Alabama Republican Gov. Ivey says ‘start blaming the unvaccinated folks’ for rise in Covid cases

https://www.cnn.com/2021/07/23/politics/alabama-governor-kay-ivey-unvaccinated-covid/index.html

By Veronica Stracqualursi, CNN

Updated 1:57 PM ET, Fri July 23, 2021

Alabama governor: It's time to start blaming unvaccinated folks

Washington (CNN)Alabama Republican Gov. Kay Ivey on Thursday called out “the unvaccinated folks” for the rise in Covid-19 cases in her state, a remarkable plea at a time when many GOP leaders are refusing to urge people to get vaccinated even as Covid-19 cases surge in many parts of the country.”Folks are supposed to have common sense. But it’s time to start blaming the unvaccinated folks, not the regular folks. It’s the unvaccinated folks that are letting us down,” Ivey told reporters in Birmingham.Alabama is the least vaccinated state in the country, with roughly 33.9% of residents fully vaccinated, according to data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Average daily Covid-19 cases in Alabama are nearly double what they were a week ago, and more than four times higher than they were two weeks ago.

Asked by reporters Thursday about plans to issue a mask mandate or other restrictions now that Covid cases are starting to rise again in her state, Ivey replied, “The new cases of Covid are because of unvaccinated folks. Almost 100% of the new hospitalizations are with unvaccinated folks. And the deaths are certainly occurring with unvaccinated folks.”

Delta variant has even conservatives talking up the vaccine but reluctance remains

Delta variant has even conservatives talking up the vaccine but reluctance remainsThe unvaccinated, Ivey said, are “choosing a horrible lifestyle of self-inflicted pain.”

“We’ve got to get folks to take the shot,” she continued, calling the vaccine “the greatest weapon we have to fight Covid.”Enter your email to sign up for CNN’s “What Matters” Newsletter.close dialog

Sign up for CNN What Matters NewsletterEvery day we summarize What Matters and deliver it straight to your inbox.Sign Me UpNo ThanksBy subscribing you agree to ourprivacy policy.Alabama has received billions in federal relief funds from the stimulus package passed by Congress and signed by President Joe Biden earlier this year. The state has offered some small incentives to get vaccinated, including offering two laps around the Talladega Superspeedway in May. But unlike other states, Alabama has not used the federal relief money for an incentive program, scholarships or lotteries, AL.com has reported. Earlier this month, Ivey said there was no need for an incentive plan for vaccinations.

On Thursday, Ivey insisted that she’s done “all I know how to do” in managing the situation. When asked what it would take to get more people to get shots, she replied, “I don’t know, you tell me.”Ivey ended the state’s mask mandate in April, at the time favoring personal responsibility rather than a government mandate. The CDC had announced in May that fully vaccinated people would no longer have to wear masks.But now with the Delta variant spreading, experts are saying vaccinated and unvaccinated people should wear masks in areas where Covid-19 cases are high but vaccination rates are low.Ivey on Thursday was asked by a reporter what it would take to implement a mask mandate, and replied that “I want folks to get vaccinated” and “why would we want mess around with just temporary stuff?”The governor said she received both doses of the Covid vaccine in December.

Not all Republicans are embracing McConnell's vaccine push. Read what some had to say when asked this week

Not all Republicans are embracing McConnell’s vaccine push. Read what some had to say when asked this week“It’s safe, it’s effective, the data proves that it works, doesn’t cost anything. It saves lives,” she said.Asked about whether she would recommend children who are too young to be vaccinated wear a mask when they return to school, Ivey said that the decision would be left up to school districts.White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Friday that “we understand (Ivey’s) frustration” over pockets of vaccine resistance when asked about the Alabama governor’s comments and whether the Biden administration should take a sharper tone against unvaccinated people.”I don’t think our role is to place blame, but what we can do is provide accurate information to people who are not yet vaccinated about the risks they are incurring not only among on themselves, but also the people around them,” Psaki said.

Asked whether the federal government should issue vaccine mandates, Psaki replied, “What our role is and what we’re going to continue to do is make the vaccine available, we’re going to continue to work in partnership to fight misinformation, and we’re going to continue to advocate and work in partnership with local officials and trusted voices to get the word out.”In recent days — amid surges largely occurring in states former President Donald Trump won in 2020 — increasing numbers of Republicans and conservative media figures have called upon Americans to get the vaccine after months of declining to press the issue. But many Republican leaders still won’t say publicly​ whether they are vaccinated and Trump himself has cast the vaccine in political terms, suggesting people aren’t taking it because “they don’t trust (Biden’s) Administration.”

Explainer: What is the Delta variant of coronavirus with K417N mutation?

https://news.yahoo.com/explainer-delta-variant-coronavirus-k417n-094930268.html

Reuters

Shilpa Jamkhandikar and Bhargav AcharyaWed, June 23, 2021, 2:49 AM·3 min read

By Shilpa Jamkhandikar and Bhargav Acharya 

(Reuters) – India said on Wednesday it has found around 40 cases of the Delta coronavirus variant carrying a mutation that appears to make it more transmissible, and advised states to increase testing. 

