Posts tagged with "Pfizer"

AREA15 Vaccines After Dark event poster from Desiree Webb from The Vox Agency for use by 360 Magazine

AREA15 Announces June Entertainment + Events

AREA15, the art and entertainment district located minutes from the Las Vegas Strip, announces new and ongoing events and entertainment taking place this month.

AREA15 is open to the public at 12 p.m. to 1 a.m. on Mondays, 12 p.m. to 12 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 12 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Fridays, 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. on Saturdays and 10 a.m. to midnight on Sundays. Admission to AREA15 is free and will be limited to guests ages 21 and older after 10 p.m. every day.

“Vaccines After Dark” Vaccination Site

Date: Monday, June 14

Time: 7 to 10 p.m.

Cost: Free. All visitors who receive a shot will be given complimentary ice cream from Emack & Bolio’s.

Description: In partnership with Clark County Commissioner Justin Jones and Touro University, AREA15 will host “Vaccines After Dark” – a COVID-19 vaccination site for Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson. The event is offered for first and second dose vaccinations and will take place outdoors in the shade, located in AREA15’s outdoor venue, A-Lot. Guests are also encouraged to stay late for Industry Night and enjoy 25 percent off experiences and activations after 10 p.m. Those who plan to stay after receiving their vaccines can enjoy Industry Night entertainment at Oddwood featuring DJs GRECO, GMBT and 530 beginning at 10 p.m. Must present a valid Nevada I.D. to receive the discount. After 10 p.m. AREA15 is 21 years or older only.

Summer DJ Series: 4B + Disco Fries

Date: Saturday, June 19

Time: Doors at 9 p.m. Show starts at 10 pm.

Cost: General admission for ages 21+ are $15; General admission for ages 18-20 are $20. Click here to purchase tickets.

Description: Part of AREA15’s “A Series”, 4B and Disco Fries will perform live in the 32,000-square-foot, outdoor A-Lot. All shows are 18 years or older, with an outdoor beer garden open for guests ages 21 years and older.

About 4B: At 24 years old, DJ and producer Bobby McKeon, known as “4B”, has already spent 11 years relentlessly pursuing his sound and vision. During this period, he’s garnered significant support from industry heavyweights such as Skrillex, Diplo, Tiesto and DJ Snake.

About Disco Fries: Disco Fries, comprising Nick Ditri and Danny Boselovic, have become a staple in modern dance music by walking the sonic tightrope between mainstream and club-stream. Their music has been championed by some of the biggest names in dance: from artists such as Kaskade, Diplo, Steve Aoki and Hardwell to popular media outlets such as Billboard, MTV, Rolling Stone and Dancing Astronaut.

Father’s Day Whiskey Crawl

Date: Sunday, June 20

Time: 6 p.m. to 12 a.m.

Cost: $32

Description: Treat Dad to a drink – or three – throughout AREA15. Guests can enjoy Toki Japanese Whisky at Oddwood, Jim Beam at The Beast by Todd English and Makers Mark outside in AREA15’s new Art Garden. For more information and tickets visit here.

Summer DJ Series: Morgan Page

Date: Saturday, June 26

Time: Doors at 9 p.m. Show starts at 10 pm.

Cost: General admission for ages 21+ is $20; General admission for ages 18-20 is $25. Click here to purchase tickets.

Description: Part of AREA15’s “A Series”, Morgan Page will perform live in the 32,000-square-foot, outdoor A-Lot. All shows are 18 years or older, with an outdoor beer garden open for guests ages 21 years and older.

About Morgan Page: Morgan Wolf Page is an American DJ and music producer. Page has received two Grammy Award nominations: a personal nomination for best remix with Nadia Ali and best remix for “The Longest Road” (deadmau5 Remix) in 2009.

Draganza: A FIERCE VARIETY SHOW

Date: Every Friday night

Time: Shows at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. Doors open an hour before the show begins.

Cost: General admission tickets are $20; V.I.P. Queen Meet and Greet tickets are available $45 which include general admission seating and one photo with one of the Queens performing in the show; VIP table packages are available and require $300 beverage minimum. Click here to purchase tickets.

Description: Draganza is Las Vegas’ newest and fiercest drag variety show featuring the city’s most fabulous queens: Alexis Mateo, Coco Montrese, Kahanna Montrese and special guest Elliott with 2 T’s. Guests can join the queens every Friday in The PORTAL, AREA15’s 360-degree projection-mapped entertainment space, for a night of epic lip syncs, celebrity impersonations, surprise performances, friendly audience competition, drink specials and more. Must be 21 years of age or older. Valid ID required upon check-in.

AREA15 Industry Night

Dates: Every Monday

Time: 10 p.m. to closing

Description: Feel the beats from a variety of DJs on the decks and underneath the glow of Oddwood. Industry locals will enjoy a 25 percent discount on activations, experiences and libations inside AREA15 with a local I.D. every Monday night. Discounts during Industry Night include Wink World: Portals Into The Infinite, Museum Fiasco, Five Iron Golf, Dueling Axes as well as off food and drinks at The Beast by Todd English and Oddwood Bar. More information here. After 10 p.m. AREA15 is 21 years or older only.

Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience

Date: Throughout the month of June (dark on Fridays and after 6 p.m. on Saturdays)

Time: 12 p.m. to 11 p.m.; ticket times are every half hour.
Cost: Click here to purchase tickets.

  • General admission adult tickets are $35; seniors 65 years and older and military are $28; children 12 years and under are $19.
  • VIP adult tickets are $45; seniors 65 years and older and military are $38; children 12 years and under are $29.
  • Discounts are available for Nevada residents with valid I.D.

Description: On view through July 30, Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience is a timed experience encompassing 35 minutes and mapped specifically to fit the nearly 7,000-square-foot PORTAL. Guests take an awe-inspiring journey into the incomparable universe of Van Gogh, one of the greatest artistic geniuses of the 19th century. Explore his life, his work, and his secrets as never before through cutting-edge 360-degree digital projections, a one-of-a-kind VR experience, and a uniquely atmospheric light and sound show. The exhibition is brought to you by the organizers of a collection of widely successful exhibitions present in cities across Europe, Asia and the Americas. General admission tickets include lounge seating where guests are enveloped in sensational artistry, while VIP tickets will include VR goggles to experience “A Day in the Life of the Artist in Arles, France,” a virtual stroll alongside Van Gogh himself to explore the countryside settings that inspired his artwork.

Starry Light Package: An Immersive Art Ticket Package

Date: Monday through Wednesday in June

Time: 12 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Cost: $50 per person (equaling $20 off the full retail price). To book this package, click here.

Description: Enjoy all the art AREA15 has to offer with a bundled ticket package. Guests can experience Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience, Wink World: Portals Into The Infinite and Museum Fiasco for one price.

Van Gogh Family Ticket Package:

Cost: $21.25 per person

Description: Includes tickets for two adults and two children ages 12 and under. Family Ticket Packs will be validated upon entry. No substitutions may be made.

