What happened at the YouTube town hall meeting concerning the COVID-19 vaccine

By: Hayat Osman

Image taken from: https://www.americamagazine.org/politics-society/ 2020/11/12/joe-biden-anthony-fauci-refugees-coro navirus

On May 24th, the President, Joe Biden, and Dr. Fauci, held a virtual town hall. The town hall meeting was held on YouTube. The town hall was with YouTube stars: Manny Mua, Brave Wilderness, and Jackie Aina. Joe Biden and Dr. Fauci addressed the concerns, about the COVID-19 vaccinations, brought to them by the YouTube stars.

With the help of the social media platform YouTube, the President, Joe Biden, was able to reach the target audience of those who are eligible to receive the vaccine, but were hesitant to take it. Biden used the chance to have trusted influencers help alleviate the concerns about the COVID-19 vaccinations.

In the first interview, Manny Mua asked Biden about rumors surrounding requirements for vaccine passports to travel to, or to go to, concerts. Biden responded saying “Federally, we are not going to mandate, and we don’t keep records, Federally, of people who have gotten the vaccine”. He also stated that rumors of vaccine passports would “Just play into paranoia in some people, in particular young people”.

To Peterson and Vins, who run the Brave Wilderness channel on YouTube, Biden talked of those who got the vaccine being able to travel with masks. Dr. Fauci added that “The gateway to safe travel is to be vaccinated”.

To Aina, YouTube beauty guru, who asked if the vaccines were safe and wanted to know about the science behind the vaccinations, Dr. Fauci emphasized the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine. Fauci claimed that the science that went into the vaccine was absolutely pristine.

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Pfizer vaccine for kids

By: Alexandra Rimbu

On Monday, May 10th, the U.S. FDA (Food and Drug Administration) made the critical decision to expand the use of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to children ages 12-15, making it the first vaccine in the U.S. authorized for this age group. Previously, the Pfizer vaccine was authorized only for persons ages 16 and up. The two other COVID-19 vaccines, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, are still only authorized for persons ages 18 and up.

The authorization of this vaccine came after the FDA’s review of a clinical trial, conducted by Pfizer, involving 2,260 12-to-15-year-olds, which showed the vaccine’s efficacy to be 100%.

The FDA also took into consideration the immune response of these persons aged 12-15 in comparison to the immune response of persons ages 16 and above who were vaccinated as well. Results yielded that the response to the vaccine was good, and, in fact, the younger age group (12-15 years old) had better responses than those in the older age group.

With the vaccine authorized, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and its Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, met on Wednesday, May 12th, to advise the CDC on whether to recommend use of the vaccine in this age group. CDC Director, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, decided the agency will recommend the vaccine’s use in the new group.

Following this recommendation, the Biden administration quickly mobilized to get vaccinations ready for 12-15 year olds through the federal pharmacy program, pediatricians, and family doctors. 

However, states make the decisions on who gives the vaccine and when, so there is no fixed date on which 12-15 year olds may begin to be vaccinated. As of now though, state licensing boards are discussing the distribution of the vaccine, and hopefully soon, the vaccine will be approved to be distributed throughout the whole state, a decision which will strive towards the eradication of COVID-19.

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The world’s worst ongoing COVID-19 outbreak

By: Alexandra Rimbu

India is now home to the world’s worst ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, having nearly more than 17.6 million reported cases since the beginning of the pandemic. And while this number may seem high, experts speculate the total number of cases (both reported and unreported) may be up to 30 times higher, reaching more than half a billion cases.

The great disparity between the total number of COVID-19 cases and the reported number of COVID-19 cases could be caused by several factors, including low testing levels and undercounting deaths. 

Last year, in late April, the country was only testing fewer than half a million people per day, compared to the 2 million tests they do per day now. However, it appears this is still not enough.

“That’s still not sufficient because the national average positivity rate is about 15% — in some cities like Delhi it’s up to 30% or higher. That means there are lots of people out there who are infected and not being detected just because of the capacity of testing … we will know only later how many was really the number of people infected,” says Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, chief scientist for the World Health Organization (WHO), speaking on the low testing levels. 

