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S. African Variant Here; U.S. Case Counts Drop; NBA Team Hires ‘Detection Dogs’

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The South African variant has officially hit the U.S. with the two cases detected in South Carolina. (AP)

Although Pfizer said it could quickly whip up a new vaccine to tackle mutations, manufacturing would be a whole other beast. (Reuters)

As of 8:00 a.m. ET on Friday, the unofficial COVID-19 toll in the U.S. reached 25,768,828 cases and 433,213 deaths — up 168,867 and 4,035 respectively, since this time yesterday.

Some good news: average rates of new cases have dropped 21% nationally in the past week, with at least 12 states seeing declines greater than 25%. (Kaiser Health News)

Portugal set a new world record for the highest seven-day, per-capita average for new cases and deaths. (Reuters)

A Florida fire captain was arrested after allegedly stealing three syringes of Moderna’s vaccine to give to his elderly mother. (CNN)

New York’s attorney general said the state health department had dramatically undercounted nursing home resident deaths.

A legend in the vaccine world, Stanley Plotkin, MD, 88, said he was “lucky to find this vaccine anywhere.” (The Washington Post)

After vaccinating some teachers and other school staff — all falling outside of the phase 1a group — a Georgia medical center is now barred from the state’s vaccine program for six months. (CNN)

Researchers at UC Irvine are working to develop a vaccine against all coronaviruses strains, such as those responsible for SARS and MERS as well as COVID-19. (Los Angeles Times)

The Miami Heat basketball team will use “coronavirus detection dogs” to screen fans for infection. (CNN)

In other news:

  • Kristen Monaco is a staff writer, focusing on endocrinology, psychiatry, and dermatology news. Based out of the New York City office, she’s worked at the company for nearly five years.