By Lily H-A
From PHN Issue 47, Fall 2021
A newer variant of the COVID-19 virus called the delta variant, which is more than twice as contagious as earlier variants of the virus, is now the most common coronavirus variant in the US. Earlier in the summer, US cases had dropped to some of their lowest levels since the beginning of the pandemic, but now the delta variant is driving new surges. In the US, Southern states are currently most affected. Hospitals in some heavy-hit areas have reached their capacity. Many states, after rolling back COVID-19 restrictions earlier in the summer, are putting some restrictions back in place. There have also been new lockdowns in some jails and prisons after outbreaks.
Based on data coming out so far, it seems like the currently available vaccines are still very good at preventing serious illness, hospitalizations and deaths from the delta variant. The large majority of hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19 are people who were not vaccinated, and spread of COVID-19 seems to be worse in communities with low vaccination rates. But, vaccines do seem to offer less protection from people getting milder cases of COVID-19 with the delta variant, and spreading it to others, than with earlier variants.
By Lily H-A
From PHN Issue 46, Spring/Summer 2021
On February 27, 2021, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a third COVID-19 vaccine, developed by Johnson & Johnson (J&J, sometimes called “Janssen”) under the same shortened process as the other two currently approved vaccines (Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna).
The J&J vaccine only requires one dose instead of two, and doesn’t need ultra-cold refrigeration, so it’s easier to distribute. It also uses slightly different technology from Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccines. All three vaccines work by making the cells in your body produce harmless proteins that look like parts of the coronavirus, which teaches your immune system how to recognize and destroy the actual coronavirus if it enters your body. Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccines use a messenger called mRNA to do this, while J&J’s uses a deactivated virus called an adenovirus. This deactivated virus cannot infect you, and is not the same as the coronavirus.
By Lily H-A
From PHN Issue 45, Winter 2021
There are two COVID-19 vaccines currently being used in the US as of late January. One is made by Pfizer-BioNTech and the other by Moderna. People understandably have a lot of questions about the vaccines and we will try to answer some of them here.