Below is what we know about the variant. 

WHAT IS DELTA PLUS? 

The variant, called “Delta Plus” in India, was first reported in a Public Health England bulletin on June 11. 

It is a sub-lineage of the Delta variant first detected in India and has acquired the spike protein mutation called K417N which is also found in the Beta variant first identified in South Africa. 

 Some scientists worry that the mutation, coupled with other existing features of the Delta variant, could make it more transmissible. 

“The mutation K417N has been of interest as it is present in the Beta variant (B.1.351 lineage), which was reported to have immune evasion property,” India’s health ministry said in a statement. 

Shahid Jameel, a top Indian virologist, said the K417N was known to reduce the effectiveness of a cocktail of therapeutic monoclonal antibodies. 

WHERE ALL IT HAS BEEN FOUND? 

As of June 16, at least 197 cases has been found from 11 countries – Britain (36), Canada (1), India (8), Japan (15), Nepal (3), Poland (9), Portugal (22), Russia (1), Switzerland (18), Turkey (1), the United States (83). 

India said on Wednesday around 40 cases of the variant have been observed in the states of Maharashtra, Kerala and Madhya Pradesh, with “no significant increase in prevalence”. The earliest case in India is from a sample taken on April 5. 

Britain said its first 5 cases were sequenced on April 26 and they were contacts of individuals who had travelled from, or transited through, Nepal and Turkey. 

No deaths were reported among the UK and Indian cases. 

WHAT ARE THE WORRIES? 

Studies are ongoing in India and globally to test the effectiveness of vaccines against this mutation. 

“WHO is tracking this variant as part of the Delta variant, as we are doing for other Variants of Concern with additional mutations,” the World Health Organization (WHO) said in a statement sent to Reuters. 

“For the moment, this variant does not seem to be common, currently accounting for only a small fraction of the Delta sequences … Delta and other circulating Variants of Concern remain a higher public health risk as they have demonstrated increases in transmission,” it said. 

But India’s health ministry warned that regions where it has been found “may need to enhance their public health response by focusing on surveillance, enhanced testing, quick contact-tracing and priority vaccination.” 

There are worries Delta Plus would inflict another wave of infections on India after it emerged from the world’s worst surge in cases only recently. 

“The mutation itself may not lead to a third wave in India – that also depends on COVID-appropriate behaviour, but it could be one of the reasons,” said Tarun Bhatnagar, a scientist with the state-run Indian Council for Medical Research. 

(Reporting by Shilpa Jamkhandikar in Pune, Bhargav Acharya and Ankur Banerjee in Bengaluru and Alistair Smout in London; Editing by Miyoung Kim and Giles Elgood) 

Philippines’ Duterte threatens to jail those who refuse COVID-19 vaccine

https://nypost.com/2021/06/22/duterte-threatens-to-jail-those-who-refuse-covid-19-vaccine/

By Reuters

June 22, 2021 | 8:08am | Updatedhttps://imasdk.googleapis.com/js/core/bridge3.468.0_en.html#goog_139684666

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MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte threatened to jail people who refuse to be vaccinated against the coronavirus as the Philippines battles one of Asia’s worst outbreaks, with over 1.3 million cases and more than 23,000 deaths.

“You choose, vaccine or I will have you jailed,” Duterte said in a televised address on Monday following reports of low turnouts at several vaccination sites in the capital, Manila.

Duterte’s remarks contradict those of his health officials who have said that while people are urged to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, it was voluntary.

“Don’t get me wrong, there is a crisis in this country,” Duterte said. “I’m just exasperated by Filipinos not heeding the government.”

As of June 20, Philippine authorities had fully vaccinated 2.1 million people, making slow progress towards the government’s target to immunize up to 70 million people this year in a country of 110 million.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte told people, "vaccine or I will have you jailed."
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte told people, “vaccine or I will have you jailed.”

Duterte, who has been criticized for his tough approach to containing the virus, also stood by his decision not to let schools reopen.

In the same address, he took a swipe at the International Criminal Court, after an ICC prosecutor had sought permission from the court for a full inquiry into the drug war killings in the Philippines.

A man receives a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination center in Navotas City, the Philippines.
A man receives a dose of COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination center in Navotas City, the Philippines.

SEE ALSO

Philippines offering free cow to those who sign up for COVID vaccine

Duterte, who in March 2018 canceled the Philippines’ membership in the ICC’s founding treaty, repeated he will not cooperate with the probe, describing the ICC as “bulls–t”.

“Why would I defend or face an accusation before white people. You must be crazy,” said Duterte, who, after winning the presidency in 2016, unleashed an anti-narcotics campaign that has killed thousands.

Human rights groups say authorities have summarily executed drug suspects, but Duterte maintains those who were killed violently were resisting arrest.

Sought for comment, ICC spokesperson Fadi El Abdallah said: “The Court is an independent judicial institution, and does not comment on political statements.”

