In This Episode
- The Delta variant of coronavirus has been detected in 92 countries, leading to lockdowns and the reintroduction of limitations on border crossing. Additionally, researchers in India have identified a variant of the Delta variant they’re calling Delta Plus, though it’s so far unknown whether it’s any more transmissible than the original variant.
- Mixing and matching the Pfizer-BioNTech and AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccines may increase immunity, according to early results from a study in the UK. If the CDC approves combining vaccine brands, it could increase access to the vaccine and avoid supply bottlenecks.
- And in headlines: Ethiopia declares ceasefire in Tigray, airstrikes and rocket attacks between U.S. forces and Iranian-backed militants, and SCOTUS upholds transgender bathroom rights.
Akilah Hughes: It’s Tuesday, June 29th. I’m Akilah Hughes.
Liz Plank: And I’m Liz Plank, in for Gideon Resnick.
Akilah Hughes: And this is What A Day, the podcast teens are not allowed to listen to if they’re on summer vacation.
Liz Plank: Yeah. We really appreciate you spending your break with u,. But with all due respect, you should be hanging out somewhere, or like swimming.
Akilah Hughes: Yeah, just go stand in a fast food parking lot for three hours, alright? Go loiter. We’ll see you in August.
Liz Plank: Yep.
Akilah Hughes: On today’s show, a new study hints at promising results if some of the two dose vaccines are mixed and matched, plus some headlines.
Liz Plank: But first, the latest, and we’re going to start today with a Delta variant of the coronavirus. By now, we’ve all heard about it, but Akilah across the globe, countries are responding to the latest variant. What’s going on?
Akilah Hughes: So, yes, the Delta variant is continuing to spread. And the World Health Organization said last week that it’s been detected in 92 countries already. And now even more countries are imposing lockdowns and limiting border crossing as a result. Sydney, Australia last Friday started a partial lockdown after a cluster of 65 cases arose suddenly. Throughout the pandemic, Australia had been a bubble and proof of what happens when mitigation efforts are taken seriously so it does seem like they know what they’re doing here. And other cities across that country have started locking down as well.
Liz Plank: Ugh. Let’s hope they don’t last too long. So where else in the world have lockdown efforts restarted?
Akilah Hughes: So South Africa, they’ve instituted a nightly curfew re-upped bans on gatherings and halted domestic travel for the next two weeks. And in Bangladesh, all public transportation is on hold to stop the spread. And in Israel, they reinstated their indoor mask mandate after news of this more contagious variant.
Liz Plank: Oh, my gosh, that stinks. And then there’s this more troubling development: researchers in India have identified a variant of the Delta variant. So they’re calling it Delta Plus. What do we know about it?
Akilah Hughes: Yeah. So you probably saw that joke on Twitter that Delta+ is just the Delta variant without ads. Good joke. [laughs] Um, but Delta+ is not exactly a laughing matter. So the variant emerged from India, because as we said, when viruses are able to linger, that’s when they mutate. And the Delta variant has been in India the longest. Not much is known yet about the latest variant, mostly because of lagging research in India at the moment, but suffice it to say that scientists are trying to figure out if this variant is more deadly or more transmissible than any that we’ve seen before. And really none of this bodes well for the U.S., where there are still loads of Americans who can but will not get vaccinated, especially in conservative areas. It’s going to be a long summer. There’s no telling if we will actually get to enjoy all of it or most of it out of our houses until the end. So please just stay safe and try to make good choices. But on vaccines, Liz there is some hopeful news?
Liz Plank: Yes. If you mixed up your two part doses, you are in luck. There’s a new research that says it might be more than fine, and might actually make you more immune. So early results from a new British study found that mixing and matching the Pfizer-BioNTech and AstraZeneca Oxford vaccines showed extremely positive results. As a person who both lost my first vaccine card and almost missed my second appointment due to a severe case of being a space cadet, I am personally very, very relieved. So the subjects in the study were purposely given a dose of each vaccine and were given them a bit further apart—4 weeks, to be exact. So while the people in the study had side effects that were more pronounced, they were also more short-lived. And what’s even more impressive is that this chex-mix approach to the vaccine and this intentional delay between the two doses wasn’t just fine, it was actually better. And it produced a higher immune cell response to attack the coronavirus and keep people immune to it.
Akilah Hughes: Yeah, and do we know why?
