CDC Changes Mask Guidance

The CDC just recommended that vaccinated individuals begin wearing masks again when indoors which is a bit of a reversal from their recommendation made about two months ago.

I say a “bit” because they state it applies to places with high covid transmission rates, so it’s not exactly universal.

For example, regions like the northeast and upper Midwest are still seeing relatively low infection rates, so I’m guessing masks are not needed indoors in those places per the CDC. But the delta variant has caused notable spikes in Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Florida, so the guidance would apply in those locations.

You can check the transmission rates for very state here.

The CDC also recommends that everyone in grade schools wear masks indoors, “including teachers, staff, students and visitors, regardless of vaccination status.”

While cases are growing rapidly, hospitalizations and deaths are also growing but at lower rates than cases. They are also not anywhere near what they were during peak times. Take a look at the death rates below — it is still extremely low despite the quick rise in cases and it doesn’t mirror the uptick. I know deaths tend to lag but I don’t see any noticeable change in trajectory close to what we see with new cases right now.

Here is a look at the uptick:

What does it mean that there is a sharp uptick in new cases but not deaths? As a non-expert, I’m not sure but it sure does seem like a sign that this surge may not be as serious as prior surges.

What does this mean for masks on planes?

Currently, the federal mask mandate — which applies to trains, planes and airports, buses, and transportation hubs — extends to September 13, 2021.

Some experts are predicting another surge from the delta variant that could peak sometime between September and October, so this could mean another extension of this deadline.

However, it looks like airlines like Southwest are not recommending another extension of the mask mandate. They do state that they will back guidance from the CDC, though.

If the CDC is mostly guided by new cases, I think there’s a good chance we’ll see the federal mask mandate extended — probably announced sometime next month.

But if they are giving more weight to deaths and hospitalizations, the situation may not be so bad.

The problem is that some parts of the country will be much worse than others due to giant disparities in vaccination rates which makes it difficult to apply a federal mandate fairly across the country.

So while I’m hoping for an end to the mask mandates, it seems like that might be a bit further down the road. We’ll see.

Vaccine efficacy rates explained

If you’re thinking about getting vaccinated you might be wondering about the difference between the different types of vaccines.

Apart from the logistical differences, the biggest factor most people want to know about is the “efficacy rate” of the vaccine.

Some of the vaccines like the Pfizer and Moderna show an effective rate from clinical trials of ~95%.

Meanwhile, others like the AstraZeneca/Oxford and Johnson & Johnson had an efficacy rate of around 66%.

For that reason a lot of people are not interested in the AstraZeneca/Oxford and Johnson & Johnson vaccines but these numbers can be misleading.

I would highly recommend you watch the video below and share it to anybody that you think would find it useful. It breaks down the vaccines in a clear manner and helps highlight the true benefit of these vaccines.


The FDA panel to consider authorizing the use of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine is taking place as we speak.

If everything goes as planned, we might see the vaccines authorized very soon and millions of Americans will begin receiving the virus before the holidays.

But one big looming question is who will be willing to actually take the vaccine?

We need nearly 70% of the population to receive the vaccine in order to establish herd immunity via a vaccine according to some reports.

But will it even be possible to get that many people to receive the vaccine?

The latest data shows that Americans are becoming increasingly more willing to receive the coronavirus vaccine.

In fact, the willingness to take the vaccine is now up to 63% of Americans.

That’s pretty encouraging but we are still not at the high point of acceptance yet.

Back in the summer, polls indicated that around 66% of Americans said that they would be willing to take the coronavirus vaccine.

But as the weeks went on that rate dropped down to 50% as news about potential complications came out about certain vaccines.

A lot of people also believed that the push for the vaccine was inherently political. People believed that politics would push the FDA to approve the vaccines before they were actually ready for the public.

But since then, we have seen the willingness of Americans to take the coronavirus vaccine steadily grow.

Why is that?

It is probably a combination of factors but one large reason has to be the high success rates of these vaccines.

We’ve seen data show that these vaccines are 95% effective.

And the trials that involve tens of thousands of participants do not show significant complications or side effects for the vast majority of people.

So up to this point, the major vaccines look like they are highly effective and also safe.

There is probably a good possibility that this willingness to take the vaccine will continue to grow as more people get vaccinated.

Many Americans will likely be less nervous when people that they know receive the coronavirus vaccine and do not present any major complications.

And as the transmission rates begin to fall due to vaccines, more confidence will likely grow that the vaccines are worth it and are what is needed to get us back to normal.

