Thinking Citizen Blog — Covid Confusion

Thinking Citizen Blog — Thursday is Health, Health Care and Global Health Policy Day

Today’s Topic: Covid Confusion: Double-Masking, Vaccine Options, How Bad is the US Compared to Other Countries?

A few weeks ago, or was it months, I started wearing two masks after reading an article about how much better two were than one. I found it annoying, but did it anyway. This week, I went in for a stress test at Mass General Waltham and was told to take off the second mask. The next morning I read an article arguing that “double masking” was a “double edged” sword. After talking to a range of experts and weighing the pros and cons, the author chose going with one mask. What have you chosen to do? why? Today a few notes on double masking, the new Johnson and Johnson vaccine, and Fauci’s comment on abysmal US Covid record compared to other countries. Experts — please chime in. Correct, elaborate, elucidate.


1. “There has to be a balance between filtration and breathability in order for a mask to work well.”

2. “If together they are too dense, the air will go around gaps rather than through the mask.”

3. “You could make a mask out of aluminum foil, and it would block everything from coming through it. But unfiltered air would just come around the sides. What matters is the number of layers, plus the fit.”

Two masks could be one too many — The Boston Globe


1. 66%: global effectiveness at preventing moderate to severe disease

2. 72%: US effectiveness at preventing moderate to severe disease

3. 100%: effectiveness at preventing coronavirus-related hospitalization and death

NB: Or is the real number 42% for effectiveness at preventing moderate to severe illness in older adults with comorbidities? In general, should you consider the pros and cons of each vaccine or just take the first available? The consensus appears to be to take the first available. Is that what you are doing?

Johnson & Johnson one-shot vaccine appears to fare better against worrisome COVID-19 variants than first reported — The Boston Globe

Pfizer, Moderna or maybe J&J? Right now, the best vaccine for you is the one you can get.


1. Fauci — “We’ve done worse than most any other country and we’re a rich developed country.”

2. The standard metrics are infections and deaths.

3. But are they counted the same way across countries? In general, cross-country health care comparisons are questionable because of the very wide range of counting methods.

NB: And, assuming the counting methods are appropriately adjusted for, how are these differences to be explained? What role is played by demographic structure or the rate of comorbidities such as obesity? How much by policy failures? Does anyone know of a good article that addresses these issues?

For the last three years of posts organized by theme:

PDF with headlines — Google Drive


Please share the most interesting thing you learned in the last week related to health, health care or health care policy — the ethics, economics, politics, history…. Or the coolest, most important thing you learned in your life related to health are or health care policy that the rest of us may have missed. Or just some random health-related fact that blew you away.

This is your chance to make some one’s day. Or to cement in your mind something really important you might otherwise forget. Or to think more deeply than you otherwise would about something that matters.



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