Liz Plank: Not yet. But the tactic has been used in vaccines for other diseases like Ebola. The idea is that you’re priming your immune system to recognize different aspects of the virus, and that means it’ll be better at identifying an infection. While most of the people who have received the vaccine so far got the same kind of notorious trendsetter Angela Merkel—ever heard of her, she’s a worldwide influencer—she has been rumored to have received two separate doses, but we don’t know which brands yet. So it’s only a matter of time before, you know, getting the two same doses is cheugy or becomes the side part of the pandemic. However, this isn’t without controversy: when the UK started allowing mix and match doses last January, the CDC got pretty mad and warned Americans that vaccines were not interchangeable because they said that the safety and the efficacy had not been measured yet. But since then, other studies on mixing and matching have already taken place in Spain and in Canada. And this new study shows how science can really evolve. If this research becomes more solid, mixing could have a lot of benefits. For example, you could increase the access to vaccine, right, if you avoid supply bottlenecks, because there’s no need to wait for a specific brand for your second shot.
Akilah Hughes: Yeah, so if I’m ready for that second dose right now, can I just plan to get a different brand? Can I just go on in and be like, give me the, give me something else?
Liz Plank: No, you can’t, you can’t pull a Merkel. Not yet. The CDC has not signed off on the practice. And actually they still say that it should be avoided. It’s important to specify here that the study is preliminary, so we need more research on it. However, countries like Canada, Spain, South Korea already allow the mixing and matching to happen. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau famously got a first dose of AstraZeneca right in his upper left bicep, right into his tattoo of the planet Earth inside a Haida raven—don’t ask me how I know this . . . I read it on the Internet, no I say it on the internet, OK. And while he said he would probably get a second dose of the same brand, it hasn’t been confirmed yet. But if you really want to help out, the National Institute of Health is recruiting volunteers to be part of its own research on mixing and matching vaccine doses. And both people who are fully vaccinated or unvaccinated can sign up. We’ll put a link in our show notes if you want to be part of this exciting study.
Akilah Hughes: Yeah, and if the practice gets the green light in the U.S., this could be especially good with that threat of variants we keep talking about. But for those of us with two shots in the arm already, are we still OK? Like, what about us? Tell me about me.
Liz Plank: Yes. You’re going to be fine. A new study in the science journal Nature found that people who got a two-part vaccine got such a strong immune response that they could be protected for years, meaning that you don’t need a booster shot any time soon. And for my J&J fam out there, we love you. Research is still being conducted on what might be recommended for you, but the FDA and the CDC don’t recommend topping off that shot with a Pfizer or a Moderna chaser. But anecdotally, Reuters reported that some medical experts who got the J&J said that they’ve been sneaking in a dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna shots themselves. Although if you do want a booster, you should just join that NIH study I just mentioned, because you are eligible for that, too, and you’ll help America out with its research. And that’s the latest for now.
Akilah Hughes: It’s Tuesday, WAD squad, and for today’s temp check, we’re talking about advanced theme park financial strategies. So on TikTok, where most hard news comes from, someone with viral this summer for demonstrating a technique for scoring a $75 shirt at Disney World for free. Basically, the hack requires you to go to Disney World with clothes that violate the dress code. In this case, the woman’s outfit broke a rule against underboob, and then Disney will write you a ticket that lets you get a free shirt at the nearest gift shop. The move has since been confirmed to work by at least one other person on TikTok, though no one’s counting the number of failed underboob-for-merch attempts. So we really don’t know. Liz, are you a supporter of this fight for free T-shirts?
Liz Plank: Yeah, well, I look, I’m a big fan of underboobs. I’m not so much of a fan of dress code. So I respect the feminist kind of Robin Hood energy that she is bringing to this, you know, stealing from corporate America. And when I grew up, we had a dress code in our high school and they had a big T-shirt, a big extra large like Fruit of the Loom, like giant shirt, and they called it the [in French], the “indecency T-shirt.”
Akilah Hughes: Oh, wow.
Liz Plank: I know. It was pretty major. But then we kind of like turn, we kind of did the TikTok trend at our high school in the sense of we made it really cool. Like every time one of my friends would get it, we’d like a photo shoot and we like have as much fun with it. And then they ended up getting rid of it. So I think it’s a good like, it’s a good screw you to, to dress codes, that are just sexist and horrible. What do you think, Akilah?
Akilah Hughes: I mean, you know, I think it’s good. I think, you know, I understand in ways where Disney is coming from, it’s a family theme park. They already let you get drunk. All right? [laughs] How much more they can give us? However, I’m like, is it worth going into the park, you know, with underboob—unless you wanted to have underboob, right—to get this shirt? Because I don’t find the shirt to be extremely attractive. Like, just because it’s expensive doesn’t mean that it’s cute. And also the resale value is not there. Like if you told me I walked around Disney in 90-degree heat, humidity in a sweater and now I’m selling you the shirt, I’m like: uh uh, y’all, you’ve been sweating in that, that’s worth ten bucks now. So really, you know, maybe it is more of the like, we can take a photo shoot together, you know, we can all laugh about this experience. That’s why you would go out to get this shirt, not, you know, because it’s such a great shirt and it’s too expensive. The truth is like it’s expensive because they know nobody wants it.