Tens of thousands of COVID-19 survivors in India are developing deadly ‘black fungus’ infections that can lead to blindness

https://www.businessinsider.com/india-coronavirus-survivors-black-fungus-infections-more-than-31k-2021-6

Ashley Collman 11 hours ago

India black fungus
A doctor in India checks on a patient after they went through surgery to remove black fungus. 
  • As of June, there were more than 31,000 cases of “black fungus” infections in India. 
  • That was a 150% increase over the prior three weeks. 
  • Those infections have been on the rise among COVID-19 survivors in the country. 
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

https://9f974ac1073bed104263b187bd697951.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

A puzzling epidemic of black fungus in India is spiraling out of control, with tens of thousands of COVID-19 survivors now battling the infection which can lead to blindness and death. 

On June 11, NDTV reported that there were 31,216 cases of mucormycosis in the country and 2,109 deaths due to the infection — a 150% increase over the previous three weeks. 

The government in India has not released official numbers, according to The New York Times. But last month, Prime Minister Narendra Modi called black fungus a “new challenge” in the COVID-19 outbreak, NDTV reported at the time. 

While it’s unclear what exactly has caused the surge in mucormycosis cases among COVID-19 survivors, doctors have theorized that it is connected to oxygen shortages during India’s most recent surge, The Times reports. https://9f974ac1073bed104263b187bd697951.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

To help patients breathe when bottled oxygen wasn’t available, doctors resorted to steroid injections, which may have weakened patients’ immune systems and made them more vulnerable to fungal spores in the air. 

Patients with diabetes are also already more susceptible to black fungus, and India is one of the countries with the highest prevalence of diabetes, according to the International Diabetes Foundation

Exacerbating the black fungus outbreak is the fact that there’s a shortage of a key anti-fungal medicine — amphotericin-B — to treat it, NDTV reported.The coronavirus pandemic

Unvaccinated Americans are at risk of an aggressive and more dangerous Covid-19 variant. These are the most vulnerable states

(CNN)Some states are making great strides in vaccinating their residents against Covid-19, but the ones that are not may soon be contending with a more transmissible variant, experts say.About 45.1% of the US population is fully vaccinated against Covid-19, CDC data showed, and in 16 states and Washington, DC, that proportion is up to half. But some states — such as Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee and Wyoming — have fully vaccinated less than 35% of residents.More than 500 days and 600,000 deaths since the first person in the United States was reported to have died from Covid-19, experts have upheld vaccines as the key to reopening the country safely and containing the variants, many of which are more transmissible.

The Delta variant, which is believed to be more transmissible and cause more severe disease, could cause an upsurge in infections, but the levels will vary depending on the rates of vaccination in each area, said Scott Gottlieb, former commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration, on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”https://6b68d02a4be37fc272b9d3a147de1d7c.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

It has been 500 days since the first known US death from Covid-19. Variants and low vaccination rates threaten to prolong the pandemic

It has been 500 days since the first known US death from Covid-19. Variants and low vaccination rates threaten to prolong the pandemic“When we look across the United States, we see wide variance in terms of vaccination rates,” said Gottlieb, who compared places like Vermont and Connecticut, which have rates of over 80%, with others that are struggling to get to 50%.

New research suggests less vaccinated areas are at risk. Scientists at Helix analyzed nearly 20,000 Covid-19 tests collected since April and found the Delta variant is quickly rising in counties with fewer vaccinated residents.Models for Delta’s spread show the fall could see a peak of around 20% of the infections the US recorded in January, but the distribution of those predicted surges is not even across all areas, Gottlieb explained.”Connecticut, for example where I am, shows no upsurge of infection, but Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, Missouri, show very substantial upsurges of infection. That’s based entirely on how much population wide immunity you have based on vaccination,” he said.

Turning focus to communities

More than 300 million vaccine doses have been administered in the US, a feat which has enabled students to go back to the classroom, businesses to reopen and friends and families to gather once again.But there’s still a long way to go, CNN medical analyst Dr. Leana Wen warned over the weekend.

The US marks a vaccine milestone, but one expert warns that the coronavirus Delta variant has a worrying impact on patients

The US marks a vaccine milestone, but one expert warns that the coronavirus Delta variant has a worrying impact on patients“We certainly have to acknowledge that we have come a long way, and we’re out of the worst of it. We’re not going to see the massive surges that we saw over the holidays,” said Wen, who is the former health commissioner for Baltimore.”The problem, though, is that we should really be looking at the numbers for each community instead of looking at the US as a whole because while the US as a whole is doing so much better, and there are pockets of the country that have very high vaccination rates, we also have pockets of the country that are actually undergoing massive surges right now where their hospitals are getting full again,” Wen said.The US has been focused on getting vaccines out and into mass vaccination sites, but now it is the time to rethink the way doses are made accessible, Gottlieb told CBS.”Now we need to think about trying to push out the vaccine into community sites where people could get it delivered to them through a trusted intermediary, that’s going to mean doctors’ offices, schools, places of employment,” Gottlieb said. “We need to think about a different vaccine delivery strategy to get the people who are still reluctant or who still face challenges getting into those access sites.”While health experts agree full vaccination offers protection against some variants of Covid-19, Wen added that it’s unknown whether a variant resistant to vaccines will emerge. “We just don’t know. If it’s anything that we’ve learned during Covid-19, it’s how much we need to be humble in the face of this virus,” she said.She noted that it’s “certain” new variants will develop, which could make vaccines slightly ineffective, but not entirely.”This is another reason why those who are unvaccinated should be vaccinated as soon as possible,” Wen said.

