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There are two new items of encouraging information concerning the pandemic — and two worrisome developments. Let’s take them separately, beginning with the constructive.

They’ve plummeted, falling by greater than 60 % between late December and early February. The principle trigger is simple: Nursing residence residents have been among the many first individuals to be vaccinated.

This chart — from my colleagues Matthew Conlen, Sarah Mervosh and Danielle Ivory — tells the story:

It’s one other signal of how highly effective the vaccines are. The decline in deaths occurred surprisingly quick, mentioned Dr. Sunil Parikh, a Yale College epidemiologist. It occurred although most nursing residence residents and workers haven’t but obtained each of their vaccine pictures — and it has probably continued over the previous two weeks, which aren’t proven on this chart.

“I’m virtually perplexed at how wonderful it’s and the way thrilling,” mentioned Dr. David Gifford, the chief medical officer for the American Well being Care Affiliation, which represents long-term-care amenities.

The nursing residence information add to the proof that the vaccines don’t simply work in analysis trials — they work in the actual world, too. (A brand new examine of Israel, revealed yesterday in The New England Journal of Medication, offered the same message.)

The Meals and Drug Administration launched a report a couple of vaccine that it has not but accepted — from Johnson & Johnson — and the data were extremely positive.

Like the 2 vaccines which are already being administered within the U.S. — from Moderna and Pfizer — Johnson & Johnson’s eradicated each dying and hospitalization in its analysis trial: About 20,000 individuals obtained the vaccine within the trial, and never a single one was hospitalized with Covid-19 signs a month later.

“I’ll by no means cease being amazed at zero hospitalizations amongst vaccinated in examine after examine,” Dr. Aaron Richterman of the College of Pennsylvania wrote. “It’s astonishing.” Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an infectious illness professional, known as the outcomes “terrific.” Dr. Kavita Patel wrote: “I’d undoubtedly suggest it for myself and my sufferers.”

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine additionally considerably diminished the variety of average and asymptomatic Covid circumstances. It didn’t remove them, however the vaccines don’t must remove all Covid circumstances in order to end the crisis. A pointy discount — and sharper discount in extreme circumstances — can ultimately flip this horrible coronavirus into one more manageable virus.

(The nursing residence information assist make this level, as effectively: The variety of confirmed circumstances has fallen by greater than 80 %, which is even larger than the decline in deaths.)

A key benefit of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is that it requires just one shot, making it simpler to manage than the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, which require two. An F.D.A. committee will meet on Friday, and the company may approve the vaccine shortly afterward.

The variety of new circumstances has stopped declining in the U.S.:

The identical is going on worldwide:

I don’t wish to overreact to at least one week of information. However you possibly can see a change in these traces. The more than likely clarification is the extra contagious variants of the virus, just like the B.1.1.7 variant, which was first detected in Britain.

Tellingly, circumstances first stopped falling in much of Europe, the place that variant is extra widespread. On Friday, a high well being official in Germany warned that nation may very well be heading towards another “turning point,” after weeks of falling infections.

It’s a reminder that the pandemic is way from over. The variants have the potential to trigger new outbreaks, particularly if unvaccinated individuals grow to be lax about masks sporting and social distancing.

This isn’t an excellent development:

The storms of the previous week are the key reason behind the vaccination slowdown, having quickly closed websites and delayed vaccine shipments. Regardless of the cause, although, it is going to have penalties: Fewer vaccinations imply extra deaths.

The largest activity going through the Biden administration over the following two months is accelerating the tempo from the present 1.4 million vaccines per day to about three million per day.

Different Covid developments:

  • The federal authorities is backing the test of an online portal to assist the general public discover vaccines.

  • Moderna mentioned it will check vaccines modified to guard in opposition to a variant first found in South Africa.

  • A new variant is spreading in New York Metropolis, researchers say.

  • Ghana and different West African nations will begin vaccinating people as a part of Covax, a worldwide vaccine-sharing initiative. However as wealthy nations purchase a lot of the provide, inequalities stay.

  • Corruption scandals are exposing how highly effective and well-connected individuals in South America jumped the vaccine line.

  • President Biden nominated three people to the board of the USA Postal Service. If confirmed, they might give Democrats the facility to oust Louis DeJoy, the postmaster basic appointed by President Donald Trump.

  • Jerome Powell, the Federal Reserve chairman, mentioned the pandemic’s financial fallout had disproportionately harm girls and instructed that improved child care policies may assist the economic system.

  • Repairing the harm from the Capitol riot — together with toppled Nineteenth-century lanterns and broken busts — could cost more than $30 million.

  • Biden lifted a freeze on green cards, ending the Trump administration’s ban on authorized immigration.

In 2005, the New Oxford American Dictionary named “podcast” — a portmanteau of broadcast and iPod — its phrase of the yr. Some noticed it as a wierd alternative, as The Chicago Tribune reported: “Few of us have come throughout it and it actually hasn’t gained the general public visibility that makes it a defining phrase of 2005.”

The trade has come a great distance. Now you can select from about two million podcasts. Celebrities and former presidents have flocked to the medium. Main corporations like Amazon and Spotify have invested massive sums of cash in podcasting. And Hollywood is scooping up the rights to exhibits, turning them into TV sequence.

To make sense of all of it, The Occasions is publishing a sequence this morning about podcasting. It consists of: Ben Sisario on the state of the industry; Margaret Lyons on podcasting’s advantages over television; Jemele Hill and different podcasters offering recommendations and interviews with kids who’re already hosting their own shows.

The pangram from yesterday’s Spelling Bee was anarchical. Right here is at the moment’s puzzle — or you possibly can play online.

Right here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Espresso additive (5 letters).

If you happen to’re within the temper to play extra, discover all our games here.

Thanks for spending a part of your morning with The Occasions. See you tomorrow. — David

P.S. The New York Occasions launched a report calling for changes to make its office extra numerous and inclusive.

You’ll be able to see today’s print front page here.

Right now’s episode of “The Daily” is about Merrick Garland. On “Sway,” Kara Swisher interviews Sacha Baron Cohen.