A report by the CDC has revealed that life expectancy in the U.S. fell by one year in the first half of 2020, dropping to 77.8 years.
A dire situation is quickly turning worse in Czech Republic as 15,000 new coronavirus cases were reported on Tuesday which is the highest daily recorded since early January. The Czech Republic is dealing with the fastest spread rate in Europe, six times larger than Germany. Patients hospitalized with COVID-19 have reached a record 1,389 in the country, creating a shortage in spare beds. Patients have had to be transferred out in some hospitals due to the shortage, according to Reuters. Prime Minister Andrej Babis warned restrictions must tighten to prevent a catastrophe in hospitals. More than 1.15 million cases of the coronavirus have impacted the country since the pandemic began.
The phased reopening of schools across Scotland started this week as the youngest students returned for in-person instruction for the first time since Christmas break. "There will likely be cases emerging in schools over the next few weeks but the vast majority of schools should be fine, and that we have to keep perspective on,” Prof Devi Sridhar, chairwoman of global public health at Edinburgh University, told BBC Good Morning Scotland. More and more students will gradually return to the classroom in the coming weeks, but the BBC reported that all students may not be back at school until the second half of March. "We will move as quickly as we possibly can do but we have to do it within the scientific and clinical advice that is available to us,” said Education Secretary John Swinney. This phased reopening of schools in Scotland is different than in England, where all students are set to return for in-person classes on March 8.
Alex Morton and Stacie Pawlicki were two of millions of Illinois residents to be stuck in lockdown last March. But on that first day of the shutdown, the neighborly pair, who lived two doors apart in a Chicago apartment building, began dating and have COVID-19 to thank for bringing them together. As Pawlicki was heading downstairs on March 21 to pick up a timely Chipotle delivery, she met Morton who was leaving to go for a run. A brief conversation led to an invitation to do some puzzles together. Five months later, they moved in together, staying in the same apartment building of course, according to the Chicago Tribune.
“It’s almost like dating Benjamin Button style,” Pawlicki said of their relationship progression. “When it’s not a pandemic, you’re going to movies and doing these dinners and quote-unquote fun things, and we haven’t necessarily done that…But we’ve done the stuff that you do when you really get to the meat of a relationship, like sitting there and (having) deep talks. We met each other’s families.”
It has been a long winter in Germany with the entire country being under lockdown since before Christmas, but a new tool may help to ease the restrictions in the coming weeks. On Tuesday, Chancellor Angela Merkel said that increasing the country’s testing capacity would make the return to normality more durable. As part of this testing strategy, Germany has approved three different at-home COVID-19 tests. The additional tests will cost over 800 million euros, or more than $980 million, per month, according to a Reuters report. Germany has confirmed more than 2.4 million cases of COVID-19, the tenth-most around the globe, according to Johns Hopkins University. Leaders in Germany are set to convene next week to decide if they will allow the lockdown measures to be lifted on March 7, Reuters said.
As the U.S. economy continues to reopen, retail sales are expected to grow as much as 8.2% this year.The National Retail Federation said sales are expected to grow more than $4.33 trillion as people begin to get vaccinated for the coronavirus. Last year, sales grew by 6.7% despite the pandemic due to a boost in online sales. Websites and apps have become increasingly popular among Americans amid stay at home orders by states. E-commerce is expected to grow between 18% and 23%, according to CNBC. The NRF said in its sales projection that this would amount to between $1.14 trillion and $1.19 trillion. More money is expected to be spent on travel this year as Americans become more comfortable traveling and attending events.
For six straight weeks, coronavirus cases have declined in the United States, but health experts are worried spring break could put a halt to that trend. With spring break approaching, a potential for increased travel has public health experts warning of consequences if people aren't vigilant during break. The holiday season at the end of 2020 resulted in a spike of new cases, deaths and hospitalizations. Now with several new strains of the virus in the U.S., spring break could be dangerous if precautions are not taken. While cases, hospitalizations and deaths have decreased recently, the U.S. is averaging more than 1,000 daily deaths from the coronavirus still, according to NBC News. Last year the pandemic had only just started when spring break rolled around.
