Editor’s note: Sarah Braner originally titled this post, “So long, farewell, I kinda hope this newsletter isn’t as necessary in the nearish future but also I hope we meet again.” While this is a very good title, I didn’t want anyone to see it and think that I, Betsy, am ending the publication (which I am not). Sarah has been an invaluable help these past few months—staying on top of COVID-19 data news, brainstorming post ideas, working on the K-12 data annotations, and more. I’m excited to watch her kill it at CNN and beyond!
This will be my last week writing for the CDD. I’m so incredibly grateful to everyone who has read my posts, to Betsy for literally everything, and to Dr. Ashish Jha for being the only one allowed to tweet from here on out. (Honorable mention to AstraZeneca for giving me an excuse to put a Simpsons meme in the newsletter.)
If you, for some reason, want to read more of my work this summer, you can catch me pumping out some Content for CNN Health after I figure out how their Slack channel works. When the school year starts up, I’ll be resuming my work as Bwog’s Science Editor with hopefully much less COVID-19 to write about. If my hopes pan out, I will fill that void by writing a weird amount of posts about Barnard laundry.
As the great prophets of Looney Tunes once said:
Past reporting from Sarah
- Farewell from the CDD’s valiant internThis will be Sarah Braner’s last week writing for the COVID-19 Data Dispatch, so she shared a few words of thanks and reflection.
- New variant names from the WHOWe finally have a straightforward variant naming system: on May 31, the WHO announced a system using letters of the Greek alphabet. B.1.1.7 (first identified in the U.K. is now Alpha, B.1.351 (first identified in South Africa) is now Beta, and so on.
- Moderna for the middle childrenGood news for kids hoping for jabs in arms: Moderna has announced promising results for its trial in adolescent-aged children. In around 4,000 adolescents, the vaccine proved to be 94.1% effective in preventing disease. No cases in the vaccinated group were found two weeks after the second shot, while 4 cases were found in the unvaccinated control group.
- Vaccine cocktails look viable—just in time for hot-vax summerA clinical trial based in Spain of around 600 participants (aged 18-59) reported encouraging results regarding mix-and-match vaccines (or “heterologous prime-and-boost,” if you want the jargon) meaning one shot of one vaccine and the second shot of another. In this study, the first dose given was AstraZeneca, and the second was Pfizer.
- COVID source shout-out: Goodnight TurbovaxSo long, farewell, I hope we never have to meet again: the sun is setting for the incredibly hardworking bot Turbovax.info.
- The 2021 Tokyo Olympics begin on July 23. Will Japan be ready?Is Japan ready to host the Olympics in July? They’re definitely not ready now. The Japanese government just announced it would extend an already-standing state of emergency through May 31 following a large spike in COVID-19 cases. After “Golden Week,” a sequence of Japanese Holidays lasting from late April to early May, Tokyo reported 907 new cases for the week.
- State K-12 school data still leave much to be desiredThe academic year is coming to an end for most schools pretty soon, so we thought it’d be appropriate to check in on the state of state K-12 COVID-19 data. We’ve been keeping track of the metrics reported by states throughout the fall and spring, but states have not improved much through the school year.
- J&J is back on the menuAfter 10 days, the pause on the J&J vaccine has been lifted. According to CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, there have been about 1.9 cases of severe blood clotting per million people who had received the J&J vaccine. It has been re-authorized for use in people aged 18 and older, now with an addendum to the label and fact sheet warning of the risk of blood clots.
- Did you know that you, a plebeian, can search through VAERS?VAERS stands for “Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System.” It’s used as a “national early warning system to detect possible safety problems in U.S.-licensed vaccines,” it’s been around for much longer than the COVID-19 vaccines or even COVID-19, and it’s how regulators are examining the data about possible complications related to the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine. And as the cherry on top, the data is open to the public through the WONDER search engine. So what’s there?
- COVID source shout-out: I’ve never wanted to be an “NIH-er” this badOn Friday, NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins posted a video of a “COVIDized” “Here Comes The Sun” to his NIH Director’s blog, in which he thanked “NIH-ers” and promised a way out of the “long, dark, COVID winter.”