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In the wake of an outbreak of coronavirus that began in China in 2019, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health experts have been speaking to a variety of media outlets and writing articles about the pandemic. We’ll be updating this article on a regular basis. Here’s a selection of stories from June 2021 in which they offer comments and context:
June 30: Confronting Our Next National Health Disaster—Long-Haul Covid (New England Journal of Medicine)
Dean Michelle Williams co-authored this Perspective piece on “long-haul Covid,” which is characterized by months of debilitating symptoms and which affects 10% to 30% of people infected with the disease. The authors argued for coordinated national health policy action and response, built on five pillars: prevention; a robust research agenda; the application of lessons from prior experience with postinfection syndromes; the opening of multispecialty long Covid clinics; and health care providers who believe and provide supportive care to their long Covid patients.
June 30: Experts say those in Mass. should respect but not fear the Delta variant (Boston Globe)
Vaccinated people are largely safe from the highly transmissible Delta variant of COVID-19, but it’s still a good idea to take precautions in crowded places or areas with high coronavirus transmission, according to experts. William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, noted that the variant is “slightly more capable of causing breakthrough infections in vaccinated people, especially those who have yet to receive both shots, although such infections are much less likely to be serious and require hospitalization.”
June 29: Covid-19 caused a significant decline in life expectancy in Brazil. (New York Times)
A new study led by Marcia Castro, Andelot Professor of Demography and chair of the Department of Global Health and Population, estimated that life expectancy in Brazil dropped by 1.3 years in 2020 due to COVID-19, bringing the country back to 2014 life expectancy levels. The study also estimated that life expectancy will decline by 1.78 years in 2021. “The decline in 2021 is going to be just horrible,” said Castro. “We are now losing even younger people.”
June 29: Pandemic reopening and economic stress causing mental health issues (Boston Herald)
As the economy picks up steam in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, both employed and unemployed people can face stress, according to Karestan Koenan, professor of psychiatric epidemiology. At a June 29 Forum event, Koenen said that unemployed people facing the end of extra benefits could experience anxiety and depression. And those who are employed—particularly those in the health care field—may face burnout from working through the pandemic with little to no time off, she said.
June 29: Masks Again? Delta Variant’s Spread Prompts Reconsideration of Precautions. (New York Times)
Even though vaccinated people are largely protected against the highly transmissible Delta variant COVID-19, researchers are worried that they may pick up asymptomatic infections and unknowingly spread it to others. William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, said, “If you are in a place where cases are climbing, wearing a mask indoors in crowded public spaces is a way to keep yourself from contributing to the spread of Delta.”
June 29: 4 COVID-era habits that people aren’t ready to lose (PBS NewsHour)
As COVID-19 eases in the U.S., people may choose to hold on to certain habits acquired during the pandemic—such as wearing masks, which can protect those who wear them as well as others. Nancy Krieger, professor of social epidemiology, said that she plans to keep wearing one on the public bus when she returns to campus in August.
June 29: Why You Still Might Want to Have a Home Covid Test on Hand (New York Times)
Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology, recommended that people think about using at-home, rapid COVID-19 testing to keep children, the elderly, vulnerable individuals, and unvaccinated people safer in the coming months. “As long as the virus is raging in other parts of the world, the risk is too high to completely let down our guard with testing,” he said. “Unvaccinated people will continue to spread the virus, which happens often without showing any symptoms. And while it’s much less likely, even vaccinated individuals can become infected.”
June 28: Harvard Affiliates Continue to Aid in Covid-19 Response Through Massachusetts-Wide Volunteer Program (Harvard Crimson)
Dean Michelle Williams, Amy Bantham, DrPH’20, and Julia Healey, MPH ’22, discussed Harvard Chan School students’ volunteer work with public health agencies in Massachusetts during the COVID-19 pandemic.
June 28: Ashish Jha on what Massachusetts got right — and wrong — during the COVID-19 pandemic (Boston.com)
In a Q&A, Ashish Jha, adjunct professor of global health at Harvard Chan school, former director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, and current dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, discussed Massachusetts’ response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Staff shortages in nursing homes are a decades-old problem, according to experts. Michael Barnett, assistant professor of health policy and management, said that the ongoing shortages are “emblematic of the systemic neglect of the nursing home system.” And when the pandemic hit, the problem got even worse, he said.