A 105-year old New Jersey woman survived the coronavirus and has two things to thank: prayer and nine-day old raisins. Lucia DeClerck told the New York Times that she eats nine raisins each morning, but not until they’ve sat in a gin-filled jar for nine days. According to her relatives, its been a lifelong ritual, along with drinking aloe juice and brushing her teeth with baking soda. DeClerck was born in 1916 and has resided at a nursing home in South Jersey, where she contracted COVID-19 on her 105th birthday just one day after receiving her second vaccination dose.
After overcoming the virus, her family said they may too follow suit with her unique habits. “Now all of us are rushing out and getting Mason jars and yellow raisins and trying to catch up,” her granddaughter Shawn Laws O’Neil said.
Emergency use of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine was endorsed by the Food and Drug Administration this week, clearing the way for Americans to have a third vaccine option along with the currently available Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. Data for the J&J vaccine was submitted on Feb. 4 and indicates that the one-dose vaccine — compared to the two shots needed for Pfizer and Moderna — has a 66% overall effectiveness rating, according to CNBC. In the U.S., it is 72% effective while in Latin America it is 66% and in South Africa, where a rapidly spreading variant of the virus has taken root, it is only 57% effective.
The company has a deal with the U.S. federal government to supply 100 million doses by the end of June, although just a few million have been manufactured thus far, Jeff Zients, head of President Biden’s COVID-19 task force, said.
The World Health Organization (WHO) released its weekly epidemiological update on Tuesday and said global data shows deaths linked to the coronavirus are trending downward. About 66,000 fatalities were reported last week, “a 20% decline as compared to the previous week,” the WHO said in its report. New cases globally continued a downward trend as well. “The number of global new cases reported continues to fall for the sixth consecutive week, with 2.4 million new cases last week, an 11% decline compared to the previous week,” the WHO said. Although new cases and fatalities ticked up a bit on Tuesday in the U.S., a similar trend has been unfolding nationwide over the last 90 days, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. For a closer look, watch the video below.
Madison Square Garden, located in the heart of Manhattan, hosted fans at a sporting event for the first time in a year – an NBA basketball game between the hometown New York Knicks and the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday night. To be eligible to enter the “world’s most famous sports arena," fans were required to provide the negative results of a COVID-19 PCR test taken within the last 72 hours, Reuters reported. They were also given a rapid COVID-19 test at the entrance. Once inside, masks were mandatory social distancing was practiced, with fans sitting in small pods. All told, 2,000 fans were on hand to watch the game, which the Warriors won 114-106. Across town in Brooklyn, the Barclays Center also hosted fans at the game between the Brooklyn Nets and the Sacramento Kings, which the home team won 127-118. The occasion was a step toward normalcy, something fans outside the Garden were excited about. Watch a few of them speak about the experience below.
Researchers said that people who wear glasses for at least eight hours a day are two to three less likely to contract the coronavirus since they touch their eyes less frequently than those who do not wear glasses, according to a report published earlier this month. “Touching and rubbing of the eyes with contaminated hands may be a significant route of infection for SARS-CoV-2 virus," the researchers wrote. The coronavirus mainly spreads when the infectious particles are breathed in, however, the virus can also spread through the membranes protecting your eyes, Fox News reports. Just over 300 people who were hospitalized in India were surveyed for they study. The patients were asked about their glasses-wearing habits and about 60 patients were identified as "long-time glasses-wearers," according to the report. "This present study showed that the risk of COVID-19 was 2-3 times less in spectacles-wearing population than the population not using spectacles. [The] protective role of the spectacles was found statistically significant if those were used for [a] long period of the day," or more than eight hours, they concluded. One issue that has popped up for glasses wearers is that their lenses will fog up while wearing a mask in public, and particularly during the colder months. Read this article for several tips on how to stop glasses from fogging up during the winter.
The blue light of a monitor's screen reflects on the glasses of state Rep. Gregory Holloway, Sr., D-Hazlehurst, as the legislators discuss and debate bills in their chamber at the Capitol in Jackson, Miss., Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2021. Holloway, wary of covid, wears a surgical mask under a cloth mask bearing the seal of the State of Mississippi. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
In an effort to inoculate people in underserved areas, Gov. Tony Evers announced that four additional community vaccination clinics will open in Wisconsin. The new clinics are all expected to open within the next two months, which will put the state at a total of five COVID-19 vaccination clinics. Officials hope to eventually have 10 community clinics around the state, The Associated Press reported. Evers’ office explained the clinic locations were based on population demographics, local health capacity, operations, and concentration of other vaccine providers.
