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Coronavirus vaccine and COVID variant updates for 01-28-2022

The European Medicines Agency has recommended Pfizer's coronavirus antiviral drug be authorized for use in the European Union. That’s the first time the agency’s recommended a pill for COVID. They said approving Paxlovid could help the infected avoid more serious disease and hospitalization. The drug’s been cleared in the U.S. and Britain, but the problem is supplies are extremely limited.

School districts continue to struggle with what the proper policies should be. Orange County Public Schools in Florida have made it clear to parents who worry about their child being exposed to COVID and want to keep them home, that it will no longer allow excused absences for COVID concerns. The district said managing assignments for large numbers of absent students is a strain on the teachers. 

It’s brought up a question of medical ethics. A Boston hospital is defending itself after a man's family says he was denied a new, much needed heart for not getting vaccinated. The 31-year-old father of two has atrial fibrillation, which has also been cited as a vaccine side effect, thus his concern. There are more than 100,000 candidates on waitlists for organ transplants and about half on waiting lists won’t get an organ within five years.

Did you get your free at home rapid tests yet? If you did, here’s some tips to make sure they’re accurate. You can’t expose them to extreme hot or cold temperatures. You have to read and follow the instructions, because they were developed for use in medical settings by trained personnel. And you have to read the results at just the right time. Waiting too soon could give you a false-negative. Waiting too late could give you a false-positive. And lastly, don’t believe them. If you tested negative but you’re feeling sicker than you ever have, seek medical attention.  

Does the public think the pandemic is over? An Associated Press poll shows only 15% will consider it over only when COVID is largely eliminated. 83% think it’s over when it’s mostly a mild illness. 59% think it’s essential they personally be vaccinated to safely participate in public activities. But only 37% of parents think it’s essential their kids are vaccinated before they return to normal. And only 47% of Americans think it’s essential they get a booster.

In the United States, cases were down 21%, deaths are up 34%, and hospitalizations are up 5% over 14 days. The 7-day average of new cases has been trending down since January 14.  

The five states that had the most daily deaths per 100,000 are Ohio, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Illinois. 

There are now over 28 million active cases in the United States, at 28,178,981.

The five areas with the greatest increase in hospitalizations per capita: Montana 97%. Wyoming 90%. Alaska 70%. Alabama 62%. And Oregon 54%. 

The top 10 areas with the highest number of recent cases per capita according to The New York Times: Nome Census Area, AK. Whitman, WA. Franklin, WA. Pontotoc, OK. Crawford, IL. Maverick, TX. Wyoming, WV. Colbert, AL. Lanier, GA. And Uvalde, TX. 

There have been at least 878,421 deaths in the U.S. recorded as Covid-related.

The top 3 vaccinating states by percentage of population that’s been fully vaccinated: Vermont at 79.2%, Rhode Island at 78.6%, and Maine at 77.4%. The bottom 3 vaccinating states are Alabama at 49.3%, Wyoming at 49.7%, and Mississippi at 49.9%. The percentage of the U.S. that’s been fully vaccinated is 63.5%.

Globally, cases were up 16% and deaths up 25% over 14 days, with the 7-day average trending down since January 25. 

There are now over 71 million active cases around the world, at 71,437,312.

The five countries with the most new cases: The United States 497,351. France 392,168. India 248,697. Brazil 228,972. And Germany 189,363. 

There have been 5,636,042 deaths reported as Covid-related worldwide. 

