The WHO did not reverse its position on kids and COVID-19 vaccines

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PolitiFact 24 June, 2021 - 10:33am 51 views

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Nearly all COVID deaths in US are now among unvaccinated

Yahoo News 25 June, 2021 - 10:08am

Nearly all COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. now are in people who weren’t vaccinated, a staggering demonstration of how effective the shots have been and an indication that deaths per day — now down to under 300 — could be practically zero if everyone eligible got the vaccine.

An Associated Press analysis of available government data from May shows that “breakthrough” infections in fully vaccinated people accounted for fewer than 1,200 of more than 853,000 COVID-19 hospitalizations. That’s about 0.1%.

And only about 150 of the more than 18,000 COVID-19 deaths in May were in fully vaccinated people. That translates to about 0.8%, or five deaths per day on average.

The AP analyzed figures provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC itself has not estimated what percentage of hospitalizations and deaths are in fully vaccinated people, citing limitations in the data.

Among them: Only about 45 states report breakthrough infections, and some are more aggressive than others in looking for such cases. So the data probably understates such infections, CDC officials said.

Still, the overall trend that emerges from the data echoes what many health care authorities are seeing around the country and what top experts are saying.

Earlier this month, Andy Slavitt, a former adviser to the Biden administration on COVID-19, suggested that 98% to 99% of the Americans dying of the coronavirus are unvaccinated.

And CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said on Tuesday that the vaccine is so effective that “nearly every death, especially among adults, due to COVID-19, is, at this point, entirely preventable.” She called such deaths “particularly tragic.”

Deaths in the U.S. have plummeted from a peak of more than 3,400 day on average in mid-January, one month into the vaccination drive.

About 63% of all vaccine-eligible Americans — those 12 and older — have received at least one dose, and 53% are fully vaccinated, according to the CDC. While vaccine remains scarce in much of the world, the U.S. supply is so abundant and demand has slumped so dramatically that shots sit unused.

Ross Bagne, a 68-year-old small-business owner in Cheyenne, Wyoming, was eligible for the vaccine in early February but didn’t get it. He died June 4, infected and unvaccinated, after spending more than three weeks in the hospital, his lungs filling with fluid. He was unable to swallow because of a stroke.

“He never went out, so he didn’t think he would catch it,” said his grieving sister, Karen McKnight. She wondered: “Why take the risk of not getting vaccinated?”

The preventable deaths will continue, experts predict, with unvaccinated pockets of the nation experiencing outbreaks in the fall and winter. Ali Mokdad, a professor of health metrics sciences at the University of Washington in Seattle, said modeling suggests the nation will hit 1,000 deaths per day again next year.

In Arkansas, which has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the nation, with only about 33% of the population fully protected, cases, hospitalizations and deaths are rising.

“It is sad to see someone go to the hospital or die when it can be prevented,” Gov. Asa Hutchinson tweeted as he urged people to get their shots.

In Seattle’s King County, the public health department found only three deaths during a recent 60-day period in people who were fully vaccinated. The rest, some 95% of 62 deaths, had had no vaccine or just one shot.

“Those are all somebody’s parents, grandparents, siblings and friends,” said Dr. Mark Del Beccaro, who helps lead a vaccination outreach program in King County. “It’s still a lot of deaths, and they’re preventable deaths.”

In the St. Louis area, more than 90% of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 have not been vaccinated, said Dr. Alex Garza, a hospital administrator who directs a metropolitan-area task force on the outbreak.

“The majority of them express some regret for not being vaccinated,” Garza said. “That’s a pretty common refrain that we’re hearing from patients with COVID.”

The stories of unvaccinated people dying may convince some people they should get the shots, but young adults — the group least likely to be vaccinated — may be motivated more by a desire to protect their loved ones, said David Michaels, an epidemiologist at George Washington University’s school of public health in the nation’s capital.

Others need paid time off to get the shots and deal with any side effects, Michaels said.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration this month began requiring health care employers, including hospitals and nursing homes, to provide such time off. But Michaels, who headed OSHA under President Barack Obama, said the agency should have gone further and applied the rule to meat and poultry plants and other food operations as well as other places with workers at risk.

Bagne, who lived alone, ran a business helping people incorporate their companies in Wyoming for the tax advantages. He was winding down the business, planning to retire, when he got sick, emailing his sister in April about an illness that had left him dizzy and disoriented.

