What We're Reading: CDC Updates Travel Guidelines; COVID-19 Vaccine Safe During Pregnancy; Mask Design Contest

AJMC Staff

People fully vaccinated against COVID-19 can now travel without needing to self-quarantine or a negative coronavirus test; study finds COVID-19 vaccines safe and effective for pregnant and breastfeeding women; HHS launches a mask design contest with a substantial cash prize.

CDC Updates Travel Guidelines for Fully Vaccinated People

As reported by Roll Call, the CDC updated its travel guidelines this past Friday, which will allow individuals fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to travel throughout the United States and abroad without needing to self-quarantine or a negative coronavirus test. The guidelines consider individuals fully vaccinated at least 2 weeks after their last recommended dose of the vaccine, and they state that travelers must also wear a mask in public spaces. The guidance provides no update for unvaccinated people, who will still need to get tested 1 to 3 days before domestic travel and again 3 to 5 days after travel.

COVID-19 Vaccine Safe During Pregnancy

According to a recent study by the The American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, COVID-19 vaccines were found to be safe and effective for pregnant and breastfeeding women, as well as potentially providing protection for their babies. According to NPR, the study involved 131 participants whose blood samples were taken at the time of the first and second doses of the vaccine, and again after 6 weeks. Notably, the level of antibodies for participants in response to the vaccine were higher than those in participants who were sick with COVID-19 during pregnancy, with antibodies also found in umbilical cord blood and breast milk. Researchers likened the discovery to that of the flu vaccine, which also provides protection for babies in the first several months of life.

HHS Launches Competition to Improve Mask Design

Seeking to develop the next generation of masks, HHS launched a competition titled “Mask Innovation Challenge: Building Tomorrow’s Mask,” in which the participant with the winning mask design will receive a $500,000 cash prize. Reported by The Hill, HHS said that although mask use has been encouraged worldwide, present mask designs cause issues such as contact dermatitis with prolonged wear and physical discomfort. Each submitted design will be judged by 4 criteria, including technological feasibility, innovation, whether it addresses existing mask barriers, and overall design, with the contest set to expire on April 21 at 5:00 pm Eastern time.