Van Gogh Nevada Resident Family Ticket Package:

Cost: $15 per person

Description: Includes tickets for two adults and two children ages 12 and under. Must present a valid Nevada I.D. to receive entry. Family Ticket Packs will be validated upon entry. No substitutions may be made.

Kappa Toys Pop-Up:

Description: New to AREA15 is Kappa Toys. Kappa Toys is a design-minded toy store, with a wide selection of never-before-seen oddities combined with a carefully curated selection of nostalgic classics. This special edition Kappa Toys Glow location is dedicated to illuminated playthings for youngsters and the young at heart, from lava lamps to glow in the dark stars – if it is awesome and glows in the dark you’ll find it here! Visit Kappatoys for additional details.

About AREA15

AREA15, located minutes from the Las Vegas Strip, is the world’s first purpose-built experiential entertainment district offering live events, immersive activations, monumental art installations, extraordinary design elements, unique retail, ground-breaking technology, bars and eateries and much more. With a growing collection of dynamic destinations including Dueling AxesEmporium Arcade BarLost Spirits DistilleryOddwood Bar, “Wink World: Portals Into The Infinite,” Museum FiascoRocket FizzFive Iron GolfThe Beast by Todd EnglishOZ Experience and anchor experience, Meow Wolf’s Omega Mart, AREA15 is an ever-changing art, retail and entertainment attracting locals and tourists of all ages.

AREA15 represents a collaborative venture between real estate development firm Fisher Brothers and creative agency Beneville Studios, both of New York.

Public Health Notice

AREA15 and all its experiences follow the latest recommendations of leading health experts and government authorities, including the World Health Organization and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. AREA15 will no longer require face masks to be worn by guests who are fully vaccinated. For guests that are not fully vaccinated, AREA15 strongly encourages that masks continue to be worn. AREA15 employees will still be required to wear masks until further notice.

Social Media Links:

Facebook: @AREA15LasVegas

Instagram: @AREA15Official

Twitter: @AREA15Official

YouTube: AREA15

Hashtag:

#AREA15

LGBTQ illustration by Heather Skovlund for 360 Magazine

LGBTQ State Legislative Attacks

UPDATE: With Unprecedented 18 Anti-LGBTQ Bills Enacted, 2021 Officially Becomes Worst Year in Recent History for LGBTQ State Legislative Attacks 

With Anti-LGBTQ Momentum Sweeping through State Legislatures, 2021 Surpasses 2015 as Worst Year In Recent History 

Detailed Breakdown of 2021 Anti-LGBTQ State Legislation Below

With an unprecedented number of anti-LGBTQ measures sweeping through state legislatures across the country, 2021 has officially surpassed 2015 as the worst year for anti-LGBTQ legislation in recent history, according to updated tracking and analysis by the Human Rights Campaign (detailed breakdown below). The previous record — set six years ago in 2015, when 15 anti-LGBTQ bills were enacted into law — was broken on Friday, as the sixteenth and seventeenth anti-LGBTQ bills were enacted into law as well as the eighteenth anti-LGBTQ bill today. In addition, 7 anti-LGBTQ bills are on governors’ desks awaiting signature or veto and several more are continuing to move through state legislatures across the country.

“The rights of LGBTQ people — and especially transgender people — across the country are being systematically threatened and undermined by national anti-LGBTQ groups coordinating with anti-equality lawmakers to wage an unprecedented war on the LGBTQ community. In fact, some of these bills are similar to or even worse than anti-LGBTQ legislation that has been rejected in previous years, including the Indiana religious refusal bill of 2015 and North Carolina’s infamous HB2. Bills that have become law so far this year range from making it a felony to provide transgender youth with life saving health care to banning transgender girls from participating in sports to erasing LGBTQ people from school curriculum to granting broad licenses to discriminate against LGBTQ people. This crisis cannot be ignored and necessitates concrete action from all those with the ability to speak out,” said Human Rights Campaign President Alphonso David. “These bills are not only harmful and discriminatory, but also represent a failure in our democracy and the commitment elected officials make to protect and serve their constituents. Now is not the time for reluctance or passivity, it is time to take urgent action to protect the basic rights and humanity of LGBTQ people in America.”

The wave of anti-LGBTQ legislation — a coordinated push led by national anti-LGBTQ groups, not local lawmakers – is part of a broader strategy to score political points with the conservative base by curtailing the rights of LGBTQ people and specifically trans youth — under the guise of responding to nonexistent and baseless threats. These bills represent a cruel effort to further stigmatize and discriminate against LGBTQ people across the country, specifically trans youth who simply want to live as their true selves and grow into who they are.

Breakdown of Anti-LGBTQ Legislation Sweeping State Legislatures in 2021

  • So far in 2021, eighteen anti-LGBTQ bills have been enacted into law surpassing 2015 as the worst year for anti-LGBTQ legislation in recent history (when 15 anti-LGBTQ bills were enacted into law), including:
    • 7 anti-trans sports bans in Arkansas, Alabama, Tennessee, Mississippi, Montana, and West Virginia
    • 4 religious refusal bills, including in Arkansas, Montana, and South Dakota
    • 2 anti-LGBTQ education bills in Tennessee and Montana
    • 1 anti-trans medical care ban bill in Arkansas
    • 1 sham “hate crimes” bill in Arkansas
    • 1 anti-all comers bill in North Dakota
    • 1 anti-trans birth certificate bill in Montana
    • 1 discriminatory diversity training ban bill in Oklahoma
  • With eighteen bills now signed into law, states have enacted more anti-LGBTQ laws this year than in the last three years combined (anti-LGBTQ bills enacted in previous years include 2 bills in 2018, 7 bills in 2019, and 4 bills in 2020).
  • More than 250 anti-LGBTQ bills have been introduced in state legislatures in 2021, including:
    • At least 35 bills that would prohibit transgender youth from being able to access best-practice, age-appropriate, gender-affirming medical care
    • At least 69 bills that would prohibit transgender youth (and in some cases college students) from participating in sports consistent with their gender identity
    • At least 43 bills that would allow people to assert a religious belief as justification for failing to abide by the law or provide services to people of whom they disapprove
    • At least 15 bills that would prohibit transgender people from having access to restrooms or locker rooms consistent with their gender identity

Wide range of business and advocacy groups oppose anti-trans legislation

  • More than 90 major U.S. corporations have stood up and spoke out to oppose anti-transgender legislation being proposed in states across the country. New companies like Facebook, Pfizer, Altria, Peloton, and Dell join companies like Amazon, American Airlines, Apple, AT&T, AirBnB, Google, Hilton, IBM, IKEA, Microsoft, Nike, Paypal, Uber, and Verizon in objecting to these bills. Four of the largest U.S. food companies also condemned “dangerous, discriminatory legislation that serves as an attack on LGBTQ+ individuals, particularly transgender and nonbinary people,” and the Walton Family Foundation issued a statement expressing “alarm” at the trend of anti-transgender legislation that has recently become law in Arkansas.
  • The nation’s leading child health and welfare groups representing more than 7 million youth-serving professionals and more than 1000 child welfare organizations released an open letter calling for lawmakers in states across the country to oppose dozens of bills that target LGBTQ people, and transgender children in particular.