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3/3/2022

Coronavirus vaccine and COVID variant updates for 03-03-2022

This is Vaccine 411, the latest coronavirus vaccine information for March 3rd, 2022.The US has a new plan for COVID. The White House said it's time for America to stop letting the coronavirus “dictate how we live.” Part of the new plan is a new “test to treat” program to provide free antiviral pills at pharmacies for anyone who tests positive. The plan also seeks to get ready for potential new variants and give employers and schools what they need to stay open.If you want them, you can get more free COVID tests from the government. The key there is “if you want them.” So far, a great many Americans have not shown much interest, which is why about half of the available supply is still available. Starting next week, you can order another group of tests at Covidtest.gov. The previous limit was four tests per residential address.Australia is now fully open to vaccinated travelers. Western Australia, which covers about a third of the country, became the last state to lift border restrictions today. This came four months after Sydney started a staggered reopening of quarantine-free travel. Western Australia was having good luck with contact tracing and isolation until the Omicron variant came along. Now they’re reporting more than 1,000 new infections a day.Germany is also putting out the welcome mat again, removing all the countries currently on its list of “high-risk areas.” The list will now only include places where high infection rates are linked to more virulent variants than Omicron. Visitors will still have to show proof of vaccination or a negative test.Even if the pandemic is over, it’s not over for those suffering with long COVID. And a new small study from the National Institutes of Health says many of the symptoms people are suffering from may be driven, in part, by long-term nerve damage. 59% had peripheral neuropathy, which is damage to the nerves that connect the brain to the outside world. Symptoms include weakness, fatigue, sensory changes, and pain in the hands and feet. The researchers don’t sound totally confident, saying the study was of a very small and "biased data set" since the patients studied were already believed to have a neurological condition.In the United States, cases were down 58%, deaths are down 18%, and hospitalizations are down 44% over 14 days. The 7-day average of new cases has been trending down since January 14.  The five areas that had the most daily deaths per 100,000 are Missouri, Arkansas, Mississippi, the Northern Mariana Islands, and Tennessee. There are 25,845,090 active cases in the United States.The top 10 areas with the highest number of recent cases per capita according to The New York Times: Saipan, Northern Mariana Islands. Nome Census Area, AK. Manassas Park, VA. Fayette, AL. Perry, KY. Elmore, ID. Ada, ID. Morgan, KY. Gooding, ID. And Bennington, VT. There have been 954,512 deaths in the U.S. recorded as COVID-related.The top 3 vaccinating states by percentage of population that’s been fully vaccinated: Rhode Island at 80.7%, Vermont at 80.1%, and Maine at 78.4%. The bottom 3 vaccinating states are Alabama at 50.3%, Wyoming at 50.6%, and Mississippi at 50.9%. The percentage of the U.S. that’s been fully vaccinated is 65%.Globally, cases were down 27% and deaths down 19% over 14 days, with the 7-day average trending down since January 25. There are 61,540,184 active cases around the world.The five countries with the most new cases: South Korea 219,237. Germany 198,457. Vietnam 110,301. Russia 97,455. And Japan 61,843. There have been 5,972,440 deaths reported as Covid-related worldwide. 
3/2/2022

Coronavirus vaccine and COVID variant updates for 03-02-2022

The CDC estimates there have been 140 million Covid-19 infections in the US, that’s almost double the 74.3 million cases that have been reported as of January 31 and 43% of the country. The new number comes from antibody seroprevalence surveys, in which blood samples submitted to labs for unrelated reasons are tested for antibodies triggered by infection, not by vaccination. Wisconsin has the highest seroprevalence, with an estimated 56.1% of its population infected. A tragic statistic from an updated modeling study in The Lancet shows that the number of children around the world affected by COVID-associated orphanhood and caregiver death is estimated to have gone up dramatically. From around 2.7 million in April 2021 to 5.2 million in October 2021. That’s the equivalent of one child orphaned every six seconds. The loss of a parent is linked to greater risk of dropping out of school, lower self-esteem, suicide, violence, sexual abuse, and developing anxiety, depression, and substance abuse problems. In England, one less thing to argue about. Mandatory Covid vaccinations for health and social care workers will be scrapped March 15. That policy met fierce resistance from some workers, and critics warned firing those not in compliance would worsen the serious staffing crisis in health and care services. But the damage is done; many have left their jobs, and some left the field altogether. If you want to go to Hawaii, you can say aloha unmasked and you don’t have to hula six feet apart anymore. The state is lifting its strict entry requirements March 26. Travelers won’t have to show proof of a vaccine or negative test to bypass a mandatory quarantine. And that five-day quarantine is going away, too. However, for now, Hawaii is keeping its indoor mask mandate. But it’s Hawaii…go outside. We’ve heard there wasn’t much risk of this, but researchers now think they’ve documented the first deer-to-human transmission of COVID. The culprit was a white-tailed deer in Ontario. It was found to have a new and highly divergent lineage of the coronavirus, and they found a person that had similar samples. Available data indicates it's unlikely the variant doesn’t respond to vaccines, but maybe don’t take any white-tailed deer onto public transportation or a cruise.  In the United States, cases were down 59%, deaths are down 23%, and hospitalizations are down 44% over 14 days. The 7-day average of new cases has been trending down since January 14.  The five areas that had the most daily deaths per 100,000 are Ohio, Maine, Tennessee, West Virginia, and the Northern Mariana Islands.  There are 25,989,717 active cases in the United States.The top 10 areas with the highest number of recent cases per capita according to The New York Times: Saipan, Northern Mariana Islands. Manassas Park, VA. Nome Census Area, AK. Fayette, AL. Perry, KY. Morgan, KY. Elmore, ID. Aroostook, ME. Bennington, VT. And Ada, ID.There have been 952,629 deaths in the U.S. recorded as COVID-related.The top 3 vaccinating states by percentage of population that’s been fully vaccinated: Rhode Island at 80.7%, Vermont at 80.1%, and Maine at 78.3%. The bottom 3 vaccinating states are Alabama at 50.2%, Wyoming at 50.6%, and Mississippi at 50.9%. The percentage of the U.S. that’s been fully vaccinated is 64.9%.Globally, cases were down 30% and deaths down 20% over 14 days, with the 7-day average trending down since January 25. There are 61,832,820 active cases around the world.The five countries with the most new cases: Germany 150,565. South Korea 138,993. Vietnam 98,762. Russia 97,333. And France 79,794. There have been 5,964,226 deaths reported as Covid-related worldwide. 
3/1/2022

