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‘It’s Soul-Draining’: Health Workers Deployed to Covid Hot Zones Are Overwhelmed by Deaths Among the Unvaccinated

August 19, 2021

(STAT News) – “Ninety-nine percent of the patients being admitted are unvaccinated,” she said. “They’re sicker when they get here. They require more acute care while they’re here. And unfortunately, many of them are not surviving.” STAT’s rare access to a Covid-19 intensive care ward, a glimpse inside a hospital under siege, highlights the devastation being wrought not only on patients, but also on health workers. Throughout two days spent shadowing Ingle and her colleagues — a unit within the National Disaster Medical System, effectively a National Guard for health care and emergency response — it became readily apparent that she and her colleagues had received perhaps their toughest deployment yet. (Read Full Article)

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U.S. Officials’ Decision on Covid-19 Booster Shots Baffles–And Upsets–Some Scientists

August 19, 2021

(STAT News) – The Biden administration’s decision to start authorizing third doses of Covid-19 vaccine in September is being met with bafflement, concern, and even anger from a number of immunologists, vaccinologists, and people steeped in the normal way such decisions are made. Many flat-out challenged the need for booster doses at this time. Others questioned the morality of administering third shots to Americans when most people on the planet haven’t received one. And some worried that a decision had been made before the Food and Drug Administration had ruled on the need for a booster or a key vaccine advisory committee had evaluated the data — typically the way vaccine policy is set. (Read Full Article)

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Pfizer’s Covid-19 Booster Shot Improves Immunity, Israeli Study Suggests

August 19, 2021

(Wall Street Journal) – Early data from Israel suggests a booster shot of Pfizer Inc.’s Covid-19 vaccine can significantly improve immunity in those aged 60 and above, as the U.S. and other countries plan additional doses to increase protection against the highly infectious Delta variant. Israel was one of the first countries late last month to authorize a third Pfizer dose for the elderly who were fully vaccinated with the recommended two shots, after indications that vaccine protection against severe illness has waned. The booster shot reduced the risk of infection in the 60-plus age group by 86% and against severe infection by 92%, according to an observational study by Israel’s second largest healthcare provider, Maccabi Health Services, released Wednesday. (Read Full Article)

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Latest Data Show Increase in Breakthrough COVID-19 Cases

August 19, 2021

(Medscape) – Preliminary data from seven states suggest that breakthrough COVID-19 infections among vaccinated people may be on the rise due to the more contagious Delta variant. Breakthrough cases accounted for about 1 in 5 newly diagnosed cases in six of the states, according to The New York Times . Hospitalizations and deaths among vaccinated people may be higher than previously thought as well. (Read Full Article)

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In a Handful of States, Early Data Hint at a Rise in Breakthrough Infections

August 18, 2021

(New York Times) – Since Americans first began rolling up their sleeves for coronavirus vaccines, health officials have said that those who are immunized are very unlikely to become infected, or to suffer serious illness or death. But preliminary data from seven states hint that the arrival of the Delta variant in July may have altered the calculus. Breakthrough infections in vaccinated people accounted for at least one in five newly diagnosed cases in six of these states and higher percentages of total hospitalizations and deaths than had been previously observed in all of them, according to figures gathered by The New York Times. The absolute numbers remain very low, however, and there is little doubt that the vaccines remain powerfully protective. (Read Full Article)

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Delta Has Changed the Pandemic Risk Calculus

August 18, 2021

(The Atlantic) – What makes our current moment tricky is that pandemic risk has never been more highly variable, which means the list of things to consider about any given situation is longer and has fewer hard-and-fast rules. Vaccinated people are still far safer than they’ve been for most of the past year and a half, and the unvaccinated are in even more danger than they were in March 2020. The Delta variant is, in some respects, a whole new ball game. What rules are we playing by now? (Read Full Article)

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WHO Condemns Rush by Wealthy Nations to Give Covid Vaccine Booster

August 18, 2021

(The Guardian) – The World Health Organization has condemned the rush by wealthy countries to provide Covid-19 vaccine booster shots while millions of people around the world have yet to receive a single dose. Speaking before US authorities announced all vaccinated Americans would soon be eligible to receive booster doses, WHO experts insisted there was not enough scientific evidence to support the additional shot. Providing them while so many people were still waiting to be immunised was immoral, they argued. (Read Full Article)

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U.S. Officials in Germany Hit by Havana Syndrome

August 18, 2021

(Wall Street Journal) – At least two U.S. officials stationed in Germany sought medical treatment after developing symptoms of the mysterious health complaint known as Havana Syndrome, according to U.S. diplomats. The symptoms, which included nausea, severe headaches, ear pain, fatigue, insomnia and sluggishness, began to emerge in recent months and some victims were left unable to work, according to the diplomats. They are the first cases to be reported in a NATO country that hosts U.S. troops and nuclear weapons. (Read Full Article)

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The Ethics of Vaccine Booster Shots

August 18, 2021

(Axios) – The Biden administration is expected to soon recommend booster doses of the COVID-19 vaccine for everyone, but that decision fails fundamental ethics tests, according to interviews with physicians and medical ethicists. Why it matters: There is still a global shortage of vaccines. Even amid concerns of the spreading Delta variant, experts say it’s difficult to justify a third dose for relatively healthy people in the U.S. when many others haven’t gotten their first. (Read Full Article)

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US COVID-19 Cases Back to Pre-Vaccination Levels

