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Both Moderna and Pfizer / BioNTech have now filed a full application with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval their vaccines against COVID-19, Daniel E. Slotnik reports in the New York Times. Currently both are authorized in an emergency by the agency. Many people, including myself earlier this year, mistakenly referred to the vaccines from Moderna, Pfizer / BioNTech, and Johnson & Johnson as being approved in the United States. I’m not mentioning this because the distinction affects my confidence in these vaccines. Rather, an upgrade could prove to be important for vaccination delay. According to a survey conducted by Slotnik on May 28, 21st by the Kaiser Family Foundation, more people in the US who were hesitant are choosing to get a COVID-19 vaccination. If the FDA now gives full approval to the COVID-19 vaccines, it is possible that hesitation will further decrease and we may move closer to herd immunity (1/21).
Failing this quiz by Dr. Arnaud Gagneur from the University of Sherbrooke and Dr. Karin Tamerius for the New York Times (5/20/21) taught me to be more effective and helpful in talking to people who have questions and concerns about COVID-19 vaccines.
Moderna’s mRNA vaccine against COVID-19 has been shown to provide strong protection for young people, the company announced on May 25, 21, Lauran Neergaard reported for the Associated Press on the same day. In May, the Pfizer / BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine was approved for use in children 12 years and older. Moderna reportedly plans to submit its results to U.S. regulators earlier this month. So there could be a second COVID-19 vaccine approved for use in teenagers in a matter of weeks. “Both Pfizer and Moderna have started testing in even younger children, from 11 years old to 6 month old babies. This test is more complex: teenagers get the same dose as adults, but researchers are testing smaller doses in younger children. Experts hope to see some results in the fall, ”reports Neergaard.
On the Your Local Epidemiologist website, Katelyn Jetelina posted two posters, one in English (5/20/21) and one in Spanish (5/28/21), with responses to seven parental concerns about the COVID-19 vaccine, the vaccine was approved in the United States for use in teenagers. Topics covered include concerns about side effects, the effectiveness of the vaccine, the need to vaccinate teenagers against COVID-19, and what mRNA (messenger RNA) does once it enters the body: (English); (Spanish).
The guidelines of the US Centers for Disease Control dated May 29, 21 on summer camps, vaccinations and the wearing of masks are summarized here by Roni Caryn Rabin of the New York Times. The details reportedly include: 1) promoting vaccination for people 12 and older who wish to attend camps, 2) recommending that campers and staff in camps with 100% vaccination go mask-free, and 3) recommending that Unvaccinated campers can be masked. free outdoors in most cases. Camps with unvaccinated participants should maintain other coronavirus prevention measures like physical distancing, grouping children into capsules or cohorts that do not mix, and improving indoor ventilation, the CDC advises, according to the story (05/28/21).
In the US, the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine was initially left to the states, as you probably know. Fortunately, federal funds have been made available to help in 2021, and some vaccination mega-sites have been set up to target communities hard hit by COVID-19, People of Color, and other marginalized or underserved areas. On April 20, I had the privilege of helping share the experiences of patients who visited such a site in Newark, NJ to receive their second dose of the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine. It was a wonderful experience including the opportunity to interview people right after vaccination and to work with photographer Grant Delin. Here is the 6/1/21 story that Grant and I worked together on (feel free to scroll right away to see the photos and captions with quotes from the people photographed).
One issue that has slowed the US response to the pandemic has been inconsistent results and public health reports on the effectiveness of cloth and surgical face masks, especially when compared to N95 respirators. The latter are technically not masks, an epidemiologist recently told me. N95s belong to a separate category of protective equipment because they fit snugly around the face, are made of a material that filters air (surgical and cloth masks do not), and protect the wearer from inhaling particles that are entrained in the air. In contrast, surgical and cloth masks protect others from particles exhaled or given off by the person wearing the mask. A new study published in Science on May 20, 21, provides a quantitative explanation of the “conflicting results” of how protective masks and N95s prevent the spread of SARS-CoV-2. When correct, the results are an intellectually satisfactory answer to some of the problems that resented public health efforts to require the wear of masks. Conclusion: Face masks are an effective measure to prevent the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the researchers conclude. Study Summary Summary: Surgical masks are effective in preventing the virus from spreading in most environments where virus few are present; and a combination of “advanced masks” with measures such as ventilation and distancing are effective in indoor areas such as medical centers and hospitals where there are potentially higher levels of virus. When modeling airborne exposure to the virus, the researchers found that because there was so little virus in the particles, fabric and surgical masks still work in non-medical settings to prevent transmission of SARS-CoV-2 is that we breathe out. Tweets from cardiologist Eric Topol of the Scripps Research Translational Institute brought this study to my attention.
Are you looking to reduce your risk of Covid-19 in crowded outdoor crowds and at outdoor events this summer? In this 5/28/21 story for the New York Times, I covered the latest advice on how to reduce your risk of contracting SARS-CoV-2 or spreading it outdoors this summer. The coverage reinforced my habit of checking coronavirus dashboards online. Experts recommend looking at these key statistics at the state, county, and city levels when available: 1 – local infection rates (case), 2 – hospital stay rates, and 3 – percent vaccinated. For example, infection / fall rates below 3 per 100,000 people, averaged over several days, is an outdoor safety limit mentioned by one expert, although another expert I have cited in the story is against using a statistical threshold for individual covid -Security decisions made.
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