Tag Archives: Vaccine

You May Soon Be Able to Get Vaccinated in Russia

As some US states lag in COVID vaccinations and the EU barely vaccinates at all, some are looking to Russia for help:

Lufthansa is reportedly discussing the “medical tourism” jet scheme with bosses at Moscow’s Domodedovo airport.

The German airline is also in talks with the Russian foreign ministry about a regular service to the airport, it was reported.

Passengers would fly in and out without necessarily needing a visa or entering the country to see the sights such as Red Square and St Basil’s Cathedral.

They would then make a second trip three weeks later to be fully protected by the Russian vaccine.

Two return flights from Frankfurt are estimated to cost around £1,750.

This hasn’t happened yet but it’s something to watch closely, especially if you’re in the EU or other countries that have barely begun to vaccinate. Russia’s vaccine is highly effective, per a study published in The Lancet:

Vaccine efficacy, based on the numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases from 21 days after the first dose of vaccine, is reported as 91·6% (95% CI 85·6–95·2)

Russians have proved hesitant to get the vaccine, perhaps due to mistrust of their government, so this may mean more available for foreigners.

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

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Photo: “Putin Claims Moon” by AZRainman is licensed under CC BY 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! 🙂

Could the MRNA Vaccines Used for COVID Also Cure Multiple Sclerosis?

The vaccine blocked all clinical signs of MS in mice, while control animals experienced the typical symptoms of the disease. 

Fierce Biotech

BioNTech, the company behind one of the best COVID vaccines, has reported excellent results in curing an MS-like disease in mice. The treated animals showed no signs of the disease, and those that were already having MS symptoms got better. These results were recently published in the journal Science. You can find an excellent discussion of these results by the Harvard epidemiologist Eric Feigl-Ding here.

This MS vaccine uses the same MRNA approach as the two most effective COVID vaccines. BioNTech plans to use a similar technique to produce personalized cancer vaccines.

A new age in medicine may be dawning.

“Forschungszentrum der Biotech-Unternehmen BioNTech AG und Ganymed Pharmaceuticals AG” by MWKEL-RLP is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

The Pace of Vaccination is Increasing Rapidly

Take a look at the chart above…this is COVID vaccines administered daily (7 day moving average). We see a trend of rapid increase in the pace of vaccination. The numbers bounce around a bit from day to day, but I find this trend very encouraging along with the new federal policy to release 2nd doses and allow everyone over 65 to be vaccinated.

New Administration Will Release All Available COVID Vaccine Doses Immediately

CNN just reported that the Biden administration plans to release all doses of the COVID vaccine right away, instead of holding back half of them to ensure 2nd doses are available. This could make the vaccine more widely available sooner.

If more people get their first dose, that could get them up to 90% protection, slowing the pandemic. The UK and Canada have already adopted this approach, and I’m happy to see the new administration’s openness to giving it a try.

Our current pace of vaccination, while increasing, would take 3 years to reach herd immunity. We simply don’t have that long.

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

My Friend Just Got the COVID Vaccine

My friend Lidia* got the Pfizer COVID vaccine on Saturday. She is the first person I know to receive it, and her experience was great overall. She said her arm was extremely sore, and she felt feverish for about 30 minutes the day after, but other than that she’s okay.

Lidia is 35 and works at a hospital, where she treats COVID patients. She has been on the front lines all year and, with the combination of a face shield and surgical mask, never contracted the virus. I remember being very worried about her this spring, especially when I heard about nurses wearing trash bags rather than gowns. But her facility had what it needed and she came through okay.

I am very happy for her. Maybe she can worry less now. And we, her friends and family, can breathe more easily too.

The side effects are real, but compared to a case of COVID, it sounds like a good bargain. My friend Jim*, who is the same age, had COVID last month and had headaches and body aches for two full weeks.

I can’t wait for my turn to get this wonderful drug! If anyone out there works at Pfizer, you got a steak on me. 🙂

*Not their real names

“Syringe 1 With Drops” by ZaldyImg is licensed under CC BY 2.0