Friday, August 20, 2021

Class, I'd like to correct something I said about the Covid vaccine.


Good morning class. It's come to my attention that a number of you are confused about what you're hearing about maybe needing a Covid "booster" shot.  So I thought it would be a good idea to review what we learned earlier in the semester and hopefully clear up any confusion. 

Who wants to remind us why public health experts were so excited back at the end of last year, 2020 to announce that a vaccine for the Covid 19 virus had been developed? 

Josh: The government experts, well everyone was excited.  Dr. Fauci said that the vaccine ( I think Pfizer) has "absolutely exquisite levels 94 to 95% efficacy against clinical disease."  I remember my mother told me that one of the scientists who developed the first Covid vaccine was a black woman.  That was so cool to hear. 

Margarite:  I wrote a report about this.  Back in Jan 2021 they set a goal for the public: 1 million shots in arms in the first 100 days!  

Deshawn:  Yea but at the same time there were some  "mutant" strains ( I like that word - mutant!) I think in England and Africa.  But Dr Fauci said, Moderna and Pfizer vaccines seem to continue to be protective against the mutant strain. It is a very minor diminution. But the cushion that you have of efficacy is so large that it's not going to negatively impact.

Teacher:  Thank all.  So class, back in January the vaccine was new and scientists knew it worked to protect people but, and this is an important "but",  some experts were looking ahead to see how well the vaccines would protect us if there were new strains or forms of the virus.  Next week we'll be learning about the evolution of vaccines and strains, but right now let's stay focused on the fact that the new vaccines "worked."

What do experts mean when we say the new vaccine worked.  

Who wants to explain that? 

Carlise: That means if you get the shot, actually the 2 shots, then you won't get sick with Covid.

Teacher: OK Thank you Carlise.  Anyone else?

Tamara:  And if everybody got vaccinated the virus would die out - go away. YEA!

Angel: And if you didn't get the vaccine you could get the Covid virus and get very sick. You wouldn't have any protection.  And some of the reasons why some people didn't get the shot was they were scared, or they didn't have enough information, or because of politics. 

Teacher:  OK  So my question is this - pretty soon people in NYC will be able to get a "booster."  
Why would we need a booster if the vaccine worked?  

I'll give you a hint. 

True Dr. Fauci and other health experts, from the start, have been celebrating the arrival of the Covid vaccines and urging everyone to get the shots. 
But if you listened or read carefully you would have seen that scientists were sometimes careful to say that the vaccines had very high efficacy "against serious disease." Or, in we were reading a science study for a professional journal - and don't worry we won't be doing that this year - we would have read about findings like this - researchers found a high (78%) efficacy for prevention of moderate to severe disease after vaccination.

Anybody want to explain this to the class? 

OK I am not surprised there's still confusion.  So now we're going to talk about what the vaccine was designed to actually do. And then we'll look at the nature of immunology. 

Before that. Let's take a quick break. 


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