The United States holds some 2.3 million people in jails, prisons and other detention centers, incarcerating more people per capita than any other country. This includes nearly 500,000 people who have not been convicted of a crime and are awaiting trial, according to the Prison Policy Initiative. (Some prisons have taken steps to reduce overcrowding since the start of the pandemic.)
This figure also includes some 44,000 young people detained in institutions for minors and around 42,000 in detention centers for migrants.
Confused by all the technical terms used to describe how vaccines work and are studied? Let us help you:
- Adverse event: A health problem that arises in volunteers during a clinical trial of a vaccine or drug. An adverse event is not always caused by the treatment tested in the trial.
- Antibody: A protein produced by the immune system that can attach to a pathogen such as coronavirus and prevent it from infecting cells.
- Emergency use approval, license and authorization: Medicines, vaccines and medical devices cannot be sold in the United States without winning approval of the Food and Drug Administration, also known as permit. After a company submits clinical trial results to the FDA for review, the agency decides whether the product is safe and effective, a process that typically takes several months. If the country is faced with an emergency – such as a pandemic – a company can request a emergency use authorization, which can be granted much faster.
- Background rate: How often a health problem, called an adverse event, occurs in the general population. To determine whether a vaccine or drug is safe, researchers compare the rate of adverse events in a trial to the baseline rate.
- Efficiency: A measure of the effectiveness of a treatment in a clinical trial. To test a vaccine against the coronavirus, for example, researchers compare the number of people in the vaccinated and placebo groups receiving Covid-19. The actual effectiveness of a vaccine may be different from its effectiveness in a trial.
- Phase 1, 2 and 3 trials: Clinical trials generally take place in three stages. Phase 1 trials typically involve a few dozen people and are designed to observe whether a vaccine or drug is safe. Phase 2 trials, involving hundreds of people, allow researchers to try different doses and gather more measurements of the vaccine’s effects on the immune system. Phase 3 trials, involving thousands or tens of thousands of volunteers, determine the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine or drug while waiting to see how many people are protected from the disease they are supposed to be fighting for.
- Placebo: A substance with no therapeutic effect, often used in a clinical trial. To see if a vaccine can prevent Covid-19, for example, researchers can inject half of their volunteers with the vaccine, while the other half are given a saltwater placebo. They can then compare the number of people in each group infected.
- Post-market surveillance: The follow-up that takes place after the approval of a vaccine or drug and which is regularly prescribed by doctors. This monitoring usually confirms that the treatment is safe. On rare occasions, it detects side effects in certain groups of people that were missed in clinical trials.
- Preclinical research: Studies that take place before the start of a clinical trial, usually involving experiments where a treatment is tested in cells or in animals.
- Viral vector vaccines: A type of vaccine that uses a harmless virus to introduce immune system boosting ingredients into the human body. Viral vectors are used in several experimental Covid-19 vaccines, including those developed by AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson. Both companies use a cold virus called adenovirus as a vector. The adenovirus carries coronavirus genes.
- Test protocol: A series of procedures to be performed during a clinical trial.
Those detained are particularly vulnerable to the virus. People in prison are four times more likely to be infected than people in the general population, according to a study by the Criminal Justice Commission. Overall, Covid-19 death rates among inmates are higher than among the general population.
So far, at least 200,000 inmates have already been infected with Covid-19, and at least 1,450 inmates and correctional officers have died from the virus, according to a database maintained by the New York Times.
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These numbers likely underestimate the scale of the problem, as reporting requirements are uneven and vary from state to state, said Dr Tom Inglesby, infectious disease expert at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and another co-author of the vaccine. allocation report.
In Connecticut, doctors tested more than 10,000 prisoners in state prisons and prisons from March through June and found that 13% were infected with the coronavirus, according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Inmates who lived in dormitories were most at risk. Older inmates and Latino inmates were also more likely than others to be infected.
Even before the pandemic, many older inmates were in poor health after decades of “hard living,” said Dr. Charles Lee, president-elect of the American College of Correctional Physicians.