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Coronavirus Briefing: What Happened Today


Much of the world may have spent the last week glued to coverage of the U.S. presidential election, but scientists and researchers remained focused on uncovering the mysteries of the virus. Here are a few recent studies that have broken new ground.

It’s scary indoors. A new study using cellphone mobility data in 10 U.S. cities found that crowded indoor venues like restaurants, gyms and cafes, accounted for eight out of 10 infections in the spring.

The study, a collaboration between scientists at Stanford, Northwestern University, Microsoft Research and the Chan Zuckerberg Biohub, also offered an explanation of why so many low-income neighborhoods were hard hit. Residents in those communities were more mobile than residents in more affluent neighborhoods, likely because of work demands, and public venues in low-income neighborhoods were more crowded. Grocery stores in low-income neighborhoods, for example, typically have around 60 percent more people per square foot, on average, than in more affluent areas, and shoppers stay inside longer.

A virus shield for children. Why are children so much less likely than adults to become infected with the virus, or fall seriously ill if they catch it?

A provocative new study from the Francis Crick Institute in London suggests that many children already have antibodies to other coronaviruses, which may help block the novel coronavirus from entering their cells. The study, published Friday in Science, found that on average, 5 percent of adults have antibodies that can block coronaviruses, while 43 percent of children do.

Disproportionate effects on the disabled. An analysis of insurance data claims found that people with intellectual disabilities and developmental disorders who get Covid-19 are three times as likely to die from it, compared with others who have the disease.

The finding raises complex questions about the guidelines for the distribution of a vaccine, which call for prioritizing people at heightened risk for the disease, but have so far not specifically emphasized children and adults with disabilities like Down syndrome and developmental disorders.

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