Updates to the Skills to Obstruct Pandemics Tutor

30apr21-fer, Comments from: Fenstermacher, James, Clase, Yeh, Harvill, Garrison, Joseph, Owens

[URLs need to be numbered and put into all URLS on a page (tm)]

COVID-19 Vaccines Are Here to Help! Get the First One Available to You

Vaccines train your immune system to fight off the virus if you are exposed. There are now several vaccines in the US (Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson&Johnson) that have received Emergency Use Authorization from the FDA. Having this vaccine developed so fast can make some people nervous about its safety. It is important to understand that because this was a world-wide pandemic a lot of resources, collaboration, and building upon already tested and researched technology was used. These vaccines were not made from scratch, they were built on decades of already in-progress research.

The benefits of these vaccines seem to outweigh the risks. Their risks appear to be low (small number of side effects), and the benefits appear to be high (relatively and in absolute terms, very effective). The authors and advisors of the tutor have been getting vaccinated as they become eligible. There appear to be no substantial differences between the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines from a patient's perspective, and the Johnson&Johnson vaccination appears to be more deployable and just as effective in preventing serious disease and death. [Mayo Clinic on them]. The general consensus is that you should get the first vaccine that is available to you as soon as it is available (for example, this MD on YouTube).

Once you have been fully vaccinated and the vaccine has 'taken' (it takes two to four weeks for protection to develop), you will be far less likely to get infected. If you do become infected, being vaccinated also appears to almost eliminate death from COVID-19—after the period it takes for immunity to develop.

Getting the vaccine helps protect you and also helps protect your household and community. It is also not completely clear, but if you are vaccinated you are also likely to shed less virus if you get infected. If you shed less virus then you are less likely to contribute to the cycle of infection. That helps protect people who cannot or will not get vaccinated (allergies to vaccines, extremely weakened immune systems) and people in your household and community.

Finally, the faster we can vaccinate more people the less time there is for mutations to develop. Long term, less infection can help save further trouble from mutations that arise from the number of cases.

Read more: How the vaccines were developed so quickly

Read more: CDC Guidance for fully vaccinated

Read more: Article on how to find vaccinations with links

Read more: CDC Guidance for activity safety level for vaccinated and unvaccinated [v. nice poster]


The role of room ventilation is being seen as more important

There is increasing CDC guidance [airborne transmission and when to quarantine] that (a) being inside in a poorly ventilated space (even at more than 6 feet), (b) for more than 15-30 min., (c) even with masks on, can be seen as a potential infection source when contract tracing. Thus, you should try to avoid these spaces, times, and people outside your quaran-team when you are trying to reduce the spread or trying not to catch it yourself (which are not exclusive to each other). This is explained further in a recent detailed article by a critical care physician and in an international newspaper in a more accessible form. And, thus, the role of transmission through touch will be seen as far less likely.

Read more: Ventilation in buildings by the CDC

(source: W.H.O.)


Masks Really Do Work

Masks work, particularly inside. There has been too much disucssion about whether masks work. They work. They do not work perfectly, but nearly all masks reduce the transmission of viral dose coming into and out from a person.

To the extent that masks work, the better the filter (in and out), the better they work to reduce spreading infection. Double masking counts in this area. They are not twice as a effective, but they will help reduce the spread. Harvard Health notes this in a recent update page.

In many cases, if you cannot wear a mask, you should not be out shopping and should use alternatives. If you have eczema, you can wear masks, but should clean them often and have them made from cloth. An Internet search will provide additional information.


A Further Reason to Stop the Spread: Virus Variants May Lead to Further Pandemics

Variants in viruses constantly occur and the great majority do not significantly change the infectivity or lethality of the virus. We cannot predict which variants will be a problem. We have to monitor them as we do for influenza strains and adjust vaccines as necessary.

There are variants to the SARS-CoV-2 virus developing that are more infectious and sometimes have greater mortality. These may lead to a whole new infection cycle. The basic concepts in the tutor and book apply to all respiratory diseases, thus the skills will also help reduce the spread and impact of variants. So, please continue to practice applying these skills. Decreasing the number of cases has the additional benefit of decreasing the chances for dangerous variants to arise.