The shipments of vaccines across the U.S. could triple in the coming weeks as companies ramp up production. On Tuesday, Pfizer’s chief business officer John Young said that the company is planning to increase production from 4 million doses per week to 5 million doses per week, according to NBC News. Meanwhile, Moderna could churn out as many as 40 million doses delivered per month. So far, the two companies have shipped more than 82 million vaccines with 6% of the U.S. population having received both doses of a coronavirus vaccine, according to the CDC.
To add to this boost in production, the one-dose coronavirus vaccine developed by Johnson & Johnson could be given emergency approval by the FDA before the end of the month. Richard Nettles, the vice president of medical affairs at the company, said that Johnson & Johnson could provide as many as 20 million vaccines by the end of March, and that is just the begging. "We are confident in our plans to deliver 100 million single-dose vaccines to the United States during the first half of 2021, and we are continuing to partner with the U.S. government to explore all options to accelerate delivery," Nettles said, according to NBC News.
The coronavirus pandemic caused schools across New Mexico to shut down, resulting in sports being halted for many. One family decided to move from Albuquerque, New Mexico to Kansas City in order to play baseball once again. Kasey Crawford was able to throw 90 mph as a freshman in New Mexico, but coronavirus restrictions put his season to an end during a pivotal time for recruiting, scouting and scholarships. So the Crawford family decided to head to Kansas City where Kasey can continue playing baseball to get himself an opportunity to be seen. Protests of about 300 gathered in Albuquerque to try and call on school leaders to allow sports to resume, according to New Mexico TV station KOB. Coaches and scouts remain in the dark around the state but continue to put pressure on leaders to reconsider shutting down school sports.
Sports fans in New York will soon be able to cheer on their team in person as the state opens up both indoor and outdoor venues for events as early as Tuesday evening. Stadiums and arenas with a capacity of at least 10,000 people can reopen at 10% capacity, The Associated Press reported. People that attend events will be required to wear masks, remain socially distant and undergo temperature tests upon arrival. Additionally, attendees must test negative for COVID-19 within 72 hours of the event. As many as 2,000 fans are expected to be spread out in Madison Square Garden on Tuesday evening as the New York Knicks host the Golden State Warriors, the AP said, with tip-off set for 7:30 p.m. EST.
Pfzier Inc and BioNTech SE's coronavirus vaccine is expected to be approved for storage at standard freezer temperatures as opposed to the current ultra-cold conditions required. The change is expected to be announced by the FDA as soon as Tuesday, according to a report by The New York Times. U.S. health regulators were asked by the companies last week if they could increase the storage temperature to allow easier access to the coronavirus vaccine. Originally, the vaccine was required to be stored at temperatures between -112 F and -76 F, which would require special shipping containers, according to Reuters. More than 13 million doses of the vaccine are expected to be delivered in the U.S. per week by mid-March.
Singapore has introduced a business hotel that allows guests to hold face-to-face meetings using a safe-bubble to maintain social distance during the pandemic. Glass walls are used to separate guests and communication is done via a speaker system. Documents can easily be transferred via a compartment that features UV light sanitation, according to Reuters. This safe-bubble business hotel is the first of its kind in Singapore as life continues to adapt to the coronavirus pandemic.
The U.S. reported 1,403 new fatalities from the coronavirus on Monday, which helped push the country past the 500,000 mark for total fatalities, a monumental and somber milestone. The number of new daily cases remains on the downward trend as just over 56,000 cases were reported for the second straight day. Total cases in the U.S. are now past 28 million. New York, Texas, and California remain the top three states for the number of daily new cases. For more on the current data trends related to the pandemic in the U.S. and around the world, watch the video below.
