People who caught Covid in first wave get ‘no immune boost’ from Omicron

Science deniers who expect medical research to be as tidy and predictable as a chapter in a middle school textbook sometimes see conspiracy theory when they look at the twists and turns in the scientific community’s response to the COVID-19. The scientists themselves would say they are doing science in real time, adapting to the evidence they find. That’s why the scientists “keep changing their story,” because science is all about changing your understanding of the world by consulting the best possible evidence. As our understanding of a thing develops, new evidence emerges that sometimes confirms, and sometimes challenges our…

Disability advocates: Don’t drop COVID-19 safety measures

With the lethal threat of COVID-19 on the decline, many colleges are relaxing policies to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Disability advocates fear that high-risk individuals will suffer. “Universities aren’t necessarily listening to disabled students,” said Eiryn Griest Schwartzman, who co-founded COVID Safe Campus, an advocacy organization for students and employees with disabilities. “That push to return to normal has persisted. It gets demoralizing, and it gets harder to continue to advocate. And it could potentially result in people stopping their education if they feel like they don’t have the resources to keep going and feel undersupported.”–Inside Higher Ed

Perspective | Whoops of selfish delight

The whoops echoed through airplanes as flight attendants and pilots announced midair that a judge in Florida had tossed out the federal mask mandate that has been in effect since January 2021. On a Southwest flight from Nashville to Charlotte, passengers hooted and hollered and twirled their freshly ditched masks in the air with giddy delight. They reveled in the knowledge that while they might be required to buckle their seat belt, turn off their cellphone, put their seat backs in the upright position and refrain from smoking on their grueling one-hour-and-20-minute flight, the one thing they would not have…

Mask-wearing cuts Covid incidence by 53%, says global study

Globally, Covid cases exceeded 250 million this month. The virus is still infecting 50 million people worldwide every 90 days due to the highly transmissible Delta variant, with thousands dying each day. Now a systematic review and meta analysis of non-pharmaceutical interventions has found for the first time that mask wearing, social distancing and handwashing are all effective measures at curbing cases – with mask wearing the most effective.  —Guardian

The battle against airborne COVID has shifted. Why your mask is the last layer of defence

There has been a paradigm shift in the thinking behind mask use, to the current emphasis on protecting oneself as opposed to the initial consideration of keeping others safe from what we might be exhaling, said Colin Furness, an infection control epidemiologist at the University of Toronto. “The game has changed,” he said. “We’re not masking to protect others from our own droplets now, we’re masking to protect ourselves from people who are being lackadaisical and reckless.” Added family physician and epidemiologist Dr. Jeff Kwong: “We’re all so fixated on the vaccines, and definitely don’t get me wrong, they’re very…

Axios journalism style delivers traditional news content in scannable format

In addition to the fact that it’s good news that a federal judge is responding rationally to science, logic, and our basic human obligation to care for the most vulnerable members of our society, I’m also interested in the way Axios labels each paragraph of this news story and supplies details with bullet points. It’s an interesting blend of journalism and writing scannable text for busy online readers. Copying and pasting text from the Axios website is annoying because of the embedded non-standard formatting. (I had to recreate the look on my page.) A federal judge ruled Wednesday that Texas…

Election ‘distracted’ Trump team from pandemic response, Birx tells Congress

More than 130,000 American lives could have been saved with swifter action and better coordinated public health messages after the virus’ first wave, Birx told lawmakers. “I believe if we had fully implemented the mask mandates, the reduction in indoor dining, the getting friends and family to understand the risk of gathering in private homes, and we had increased testing, that we probably could have decreased fatalities into the 30-percent less, to 40-percent less range,” Birx said. More than 735,000 Americans have died from coronavirus-related complications since the pandemic began, including more than 300,000 since President Biden took office. Birx…

See How Vaccines Can Make the Difference in Delta Variant’s Impact

Here’s a great NYT “interactive” story that points out, if there’s an outbreak of the virus in a community where most of the people are vaccinated, most of the people who catch the disease will be vaccinated, simply because most of the people have been vaccinated. (I remind my students that if there are more shark attacks on hot days, it’s not the heat that causes the sharks to attack; with more people in the water, more people will encounter sharks, hence more attacks. When there are more people in a community who are vaccinated, the people who do get…

