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betsyladyz209 karma

Sweden's response was different compared to many other countries, with no general lockdown. It focused on mitigation: slowing, but not stopping, the pandemic, with the idea that "protecting the vulnerable" would help avoid deaths but continuing the functioning of society. It didn't work — nursing home deaths surged in the spring and while the country was able to keep case counts low over the summer, they rose in the fall at a greater rate compared to Nordic neighbors.


Late in the fall, Sweden had to impose more restrictions to help curb infections, essentially acknowledging that the initial strategy needed a course correction.

- Benjy

betsyladyz102 karma

Without funding towards state and local health departments, many states and counties were relegated to using systems such as EventBrite or other platforms to help book vaccine appoints. This has led to concerns about privacy and fraudulent events: https://www.cnn.com/2021/01/06/tech/eventbrite-vaccine-scam/index.html

In an ideal world, I believe we would have one federal system for people to book vaccine appoints; some coordinated effort is something the CDC may be working on. We are also facing issues of access to technology and helping the elderly book appointments; this underscores the need for outreach, hotlines and other tools to meet people where they are. In Vermont, for example, EMS teams will be delivering vaccines to homebound Vermonters starting next week — I have not seen other states do this yet.

- Benjy

betsyladyz34 karma

I absolutely agree that we need to keep pushing our leaders to improve the vaccine rollout. Like I said in response to another question, Operation Warp Speed focused on all the aspects of vaccine development without preparing for the massive task of physically getting vaccines into people's arms. The federal government left this task up to state/county public health departments, and state/county public health departments are (understandably!) exhausted and underfunded after a year of dealing with this pandemic.

Vaccinations have slowly been speeding up -- Bloomberg's tracker is now reporting 1.4 million doses administered per day. And Biden's administration is trying to help speed things up through deploying the national guard, including more public health dept funding in his stimulus package, that kind of thing. But I fully anticipate that I and many other science/health journalists will need to stay laser-focused on covering vaccinations for several months at least. - Betsy

betsyladyz28 karma

The vaccine rollout in many states is still in its early stages, which have often been labeled as the easiest — we know where healthcare workers and nursing home residents are, for example. As supply increases (and I expect in the next two months we will see supply increases in Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, but also possible J&J, Novavax and AstraZeneca) it will be easier to distribute to the wider population. I am working with some states to help streamline their distribution processes, but expect some of these changes in the coming weeks and months:

  • Expansion of the federal pharmacy partnership program
  • More mass vaccination sites with the help of FEMA
  • Possible expansion into primary care facilities (this will be possible with the J&J, AZ or other vaccines that require only refrigeration).

In terms of being able to access vaccines, https://vaccinefinder.org/ will be launching shortly with a national list of vaccination sites. So far, some states have lists online and others only do when you book a vaccine.

I'll let Betsy answer the second part.

- Benjy

betsyladyz27 karma

I think the dialogue on how fast the COVID-19 vaccines have been developed (especially the Pfizer and Moderna ones) obscures the fact that biologists have been researching these vaccine technologies for decades. There's a STAT piece on the history of mRNA vaccines that's a fascinating read if you're into this sort-of nerdy topic: https://www.statnews.com/2020/11/10/the-story-of-mrna-how-a-once-dismissed-idea-became-a-leading-technology-in-the-covid-vaccine-race/

Also, while Operation Warp Speed clearly did a good job of ramping up vaccine production, so many aspects of vaccine distribution were not considered at all. We needed an OWS-level effort to help states and local public health departments set up their registration portals, to communicate why the vaccines are safe (particularly to POC/low-income/otherwise vulnerable communities), to figure out how to get vaccines to hard-to-reach areas, and so many other elements of the rollout.

I'll quote my own post from a couple of weeks ago: (https://coviddatadispatch.com/2021/01/24/vaccination-is-a-logistics-problem/) "Our current problem is, in fact, a logistics one. It’s a build up of infrastructure failures, with all the weight falling on those underfunded local public health departments I mentioned in the previous section. Right now, these public health workers are trying to set up vaccination appointments, while also dealing with constantly-changing information from their state on how many doses they will get, while also stretching out a depleted budget, while also probably short on personnel because half of their staff quit or got COVID-19 in 2020, while also dealing with backlash from their communities, while also fielding endless calls from confused grandmas… and all of this while still testing, contact tracing, and communicating basic pandemic safety measures. Whew. I got tired just writing that sentence."

As for side effects: we know some minor side effects are common, from both clinical trials of the vaccines and data collected since we started administering them widely in the US. If you get vaccinated, you should expect pain and swelling in your arm, maybe a fever, maybe a headache, maybe being tired for the next day. This is especially true after the second shot. The side effects are actually good, in a way, because they tell you that your body's immune response is ramping up as it should. (The CDC has a page on this here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/expect/after.html) - Betsy