The Latest: Time to upgrade your mask

Alexandra Sifferlin
Medium Coronavirus Blog
3 min readJan 27, 2021


Dear Reader,

It’s a unique moment in the pandemic. Things are objectively not great with very high numbers of people dying from Covid-19 each day. But there are some encouraging signs: Cases, hospitalizations, and deaths seem to be easing after a scary holiday surge. People are continuing to be vaccinated (though I think everyone wishes it would go faster).

The need to vaccinate people quickly is clear, and as former director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Tom Frieden, MD, wrote this week on Medium, “never under-estimate the enemy.”

With more infectious variants circulating, you may want to consider updating your mask game. It’s a good idea to consider doubling up your masks and looking for ones with multiple layers. Read more tips here. 😷

Some good news:

  • U.S. will have enough doses to vaccinate 300 million Americans: President Joe Biden will purchase another 200 million doses of Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccines, which will give the U.S. enough to fully vaccinate Americans by the end of this summer, the White House says.
  • Regeneron’s antibody cocktail prevents Covid-19 infection, data shows: The company shared that REGEN-COV caused a 100% reduction in symptomatic infection and roughly 50% lower overall rates of infection in around 400 people in a trial. Read more.
  • Moderna says its vaccine protects against variants: The company announced on Monday that the vaccine is effective against the new coronavirus variants that have emerged in Britain and South Africa, although it looks like it may be less effective against the latter. The company is now developing a new form of the vaccine that could be used as a booster shot against that strain.

Be well,

Alexandra Sifferlin
Editor, Medium Coronavirus Blog

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A quick Q&A: If I am vaccinated, do I still need to wear a mask?

Yes, you do. But not forever. As my colleague Yasmin Tayag reports, people will still need to wear masks as the nation works to achieve herd immunity. There are a couple reasons for that. One, it takes time for a vaccine to become fully effective in the body, and with Covid-19 spreading widely, it’s important to still try to avoid getting infected during that immunity-building period. Second, it’s still not yet known for certain if the vaccines definitely prevent people from spreading Covid-19, even if they prevent people from getting sick from it. So while there are still large groups of unvaccinated people, wearing masks will continue to be a tool to help end the pandemic. “The promising news is that this won’t have to last forever — as more people get vaccinated, vaccine-induced herd immunity will eventually be reached,” Yasmin writes.

Read more here.

New on the Blog

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Texas Blocks Dallas Efforts to Vaccinate Communities of Color

Can Dogs Get Fans Back in the Seats?

Essential explainers

How to Get Vaccinated ASAP (When It’s Your Turn)

You Need to Upgrade Your Mask Now: Here’s How

4 Theories Why Covid-19 Is Worse for Men

A few more smart reads

Covid Epi Weekly: Racing Against Mutants

What It’s Like to Get Two Doses of the Pfizer Vaccine

Stay Focused: We’re This Close to Ending the Pandemic



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