Americans need to be prepared for the possibility that they may feel a little unwell after they get a coronavirus vaccine, if one is authorized, members of a US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advisory committee said Monday.
The CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices met to discuss whether to recommend use of any Covid-19 vaccine that the US Food and Drug Administration might authorize.
"As a practicing physician, I have got to be sure my patients will come back for the second dose. We really have got to make patients aware that this is not going to be a walk in the park," Dr. Sandra Fryhofer of the Emory University School of Medicine, representing the American Medical Association, told the meeting. "They are going to know they got a vaccine. They are not going to feel wonderful."
Remember: The whole point of vaccination is to cause an immune response in the body and that can sometimes cause flu-like symptoms such as body aches, a fever or a headache.
Most coronavirus cases are spread by people without symptoms
Most coronavirus infections are spread by people who have no symptoms, the CDC said in newly updated guidance.
It's one of the main reasons mask use is so important, the CDC said.
"Most SARS-CoV-2 infections are spread by people without symptoms," the agency said in a section of its website devoted to explaining the science of how to use masks to control the spread of the virus.
"CDC and others estimate that more than 50% of all infections are transmitted from people who are not exhibiting symptoms," it added in the guidance, posted Friday. "This means at least half of new infections come from people likely unaware they are infectious to others."
Peak infectiousness comes five days after infection, the agency said on the website. "With these assumptions, 59% of infections would be transmitted when no symptoms are present but could range (from) 51%-70% if the fraction of asymptomatic infections were 24%-30% and peak infectiousness ranged 4-6 days."
FDA grants EUA to Regeneron's antibody cocktail
The FDA on Saturday issued an emergency use authorization for Regeneron's antibody cocktail to treat Covid-19 in high-risk patients with mild to moderate disease.
President Donald Trump received the therapy, called REGEN-COV2, when he was hospitalized for coronavirus. The treatment has to be infused into the bloodstream and is meant to mimic an immune response to infection.
The cocktail reduced Covid-19-related hospitalizations and emergency room visits in some patients within 28 days of treatment, the FDA said in a news release.
An emergency use authorization (EUA) is a lower regulatory bar than full approval by the FDA. An EUA allows products to be used under particular circumstances before all the evidence is available for approval.
"When used to treat COVID-19 for the authorized population, the known and potential benefits of these antibodies outweigh the known and potential risks," the FDA said.
Here's why mouthwash is not going to save you from coronavirus
It's trending on social media and generating excited media reports: another study showing an ingredient found in mouthwash can kill the coronavirus. In this case, it's as fast as 30 seconds.
But mouthwash is unlikely to ever be a solution to the pandemic, or even someone's own personal protection plan. That's because many things can kill a virus on contact, but they're not going to stop the source of the virus.
Alcohol, chlorhexidine, hydrogen peroxide and a range of other compounds can all kill viruses on contact or shortly after. But none of the studies recently released on preprint servers shows they can reduce the risk of either catching or transmitting the virus.
Inside the human body, the virus is constantly replicating in the upper respiratory tract -- in the nose, the sinuses, the throat, bronchial tubes and lungs.
"It is still in your nose, in the fluid on your vocal cords, and in your lung airways," said Dr. Donald Milton, who studies the transmission of viruses at the University of Maryland. "All of these and especially the vocal cords and lung airways are major sources of the virus in the air."
From the desk of Dr. Gupta
The country saw it after Memorial Day, the Fourth of July and Labor Day: spikes in Covid-19 cases in some regions a few weeks after Americans gathered with family and friends to celebrate. We were warned each time.
Some of us told ourselves that we were fatigued from the spring lockdown (true), the weather was finally warming up (true), we had done so well keeping infection rates from soaring during the summer (not really true -- we never even got them low enough to emerge from the so-called first wave). But, not surprisingly, the infection rates kept climbing.
The country is facing some of these same choices again as we quickly head into the trifecta of holidays: Thanksgiving, the December holidays (Hanukkah, Christmas and Kwanzaa), and New Year's Eve.
The CDC updated its recommendations Thursday to advise against Thanksgiving travel and gathering with people outside our own households. The big question: Have we learned the tough lessons?
It is true that some communities are safer than others, with lower levels of community spread, but overall, the country is widely infected at this point, and travel during holidays can turn any place into a hotspot.
That's why most public health officials, and the CDC will tell you the safest choice is to stay home and not gather in person with people outside your immediate household. Instead, do virtual gatherings with family members and friends.
You'll be in good company. The director of the National Institutes of Health, Dr. Francis Collins, said that for the first time in 27 years, his family will not be gathering for Thanksgiving.
Dr. Scott Gottlieb, a former commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration, said during a CNBC interview he and his family will forgo Thanksgiving this year, and hopes everyone will do the same.
And, the same goes for me. Like Gottlieb, I have three daughters, and with my elderly parents living in a different state, this is usually the time of year when we get to see each other.
But this holiday season, our interactions will be on screens -- with promises and hopes that next year will be different.