You can find the full breakdown of the data here.

You’ll see that there are some interesting differences between Democrats and Republicans and even gender.

Here are the side effects of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine

UK becomes first country to approve covid vaccine

This is who is getting the vaccine first

Coronavirus going away? See what the graphs show

The first coronavirus case in North America was discovered in January 2020 and within a month the first known cases of community spread appeared.

By mid-March, all 50 states, the District of Columbia, New York City, and four U.S. territories had reported cases of COVID-19.

And as we are all too familiar with, the next nine months consisted of cases ramping up more and more as economies closed and hospitals became overwhelmed.

But now as of late January 2021 it looks like we are likely over the worst of the worst.

In other words, we have probably hit the peak and are now on the way down, hopefully at a fast rate with vaccine distribution and increased immunity among those previously infected.

Take a look at the graph from CNN that shows the seven day moving average for coronavirus cases.

We are clearly on a downward trend after peaking in the middle of January.

Although there are still a large number of cases happening every day, the sight of that graph dropping steeply is quite beautiful. We are now at a drop of more than 33% from the peak.

The number of hospitalizations are also dipping at what looks like a similar trend.

Hospitals getting overwhelmed has always been one of the biggest concerns and one of the main reasons for lockdowns so it is extremely encouraging to also see the graph dropping.

The deaths look like they are still on a bit of an upswing or at least plateauing but that is expected because the figures related to deaths always lag behind.

(It could take weeks for the deaths to catch up to the trends for the cases.)

Even though this is still a bit of a somber time because January was the country’s deadliest month of the pandemic, it’s hard to not look at these graphs and start to be encouraged about what is around the corner.

It’s still possible that an additional surge could appear, especially with the multiple variants of strains that have been discovered in the US.

However, it appears that the vaccines are effective against these strains.

As CNN noted:

“Evidence indicates the effectiveness of vaccine-induced antibodies might be diminished against the mutant first seen in South Africa, but ‘it’s still well within the cushion-range of being an effective vaccine,’ Fauci said.

Moderna and Pfizer both say experiments indicate their vaccines will protect people against the new variants. And even though it believes its current two-dose vaccine will be effective, Moderna said it would develop a potential booster shot against this variant, just to be safe.”

So while it is too early to let our guard down now, I think we will really start to see the light at the end of the tunnel beginning next month and especially in March.


Here are the side effects of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine

Coronavirus vaccines have already started to go out in the UK and very soon it’s likely that they will get approved for distribution within the US.

The first recipients of the vaccines will be a targeted segment of the population which will include people like health workers and residents of long-term care facilities,.

As these vaccines start to go out, a lot of people will be wondering about the side effects of the vaccine.

Well, we just got a really good overview of what to expect in terms of side effects with the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine.

First, it’s worth noting that the FDA stated that the vaccine showed no safety concerns that could threaten an emergency authorization.

So from a high level, there are no major safety concerns which is pretty encouraging. (These results are based on the clinical trial which included over 40,000 participants.)

The most common side effects were pain at the injection site, fatigue, and headaches. Other side effects including things like muscle pain, joint pain, and the chills.

Just how many people experience side effects?

UCSF Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Peter Chin-Hong said 25-50% of 75,000 patients involved in the Pfizer and Moderna trials experienced some side effects.

So there’s a possibility that only about half of the population will experience side effects.

But the side effects should not worry most people.

For one, they are temporary and typically last only about a day in those who experience them.

Experts remind people that the side effects are also just a result of your body’s natural immune system response.

“It’s your body’s immune system trying to get activated because it’s seeing this new thing and the way that it gets activated is the way you’re feeling which is inflammation,” Chin-Hong said.

“The virus is not in the vaccine, this vaccine is completely infection-free.”

Interestingly, it seems that the second round of the vaccine seems to trigger more of the side effects.

A CNBC article reports one account of someone who did the trial vaccine:

“After the injection, I had the same side effects as the first: localized pain and stiffness, but it was a little bit worse. My arm got sore faster, and by the time I got home, I started feeling fatigued and like anyone would feel if they were coming down with the flu,” said Batalvi.

More significant symptoms presented that evening. “I developed a low-grade fever and had chills,” he said. “That evening was rough.”

So the side effects don’t sound that bad for the most part.

But if you were to experience some of the more severe symptoms like a fever like experience then it’s possible you might want to think about taking a day off of work the day after you receive the vaccine.

