Coronavirus Briefing: What Occurred Right now

Much of the world may have spent the last week covering the US presidential election, but scientists and researchers remained focused on uncovering the virus’ secrets. Here are some recent studies that have broken new ground.

It’s scary inside. A new study using mobile phone mobility data in 10 US cities found that crowded indoor spaces like restaurants, gyms, and cafes caused eight out of ten infections in the spring.

The study, a collaboration between scientists from Stanford, Northwestern University, Microsoft Research, and the Chan Zuckerberg Biohub, also provided an explanation for why so many low-income neighborhoods were badly affected. The residents of these communities were more mobile than those of more affluent neighborhoods, probably due to work demands, and public facilities in low-income neighborhoods were overcrowded. For example, grocery stores in low-income areas average 60 percent more people per square foot than in more affluent areas, and buyers stay indoors longer.

A virus protection for children. Why do children contract the virus or become seriously ill so much less often than adults when they get it?

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

Disproportionate impact on the disabled. An analysis of the insurance data found that people with intellectual and developmental disabilities who received Covid-19 were three times more likely to die from it than others with the disease.

The finding raises complex questions about vaccine distribution guidelines that require prioritization of those at higher risk for the disease, but have not been particularly prominent in children and adults with disabilities such as Down syndrome and developmental disorders.

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