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organizations working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.

Nicole Salazar Breaking News Illustration

Weekly News Roundup: Week of May 10

Biden’s Spending Plan for Education

President Biden is planning to enact higher taxes on the wealthy to go towards free preschool, two years of free community college for young adults, and national paid leave. The 1.8 trillion spending and tax plan is aimed to expand education, while increasing the US’ social safety net, supporting women in the workplace, and decreasing the cost of child care. The New York Times recognized Biden’s tax plan as “ the biggest expansion in federal support for higher education in at least half a century.”

Increasing Vaccination Numbers in the EU

The pace of people being administered the COVID vaccine in the European Union is steadily rising. Just last week, nearly three million doses of the vaccine were being administered daily according to Our World in Data, a University of Oxford database. The EU is primarily utilizing the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. The New York Times reports that in a rate adjusted for population, the amount of people being administered the vaccine daily in the EU is now roughly equivalent to the US. Usula von der Leyen, the European Commision president, announced her goal of vaccination 70 percent of adults in the EU by the end of the summer. Due to an early shipment of doses from Pfizer last month, and the company’s partnership with BioNTech, it is predicted that this goal will be reached.

DarkSide Ransomware Attack

On Monday, President Biden announced that the United States will “disrupt and prosecute” the criminal gang of hackers, DarkSide. The hackers have been the culprit of a huge ransomware attach that effected the flow of gasoline and jet fuel supplies to the country’s East Coast. Federal investigators believe that the attackers aimed at uncovering corporate data and back-office operations, rather than taking control of the pipelines. After taking note of the ransomware attack that which locked Colonial Pipelines–up a major pipeline in Texas that transported gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel from Texas’ Gulf Coast to New York Harbor– the F.B.I. sent out an emergency alert to other pipeline operators and electric utility and gas suppliers. Colonial Pipelines has remained closed since the attack and hopes to restore operations by the end of this week. The city governments of Atlanta, New Orleans, and the Washington D.C. Police Department have also been victim to DarkSide’s attacks.

Violent Clash Between Palestinian Protesters and Israeli Police in Jerusalem

Recent escalations between Palestinians and Israeli Jews regarding control over a single neighborhood in Jerusalem has exploded into major conflict. Israeli efforts to eradicate Palestinians from parts of the city have incited upset between the two groups. While Israeli Jews attempt to ensure Jewish landownership and control over East Jerusalem, Palestinians argue that their attempts are illegal and a form of ethnic cleansing. On Monday, right-wing Israeli protestors and the police erupted into military conflict with Palestinian protesters. As a result of a raid on the Israeli police on the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, Gaza militants retaliated with rocket fire. Countering, Israeli airstrikes were fired back. Due to the violent conflict, at least twenty Palestinians have been killed, including nine children.

Offshore Wind Plan to Create Thousands of Jobs

On Monday, the Biden Administration announced their plan to use offshore wind power along the East Coast. Through utilization of off-shore wind turbines in coastal waters nationwide, the plan is aiming to deliver 30,000 megawatts of wind power to power 10,000 homes by 2030, reports the New York Times. To start, the eco-conscious project will begin in the nation’s first large-scale offshore wind farm off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard. It is predicted that offshore wind deployment projects will create 44,000 new jobs in the offshore window sector and 33,000 other new, indirect job positions. According to the American Clean Power Association, “States along the East Coast are driving demand for offshore wind. Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, and Virginia have established targets to procure a total of 25,400 MW of offshore wind by at least 2035 and have selected over 6,000 MW of projects as of February 2020 to help meet these goals.”

CDC Announces Vaccinated People Rarely Need Masks

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced this week that fully vaccinated people don’t need to wear mask in most situations. Whereas it is still encouraged for vaccinated people to wear a mask inside to contribute to the culture of mask wearing, they are at virtually no risk of disease and minuscule risk of transmitting the virus to others. The New York Times talked to Dr. Paul Offit, the director of the Vaccine Education Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia: “The Moderna and Pfizer vaccines are ‘essentially 100 percent effective against serious disease.’”

Furthermore, it has been announced that there have been few, if any, instances of COVID-19 transmission occurring from brief outdoor interactions. The risk of exposure from outdoor contact is too small to lead to infection.  However, unvaccinated people are still advised to wear masks when in close conversation with people both outdoors and indoors, when not at home.

However, with the child population of Americans unvaccinated, it raises questions about how families will be able to return to normalcy. While children under 16 haven’t been eligible to receive the vaccination, their demographic poses a low risk to fatal coronavirus cases. For children, it is believed that COVID-19 presents no greater risk than the average flu season. As America looks towards the rest of 2021, it can be hoped that a return to normalcy will soon come. To read the current CDC COVID-19 guidelines, you may visit this website.

Breaking News by Nicole Salazar

Weekly News Roundup: Week of May 3

President Biden Raises Refugee Admission Cap to 62,500 People

In a move to reverse former President Donald Trump’s stricter admission cap on refugees, President Biden has raised the admission cap to 62,500 people in the next six months. Originally, Trump had administered a cap on 15,000 refugees. At first, Biden said he would stick to this figure, but changed his stance after receiving condemnation from Democrats on Capitol Hill. In a statement issued by the White House addressing this political reversal, Biden commented “This erases the historically low number set by the previous administration of 15,000, which did not reflect America’s values as a nation that welcomes and supports refugees.” The New York Times says that Biden’s statement acknowledged how Trump’s budget and staffing cuts during his presidency makes it more unlikely to handle resettling 62,500 refugees within the coming year. In his statement, Biden admitted “the sad truth is that we will not achieve 62,500 admissions this year,” he said. “We are working quickly to undo the damage of the last four years. It will take some time, but that work is already underway.”

Pfizer Vaccine to be Administered to Adolescents

The availability of the Pfizer vaccine is soon to more accessible to millions more Americans. The FDA is said to authorize the use of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine for adolescents aged 12-15 by early next week. Pfizer has recently released trial results in which show their vaccine to be at least as effective for adolescents as it is for the adult population. If granted access, the CDC will likely meet the following day to review the clinical trial data and announce public health recommendations for adolescent vaccinations.  Over 100 million adults have already been vaccinated, and with the Pfizer vaccine becoming available to millions more, the level of public immunity is forecasted to rise, and the number of deaths and hospitalizations are to drop.

In order to target vaccinations to younger Americans, Biden announced on Tuesday that mass vaccinations sites would shift to more local settings. He also stated his goal of vaccination 70% of Americans by July’s Independence Day. To those who are unvaccinated, Biden plead: “This is your choice. Its life and death.” On Tuesday, the Biden Administration announced that tens of millions more Americans need to get vaccinated before the rate of the coronavirus will be low enough to return to normalcy.

