What We’re Reading: Record COVID-19 Deaths, Hospitalizations; CDC Revises Quarantine Guidelines; Moderna to Begin Pediatric Vaccine Trial

The United States reports record numbers of hospitalizations and deaths due to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19); the CDC updates its quarantine recommendations; Moderna will soon start testing its COVID-19 vaccine in children.

Record COVID-19 Hospitalizations, Deaths Reported

Hospitalizations due to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) reached over 100,000 in the United States this week, more than doubling the number recorded at the beginning of November, The New York Times reports. The country also reported its single-worst daily death toll on December 2, at 2760 deaths, surpassing the previous toll of 2752 recorded on April 15. CDC Director Robert Redfield, MD, warned the next few months may be even more challenging before a vaccine becomes widely available. Redfield urged stricter adherence to social distancing practices, mask wearing, and hand hygiene and noted the country faces the prospect of a health care system strained to the point of collapse if widespread preventive measures are not taken.

CDC Shortens Recommended Quarantine Period

The CDC has shortened its COVID-19 quarantine recommendations for people exposed to COVID-19 from 14 days to 10 or 7 days, depending on an individual’s test results and symptoms, NPR reports. According to the guidance, if individuals do not develop symptoms, they can quarantine for just 10 days, while if an individual tests negative, they need only quarantine for 1 week. Although the agency noted a 14-day quarantine period is still the safest option, it also acknowledged the demands this period can take on individuals, as some people exposed to the virus may not be able to afford to take 2 weeks off of work. Exposed individuals should still monitor themselves closely for symptoms like a fever, loss of smell, or a cough for 14 days after exposure.

Moderna to Start Pediatric Vaccine Trial

Moderna announced it would begin testing its experimental COVID-19 vaccine in around 3000 children aged 12 through 17. Reported by The New York Times, half of the children in the trial will receive 2 doses of the vaccine 4 weeks apart while the remaining children will receive placebo shots of salt water. The company applied to the FDA for an emergency use authorization on November 30 based on results from it study that found the vaccine to be 94.5% effective. Typically, vaccines indicated for adults and children are tested first on adult populations to make sure they are safe for pediatric trials. Moderna’s study is not yet recruiting participants and a spokeswoman said it was not certain when testing sites will start accepting volunteers.