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Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

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On Wednesday, March 24, Axios hosted a virtual event on what COVID-19 testing will look like in a post-vaccine world, featuring conversations with Assistant Professor of Epidemiology at Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health Dr. Michael Mina, Johns Hopkins senior scholar Dr. Jennifer Nuzzo, and Director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota Dr. Michael Osterholm.

Dr. Jennifer Nuzzo discussed the critical role of testing in monitoring COVID-19 trends even after the majority of people have been vaccinated.

  • On how testing helps establish an understanding of the virus: "It's how we figure out where in the country the virus is and where it isn't...It helps us keep track of trends. And crucially, it is the first step in trying to discover if perhaps there is something changing about the virus and perhaps acquiring traits that we don't want it to have."

Dr. Michael Mina unpacked the critical need for widely expanded at-home, rapid COVID-19 tests, and how this differs from the way we have approached testing in the past year.

  • On the regulatory hurdles to getting at-home COVID-19 tests: "We've so undervalued and underfunded public health for so long that we don't actually have a regulatory mechanism to authorize a test that is going to be evaluated as a public health tool, first and foremost and a diagnostic tool second."

Dr. Michael Osterholm discussed the transmission rates following the reopening of schools and businesses in different countries, and how testing remains essential to monitoring the virus.

  • On the delayed impact of the vaccine rollout: "There is reason to be optimistic about the vaccines coming. The problem is we're not going to have that much vaccine to materially impact in a major way transmission in this country till well into late spring and early summer. So what we've got to do is get through the next six to 12 weeks."

Axios co-founder and CEO Jim VandeHei hosted a View from the Top Segment with Siemens Healthineers Laboratory Diagnostics president Dr. Deepak Nath to discuss a collaboration between the CDC, the Joint Research Council in Europe, and Siemens Healthineers to answer vital questions about the COVID-19 vaccine's impact of the virus.

  • "The question we're trying to answer is: How effective are these vaccines, both at an individual level and at a population level? And in order to answer that, a key tool is a test to measure the concentration of antibodies in the blood...We've tried to establish a threshold for immunity. In other words, at what concentration of antibodies does a person have immunity?"

Thank you Siemens Healthineers for sponsoring this event.

Go deeper

Report: Gov. Cuomo prioritized family members for COVID testing

Combination images of CNN anchor Chris Cuomo and his older brother, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Photo: Gilbert Carrasquillo/GC Images/Brendan McDermid-Pool/Getty Images

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) allegedly gave family members including CNN anchor Chris Cuomo "special access" to state-administered COVID-19 tests in early 2020, the Washington Post first reported Wednesday.

Why it matters: State officials are barred from using their positions to gain privileges for themselves or others under New York's constitution. Cuomo's office pushed back on the allegations in an emailed statement, with senior adviser Rich Azzopard saying, "We should avoid insincere efforts to rewrite the past."

Mar 24, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Rachel Levine becomes first transgender official confirmed by Senate

Rachel Levine testifies at her confirmation hearing before the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee in February 2021. Photo: Caroline Brehman-Pool/Getty Images

The Senate on Wednesday confirmed Rachel Levine as assistant secretary for health at the Department of Health and Human Services.

Why it matters: Levine is the first openly transgender federal official to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate. The vote was 52-48.

Super typhoon Surigae explodes to Cat. 5 intensity

Super Typhoon Surigae seen on satellite imagery Saturday morning east of the Philippines. (CIRA/RAMMB)

Super Typhoon Surigae surged in intensity from a Category 1 storm on Friday to a beastly Category 5 monster on Saturday, with maximum sustained winds estimated at 190 mph with higher gusts.

Why it matters: This storm — known as Typhoon Bising in the Philippines — is just the latest of many tropical cyclones to undergo a process known as rapid intensification, a feat that studies show is becoming more common due to climate change. It weakened slightly, to the equivalent of a strong Category 4 storm, on Sunday.

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