9 votes

Weekly coronavirus-related chat, questions, and minor updates - week of February 22

This thread is posted weekly, and is intended as a place for more-casual discussion of the coronavirus and questions/updates that may not warrant their own dedicated topics. Tell us about what the situation is like where you live!

10 comments

  1. Adys
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    I'm scheduled for my first CureVac trial shot in two weeks! It's a placebo-controlled trial so I won't know what they gave me for a while. The CureVac vaccine is very promising. If it can succeed,...

    I'm scheduled for my first CureVac trial shot in two weeks! It's a placebo-controlled trial so I won't know what they gave me for a while.

    The CureVac vaccine is very promising. If it can succeed, I think it's probably the one that will help the most in the long tail of vaccinations from mid-2021 to 2023. But maybe I'm just drinking the kool-aid, there.

    Also, it's impressive to see first-hand the COVID funding. A vaccine trial would normally pay … what, $150? This one pays over $900 (750€) over the entire cycle. This is over $30MM just for phase 3 vaccine volunteers in europe. Incredible.

    8 votes
  2. Rez
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    I got the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine a few days ago as a healthcare worker. I only recently became officially qualified though since I'm not a frontline worker and my company had to work out...

    I got the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine a few days ago as a healthcare worker. I only recently became officially qualified though since I'm not a frontline worker and my company had to work out that our employees were eligible with my county's government.

    Arm was a bit sore a day later and that's about it so far. The needle actually felt virtually painless compared to the flu shots I normally get, though that could've been luck, and it's no comparison to the blood donations I do anyways. Second shot should have more pronounced (but temporary) side effects.

    I did not really need the vaccine, but I tell people it's safe, so I was putting my money where my mouth is. Plus I suppose the global COVID-19 effort would be demonstrably impacted if I was bedridden for a week. I don't pressure anyone into believing it's safe though (because that would backfire anyways) - your body, your choice basically, I'll just set the example. Telling people they're putting others at risk by not vaccinating is a surefire way to put them on the defense and have them tune you out, because you're doing nothing to assuage their sense of risk to themselves. The lines of logic I'm using for conservatives or COVID skeptics who are hesitant is something like "If you think the dangers of COVID-19 are overblown, then the vaccine is even less dangerous than that." Plus trotting out the line in certain circles of "It was good enough for Israel to use on their people so it's good enough for me" has also had some impact.

    7 votes
  3. Adys
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    Separate post for some belgian news: Belgian state sued for harmful coronavirus management ‘Getting worse’: Belgian youth pleads for relaxations of measures Friday, our PM will announce what's...

    Separate post for some belgian news:

    Friday, our PM will announce what's going to happen in the next few weeks. Belgium announces long-term models to handle pandemic -- I'm hopeful this means some relaxations coming in March, because people are starting to go fucking crazy. I think politicians are starting to realize it, though.

    Again I remind you: What is the point of adding more measures and restrictions, if it means people will be less and less willing to follow them? This has to be taken into account. Politics is not just about managing countries on paper, but also about managing people. Even if they don't behave optimally.

    6 votes
  4. Adys
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    Looks like the belgian free masks are potentially toxic due to nanoparticles. Fantastic fucking job. We're done, antimaskers will have a field day with this....

    Looks like the belgian free masks are potentially toxic due to nanoparticles. Fantastic fucking job. We're done, antimaskers will have a field day with this.

    https://www.brusselstimes.com/news/belgium-all-news/156876/belgian-government-says-to-stop-wearing-the-free-cloth-masks-they-distributed-as-a-precaution/

    5 votes
  5. eladnarra
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    Covid Vaccine Websites Violate Disability Laws, Create Inequity for the Blind

    Covid Vaccine Websites Violate Disability Laws, Create Inequity for the Blind

    Many covid vaccination registration and information websites at the federal, state and local levels violate disability rights laws, hindering the ability of blind people to sign up for a potentially lifesaving vaccine, a KHN investigation has found.

    Across the country, people who use special software to make the web accessible have been unable to sign up for the vaccines or obtain vital information about covid-19 because many government websites lack required accessibility features. At least 7.6 million people in the U.S. over age 16 have a visual disability.