The country also suffers an underfunded public health infrastructure. In normal times, according to CNN, only 86% of deaths nationwide are registered in government systems. During this pandemic, this number has decreased greatly. As hospitals have run out of space, more and more people die at home or in other places, where there are no doctors present to assign a cause of death, and these deaths then go unreported. 

As of April 27th, India reported nearly 198,000 COVID-19 deaths. However, Bhramar Mukherjee, professor of biostatistics and epidemiology at the University of Michigan, estimates COVID-19 fatalities could be underreported by a factor of between two and five, meaning the real death toll could be close to 990,000.

While India still continues to struggle, it is receiving aid from overseas and taking steps itself towards lowering COVID-19 cases.

If you would personally like to help with the COVID situation in India, here are some links to sites where you can make a donation: 

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AstraZeneca vaccine concern

By: Alexandra Rimbu

Following a recent concern raised around thrombotic events (the event in which a blood clot forms inside a blood vessel), AstraZeneca offered its reassurance on the safety of its vaccine by conducting trials across the UK and EU in order to evaluate the vaccine’s effectiveness based on scientific evidence. The AstraZeneca report showed the vaccine to be 76% effective in preventing COVID-19 symptoms. Not only this, but the vaccine showed 100% efficacy against severe or critical disease or the need for hospitalization.

Reports from the UK and EU show that there have only been 15 events of DVT (deep vein thrombosis – a blood clot in a deep vein, usually in the legs) and only 22 events of pulmonary embolism (a condition in which one or more arteries in the lungs become blocked by a blood clot) reported among those given the AstraZeneca vaccine. This number is actually quite impressive, and it turned out to be much lower than would be expected to occur in populations of that size. 

Ann Taylor, Chief Medical Officer, said: “Around 17 million people in the EU and UK have now received our vaccine, and the number of cases of blood clots reported in this group is lower than the hundreds of cases that would be expected among the general population. The nature of the pandemic has led to increased attention in individual cases and we are going beyond the standard practices for safety monitoring of licensed medicines in reporting vaccine events, to ensure public safety.”

In terms of quality, there have been no confirmed issues regarding any batch of the AstraZeneca vaccine used across Europe, or the rest of the world. However, additional testing has, and will continue to be conducted, although so far, testing has indicated no reason for concern, according to officials. 

AstraZeneca has stated that they will always put the public’s safety first and that they encourage those invited to get the vaccine, and hopefully, we will soon overcome this pandemic.

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Holiday travels: 2020 vs. the past 

By: McKenna Nutter

COVID-19 has had a large impact on many aspects of everyone’s life. As the holiday season has recently come to an end, many of us are able to look back on the differences between this year and the years past.

The difference, even in the media, was large. While most years we are encouraged to spend time and gather with our friends and family, this year was very different. We had been warned that it was risky to go see our families, and that we should make other arrangements, such as the highly suggested virtual gatherings.

Another major difference, this recent holiday season, was the restrictions and lack in travel. We all know that the airports are filled each year with millions of people flying out to see families, and the streets and highways are filled with cars packed for the road with people driving to see their loved ones. However, the year of 2020 has no doubt been different.

Each of the airlines and airports have had their own pandemic restrictions, and they all vary from one to another. In many states, there are mandates of their own. For example, in Maine, a visitor must self-quarantine for 14 days unless they have had a negative COVID test result within the last 72 hours. Every state has different regulations, and some have none at all but, no matter the state, over the holiday season, there has definitely been an increase in cases. 

Though there has been a major difference in holiday travel this year, the holidays have seemed to increase the travel. TSA data has shown that during a single week, right before the holidays, over 1 million people had been screened each day. This number may not sound too bad during a normal year, in fact it sounds pretty good, but in a year when we are encouraged to stay home and stay safe, this is a large number. 

As predicted, the surge in the number of cases, and the number of deaths, after the holidays was incredibly high. Of all the states in America, Arizona was definitely a hot spot, and Arizona is only one part of the 50 state nation. After the holiday fun was over, the U.S. was averaging more than 246,000 new cases per day! Not to mention the number of deaths was evened out between 3,000 and 4,000 per day. 

This surge in numbers was expected, and though the experts had continually encouraged us to stay home, the warnings may not have been completely ignored, but they went unfollowed by many. 

