2422: Vaccine Ordering
Title text: You know what they say: mRNA-1273 before tozinameran, you'll have to slay a banshee in a catamaran.
Two COVID-19 vaccines have been approved in the United States (one from Moderna, the other from a joint venture between Pfizer and BioNTech). Each of these vaccines require 2 doses, taken 3-4 weeks apart.
Megan is reading an article on her phone to Cueball. A report from the CDC says that it's possible to get effective immunity against COVID-19 when mixing mRNA vaccine doses from Pfizer and Moderna, but that this practice should not be the norm. The report in question can be viewed here; it stresses that mixing the vaccines is acceptable only in exceptional circumstances, such as "when the first-dose vaccine product cannot be determined."
Cueball wonders whether the order in which you receive the vaccines matters. Megan then attempts to create mnemonic devices to help them remember which mix-and-match strategy is best for the mRNA vaccines (e.g., "Beer before wine and you'll feel fine; wine before beer and you'll feel queer"). She "concludes" that receiving the Pfizer vaccine after the Moderna one will be just as effective as having two doses of either, but that having the Moderna vaccine after Pfizer's will lead to the patient becoming the ruler of an ancient city. Megan might mean that the patient will be literally transported back in time, as she and Cueball (and Black Hat) were in 2321: Low-Background Metal. The apparent truthiness of these mnemonics might be attributed to the rhyme-as-reason effect, a cognitive bias that is often misleading - very much so in this case. Megan succeeds by rhyming "Pfizer" and "wiser," but struggles with finding a rhyme for "Moderna," settling for Smyrna, an ancient city located in what is now Izmir, Turkey.
A side effect of a drug is an effect incidental to the intended purpose of the drug. Side effects can be positive or negative, though in vaccine trials the greater concern is usually about negative side effects. Becoming ruler of an ancient city that is now only a historical ruin would certainly be an unexpected side effect.
- [Megan and Cueball are talking. Megan is looking down and reading a news story on her phone.]
- Megan: The CDC says it's okay to mix and match the mRNA vaccines for doses 1 and 2, but only in "exceptional situations".
- Cueball: I wonder which order works better, if either.
- [A slimmer panel. Megan has her finger raised and her phone to her side]
- Megan: Well you know what they say.
- Megan: Moderna before Pfizer, you'll be none the wiser.
- [A regular panel, Megan and Cueball still standing next to each other.]
- Megan: Pfizer before Moderna then you'll... rule ancient Smyrna.
- Cueball: Weird side effect.
- Megan: A lot of hard-to-rhyme drugs have those.
- This comic image was originally published with no anti-aliasing. All of its pixels were either fully black or fully white, with no shades of gray, giving the smooth lines a jagged appearance. This was fixed later in the day.
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