So it is probably a good idea to not plan any kind of major commitment or activity days right after you get the vaccine just in case you were to experience some of the more severe symptoms.



UK becomes first country to approve covid vaccine

This is who is getting the vaccine first

“Remarkable” results for vaccine

Joe Biden and 100 days of masks

When Joe Biden likely is sworn in as the next president next year, he is expected to ask the public to go 100 days wearing a mask.

“The first day I’m inaugurated to say I’m going to ask the public for 100 days to mask. Just 100 days to mask, not forever. One hundred days.”

“And I think we’ll see a significant reduction if we occur that, if that occurs with vaccinations and masking to drive down the numbers considerably.” 

This is interesting for a few reasons.

First, a few weeks back, there were rumors that if Joe Biden were to become president he would require a mask mandate across the nation.

This understandably made a lot of people angry and there was a lot of instant opposition to the idea.

Shortly after that, the rumor was dispelled and Biden reportedly stated that he wanted to keep that as a local decision and not a federal mandate.

It’s worth noting that he does plan on making it a requirement to wear a mask inside of government buildings.

“I’m going to issue a standing order that in federal buildings you have to be masked,” he said.

So if you have any plans on visiting government buildings in the next few months, assuming they are open, you’ll likely be required to wear a mask when indoors.

This will also apply to transportation.

He added: “Transportation, interstate transportation, you must be masked, airplanes and buses, et cetera.”

I’ve seen a lot of conflicting reports on the effectiveness of masks.

I’m not a medical expert so I will withhold my opinion on what works and what doesn’t but as a non-expert it is difficult to know who to believe when you see so much conflicting information.

I think the reality is we still don’t definitively know a lot of things about this virus and that is why we have heard so much conflicting and contradictory guidance since March.

I also think that there are so many factors that go into stopping the spread of the virus that it is difficult to point specifically to one action such as wearing masks as the central reason for why numbers go down.

For example, if a city requires masks but also has other measures that prevent people from congregating and socializing, it could be those other measures that are more effective.

Personally, I do wear a mask and believe that it does help to prevent droplets from spreading from the mouth and nose, which in turn would help decrease things like the viral load and rate of spread.

But again I’m not the expert.

I do think that regardless of whether or not people follow this request to wear a mask for 100 days, we will likely see a very positive outcome during that time period.

But the most significant thing that will be happening during those 100 days will be folks getting vaccinated.

We know based on data of tens of thousands of subjects that the vaccines likely to get approved are highly effective at preventing the disease known as the coronavirus.

Masks may help to an extent but I would imagine that the vaccines will be what ultimately yields amazing results in terms of cases declining.


UK becomes first country to approve covid vaccine

The UK just became the first country in the world to approve the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine.

The first doses are already en route to the UK. It is expected that approximately 800,000 will arrive in the coming days.

The top priorities right now in the UK are elderly people and care homes and care home staff members followed by those over 80 years old and health care staff.

Pfizer has one of the more difficult storage requirements which require the vaccines to be stored at very cold temperatures.

Because these temperatures are so cold many facilities will not immediately have the requisite refrigerators needed to store the vaccines.

Therefore, the vaccinations will likely take place at hospitals at least in the beginning.

This, unfortunately, will make things difficult for the very elderly and frail located in care homes.

It is going to present some major logistical challenges and will require some older age groups to travel to the hospitals.

That’s because the vaccines can only be moved once and have to be moved in batches of 1,000.

Many care homes may only have a dozen or so residents who qualify so a lot of vaccines would go to waste if they were delivered directly to the nursing homes.

According to BBC, “The Pfizer/BioNTech jab is the fastest vaccine to go from concept to reality, taking only 10 months to follow the same steps that normally span 10 years.”

That’s either really exciting or a bit scary depending on how you look at it.

I think it’s good to remember that these vaccines have been given to tens of thousands of people and have been shown to be extremely effective with only very mild side effects in a small percentage of people.

The UK has already ordered 40 million doses of the vaccine which should be enough to vaccinate 20 million people since it requires a double dosage.

Based on these vaccines, it looks like the timeline for getting things somewhat back to normal is probably in the spring, around Easter.

UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock stated, “I’m confident now, with the news today, that from spring, from Easter onwards, things are going to be better. And we’re going to have a summer next year that everybody can enjoy.”

 “It’s the protection of vaccines that will ultimately allow us to reclaim our lives and get the economy moving again.”

Approval for the Pfizer vaccine will likely take place next week in the US and we will start seeing dosages go out very soon after that.


