The Latest: Fauci is back

Alexandra Sifferlin
Medium Coronavirus Blog
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3 min readJan 22, 2021


Dear Reader,

There’s early momentum by the new Biden-Harris administration to change the trajectory of the Covid-19 pandemic in the United States. Masks are required in more places, and the manufacturing of protective gear and vaccines will ramp up. People will finally hear from the nation’s doctor, Dr. Anthony Fauci, once again. 🙏

What comes next is important. At the moment, cases of Covid-19 appear to be dropping in most states. There’s some debate over whether the country is coming down from its worst, final surge post-holiday or whether the new virus variants mean the situation will worsen.

What’s clear is that there’s an opportunity to significantly impact the spread of the virus. As Fauci said on Thursday (At a press briefing! That he was invited to speak at!), the looming threat of mutations is “all the more reason why we should be vaccinating as many people as you possibly can.” Thankfully, there’s a plan for that. Check out the details below.

Be well,

Alexandra Sifferlin
Editor, Medium Coronavirus Blog

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What we’re talking about on the blog

💯 Biden has a pandemic plan. President Joe Biden released a 21-page strategy to improve the production of vaccines, treatments, and protective gear. The plan is also meant to “address the disproportionate and severe impact of Covid-19 on communities of color and other underserved populations.” When it comes to vaccines, Biden is aiming to get 100 million doses administered in his first 100 days, a task that Jeff Zients, the new White House Covid-19 coordinator, has said is “ambitious but achievable.” Read all about it here.

🩺 Studies suggest some variants may be less susceptible to vaccines (but all is not lost). As Yasmin Tayag reports, researchers in South Africa studying the effectiveness of vaccines against new variants of the coronavirus raised concerns in two small laboratory studies. The studies, which haven’t yet been peer reviewed, suggest that the variant known as B.1.351 (the “South African” variant) may be less susceptible to the antibodies produced by natural infection, the Moderna vaccine, and the Pfizer vaccine. Previous research, however, has shown more optimistic news about the efficacy of vaccines against certain variants, in particular the B.1.1.7 variant first identified in the U.K. The vaccines may also be able to be tweaked to address any efficacy issues should they arise. Read more here.

💉 When should trial participants get the Covid-19 vaccine? Now that two vaccines are available for use in the U.S., there are questions around whether people in the trials should find out if they are in the placebo or vaccine group and be offered the opportunity to get vaccinated before they are otherwise eligible. Read here for how one person in the Pfizer trial has navigated the ethical quandaries.

A few more smart reads

Inside One Psychiatric Nurse’s Work Week at the Hospital

How to Get More Americans Vaccinated, Faster

The Kornacki Show I’d Love to See

How Many Vaccine Shots Go to Waste? Several States Aren’t Counting. (ProPublica)



Alexandra Sifferlin
Medium Coronavirus Blog

Health and science journalist. Former editor of Medium’s Covid-19 Blog and deputy editor at Elemental. TIME Magazine writer before that