June 27: Threat of delta variant looms large in unvaccinated South (NBC News)
Experts say that the highly transmissible delta variant of COVID-19 could prompt disease surges in rural communities and other pockets of the U.S. where vaccinations have lagged. William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, was quoted.
June 26: Strategies for increasing vaccination equity (Commonwealth Magazine)
In an op-ed, Alan Geller, senior lecturer on social and behavioral sciences, and co-authors wrote that it’s possible to reach a 75% COVID-19 vaccination rate in Massachusetts. They recommended a strategic plan to target high-risk communities and people under age 30 coupled with a public education and communications campaign.
WBUR’s “On Point” featured science writer Ed Yong, who recently won the Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Reporting for his coverage of the pandemic, and Joseph Allen, associate professor of exposure assessment science and director of the Healthy Buildings program.
Even with the widespread availability of vaccines, and infections and deaths plummeting, people continue to die from COVID-19. Christy Denckla, research associate in the Department of Epidemiology, noted that celebrations of the lives of loved ones—now possible because distancing restrictions have been lifted—can help ease the grieving process.
June 24: Drop in Life Expectancy From COVID Much Worse for Black, Hispanic Americans (HealthDay)
The pandemic, which has disproportionately impacted Black and Hispanic Americans, has laid bare critical public policy failures, according to Justin Feldman, research associate at the FXB Center for Health and Human Rights. “Not everyone’s had the same pandemic,” he said. “People of color are dying at higher rates and at younger ages, and this has been just an incredible failure at the level of federal and state government.” Feldman said he isn’t optimistic that the situation will be better during the next pandemic.
June 24: New study suggests many were infected last year but never diagnosed with COVID-19 (Boston Globe)
Studies have suggested that large numbers of COVID-19 cases have gone undetected, and it’s possible that many people have some level of natural immunity. But Thomas Tsai, assistant professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management, said, “I think getting vaccination is still incredibly important. Especially with the delta variant which has been shown to have increased household transmission and increased severity of illness, vaccination remains important to protecting the health of individuals and their family members.”
June 24: The Dos and Don’ts of Hot Vax Summer (The Atlantic)
In this article offering tips about safe traveling this summer, Joseph Allen, associate professor of exposure assessment science and director of the Healthy Buildings program, said that, if you’re vaccinated, “you really don’t need to worry about your exposure on an airplane, on a bus, in the subway, or at the office, or anywhere else you go.” He noted that when airplanes are running, “the ventilation and filtration are better than you find in a hospital.” If you’re unvaccinated or traveling with unvaccinated kids, Allen recommended wearing a high-quality mask such as an N95, KN95, or KF94.
June 24: How Trump’s blunders fueled our coronavirus nightmare (Washington Post)
In this review of the new book “Nightmare Scenario” by Washington Post reporters Yasmeen Abutaleb and Damian Paletta, William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, wrote that, in the Trump administration’s response to the pandemic, “Over and over again, whenever public health and public relations came into conflict, public health lost out.”
Christoph Lange, professor of biostatistics, and Georg Hahn, research associate and instructor of biostatistics, were quoted on their research, which used a new method to find a connection between a particular mutation in the COVID-19 genome and severe illness. The variant with that mutation was later identified as being part of the highly transmissible and deadly P.1, or Gamma variant, that has spread in Brazil and other countries. Lange and Hahn said that the methodology they used could be a valuable tool to identify dangerous variants of the coronavirus as well as other viruses.
June 23: Spread of delta coronavirus variant exposes poorly vaccinated regions to renewed danger (Washington Post)
Experts think that COVID-19 cases may surge in localized pockets of the U.S. where large numbers of people are not yet vaccinated, because the highly transmissible delta variant of the coronavirus is circulating in the country. “I think a rise in cases is certainly going to happen,” said William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology.
June 23: COVID vaccines and breastfeeding: what the data say (Nature)
Early research suggests that while COVID-19 vaccines don’t pass through breastmilk, antibodies do—which could be protective for babies. The results so far are promising enough that most experts would urge nursing mothers to get their shots. “If I had an itty-bitty baby right now, I would not take the risk—I would not wait,” said Galit Alter, professor in the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases. “If you can empower your kid with immunity, I wouldn’t even question it.”