This is who is getting the vaccine first

“Remarkable” results for vaccine

Trump claims coronavirus vaccine deliveries will begin as early as next week

This is who is getting the vaccine first

It’s very possible that in just a couple of weeks we will officially have a coronavirus vaccine authorized for use.

And it’s also very possible that within 24 to 48 hours of that authorization, individuals will begin to get the vaccine administered to them.

But who will be first in line to get the vaccine?

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices  — an independent advisory committee within the Centers for Disease Control — has just spoke on that issue.

This panel makes recommendations to the CDC and they almost always accept them so whatever they recommend generally will be coming to practice.

So far, they have described the first phase of the vaccine rollout which will be known as phase 1A.

There are two groups in phase 1A and they represent around 24 million Americans.

There are 21 million healthcare workers and 3 million residents of long-term care facilities, also known as nursing homes.

These will be the top priorities for getting the vaccine out.

It makes a lot of sense that health coworkers will be prioritized given the close proximity that they have with the virus.

And it also makes sense that the elderly at long-term care facilities would also be prioritized considering how quickly their communities can get ravaged.

Some people are worried that some of the elderly people at these facilities might be too weak or frail to withstand the vaccination which requires two dosages.

The side effects are pretty mild and generally would involve flu like symptoms for a day or two for those people who do experience the symptoms.

(Remember, a lot of people don’t experience any noticeable side effects from the vaccination.)

For some elderly people, though, dealing with mild flu like symptoms might prove to be quite a challenge and pose some risk.

Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, acknowledged the concern about giving the vaccine to elderly residents.

“Will the vaccine be as effective in that group? We’ll just have to find out.”

“There’s no right decision here, there’s no wrong decision here,” he added.

So it will be interesting to see what the experts find out about elderly folks receiving the vaccine.

The advisory panel is set to meet again in a couple of weeks to decide who will be next in line.

Most likely this will be people with pre-existing conditions and the panel will have to determine what pre-existing conditions will qualify.



“Remarkable” results for vaccine

Trump claims coronavirus vaccine deliveries will begin as early as next week

When will the vaccines be ready for every day Americans?

“Remarkable” results for vaccine

If you’ve been following the developing vaccines, you know that there has been a lot of positive news released over the last few weeks.

And as more data comes out, the better the outlook for these vaccines tends to be.

The latest good news comes from the Moderna trials that involved 30,000 people.

Only 11 people who received both doses of the vaccine developed coronavirus symptoms after being infected with the virus.

Compare that to the placebo group which had 185 symptomatic cases.

That is a very drastic difference and if you were to consider those numbers at scale, such as when we are talking about millions and millions of people, that would be a huge difference in lives saved.

But that’s not even the remarkable part.

The Moderna vaccine candidate had a 100% efficacy rate against severe disease.

Out of the placebo group, 30 individuals developed severe symptoms while zero individuals who received the vaccine did.

Severe symptoms in this case (I believe) involved people who needed hospitalization.

So this is extremely encouraging.

Although I’m sure we need to wait for more data to roll in and we are still working with sample sizes of “only” around 30,000 people, it looks like vaccines like the Moderna vaccine can make it virtually impossible for someone to suffer severe coronavirus symptoms.

Moreover, not only does it decrease the odds of you getting the disease to a large extent but if you do end up getting it, chances are you will only have to deal with mild symptoms.

Obviously, it is still early when it comes to these vaccines.

I know many people will not feel comfortable getting the vaccine until millions of people have been administered these vaccines which is understandable.

The good news is that they are expected to start shipping out in the middle of next month as long as the emergency use authorization process goes smoothly.

There have been reported side effects of receiving the vaccine such as flu like symptoms but they have been in a small percentage of people and only last for a short amount of time.

I don’t know about you but I would trade off spending a day with mild flu like symptoms if it means a virtual certainty that I will not experience severe coronavirus symptoms.

Moderna plans to charge around $32-$37 per dose in developed countries although there have been talks about the vaccine being made free for some people in the US.

Once the FDA meets with Pfizer on December 10, I think we will have a better idea as to who will be eligible to receive the vaccines early on and what type of costs Americans will be looking at.



Trump claims coronavirus vaccine deliveries will begin as early as next week

When will the vaccines be ready for every day Americans?

More good news for coronavirus vaccine

Trump claims coronavirus vaccine deliveries will begin as early as next week

President Trump yesterday claimed the coronavirus vaccine deliveries will begin as early as next week.

