Why the CDC Changed Them

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A Prized Fauci Mask

On Feb 8, 2021 I wrote, “There’s no science yet showing you should double mask.” On February 10, 2021, boom, the CDC published new science showing just that.

Because, boom, that’s how it works. Science marches on and with Covid more than ever we need to keep our science game up.

The CDC prioritized mask studies throughout January. They did new mask experiments and it turned out they showed much less particle transmission using double masking or tight masks so they have now changed their recommendations to reflect hat.

This is a good reminder once…


Dr. Robin’s Covid-19 Updates

Q&A On Variants

Ten Questions, Many Answers

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Photo by Elisa on Unsplash

How come we are all of a sudden hearing about variants?

Good question. But let’s start at the start.

What is a variant?

A virus’ goal in life is to

a) get into somebody’s cells and

b) reproduce.

When they reproduce they often change a little, aka they “mutate.” If the way they change helps them get better at

a) getting into somebody’s cells and

b) reproducing,

then that version of the virus can become “dominant.”

Cue up any of the many YouTube versions of songs with the words “Only the Strong…


Dr. Robin’s Covid-19 Updates

My Covid Ode to Science Teachers

Vaccines and Variants and Career Arcs

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Photo by bady abbas on Unsplash

Vaccines and Safety

Last week 10 million Covid vaccines had been given. Today it’s 20 million.

There’s been no changes in safety issues. We see a serious allergic reaction maybe six times in a million doses; and many people are getting (as expected and welcomed) mild to moderate reactions of sore arms and sometimes fevers and discomfort.

So so far, so good with safety. Now we just need to rebuild a mass vaccination program out of thin air with no public health infrastructure. It’ll happen, but unfortunately not overnight.

As soon as the vaccine program gets…


Dr. Robin’s Covid-19 Updates

Vaccine Stories

After A Year of Fear, Relief is Just a Shot Away

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Used with permission of the photographer Dr. Anitha Leonard

Almost every time I talk to somebody I hear about another friend/family member/neighbor who has Covid. It can feel so scary — like the noose is tightening.

But — the miracle of the vaccines is upon us.

So now almost every time I talk to one of my health care worker friends, I hear about another person who has gotten the vaccine. It’s just fantastic, an instant sigh of relief.

Tearing Up In The Vaccine Room

One of my buddies who got her vaccine last week said when she got her injection she felt such a…


Dr. Robin’s Covid Updates

What To Do If You Get Sick With Covid

Twenty-Two Tips from the Trenches

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Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

So you got the dreaded email/phone call: you’ve got the Covid. Maybe you’re completely asymptomatic, or maybe you’re already sickly. No matter what, it’s a rough moment, and can be pretty scary.

Fundamentally, this positive test means you are infected and infectious (contagious) and you need to stay home for at least ten days after your positive test or onset of symptoms. What should you do now?

a) First thing: call your doctor. Let them know you’re positive and see what they have to say.

b) Then, right away, call everybody you’ve seen the last few…


Dr. Robin’s Covid-19 Updates

Covid: The Science Will Save Us

Our Year in Review

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Photo by Debby Hudson on Unsplash

In one of my earliest posts in March 2020, I wrote, “Science will save us.” It is still true.

It’s slower than most people want and all of us need, but the science is happening. What we have seen over the last year is one-patient-at-a-time scientific discovery in action. Questions are posed; hypotheses generated; and bit by bit the truth is revealed.

At the start of this crisis we knew nothing, less than nothing: only that some people had a “weird” pneumonia. By late January, we knew the bug, its gene sequence, and that it could…


Dr. Robin’s Covid-19 Updates

Covid Mutations: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

Be Not Terrified. But Keep Your Eye on The Spike.

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Electron microscopy showing SART-CoV-2 viral particles

Lots of people I know are worried about the new “variants” of SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19 illness) now being observed in England and South Africa. Some headlines call them the “mutated Covid” (an ugly, scary word) or “a new kind of Covid” that may be more transmissible.

People are wondering what a “mutated Covid” could mean to us, how it might affect travel or schools, and the possible impact on vaccination effectiveness. Many people (and headlines) have started to theorize about Worst Possible Scenarios…


Dr. Robin’s Covid-19 Updates

Eighteen Vaccine Questions Answered in Under Six Minutes

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My friend, a front-line critical care doc at Children’s, beaming behind her mask, as she receives her first vaccine against COVID-19

Here are answers to eighteen common questions about the two approved vaccines: Pfizer’s vaccine (first one out of the gate, the one which health care workers started getting first) and the Moderna vaccine (just arriving at hospitals this week).

Q. Can I get infected from the vaccine?

A. No. Period. No. There is no virus in the injection so you cannot get COVID-19 from getting the vaccine.

Q. How effective are these vaccines?

A. Every vaccine trial has two groups of people — one who gets the vaccine and one who doesn’t (they get a placebo)…


Dr. Robin’s Covid-19 Updates

Vaccines…One Giant Step

But Still a Long and Winding Road

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Photo by Dan Meyers on Unsplash

We are living in the age of miracles.

No one, not even Tony Fauci, dreamed we could go from learning the virus’ genetic sequence in January to putting vaccines into health care workers’ arms this week.

Things have happened fast — not dangerously fast, just amazingly fast — because of a ton of pre-planning. The technology for making vaccines with mRNA has been evolving for over a decade and the Phase I safety testing and the Phase 2 and 3 “effectiveness” (efficacy) trials were launched early and well.

Two important groups of scientists over the past…


Dr. Robin’s Covid-19 Updates

Creating a Covid Kit

Back to Basics as the Numbers Rise

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Photo by Kristine Wook on Unsplash

With the kinds of Covid numbers we are seeing this month, soon all of us are going to know someone who is sick, and it’s going to feel as though the noose is tightening. Those days can feel really dark.

Fact-based knowledge is my light in the darkness.

So let’s review the basics.

Q. How do I catch Covid?

A: The vast majority of the time you catch Covid from respiratory droplets coming directly from the mouth or nose of a person with Covid into your mouth or nose…

Robin Schoenthaler, MD

Covid-Translator. Cancer doc: ~Three decades at MGH. Writer and storyteller: Moth Grand Slam Champion. Mom. www.DrRobin.org, @robinshome, robinshome2@gmail.com

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