Vaccines! Updates on vaccines!

Plus the latest on national school data and long-term effects of COVID

Lots going on so we’ll get right into it!

Dear COVIDExplained: I’m curious what you make of the reporting around long-term effects? I understand the CDC is just beginning to study this, but how does the current data hold up?

A great question—we’re not going to do a deep dive here for the reason pointed out in the question itself. Research on long-term effects is in its infancy and although 2020 has felt much longer than 11 months (believe us, we know), the pandemic did only begin about a year ago. Clinical consensus seems to be that there is no well-established definition of “postacute COVID-19.”

CDC does report, however, that the most commonly reported long-term symptoms include fatigue, shortness of breath, cough, joint pain, and chest pain. Serious long-term complications appear less common but have still been reported. These include inflammation of the heart muscle, lung function abnormalities, smell and taste problems, and deficits in memory. 

Vaccine supply struggles

Yesterday, reports emerged that Pfizer (maker of a leading vaccine candidate expected to get FDA regulatory clearance this month) decided to cut (by half!) its estimate of how many doses of vaccine it will produce this year partly due to supply chain issues.

But why is this important? And what does it mean for you? 

Basically, we wanted to include this news to slightly temper expectations and add a dash of realism to the exuberance around vaccine developments we’ve been seeing in recent days. While the rapid development of vaccines is undoubtedly something to celebrate, actually delivering doses of the vaccine will come with no shortage of hiccups and challenges. 

And we’ve featured it before, but we’ll do it again: here’s one of our favorite vaccine trackers

California to impose strongest virus measures since spring

These new measures include the closing of outdoor dining and playgrounds, and will be focused on Central and Southern California.

We wanted to include this headline because we felt it to be representative of what’s happening in many places around the country—perhaps including where you live—as COVID case counts continue to spike. 

As a bit of reassurance, though, the basic principles around preventing spread remain the same. Stay socially distanced, wear a mask, wash your hands frequently—you know the drill. 

We’ve got a new feature for you! Enrolled districts can now have their own individual dashboards. If you or your district is interested, you can find more information here

Some more reassurance even as case counts increase: among the enrolled sample, the student case rate (daily per 100,000) is 15 and the staff case rate is 24. As we noted a few issues back, infection rates within schools appear to reflect infection rates within the larger community: the community case rate in a school matched population is 18. 

Please feel free to share your thoughts, questions, and concerns — you can get a hold of us via email, Twitter, Instagram, and the site itself.