Variants of concern on the rise

The Delta variant, along with the Gamma or P.1 variant, have been deemed variants of concern by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — meaning their danger comes from their ability to transmit more easily or cause more severe disease.The Gamma variant, first identified in Brazil, has been detected in every US state where the CDC has variant information.Vaccination has been shown as the best way for the US to get ahead of the variants. A recent study by Public Health England found that two doses of a coronavirus vaccine are “highly effective against hospitalization” caused by the Delta variant. The study found the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is 96% effective against hospitalization after two doses.

It's not just Delta -- other coronavirus variants worry scientists, also

It’s not just Delta — other coronavirus variants worry scientists, alsoSurgeon General Vivek Murthy previously told CNN there isn’t enough data to indicate the effectiveness of Johnson & Johnson’s one-dose vaccine in regard to the Delta variant, but it has shown it can help prevent hospitalizations and deaths when people are infected with other strains.”The key is get vaccinated, get both doses,” Murthy said.Steve Edwards, the CEO of CoxHealth, a system of hospitals and clinics based in Missouri, told CNN on Friday that the Delta variant is unlike others.”We can’t tell why one patient is doing poorly and one is doing well. There’s just something different about how this variant is affecting the immune system of our patients,” Edwards said.

He said that along with low vaccination rates in Missouri, the Delta variant is playing a big role in the surge of cases at his hospitals.”I think the Delta variant is what’s fueling this,” Edwards said. “Much of the South, Midwest, much of the places that have low vaccination rates — if confronted with the Delta variant, will see a similar kind of surge of patients as we’re beginning to see right now.”


By Madeline Holcombe, CNN

Updated 12:59 PM ET, Mon June 21, 2021

‘Two Americas’ may emerge as Delta variant spreads and vaccination rates drop

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/jun/20/us-covid-delta-variant-spreads-vaccination-rates-drop

Biden’s 70% vaccination target by Fourth of July likely to fall short as efforts to entice people to get shots have lost their initial impact

A deserted walk-in Covid-19 vaccinations site in downtown Washington DC on 1 June. The US is now experiencing its first slowdown in the rate of daily shots.
A deserted walk-in Covid-19 vaccinations site in downtown Washington DC on 1 June. The US is now experiencing its first slowdown in the rate of daily shots. Photograph: Anita Beattie/AFP/Getty Images

Edward HelmoreSun 20 Jun 2021 10.27 EDT

With Covid vaccination penetration in the US likely to fall short of Joe Biden’s 70% by Fourth of July target, pandemic analysts are warning that vaccine incentives are losing traction and that “two Americas” may emerge as the aggressive Delta variant becomes the dominant US strain.

Efforts to boost vaccination rates have come through a variety of incentives, from free hamburgers to free beer, college scholarships and even million-dollar lottery prizes. But of the efforts to entice people to get their shots have lost their initial impact, or failed to land effectively at all.

“It’s just not working,” Irwin Redlener at the Pandemic Resource and Response Initiative at Columbia University, told Politico. “People aren’t buying it. The incentives don’t seem to be working – whether it’s a doughnut, a car or a million dollars.”

In Ohio, a program offering five adults the chance to win $1m boosted vaccination rates 40% for over a week. A month later, the rate had dropped to below what it had been before the incentive was introduced, Politico found.

Oregon followed Ohio’s cash-prize lead but saw a less dramatic uptick. Preliminary data from a similar lottery in North Carolina, launched last week, suggests the incentive is also not boosting vaccination rates there.Advertisement

Public officials are sounding alarms that the window between improving vaccination penetration and the threat from the more severe Delta variant, which accounts for around 10% of US cases, is beginning to close. The Delta variant appears to be much more contagious than the original strain of Covid-19 and has wreaked havoc in countries like India and the United Kingdom.

“I certainly don’t see things getting any better if we don’t increase our vaccination rate,” Scott Allen of the county health unit in Webster, Missouri, told Politico. The state has seen daily infections and hospitalizations to nearly double over the last two weeks.

Overall, new US Covid cases have plateaued to a daily average of around 15,000 for after falling off as the nation’s vaccination program ramped up. But the number of first dose vaccinations has dropped to 360,000 from 2m in mid-April. A quarter of those are newly eligible 12- to 15-year-olds.

Separately, pandemic researchers are warning that a picture of “two Americas” is emerging – the vaccinated and unvaccinated – that in many ways might reflect red state and blue state political divides.

Only 52% of Republicans said they were partially or fully vaccinated, and 29% said they have no intention of getting a vaccine, according to a CBS News/YouGov poll. 77% of Democrats said they were already vaccinated, with just 5% responding that were resisting the vaccine.

