Intro and Disclaimer

QM would like to help you make sense of information being circulated by: 1. Translating data into digestible language, 2. Dispelling misconceptions and linking to evidence, and 3. Curating relevant data, and articles on a weekly basis. Our Round Up/ Mythbusting projects are intended to help our QM family make sense of information being circulated. Taking control of our health as a queer community includes making institutional knowledge accessible to the public. 

Disclaimer: Although this information has been evaluated and determined to be accurate by Queering Medicine (QM), we at QM do not want to give the impression that we are the sole gatekeepers of medical knowledge. As a collective, QM members bring professional and personal qualifications that allow us to research and share credible knowledge. Our goals for this weekly round up and myth busting is to translate data into digestible information, dispel misinformation, and curate relevant data for the Lansing queer community. We encourage the community to question knowledge found outside of reputable sources, however, Queering Medicine will gladly help facilitate this process. If evidence or recommendations change, or any inaccuracies are found, we will correct them and explain the changes. If you have any questions about our methodology and sources, or you would like to point out any inaccuracies, please let us know!

Thanksgiving and COVID-19

Thanksgiving is in a few days, and it's important to celebrate safely, given the risk of COVID-19 transmission. The safest way to celebrate is virtually (for example, using video chat software or phones), even though that means being physically apart from family. COVID-19 cases are hitting record highs, and gatherings like what many families traditionally do for Thanksgiving pose a significant risk, and that risk is much higher if precautions aren’t taken. Family gatherings also frequently include people who are older or higher risk from COVID-19, making them even more dangerous for many people. If you do choose to travel or attend a Thanksgiving gathering, the CDC offers some recommendations to make the experience safer:

Wear a mask

Stay at least 6 feet away from others who do not live with you

Wash your hands

Attending a Gathering

Celebrating virtually or with the people you live with is the safest choice this Thanksgiving.

If you choose to attend a gathering, make your celebration safer. In addition to following the steps that everyone can take to make Thanksgiving safer, take these additional steps if attending a Thanksgiving gathering:

Hosting a Thanksgiving Gathering

Celebrating virtually or with the people you live with is the safest choice this Thanksgiving.

If having guests to your home, be sure that people follow the steps that everyone can take to make Thanksgiving safer. These steps include:

If you do travel

More information

Trans Day of Remembrance

Friday was Trans Day of Remembrance, when we reflect on the lives lost in the past year due to anti-trans violence. In 2020, there was an average of one trans or non-binary person murdered per day around the world. That statistic is only based on the cases we know about - the real total is likely much higher, as trans people are frequently misgendered in news reports (including obituaries), many were not publicly out, and not all places recognize or keep records of anti-trans violence in connection with crimes.

The overwhelming majority of trans and nonibinary people murdered are people of color, and most are trans women. Intersectionality is critical in understanding identities and experiences, and Black trans women in the U.S. are at much higher risk of being murdered for who they are.

More information:

President-Elect Biden Plans to Tackle COVID-19

President-elect Joe Biden has announced his plan for responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and announced his Transition COVID-19 Advisory Board, which includes 13 health experts from around the country. The advisory board will lend its expertise to help Biden tackle the current pandemic. 

Biden has committed to "Listen to science," "Ensure public health decisions are informed by public health professionals", and "Restore trust, transparency, common purpose, and accountability to our government." His seven-point COVID-19 plan includes:

This week alone, the United States saw an increase of over 1 million cases which brings the total case rate since March to over 12 million. The Biden administration recognizes the importance and need to bring the pandemic under control starting on day one of his presidency. President-elect Biden made plans of controlling the pandemic central to his campaign, calling for a more coordinated federal response plan. Biden’s plans call for significant investment in public health to expand and increase testing, contract tracing, and eventual vaccine distribution. Biden has encouraged Americans to wear masks and would encourage governors and local officials to implement mask mandates. President Trump has not conceded the election yet and that is delaying the transition between administrations. This could potentially delay the new administration’s pandemic response because they have not been able to see crucial COVID-19 data, use funds to plan the transition, or have conversations with top health experts. Biden tweeted on Friday asking for donations to fund the transition between administrations. The time we are in is unprecedented - an ongoing global pandemic and a sitting U.S. President refusing to accept the results of the elections. While the situation is dire, President-elect Biden continues to onboard staff and work towards a smooth transition between administrations, regardless of President Trump’s actions. 

More information:

Vaccine Update

About a week after Pfizer made their COVID-19 announcement touting a 90% effectiveness of their vaccine candidate, Moderna, another biotechnology company, released a statement announcing that preliminary analysis of their late-stage COVID-19 vaccine trial showed that their vaccine was 94.5% effective. 

Moderna has estimated that they will be able to make about 20 million doses by the end of 2020, enough to vaccinate 10 million people at two doses each. In addition, the Moderna vaccine can be refrigerated for a month or frozen for 6 months, not requiring the extremely cold temperatures required for storing and transporting Pfizer’s vaccine. 

The CEO of Moderna stated that their COVID-19 vaccine will cost governments about $25-37 per dose, meaning the total per-person cost for a vaccination would be $50-74. He was also quoted as saying that the cost would be similar to the cost of flu shots (around $10-50), however the amount governments pay for flu shots is somewhat difficult to accurately determine. 

Pfizer recently concluded their Phase III trial for their COVID-19 vaccine as well, stating that their vaccine turned out to be 95% effective. As Phase III is typically the last phase before submission of approval to the FDA, the FDA now will have to evaluate the data. In addition, the FDA will require an additional 2 months worth of follow-up data for the volunteers.

The news of an effective vaccine is promising, however it may be a while before enough people are able to receive it. It is imperative that even with a vaccine, public health measures will still need to be followed (mask wearing, hand washing, social distancing, etc.) for us to beat the pandemic. 

More information:

CDC Mask Recommendation Update

In a recent brief, the CDC updated information on masks, citing evidence that masks not only protect those around you, but masks also protect the wearer. To quote the brief, “individual benefit increases with increasing community mask use,” indicating synergistic benefits of mask wearing on an individual and community level. This is an important update, emphasizing the benefits of effective masks and proper mask wearing to reduce the spread of COVID-19. The brief also cites economic benefits of masks, stating that masks may “help avert future lockdowns, especially if combined with other non-pharmaceutical interventions such as social distancing, hand hygiene, and adequate ventilation.” 

The evidence has been clear and only continues to grow in support of mask wearing. There are benefits at an individual, community, and national level if proper mask wearing increases and is consistent. The messaging is clearer than ever, and hopefully the messaging from governmental bodies such as the CDC will continue in this direction, promoting proper mask usage so that we can continue to protect ourselves and each other.

More information:

QM Public Health Crisis Round-Up Team (in no particular order):