June 22: The generosity of vaccine diplomacy is a strategic investment, not a gift (The Hill)
In this op-ed, Dean Michelle Williams argued that “helping vaccinate the world isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do.” Doing so, she noted, will help “preempt the kind of outbreaks that have shut down one nation’s economy after the next—and slowed the world’s economic recovery.” Failing to help immunize the world “is not a recipe for strong economies or strong democracies,” Williams wrote. “It will drag down both, causing deeper suffering from which no one is immune.”
June 22: How to Have the Hard Vaccination Conversations (New York Times)
Experts discussed how to navigate the new norms of vaccination disclosure. Joseph Allen, associate professor of exposure assessment science and director of the Healthy Buildings program, said that most experts agree that, broadly, “it’s fine to ask anyone if they’ve been vaccinated, if it’s going to influence your decisions about what you do or don’t do with them.”
Although the Biden administration had hoped that 70% of Americans 18 and older would have at least one COVID-19 shot by July Fourth, that goal isn’t likely to be reached until the end of July, according to Howard Koh, Harvey V. Fineberg Professor of the Practice of Public Health and former assistant U.S. secretary of health and state public health commissioner. “That issue is much less of a concern than the fact that some states currently have only half the vaccination rates of others. More needs to be done to reach and protect everyone.”
June 22: Massachusetts hits milestone of 4.1 million people fully vaccinated; US to miss mark (Boston Globe)
Howard Koh, Harvey V. Fineberg Professor of the Practice of Public Health, suggested that, now that Massachusetts has reached its goal of vaccinating 4.1 million adults against COVID-19, the Baker administration could set a new target to boost the numbers further, and could be “even more explicit about vaccine equity goals” to “reemphasize the critical message that we cannot be healthy unless everyone is healthy.”
June 22: CDC: Delta Is a ‘Variant of Concern’ (VeryWell Health)
The Delta variant of the coronavirus, which originated in India and now accounts for most cases in the United Kingdom, has been classified as a “variant of concern” by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s because it can spread more easily and cause more severe disease, particularly in people who are not fully vaccinated, according to Stephen Kissler, research fellow in the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases.
June 20: Fight Over Covid’s Origins Renews Debate on Risks of Lab Work (New York Times)
Weighing the risks vs. benefits of “gain-of-function” research—in which microbes are manipulated to become more dangerous, so that researchers can learn more about them—has been immensely challenging. And the current debate over whether COVID-19 leaked from a lab is “just going to make it harder to get back to a serious debate,” according to Marc Lipsitch, professor of epidemiology and director of the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics. Lipsitch has urged the government to be more transparent about its support of gain-of-function research.
June 18: The 19th Explains: How to manage post-pandemic social anxiety (The 19th)
Karestan Koenen, professor of psychiatric epidemiology, and other experts shared tips on how to manage anxiety as society reopens. Koenen recommended bringing a friend to gatherings of new people, or “making a deal with yourself” to go out and socialize, but maybe just for a brief amount of time. She also suggested working out before socializing to reduce stress.
Although a number of countries in Latin America are experiencing some of the world’s highest daily COVID-19 deaths per capita, most of the governments there are not responding with stricter public health measures like lockdowns. Johnattan Garcia Ruiz, a visiting scientist in the Department of Global Health and Population, said that people have been losing trust in the governments, which have failed to secure enough vaccines and to bring down infections.
Over a dozen states have reached the milestone of having 70% of adults with at least one COVID-19 shot. But William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, said that there are still plenty of people in America who aren’t vaccinated yet, many of them in communities disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. “We want to be able to protect them for as long as possible until we get vaccination levels really high,” he said.
June 16: Can the CDC be fixed? (New York Times Magazine)
Experts who have worked with and for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that the agency has been plagued by a lack of funding, a lack of authority, and a culture that has been warped by both. Said William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, “There are a lot of very good people there. But when your resources constantly constrained like that—when you’re constantly told no—that forces you into a defensive crouch.” He added that the process by which the agency monitors disease outbreaks is like a Rube Goldberg machine, hampered by uneven surveillance programs across the country. “There’s no central anything,” he said.