“Whatever it was. That bug took a LOT out of me,” he wrote.

As his health deteriorated, a neighbor finally persuaded him to go to the hospital.

“Why was the messaging in his state so unclear that he didn’t understand the importance of the vaccine? He was a very bright guy,” his sister said. “I wish he’d gotten the vaccine, and I’m sad he didn’t understand how it could prevent him from getting COVID.”

Who needs COVID-19 boosters?

The Verge 25 June, 2021 - 10:08am

Those questions were front and center at this week’s meeting of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). The group isn’t making recommendations around COVID-19 vaccine boosters yet, but the discussion shows how leading health experts are thinking through the issues.

Here’s what we know so far: the vaccines authorized in the United States work extremely well at protecting the majority of people from the coronavirus. Protection seems to last a while. We’re not sure quite how long, but at the very least, it’s longer than the flu shot, which people get every year. The shots still work against coronavirus variants, even the fast-moving Delta variant.

But for some people, the vaccines don’t work. People who are immunocompromised, particularly people who have had organ transplants, often don’t produce antibodies after the regular doses of the COVID-19 vaccines. New research suggests that a third booster dose of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine could give them more protection.

Emerging data that a 3rd dose of mRNA #COVID19 vaccine provides a greater antibody response in solid organ transplant recipients. https://t.co/mHP4EfNYmW

That’s the group the ACIP seems to think could be the first to get a booster because we have clear signals that it could help them. Then, after we learn more about how long protection lasts for everyone else — or if new variants emerge — experts could hammer out the details about boosters for the rest of us.

“There’s no data to support recommendations for booster doses at this time, except for the caveat in severely immunocompromised hosts who are not able to mount a strong response,” said Sharon Frey, an ACIP member and clinical director of the Center for Vaccine Development at Saint Louis University Medical School.

That data will come later. Ongoing studies are tracking the durability of COVID-19 vaccine protection, for example, and the CDC is watching to see if any variants evade the vaccines. Studies will check if people should get a third (or second, in the case of Johnson & Johnson) dose of a COVID-19 vaccine that already exists or a new shot with an updated form of the vaccine that targets specific variants.

“If we start to see an uptick in reinfections for people, or new infections in people who have been vaccinated, that’s our clue that we need to move quickly,” Frey said.

Looming over the ACIP’s discussion, though, was the troubling rates of vaccination in the US and around the world. Only 45 percent of the US population is fully vaccinated. Only 17.7 percent of the world is vaccinated. Unvaccinated people don’t need boosters; they need their first shots. Having more people vaccinated will slow the spread of the virus and prevent new variants. It’ll protect people who are immunocompromised, too: when everyone around them is far less likely to have COVID-19, they’re at a far lower risk of catching it.

Figuring out boosters is important. But getting unvaccinated people their shots — both in the US and around the world — is a critical way to protect everyone, said ACIP member Helen Talbot, an associate professor of medicine at Vanderbilt University. “Prior to going around giving everyone boosters, we really need to improve the overall vaccination rate,” she says.

Here’s what else happened this week.

What I find most troubling, though, is the helplessness that so many people still feel more than a year later as the country seems to be joyfully emerging from its coronavirus slumber.

— Laura Holson writes in The New York Times about her recovery from Long COVID-19 and others who weren’t so lucky

To the people who have received the 2.8 billion vaccine doses distributed so far — thank you.

To the more than 179,587,904 people worldwide who have tested positive, may your road to recovery be smooth.

To the families and friends of the 3,891,685 people who have died worldwide — 602,562 of those in the US — your loved ones are not forgotten.

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COVID Vaccine Updates: 1 in 10 Americans missed 2nd vaccine dose

WABC-TV 25 June, 2021 - 10:08am

CDC says 1 in 10 Americans skipped 2nd COVID vaccine dose

Experts: Lack of access keeping COVID-19 vaccination rates down

WBAL-TV 11 Baltimore 25 June, 2021 - 10:08am

CDC discusses myocarditis and COVID vaccines

FOX59 News 25 June, 2021 - 10:08am

State reports 35 new cases of COVID-19, 2 additional deaths

Press Herald 25 June, 2021 - 07:24am

Meanwhile, the six Maine counties with the lowest vaccination rate are also the counties with the highest rates of new transmission over the last 28 days.