August 18, 2021

(Medscape) – For the first time since early February, the U.S. reported more than 900,000 COVID-19 cases last week, rising back to pre-vaccination levels, according to USA Today. The U.S. now represents 20% of the COVID-19 cases being reported globally. The seven-day average is more than 140,000 new cases per day and increasing due to the ongoing spread of the contagious Delta variant. New cases rose about 17% in the past week. Hospitalizations climbed by about 15%, and deaths jumped nearly 24%. (Read Full Article)

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‘No Evidence’ That COVID Vaccines Harm Fertility, Says MHRA

August 18, 2021

(Medscape) – An analysis by the UK’s health regulator said there was no evidence to support concerns that menstrual disorders and unexpected vaginal bleeding were caused by COVID-19 vaccines. The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) said it would continue to monitor safety data for the use of the vaccines during pregnancy. (Read Full Article)

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Pfizer Submits Initial Data for COVID-19 Vaccine Booster Authorization

August 18, 2021

(Medscape) – Pfizer Inc and its German partner BioNTech SE have submitted to U.S. regulators the initial data from an early-stage trial toward seeking authorization of a booster dose of their COVID-19 vaccine, the drugmakers said on Monday. They said the third dose produced “significantly higher” neutralizing antibodies against the original, wild-type SARS-CoV-2 virus compared to the initial two doses, as well as against the Beta and the highly infectious Delta variants. (Read Full Article)

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More Evidence of COVID’s Crushing Mental-Health Toll on Healthcare Workers

August 17, 2021

(Medscape) – The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a huge psychological toll on healthcare workers, particularly those working in emergency departments, new surveys confirm. “Regardless of training level, physicians and mid-level practitioners report symptoms suggestive of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and sub-PTSD,” Dr. Morgan Bowling reported in a presentation to the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) Research Forum on COVID-19. (Read Full Article)

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As Delta Surges, Covid-19 Breakthrough Cases Remain Uncommon

August 17, 2021

(Wall Street Journal) – The Delta variant of the Covid-19 virus appears to be breaking through the protection vaccines provide at a higher rate than previous strains, a Wall Street Journal analysis found, though infections among the fully inoculated remain a tiny fraction of overall cases, and symptoms tend to be milder. U.S. states counted at least 193,204 so-called breakthrough cases among vaccinated people between Jan. 1 and early August, according to data that health departments in 44 states and Washington, D.C., provided to the Journal. The figure represents 0.1% of the more than 136 million fully vaccinated people in those states and the capital. (Read Full Article)

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Death Toll from Haiti’s Weekend Earthquake Rises to 1,941

August 17, 2021

(Associated Press) – Haitian officials raised the death toll from a deadly weekend earthquake by more than 500 on Tuesday after Tropical Storm Grace forced a temporary halt to search and rescue efforts, a delay that fed growing anger and frustration among thousands who were left homeless. Grace battered southwestern Haiti, which was hit hardest by Saturday’s quake, and officials warned some areas could get 15 inches (38 centimeters) of rain before the storm moved on. Intermittent rain fell in the earthquake-damaged city of Les Cayes and in the capital of Port-au-Prince. (Read Full Article)

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Troubling CDC Vaccine Data Convinced Biden Team to Back Booster Shots

August 17, 2021

(Politico) – Top Biden administration health officials concluded that most Americans will soon need coronavirus booster shots after reviewing a raft of new data from the Centers for Disease Control that showed a worrying drop in vaccine efficacy over time, four administration officials told POLITICO. The evidence, compiled by federal scientists over the past several months, showed a decline in the initial round of protection against Covid-19 infection that’s coincided with a resurgence in cases driven by the more contagious Delta variant. The data looked at vaccine effectiveness in individuals across age groups, with varying medical conditions and who received the shot at different times. It was presented to White House Covid-19 task force officials at a meeting Sunday. (Read Full Article)

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New Zealand to Enter Lockdown After Single Virus Case Found

August 17, 2021

(ABC News) – New Zealand’s government took drastic action Tuesday by putting the entire nation into a strict lockdown for at least three days after finding a single case of coronavirus infection in the community. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern invoked some of the stirring rhetoric she used early in the pandemic by urging the “team of 5 million” — New Zealand’s population — to go hard and early in trying to eliminate the latest outbreak. (Read Full Article)

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US Pediatric Hospitals in Perils as Delta Hits Children

August 17, 2021

(Medscape) – Over the course of the pandemic, COVID-19 has been a less serious illness for children than it has been for adults, and that continues to be true. But with the arrival of Delta, the risk for kids is rising, and that’s creating a perilous situation for hospitals across the United States that treat them. Roughly 1800 kids were hospitalized with COVID-19 in the United States last week, a 500% increase in the rate of COVID-19 hospitalizations for children since early July, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (Read Full Article)

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U.S. to Advise Boosters for Most Americans 8 Months After Vaccination

August 17, 2021

(New York Times) – The Biden administration has decided that most Americans should get a coronavirus booster vaccination eight months after they received their second shot, and could begin offering third shots as early as mid-September, according to administration officials familiar with the discussions. Officials are planning to announce the decision as early as this week. Their goal is to let Americans who received the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines know now that they will need additional protection against the Delta variant that is causing caseloads to surge across much of the nation. The new policy will depend on the Food and Drug Administration’s authorization of additional shots. (Read Full Article)

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Rich Nations Dip into COVAX Supply While Poor Wait for Shots

August 16, 2021

(Associated Press) – An international system to share coronavirus vaccines was supposed to guarantee that low and middle-income countries could get doses without being last in line and at the mercy of unreliable donations. It hasn’t worked out that way. In late June alone, the initiative known as COVAX sent some 530,000 doses to Britain – more than double the amount sent that month to the entire continent of Africa. (Read Full Article)

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