Daviz Simango, who was an influential mayor of the port city of Beira, the capital of Mozambique, died Monday due to COVID-19 complications and diabetes, according to The Associated Press, which cited the Zitamar news agency. Simango had been the mayor of Beira since 2003 and through his background as an engineer helped get a system of flood channels built to help the city cope with flooding from tropical cyclones, according to the AP. Simango reportedly helped set up feeding centers and emergency health clinics in the city after it was devastated by Cyclone Idai in March 2019. He also served as the leader of Mozambique's opposition MDM party.
Movie theaters in New York City will soon reopen for the first time since the pandemic began nearly a year ago. According to ABC 7 in New York City, theaters in the Big Apple will be allowed to reopen at 25% capacity starting March 5. There will be COVID precautions in place such as assigned seating and people will be required to wear masks. Theaters will also have additional staffing and enhanced air filtration, according to ABC 7. Guests who plan to go see a movie will not have to worry about bringing a negative test result. "From day one, we have said that our COVID recovery is not a choice between public health and the economy - it has to be both - and in New York we're demonstrating how to do that safely and smartly," New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said, according to ABC 7.
The city of Nice, France, is preparing to enter into a new round of coronavirus restrictions as cases spread in the city at a much faster rate than the rest of the nation. Health Minister Olivier Veran said the new restrictions could include a curfew or a weekend lockdown, AFP reported. "Consultations will be conducted over the weekend to take additional measures to stem the epidemic, ranging from a reinforced curfew to local lockdown at weekends," Veran said. The city recorded a rate of infection of 700 coronavirus cases per 100,000 people, which is three times the national average. Senior French hospitals official Remi Salomon called the outbreak in the region “out of control.”
The U.K. is slowly lifting lockdown restrictions as the number of new cases falls and the number of vaccinations rises. Outdoor sports, such as football, are set to resume at the end of March, but it may still be another three months before fans can attend a match. If everything goes well,"up to 10,000 people or 25% of total seated capacity, whichever is lower" will be allowed into stadiums for events, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said, according to a BBC report. The earliest this could happen is May 17. Meanwhile, indoor sporting events will be permitted to have 1,000 people or 50% capacity, whichever is lower. "The game is simply not the same without them and we look forward to the return of full stadia as soon as it is safe and possible,” the Football Association said in a statement.
Texas’ seven-day average of administered COVID-19 doses decreased by 31% in the past week due to winter weather impacts, Andy Slavitt, senior adviser to the White House COVID-19 response team said. However, all backlogged doses will be delivered by midweek, CNN reported. Slavitt warned it will still take some time for vaccine distribution sites to catch up. “Thanks to that and many more, those efforts, today alone we plan to deliver seven million doses. This is a combination of catchup from last week's doses that were delayed from the weather and doses going out as a normal part of today's normal distribution,” Slavitt said during a Covid-19 response briefing on Monday. “We now anticipate that all backlog doses will be delivered by mid-week.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s new plan to ease COVID-19 regulations in the U.K. will allow children to return to school in two weeks, but hair salons and in-person dining will still remain closed for almost two months. The plan Johnson outlined on Monday would aim to “cautiously but irreversibly” ease the U.K. out of its current lockdown measures, The Associated Press reported. The coronavirus outbreak in the U.K. is the deadliest in all of Europe, accounting for over 120,000 fatalities. Since March of last year, the nation has been under three lockdowns, one spanning the majority of the winter. Bars, restaurants, gyms, schools, hair salons and nonessential retail is shut down under the current orders, and trips abroad are illegal. “We’re setting out on what I hope is a one-way road to freedom,” Johnson said of the now-easing restrictions.
Many business leaders and governments across the globe are working on enforcing vaccination passports. Private companies implementing the vaccine passport would make the COVID-19 shots mandatory for people who want to travel on planes, cruise ships or attend events such as concerts as a way to get rid of COVID-19 restrictions — but how would they work? The new vaccine passport would most likely be a modern digital record that would provide proof of vaccination status and document recent virus test results. Depending on the results, the person would either be allowed or denied entry on to planes, cruises, into countries or events. This means that entry requirements would bar the majority of people in the world without access to COVID-19 vaccines as well as bar people who do not want to get the vaccine. So far, the Washington Post reports the World Health Organization doesn’t support it and some worry that vaccine passports would create a vaccinated global elite while exacerbating inequalities and creating an underclass that could be denied services and prevented from crossing borders.