Subway Overpass Collapse Results in the Death of 23 People

Late Monday night in Mexico City, the collapse of a subway overpass–and subsequent fall of an active train car– resulted in the deaths of 23 people. Dozens of more victims are suffering injuries. The accident occurred on Line 12, one of the newer tracks in Mexico’s subway system. The subway system has been plagued by safety concerns from the public after a severe earthquake in 2017. Over 70 people were transported to the nearby hospitals, most of them delivered to Belisario Dominguez Hospital. Mexico’s fire fighters, military, and forensics department all arrived on scene to aid in the rescuing and recovery of the accident’s victims. Currently, Line 12 will remain closed as authorities investigate the harrowing accident. The Mayor of Mexico City, Claudio Steinbaum, spoke to reporters on Tuesday morning: ” At this moment, we can’t speculate about what happened. There has to be a deep investigation, and whoever is responsible has to be held responsible.”

Derek Chauvin Files for New Trial Regarding Murder of George Floyd

The trial of the police officer involved in the killing of George Floyd, Derek Chauvin, was found guilty of one count of second-degree murder, one count of third-degree murder, and one count of second-degree manslaughter by Judge Peter Cahill. However, Chauvin’ lawyer, Eric Nelson, is now claiming that Chauvin’s rights were violated during the trial since Judge Cahill refused a change of venue regarding where the trial was help. As a result of such, Nelson claims that the pre-trial publicity deprived Chauvin of a fair trial. NPR reports that Nelson also has cited “prosecutorial and jury misconduct; errors of law at trial; and a verdict that is contrary to law.” In Nelson’s file motion that requests another trial, he argues that the court “abused its discretion” because of the nationwide publicity of the high-profile trial. Due to the mass publicity of the trial, Nelson says that the defense’s expert witnesses and jury felt “threatened of intimidated, felt race-based pressure during the proceedings.”

NPR reports that according to Nelson’s file motion, the court abused its discretion by:

  • When it failed to sequester the jury for the duration of the trial, or in the least, admonish them to avoid all media
  • When it permitted the State to present cumulative evidence with respect to use of force
  • When it failed to order that a record be made of the numerous sidebars that occurred during the trial
  • When it submitted instructions to the jury that failed to accurately reflect the law with respect to second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder, and authorized use of force

NPR’s Carrie Johnson reports on how infrequently officers are called to conduct while in uniform, “Some studies show only seven police officers since 2005 have been convicted of murder for their actions on the job. That’s even though about 1,000 or 1,100 people a year die at the hands of police.” The way in which Derek Chauvin’s initial trial ended was a long-awaited plea for justice that many Americans felt finally acknowledged and held accountable the perpetrators of police violence and systemic racism in the nation. Ultimately, it is up to Judge Peter Cahill to decide whether to open trial again for Chauvin.

Facebook’s Suspension of Donald Trump Continues

Since the Capitol insurrection on January 1, Facebook has suspended Trump’s usage of the platform. The length and permanence of the suspension has been hotly debated lately, especially since Facebook doesn’t have a standard policy or punishment regarding indefinite suspensions. On Wednesday, a team of journalists, activists, and lawyers upheld the social media company’s ban of Trump. Their discussion ended any immediate return of Trump to the platform, and sparked debate concerning freedom of speech online. Facebook’s Oversight Board cited their reasoning for banning Trump in January, stating that Trump “created an environment where a serious risk of violence was possible. At the time of Mr. Trump’s posts, there was a clear, immediate risk of harm and his words of support for those involved in the riots legitimized their violent actions.” After Facebook reviews its action, Trump may be able to return to the platform later down the line. Other social media giants, including Twitter and YouTube, also locked Trump’s accounts after the Capitol chaos. Trump has responded to the rulings with agitation, stating that “free Speech has been taken away from the President of the United States because the Radical Left Lunatics are afraid of the truth.” The New York Times reports that Facebook responded to their ruling in a statement, stating that the company is “‘pleased’ that the board recognized that its barring of Mr. Trump in January was justified. It said it would consider the ruling and ‘determine an action that is clear and proportionate.’”

Liz Cheney May Be Sequestered from G.O.P.

Rep. Liz Cheyney has received backlash from Republican lawmakers in the GOP party due to her public criticisms of former President Donald Trump. After Trump’s insurrection at the Capitol on January 6, 2021, she voted to impeach him from office. This vote to impeach Trump increased tensions between Cheyney and the members of the GOP leadership and other Republican lawmakers. Notably, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy questioned Cheyney’s ability to carry out her position in office, stating “I have heard from members concerned about her ability to carry out the job as conference chair, to carry out the message. We all need to be working as one if we’re able to win the majority.” At the Conservative Political Action Committee, Cheyney was asked if Trump should speak at the conference. She replied, “I’ve been clear in my views about President Trump and the extent to which following Jan. 6 I don’t believe that he should be playing a role in the future of the party or the country.” While her party oppositions have landed Cheyney in controversy, Sen. Mitt Romney tweeted on Tuesday, recognizing her honesty and dedication to her stance: “Every person of conscience draws a line beyond which they will not go: Liz Cheney refuses to lie.”

Olympians And Officials to Be Offered Pfizer Vaccine

The International Olympic Committee announced on Thursday that, in an effort to quell public safety concerns, athletes and official will be offered the Pfizer vaccine before arriving in Japan. Through utilization of domestic inoculation programs, vaccines are to be administered to patients in their home countries. However, there is no requirement for athletes, coaches, officials, or others attending the game to be vaccinated. So far, approximately only 1% of Japan’s residents have been fully vaccinated, according to The New York Times’ database. In a statement put out by the International Olympic Committee, it was notes that “any additional doses delivered by Pfizer and BioNTech will not be taken out of existing programs, but will be in addition to existing quotas and planned deliveries around the world.” Hopefully, the Olympic Games in Tokyo this summer will bring celebration, instead of crisis.

LGBTQ illustration by Heather Skovlund for 360 Magazine

Ten Anti-LGBTQ Bills Sit on Governors’ Desks

Ten Anti-LGBTQ Bills Sit on Governors’ Desks, Poised to Undermine Rights Across the Country

As a fast and furious effort led by national groups aiming to stymie LGBTQ progress made on the national level and in many states continues to intensify, ten anti-LGBTQ bills currently sit on the desks of governors across the country waiting to be signed into law. These bills are only the latest examples of a concerted effort in state legislatures to undermine LGBTQ rights that has already resulted in the passage of several anti-LGBTQ pieces of legislation in recent months.

“State legislators across the country were elected to represent all of us, not just some of us and yet they continue to send hateful and discriminatory anti-LGBTQ bills to the desks of governors to sign into law, threatening the well-being, health, and fundamental rights of thousands of LGBTQ Americans in states from coast to coast,” said Human Rights Campaign President Alphonso David. “From anti-transgender sports bans to erasing LGBTQ people from school curriculum, these bills are driven by fear and would have a significant negative impact on the lives of so many LGBTQ people. The governors of these states are responsible for protecting their citizens, and they must refuse to sign these baseless and unconscionable cruel bills into law.  Otherwise, they should and will be held accountable for the consequences.”