“I call it two Covid nations,” Peter Hotez, a vaccine researcher at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, told BuzzFeed News.

Bette Korber, a computational biologist at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, said she expected variant Delta to become the most common variant in the US within weeks. “It’s really moving quickly,” Korber told Buzzfeed.

On Friday, President Biden issued a plea to Americans who have not yet received a vaccine to do so as soon as possible.

“Even while we’re making incredible progress, it remains a serious and deadly threat,” Biden said in remarks from the White House, saying that the Delta variant leaves unvaccinated people “even more vulnerable than they were a month ago”.

“We’re heading into, God willing, the summer of joy, the summer of freedom,” Biden said. “On July 4, we are going to celebrate our independence from the virus as we celebrate our independence of our nation. We want everyone to be able to do that.”

The Delta variant might pose the biggest threat yet to vaccinated people

https://www.businessinsider.com/delta-coronavirus-variant-strongest-threat-vaccinated-people-2021-6


Aria Bendix Jun 17, 2021, 9:22 AM

variant lab
Researchers sequenced coronavirus samples at the microbiology laboratory of the University Hospital of Badajoz in Spain on April 15. 
  • The Delta variant appears to be more transmissible than any other coronavirus strain.
  • Some experts worry the variant could result in more breakthrough cases in vaccinated people, especially those who have had only one dose of vaccine.
  • Right now, the Delta variant does not seriously threaten anyone who has had two vaccine doses.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

https://ae190ecf839ec7b4cb8837a7eb54f90a.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

Scientists have long worried about a coronavirus variant that’s more dangerous than the original virus in three key ways: It would be more transmissible, result in more serious illness, and evade protection from existing vaccines.

“The nightmare here is a variant that checks off all three boxes,” said Bob Wachter, the chair of the Department of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco.

No prior variant, he said, has checked more than one or two. But the Delta variant, first identified in India in February, has come closest to checking all three.

Right now, two doses of vaccine are at least greater than 88% effective at preventing serious cases of COVID-19, of the type that might put you in hospital, even from the Delta variant. However, a single shot is only about 33% effective in protecting patients from that level of harm, according to studies of Delta variant.https://ae190ecf839ec7b4cb8837a7eb54f90a.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

“The data today says that this variant gets a full checked box for more infectious, probably gets a checked box for more serious, and at least gets a partial checked box for immune evasion. And that’s scary,” Wachter said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention labeled Delta a “variant of concern” on Tuesday.

“Delta is a superspreader variant, the worst version of the virus we’ve seen,” Eric Topol, the director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute, tweeted on Tuesday.

While Delta undoubtedly poses the biggest threat to unvaccinated people, some experts worry that it may result in more breakthrough infections — cases of COVID-19 diagnosed at least two weeks after someone is fully vaccinated.https://ae190ecf839ec7b4cb8837a7eb54f90a.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

“That’s the concern — that you’re more likely to get COVID from the same exposure than you would have been before,” Wachter said. “And you’re more likely, if you have COVID, to have a more serious case.”

Other experts are also afraid the strain may further evolve into something more dangerous, since Delta’s high transmissibility enables it to spread easily among unvaccinated people, and therefore to keep replicating and mutating.

“The worst-case scenario is if Delta mutates into something completely different, a completely different animal, and then our current vaccines are even less effective or ineffective,” said Vivek Cherian, an internal-medicine physician in Baltimore.

Delta is the most transmissible strain yet

india vaccine line
People waited to receive COVID-19 vaccines at HB Kanwatia Hospital in Jaipur, Rajasthan, India, on April 11. 

Research from Public Health England suggests that the Delta variant is associated with a 60% increased risk of household transmission compared to Alpha — the variant discovered in the UK. Alpha is already around 50% more transmissible than the original strain, the CDC said.https://ae190ecf839ec7b4cb8837a7eb54f90a.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

In other words, “Alpha is to the original as Delta is to Alpha,” Wachter said. 

Researchers in Scotland, meanwhile, found that getting infected with Delta doubles the risk of hospital admission relative to Alpha.

But for the most part, Delta hasn’t drastically challenged vaccines. Public Health England analyses have found that two doses of Pfizer’s vaccine are still 96% effective at preventing hospitalizations — and 88% effective at preventing symptomatic COVID-19 — from Delta cases. Two doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccine, meanwhile, are around 92% effective at preventing hospitalizations and 60% effective at preventing symptomatic COVID-19 from Delta.

But that efficacy does not come after just one dose: A single shot of either Pfizer’s or AstraZeneca’s vaccines were just 33% effective at preventing symptomatic COVID-19 from Delta.https://ae190ecf839ec7b4cb8837a7eb54f90a.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

“The fact that three weeks after your first dose you’re only 30% protected — versus, in the original, you were 80% — says that this thing has figured out how to at least partly evade the immune system,” Wachter said.

It’s also possible, he added, that vaccine protection could “wear off more quickly.”

Does Delta make breakthrough infections more likely?

covid vaccine
Maryland National Guard Specialist James Truong administered a Moderna vaccine in Wheaton, Maryland, on May 21. 