The United States, which has reported more coronavirus cases and fatalities linked to COVID-19 then any other country in the world, became the first amid the course of the pandemic to top the 500,000 mark on Monday. As a result of the extremely somber occasion, President Joe Biden ordered flags to fly at half mast across federal properties for five days in memory of the lives lost, according to ABC News. Only one other country, Brazil, has topped the 200,000 mark for fatalities linked to the virus. Mexico (more than 180,000), India, (more than 156,000) and the United Kingdom (over 120,987 fatalities) round out the top five for countries with the highest number of virus-related deaths during the pandemic. Recently, there have finally been some signs of optimism in the U.S. as there has been a decline in the daily number of deaths and cases reported across the country. Hear more from President Biden in the video below.
With the number of new COVID-19 cases trending downward in New Jersey, Gov. Phil Murphy has eased up some of the restrictions in place for gatherings across the state. “Effective immediately, houses of worship and religious services can operate at 50% capacity,” Murphy said in a tweet. However, people must still wear masks and remain at least six feet away from people that are not in their household.
Additionally, indoor and outdoor sporting events can now have more people in attendance. “Starting March 1st, sports and entertainment venues with a fixed-seating capacity of over 5,000 people may open for spectators,” Murphy said. The events are limited to 10% capacity for indoor venus and 15% capacity for outdoor venues. This means that the New Jersey Devils can have nearly 2,000 hockey fans in attendance for home games in Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey. “Even though we’re continuing to see good trends in our numbers, we cannot let up one bit,” Murphy said. “Keep doing all you’re doing to fight and defeat this virus. We’re going to get there.”
While many people question what summer break will look like for children this year amid the pandemic, Former Food and Drug Administration chief Scott Gottlieb said activities “typical of what kids do in the summertime” including summer camps could resume this summer, depending on the prevalence of the virus at that point in time. ”If we are in a low prevalence environment this spring and summer I think I'm going to be pretty comfortable allowing my kids get back to normal activity," Gottlieb said. "I would expect kids to be in summer camp.” He warns that in the fall and winter more precautions may need to be taken, and he does not expect that children still will be vaccinated at that point in time yet due to lack of trials involving the coronavirus vaccine and children. Watch a portion of Gottlieb's interview with CNBC below.
People who have contracted and recovered from the coronavirus may only need one dose of a vaccine from Pfizer or Moderna rather than two doses, new research suggests. According to the preliminary findings, people that have previously had the virus have a quicker immune response after just one shot when compared to someone who has not had the virus, the Wall Street Journal reported. This could potentially make more doses of the vaccines available at a time when the supply remains extremely limited across the entire county. "Everyone should get vaccinated. Not everybody needs two shots," said Viviana Simon, one of the authors of the study. However, the research has not yet been peer-reviewed or published in a scientific journal.
Italy, one of the hardest-hit countries in the pandemic's early days, is reportedly dealing with a rise in coronavirus cases. According to MedicalXPress, an increase in cases is being attributed to the presence of the U.K. variant of the virus. Over the weekend, crowds gathered outdoors amid milder weather in several cities despite pleas from the country's Higher Institute of Health to stay home. Massimo Galli, a specialist with the Sacco de Milan hospital told the Rome-based Il Messaggero newspaper, "Obviously, I'm worried." He added, "To be honest, all the data is going in the direction of a rise in new cases."
The increase comes as Italy begins commemorations in the country of the one-year anniversary of its first-known COVID-19 death. More than 95,000 deaths have been blamed on the virus in the country, along with nearly 3 million cases. Only five countries have reported a higher death toll over the course of the pandemic, according to Johns Hopkins University.
A health worker prepares a dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine to be administered at a vaccination center set up in Fiumicino, near Rome's international airport, Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
Data has been released by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention listing the most common side effects Americans reported after receiving Pfizer’s or Moderna’s coronavirus vaccines. The analysis compiled data from the first month of vaccinations, between Dec. 14 and Jan. 13., when there were more than 13.7 million doses administered, CNBC reports.