These bills include blatant attacks on transgender youth, including prohibiting transgender kids from participating in school sports consistent with their gender identity, allow student organizations to discriminate against LGBTQ students under the guise of free speech, erase LGBTQ people from history books, and add substantial hurdles for transgender people who want to change the gender on their birth certificate by first requiring gender-affirming surgery.

Below is a roundup of the ten anti-LGBTQ bills currently sitting on the desks of governors:

  • ALABAMA
    • House Bill 391 – ANTI-TRANS SPORTS BILL
      • The Alabama Senate and House passed House Bill 391, an anti-transgender bill that would ban transgender youth from participating in school sports consistent with their gender identity. The bill now heads to Governor Kay Ivey’s desk for signature or veto.
  • ARIZONA
    • Senate Bill 1456 – SEX ED PARENTAL NOTIFICATION BILL
      • The Arizona State House passed Senate Bill 1456 – discriminatory legislation that affects not only sexual education material, but all learning materials in the classroom and makes it harder for LGBTQ kids to see themselves in school curriculum.
      • The bill, which would make Arizona’s sex education laws some of the strictest in the nation when it comes to teaching about LGBTQ issues, now heads to Governor Doug Ducey’s desk for consideration.
  • ARKANSAS
    • Senate Bill 389 – SEX ED PARENTAL NOTIFICATON BILL
      • The Arkansas Senate passed Senate Bill 389, a bill which would require a school district to notify parents before “providing a sexual orientation curriculum or gender identity curriculum” in any kind of instruction, including but not limited to education on sexuality.
      • In addition to making it harder for students kids to access sex education, it could also preclude discussion about sexuality more broadly, including in literature and history classes, for example. A district could be forced to notify parents, provide curriculum materials, and allow parents to opt students out of learning about important modern and historical events, from the A.I.D.S. epidemic to the Stonewall riots to even Supreme Court jurisprudence. This bill disproportionately disadvantages LGBTQ youth who may not have supportive families and put children at greater risk of health consequences.
  • KANSAS
    • Kansas Senate Bill 55 – ANTI-TRANS SPORTS BILL
      • The Kansas Senate passed Senate Bill 55, an anti-transgender bill that would ban transgender girls from participating in school sports consistent with their gender identity.
  • MONTANA
    • Senate Bill 280    – BIRTH CERTIFICATE BILL
      • The Montana Senate passed SB 280, a bill that adds substantial hurdles for transgender people who want to change the gender on their birth certificate by first requiring gender-affirming surgery.
    • Senate Bill 215 – RELIGIOUS REFUSAL BILL
      • The Montana House passed SB 215, an expansive religious refusal bill that could grant a license to discriminate against Montanans and visitors, including LGBTQ people, people of faith, and women, across a wide range of goods and services in the state.
  • NORTH DAKOTA
    • House Bill 1503 – ANTI-ALL COMERS BILL
      • Many public colleges and universities have long had “all-comers” policies that require student organizations receiving financial and other support from the institution not to discriminate against students based on race, sex, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity.
      • These policies allow all members of the student body to participate in student organizations and prevent such organizations from discriminating against students with state funding. The Supreme Court upheld these all-comers policies as constitutional in the Christian Legal Society v. Martinez decision in 2010.
      • North Dakota HB 1503, in part, undermines inclusive “all-comers” policies at North Dakota public colleges and universities, by allowing student organizations to discriminate against LGBTQ students under the guise of free speech.
    • House Bill 1298 – ANTI-TRANS SPORTS BILL
      • The North Dakota Senate passed House Bill 1298, an anti-transgender bill that would ban transgender girls from participating in school sports consistent with their gender identity.
  • TENNESSEE
    • Senate Bill 1229 – SEX ED PARENTAL NOTIFICATION
      • The Tennessee Senate passed Senate Bill 1229, a bill which would require a school district to notify parents before “providing a sexual orientation curriculum or gender identity curriculum” in any kind of instruction, including but not limited to education on sexuality.
      • In addition to making it harder for students kids to access sex education, it could also preclude discussion about sexuality more broadly, including in literature and history classes, for example. A district could be forced to notify parents, provide curriculum materials, and allow parents to opt students out of learning about important modern and historical events, from the A.I.D.S. epidemic to the Stonewall riots to even Supreme Court jurisprudence.
      • SB 389 also disproportionately disadvantages LGBTQ youth who may not have supportive families and puts children at greater risk of health consequences.
  • WEST VIRGINIA
    • House Bill 3293 – ANTI-TRANS SPORTS BILL
      • The West Virginia Senate passed House Bill 3293, an anti-transgender bill that would ban transgender girls from participating in school sports consistent with their gender identity.

Wide range of businesses and advocacy groups oppose anti-trans legislation

  • More than 65 major U.S. corporations have stood up and spoken out to oppose anti-transgender legislation being proposed in states across the country. New companies like Facebook, Pfizer, Altria, Peloton, and Dell join companies like Amazon, American Airlines, Apple, AT&T, AirBnB, Google, Hilton, IBM, IKEA, Microsoft, Nike, Paypal, Uber, and Verizon in objecting to these bills.
  • The nation’s leading child health and welfare groups representing more than 7 million youth-serving professionals and more than 1000 child welfare organizations released an open letter calling for lawmakers in states across the country to oppose dozens of bills that target LGBTQ people, and transgender children in particular.

The NCAA opposes efforts to limit participation of transgender students

The NCAA Board of Governors released a public letter making clear that it “firmly and unequivocally supports the opportunity for transgender student-athletes to compete in college sports.” Moreover, “When determining where championships are held, NCAA policy directs that only locations where hosts can commit to providing an environment that is safe, healthy and free of discrimination should be selected.” This puts the 30 states with discriminatory anti-transgender legislation under consideration on notice that their actions will have repercussions for their states.

A fight driven by national anti-LGBTQ groups, not local legislators or public concern

These bills come from the same forces that drove previous anti-equality fights by pushing copycat bills across state houses — dangerous anti-LGBTQ organizations like the Heritage Foundation, Alliance Defending Freedom (designated by Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group), and Eagle Forum among others.

  • For example, Montana’s HB 112, the first anti-transgender sports bill to be passed through a legislative chamber in any state, was worked on by the Alliance Defending Freedom.

Trans equality is popular: Anti-transgender legislation is a low priority, even among Trump voters

A new PBS/NPR/Marist poll states that 67% of Americans, including 66% of Republicans, oppose the anti-transgender sports ban legislation proliferating across 30 states.

In a 10-swing-state poll conducted by the Human Rights Campaign & Hart Research Group last fall:

  • At least 60% of Trump voters across each of the 10 swing states say transgender people should be able to live freely and openly.
  • At least 87% of respondents across each of the 10 swing states say transgender people should have equal access to medical care, with many states breaking 90% support
  • When respondents were asked about how they prioritized the importance of banning transgender people from participating in sports as compared to other policy issues, the issue came in dead last, with between 1% and 3% prioritizing the issue.