    WebAIM, a nonprofit web accessibility organization, checked covid vaccine websites gathered by KHN from all 50 states and the District of Columbia. On Jan. 27, it found accessibility issues on nearly all of 94 webpages, which included general vaccine information, lists of vaccine providers and registration forms.

    In at least seven states, blind residents said they were unable to register for the vaccine through their state or local governments without help. Phone alternatives, when available, have been beset with their own issues, such as long hold times and not being available at all hours like websites.

    Even the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Vaccine Administration Management System, which a small number of states and counties opted to use after its rocky rollout, has been inaccessible for blind users.

    4 votes
  6. skybrian
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    Zeynep Tufekci has a long article in the Atlantic. It's a grab-bag of a lot of different stuff, but seems worth trying to excerpt: 5 Pandemic Mistakes We Keep Repeating [...] [...] [...]

    Zeynep Tufekci has a long article in the Atlantic. It's a grab-bag of a lot of different stuff, but seems worth trying to excerpt:

    5 Pandemic Mistakes We Keep Repeating

    Despite all these good intentions, much of the public-health messaging has been profoundly counterproductive. In five specific ways, the assumptions made by public officials, the choices made by traditional media, the way our digital public sphere operates, and communication patterns between academic communities and the public proved flawed.

    [...]

    Risk compensation

    The theory that things that improve our safety might provide a false sense of security and lead to reckless behavior is attractive [...] Unsurprisingly, such fears have greeted efforts to persuade the public to adopt almost every advance in safety, including seat belts, helmets, and condoms. [...]

    [...] sociological theory predicted that wearing masks would be associated with increased adherence to other precautionary measures—people interested in staying safe are interested in staying safe—and empirical research quickly confirmed exactly that.

    Rules in place of mechanisms and intuitions

    In the United States, the public was initially told that “close contact” meant coming within six feet of an infected individual, for 15 minutes or more. This messaging led to ridiculous gaming of the rules [...]

    [...] Perhaps worst of all, our messaging and guidelines elided the difference between outdoor and indoor spaces, where, given the importance of aerosol transmission, the same precautions should not apply. [...]

    Scolding and shaming

    [...] While visible but low-risk activities attract the scolds, other actual risks—in workplaces and crowded households, exacerbated by the lack of testing or paid sick leave—are not as easily accessible to photographers. [...]

    Harm reduction

    [...] Pretending we can will away complexities and trade-offs with absolutism is counterproductive. Consider abstinence-only education: Not letting teenagers know about ways to have safer sex results in more of them having sex with no protections.

    [...] Your kids can play together outdoors, and outdoor time is the best chance to catch up with your neighbors is not just a sensible message; it’s a way to decrease transmission risks. Some kids will play and some adults will socialize no matter what the scolds say or public-health officials decree, and they’ll do it indoors, out of sight of the scolding. [...]

    The balance between knowledge and action

    Sometimes, public-health authorities insisted that we did not know enough to act, when the preponderance of evidence already justified precautionary action [...]

    [...] since the vaccines were announced, too many statements have emphasized that we don’t yet know if vaccines prevent transmission. Instead, public-health authorities should have said that we have many reasons to expect, and increasing amounts of data to suggest, that vaccines will blunt infectiousness, but that we’re waiting for additional data to be more precise about it. [...]

    [...]

    Individual responsibility certainly had a large role to play in fighting the pandemic, but many victims had little choice in what happened to them. By disproportionately focusing on individual choices, not only did we hide the real problem, but we failed to do more to provide safe working and living conditions for everyone.

    For example, there has been a lot of consternation about indoor dining, an activity I certainly wouldn’t recommend. But even takeout and delivery can impose a terrible cost: One study of California found that line cooks are the highest-risk occupation for dying of COVID-19. Unless we provide restaurants with funds so they can stay closed, or provide restaurant workers with high-filtration masks, better ventilation, paid sick leave, frequent rapid testing, and other protections so that they can safely work, getting food to go can simply shift the risk to the most vulnerable. [...]

    [...]

    Public-health agencies should immediately start providing expanded information to vaccinated people so they can make informed decisions about private behavior. This is justified by the encouraging data, and a great way to get the word out on how wonderful these vaccines really are. The delay itself has great human costs, especially for those among the elderly who have been isolated for so long.

    4 votes
  7. skybrian
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    First doses of vaccines in Scotland led to a substantial fall in hospital admissions [...]