The fast-moving Delta variant of COVID-19, originally detected in India, now accounts for at least 6% of U.S. infections, and could pose a serious threat among unvaccinated populations, according to experts. The variant could cause explosive outbreaks, “and get into people before we are able to get a shot into them,” said William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology.
June 16: We investigated whether digital contact tracing actually worked in the US (Technology Review)
Many of the apps used in the U.S. to notify people of their potential exposure to COVID-19 are “underutilized, misunderstood, and not well-trusted,” according to this article. Pardis Sabeti, professor of immunology and infectious diseases, noted that, “In the U.S., the existing apps and tools have never hit the level of adoption necessary for them to be useful,” but that they may be useful in future public health crises.
June 16: Delta COVID-19 Variant Most Worrisome Yet, But Vaccines Still Effective (Voice of America)
The delta variant of the COVID-19 virus, first identified in India, is more infectious and virulent than the fast-spreading alpha variant first identified in the United Kingdom, according to new research. Vaccines work against delta, but not quite as well. And although nearly two-thirds of U.S. adults have received at least one dose of vaccine, “lots of the world is going to be facing delta with no such protection,” said William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology. “It’s really important that those countries that are able to supply vaccines get [them] to those parts of the world that are struggling with [vaccine access] as quickly as possible.”
Jonathan Buonocore, a research scientist at the Center for Climate, Health, and the Global Environment (Harvard Chan C-CHANGE), co-author of a recent study on the link between tailpipe emissions and mortality in the northeast and mid-Atlantic region, was quoted.
In general, U.S. states with higher vaccination rates have lower rates of COVID-19, although there will be exceptions, said William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology. “A community can have 90% of its residents fully immunized, but if the 10% unvaccinated all hang out together at the same bar or same workplace, you can still get outbreaks,” he said.
William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, commented on new research suggesting that COVID-19 cases occurred in the U.S. in late 2019, several weeks before cases were first recognized by health officials. “While it is entirely plausible that the virus was introduced into the United States much earlier than is usually appreciated, it does not mean that this is necessarily strong enough evidence to change how we’re thinking about this,” he said.
June 14: How the Virus Unraveled Hispanic American Families (New York Times)
Hispanic American communities have been hit by high rates of infections, hospitalizations, and deaths, and new research shows that they are more likely than white Americans to have died before age 65. Mary Bassett, François-Xavier Bagnoud Professor of the Practice of Health and Human Rights, director of the FXB Center for Health and Human Rights, and former New York City health commissioner, noted that when people die young, their families may also be losing a critical breadwinner and parent.
June 14: Germany, where masks are often still mandated, considers loosening the rules. (New York Times)
Germany is considering easing its COVID-19 masking requirements. Karl Lauterbach, adjunct professor of health policy and management and a Social Democratic lawmaker in Germany, cautioned against the move because millions are still unvaccinated.
In this Q&A, Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology, discussed why it’s important to continue testing for COVID-19, and how different kinds of tests should be used.
June 14: Why Scientists Tweak Lab Viruses to Make Them More Contagious (Scientific American)
One of the reasons that scientists perform “gain-of-function” studies—in which microbes are manipulated to become more dangerous—is to better understand how pathogens evade detection by our immune systems. But such studies are controversial because of concern that deadly pathogens could escape a lab by accident or design. Marc Lipsitch, professor of epidemiology and director of the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics, discussed the pros and cons of gain-of-function studies. He was one of 18 signatories to a May 14 letter published in Science that called for the investigation of a SARS-CoV-2 lab spillover as one of several possible explanations for the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic.
June 13: U.S. Not On Pace To Meet Biden’s Vaccination Goal (NPR’s Weekend Edition)
William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, said that the country as a whole is unlikely to meet President Biden’s goal of having 70% of Americans at least partially vaccinated against COVID-19 by July 4. “I think we’re going to be close,” he said, but added that as long as there are pockets of unvaccinated people throughout the country, localized outbreaks could occur in the months ahead. He also said that he will continue to wear a mask in crowded places. “The reason is that even though I’m immunized, it’s not complete 100% protection,” he said. “And I really would not want to carry on those chains of transmission such that it would eventually get into an unvaccinated person or somebody who was, for instance, immunocompromised.”