Another more recent poll conducted by the Human Rights Campaign & Hart Research Group revealed that, with respect to transgender youth participation in sports, the public’s strong inclination is on the side of fairness and equality for transgender student athletes. 73% of voters agree that “sports are important in young people’s lives. Young transgender people should be allowed opportunities to participate in a way that is safe and comfortable for them.”

States that pass anti-transgender legislation suffer economic, legal, reputational harm

Analyses conducted in the aftermath of previous divisive anti-transgender bills across the country, like the bathroom bills introduced in Texas and North Carolina and an anti-transgender sports ban in Idaho, show that there would be or has been devastating fallout.

  • The Idaho anti-transgender sports bill that passed was swiftly suspended by a federal district court. The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) came out against the Idaho bill and others like it and subsequently moved planned tournament games out of Idaho.
  • The Associated Press projected that the North Carolina bathroom bill could have cost the state $3.76 billion over 10 years.
  • During a fight over an anti-transgender bathroom bill in 2017, the Texas Association of Business estimated $8.5 billion in economic losses, risking 185,000 jobs in the process due to National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and professional sporting event cancellations, a ban on taxpayer funded travel to those states, cancellation of movie productions, and businesses moving projects out of state.

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organizations working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.

Trans Rights illustration by Heather Skovlund for 360 Magazine

Montana’s Anti-Trans Sports Bill

Montana Sends Anti-Trans Sports Bill To Gov. Gianforte 

Today, the Montana Senate passed House Bill 112, an anti-LGBTQ bill that would ban transgender girls and women from participating in sports at the elementary, secondary, or post-secondary level consistent with their gender identity. The bill now heads to Governor Greg Gianforte’s desk for signature or veto. Montana was the first legislature to take up anti-transgender legislation in the 2021 session, considering it in January in a rushed House process and before any serious legislation to address the COVID-19 crisis.

Montana has been at the tip of the spear in the legislative fight to pass discriminatory anti-transgender legislation, a fast and furious effort led by national groups aiming to stymie LGBTQ progress made on the national level and in many states. There are so far 192 anti-LGBTQ bills under consideration in state legislatures across the country. Of those, 93 directly target transgender people and about half of those would, like HB 112, ban transgender girls and women from participating in sports consistent with their gender identity.  Legislators across the country have failed to provide examples of issues in their states to attempt to justify these attacks, laying bare the reality that these are attacks on transgender youth that are fueled by discrimination and not supported by fact.  Collegiate and professional sports organizations have had trans-inclusive policies for years without incident, and there is no reason Montana needs a ban on transgender participation in sports.  Human Rights Campaign President Alphonso David issued the following statement in reaction:

“Montana legislators have sadly led the national effort to advance these discriminatory bills that put fear over facts, science, and medicine. Montana legislators are putting Governor Gianforte in a position to jeopardize the wellbeing of the state and put transgender kids in danger in favor of [this] anti-equality political talking point. While no Montana legislator has provided examples of what they claim to be legislating against, they continue to justify prioritizing this manufactured issue over addressing the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic fallout. Transgender kids are kids, and they deserve better than this targeted discrimination. Ultimately, this is a bad deal for all Montanans, who would also be subject to the catastrophic consequences that other states have faced after passing anti-transgender legislation.”

Wide range of business and advocacy groups, athletes oppose anti-trans legislation

  • Earlier this month, more than 55 major U.S. corporations stood up and spoke out to oppose anti-transgender legislation being proposed in states across the country. New companies like Facebook, Pfizer, Altria, Peloton, and Dell join companies like Amazon, American Airlines, Apple, AT&T, AirBnB, Google, Hilton, IBM, IKEA, Microsoft, Nike, Paypal, Uber, and Verizon in objecting to these bills.
  • Nearly 550 college athletes have stood up to anti-transgender legislation by demanding the NCAA pull championships from states with anti-trans sports legislation
  • The nation’s leading child health and welfare groups representing more than 7 million youth-serving professionals and more than 1000 child welfare organizations released an open letter calling for lawmakers in states across the country to oppose dozens of bills that target LGBTQ people, and transgender children in particular.

A fight driven by national anti-LGBTQ groups, not local legislators or public concern

These bills come from the same forces that drove previous anti-equality fights by pushing copycat bills across state houses — dangerous, anti-LGBTQ organizations like the Heritage Foundation, Alliance Defending Freedom (designated by Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group), and Eagle Forum among others.

  • For example, Montana’s HB 112, the first anti-transgender sports bill to be passed through a legislative chamber in any state, was worked on by the Alliance Defending Freedom.

Trans equality is popular: Anti-transgender legislation is a low priority, even among Trump voters

In a 10-swing-state poll conducted by the Human Rights Campaign & Hart Research Group last fall:

  • At least 60% of Trump voters across each of the 10 swing states say transgender people should be able to live freely and openly.
  • At least 87% of respondents across each of the 10 swing states say transgender people should have equal access to medical care, with many states breaking 90% support
  • When respondents were asked about how they prioritized the importance of banning transgender people from participating in sports as compared to other policy issues, the issue came in dead last, with between 1% and 3% prioritizing the issue.

Another more recent poll conducted by the Human Rights Campaign & Hart Research Group revealed that, with respect to transgender youth participation in sports, the public’s strong inclination is on the side of fairness and equality for transgender student athletes. 73% of voters agree that “sports are important in young people’s lives. Young transgender people should be allowed opportunities to participate in a way that is safe and comfortable for them.”

States that pass anti-transgender legislation suffer economic, legal, reputational harm

Analyses conducted in the aftermath of previous divisive anti-transgender bills across the country, like the bathroom bills introduced in Texas and North Carolina and an anti-transgender sports ban in Idaho, show that there would be or has been devastating fallout.

  • The Idaho anti-transgender sports bill that passed was swiftly suspended by a federal district court. The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) came out against the Idaho bill and others like it and subsequently moved planned tournament games out of Idaho.
  • The Associated Press projected that the North Carolina bathroom bill could have cost the state $3.76 billion over 10 years.
  • During a fight over an anti-transgender bathroom bill in 2017, the Texas Association of Business estimated $8.5 billion in economic losses, risking 185,000 jobs in the process due to National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and professional sporting event cancellations, a ban on taxpayer funded travel to those states, cancellation of movie productions, and businesses moving projects out of state.

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organizations working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.

Basketball illustration by Mina Tocalini for use by 360 Magazine

North Carolina Introduces Anti-Trans Sports Ban

On Fifth Anniversary of HB 2 ‘Bathroom Bill’ Passage, North Carolina Introduces Anti-Trans Sports Ban.

North Carolina puts forward another anti-transgender bill, again invoking the rhetoric of protecting women and girls from transgender people.