“The whole world is suffering and we are rounding the curve,” Trump said. “And the vaccines are being delivered next week or the week after.”

Trump noted that Frontline workers, medical personnel, and senior citizens will be the vaccines first recipients.

Trump also made a quick jab at Biden about taking credit for the vaccines.

“Joe Biden failed with the swine flu, H1N1, totally failed with the swine flu,” Trump said. 

“Don’t let him take credit for the vaccines because the vaccines were me and I pushed people harder than they’ve ever been pushed before and we got that approved and through and nobody’s ever seen anything like it.” 

Jabs to Biden aside, this is an interesting prediction by Trump.

We know that the FDA meeting for Pfizer’s request for emergency use authorization is not until December 10.

It is after that meeting, perhaps directly after that meeting, that we expect the vaccines to be authorized and immediately made available to certain members of the public.

So if these vaccines started to go out next week, that would be a week earlier than expected.

That’s not a gigantic leap in terms of the overall timeline but anything that helps these vaccines get jumpstarted in a safe way will help society get back on track sooner.

It’s not clear to me exactly what route the vaccines could start going out next week or if Trump knows some thing about the FDA approval process that we don’t know.

(He did mention that they would be coming out possibly the week after next as well.)

Either way, that will be just the beginning of the vaccines getting out.

You can take a look at the entire expected timeline for the vaccines.

It’s expected that the vaccines will become widely available to young healthy people around April or May although if more vaccines are produced, the time could be sooner than expected.



When will the vaccines be ready for every day Americans?

More good news for coronavirus vaccine

How much will the coronavirus vaccines cost?

When will the vaccines be ready for every day Americans?

We’ve been tracking the vaccine stimulus package for several months and it’s been a steady trend of mostly negative news.

For every step taken forward, it seems like five steps were taken backwards.

But luckily, we continue to hear very encouraging news about the coronavirus vaccines.

If you’ve been wondering about what the timeline looks like for when these vaccines can go out to every day Americans, check out the info below.

Let’s start with December 10.

This is a big day because it is when the FDA advisory committee, made up of a bunch of scientific experts, will evaluate Pfizer’s emergency use request.

This meeting is going to be streamed live on different media platforms and after the meeting, the advisory committee will make a recommendation on whether or not to green light the vaccine.

I imagine this meeting will be watched by many people around the world and will be a pretty big news story.

After that decision is made, the FDA will likely authorize the vaccine on that same day and we will be off to the races.

After the Pfizer vaccine is authorized, Americans may start receiving shots within 24 hours.

This could happen around December 11 or 12th.

There will be established guidelines for who should be prioritized for the vaccine.

The first people at the top of the list will be front line healthcare workers and people that stand the highest chances of becoming seriously ill to coronavirus.

These would be people like the elderly and those with pre-existing health conditions.

It’s not clear to me what pre-existing health conditions would qualify at this point nor is it clear how those conditions will need to be proven.

You would think at the minimum people with respiratory or heart related issues would qualify but what about others such as obese people?

I think we are still waiting on clarification for these questions.

In mid December, Moderna will file its emergency use request and the same process will occur.

When it’s all said and done, it’s possible 20 million Americans could get the vaccine before the end of this year.

And then after that, 25 to 30 million Americans may get vaccinated every month.

This means that it would be around April or May when vaccines become widely available to young healthy members of society.

By the time of the late summer, most adults in the US who want to get vaccinated will have access to a vaccine.

If 75% of people or more get vaccinated, herd immunity through vaccination will be reached by the fall of 2021.

So based on my unscientific expertise, it would seem that things will really start to get somewhat back to normal around April or May.

At that point, all of the high-risk people will have been vaccinated for a couple of months and you’re talking about 150 million vaccines that have probably gone out.

That’s nearly half of the population.

When you throw in all of the people who also already have the antibodies, that’s even more.

But I bet it will likely not be until the late summer or early fall that we truly start to look like a pre-Covid society.

One thing to consider is that if additional vaccines are authorized this could expedite the timeline.

So things might be getting back even quicker than the timeline suggests.

At the same time, you never know what could happen and potentially go wrong.

If people start turning into zombies, I’d imagine that we have to push the timeline out a little bit.

But overall the safety of these vaccines looks very good and so I would be surprised if we discovered some major health risk that set everything back.

Plus, there are so many vaccines getting made right now that even if a few of them turned out to be not so great, others would rise to the occasion.



More good news for coronavirus vaccine

How much will the coronavirus vaccines cost?

Breaking: Covid vaccine 94.5% effective

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