Although variants are responsible for the majority of breakthrough infections, it’s very rare to get COVID-19 after being fully vaccinated: A May CDC report found that just 0.01% of vaccinated Americans got sick.

Even when it comes to Delta, Cherian said, “my guess is you don’t really have to worry about breakthrough infections.”https://ae190ecf839ec7b4cb8837a7eb54f90a.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

But Wachter worries that Delta could turn a mild breakthrough case into a more serious one.

“It increases the risk that we’re going to see more breakthrough infections and maybe more serious breakthrough infections than I would have worried about a few weeks ago,” he said.

The biggest risk may be for elderly or immunocompromised people, he added.

“The 80-year-old who’s been fully vaccinated — their level of immunity is not the same as a 30-year-old,” Wachter said.

Delta could threaten our return to normal life 

San Francisco reopening
People dined while wearing masks in San Francisco on April 3. 

At the moment, Delta accounts for 10% of US coronavirus infections, but scientists expect it to become the dominant strain within weeks. Wachter said he would “start acting much more carefully” if Delta came to represent one out of every three or five COVID-19 cases in a given region.

“If I had gotten comfortable with being inside without a mask in a place where I wasn’t sure that everybody’s vaccinated, I would now be uncomfortable,” he added.

Cherian, on the other hand, doesn’t think Delta warrants that level of caution yet — though most experts still worry that a more concerning variant could arise out of the fast-mutating strain.

“It is a perfectly human instinct to feel now we have weathered this terrible 18 months, and now we are out of it and over it,” Wachter said. “I hope that’s true, and it may turn out to be true. But the chances of that not being true, and that we’re going to have more in our future to deal with, have gone up considerably in the last few weeks because of Delta.”

Vaccine Refusal in Trump Country Makes It a Sitting Duck for COVID Delta Variant

Anti-vaxxers and anti-maskers gather at Indiana University's Sample Gates to protest against mandatory COVID vaccinations that the university is requiring for students, staff and faculty during the upcoming fall semester on June 10, 2021.
Anti-vaxxers and anti-maskers gather at Indiana University’s Sample Gates to protest against mandatory COVID vaccinations that the university is requiring for students, staff and faculty during the upcoming fall semester on June 10, 2021.

BYWilliam Rivers PittTruthoutPUBLISHEDJune 15, 2021SHAREShare via FacebookShare via TwitterShare via Email

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READING LISTPOLITICS & ELECTIONSChomsky: Republicans Are Willing to Destroy Democracy to Retake PowerECONOMY & LABOR25 Richest Americans Pay Few Taxes — Partly Thanks to the “Family Fund” LoopholePOLITICS & ELECTIONSAfter Weeks of Wasted Time, Senate Democrats Demand Action on InfrastructurePOLITICS & ELECTIONSA GOP Lawmaker Wants to Ban Critical Race Theory — Without Knowing What It IsPRISONS & POLICINGRep. Cori Bush Introduces Bill to Decriminalize Possession of All DrugsPOLITICS & ELECTIONSVaccine Refusal in Trump Country Makes It a Sitting Duck for COVID Delta Variant

Great Britain had great plans for June 21. English citizens had been calling it “Freedom Day,” the day that nation’s COVID restrictions would be lifted after the pandemic’s long siege. A well-managed vaccine rollout has more than half the population fully inoculated, and everything appeared to be moving in the right direction.

Upon the emergence of the COVID-19 variant dubbed “Delta,” however, the U.K.’s plans have changed. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has delayed “Freedom Day” for another four weeks, with a potential for more if the variant is not better contained.

The Delta variant of COVID first emerged from the coronavirus wave that subsumed much of India earlier this spring. Reports strongly suggest that it is far more contagious than the original version of the virus, and is doing more damage to those who become infected. It took four weeks for Delta to become the dominant COVID strain in Great Britain, and at present it has spread to more than 60 countries worldwide.

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The U.S. is one of them. At present, the Delta variant represents approximately 10 percent of all new infections here, and that rate is doubling every two weeks. “Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, said Sunday that a coronavirus strain known as the Delta variant is likely to become the dominant source of new infections in the U.S.,” reports CNN, “and could lead to new outbreaks in the fall, with unvaccinated Americans being most at risk.”

There were almost 13,000 new cases of COVID diagnosed yesterday, and 145 recorded deaths. While these numbers represent an astonishing decrease from the horrific toll the nation endured last winter, the number of new daily infections remains simply unacceptable in a country so flush with vaccines that medical experts fear whole batches will go bad for lack of use.

As of Monday, almost 44 percent of the U.S. population over 12 years old has received both doses of the vaccine, and 52.5 percent has received one. Children under 12 remain completely unvaccinated. In a nation of 328 million people, slightly more than 174 million have gotten at least one dose. This, for lack of a better phrase, is a dramatic chink in our COVID armor, especially in the face of an exceptionally virulent variant like Delta.

