Coronavirus weekly need-to-know: Vaccine side effects, curfews, superspreaders & more

Katie Camero

Each week, McClatchy News offers you a round-up of our noteworthy coronavirus coverage from across the nation.

More than 13.2 million people in the United States have tested positive for the coronavirus as of Saturday, Nov. 28, according to Johns Hopkins University. That includes more than 265,000 people who have died nationwide.

Globally, there are more than 62 million confirmed cases of the highly infectious virus, with more than 1.4 million reported deaths.

Here’s what happened between Nov. 20 and Nov 27.

Coronavirus vaccine side effects

Like most regularly recommended vaccines, the one for COVID-19, which will be administered in two doses weeks apart, doesn’t come without side effects. Most people who have participated in clinical trials report fevers, headaches, fatigue, muscle aches and soreness around injection sites.

The rate of reactions COVID-19 vaccine trial participants reported experiencing is higher than what the public may be used to, like with the flu vaccine, but experts say that should not scare people away from getting vaccinated.

Learn more about how each vaccine candidate has affected clinical trial participants and how they compare to current recommended vaccines.

What are the side effects of the COVID vaccines? Here’s what to expect

Can curfews alone slow the spread of COVID-19?

U.S. states and cities are starting to implement curfews to help slow the spread of COVID-19, but health experts aren’t sure if those measures — alone — will make any impact.

Some experts fear curfews might just lead people to gather elsewhere, like indoors where risks of infection are even higher, or guide them to visit businesses in narrower periods of time with more crowding and potential exposures.

Read on to understand some of the caveats that concern curfews during a pandemic.

Do curfews alone help slow the spread of coronavirus? Experts weigh in

COVID vaccine to be distributed based on population

Government officials said the first 6.4 million doses of a coronavirus vaccine will be distributed to all states and territories around mid-December, assuming the U.S. Food and Drug Administration will deem it safe and grant it an emergency use authorization

Top members of Operation Warp Speed told reporters on a call Tuesday that the first doses will be given to states based on population size — and not the number of people in high-risk groups.

Here’s what to know about how the COVID-19 vaccine will be distributed.

How will the COVID-19 vaccine be distributed when approved? Here’s what to know

What makes you a COVID superspreader?

Turns out if you have a full set of teeth and congested nose, you may be on track to being a coronavirus superspreader, one study suggests.

Researchers from the University of Central Florida found that respiratory droplets travel about 60% farther when shooting out of a congested nose and fully-toothed person than those from an individual with a clear nose and no teeth.

The team also looked at how saliva plays a role in virus transmission. Read more here.

What makes someone a COVID-19 superspreader? New study points to two features

What does a vaccine efficacy of over 90% mean?

Contrary to everyday language, “vaccine efficacy” doesn’t carry the same definition as “vaccine effectiveness,” at least not in science.

“Vaccine efficacy” is measured in controlled clinical trials under “ideal conditions,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. So, a vaccine efficacy of 90% means there was a 90% reduction “from the number of cases you would expect if [trial participants had] not been vaccinated.”

Continue reading to learn what health officials and experts consider safe for the COVID-19 vaccine.

What does it mean that COVID vaccine candidates have over 90% efficacy?

Most contagious during first 5 days of COVID infection

A person is the most contagious during the first five days of their coronavirus infection, a new study says, highlighting the importance of immediate self-isolation after potential exposure.

This is because the amount of virus, or a person’s viral load, peaks right when symptoms begin. The study also found that no live SARS-CoV-2, or virus that can cause infection, was found after nine days since symptoms started.

Here’s what else you should know about infectiousness and COVID-19.

You’re most contagious during first 5 days of coronavirus infection, study says

Can you catch COVID through food?

While there’s no evidence of direct coronavirus spread from eating or handling food, there could be risks in the kitchen, according to the CDC.

“It is possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object, including food, food packaging, or utensils that have the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes,” the agency said.

Read on to learn how to stay safe this Thanksgiving.

Can you get coronavirus through food? What to know as you prepare Thanksgiving dinner

Shirts, bandanas as masks don’t help slow COVID spread

COVID-19 cases are spiking across much of the U.S., and public health experts are wondering if it’s time to move away from makeshift face coverings to ones that offer a higher level of protection.

While these options, to some degree, are better than no mask at all, experts say not all face coverings are created equally.

Here’s what the latest research says about do-it-yourself masks during the pandemic.

Start wearing real face masks — not shirts or bandanas — to slow pandemic, experts say

In other coronavirus coverage outside McClatchy...