During the first month there were 6,994 reports of so-called adverse events after vaccination, including 6,354 that were classified as “non-serious” and 640 as “serious,” which included 113 deaths, the CDC said. There were 62 reports of anaphylaxis, a severe and potentially life-threatening allergic reactions, according to the CDC. The median age of vaccine recipients was 42, and the majority of adverse events occurred in women.
Frequently reported side effects according to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS)
The data is based on submissions to the agency’s text messaging system v-safe and VAERS, a national vaccine safety surveillance program.
For the past 11 months, people around the world have transitioned from office work to doing their jobs at home. As the pandemic forced companies around the world to adapt on the fly, some say remote work is here to stay, including those who still go into the office. Luc Kamperman, a managing partner at Veldhoen + Company in Manhattan, has still been making the daily trip to the empty office throughout the entirety of the pandemic. He told AFP that "we will see a different type of vibe, and that people are only coming in two or three days a week" once the pandemic is over. Watch the video below for more.
Data provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that more than 43 million Americans have received at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine, while more than 18 million have received both doses. Of the more than 63 million-plus total doses administered, the Pfizer-BionNTech vaccine has been administered slightly more than the Moderna vaccine. In total, there have been 32,232,422 shots of the Pfizer vaccine, while Moderna's total is 30,747,615. California has administered the most doses so far, with a total of 7,453,468.
The United States has reported more than 28 million coronavirus cases since the first case was officially recorded on Jan. 21, 2020, but the number of new cases continued on a downward trend Sunday. On Sunday, more than 56,000 new cases were tallied by researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Texas, New York and Florida were the top three states in terms of most new cases recorded, but all three were well below 10,000 cases each. Fatalities were also down slightly on Sunday, but the U.S. inched closer to a grim milestone of 500,000 total deaths blamed on coronavirus. For a more in-depth look at the data on how COVID-19 is spreading, watch the video below.
A new editorial written by experts claims that if the world does not invest in pandemic prevention now the next outbreak could spell trouble. "Either we invest now or we pay a lot more later," said Wayne Koff, chief executive officer of the nonprofit Human Vaccines Project. "We don't know when the next one is going to come, the only thing we know is the next one is going to come... Whether we have a year or whether we have a decade – given that unknown, we should be looking at this issue really seriously right now." Koff published the editorial with Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, in the journal Science, USA Today reported. The editorial calls for the world to come together to develop a universal vaccine against all coronaviruses, not just COVID-19. "How many times is it going to take until we start looking ahead?" James Crowe, director of the Vanderbilt Vaccine Center and an immunologist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, said. "This has to be the moment, or else it's never going to happen."
Americans may still be wearing masks next year, according to Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. When asked on CNN’s “State of the Union” if masking up will still be necessary in 2022 if a state of normalcy returns to the country, Fauci replied “I think it is possible that that’s the case and, again, it really depends on what you mean by normality.” Fauci said he is not able to pinpoint when life will return to the way it was pre-pandemic in the U.S., but said he thinks by the end of this year “we’re going to have a significant degree of normality beyond the terrible burden that all of us have been through over the last year,” The New York Post reported.
Healthcare professionals and frontline workers will not receive any financial help for their coronavirus treatment in Punjab, India, if they chose to skip the vaccine and later get infected with the virus, NDTV reported. They would also not be eligible for quarantine or isolation leave. The decision from the government comes after they were made aware that some healthcare workers were opting out of getting vaccine. "Healthcare workers who do not get vaccinated to boost their immunity for COVID-19, despite being given repeated opportunities and in case they get the infection at a later stage, they will have to bear the cost of their treatment and they will not be allowed to avail quarantine or isolation leave," Punjab Health Minister Balbir Sidhu said.
Every adult in the U.K. should get the coronavirus vaccine’s first dose by July 31, the British government declared on Sunday. The new target is earlier than the original goal of having all adults receive the first dose by September, The Associated Press reported. In addition, the new plan includes the goal for all residents over the age of 50 to be fully inoculated by April 15, while the previous goal was for them to be inoculated by May 1. Despite previous issues with supply for the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines in the country, U.K. Health Secretary Matt Hancock said Sunday that “we now think that we have the supplies” to speed up vaccinations.
