The Battle of the Masks (Shields) versus the Vaccine Injections (Swords)

The Battle of the Masks (Shields) versus the Vaccine Injections (Swords).

So, if you don’t have time to read the article, here is the zinger.  It doesn’t have to be a battle between the vaccine and the mask.  Get the vaccine and wear the mask!  And then also social distance!  If the mask reduces the risk to 1/3, and the vaccine reduces the risk to 1/3, both together reduce the risk to 1/9 or lets call it 1/10.  Then, social distancing reduces the risk by another 1/10.  With all three, the risk is reduced to 1/10 x 1/10 = 1/100, or 1%.  Bazinga!

Trump vs. Redfield (CDC).  Fight 1.  Today.  3 pm PST.

Trump vs. Biden.  Fight 2.  Nov. 3rd.  Plus all week for counting all mail in ballots, and maybe all month for Trump court appeals.

Just when Trump needs to boost confidence in a vaccine, a new battle emerges with his Director of the CDC, Robert Redfield, over the vaccination schedule, and the importance of masks, of all things.  Oddly, this occurs after Michael Caputo at HHS takes a 60 day recovery trip after trying to alter CDC science reports.

A CBS poll found that only 22% would get a vaccine as soon as possible, 58% would wait and see, and 21% would never get one.  

In sworn Senate testimony, Redfield said that the mask, which can stop 70% of infections, is your best bet, even over the vaccination.  Trump immediately challenged this, with a story of how waiters might touch their mask and then deliver someone’s food.  How many of your weekly interactions are of this type?  They don’t actually touch the food, even before the pandemic.  In Trump’s main campaign to restart the economy, including restaurants, this was exactly the wrong example to make.  I have been talking about this revolutionary change in masking, that it highly protects the wearer.    People in restaurants don’t wear masks when they are eating and drinking, so they are only protected by the waiters’ wearing masks.  Winner?  Redfield, knockout in round 1.

Trump also made fun of Biden’s wearing a mask, even when he is separated from people.  Well, Trump forgot about Coronavirus aerosols, which can go over 20 feet, and linger for an hour.  There is also no excuse for Trump smashing yelling, unmasked people together in his rallies for hours.  Winner?  Biden in round 1.  At another interview about the safety of his rallies, Trump only answered that he was far from the audience, and therefore safe.  That was not in Trump’s copy of “How to win friends and influence people”.

Redfield also gave a standard timeline for vaccine availability, which is standard among scientists, and was sent by the CDC to State governments.  It puts off vaccines for most people until Summer or Fall 2021.

Operation Warp Speed hypertexted back to Earth the following availability schedule, where a dose is one shot, and two doses are needed.  Sanjay Gupta on CNN seemed to imply that Vaccine A is Moderna’s, eventually producing 300 million doses, and Vaccine B is Pfizer’s, producing 800 million doses.  By the end of December 2020, the sum of the doses would only be 35 million to 45 million, meaning roughly 20 million would be completely vaccinated, about 6.1% of Americans.  Trump seemed to imply that 79 million elderly and health care workers would be vaccinated by the end of January.

The IHME projections do not include vaccinations, but they use 45% masking for the US now, so the 6% vaccinated could probably be included as 51% masking, but not help much to reach the desired 95% masking.  However, the 6% willing to get vaccinated, may already be among the 45% smart or fearful enough to already be masked.  California is taken as 60% masked, and the World is 59% masked.

The vaccines need to be stored in dry ice, but that used to be a quite common form of storage in days of old.

Recall, 45% of Americans are old or have co-morbidities.  The requirement for an approved vaccine is only 50% effectiveness, but what does that mean?  A vaccine should generate a protective response in every taker, but in what percent will it be enough to stop hospitalization or death?  That may be the question.  Hopes are that vaccines will reach 70% effectiveness.  BUT, 50% effectiveness means 50% less infections in the two months of the trial compared to those not vaccinated, mostly with healthy people, in average circumstances.  They don’t even know how long the vaccine protection lasts.  For that matter, they do not know how long one is immune after first getting the Coronavirus.    Flu vaccines are less effective for older people, so they get a double strength shot.  Flu vaccines can expire after six months.  The Coronavirus is much more complicated than ordinary viruses, and includes error corrections, so it will not just die out, or easily mutate to require a new vaccine.

Masks in general can protect forever, but changing them is recommended.  I bought ten surgical masks in my market for $6 last week. Today I saw a package of KP95 masks, but the price on it was $105, which shocked me, until I saw that it contained 20.  Redfield appealed to 6 to 8 to 12 weeks of wearing masks to bring the virus under control.  Remember, that 116,000 US lives can be saved by January 1 by complete masking.  It’s obvious how masks work.  After six months, I still can’t explain how a given vaccine works.  In addition, social distancing is now said to reduce the probability of infection to 1/10.

Maybe these numbers will all be clarified tomorrow, or more probably, all be changed by tomorrow.  Three things won’t change.  The need to wear a mask, to social distance, and Trump’s flouting of masks.  I think that Trump needs the vaccines to win out, so that he can take credit for them, and win re-election.  Oh, but you already knew that.

The elderly over 80, and with comorbidities with a 10% apparent fatality rate, should jump to get it, in my opinion.  According to Trump, they are high on the priority list.  So of course are health care workers, essential workers, the vulnerable with comorbidities, and vulnerable minorities.  There is still no evidence that the National Academy of Medicine or a blue ribbon committee or the CDC set the priorities, but they sound reasonable.  The states and communities eventually distribute the shots, probably at special health facilities.

About Dennis SILVERMAN

I am a retired Professor of Physics and Astronomy at U C Irvine. For a decade I have been active in learning about energy and the environment, and in lecturing and attending classes at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at UC Irvine.
This entry was posted in 2020 Election, Coronavirus, COVID-19, Donald Trump, Health Care, IHME Projections. Bookmark the permalink.

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