We’ve been living under the cloud of coronavirus for so long now and have adjusted (as best we can) to this new normal. Some of the adjustments will be temporary and some will likely be permanent changes to the fabric of our society.

Sometimes it feels like we still know far too little about the virus that has disrupted our lives and our plans in immeasurable ways, but this week there have been several new developments in the fight against the coronavirus. Researchers are beginning to put pieces together and the headlines about COVID-19 are now much more hopeful than they were in previous months.

Hope is on the horizon thanks to science.

Here are the new coronavirus breakthroughs parents need to know:



What parents need to know about the ‘breakthough’ COVID-19 drug 

You’ve probably never heard of dexamethasone before, but on Tuesday the drug became international news after the results of a drug trial were announced. The researchers say the drug (a cheap, common steroid) should immediately be used to treat COVID-19 patients.

According to Martin Landray, an Oxford University professor co-lead of the trial, the preliminary study “shows that if patients who have COVID-19 and are on ventilators or are on oxygen are given dexamethasone, it will save lives, and it will do so at a remarkably low cost.”

“It is a major breakthrough,” said Landray’s co-lead, Peter Horby. “Dexamethasone is inexpensive, on the shelf, and can be used immediately to save lives worldwide.”

In the UK, the government is already making the drug available and stockpiling a supply. Stateside, President Trump is predicting a vaccine by the end of 2020 (it should be noted that Dr. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert and other health officials are not backing up this prediction.)

“Before the end of the year, I predict we will have a very successful vaccine, therapeutic and cure,” Trump said Tuesday. “We’re making tremendous progress.”

The President’s prediction may not be as comforting as the discovery of dexamethasone’s life-saving potential, but another study is definitely good news for parents.

Children are only half as likely to get infected by the coronavirus, says new study 

A study published Tuesday in the journal Nature Medicine has parents breathing a sigh of relief as it shows children are only half as likely to get the coronavirus compared to adults.

While children (especially those with compromised immune systems) can get sick, tragically fatal cases in kids are uncommon and people over 20 are more likely to get COVID-19 than kids and teens are.

The study shows kids are 35 to 60% less susceptible to coronavirus than adults are.

“These results have implications for the likely effectiveness of school closures in mitigating SARS-CoV-2 transmission, in that these might be less effective than for other respiratory infections,” the study authors, based at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, conclude.

The study shows that kids who do get infected with the coronavirus are much more likely than older people to have mild symptoms and fewer than a quarter of kids will show symptoms at all.

More research is needed but this is good news for parents and school divisions trying to plan for children to return to their classrooms in the fall.

Dr. Fauci and studies say face masks work, so wearing one can be an act of kindness 

There’s a large body of evidence suggesting face masks do help prevent the spread of COVID-19, and the Centers for Disease Control has updated its guidance, recommending masks when attending large gatherings.

“The guideline is really for any type of gathering,” says Dr. Jay Butler, the CDC’s deputy director for infectious diseases, “whether it’s the backyard barbecue or something larger, and it’s not intended to endorse any particular type of event.”

Butler’s advice is similar to that given by Dr. Fauci in an interview with TheStreet, “Masks are not 100% protective. However, they certainly are better than not wearing a mask. Both to prevent you, if you happen to be a person who maybe feels well, but has an asymptomatic infection that you don’t even know about, to prevent you from infecting someone else,” Fauci said.

“But also, it can protect you a certain degree, not 100%, in protecting you from getting infected from someone who, either is breathing, or coughing, or sneezing, or singing or whatever it is in which the droplets or the aerosols go out. So masks work,” Fauci added.

While some countries mandate masks in public settings, the United States does not and the World Health Organization’s stance on non-medical fabric masks has evolved into a recommendation. At the same time, new study out of the UK suggests that population-wide mask wearing could prevent a second wave of COVID-19.

The bottom line: Mask wearing can help, and because it is possible to spread the virus without showing symptoms yourself, wearing a mask can be an act of kindness toward all the people you may come in contact with outside your home.