The YouTubers who blew the whistle on an anti-vax plot

While rational minds worry about the impact of biased cable TV channels, and as the Delta mutation spreads globally, a mysterious marketing agency is offering to pay social media influencers to post anti-vax disinformation. Mirko normally ignores offers from brands asking him to advertise their products to his more than 1.5 million subscribers. But the sponsorship offer he received in May this year was unlike any other. An influencer marketing agency called Fazze offered to pay him to promote what it said was leaked information that suggested the death rate among people who had the Pfizer vaccine was almost three…

‘I’m sorry, but it’s too late’: Alabama doctor tells unvaccinated, dying COVID patients

Donald Trump is vaccinated. Mitch McConnell is vaccinated. Fox personalities Hannity and Doocy and FOX owner Rupert Murdock are all vaccinated. “They cry. And they tell me they didn’t know. They thought it was a hoax. They thought it was political. They thought because they had a certain blood type or a certain skin color they wouldn’t get as sick. They thought it was ‘just the flu’. But they were wrong. And they wish they could go back. But they can’t. So they thank me and they go get the vaccine. And I go back to my office, write their…

Vaccine hesitancy morphs into hostility, as opposition to shots hardens

What began as “vaccine hesitancy” has morphed into outright vaccine hostility, as conservatives increasingly attack the White House’s coronavirus message, mischaracterize its vaccination campaign and, more and more, vow to skip the shots altogether. The notion that the vaccine drive is pointless or harmful — or perhaps even a government plot — is increasingly an article of faith among supporters of former president Donald Trump, on a par with assertions that the last election was stolen and the assault on the U.S. Capitol was overblown. —Washington Post

Take a moment to appreciate these good COVID-19 statistics

May 1, my state had the third-highest per-capita C-19 infection rate. A little over a month later, Pennsylvania now has the fifth-lowest rate. I am privileged that I have access to good healthcare and that my income hasn’t been affected by the lockdown, and that my school has taken the initiative to require this fall’s students to show evidence of vaccination (or to apply for accommodations). The pandemic is not over. Some states are seeing a resurgence. And of course the pandemic is still raging in many places around the world. But it’s worth it to take a moment to…

Seton Hill discontinues mask requirement for vaccinated individuals

The pandemic is not over. It’s a blessing to live in a country with the resources to acquire and distribute vaccines, and a privilege to work for an employer that respects science and cares for the public good. The email arrived while I was at home relaxing with the family. Seton Hill is no longer requiring masks for vaccinated adults, and students will be asked to show proof of vaccination in order to be permitted on campus without restrictions in the fall. (Students who aren’t vaccinated “will be permitted to apply for appropriate exemptions,” according to the email from President…

Fact check: You can safely ignore that “HOW TO FIGHT COVID AT HOME” meme

I noticed this meme a few days ago. I recognized the “friend of a friend who has insider knowledge” formula that makes people want to share a memes. I know better than to trust anonymous online sources that claim to have special knowledge, so I just re-read what the CDC says and moved on. Here are links to what the CDC says: Symptoms of coronavirus How to protect yourself How to care for someone who is sick What to do if you are sick Regarding the distracting and misleading meme, Snopes pointed out some non-trivial issues with the advice in…

Swiss cheese metaphor for fighting the pandemic: “Multiple Layers Improve Success”

The anti-maskers are right when they say masks aren’t 100% effective. The pro-face-touchers are right when they say not touching your face isn’t enough. The bar-hoppers and close-talkers and eaters-in-crowded-diners are right when they say social distancing alone won’t stop the spread of a pandemic. The “98.2% survival rate” crowd is right that most people who get COVID-19 don’t die. But the more steps each of us takes (staying home; masking up and staying away from each other when we do go out) the better off we all are. The “98.2 percent survival crowd” is dangerously fixating on a tiny…

I’m glad President Trump was right about the coronavirus vaccine

In May, NBC published a “Fact Check” challenging President Trump’s prediction that there would be a coronavirus vaccine by the end of the year.   NBC was factually reporting the answers they got when they asked experts. Those experts didn’t say there would be no vaccine, they said it would be extremely unlikely. The fact that an unlikely thing happened is not evidence of a media conspiracy against the 45th president.   The president also claimed in early November that a vaccine rollout would happen in a couple of weeks, but if he was right then, it’s been a long…