The U.S. could be nearing herd immunity, according to Suzanne Judd, an epidemiologist at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health. According to Yahoo Finance, the seven-day average for new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. is down 66% from a month prior. Judd explained that a study from Colombia University estimates that the number of coronavirus cases in the U.S. since the pandemic began could be 10 times higher than what has been reported, meaning over one-third of the country would have already been infected by the virus. “You add [the findings] from the Columbia study to the number of vaccinations that have been rolling out, and it’s possible that we could be approaching herd immunity,” Judd told Yahoo Finance Live. “We should know within the next two or three months if this trend holds, but this is definitely the most positive news we have seen in a long time.”
The United States is nearing 500,000 coronavirus deaths, one year since the first known U.S. coronavirus death was reported. More than 498,003 people have died from COVID-19 in the U.S., according to Johns Hopkins University. "It's something that is historic. It's nothing like we've ever been though in the last 102 years since the 1918 influenza pandemic," said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
After a year since youth sports were suspended across California, some are concerned that the lack of activities could be causing another pandemic: depression. Public officials and educators have warned of the damaging long-term impact that the wide-ranging ban on competitive sport has had on student athletes. According to AFP, public prosecutors say COVID-19 has increased cases of juvenile crime and delinquency. Officials in California are starting to allow school athletics to return, however, some say they will be dealing with the impacts from the shutdown for years to come.
White House officials said the unprecedented winter storms sparked a backlog of roughly 6 million COVID-19 vaccine doses which affected all 50 states, NPR reports. That number represents three days' worth of delayed shipments however many states have been able to cover some of the delays with their existing inventory, said Andy Slavitt, senior adviser on the White House COVID-19 Response Team. "If we all work together, from the factory, all the way to the vaccinators, we will make up for it in the coming week," Slavitt said during the briefing. On Friday, Slavic said 1.4 million doses were in transit and that most of the backlogged doses are expected to be delivered within the next several days.
People wait in line for the opening of a 24-hour, walk-up COVID-19 vaccination clinic hosted by the Black Doctors COVID-19 Consortium at Temple University's Liacouras Center in Philadelphia, Friday, Feb. 19, 2021. Efforts to vaccinate Americans against COVID-19 have been stymied by a series of winter storms and outages in parts of the country not used to extremely cold weather, and hobbled transportation hubs and highways. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)
Pfizer has asked the Food and Drug Administration for permission to store its coronavirus vaccine for two weeks at higher temperatures commonly found in pharmaceutical freezers and refrigerators, CNBC reports. Currently, the vaccine needs to be stored in ultra-cold freezers that keep it between minus 112 and minus 76 degrees F, according to the FDA. “We have been continuously performing stability studies to support the production of the vaccine at commercial scale, with the goal of making the vaccine as accessible as possible for healthcare providers and people across the U.S. and around the world,” Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said in a release. “If approved, this new storage option would offer pharmacies and vaccination centers greater flexibility in how they manage their vaccine supply.”
At 111-years-old, Maria Aulenbacher is the oldest person in South Carolina to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Aulenbacher also lived through the pandemic in 1918. According to CNN, she is among the oldest people in the world to become vaccinated after receiving both doses. Aulenbacher spent most of her life in Germany and only moved to the United States when she was 100-years-old. "I drink wine, I drink beer, I eat what I like," Aulenbacher said, which she told CNN was the key to living so long. She told CNN getting the vaccine did not hurt for her. "We kind of felt like it's a civic duty, everybody has to get this vaccine," her daughter Birgit Dickerson said. "If we ever want to get over this we all have to go and have the vaccine."
The U.S. federal government is set to open a mass COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Philadelphia in March. According to The Philadelphia Inquirer, the clinic will be held at the Pennsylvania Convention Center and be able to vaccinate up to 6,000 people a day. The announcement from the federal government did not specify if the clinic would be open to non-residents or who would be eligible for vaccination at the site. “Every city in the country, including Philadelphia, is currently struggling with not having enough COVID vaccine to meet the demand of their residents, so this center will make a huge difference,” Mayor Jim Kenney said.
