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The Executive Briefing - Friday, August 20th

Breakthrough infections rising, at-home tests and more...


  • Israel, which has a high level of vaccination, is experiencing another COVID surge (though with milder symptoms) after relaxing restrictions. (New York Times)
  • Soon, your vaccine records should be available in your digital wallet. (NBC)
  • Neurological problems are appearing in those who initially had only mild COVID cases. (National Geographic)
  • The U.S. decision on boosters for most Americans confused and concerned some scientists. Some who have moral concerns about giving third shots before most of the world gets first shots, or who question the clinical necessity of a third dose. (STAT)
  • A Texas school district has gotten around their state’s ban on mask mandates by updating their dress code to include masks. (NPR)
  • A new report shows Pfizer vaccine is 86% effective against the Delta variant in those over age 60. (Medscape)
  • Mask requirements for mass transportation have been extended to January 18, 2022. (CDC)
  • Additional analysis continues to be published on OSHA’s updated guidance for non healthcare workers. (Jackson Lewis)
  • Experts are concerned that religious exemptions are undermining vaccine mandates. Requests for religious exemptions have increased dramatically over the last week. (Yahoo News)
  • A new study shows the huge impact that a single, now-retracted article linking autism to childhood vaccinations had on vaccine hesitancy in the U.S. It’s especially frustrating for public health scientists since the study was fraudulent. (Bloomberg)

Today’s Health News

  • Moderna is starting to test a new HIV vaccine made like the mRNA vaccines we’re using for COVID - clearly the future of vaccines is here. (CNET)
  • Researchers have used brain cancer patients' own cells to 3D print a model of their tumour to test potential treatments before using them for real. (Reuters)
  • The NYC DOH is investigating a cluster of nine Legionella cases in Harlem where the patients appear to have no common interactions. (NYC DOH)
  • Virginia has joined states requiring Hepatitis A vaccinations for school-aged children. (13 News)

Best Questions

Should any positive, including a home test, be treated as a positive?

Yes. Even at-home rapid tests are highly accurate when it comes to positive test results. Any positive test should be treated as a true positive. Even if they have one or more negative at-home tests after that result, the positive result is 99% accurate or more, compared to a much lower percentage accuracy for those negative test results. We’ve only one single case of a positive at-home test where someone then tested negative on re-rest, and we required at least two negative PCR tests before considering the possibility of a false positive. It’s extremely rare, and we recommend treating any positive result as a true positive.

My employee says they can’t be vaccinated for 90 days because they had COVID. Is that true?

Only if they received a monoclonal antibody cocktail as treatment for their COVID. If that’s the case, their doctor likely told them to wait since they don’t want to overwhelm their immune system. Relatively few people actually get that treatment, and most people can get vaccinated as soon as they meet the criteria for ending self-isolation at least 10 days after their symptoms start.

Our vaccine mandate includes a requirement to check IDs. Why?

After getting feedback, New York City did add a requirement to ask for a form of government-issued ID in addition to proof of vaccination.  There were concerns that people would be sharing vaccination cards.  This requirement and the indoor vaccination mandate are both being challenged.

Are you seeing more breakthrough cases?

Yes. We’ve been observing higher-than-published breakthrough cases across our client base for several weeks. Now, newer studies are showing that what we saw in real time through your employees was an accurate early window into increases in post-vaccination positives.  However, we are not seeing severe illness, hospitalizations, ICU admissions or deaths in vaccinated employees.  Vaccines work!

Best Read

At-Home COVID-19 Antigen Tests: What You Should Know

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Disclaimer: This post is meant for general information and educational purposes only and does not constitute, and is not intended as, any form of medical, legal or regulatory advice or a recommendation or suggestion regarding the same.  No recipient of this information should act or refrain from acting on the basis of this information without first seeking legal advice from counsel in the relevant jurisdiction.