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Will circulating variants of Covid-19 “boost” immunity in vaccinated populations?

As the first group of people to receive Covid-19 vaccines reach the 6 month mark, the natural question in many people’s minds is: how long will this vaccine protect us against the virus? While research shows lasting and powerful protection, there is still concern that that immunity will fade with time. This raises the question of whether boosters are needed to prop up immunity.

With variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus still actively circulating amidst easing restrictions, many vaccinated individuals will likely be exposed to the virus. So the question is, will post-vaccination exposure to Covid-19 serve as a natural booster?

If you’re fully vaccinated, there’s no indication you need a booster yet. But many could urgently use that dose — here’s why.

Photo: Mufid Majnun/Unsplash

Last week, the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer held a closed-door meeting with senior U.S. health officials to pitch them on Covid-19 booster shots.

Just a few days prior, Pfizer announced they would ask the FDA to expand the emergency authorization for their current two-dose vaccine to include a third, a booster shot.

We can only speculate on the confidential data presented in that meeting, but the Department of Health and Human Services who convened it issued a statement reflecting what many scientists believe: “At this time, fully vaccinated Americans do not need a booster shot”. …

You aren’t lazy. You are suffering the aftershocks of pandemic stress.

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

There’s a kind of pleasant fatigue that comes from a day of physical activity — hiking, biking, swimming, running. But this? This isn’t it. You feel exhausted, overwhelmed, anxious and even depressed. The heaviness of your limbs is only second to a heaviness of mind, a feeling of alienation, of isolation. You might say you are tired, but in truth, you feel utterly drained; everything is an effort, a drag.

Usually, this cluster of symptoms would be diagnosed as burnout, and a regimen of self-care recommended: take some time off, stay home for a few days, do something nice for…

The U.K.’s controversial plan shouldn’t be discarded as stupidity

Photo: Mangopear creative/Unsplash

For the third time since the pandemic began, the U.K. is betting against the rest of the world.

The first time brought catastrophic consequences. The U.K. flirted with the idea of herd immunity and delayed a decision to go into a full lockdown despite the world urging it to, a step that ended up costing the lives of thousands.

The second time was less of a failure. The U.K. was the first western country to start a Covid-19 vaccination campaign. It later decided to take yet another controversial step and was the first to extend the period of time between…

The hard-to-capture research is in: children’s birthdays were linked to higher infection rates in counties that already had more cases

Photo: Sergei Solo/Unsplash

Epidemiologists regularly warned of the risks of small group gatherings, particularly indoors, during the pandemic before vaccines were available. News stories about superspreader family events popped up now and then, and infectious disease experts warned that these small indoor gatherings were a substantial driver of infections.

But the evidence was limited because this phenomenon is an incredibly difficult one to study. It’s hard to know how many gatherings are happening, and people may not be forthcoming about having hosted or attended a gathering when local policies advised against it or outright forbade it.

Recently, a group of researchers figured out…

Even before someone is fully vaccinated against Covid, their likelihood of passing the virus on is far lower

Photo: Steven Cornfield/Unsplash

People not vaccinated against Covid-19 are twice as likely to pass the infection on to others in their household as people who have Covid-19 but have gotten one dose of a vaccine, according to a new study. The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine June 23, looked at the Pfizer-BioNTech and AstraZeneca vaccines.

No vaccine can prevent 100% of all infections, so there will always be some “breakthrough cases” in vaccinated people — Covid-19 infections in people who received a Covid vaccine. …

Coping With Death

Changing grief rituals for a post-Covid world

Photo: Raimond Klavins/Unsplash

A procession makes its way along a high ridge in the mountains. Dressed in bright colors, a group of Buddhist mourners beat hand-held drums by turning them side to side in rhythm. The steady plok-plok is accompanied by the ringing of bells and the singing of chants that echo in the thin air of high altitude.

Above them, as if in expectation, soar a host of griffin-vultures. This slow-marching party and its feathered heralds head for a sacred cliff at the roof of the world; for this is Tibet, and this is a sky burial.

For most Westerners, the idea…

Three factors to consider when deciding

Photo: Arturo Rey/Unsplash

In the United States, most adults are now fully vaccinated, and hundreds of thousands more people are getting vaccinated every day. Covid case counts are falling, often dramatically, in communities with high rates of vaccination. The risk-level tracker that our group, Resolve to Save Lives, developed with the New York Times now shows many areas of the country in yellow or green — low or moderate risk of Covid — for the first time since the pandemic started.

People have started traveling again, many businesses, schools, and offices have reopened, and large gatherings are being held. In New York City…

We don’t yet know if temporary heart inflammation is a rare side effect of mRNA vaccination, but it’s possible

Photo: Heather Hazzan/SELF Magazine

As parents consider the risks and benefits of the Covid-19 vaccines for their kids, they may have heard about a heart inflammation condition called myocarditis or pericarditis occurring after some people get the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. Here’s what you need to know.

What’s the tl;dr?

  • There appears to be a higher risk of myocarditis or pericarditis — an inflammation of the heart muscle or its outer lining — in people ages ages 16–30 who get an mRNA vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna).
  • The risk varies from 1–25 cases per one million mRNA vaccine doses, depending on the person’s age, which vaccine they get…

Coping With Death

The Intricacy of Grief in Uncertain Times

Photo by Gabriel on Unsplash

Death is not a thing, but things: a process of emotions, states of being, suddenly shifting relationships, the buzz of needful activity, an empty chair, a dialed number that doesn’t connect. In the clutches of grief, death may seem like a single event, the running down of a curtain beyond which none of us can see — but it is also a path, a journey, a process.

Knowing this more deeply can help us to grieve.

In my book Death’s Summer Coat, I talk a lot about the human need to categorize and differentiate. We want to say: surely death


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