As with all things these days, the question of “why?” boils down to the deliberately deluded garbage politics of the right. A Washington Post analysis shows COVID rates plummeting in states with high numbers of vaccinated people, and rising in states with fewer vaccinated people. This is simple math, really, but disquieting to confront in the face of the highly contagious Delta variant.

So where are the politics? Where they always are: in the states. “The top 22 states (including D.C.) with the highest adult vaccination rates all went to Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election,” reports NPR. “Some of the least vaccinated states are the most pro-Trump. Trump won 17 of the 18 states with the lowest adult vaccination rates.”The conspiracy theories that have enveloped the effective distribution of this medicine to Trump supporters have morphed into their own sort of bent, all-encompassing multiverse, where all the “answers” are spelled with the letter “Q.”

Adherence to nihilistic anti-science Trumpism is not the sole factor for the lower rates in these various states. Less than a quarter of Black people have received at least one shot as of last week, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the lowest among the ethnic and racial groups listed. A large part of the problem is access: There have been a number of issues with the vaccine rollout, particularly impacting people who lack access to transportation or cannot take time off work to get a shot. Meanwhile, some vaccine hesitancy persists within Black communities; it is an understandable byproduct of generations of unspeakable abuses of that community by the medical field.

However, among the largely white Trump supporters who are refusing the vaccine, the hesitancy has a very different root. Many people across the country appear to be saying no to the vaccine because doing so will shore up their pro-Trump street cred. The conspiracy theories that have enveloped the effective distribution of this medicine to Trump supporters have morphed into their own sort of bent, all-encompassing multiverse, where all the “answers” are spelled with the letter “Q” and mask mandates are equated with the Holocaust.

It is not difficult to foresee what comes next. If COVID holds to its pattern of finding all the gaps in our defenses, and if Delta is as bad as they say, we can expect to witness the return of terrible infection numbers to the regions that continue to shun the vaccine. By all accounts, the vaccines remain highly effective in their ability to stave off the Delta variant, especially if those receiving two-dose vaccines make sure to get both shots.

The United States is reopening from shore to shore, and there is great gladness for it. Vaccinated people are being told with high confidence that they can return to a semblance of normal … but with less than half the country fully vaccinated, and with a stunning portion of that half clinging to their Trump-spawned delusions, I still fear that we are reopening too soon.

The rise of the Delta variant makes this concern all the more pressing. If Trump had a single care for the people who make him possible, he would embark on a vaccination campaign in all the states he carried in 2020, but he will not do this unless forced to. He will squat in his Bedminster lair plotting revenge, even as those he owes his power to die preventable deaths every day.

Anti-vaxxer sheriff’s deputy dies from COVID-19 complications shortly after mocking the vaccine on Facebook

Joshua ZitserMay 30, 2021·2 min read

Daniel 'Duke' Trujillo shared anti-vaccination memes
Daniel ‘Duke’ Trujillo, 33, died on Wednesday. He had shared anti-vaccination posts on social media in the weeks prior to his death. Denver Sheriff Department
  • Daniel ‘Duke’ Trujillo, 33, died on Wednesday from COVID-19 complications.
  • The Denver Sheriff’s deputy had shared a string of anti-vax posts just weeks before his death, MailOnline reported.
  • “I have an immune system,” read one of his Facebook posts.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A Colorado sheriff’s deputy died from COVID-19 complications shortly after sharing a string of anti-vaccination posts on his social media, according to MailOnline.

Daniel ‘Duke’ Trujillo, 33, died on Wednesday with his family by his side, Denver’s Sheriff Department said on Twitter.

Three weeks before his death, Trujillo had updated his Facebook profile picture to include a border that read, “I have an immune system,” the MailOnline said.

“I don’t care if you’ve had your vaccine,” read another profile picture border included on a now-deleted Facebook post from April, the paper reported.

-Eric Feigl-Ding (@DrEricDing) May 28, 2021

Read more: Experts warn that fake vaccine cards are for sale on the dark web. But we found it was incredibly easy to just print them, obtaining 150 for only $50.

WATCH: Highlights from Biden’s speech on coronavirus lockdown anniversary

In his first prime-time address President Joe Biden offered hope to Americans announcing his plans to make all adults vaccine-eligible by May 1 and able to celebrate July 4 with their loved ones.

The sheriff’s deputy had also captioned a TikTok post, which he shared on his Facebook profile, with a vaccine-hesitant message.”I’ll get it later on after y’all start growing apendages [sic] out of y’alls foreheads,” he wrote.

Trujillo shared an Instagram post in July 2020 that suggested he refused to wear masks, according to a screenshot shared by MailOnline. “Before you shame me in public for not having a mask, ask yourself one simple question,” the post said. “Will this mask stop an uppercut?”

Denver Sheriff Elisa Diggins announced that Trujillo’s passing would be considered a “line of duty” death on Thursday evening, The Denver Channel reported.

Story continues: https://news.yahoo.com/anti-vaxxer-sheriffs-deputy-dies-120803899.html?soc_src=social-sh&soc_trk=fb&tsrc=fb

Ancestry of COVID-19 and impending pandemics of future

https://www.dtnext.in/News/World/2021/06/13005943/1300592/Ancestry-of-COVID19-and-impending-pandemics-of-future.vpf

Published: Jun 13,202106:45 AM by Jayanth Murali, ADGP Share Tweet Comments (0) Mail  PrintAA

The ongoing debate over the origins of the COVID-19 has lately been garnering a significant amount of attention and interest.