It was easier to develop an effective vaccine for COVID-19 than for HIV or cancer because it was an easier target, according to experts. Roger Shapiro, associate professor of immunology and infectious diseases, said, for example, that the smooth surface of the HIV virus—in contrast to the spiked surface of the SARS-CoV-2 virus—means that it has fewer targets for vaccine developers to aim at. Other impediments to developing an HIV vaccine include the fact that the virus attacks the immune system itself, and that HIV mutates quickly, he said.
June 11: States Scale Back Pandemic Reporting, Stirring Alarm (NPR’s Morning Edition)
Experts are concerned that a growing number of states have begun scaling back how often they update their dashboards that track the course of the pandemic, especially in light of the fact that dangerous variants, such as the Delta variant first spotted in India, have started to spread in the U.S. “If you turn out the light, you can’t see what’s going on,” said William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology. “Or if you only turn on the light every now and then, something nasty could be building and you wouldn’t know until it was too late.”
June 11: How to Reopen Offices Safely (New York Times)
As workplaces start to reopen as the risk of COVID-19 decreases, employers should focus on steps such as flushing the taps, upgrading ventilation and filtration systems, and alternating employees’ schedules, according to experts including Joseph Allen, associate professor of exposure assessment science and director of the Healthy Buildings program.
June 11: The COVID vaccine for teens 12 to 17 is ‘built on the backs of very solid clinical evidence’: Doctor (Yahoo! Finance)
Tom Tsai, assistant professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management, joined Yahoo Finance Live to break down his thoughts on the COVID vaccine and why Americans should get it.
June 11: Herd Immunity Is Not a Magical Percentage (WRCB TV)
William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, and Justin Feldman, research associate at the FXB Center for Health and Human Rights, offered insight on herd immunity, predictions on access issues, and immunity maintenance.
June 10: Ensuring an equitable global vaccine rollout (Bloomberg’s Balance of Power, at 25:35)
Dean Michelle Williams said that the pledge by G7 countries to provide one billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines to poor- and middle-income countries is “very good news, but it is only the tip of the iceberg.”
For those who have not been vaccinated against COVID-19, there is concern over another coronavirus variant that has emerged. The variant, known as Delta, was first spotted in India. It appears to be the most transmissible variant seen thus far, and may result in greater hospitalizations and deaths. William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, explained: “Taken all together, this is something which is really, really anxiety-inducing from a global health perspective.”
June 10: Test everyone once a week (Times of India)
The current COVID-19 situation in India is disastrous, with thousands of deaths reported per day. Universal weekly testing of asymptomatic individuals with at-home rapid antigen tests could be the solution, according to this article co-authored by Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology.
June 9: The Fundamental Question of the Pandemic Is Shifting (The Atlantic)
Joseph Allen, associate professor of exposure assessment science and director of the Healthy Buildings program, and Nancy Krieger, professor of social epidemiology, offered insight on bearing the risk that remains at the end of the pandemic, emphasizing that your health is in your hands.
June 9: How to assess risk when going mask-free (WRCB TV)
As the guidelines from the CDC change as more people are vaccinated, there has been confusion on how to assess risk while going mask-free. Eve Wittenberg, a health decision scientist, said that we can’t rely on the “existing calculus in our heads” because the situation is not familiar, and that we don’t know the probabilities of certain outcomes or the different factors that play into a situation like this one.
June 7: As Tokyo Olympics near, why has Japan been so slow to vaccinate its citizens? (USA Today)
Why has a country famous for its efficiency been so inefficient with the vaccine rollout? “A lot of it has to do with the government’s slow response,” said Michael Reich, Taro Takemi Professor of International Health Policy. “And the government’s thinking that Japan had solved the pandemic problem with its earlier policies.”
June 7: How the pandemic ends (The Week)
Experts analyze what it will take to declare victory over COVID-19. Marc Lipsitch, professor of epidemiology and director of the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics, cautions that “disease transmission is local” and may continue in some areas with lower vaccination rates. “If the coverage is 95 percent in the United States as a whole, but 70 percent in some small town, the virus doesn’t care,” he explained. “It will make its way around the small town.”
