Will a return to normal post-pandemic mean a return of mass shootings?

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While 2020 was a deadly year for gun violence, the U.S. avoided the kind of mass shootings that have plagued the country in recent years. Do the tragedies in Atlanta and Boulder indicate they’re coming back? On March 11, President Joe Biden announced on live TV the purchase of 100 million more one-shot vaccines, and that every adult in the U.S. would be eligible to receive a vaccination by May 1—this, as shots in arms were already increasing, and COVID-19 rates steadily declining. Coupled with the emerging springtime around the nation, it felt like a turning point in our dark age: that the unremitting blues of quarantine might soon be replaced by reunions with loved ones, recreational travel, and the familiar summer joys of baseball games and backyard barbecues. Read Full Story

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This cute little electric truck is a mobile vaccine unit

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If people can’t get to mass-vaccination sites, this freezer-equipped EV can bring the shots to them. As more doses of the COVID-19 vaccines become available, one of the biggest challenges in the rollout will be getting them to everyone who needs a shot—particularly people who might not have transportation to easily get to a mass-vaccination center. Read Full Story

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AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine has 79% efficacy in new U.S.-based trial

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The latest Phase III trial encompassed 32,000 participants, 21,583 of those receiving at least one dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine. The beleaguered AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine got a big shot in the arm, so to speak, today with results of the latest clinical trial which showed the vaccine is 79% effective against the virus. Previous studies pegged the AstraZeneca vaccine with an efficacy of 67%. Best of all, the latest trials reconfirmed what earlier ones did: AstraZeneca’s vaccine is 100% effective at preventing severe disease and hospitalization from COVID-19. Read Full Story

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This map shows what’s slowing down the vaccine rollout where you live

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A variety of factors—from poor healthcare systems to low internet access to vaccine hesitancy—will keep people from getting the vaccine. This map shows where those issues will need to be addressed to end the pandemic. More than two months after the first COVID-19 vaccine was approved in the U.S. and healthcare workers began getting shots, only around 14% of the population has gotten at least one dose. At the current rate of around 1.5 million jabs per day, it will take until next February for 90% of Americans to be vaccinated. Read Full Story

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This is how the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is different from Pfizer and Moderna’s shots

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It only requires one dose and doesn’t need to be kept as cold. The first two COVID vaccines approved in the U.S. both use first-of-a-kind technology called messenger RNA. Johnson & Johnson’s new vaccine is different, and the technology it uses may have helped give it two advantages: It only requires a single dose, and it can be stored for months in a refrigerator instead of an ultra-cold freezer. Read Full Story

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If you don’t want to double mask, here’s how to make surgical masks more effective

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“Knotting and tucking” or using a mask-fitter results in big improvements to the effectiveness of existing masks. The more contagious COVID variant first found in the U.K. is now doubling in prevalence roughly every 10 days in the U.S. At the current pace of vaccination , some people won’t get shots until the end of the year. The collision of the growing strain and our slow vaccination rate is one reason masks are such an important tool now. But with N95 masks still in short supply, the CDC now says that layering two masks can offer similar protection. But it’s not the only solution: just making a surgical mask fit better can also help. Read Full Story

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This Gates-backed, MIT-based biotech company solves a key vaccination problem

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Immunization (including the COVID-19 vaccine) often requires more than one shot. What if the first shot included time-release particles that automatically gave you the second shot at the same time? One of the logistical challenges with COVID-19 vaccines is the fact that many of the vaccines in development—including from Pfizer and Moderna—require two doses. If it’s hard to deliver a vaccine to nearly the entire global population once, it’s even harder to do it twice. The same problems exist for many childhood vaccines, and that’s one reason that children in the developing world are often undervaccinated. Read Full Story

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The infuriating Senate hearing on gun violence reveals why we can’t stop mass shootings like Boulder

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One side wants to implement popular gun control measures. The other side wants to use Minority Report precogs to stop shootings before they happen. And round and round we go. All anyone need know about Tuesday morning’s Senate hearing on gun violence is that it was already on the docket before a mass shooting on Monday at a supermarket in Boulder, Colorado, left ten dead, including the first responding officer. Read Full Story

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The U.S. plans to release its stockpile of COVID-19 vaccines. Experts are worried

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Healthcare experts are concerned about the vaccine rollout and whether the next administration can fix the blunders of the current one. This week, the Trump administration announced that it would release all the available COVID-19 vaccines from its stockpile to ensure more people over the age of 65 can get a shot. The move followed President-elect Joe Biden’s declaration last week that he would release all the existing doses of the COVID-19 vaccine in order to get more people vaccinated faster. Both plans raise lots of questions for health researchers and public health experts. Read Full Story

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