Chennai: The contest has been relentlessly growing during the last few days with the emergence of new findings. For instance, a recent study by British professor Angus Dalgleish and Norwegian scientist Dr Birger Sorensen has disclosed that the Chinese scientists may have created the virus in a lab in Wuhan. The Chinese probably took a natural coronavirus ‘backbone’ from Chinese cave bats and spliced the spike protein genes into their genome. And turned it into a deadly and highly transmissible COVID-19 virus in its current form.
Former US President Donald Trump, since the beginning, has been supporting the theory that the virus might have escaped from a bio-lab in China. Nicholas Wade, a former science writer and editor for the New York Times, has insisted that the escape scenario of the virus from the lab lends a more valid explanation than the natural emergence scenario. US President Joe Biden last week mandated the US intelligence agencies to ‘redouble’ their endeavours in investigating the emergence of the deadly COVID-19 pandemic after a US intelligence report divulged that several researchers at China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) had fallen ill, leading to their hospitalisation in November 2019. Likewise, the British intelligence agencies are now reportedly presuming the feasibility of a coronavirus leak from a Chinese laboratory and are therefore demanding a comprehensive probe by WHO.
A laboratory leak of a deadly pathogen sparking a pandemic is not assumptive. Quite recently, several such bio-mishaps have occurred with potentially lethal repercussions. In 1977, the H1N1 human influenza was accidentally released due to bungling in a Chinese lab that enabled the virus to incite a pandemic. The virus quickly disseminated itself worldwide and had an infection rate of 20 to 70 per cent among those exposed. Fortunately, the virus could not impact us much as it could cause only mild illness and few fatalities.
Between 1963 and 1978, three accidental release of smallpox samples from two different laboratories primarily resulted from mishandling and bad practices in the lab. The outbreaks caused at least 80 deaths. Similarly, in 1995 the Venezuelan equine encephalitis (VEE) virus escaped from a lab, due to which 10,000 people in Venezuela and 75,000 people in Colombia fell ill, resulting in 311 deaths and 3,000 cases of neurological complications. Further, in 2003, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) caused a global epidemic resulting in 8,000 infections and 774 fatalities across 29 countries. Subsequently, the SARS virus, because of human error, escaped the laboratories six times of which four times from Beijing and once each from Taiwan and Singapore.
Likewise, in March of 2013, authorities at a high-security government lab in Texas announced the loss of a vial containing Guanarito virus, which causes ‘bleeding under the skin, in body cavities such as the mouth, eyes or ears’. The authorities have now entrusted the matter to the FBI. Shortly, in the following year at the Pasteur Institute in Paris, over a thousand vials containing the SARS virus went missing. Hundreds of such episodes continue to happen every year, though not all involve potentially pandemic pathogens.
When the FDA in 2014 decided to move to a new office, they found hundreds of unclaimed vials of virus samples in a cardboard box in the corner of a cold storage room. It so emerged that six of them were vials of smallpox. No one had any knowledge of their existence there. They had been lying there since the 1960s. This incident grabbed attention because they were smallpox virus samples.
If such vials were to fall into the hands of the wrong person, the consequences could be disastrous. We can witness the marvellous portrayal of the devastating consequences of a single act of bio-terror by a single man in Smallpox 2002. In the movie, an anonymous terrorist, who somehow acquires a smallpox culture derivative of the former Soviet Union’s bioweapons project, intentionally infects himself and goes around New York City. Within a few days, unsuspecting travellers flying out of New York airports spread the infection worldwide, causing a pandemic that is later won against but not before it exterminates 60 million people.
Science is accelerating so rapidly that the cost of chemically synthesising a DNA strand is quickly plummeting at an exponential rate. It was $20 per base in 2000; it costs less than ten cents per base today. Genetic engineers who had to manipulate DNA physically can now do it digitally due to a newly emerging field called Synthetic Biology. Today, there are online print bio- marketplaces where one can mail order a DNA sequence by FedEx; hence bio-criminals or terrorists don’t have to count on living contagions anymore. They can design their destructive bioweapons at home.
We recently saw an illustration of how this would transpire when investigators in the Netherlands and the US modified the genetic code of bird flu (H5N1) to make it more lethal. Though the bird flu has a 70 per cent fatality rate, human to human transmission of the virus is not possible. But by dabbling with the DNA and causing merely four genetic mutations, the Dutch-American team could not only generate a much more contagious strain with enhanced transmissibility to human beings but also transform the virus into an incredible bio-weapon.
Synthetic biology is helping man play God by being able to engineer new organisms. But, trespassing nature’s sacred domain could result in reprisal and tremendous destruction. Proper human judgement armed with foresight and cautionary planning, along with the realisation of the underlying spirituality of mankind is what can save us from nature’s retaliation because of rapid and reckless innovation.