Coronavirus News Roundup, February 6 – February 12

by akoloy



A bit by Sarah Zhang at The Atlantic (2/9/21) takes a pessimistic view of herd immunity ever being achieved within the U.S. The piece starts with an analogy for the idea, likening it to moist logs in a campfire. “If there’s enough immunity in a population — ‘you can’t get the fire to start, period’,” Zhang writes, with the quote coming from an Emory University biologist. Zhang’s piece states that it turns into “downright impossible” to attain herd immunity if vaccines solely forestall severe COVID-19 slightly than additionally stopping an infection with SARS-CoV-2. And whereas the vaccines clearly do forestall severe sickness, the proof remains to be skinny on whether or not the vaccines forestall an infection. A extra doubtless consequence, she writes, is that we by no means “cross the threshold of herd immunity,” and that the immunity of people that get vaccinated plus the immunity of people that overcome SARS-CoV-2 infections “dampen” COVID-19, so the illness involves have an effect on us like frequent colds, “which frequently reinfect people but rarely seriously.”

A extra optimistic take seems in a 2/9/21 post by Katelyn Jetelina for her Your Local Epidemiologist publication. She estimates present U.S. herd immunity within the vary of 12 to 30% (I’ve rounded figures), together with these with antibodies from previous COVID-19 an infection and those that have acquired both one or each doses of a licensed vaccine. If you add to that the share of people that intend to get vaccinated, that places us at 53% to 71% within the subsequent a number of months, per arithmetic and a few current polls she cites. Some unsure science lurks behind these figures, after all, and the variants add a wild card. As Jetelina writes, “I based today’s post on [a goal of] 70% herd immunity, but many scientists are now estimating that this is closer to 90% with the new variants.”

Katherine J. Wu at The Atlantic wrote a very good piece that explains why “side effects” from COVID-19 vaccines are “just a sign that protection [from our immune system] is kicking in as it should,” as she puts it. She makes use of the instance of her husband’s current expertise with the vaccine to inform the story (he’s a hospital neurologist, she writes). People usually tend to really feel unintended effects from the second of the 2 doses of both the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, per varied experiences. But that second publicity to the vaccine is essential for strengthening our immune response to SARS-CoV-2 within the wild. “The body’s encore act, uncomfortable though it might be, is evidence that the immune system is solidifying its defenses against the virus,” Wu writes. She explains that our immune system begins to “lose steam” towards invading substances, equivalent to a vaccine, after a day or two. It takes a number of days for immune system weapons (T cells and B cells, after which antibodies) that may assault a international substance with “sniperlike molecules and cells” to kick in, she writes. That’s the place the booster or 2nd dose of a two-dose vaccine is available in and finishes the job of getting ready our immune system for exposures to SARS-CoV-2 (2/2/21).

A new video (2/11/21) at Scientific American explains the emergence of the brand new SARS-CoV-2 variants and why researchers are usually not sure that obtainable vaccines might be as efficient towards all of the variants. In the video, Sarah Cobey of the University of Chicago compares the emergence of the brand new SARS-CoV-2 variants to genetic mixing amongst flu viruses, a course of that she loosely calls “viral sex.” This mixing happens when two completely different influenza viruses infect the identical cell after which swap and repackage components to create new flu variants. With flu, that mixing means vaccine makers yearly have to alter the seasonal flu vaccine to make it more practical towards new flu variants. The query is whether or not such modifications might be mandatory with the SARS-CoV-2 vaccines. A hopeful observe within the piece: “Scientists say it will probably be years before the COVID-19 vaccine stops working if it ever does.” Reporting and enhancing by Sara Reardon; animation by Dominic Smith; enhancing by Jeffrey DelViscio.

A 2/3/21 opinion essay at STAT argues that “kids don’t need COVID-19 vaccines to return to school.” Dr. Vinay Prasad, a hematologist-oncologist  on the University of California, San Francisco, bases his opinion on a few of the following: 1) youngsters are far much less doubtless than adults to get COVID-19, significantly extreme or deadly circumstances of it; 2) usually, outbreaks in communities are usually not being traced to infections at faculties with sturdy distancing, masking and different security measures in place; and three) effectiveness and security research of COVID-19 vaccines for younger kids haven’t began, although some are underway older youngsters. When prepared for analysis by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, COVID-19 vaccines for youngsters shouldn’t be approved on an emergency-basis, as COVID-19 vaccines have been for adults, Prasad states, partly as a result of the illness shouldn’t be a catastrophic illness amongst youngsters. The price of hurt for youths is extra like that of the seasonal flu, he writes.

Some suggestions detailed in this 2/3/21 NPR piece by Maria Godoy for making your face masks extra protecting embody: 1) double-masking, with a surgical masks beneath a fabric masks; 2) placing a filter equivalent to two folded facial tissues in these two-layer masks which have pockets; 3) three-layer fabric masks; 4) utilizing knots or hair clips to enhance the match of your masks; and 5) shopping for KN95 or KF94 masks, so we will maintain extra of the short-supply N95 medical-grade masks obtainable for well being care staff: 

You would possibly get pleasure from “Things that are different in Europe,” by Sarah Hutto (1/25/21) in The New Yorker.



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