Soon May the Vaccine Come...
That table is a wonderful sight. Re: masks, I have seen recommendations to double-mask. I have had good luck with a KF94 (Korean) under a cloth mask with behind-the-head ties. The KF94 does the filtration, and the cloth mask holds it against my face much better than the ear loops, fixing the side leakage quite well.
Thanks for the optimistic article and the wonderful chart! And, I loved the N and O article naming you Tarheel of the Month. Congratulations!
Thank you so much for this. The problem of clinical language being applied without comment in wider communication leads to enormous misunderstanding of simple words such as "effective." Your post helps clear up the confusion.
Congratulations on being named "Tarheel of the Month" by our "neighborhood" paper, the N&O. (I live in Chapel Hill.)
A vaccine-related topic of growing interest and concern is whether vaccination offers any protection against chronic symptoms following COVID-19 infection, the so-called "long haulers syndrome," or "post-acute COVID-19 syndrome." Do you have any information on this?
I've been thinking along the lines of Brent's comment below re herd immunity and also mutations (this Atlantic article about a Brazilian variant was daunting, though I don't fully understand the implications: https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2021/02/coronavirus-pandemic-brazil-variant/617891/) but I really do appreciate the information here and the reminder of how incredible it is that we have vaccines at all, much less this fast. I love that photo and can definitely see the smile! It'll be months before our household gets a shot, but we're looking forward to that day.
Really excellent analysis. Important and timely. What I'm finding more controversial than comparative vaccines is how herd immunity is achieved even after we have enough doses.
I'm in LA where the Times just reported almost half of healthcare workers are refusing vaccination. I have to assume this is a product of bad Internet info. Therefore, does this place the fate of the pandemic in the hands of Biden's stated review of Section 230, or in Sen Klobuchar's (very recent) anti-trust reform bill? It feels like none of our worst problems - your excellent info above, another Capitol Hill coup, etc. - are solved until bad digital media is finally restricted from spoiling our good efforts. Is this too simple a hypothesis? Thanks!
Zeynep, are you familiar with https://radvac.org and do you think it is a good idea to take it?
This is kind of a general comment, but reading this latest one I suddenly had a thought about one thing that makes your writing so distinctive. In the previous "Lessons From A Pandemic," you were alluding to the need for a "metaepistemology" when processing the events of the past year (personally I'm tempted to call your analysis a macroepistemology, or hermeneutics of information -- or just really good applied epistemology around a topic that sorely needed it -- but this is splitting hairs).
Even more striking than your approach to knowledge, though, is something else that comes through in these various pieces. It is more than just an attitude or style. To me it seems almost like a full-fledged metaphilosophy: one having something to do with optimism. By this I don't simply mean your work reflects a fundamental optimism about human nature the way it does for say, Nicholas Christakis or Steven Pinker. Or that you are the opposite of a skeptic, in feeling we can trust our intuitions and perceptions and sources (if anything, the contrary!). It's more like you want to turn the light of skepticism regarding the many ways knowledge can be distorted, miscommunicated, misunderstood or otherwise unstable, and the light of optimism regarding the power of science and knowledge to improve our condition and people's capacity for good under the right conditions, *towards* one another. And your method for pursuing this is via robust, open dialogue in which the dynamics of communication are constantly being foregrounded. In this sense it is an ethics of optimism, but channeled through the epistemological and communicative dimensions of a particular social challenge (such as a pandemic).
To me this seems like an interesting and important project, and a little different, even if it may look the same topographically as what many other commentators seem to be doing.
Your tracking of these issues is helpful to me personally (which is how most of us, well, "filter" and retain this complex, changing information.) I've got travel decisions coming up in March that will involve vaccination timing and consideration of what variants will be floating around the globe this summer.
In the meantime I've been wishing for a big mask chart that shows all the different kinds of masks and filters, which materials are electrostatic, which different layers provide complementary protection, which manufacturers and sellers to trust. Can KN-95s and PM2.5s from China be counterfeit?
The other problem is terminology: is a respirator some kind of high-grade PPE or is it a mask with the (forbidden) exhalation vent? What exactly is a "surgical mask" - is it one of those pleated ones? How exactly are those ubiquitous freebee blue pleated masks made, and are they any good to keep ME from getting sick? What's the difference between construction N95 and medical N95? What's another name for "melt-blown fabric? Is it what I used to buy to face my collars or is it some other kind of sewing fabric? What other mask materials are electrostatic? (Of course, no one knows the answers to some of these questions, and it's hard to tell whether to trust information when one comes across it.)