Late Monday, the North Carolina House introduced House Bill 358, an anti-transgender bill that would ban transgender girls and women from participating in sports (including college sports) consistent with their gender identity. The timing of this bill introduction could not have been more ironic, as it came on the eve of the fifth anniversary of Governor Pat McCrory signing the now-notorious House Bill 2, which mandated discrimination against transgender people in bathrooms.

Like HB2, the “Save Women’s Sports” bills rely on false narratives based in fear, rather than facts or science. Like HB2, these sports bans are fear mongering and an attempt to score political points by singling out already marginalized people for additional discrimination.

“In a moment of sad irony, North Carolina legislators have shown they clearly did not learn their lesson from the HB 2 ‘Bathroom Bill’ fight that threatened the state to the tune of billions in revenue, taxpayer-funded litigation, and a tarnished reputation–in addition to the personal reputational harm Gov. Pat McCrory suffered that cost him his job,” said Human Rights Campaign State Legislative Director and Senior Counsel Kate Oakley. “By introducing an anti-transgender sports ban bill, they are playing with fire once again, and engaging in a fight that is doomed to the same fate. This legislation is simply the latest iteration in a failed series of attempts to thwart equality for LGBTQ people. Two conservative governors have either threatened to veto or vetoed anti-transgender sports ban legislation out of the same fears that were realized in North Carolina five years ago. Let North Carolina’s ‘bathroom bill’ fight be a lesson to all states and governors considering anti-transgender legislation this session. North Carolina does not want to go down this road again.”

The legislative fight to pass discriminatory anti-transgender legislation has been fast and furious, led by national groups aiming to stymie LGBTQ progress made on the national level and in many states – quite like the bathroom bill push in 2016. There are 174 anti-LGBTQ bills under consideration in state legislatures across the country so far this year. Of those, 95 directly target transgender people and about half of those would, like HB 358, ban transgender girls from participating in sports consistent with their gender identity. As was the case in the HB 2 fight, legislators across the country invoke hypothetical scenarios of harm but have failed to provide actual examples of issues in their states to attempt to justify these attacks, laying bare the reality that these are attacks on transgender youth that are fueled by discrimination and not supported by fact.  Collegiate and professional sports organizations have had trans-inclusive policies for years without incident, and there is no reason North Carolina or any other state needs a ban on transgender participation in sports.

Wide range of business and advocacy groups, athletes oppose anti-trans legislation

  • Earlier this month, more than 55 major U.S. corporations stood up and spoke out to oppose anti-transgender legislation being proposed in states across the country. New companies like Facebook, Pfizer, Altria, Peloton, and Dell joined companies like Amazon, American Airlines, Apple, AT&T, AirBnB, Google, Hilton, IBM, IKEA, Microsoft, Nike, Paypal, Uber, and Verizon in objecting to these bills.
  • Nearly 550 college athletes have stood up to anti-transgender legislation by demanding the NCAA pull championships from states with anti-trans sports legislation
  • The nation’s leading child health and welfare groups-representing more than 7 million youth-serving professionals and more than 1,000 child welfare organizations-released an open letter calling for lawmakers in states across the country to oppose dozens of bills that target LGBTQ people, and transgender children in particular.

States that pass anti-transgender legislation suffer economic, legal, reputational harm

Analyses conducted in the aftermath of previous divisive anti-transgender bills across the country, like the bathroom bills introduced in Texas and North Carolina and an anti-transgender sports ban in Idaho, show that there would be or has been devastating fallout.

  • The Idaho anti-transgender sports bill that passed was swiftly suspended by a federal district court. The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) came out against the Idaho bill and others like it and subsequently moved planned tournament games out of Idaho.
  • The Associated Press projected that the North Carolina bathroom bill could have cost the state $3.76 billion over 10 years.
  • During a fight over an anti-transgender bathroom bill in 2017, the Texas Association of Business estimated $8.5 billion in economic losses, risking 185,000 jobs in the process due to National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and professional sporting event cancellations, a ban on taxpayer funded travel to those states, cancellation of movie productions, and businesses moving projects out of state.

The economy and reputation of North Carolina suffered very real harm caused by HB2. Here’s just a snapshot of the overwhelming outcry at the time of the bill’s passage:

  • Over 200 major business leaders, from Apple to Zola, signed an open letter to NC Gov. Pat McCrory opposing HB2, because discrimination is bad for business. The letter was first announced on March 29, 2016, when it was hand-delivered to Pat McCrory by HRC President Chad Griffin, Equality NC Executive Director Chris Sgro and transgender advocate Candis Cox.
  • On April 5, 2016, PayPal CEO Dan Schulman announced that the company will seek an alternative location for its new “global operations center.” PayPal’s investment was expected to bring 400 skilled jobs to North Carolina, with an annual payroll impact of more than $20 million. In its statement, Schulman said, “The new law perpetuates discrimination and it violates the values and principles that are at the core of PayPal’s mission and culture.”
  • On April 8, 2016 Bruce Springsteen cancelled his concert in North Carolina over HB2, saying, “Some things are more important than a rock show and this fight against prejudice and bigotry-which is happening as I write-is one of them. It is the strongest means I have for raising my voice in opposition to those who continue to push us backwards instead of forwards.”
  • On May 4, 2016, the U.S. Department of Justice determined North Carolina’s discriminatory HB 2 violates federal civil rights law, including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972. At a press conference on May 9, Attorney General Loretta Lynch spoke directly to the transgender community, saying “We see you. We stand with you, and we will do everything we can to protect you going forward.”
  • On July 21, 2016, the NBA decided to stand up to North Carolina lawmakers who refused to repeal HB2 by pulling its 2017 All-Star Game from Charlotte, NC. Despite the NBA’s repeated warnings that it would have to consider moving the high-profile game out of the state if the anti-LGBTQ law was not repealed, the state’s General Assembly shamefully adjourned after 100 days of inaction.
  • In North Carolina, basketball is king-but that didn’t stop the NCAA from standing up for their LGBTQ players, employees and fans by vowing to move tournament events from the state because of HB2. The NCAA announced that they would move all 2016-2017 championship games out of the state on September 12, 2016.
  • On Election Day, NC Governor Pat McCrory, who signed HB2 into law, was defeated at the ballot box — the only incumbent governor from either party to lose on Election Day. Polling by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research showed that HB2 was the most cited issue leading to McCrory’s defeat in those who voted against McCrory.
  • In February, the North Carolina Sports Association sent a letter to lawmakers warning of a loss of NCAA championship games through 2022 if HB2 is not immediately repealed. In the letter, the sports association warned that the NCAA decision could cost the state at least another half a billion dollars in economic activity when other sports organizations follow the NCAA’s lead in moving events out of the state. In November 2016, Forbes estimated that the state had already lost hundreds of millions of dollars due to HB2.
  • In March, the Greensboro Coliseum Complex revealed it had lost $23.5 million in revenue from various championships and conventions because of HB2.

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organizations working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ people  are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.