June 3: Covid-19: Why race matters for health (Knowable Magazine)
In a video, David Williams, Florence Sprague Norman and Laura Smart Norman Professor of Public Health and chair of the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, discusses how the pandemic has highlighted the complex links between inequality, racism, and disease risk in America.
June 3: The Lab-Leak Theory: Inside the Fight to Uncover COVID-19’s Origins (Vanity Fair)
June 3: New COVID Test Initiatives Show Why Testing Still Matters (VeryWell Health)
Public health experts say that COVID-19 testing is still important because millions of Americans are still not vaccinated. “With so many people unvaccinated, testing continues to be important for identifying people with COVID-19 so that they can be monitored for treatment if needed and be isolated to keep others at risk from getting the virus,” said Stephen Kissler, research fellow in the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases. He noted that if kids under age 12 aren’t vaccinated by the fall, regular testing will be important for keeping schools open and kids safe.
Good ventilation and air filtration are key strategies to keeping schools open and kids safe, even if COVID-19 cases start to rise in the fall, according to Joseph Allen, associate professor of exposure assessment science and director of the Healthy Buildings program.
June 2: This chart shows how younger people are lagging in getting COVID vaccinations in Mass. (Boston Globe)
Experts say it’s important for younger people to get COVID-19 vaccinations—to prevent from getting sick, losing work days, paying high medical bills, and possibly passing on the virus to others who are vulnerable. Said Howard Koh, Harvey V. Fineberg Professor of the Practice of Public Health, “It’s critical to maximize vaccination in younger age groups and make it the new social norm.”
June 2: Opinion: We’re part of a planning group for a covid-19 commission. Here’s why we need one. (Washington Post)
Marc Lipsitch, professor of epidemiology and director of the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics, and co-authors explained why they’re participating in a planning group for a national COVID-19 commission that would undertake “a dispassionate study of the pandemic’s course.” They wrote that it’s crucial to sort through what worked and what didn’t during the pandemic, in order to be better prepared for future viruses.
June 2: Generation Pandemic is interested in public health. We should take advantage. (Boston Globe)
An editorial urged that Massachusetts policymakers and health care professionals cultivate talent among young people who are interested in public health, and quoted Louise Keogh Weed, an instructor in the Department of Health Policy and Management. “There’s huge opportunity here, and there’s huge need,” she said. “We just have to get it done.”
June 1: Opinion: Covid-19 cases will likely rise again in the fall. Here’s how to keep schools open. (Washington Post)
Joseph Allen, associate professor of exposure assessment science and director of the Healthy Buildings program, and Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology, offered advice on how to keep schools open during the COVID-19 pandemic. They recommended continuing “vaccinating like crazy,” heavily investing in rapid tests, using stimulus funds to improve school ventilation and filtration systems, and requiring kids to use masks in schools if cases spike.
Marcia Castro, Andelot Professor of Demography and chair of the Department of Global Health and Population, noted that Brazil’s devastating COVID-19 outbreak is now spilling over to other regions in Latin America, such as its neighbor Uruguay. Argentina and Chile are also contending with surges. Castro said the combination of highly transmissible variants and complacency has brought many communities to the brink. “We’re only going to be OK when we control the situation in every single country,” said Castro.
June 1: How Does Natural Immunity Compare To COVID-19 Vaccines? (The Daily Caller)
Although people who contract COVID-19 may be protected after being infected, many experts say they should still get vaccinated. “Nobody knows exactly how protected they are,” said William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology. “Immunity varies from person to person, and wanes somewhat over time.” He said there is evidence of a decrease in immunity in previously infected individuals after eight months.
June 1: COVID-19 vaccines do not create coronavirus variants (Poynter)
A new claim circulating online says that vaccines are creating—instead of fighting—COVID-19 variants. But experts say the claim is false, noting that viruses try to create variants in order to escape any type of immunity—whether it is induced by a vaccine or by being infected naturally. “The virus is always going to try to evolve to promote its own survival,” said Sarah Fortune, John LaPorte Given Professor of Immunology and Infectious Diseases and chair of the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases. “It doesn’t mean people shouldn’t get vaccinated. The virus is going to try to evolve to escape natural immunity, even if you choose not to get vaccinated.”