Studies on the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines have been hampered by members of the placebo group getting vaccinated. "I've been taking prescription medicine for the last 25 years," Karen Mott, a 56-year-old job counselor who decided to continuing participating in the study, told NPR. “In order to show those drugs worked, people previously volunteered to take them when they were still experimental, so I felt it was my way of giving back.” Mott was in the group that actually did receive the Moderna vaccine, and had a strong reaction to the second dose. A volunteer that was in the placebo group for the study died of COVID-19. "I keep thinking about that. Why am I one of the lucky ones?" Mott said. "And I think that makes me feel like, I need to keep providing the information that we need.” She will continue to participate in the follow-up study for two years, which will require her to provide nose and saliva swabs every once in a while and see if she has been infected. She also has to give blood samples.
Carlos Fierro, who runs the study involving the placebo group, said a few members of the original placebo group decided against the vaccine, but most ended up getting vaccinated, meaning the researchers no longer have a large placebo group to compare the vaccinated group to. "During that visit we discussed the options, which included staying in the study without the vaccine," Fierro said, "and amazingly there were people — a couple of people — who chose that… It’s a loss from a scientific standpoint, but given the circumstances I think it's the right thing to do."
On Saturday more than 200 million coronavirus doses have been administered worldwide, according to an AFP tally. The Group of Seven (G7) has said it will support less well-off countries more and reported its aid to projects like the World Health Organization's Covax now amount to $7.5 billion. The increased pledges from the U.S., Germany, France, Britain, Italy, Japan and Canada came as permanent U.N. Security Council member Britain called for wealthy nations to share doses with poor and war-torn states.
Despite previous studies suggesting the coronavirus vaccine only prevents symptoms and not infection, a new study reveals that the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines may actually prevent infection as well. After examining 31,000 people across the U.S. who had at least one dose of either vaccine, a team at the Mayo Clinic found they were over 80% effective at preventing infection 36 days after receiving the first dose, CNN reported. According to the study, the vaccine was 75% effective 15 days after the first dose and rose to 83% 36 days after the first dose. When the study looks only at people who received both doses, the vaccine reports to have shown 89% efficacy. The study has not yet been peer-reviewed.
Starting next Friday, New York City restaurants will be allowed to reopen their indoor dining sections at 35% capacity, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. “What’s happening now is people in New York City — Staten Island, Manhattan — are going to New Jersey to those restaurants,” Cuomo said at a press briefing. “So it’s not really accomplishing a purpose.” According to CNBC, the Big Apple’s restaurants, which were allowed to reopen at 25% capacity a week ago, have remained at lower indoor capacity compared with the rest of the state.
More airlines are joining Delta and United in providing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention with customer information that could be used for contact tracing, despite many airlines being opposed to the idea in the past. American, Southwest, Alaska, JetBlue and Hawaiian will also start asking passengers to turn over their information to the CDC including names, phone numbers, email and physical addresses. The new airlines to join the contact-tracing effort had long resisted government efforts to require them to gather passenger information and provide it to health agencies, The Associated Press reports. The CEO of trade group Airlines for America, Nicholas Calio, said airline carriers hope that their compliance of voluntary information gathering, along with testing of passengers entering the U.S., will lead the government to lift orders and restrictions on international travel.
On March 1 California will start setting aside 10% of the COVID-19 vaccines, approximately 75,000 doses, the state receives each week from the state's current weekly allotment to vaccinate teachers, daycare workers and other school employees, NPR reports. Most of California’s large school districts have been teaching students remotely for almost a year now. "It must be done, and it must be done much sooner than the current path we are on. And we believe this will advance that cause," Gov. Gavin Newsom said.
Johnson & Johnson announced on Friday that the company submitted its vaccine candidate to the World Health Organization for Emergency Use listing (EUL). The EUL process will allow for the process in which nations receive the new product to be expedited. The process is also a prerequisite for the vaccines to be supplied to a COVAX facility, which will allow for the vaccine to be distributed among 92 lower-income countries. In December, Johnson & Johnson entered into a COVAX agreement that states the company is expected to provide up to 500 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine. “Our filing with the World Health Organization marks another important step in our effort to combat COVID-19 and also in our unwavering commitment to equitable access,” said Paul Stoffels, M.D., Vice Chairman of the Executive Committee and Chief Scientific Officer of Johnson & Johnson. "If we are to end the global pandemic, life-saving innovations like vaccines must be within reach for all countries.”
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