Hopefully, with the number of new vaccines going out, and the set-up of many vaccination sites, we will be able to pull this surge back into control.

 

​The effects COVID-19 has had on professional sports

By: Charles Fragrassi

Image taken from: “Coronavirus: Coaches near Bench to Wear Masks as NFL Defends Return of Fans for Some Teams”

​COVID-19 has changed all of our lives forever; it changes our daily routines, grocery stores, and sporting events.

The NBA was one of the first major sports organizations to be affected by this; they responded by shutting down completely. After 4 months or so, they resumed play in a “bubble” in Walt Disney World. This was a great solution to COVID as they had zero COVID cases the rest of the season and were able to finished the season.

Major League Baseball was the next sport in season, and they too started their season three months late and had numerous precautions for COVID-19, such as there were to be zero fans in attendance, and teams were set to play against teams that were a certain amount of miles from each other to prevent traveling cross country.

MLB wasn’t as lucky as the NBA, and had people test positive from time to time. Some of the precautions were that they were not allowed to travel with the team and have access to the facilities. In order to get back to playing, they had to not have had a fever for 72 hours, and test negative twice. Although there were a few positive cases from time to time, MLB finished their season with hopes that next season will be back to normal.

As COVID cases grew more and more, there were questions about if the NFL would even have a season. The National Football League defied odds by having a season during the pandemic. Some of the precautions the NFL took were pretty much no handshakes or jersey swaps after the game, which in my opinion made no sense because they were just tackling each other for the past hour.

Players and coaches were also required to wear masks on the sideline and were strongly encouraged to social distance. They also made a requirement that only 62 players were allowed to travel at a time. Also, if any players tested positive, they were immediately placed on the COVID-19 reserve list and weren’t allowed back until it had been 10 days since symptoms first appeared, and they had to be 72 hours symptom free, with two negative tests.

Although there were a few games rescheduled due to COVID, the NFL did a pretty good job and finished the season pretty flawlessly.

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What is herd immunity?

By: Hayat Osman

Herd immunity is when enough people in a population are immune to a disease that it slows down the spread of the illness.

When a disease such as COVID-19 begins to spread scientists start by looking at the reproduction number, this represents how many people in a susceptible population could catch the virus from a single infected person.

For example, with the measles, one infected person on average would pass the virus to 12-18 other people. With COVID-19, an infected person would likely infect 2-4 other people, furthering the spread of the disease.

When people in a population start becoming immune to a disease, the chances of infecting others goes down making it harder for the virus to spread. The result is the community being protected against diseases as well as those with weak immune systems.

Scientists say herd immunity could be reached two ways: through broad infection or vaccination. To get herd immunity through broad infection the majority of a population would need to get sick from the virus and develop natural defenses such as antibodies to fight the disease.

But this method would be deadly because less than 5% of people worldwide have had COVID-19 and to reach immunity that number would need to be between 60-70%.

Experts say the most efficient way to herd immunity is through vaccination.

Vaccines help produce antibodies which help the immune system recognize diseases, controlling it from further spread. The benefits of reaching herd immunity through vaccination is only having the needed amount of people vaccinated, while broad infection may affect 100% of the population and generations after.

With COVID-19 the number of vaccinations that would be necessary to reach immunity is between 60-70%.

World leaders contracting COVID-19

By: Aisha Dirie

Over the duration of the pandemic, especially these past few months, world leaders have been contracting COVID-19.

Trump announced that he went into quarantine in early October 2020, after testing positive. This was right before the election, and the second presidential debate, but after the first presidential debate. This caused concern that it had been spread to other people at the debate, especially President-elect Joe Biden. Trump contracting COVID-19 cancelled that upcoming 2nd debate.

People close to Trump also contracted the virus including his family, and Ivanka, and some co-workers.

Trump was also hospitalized for his symptoms of COVID-19, as well as other world leaders who contracted COVID-19, like Boris Johnson.

Another world leader that contracted COVID-19 is Emmanuel Macron, the President of France. After testing positive for COVID-19 in mid December, Macron went into quarantine. Since meetings with other countries, and officials, had happened within recent days of his positive test, other European leaders also went into quarantine.

This diagnosis canceled a planned visit to Lebanon, and other planned events for Macron and other leaders in contact with him. 

