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COVID Is No Longer Mainly a Pandemic of the Unvaccinated. Here’s Why.
For the first time, a majority of Americans dying from the coronavirus received at least the primary series of the vaccine. Fifty-eight percent of coronavirus deaths in August were people who were vaccinated or boosted, according to an analysis conducted for The Health 202 by Cynthia Cox, vice president at the Kaiser Family Foundation.
It’s a continuation of a troubling trend that has emerged over the past year. As vaccination rates have increased and new variants appeared, the share of deaths of people who were vaccinated has been steadily rising. In September 2021, vaccinated people made up just 23% of coronavirus fatalities. In January and February this year, it was up to 42%, per our colleagues Fenit Nirappil and Dan Keating.
“We can no longer say this is a pandemic of the unvaccinated,” Cox told The Health 202.
Fauci Couldn’t Name Any Studies Showing Masks Work Against COVID: Lawyers
Fauci, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) director, was among the U.S. officials repeatedly urging people not to mask early in the pandemic unless they were showing symptoms. Among his many public and private statements, he wrote in a Feb. 5, 2020 email that “the typical mask you buy in the drug store is not really effective in keeping out the virus, which is small enough to pass through the material.”
About two months later, Fauci and other top officials reversed course and issued widespread masking recommendations, regardless of symptoms. Asked about the change while under oath on Nov. 23, Fauci couldn’t provide any studies, according to lawyers representing plaintiffs in a case against the federal government.
Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt, a Republican who was also present during the deposition in Maryland, said on social media that Fauci “couldn’t cite a single study” to back up his claim that masks were effective against COVID-19.
White House Battles Pandemic Fatigue in Vaccine Push
Public health officials have repeatedly warned that the U.S. will likely face another wave of COVID-19 infections as the weather gets colder and people travel and gather for the holidays. But it doesn’t seem to be convincing a checked-out public to get vaccinated.
New COVID-19 booster shot uptake remained low heading into the Thanksgiving holiday, frustrating Biden administration officials who previously called for the public to get booster shots in time for Halloween.
The government has purchased 171 million doses of the updated vaccine. But well into November, federal data shows that just 11% of the population older than age 5 has received a dose, including just under 30% of people 65 and older.
Halt Vaccination of Young People Until Vaccine-Linked Myocarditis Is Studied: MIT Professor
Retsef Levi, a former Israeli military intelligence officer, an expert in risk management and health systems and a professor at The Massachusetts Institute of Technology Sloan School of Management coauthored a paper that found a 25% rise in heart attack emergency calls among young Israelis after the country’s rollout of the COVID genetic vaccine.
Levi argues that there is enough data from this and various other studies on the vaccine’s adverse heart effects, to stop its use and run a thorough investigation into why many once-healthy young people suffer or die from heart inflammation after being vaccinated.
His coauthored paper in Nature looked at Israel’s national emergency calls in the first five months of 2021 and found a 25% increase in cardiac arrest and heart attacks in men aged 16-39 as compared to the year before the national vaccine rollout.
The study found, “a temporal correlation between this increase starting in early 2021, and the launch of the vaccination campaign in Israel,” said Levi. The paper does not conclude a causal relationship between the vaccine and the observed increase in heart problems, but it definitely gives enough evidence to warrant an in-depth investigation said, Levi.
Just 1 in 20 People in the U.S. Have Dodged COVID Infection so Far, Study Says
“Moving forward we are in probably the best shape that we’ve been,” said Dr. Peter Chin-Hong, a professor of medicine at the University of California San Francisco who specializes in infectious diseases and did not participate in the study. But that does not mean COVID is less prevalent than before or that you’re less likely to catch it. In fact, cases are on the rise again, public health officials warn.
A preprint of the paper, which has not yet been peer-reviewed, was published this week on a website called MedRxiv. The findings contain uncertainties because they are based on a statistical analysis of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-reported diagnoses, hospitalizations and vaccinations, rather than antibody testing of a representative sample of Americans.
