last. In other words, it looks like a working vaccine, but we still don't have proof that it's actually working.

The next step for the Moderna vaccine is Phase III trials, which will begin in about a week with 30,000 people. Pfizer and BioNTech also have large-scale studies slated to start around the same time.

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If you’re willing to take part, you can learn more about volunteering to test the vaccine here. Of course, you should read about what’s required, as well as the potential risks, very very carefully.

And until a vaccine is ready to roll out to everyone, keep following the same advice we’ve been hearing for months: Stay away from other people. Wash your hands. Shut the fuck up and put on your mask.

In the best-case scenario, a vaccine would be ready for the public in 2021. Moderna says they would be able to make 500 million to 1 billion doses per year, which could be great ... but there are nearly 8 billion people on the planet.

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