Concerns about the highly transmissible COVID-19 delta variant and its spread among the unvaccinated continue to grow as cases in the United States increase, but positive news about the ability of vaccines to fight the virus continues to pour in.
Johnson & Johnson said its single-dose injection on Thursday protected against the delta variant, citing laboratory tests on the blood of vaccinees. And amid fears their injection might require a booster, the company said its immune response lasts eight months and longer.
But public health experts say the variant poses the most danger in areas where vaccinations are scarce.
The variants “are capable of finding gaps in our protection,” said Dr. Hilary Babcock of Washington University in St. Louis, noting how hospital beds and intensive care units in southern counties The least vaccinated west of Missouri suddenly fill up – mostly with adults under 40 who have never received the shots.
“Any suffering or death from COVID-19 is tragic,” Dr Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Thursday, urging more Americans to roll up their sleeves before the delta variant spreads. “With vaccines available across the country, the suffering and loss we are now seeing is almost entirely preventable.”
Also in the news:
âºAs Californians seek a return to normalcy, the specter of the coronavirus pandemic persists. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, new cases of COVID-19 in the state and the Bay Area have jumped more than 20% since California reopened on June 15.
âºPreliminary data reviewed by the CDC suggests that almost everyone who died from COVID-19 in the past six months was unvaccinated, Walensky said in a White House briefing Thursday.
âº Ohio Governor Mike DeWine vetoed a budget provision that would have refunded fines to state-owned companies named for violating public health orders during the pandemic, saying it would send a “horrible” message.
âºThailand reopened its popular resort island, Phuket, to fully vaccinated foreigners from low-risk countries on Thursday, in hopes the move will breathe new life into a tourism industry devastated by the pandemic.
âºIsrael delayed reopening its borders to vaccinated visitors to August 1, after the country reported its highest daily infection rate in three months.
ðNumbers of the day: The United States has more than 33.6 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 and at least 605,000 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Global totals: Over 182 million cases and over 3.9 million deaths. Over 155.8 million Americans have been fully immunized – 47% of the population, according to the CDC.
ðWhat we read: Florida schools lost migrant students at a rate nearly five times the non-migrant population during the 2020-2021 school year. Virtual learning, economic trials, and high rates of COVID-19 in farm worker communities have amplified inequalities for students already prone to learning loss.
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July 4 raises concerns in Missouri
Health officials working to increase delayed COVID-19 vaccination rates in Missouri are increasingly concerned as the July 4 weekend approaches, creating conditions conducive to the variant fast-spreading delta to drive up the number of hospitals.
“We’re just watching what’s going to happen,” said Lisa Marshall, health director for Taney County, which includes the tourist town of Branson. “We have seen that these numbers can increase quite quickly.”
State officials have enlisted the help of the newly formed federal âemergency response teamsâ. The surge comes as the state’s seven-day moving average of daily new cases rose over the past two weeks, from 576.14 new cases per day on June 15 to 891.71 new cases per day on Tuesday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
St. Louis County health officials changed their guidelines Thursday, encouraging those vaccinated to wear face covers when indoors with others whose immunization status is unknown.
“This pandemic is not over,” Dr. Faisal Khan, acting director of the St. Louis County Department of Public Health, told The Associated Press. âThe virus and its variants present a real and imminent danger to the health of people in the Saint-Louis region. We need to encourage vaccination and the maintenance of precautions.
Daily cases 10% higher in the US this week
New cases of COVID-19 are on the rise from last week as the delta variant spreads across the United States, health officials said Thursday.
The weekly average of daily new cases was 10% higher, although cases were down 95% from the country’s peak in January, CDC director Dr Rochelle Walensky told a briefing.
The delta variant, which is said to be more contagious, is the second most common variant in the United States and is expected to become the most common “in the coming weeks,” Walensky said.
“As we prepare for Independence Day, I want to remind those who are not vaccinated to protect themselves by wearing a mask and to avoid crowds to avoid transmission and disease,” he said. she declared.
– Grace Hauck
WHO pushes western countries to accept travelers with Chinese vaccines
The World Health Organization said on Thursday that any COVID-19 vaccine it has cleared for emergency use should be recognized by countries as they open their borders to vaccinated travelers.
The move could challenge Western countries to broaden their acceptance of two apparently less effective Chinese vaccines made by Sinovac and Sinopharm, which the United Nations health agency has approved, but most European and North American countries have not. .
In its reviews of the two Chinese vaccines, the WHO said both significantly reduce the risk of hospitalization and death. Both Chinese vaccines are “inactivated” vaccines, made with a killed coronavirus, while vaccines made in the West are made with newer technologies that instead target the “cutting edge” protein that covers the surface of the coronavirus.
Although Western countries have relied heavily on vaccines made in the United States and Europe, such as Pfizer and AstraZeneca, many developing countries have used vaccines made in China.
Contribution: Associated Press