Tag Archives: Moderna

This Tiny Country Beat COVID

On the southern tip of Spain, the tiny UK territory of Gibraltar has vaccinated almost its entire population. COVID deaths have dropped to zero:

Life is beginning to get back to normal. Masks are no longer required outside, curfews are gone, and bars and restaurants are full. Even sporting events have resumed:

Events have also returned to the Rock as Gibraltar hosted what’s thought to be the first fully vaccinated major sporting fixture in the world on Saturday.

Five hundred spectators, each tested for Covid-19 prior to the event, were able to witness British heavyweight fighter Dillian Whyte claim victory over Russia’s Alexander Povetkin at Gibraltar’s Europa Sports Complex.

The fight, called the Rumble on the Rock, was originally meant to take place at the Matchroom HQ, a venue in southeastern England, but was switched to Gibraltar thanks to its Covid-19 safe environment.

Soccer fans were also allowed to witness sporting matches starting with Gibraltar’s World Cup qualifier clash against the Netherlands on Tuesday.

Victoria Stadium welcomed 600 attendees who had previously received two doses of the vaccine and tested negative for the virus on the day of the match.

Only 3% of residents refused the vaccine, which may be one reason why Gibraltar’s results are so good. That may be difficult to recreate in the US or other nations, but Gibraltar provides a welcome view of what life could look like soon as the world races to vaccinate.

I encourage you to get your shot if you haven’t already. Let’s get back to normal life!

For more on COVID and vaccines, check out these posts:

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Photo: “Gibraltar – Rosia” by Roy McGrail (krm gib) is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

I Got The Moderna Vaccine! Here’s What It’s Like.

At 1:48pm today New Jersey time, I got my vaccine!

I’ve been waiting for this moment for many months, and I’m so grateful to have a chance to get it. It was the Moderna vaccine and I got it through the Hudson County vaccination site. So far, I feel 100%!

Having lived through the dark period of spring 2020 in the New York City area, when sirens were almost constant and my neighbors were dying in huge numbers, reaching this moment is cathartic. It prompted a lot of feelings for me: relief, gratitude, and hope!

So, what’s it like? This is a drive through site, and I don’t own a car, so I took an Uber. The driver very patiently waited with me in the lengthy line to get the jab. Many cars slowly snaked ahead in the cold snow.

Once we finally made it to the front, I showed a QR code on my phone that the county had e-mailed me. Shortly therafter, the nurse came up and asked if I had been feeling sick today. Then, she gave me the shot!

I barely felt a thing, which was surprising. Since then, I’ve had no side effects that I can discern. I hope it stays that way!

Just after the shot, we took the picture above. It’s actually staged…she had already given me the jab before we ever thought to document the moment for posterity! So she posed with the needle near my arm, and I took a snap to record this wonderful moment in my life that I’ve waited so long for.

“This is a historic moment,” she said. I agreed.

If you’re still trying to get an appointment, don’t give up! I’ve been checking every area provider’s website repeatedly for months. And I almost wasn’t going to check again today, but I did, and found an appointment for just 90 minutes away! Perhaps someone cancelled last minute. The best strategy seems to be to check over and over.

Now, I can begin to plan for a life after COVID. A week after the 2nd dose, which will be around the end of March, it should have achieved its full 94% efficacy. I will finally be able to get on a plane and visit my mom for the first time since December 2019! And I’m looking forward to getting some great protection even sooner: just 2 weeks after the first dose, the vaccine is 80% effective.

I really encourage everyone to get this vaccine, although I know each person has to make their own decision. COVID may be something to fear, but this really isn’t! If I didn’t keel over after, you won’t either! 🙂

A New Strategy for Getting More People Vaccinated Faster

If the average benefit from a booster is only 5%,(increasing efficacy from 90 to 95%), then intuitively it seems logical that this dose is better used by giving it to another individual without any vaccination to increase their immunity from 0 to 90%.

A number of researchers have proposed getting first COVID vaccine doses to as many people as possible right away, instead of holding back vaccine to give as 2nd doses later. A new paper released today estimates that we could immunize everyone much more quickly given this approach.

Most of the protection comes from the first dose, so getting more first doses out should be able to protect more people than reserving doses so people can get a second one.

The clinical trials did not delay 2nd doses, so this approach is somewhat speculative. However, the paper shows that even if immune function drops off significantly with just one dose, getting more doses out faster leads to faster herd immunity.

This is being done in Canada and the UK. Former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb favors it. It may be time to give this innovative approach a try in the United States.

How Israel Is Vaccinating More People Than Anywhere Else On Earth

Israel has vaccinated over a million people in a matter of weeks, moving faster than any other country in the world. About 12% of its population have now received a dose, compared to under 1% in the United States. 70% of the elderly should be vaccinated by the end of this week.

It would be easy to attribute Israel’s speed to its small size and population density. But New Jersey, where I live, has vaccinated only 72,000 people, a rate no better than the national average. So how do you explain Israel’s success?

Israel’s health system is highly centralized and is contacting people who are eligible to get them in for their vaccine. We are expecting those who are eligible to find a vaccination site themselves, which means navigating a fragmented system that sometimes announces available vaccines on Facebook or websites that repeatedly crash.

We have people’s age and residence information available through the Social Security Administration and the IRS. Why are we not using that data to encourage the elderly to get their doses? And why are we not building a central portal for Americans to find out when and where they can be vaccinated?

Israel’s eligibility criteria are broader than in the US, with anyone over age 60 eligible. In the US, we have tight eligibility criteria and few people being vaccinated. This benefits no one as doses sit unused.

Israel also avoids wasting doses at the end of the day by giving doses at risk of spoilage to anyone who wants them.

With a more centralized system, broader eligibility notifications to those eligible, and policies to avoid waste, we could protect our fellow Americans at a much faster rate. Now that we have a solution, it’s a crime to let it sit unused.

What It’s Like to Get the Moderna COVID Vaccine

About ninety minutes ago, my dear friend Laura* received the Moderna COVID vaccine. She’s the first person I know to receive the Moderna one, and she reports that she hasn’t felt a thing so far. No pain or side effects of any kind.

Laura works in a medical facility and got severely ill with COVID this spring. I’m very happy for her that she is now protected as she goes about her work of protecting others.

She sent me a picture she took right after, and she looked more happy and relaxed than she has in a long time. They even get a cute sticker to show they got the vaccine!

We hear a lot about COVID vaccines and their side effects, but now I know two people who have actually received one (another friend just got the Pfizer vaccine). Hearing directly from a trusted friend rather than a news report gives me enormous confidence and peace of mind.

Talk about hope for our new year!

*Not her real name

“medical syringes” by begemot_dn is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

We’ve Had a Vaccine Since January 2020

I just found out that we’ve had a COVID vaccine since January 13, 2020, a mere two days after a brave Chinese scientist published the virus’ genetic sequence. In this superb article, David Wallace-Wells details how Moderna created its vaccine, which has proven highly effective in trials, in a single weekend.

What if we had made that vaccine available to anyone who wanted it, albeit with a major safety warning, in January? Tens, maybe even hundreds of thousands of lives might have been saved. We might also have been able to collect more safety data sooner, from those very volunteers.

In an insightful post, economist John Cochrane proposes such a system that would track those volunteers and thereby collect great safety data (see part 2 of his post). This could be done alongside the traditional clinical trials the FDA mandates, rather than in place of them.

Such a system would provide greater freedom, more data, and a chance to save lives. With thousands dying in the US alone per day, what are we waiting for?