The Latest: Is 90% effective too good to be true?

Alexandra Sifferlin
Medium Coronavirus Blog
3 min readNov 11, 2020


Dear Reader,

There’s a lot of really good and really bad news related to Covid-19 this week. Let’s start with the good news: Pfizer and BioNTech released data suggesting that its vaccine is more than 90% effective at preventing Covid-19. There are caveats, which you can read here, but there are also real reasons to be optimistic. Dr. Anthony Fauci recently said a vaccine could be available to all Americans by April 2021.

READ: What You Should Know About Pfizer’s Covid-19 Vaccine Results

The bad news is that heading into the holiday season, cases of Covid-19 continue to spread widely. U.S. hospitalizations from the virus hit a record high of nearly 62,000 on Tuesday, and new daily cases passed 139,000 for the first time. With a potential vaccine on the horizon, now is the time to be cautious.

P.S. Today I published a story about the success of Covid-19 long haulers at building a patient-led health movement. You can check it out here.

Here’s what else is new:

  • Eli Lilly’s monoclonal antibody gets FDA emergency authorization: The decision applies only to people newly infected with the virus and came with a warning that it should not be used in hospitalized patients, the New York Times reports.
  • Biden names Covid-19 crisis team: The taskforce will be led by three co-chairs: former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner David Kessler, and Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith from Yale University. Read more.
  • More of Trump’s circle tests positive for Covid-19: Trump adviser David Bossie tested positive for the virus. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson also tested positive recently.

Follow our Medium Coronavirus Blog for regular updates, and read some of the essential stories we’ve curated below.

Be well,

Alexandra Sifferlin
Editor, Medium Coronavirus Blog

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New on the blog

There’s a lot! Let me break it down for you:

On vaccines

What Joe Biden’s Election Means for the Covid-19 Vaccine

What You Should Know About Pfizer’s Covid-19 Vaccine Results

An Epidemiologist on What to Expect From a Covid-19 Vaccine

On staying safe

Over 59,000 Americans Could Have Been Saved if Social Distancing Started Sooner

Restaurants Are the Riskiest Places You Can Go Right Now

Everything You Need to Know About Covid-19 Testing Before the Holidays

New Science Suggests How to Shorten Quarantine

Why Some Experts Say Humidifiers Could Help Against Covid-19

Critical perspectives

SARS-CoV-2 Is Behaving Like a Textbook Virus

Covid-19 is Kicking Our Ass While We Await a Hail Mary

How Covid-19 Long Haulers Created a Movement

Slovakia Is Putting Its Faith in ‘Blanket Testing’

Who Will Lead HHS and CDC Under Joe Biden?

Genetics Could Explain Why Some People With Covid-19 Get Sicker Than Others

A few more smart reads

Children Are Covid-19 Long Haulers, Too

How One Pastor Is Keeping His Midwestern Church Safe from Covid-19

We Hoped a Covid Vaccine Would Be Effective. But 90% Efficacy Is a True Game-Changer.

Coronavirus: The Swiss Cheese Strategy



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