Dr. Ann Sheehy is an associate professor in the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. Credit: John Maniaci / UW Health
Credit: Claire DeRosa / Wisconsin Watch

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Johnson & Johnson announced Friday that its single-shot vaccine proved highly effective in protecting against COVID-19, raising hopes for an additional tool to thwart the mutating coronavirus. 

“But the results came with a significant cautionary note,” The New York Times reports. “The vaccine’s efficacy rate dropped from 72 percent in the United States to 57 percent in South Africa, where a highly contagious variant is driving most cases.” 

Studies show that variant, B.1.351, also reduced the effectiveness of vaccines manufactured by Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Novavax, The Times reports. South Carolina officials on Thursday reported the first two U.S. cases of the variant

“If Johnson & Johnson can deliver vaccines quickly enough to the United States, it might be able to help drive down cases before variants make things worse,” The Times reports. “Since the vaccine requires only a single shot — unlike the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines, which require two — that delivery would translate into full coverage for 100 million people.”

Top Stories 

Dr. Ann Sheehy is an associate professor in the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. Credit: John Maniaci / UW Health

‘It’s here now’: The doctors and nurses who treated Wisconsin’s first COVID patient had no idea what we were in for Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 

Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine offers strong protection but fuels concern about variants The New York Times 

Wisconsin FoodShare recipients will see an increase in benefits starting in February  WPR 

Demand for COVID-19 vaccine is 4 times higher than state’s supply, health official says Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 

GOP changes to Wisconsin COVID-19 bill raise prospect of veto WPR 

Republicans want to cut business taxes $450M with state deduction for COVID-19 loans Wisconsin State Journal 

Rock County resolution offers vaccine exemptions to Rock Haven employees Janesville Gazette 

What are we missing? And how are you coping? Help us provide critical information and accountability by filling out this form or emailing us at tips@wisconsinwatch.org.

Quotable

“I appreciate the extra kleenex boxes, the kind emails, the cute pictures your child draws for me. But sending your child to school with unnecessary exposure cancels all of that out.” 

— An anonymous Sun Prairie teacher urging families to avoid traveling in a Madison365 column  

“It took a year for approximately 37,600 people to test positive from COVID, and in one month, 38,660 Dane County residents have been immunized with at least one dose of the vaccine.”

— Janel Heinrich of Public Health Madison and Dane County, as quoted by Channel 3000

“There’s no clear scientific data or evidence that definitely proves that two masks are superior to one, but it just makes common sense. The more layers you put into a mask, the better the filtration properties they have.”

— Dr. Christopher Davis, a Froedert Hospital and the Medical College of Wisconsin  trauma surgeon, speaking to WPR

Data to note

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services continues to log fewer daily infections, with cases now at their lowest levels since mid-September, but it still reports more than two dozen new daily deaths on average. 

Public health officials continue to urge Wisconsinites to wear masks and practice physical distancing until vaccinations are more widely distributed. 

WisContext offers these visualizations of Wisconsin COVID-19 infections, deaths and hospitalizations. 

Calculate your exposure risk

In Wisconsin, even small gatherings can carry a big risk of exposure to the coronavirus, according to a nationwide tool that estimates the danger by the size of gathering and county in which it is held. Data scientists at the Georgia Institute of Technology and Stanford University developed the tool, which you can find here

Resilient Wisconsin

People helping others and showing resilience during this time of anxiety. Send suggestions by tagging us on social media — @wisconsinwatch — or emailing us: tips@wisconsinwatch.org

Susan Johnston, pharmacy manager for UW Health’s Pharmaceutical Research Center, prepares a shot of COVID-19 vaccine. Credit: John Maniaci / UW Health

UW students working at COVID-19 vaccination sites can receive $500 tuition credit Wisconsin State Journal 

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Wisconsin Watch

The byline "Wisconsin Watch" represents members of the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism's editorial and public engagement and marketing staff.