COVID-19 Vaccine Updates

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By Fiona English

As of recently, the COVID-19 vaccine has slowly distributed through the Lee health system. Several vaccines have been approved by the FDA and used in vaccination for people over the age of 60, school teachers and essential workers over the age of 50, and people designated as high-risk by doctors.

Currently, over four million people are vaccinated in the state of Florida, and vaccinations have opened up for emergency use on people 16 and older. The current vaccines in circulation are Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson and are approved by the FDA for use. 

While the daily COVID-19 cases have begun to plateau, there are still many concerns over the pandemic. Masks and social distancing have started to slack in various Southwest Florida areas; many businesses have removed strict restrictions put in place to prevent spread.

As we continue to fight COVID-19, an important message that the CDC has repeated is that masks must be worn whether you have received the vaccine or not. While immunity may protect your body from being affected, you could still spread the virus to others. 

We can hope that the surge in tourism from spring break and snowbirds does not trigger an additional quarantine. 

According to Washington Post, Florida leads in detected cases of the UK variant in the US, a number that is not slowing. The UK variant raises fears of being further spread during the tourist season as the increasing temperatures encourage tourists to take off masks. 

Herd immunity has been a topic discussed by the CDC. But what is herd immunity?

Herd immunity is when a large enough portion of a population has immunity against a bacteria or virus. This immunity limits the number of cases of the virus or bacteria, eventually leading to the ‘eradication’ of a virus or bacteria. 

To achieve herd immunity, between 70% and 90% of the population must be vaccinated or have immunity to the virus, according to Currently, only 21% of the US population are vaccinated against COVID-19. 

According to WebMD, it is projected that herd immunity can be achieved in eight months. However, many sources disagree on a specified time and argue that global herd immunity must be achieved for herd immunity to work in the US.

In addition to vaccine developments, Merck & Co. has partnered with Ridgeback Biotherapeutics LP and has begun trial experiments on an antiviral pill against COVID-19. These small trials have shown positive results in reducing the virus. 

While this pill is still in the trial phases, it could help treat COVID-19 and provide an alternative to the vaccine. Like most antivirals, this pill has shown promise in reducing virus replication in the body. 

If trials continue to show positive results, they may be available as a treatment by the end of the year. 

Fiona English

Co-Editor-in-Chief of the Compass

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