Although many major world leaders have caught COVID-19, many have recovered safely, including Trump and Johnson, who were both hospitalized for their symptoms. Along with these major world leaders contracting the virus, others include: the Prime Minister of Russia, the President of Bolivia, the Prime Minister of Armenia, the President of Poland, and many more, who have all caught COVID-19.

These events just prove how anyone can get COVID-19, and how important it is to take caution. 

The COVID-19 vaccine is also starting to be distributed within these countries. 

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COVID-19 vaccines

COVID-19 Vaccine. COVID-19 Corona Virus 2019-ncov Vaccine Injection Vials Medicine bottles. Vaccination, immunization, treatment to cure Covid-19 Corona Virus infection. Healthcare And Medical concept. Image taken from: https://amp.insurancejournal.com/news/national/2020/10/30/588822.html

*Note: due to the nature of the vaccine rollout, some information in this article may no longer be current.

COVID-19 has spread throughout the world. But now, there are authorized vaccines to prevent COVID-19 in the United States: the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, and  Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine​​.

Two doses are needed for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. The Pfizer vaccine must be given 21 days apart and the Moderna vaccine must be given 28 days apart.

The vaccines can’t be fully effective if someone does not get both the doses, the same doses, and at the correct time. If someone gets only one vaccine dose, they will not be fully protected from COVID-19.

The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is for individuals 16 years of age and older. The common side effects from this vaccine is a pain when it’s injected, headache, muscle pain, chills, fever, and tiredness. These side effects are experienced after the second dose of the vaccination. 

Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine was made public on December 18, 2020. This vaccine​​ is for individuals 18 years or older. This vaccine also comes with side effects that will last for seven days. The common side effects are: tiredness, headache, muscle pain, chills, joint pain, swelling, nausea, and fever.

These vaccines won’t be available to regular Americans for some time. The vaccines will be given to front-line workers first (that includes firefighters, police officers, food workers, postal workers, manufacturing workers, grocery store workers, public transit workers, teachers, and daycare workers).

People 75 years and older will receive the vaccination second. People 65 to 74 years will also receive the vaccination, and then people aged 16 to 64 years, with underlying medical conditions, will receive it last.

After getting a COVID-19 vaccine, you will not test positive for the COVID-19 test. If you have already had COVID-19, and recovered, you will still need to get the vaccine. 

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Mental health and the pandemic

By: Grace Blumer-Lamotte

Mental health is classified as our emotional, physiological, and social well-being.

The first report of COVID-19 was in Wuhan, China, on December 31st, 2019. The first reported cases in the United States of America were sometime in January, 2020.

The pandemic has taken a toll on everyone’s mental health. Whether it was beneficial or harmful.

To some people, the pandemic was beneficial to their mental health. I asked 4 people between the age range of 14-46 years old: “How has the pandemic impacted your mental health for the better?”

The 14-year-old answered that the pandemic has been beneficial to their mental health by being away from school and “toxic friends.”

The 16-year-old answered that the pandemic has not been beneficial to their mental health.

The 43-year-old answered that the pandemic impacted their mental health by having “More face time/contact with my immediate family and my kids.”

3 words they used to describe it being beneficial is “less-busy, family-time, and remote-work.”

The 46-year-old also answered that the pandemic impacted their mental health as the “flu-rate has dropped.” 

To other people, the pandemic was harmful to their mental health. The same 4 people answered how the pandemic impacted their mental health for the worse.

The 14-year-old said, “It is difficult not having social interaction.”

The 16-year-old said, “My girlfriend broke up with me. I lost multiple friends. My mental health went downhill.”

The 43-year-old said that the negatives about the pandemic are “Stress and worry about the safety and well-being of my family. Dealing with the unknown is exhausting.”

3 words they used to describe their mental health during the pandemic is that they feel: “isolated, stressed, and unknown.”

According to ‘The Philadelphia Inquirer,’ their crisis line has spiked and hasn’t come down since the pandemic started.

Everyone around the world struggles with something in their life. Whether it’s a mental illness(es), family issues, or abuse of substances. But since the Coronavirus has started, Federal Surveys showed that 40% of Americans are struggling with a mental illness and/or drug-related problem, and 75% of young adults are struggling.