    First doses of vaccines in Scotland led to a substantial fall in hospital admissions

    Rollout of the Pfizer BioNTech and Oxford AstraZeneca vaccines has led to a substantial fall in severe covid-19 cases requiring hospital admission in Scotland, suggest the results of the first study to report on the impact of the UK’s vaccination strategy.

    The results, available as a preprint, showed that four weeks after the first doses of the Pfizer BioNTech and Oxford AstraZeneca vaccines were administered the risk of hospitalisation from covid-19 fell by up to 85% (95% confidence interval 76 to 91) and 94% (95% CI 73 to 99), respectively.

    The researchers from universities across Scotland and Public Health Scotland told a Science Media Centre press briefing on 22 February that their results were “very encouraging and have given us great reasons to be optimistic for the future.” But emphasised that the study should not be used to compare the two vaccines as the study had not been set up to look at differences between them, was not randomised, follow-up was longer for people who received the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine because it was approved first, and the two vaccines were given to different patient populations. Specifically, the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine was more likely to be given to very elderly people.

    [...]

    Only four weeks of follow-up data were available for the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine, but the longer period for the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine showed that that the impact on hospital admissions lessened slightly five and six weeks after vaccine administration, raising the question of whether this decline might be related to waning immunity.

    “We haven’t specifically looked at waning immunity,” said Chris Robertson, professor of public health epidemiology at University of Strathclyde, and statistics lead for the health protection group at Public Health Scotland, pointing out that these were preliminary data. “It’s an important point, but we can’t, at the minute, say anything about that,” he added. “With our further analyses, when we’ve got a longer follow up then we will be able to provide more information.”

    3 votes
  8. skybrian
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    In a virus-ravaged city, nearly 400 million vaccine doses are being made — and shipped elsewhere The headline seems misleading since 400 million number seems to be based on projections. It's not...

    In a virus-ravaged city, nearly 400 million vaccine doses are being made — and shipped elsewhere

    The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is now under review for emergency authorization by the FDA, with approval expected by the first week of March. But White House coronavirus response coordinator Jeffrey D. Zients said last week that only a few million doses will be ready by then.

    The company has pledged to deliver 100 million doses to the federal government by the end of June. AstraZeneca, which is in the home stretch of U.S. clinical trials for its vaccine, has agreed to provide the country with 300 million doses. Emergent is the primary manufacturer of those medicines.

    From Baltimore, the “viral vector” for the drugs — a concentrated stew of the tamed pathogens that provoke an immune response — is frozen and shipped to other plants for further processing and placement in vials. AstraZeneca declined to reveal details of its supply chain to The Post, but information provided by Johnson & Johnson indicates that the vaccine ingredient produced in Baltimore is sent to the Midwest, and perhaps overseas.

    The headline seems misleading since 400 million number seems to be based on projections. It's not at all clear how much has been made. But I guess since they've promised to deliver so much and it hasn't been approved yet, they're probably stockpiling most of it?

    2 votes
  9. Muffin
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    Seems that Finland is moving forward with tighter methods in order to contain the outbreaks that are on the rise. It seems that they finally will have the power to order bars to close for now.

    Seems that Finland is moving forward with tighter methods in order to contain the outbreaks that are on the rise. It seems that they finally will have the power to order bars to close for now.

    2 votes
  10. skybrian
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    Philippines offers nurses in exchange for vaccines from Britain, Germany [...] [...] [...]

    Philippines offers nurses in exchange for vaccines from Britain, Germany

    The Philippines will let thousands of its healthcare workers, mostly nurses, take up jobs in Britain and Germany if the two countries agree to donate coronavirus vaccines, a senior official said on Tuesday.

    [...]

    Britain said there were 11,000 more nurses working in the National Health Service than last year. It said that while it was grateful to the 30,000 Filipinos working for the NHS, Britain did not need to trade vaccines for more.

    [...]

    Calls to Germany’s mission in Manila went unanswered.

    [...]

    While Filipino nurses have fought to lift the deployment ban to escape poor working conditions and low pay at home, the workers-for-vaccine plan has not gone down well with some medical workers.

    “We are disgusted on how nurses and healthcare workers are being treated by the government as commodities or export products,” Jocelyn Andamo, secretary general of the Filipino Nurses United, told Reuters.