MIT Study Shows the Power of Accurate Information to Increase Vaccination Rates

Despite the availability of multiple safe vaccines, vaccine hesitancy may present a challenge to successful control of the COVID-19 pandemic. Moreover, and perhaps more importantly, vaccine hesitancy may be caused not simply by fears about the safety or efficacy of the vaccine, but instead by the inaccurate belief that many of your peers or social cohort are not being vaccinated.

A recent working paper entitled “Surfacing Norms to Increase Vaccine Acceptance” written by two MIT Sloan Professors, Dean Eckles and Sinan Aral, of the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy, with Sloan PhD student Alex Mohering, post doctoral researchers Kiran Garimella and Amin Rahimian, and Avi Collis of the University of Texas, set out to study the relative importance of the beliefs that people hold about the acceptance of vaccines by others.

After studying the responses of over 300,000 people in 23 countries, the study showed that accurate information about descriptive norms can substantially increase intentions to accept a vaccine for COVID-19, reducing the fraction of people who are “unsure” or negative about accepting a vaccine by five percent. In other words, clear and accurate information about the behavior of others can influence behavior in a positive way.

“While public health officials and the media have been emphasizing the potential negative impact of vaccine hesitancy, our study found that emphasizing the overwhelming vaccine acceptance expressed by most people is a better way to get those who are unsure to accept COVID-19 vaccines,” says Sinan Aral.

These results suggest that public health communications should present information about the widespread and growing intentions to accept COVID-19 vaccines—and not overly emphasize the fear that the vaccine will not be accepted among a large portion of the population.

“Humans are innately sensitive to the behaviors of others. This pandemic is tragic enough without adding to the suffering by overestimating and over-communicating the fear that some will not accept the vaccine. The best way forward, as is often the case, is the presentation of clear, accurate and timely information.” says Dean Eckles.

Pfizer coronavirus vaccination article illustration by Kaelen Felix for 360 Magazine

Pfizer × BioNTech near historic vaccine

By Althea Champion

Pfizer and BioNTech announced on Monday that their COVID-19 vaccine is more than 90 percent effective. If approved, it could potentially be available to the public by early December, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci.

The results came out of Pfizer’s Phase 3 trial, which involved 40,000 individuals. Of those participating, 94 contracted COVID-19. These results, like much of 2020, are historic. Vaccines have never been developed on such a fast-moving timeline. The last vaccine that was developed in such considerable haste was for mumps, and it took four years.

Pfizer says that they plan to ask the Federal Drug Administration for emergency use by the end of the month. The vaccine will require two doses administered three weeks apart. The company hopes to have enough doses for 25 million people by the end of the year, and 650 million people in 2021.

In the case that the vaccine supply is limited, the C.D.C. will first vaccinate healthcare personnel, essential workers, people who are at high risk for severe COVID-19 illness due to underlying medical conditions, as well as those 65 years and older.

An expedited timeline does not mean drug companies are cutting corners. Fauci, like many of his colleagues in Washington, assures that manufacturers will stick to a process of vaccine development that ensures the safety of patients. The FDA will still make the final call.

“Today is a great day for science and humanity,” said Dr. Albert Bourla, Pfizer Chairman and CEO, in Pfizer’s press release. “The first set of results from our Phase 3 COVID-19 vaccine trial provides the initial evidence of our vaccine’s ability to prevent COVID-19.”

However, a few questions remain unanswered.

“Historically, important scientific announcements about vaccines are made through peer-reviewed medical research papers that have undergone extensive scrutiny about study design, results and assumptions,” writes Arthur Allen in the Opinion section of the NYT. “Not through company press releases.”

According to Allen, it is unclear from the press release how long Pfizer’s vaccine will keep patients protected, if it is safe for high-risk populations like the elderly, or if rare side effects can arise in patients who are vaccinated. He notes that the Novavax and Sanofi Pasteur vaccines may be safer for older patients.

Novavax and Sanofi Pasteur are subunit vaccines, like the hepatitis B vaccine. They deliver only the essential antigens of the virus to the immune system, so it learns how to attack it. Because it is only a part, or a subunit, of the virus, fewer side effects are likely.

Pfizer’s is a nucleic acid vaccine that uses RNA. According to the Washington Post, “this type of vaccine contains a strip of genetic material within a fat bubble” that enters the cell. Once inside, “the RNA generates a protein found on the surface of the virus.” It can then familiarize itself with the virus and learn how to fight it.

Moderna’s vaccine is also an RNA vaccine in Phase 3 trials. Pfizer’s success bodes very well for Moderna, according to a statement Fauci made to CNN.

Furthermore, because the vaccine must be stored in extremely low temperatures—on dry ice at negative 100 degrees Fahrenheit according to the Washington Post—its roll-out becomes complicated. If left out in the sun, or just at room temperature, or even at just below freezing, the mRNA self-destructs and the vaccine becomes useless.

Shortly after Pfizer’s announcement, President-elect Joe Biden addressed the nation, warned of the “dark winter” ahead, and urged Americans, regardless of party affiliation, to wear a mask until the vaccine is available.

The head of the C.D.C. warned this fall, that “for the foreseeable future, a mask remains the most potent weapon against the virus,” he said from the podium. “Today’s news does not change that urgent reality.”

Hiccup in COVID-19 Vaccine Development

By Althea Champion

In a statement from AstraZeneca, reported by STAT News, the biopharmaceutical company reported a halt in their global research trial. The company, which is working with the University of Oxford and is one of the few waist-deep in the process of developing a COVID-19 vaccination, reported that the halt is a “routine action which has to happen whenever there is a potentially unexplained illness in one of the trials.”

The company is in Phase 3 of their clinical trial in the U.S., as well as Brazil and South Africa, according to the New York Times, and in Phase 2/3 in England and India. AstraZeneca began the third phase of its clinical trial not much longer than a week ago, on Aug. 31.

Phase 3 efficacy trials involve thousands of volunteers, some of which are administered the vaccine in question, and others the placebo.

AstraZeneca and its most close competitors, Moderna and Pfizer, which have each been in phase 3 of their clinical trials since July 27, are backed by the Trump administration’s Operation Warp Speed, a targeted allocation of resources meant to hasten the development of a COVID-19 vaccine. 

The halt of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine—AZD1222—is the first made public by its drug maker, and will allow a safety review to take place. 

“A volunteer in the U.K. trial [of AZD1222] had been found to have transverse myelitis, an inflammatory syndrome that affects the spinal cord and is often sparked by viral infections,” reported the New York Times. “However, the timing of this diagnosis, and whether it was directly linked to AstraZeneca’s vaccine, is unclear.”

The vaccine was first developed by Oxford University’s Jenner Institute and Oxford Vaccine Group, according to nih.gov, and was then “licensed to AstraZeneca for further development.” Oxford-Astrazeneca began the third phase of its clinical trial not much longer than a week ago, on Aug. 31

The company stressed in its statement that the safety of their participants is a priority.

“We are working to expedite the review of the single event to minimize any potential impact on the trial timeline,” said the company in their statement. “We are committed to the safety of our participants and the highest standards of conduct in our trials.”