The researchers from Harvard, Yale and Stanford set out to understand how immunity to the virus had changed since December 2021. The calculations studied “the competing influences” of new vaccinations and infections and the waning of immunity earned from them.
A New Generation of COVID Vaccine, or Running out of Steam? Here’s How Experts See the Pandemic Ending
Will it end with a new generation, a future-proof vaccine or will the virus keep mutating until it eventually runs out of steam? Two-and-a-half-years in and Australia is in the grip of a fourth COVID-19 wave. It’s predicted to be shorter and sharper than before, but it will not be the last. So what will the end look like? Experts differ on what will finally bring this pandemic to a close.
Deborah Burnett is on a team at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research working on a transmission-blocking or “universal” vaccine. Since the first variants were identified in late 2020, COVID-19 has mutated to produce multiple variants and subvariants, putting us in what some call a “COVID soup.” A “variant-proof” vaccine would target a part of the virus that cannot easily mutate, making it effective against not just the variants we have had so far, but future ones, too, Dr. Burnett says.
Professor Robert Booy, an infectious disease and vaccine expert, thinks we are nearing the end of the pandemic — but says it won’t come about because of a transmission-blocking vaccine. “This new wave is a conglomeration of a whole bunch of subvariants but they’re still Omicron — in 12 months we haven’t had a new variant, we’ve just had mutations,” Professor Booy says.
COVID-19 will “fizzle out” and, like the common cold, become a virus we get at a young age, says James Trauer, an associate professor at Monash University’s school of public health and preventative medicine. Because of this, he says, community-wide mandates are no longer needed.
After a Year, Omicron Still Driving COVID Surges and Worries
A year after Omicron began its assault on humanity, the ever-morphing coronavirus mutant drove COVID-19 case counts higher in many places just as Americans gathered for Thanksgiving. It was a prelude to a wave that experts expect to soon wash over the U.S.
Looking to the future, experts see the seeds of a widespread U.S. wave. They point to what’s happening internationally — a BA.5 surge in Japan, a combination of variants pushing up cases in South Korea, the start of a new wave in Norway.
Some experts said a U.S. wave could begin during the holidays as people gather indoors. Trevor Bedford, a biologist and genetics expert at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, said it could peak at around 150,000 new cases a day, about what the nation saw in July.
The same widespread immunity that reduced deaths also pushed the coronavirus to mutate. By the end of last year, many people had gotten infected, vaccinated or both. That “created the initial niche for Omicron to spread,” Bedford said since the virus had significantly evolved in its ability to escape existing immunity.
XBB Variant’s Arrival Won’t Cause a New Deadly COVID Surge, Officials Hope
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed Friday it is now tracking a new COVID-19 variant of concern around the U.S. known as XBB, which has grown to make up an estimated 3.1% of new infections nationwide.
The strain’s prevalence has grown furthest so far in the Northeast, according to the agency’s weekly estimates. More than 5% of infections in the regions spanning New Jersey through Maine are linked to XBB, in this week’s “Nowcast” from the CDC.
XBB is behind a vast swath of infections across some South Asian countries and has made up an increasing share of reported virus sequences from around the world and in arriving international travelers.
Researchers Test mRNA Technology for Universal Flu Vaccine
An experimental vaccine provided broad protection against all 20 known influenza A and B virus subtypes in initial tests in mice and ferrets, potentially opening a pathway to a universal flu shot that might help prevent future pandemics, according to a U.S. study published on Thursday.
The two-dose vaccine employs the same messenger RNA (mRNA) technology used in the COVID-19 shots developed by Pfizer (PFE.N) with BioNTech (22UAy.DE) and by Moderna (MRNA.O). It delivers tiny lipid particles containing mRNA instructions for cells to create replicas of so-called hemagglutinin proteins that appear on influenza virus surfaces.
A universal vaccine would not mean an end to flu seasons but would replace the guesswork that goes into developing annual shots months ahead of flu season each year.
Unlike standard flu vaccines that deliver one or two versions of hemagglutinin, the experimental vaccine includes 20 different types in the hope of getting the immune system to recognize any flu virus it might encounter in the future.