Confused about the J&J vaccine pause? Here are some expert opinions

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Megan Ranney, MD MPH:

I have lots of thoughts on the pausing of the J&J vaccine.
The biggest is that I’m glad that we do good science and post-vaccine monitoring. The 2nd is that even if real, this association is very small. More below:

US recommends ‘pause’ for J&J vaccine over clot reports

 Science and medicine, like life, is full of weighing risks vs benefits.

Right now, the risk of catching #covid19 & getting a bad complication is much higher than this very rare adverse effect.

BUT – for some groups (women? Young women?) that assumption may not be true.

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Philip Bump/WaPo:

A quarter of the country won’t get the coronavirus vaccine. Half of them trust Trump’s medical advice.

The challenge the world faces is that the rollout of vaccines has been slow, relatively speaking. The coronavirus vaccines were developed at a lightning pace, but many parts of the world are still waiting for supplies sufficient to broadly immunize their populations. In the United States, the challenge is different: About a quarter of adult Americans say they aren’t planning on getting vaccinated against the virus, according to Economist-YouGov polling released last week.

That’s problematic in part because it means we’re less likely to get to herd immunity without millions more Americans becoming infected. Again, it’s not clear how effective natural immunity will be over the long term as new variants of the virus emerge. So we might continue to see tens of thousands of new infections each day, keeping the population at risk broadly by delaying herd immunity and continuing to add to the pandemic’s death toll in this country.

But we also see from the Economist-YouGov poll the same thing we saw in Gallup polling earlier this month: The people who are least interested in being vaccinated are also the people who are least likely to be concerned about the virus and to take other steps aimed at preventing it from spreading.

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James Hamblin/Atlantic:

The False Dilemma of Post-Vaccination Risk

We’ll never know for sure how contagious people are after they’re vaccinated, but we do know how they should act.

Every day, more than 1 million American deltoids are being loaded with a vaccine. The ensuing immune response has proved to be extremely effective—essentially perfect—at preventing severe cases of COVID-19. And now, with yet another highly effective vaccine on the verge of approval, that pace should further accelerate in the weeks to come.

This is creating a legion of people who no longer need to fear getting sick, and are desperate to return to “normal” life. Yet the messaging on whether they might still carry and spread the disease—and thus whether it’s really safe for them to resume their unmasked, un-distanced lives—has been oblique. Anthony Fauci said last week on CNN that “it is conceivable, maybe likely,” that vaccinated people can get infected with the coronavirus and then spread it to someone else, and that more will be known about this likelihood “in some time, as we do some follow-up studies.” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky had been no more definitive on Meet the Press a few days before, where she told the host, “We don’t have a lot of data yet to inform exactly the question that you’re asking.”

The experts urging patience are, of course, correct. There are myriad details of physiology and molecular immunology that remain to be understood, and we do not know how quickly transmission rates will drop as large numbers of people get vaccinated. At an individual level, though, the proper advice on what constitutes safe behavior does not depend on any scientific study whose results are pending. It depends on what’s happening in the world around us.

I would act differently in Michigan than in other states as of today.

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Jeremy Faust:

Can Vaccinated People Who Get Coronavirus Spread It? We Will Know Sometime This Year.

Enter the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), directed by Dr. Anthony Fauci. The NIAID just announced a study that will be carried out at twenty-two United States universities. The study is called PreventCovidU. The website is explicitly (if awkwardly) geared towards Generation Z students, and includes abbreviations that “the kids use,” like “TL;DR” (“too long, didn’t read”), and “jk” (just kidding) in order to try to break the ice.

Unlike other studies of the vaccines in the US so far, participants will be required to supply daily swabs. In addition, over 25,000 “close contacts” will be invited to take part in the trial, so that researchers can see how often infected participants spread the virus, and to how many of their contacts. Of course, asking students to remember who they crossed paths with (or partied with) in the last few weeks, could be a challenge, possibly rendering the eventual data that is gathered somewhat difficult to fully interpret.

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Greg Sargent/WaPo:

Republicans have found yet another way to scam their own voters

Small-business job creators.”

Get ready to hear that phrase a lot in the coming months, as Republicans gear up to attack the proposed corporate tax hikes that would fund President Biden’s new jobs plan.

Sen. Roger Wicker used that phrase twice in the space of several sentences on ABC News’s “This Week.” The Mississippi Republican claimed Biden’s plan would impose a “massive tax increase on small-business job creators,” to fund “massive social welfare spending.”

That echoes the widespread GOP claim that much of Biden’s plan doesn’t count as “real” infrastructure. So the GOP attack is that the plan hurts virtuous small-business owners to fund airy liberal social engineering (health care, research and development) rather than salt-of-the-earth roads and bridges.

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David Frum/Atlantic:

Republicans Are Making 4 Key Mistakes

Misperceptions and rage are blinding Republicans—and their voter-suppression measures may backfire.

Leave aside, for the moment, the clamor about whether these laws are fair or democratic. Let’s look at them instead from the point of view of practical politicians. Will they deliver the intended results?

Almost all the new laws raise new barriers to voting by mail. Republican officials dislike postal voting in 2021 because in 2020 Biden voters were much more likely than Trump voters to use a postal ballot.

But that pro-Biden tilt in postal voting looks like a once-in-a-lifetime event, driven more by divergent reactions to the threat of the coronavirus than by ordinary voting behavior. (Forty percent of Biden postal voters cited fear of the virus as a reason they voted by mail.)

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