Even as the coronavirus continues to spread throughout the U.S., this week saw some good news on the vaccine front, with pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca reporting results from a trial of its COVID-19 vaccine. But the announcement was somewhat confusing in that the effectiveness varied substantially based on the dosage. Scientist Sanjay Mishra from Vanderbilt Medical Center, who himself is doing vaccine research, explains the key advantages of this Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine and what we do and do not know from the limited data available. To learn more about the other front-runner vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna, I recommend this article on mRNA vaccines and another on why safety has not been compromised in the U.S.’s Operation Warp Speed program.

As you get together this week with family or friends – whether it’s in person or virtually – this piece on the science of laughter is worth a read. It turns out having a few chuckles isn’t just a relief in the moment; feelings associated with laughing build resilience and enhance creative thinking.

Researchers from the University of Arizona report on how they monitored sewage to effectively isolate cases on campus and help keep the spread under control. They argue that this technique has lots of potential, not just for municipalities but for a host of other locations, such as offices parks, factories and military bases.

And finally, with Thanksgiving tomorrow and winter holidays coming up, here’s a special newsletter that compiles the latest science-based recommendations on getting together with others during this pandemic in the safest ways possible.

Have a happy and safe Thanksgiving.

Martin La Monica

Deputy Editor

Now there is a third possible vaccine for fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is cheaper than Pfizer’s and Moderna’s and doesn’t require supercold temperature

Sanjay Mishra, Vanderbilt University

There is now a third vaccine that prevents COVID-19 infections. It isn't quite as effective as the other two vaccines but it has advantages that may make it the frontrunner.

It’s hard to beat a good laugh with a friend. Klaus Vedfelt/DigitalVision via Getty Images

Laughing is good for your mind and your body – here’s what the research shows

Janet M. Gibson, Grinnell College

Whether in the form of a discreet titter or a full-on roar, laughter comes with many benefits for physical and mental health.

There’s valuable data on the spread of COVID-19 in this wastewater. Montgomery County Planning Commission

Testing sewage can give school districts, campuses and businesses a heads-up on the spread of COVID-19

Charles Gerba, University of Arizona; Robert Glennon, University of Arizona

As the world waits for vaccines against COVID-19, testing wastewater can give communities and smaller locales, such as school districts, valuable signals about infections trends.