2021-05-22/23 General

Yesterday was a bit of a slow news day, plus I uh forgot to hit the Publish button, so today you get a 2-for-1 post!


A US CDC report says that schools that required teachers and staff to use masks had 37% lower rates of COVID-19. Schools which improved ventilation had 39% lower rates (35% with just dilution and 48% with dilution+filtration).


A study from the UK found that with one dose, the effectiveness against B.1.617.2 was quite a bit worse than B.1.617.2 (the “India” strain), but that two shots worked almost as well against B.1.617.2 as against B.1.1.7. The efficacies:

AZ 1 dose51.1%33.5%
AZ 2 doses66.1%59.8%
Pfizer 1 dose49.2%33.2%
Pfizer 2 doses93.4%87.9%


The US CDC is watching to see if the mRNA vaccines are linked to heart inflammation in young people. It might be coincidence, but they want to pay attention. (NB: some years ago, a perfectly healthy 35 y/o friend of mine spontaneously had a heart inflammation that was so bad that he ended up with a heart transplant, probably as a result of a virus, so it can happen independent of COVID.)

There was a paper which came out on 12 May 2021 which I thought I had talked about, but apparently didn’t. (I blame the problems with my finger tendons. Never mind that I hurt the tendon on 13 May, I can probably get away with it.) It’s part of the UK mix&match study which I am eagerly, eagerly awaiting. It says that if you mix AZ and Pfizer shots, you get more side effects than if you give the same brand for both shots. The effects listed are in the “annoying” to “really annoying”, but are not life-threatening — things like pain at the injection site to vomiting — and go away.

Note that I had a relatively bad reaction to the AZ. I spent 36 hours in bed and couldn’t eat anything for about 9 of those (for about 24 of them, I was asleep). I kept lying there thinking, “uhhhhhhhhhhgghhhhh I feeel awwwfulll…. and this is miiiiiild and I am going to get oooover it… I am soooooo glad that I don’t aaaacctuallly have COVID-19, that would be soooo much wooooorse!”

Recommended Reading

Sometimes I come across things which are really good but which, by their nature, I can’t really summarize briefly. These are both really good reads:

  • Novelty Means Severity: The Key To the Pandemic gives a way of framing the pandemic, of giving you a mental model of how to think about it.
  • The Pandemic Speaks is… amazing. And dark. And bleak. And amazing. It is Art. It is written from the point of view of Death, basically, and it taunts the reader with their mortality. In some ways it is similar to the previous one, but reading the first is like sitting in a lecture about class warfare; the second is like getting mugged.