Maine health officials reported 35 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, closing out another week of steadily declining numbers.

Two additional deaths were reported as well.

For nine consecutive days, the number of new cases hasn’t topped 50 and has been as low as 12.

The seven-day daily case average now sits at 27, the lowest it’s been since last September. It’s down from 62 cases two weeks and from 148 cases this time last month. During the springtime peak in April, the daily average got as high as 470.

In all, there have been 68,924 confirmed or probable cases of COVID-19 and 858 deaths since the pandemic reached Maine in March 2020, according to data from the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Hospitalizations have leveled off in Maine over the last couple weeks. As of Friday, there were 31 individuals in a Maine hospital with COVID-19, including 15 in critical care and six on ventilators. There were four times as many people hospitalized exactly one month ago.

Maine CDC director Dr. Nirav Shah noted Thursday that 29 of 31 people in hospitals with COVID-19 – or 94 percent – were not fully vaccinated against the disease.

Although cases, hospitalizations and deaths have been declining in Maine and most other states, health officials are still urging caution about the spread of the so-called delta variant, which is highly transmissible and is on the verge of becoming the dominant strain. States and areas with low vaccination rates are most at risk of seeing new case spikes.

Vaccinations have slowed dramatically in recent weeks, but Maine still ranks 2nd behind only Vermont in states with the highest vaccination rate, according to a Bloomberg tracker. The top seven states are the six New England states plus New Jersey. The states that have the lowest vaccination rates are almost exclusively in the south.

Overall, Maine has administered 772,053 final doses of vaccine, accounting for 57.4 percent of all residents and 65.2  percent of those 12 and older who are eligible. That number includes all second doses of Pfizer or Moderna vaccine and the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Gaps persist, though, with younger Mainers and in rural counties.

The vaccination rate for those 50 or older is 79.3 percent, while the rate for those between the ages of 12-49 is just 51.3 percent.

Cumberland County, where more than 1 in 5 Mainers lives, has the highest rate of vaccination, at 68.9 percent. But several lesser populated rural counties have yet to crack the 50 percent threshold, led by Somerset County, where just 45.1 percent of residents are fully vaccinated.

More and more, there is clear evidence that vaccinations are working to slow the virus’ spread and to limit hospitalizations and deaths.

An Associated Press analysis of available U.S. CDC data from May showed that “breakthrough” infections in fully vaccinated people accounted for fewer than 1,200 of more than 853,000 COVID-19 hospitalizations, or about 0.1%.

And only about 150 of the more than 18,000 COVID-19 deaths in May were in fully vaccinated people, or about 0.8%.

There is evidence in Maine as well that vaccinations are working.

The six counties with the highest rate of virus transmission over the most recent 28-day period, according to the CDC, are: Somerset, Washington, Piscataquis, Androscoggin, Oxford and Franklin.

The six counties with the lowest vaccination rates are: Somerset, Piscataquis, Oxford, Franklin, Androscoggin and Washington.

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Opinion | India’s Covid Curve Could Raise the World’s

The Wall Street Journal 24 June, 2021 - 05:11pm

Over the first three days of this week, India jabbed 21 million people—a significant acceleration. Stepping up vaccinations, combined with protection gained from a large number of Covid infections, could carry the country toward herd immunity by year’s end. But this week’s surge in vaccinations may not be sustainable, and the duration of protection provided by previous exposure to the virus remains uncertain.

The high stakes for India are self-evident. Covid has battered the country’s economy, diminished its international standing, and raised serious questions about its government’s competence. Officially, about 392,000 Indians had died of Covid as of Wednesday. But many experts say that figure is a gross underestimate.

India’s battle against the disease also matters disproportionately to the global effort against Covid. The longer the virus continues to spread, the more variants can emerge, and a nation with one-sixth of the world’s population is a potentially huge incubator.

The highly contagious Delta variant sweeping the world was first detected in India. This mutation has already led to an uptick in cases in the U.K. and is set to become the dominant strain in the U.S. This week, White House chief medical adviser Anthony Fauci said the Delta variant is the “greatest threat” to eliminating Covid in America. He expects the strain to be “quite dominant” in the U.S. within several weeks to a month. The longer India’s vaccination effort takes, the higher the odds of other variants emerging there, including some that may be immune to current vaccines.

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