What We’re Reading: Pfizer Efficacy Against Omicron; Lack of Diversity in Orthopedic Field; New York Mask Mandate

Two doses of the Pfizer vaccine may only have 22.5% efficacy against the Omicron variant; as of 2018, less than 16% of orthopedic specialists are people of color; a mask mandate for stores and indoor spaces in New York state went into effect.

Study Finds Pfizer Vaccine Has 22.5% Efficacy Against Omicron

Two doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine may only have 22.5% efficacy against the Omicron variant, Bloomberg reported. According to a study by the Africa Health Research Institute in Durban, South Africa, the 2-shot course has a low efficacy against symptomatic infection, but can still prevent severe disease caused by Omicron. As previously reported, people who have received a booster shot may be better protected. Preliminary data from the United Kingdom showed that Pfizer and AstraZeneca boosters can improve protection against the Omicron variant as much as 75% soon after receiving the shot.

Lack of Racial Diversity Continues in Orthopedics

While other medical fields are increasing the number of specialists who are people of color, the orthopedic field still has a lack of diversity, as reported by STAT News. As of 2018, less than 2% of orthopedists are Black, 2.2% are Hispanic, only 0.4% are Native American, and just 6.7% are Asian American, while roughly 85% are White. These low numbers are partially due to the lack of candidates of color, as students who are Black, Hispanic, and Native American are severely underrepresented in medical school. According to STAT’s investigation, the numbers of non-White individuals on track to join the orthopedics field get lower at almost every stage. Aspiring orthopedists of color are less likely to apply to the specialty and less likely to be accepted into residency programs. If they are accepted, they are less likely to finish their training, and if they do complete it, they are still highly likely to face racial discrimination at work.

New York State Brings Back Mask Mandate

A mask mandate for stores and other indoor spaces in the state of New York went back into effect Monday, the Associated Press reported. As the state faces a surge in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, especially with the spread of the Omicron variant, masks will be required in all indoor public places unless the establishment implements a vaccine requirement. In this case, businesses can require proof of vaccination. Violators of the mask mandate could face civil and criminal penalties, including a maximum fine of $1000. The rule will be in place until at least January 15.