2021-02-03 11:26:32 | Superspreader Sunday? – The New York Times

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Story by: David Leonhardt The New York Times World News

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I’ve heard from many readers who want this newsletter to continue paying attention to vaccine news. So here goes: There have been more encouraging developments.

  • AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford released data showing that none of the 12,408 people who had received a vaccine shot died from Covid symptoms or were hospitalized with them. That’s consistent with earlier results for that vaccine, as well as initial results for four other vaccines — from Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, Novavax and Pfizer.

  • Researchers found that the AstraZeneca vaccine also slows the transmission of the virus, underscoring the importance of mass vaccination as a path out of the pandemic.

  • A peer-reviewed study published in The Lancet, a British medical journal, found that Russia’s vaccine, known as Sputnik V, also offered complete protection against serious Covid illnesses. Dr. Angela Rasmussen of Georgetown University called it “great news” and added, “We need more vaccines globally.” (Related: The New Yorker’s Joshua Yaffa and The Times’s Andrew Kramer, who are both based in Moscow, have written about why they got the Sputnik vaccine.)

  • An important caveat: The vaccines’ protection doesn’t kick in immediately. It often takes at least a couple of weeks.

  • The British government said that a variant of the virus first observed there had the potential to make the vaccines less effective. But that’s less alarming than it may sound. For now, the concern is hypothetical: No data shows the vaccines to be ineffective on the British variant. Even if they are less effective, other evidence suggests that modest levels of vaccine protection may almost always be enough to downgrade Covid to an ordinary flu.

  • “Lately, when I talk to reporters, they expect me to be very worried about Covid variants. But I’m not,” Dr. Ellie Murray of the Boston University School of Public Health wrote on Twitter. “Why? Because we know what works to control Covid.” She is more worried about “the lack of action” to promote social distancing, encourage mask wearing and accelerate vaccination, she added.

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  • The Senate voted along party lines on a procedural step that will let Democrats avoid a filibuster on President Biden’s coronavirus relief package and pass it with a straight majority.

  • Biden signed three executive orders on immigration, including one that aims to reunite migrant families that the Trump administration separated. Officials and immigration advocates cautioned that the changes would not happen immediately.

  • The Biden administration announced new efforts to speed up vaccinations, including sending doses to retail pharmacies.

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Source References: The New York Times World News

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