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Vaccines work in the real world, new data shows

A version of this story appeared in the February 23 edition of CNN’s Coronavirus: Fact vs. Fiction newsletter. Sign up here to receive the need-to-know headlines every weekday.
A study carried out by Public Health England on healthcare workers aged under 65 showed that a single dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine provides high levels of protection against infection and symptomatic disease.
One dose of the vaccine reduced the risk of infection by 72% after three weeks, while two doses reduced the risk of infection by 85%, according to the data released yesterday. And this high level of protection extended to the new, and more contagious, B.1.1.7 coronavirus variant first identified in the UK in December.
The data follows on from a similar study published in Israel earlier this month, which showed that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine reduced symptomatic coronavirus infections by more than 90% in the real world.
Separate data from Scotland, also released yesterday, suggests that four weeks after the initial dose, the Pfizer vaccine reduces the risk of hospital admission from Covid-19 by up to 85% — and the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine cuts it by up to 94%.
Meanwhile in the United States, a third vaccine could soon get the green light. Johnson & Johnson is expected to release more details this week about the Phase 3 trials of its coronavirus shot, ahead of a meeting of the US Food and Drug Administration’s vaccine advisers on Friday. Based on their guidance, the FDA may approve the single-dose vaccine.
The Johnson & Johnson shot was shown to be 66% effective in preventing moderate and severe disease in a global Phase 3 trial, but 85% effective against severe disease, the company announced Friday. It is already being used in South Africa.

YOU ASKED. WE ANSWERED

Q: Is it possible to get Covid-19 from the Covid-19 vaccine?
A: No. None of the vaccines tested for the US market uses a single piece of actual coronavirus. So it’s impossible for any of those vaccines to give you a coronavirus infection.
Some people may experience flu-like symptoms after getting the shots. Don’t panic if this happens to you, health experts say, since side effects are normal and usually mild.
Send your questions here. Are you a health care worker fighting Covid-19? Message us on WhatsApp about the challenges you’re facing: +1 347-322-0415.

WHAT’S IMPORTANT TODAY

Tracking Covid-19 vaccinations worldwide
The global vaccination campaign is speeding up. At least 97 countries and territories have administered more than 208 million doses of a Covid-19 vaccine between them. But vaccine distribution remains incredibly unequal, with many countries still waiting for their first shipments.
As the World Health Organization pushes for more international cooperation, stressing that ending a global pandemic will take global efforts, CNN brings you a new vaccination dashboard that tracks progress across the world.
A potential second pandemic: Long Covid
Across the United States and Europe, new facilities are opening to help the growing number of people still suffering from Covid-19 symptoms many months after their initial diagnosis.
It’s not clear how many Covid-19 patients go on to develop what’s called long-term Covid, or long Covid, but a recent study that included mostly people who had just mild cases of the virus found that 30% were reporting symptoms as long as nine months after contracting it.
Other studies have found a higher percentage. With more than 110 million Covid cases worldwide — more than 28 million in the United States alone — “this could potentially be a second pandemic coming in, being birthed out of the first crisis,” said Dr. William Li, a vascular biologist who has been researching Covid for almost a year.
Remembering the 500,000 lives lost
In just over a year, Covid-19 has claimed more than half a million US lives. That’s more than the number of Americans killed in World War II. The victims span every age group and corner of the country. And each left an indelible legacy. Here, families share their favorite memories of the loved ones they’ve lost.

ON OUR RADAR

TOP TIP

Pandemic paranoia is a real thing. Here’s how to deal with it.
The trifecta of the pandemic, required social isolation and social unrest has driven many of us to more extreme behavior and worries, including paranoia.
The good news is that it’s possible to combat paranoia, at least the kind that is not medically diagnosable or connected to other mental health issues, on your own.
You can start by acknowledging the paranoid thoughts and then work to create healthy daily routines. Set small, attainable goals like walking one mile every day or spending one hour connecting with your feelings or with someone else. Sleep, diet and social interaction are all important factors that feed good mental health.

TODAY’S PODCAST

“A lot of it falls on the patient and having to understand and come to terms with the fact that their life needs to change for them to get better.” — Dr. Dayna McCarthy, Mount Sinai Hospital
Many who have recovered from their initial Covid-19 infection continue to live with persistent symptoms of the virus. CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta discusses Post-Covid Syndrome and some of the people diagnosed with it who describe themselves as long haulers. Listen now.