Liz Plank: Right, right. Right.
Akilah Hughes: Well, just like that, we have checked our temps. Stay safe. I don’t know, maybe flash a little underboob for a free shirt if you feeling frisky.
Liz Plank: Yeah, sure.
Akilah Hughes: And we’ll be back after some ads.
Akilah Hughes: Let’s wrap up with some headlines.
Liz Plank: Ethiopian troops retreated from the capital of Tigray yesterday, declaring a ceasefire in the region. This is one of the latest developments coming out of Tigray, which has been occupied by Ethiopian forces since their November invasion. For almost eight months, Ethiopia has blacked out communications from the region, leaving the rest of the world with only scattered reports of atrocities being committed by Ethiopian troops. This past week, rebel Tigray Defense Forces have been leading a counterattack, progressing towards the capital city Mekelle. Residents there were reportedly celebrating the return of Tigray forces for the first time since the invasion. Ethiopia said that the ceasefire will last until the end of a crucial crop season in Tigray, allowing civilian farmers to at least tend to their land in peace.
Akilah Hughes: U.S. forces in Iraq were the targets of rocket attacks yesterday following U.S. airstrikes on Iran-backed militia targets in Syria and Iraq. No casualties were reported following the attacks. Since the spring, Iranian-backed militias have mounted a campaign of drone attacks on the American military presence in Iraq. That led Biden to authorize airstrikes yesterday morning against facilities alleged to be involved in the attacks. Militias said those strikes killed four of their members. The Iraqi government described the airstrikes as a, quote “blatant and unacceptable violation of Iraqi sovereignty and national security” and said Iraq did not want to become a, quote “area for settling accounts” between the U.S. and Iran.
Liz Plank: The Supreme Court proved that it’s not too late to celebrate Pride Month yesterday by handing a small victory to trans students. The court affirmed that students at mid-Atlantic states can use the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity —
Akilah Hughes: Yay-yay.
Liz Plank: —by declining to hear an appeal from a Virginia school board that wanted to ban trans boys from using men’s bathrooms. LGBTQ advocacy groups have worried that the Supreme Court would take up the case and reverse the opinion of a lower court, which also ruled in the student’s favor. Ultimately, the issue remains unsettled in other states, and conservatives haven’t even begun to work through their obsession with bathrooms. So we can expect similar appeals to return to the Supreme Court soon.
Akilah Hughes: Oh, my goodness. Well, good for the trans kids. That’s what’s up! The social media, Deathstar called Facebook evaded another attack yesterday when a federal judge threw out two lawsuits filed by the Federal Trade Commission and 48 state attorneys general that accused Facebook of antitrust violations. The suits accused Facebook of wielding a social media monopoly and acquiring apps to crush competition—which all seems true to me. But a judge of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled that they provided insufficient evidence of a monopoly, and additionally said the states had let too much time pass before challenging Facebook’s purchase of Instagram in 2012 and WhatsApp in 2014. Lawyers continue to be too relaxed. This case was one of the most promising antitrust lawsuits against big tech, so the ruling is a setback for anyone who’s worried that apps for sharing status updates are now more powerful than most countries. Already, lawmakers in D.C. are using the ruling as an opportunity to call for reform of antitrust laws. I hope they do it. Reform them. Take it back.
Liz Plank: Do it.
Akilah Hughes: And those are the headlines. [laughs]
Liz Plank: That’s all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe, leave a review, go swimming no matter what age you are, just wear sunscreen, and tell your friends to listen.
Akilah Hughes: And if you’re into reading, and not just the rules of Disney so you can exploit them like me, What A Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at Crooked.com/subscribe. I’m Akilah Hughes.
Liz Plank: I’m Liz Plank.
[together] And don’t buy us, Facebook!
Akilah Hughes: Leave us alone, OK? I’m a free bitch, baby. [laughs]
Akilah Hughes: What A Day is a production of Crooked Media.
Gideon Resnick: It’s recorded and mixed by Charlotte Landes.
Akilah Hughes: Sonia Htoon and Jazzi Marine are our associate producers.
Gideon Resnick: Our head writer is Jon Millstein, and our executive producers are Leo Duran, Akilah Hughes and me.
Akilah Hughes: Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.