Underselling the Vaccine

Underselling the Vaccine

2021-01-18 11:31:18

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Early in the pandemic, many health experts – in the U.S. and around the world – decided that the public could not be trusted to hear the truth about masks. Instead, the experts are spreading a misleading message and discouraging the use of masks.

Their motivation was mostly good. It grew out of concerns that people would rush to buy high-quality medical masks, leaving too little for doctors and nurses. The experts were also unsure how much plain masks would help.

But the message was still a mistake.

It confused people. (If masks weren't effective, why did doctors and nurses need them?) It slowed widespread use of masks (although there were good reasons to believe they could help). And it has damaged the credibility of public health experts.

"When people feel they may not be getting the full truth from the authorities, snake oil sellers and price gougers have it easier," sociologist Zeynep Tufekci wrote early last year.

Now a version of the mask story is repeating – this time with regard to the vaccines. Again, the experts don't seem to trust the public to hear the full truth.

This issue is important and complex enough that I'm going to make today's newsletter a little longer than usual. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to send me an email at [email protected].

Right now, the public discussion about the vaccines is rife with warnings about their limitations: They are not 100 percent effective. Even vaccinated people can potentially spread the virus. And people shouldn't change their behavior once they take a picture.

These warnings have a basis in the truth, just as it is true that masks are imperfect. But the sum of the warnings is misleading, as I learned from several doctors and epidemiologists last week.

"It kind of drives me crazy," said Dr. Ashish Jha, Dean of the Brown School of Public Health.

"We endorse the vaccine," said Dr. Aaron Richterman, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Pennsylvania.

"It's going to save your life – that's where the focus should be now," said Dr. Peter Hotez from Baylor College of Medicine.

Moderna and Pfizer's vaccines are "essentially 100 percent effective against serious illness," said Dr. Paul Offit, the director of the Vaccine Education Center at Children's Hospital in Philadelphia. "It's ridiculously encouraging."

Here's my best effort to summarize what we know:

  • The Moderna and Pfizer vaccines – the only two approved in the US – are among the best vaccines ever created, with an effectiveness rate of about 95 percent after two doses. That is in line with the vaccines against chicken pox and measles. And a vaccine doesn't even need in order to be effective in greatly reducing cases and quelling a pandemic.

  • If anything, the 95 percent number underestimate its effectivenessbecause anyone who came up with a mild case of Covid-19 is considered a failure. But turning Covid into a typical flu – as the vaccines apparently did for most of the remaining 5 percent – is actually a success. Of the 32,000 people who use it Moderna or Pfizer vaccine in a research study, would you like to guess how many contracted a serious Covid case? A.

  • While no rigorous study has yet analyzed whether vaccinated people can spread the virus, it would be surprising if they did. "If there is an example of a vaccine in widespread clinical use that has this selective effect – prevents disease but not infection – I can't think of one!" Dr. Paul Sax from Harvard has written in The New England Journal of Medicine. (And no, exclamation marks aren't common in medical journals.) Dr. Monica Gandhi of the University of California, San Francisco, argued, "You can be assured that YOU ARE SAFE after being vaccinated from what matters – disease and spread."

  • The risks to vaccinated people are still not zero, because almost nothing in the real world is zero risk. A small percentage of people can develop allergic reactions. And I am curious what the studies on the spread after vaccination ultimately show. But the evidence so far suggests the vaccines are comparable to a cure.

Offit told me to greet them with the same enthusiasm as the polio vaccine: "It should be this rallying cry."

Why do many experts convey a more negative message?

Again, their motivations are usually good. As academic researchers, they are instinctively cautious, inclined to emphasize any uncertainty. Many may also be nervous that vaccinated people will stop wearing masks and social distance, which in turn can cause unvaccinated people to stop. If that happened, the death toll would increase even higher.

But the best way to convince people to be safe is usually to tell them the truth. "Not being completely open because you want to achieve some kind of behavioral public health goal – people will eventually see through that," Richterman said. The current approach also feeds skepticism against vaccines as well conspiracy theories.

On TikTok in December, Nathan Evans, a 26-year-old Scottish postman and musician, shared a black and white video in which he sang a sea slip – a traditional sailor song – called "May Wellerman come soon. In the following weeks, Sea Shanty TikTok was born.

Professional musicians, people driving cars even a Kermit the Frog doll shared videos of herself singing along. There were electro remixes. Some people started to cover other songs, Like it "StarBy Smash Mouth, in a shanty style.

While the genre may seem strange to go viral, the songs are relatively easy to learn. They also lend themselves well to collaboration, which encourages TikTok's features. An original purpose of the sea slip was to promote the community, as sailors worked long hours on board a ship.

"They are unifying, survivalist songs designed to transform a huge group of people into one collective body, all working together to keep the ship afloat," Kathryn VanArendonk writes in Vulture. And they are especially suited to a time when people are desperate to connect.

Spanakopita, the classic Greek spinach and feta pie, inspired this fried pasta.

Directed by Sam Pollard, & # 39; MLK / FBI & # 39; uses long-classified documents to investigate the intimidation of the F.B.I. from the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Hear new songs from Flo Milli, Lana Del Rey and more, including a song with the one-day streaming record on Spotify.


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