Coronavirus vaccine and COVID variant updates for 03-01-2022

Looks like Americans were definitely ready for the pandemic to be done. A new AP poll shows fewer people now than in January are worried they’ll get infected, only 24%. Of those who say they still worry, about two-thirds are fully vaccinated while only 40% are unvaccinated. Most Americans think the virus will stick around as a mild illness. Public support for masking requirements has also gone down, but Americans are still more likely to favor than oppose mask mandates, 50% to 28%. They’re still worrying in Hong Kong after another record 34,466 new infections yesterday and deaths continuing to climb. Now, authorities have begun assessing the possibility of locking down the entire city. It remains to be seen whether that would be done through legislation or some other way, but just the rumor of a lockdown sent shoppers racing to supermarket shelves to stock up.Pfizer’s had a pretty good effectiveness record, but it turns out in kids, not so much. Data from the NY State Department of Health shows for kids 5 to 11, effectiveness waned quickly during the Omicron surge. It still protected against severe disease, though. Within one month, effectiveness against infection fell from 68% to 12% in that young age group.Schoolkids in California, Oregon and Washington won’t have to wear masks anymore. The three Democratic governors of those states made a joint announcement to that effect yesterday. Those states have had some of the strictest safety measures during the pandemic and that included masking up 7.5 million school-age children. The change begins March 12 and applies to all kids regardless of vaccination status. COVID not scary enough for you? How about learning COVID tests can kill you? Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Centers Drug and Poison Information Center say those home test kits contain sodium azide. And they’re getting a surge of calls about poisonings from it. New York and Texas are also sounding the alarm. The chemical is mainly used in car airbags and to kill bugs. Ingesting it can cause low blood pressure, dizziness, headaches, and heart palpitations. Large amounts of it can lead to respiratory failure and death. Of course, you’re not supposed to ingest anything from COVID tests but somehow people manage to do so. In the United States, cases were down 62%, deaths are down 24%, and hospitalizations are down 44% over 14 days. The 7-day average of new cases has been trending down since January 14.  The five areas that had the most daily deaths per 100,000 are Ohio, West Virginia, Maine, Tennessee, and the Northern Mariana Islands.  There are 26,171,931 active cases in the United States.The top 10 areas with the highest number of recent cases per capita according to The New York Times: Manassas Park, VA. Nome Census Area, AK. Perry, KY. Elmore, ID. Fayette, AL. Linn, MO. Morgan, KY. Ada, ID. Aroostook, ME. And Gooding, ID. There have been 950,472 deaths in the U.S. recorded as COVID-related.The top 3 vaccinating states by percentage of population that’s been fully vaccinated: Rhode Island at 80.8%, Vermont at 80%, and Maine at 78.9%. The bottom 3 vaccinating states are Wyoming at 50.4%, Alabama at 50.5%, and Mississippi at 50.8%. The percentage of the U.S. that’s been fully vaccinated is 64.9%.Globally, cases were down 34% and deaths down 19% over 14 days, with the 7-day average trending down since January 25. There are 62,674,400 active cases around the world.The five countries with the most new cases: South Korea 139,615. Russia 106,920. Germany 95,396. Turkey 64,275. And Japan 63,703. There have been 5,955,552 deaths reported as Covid-related worldwide.