Across the United States, cases have started rising again. In a few cities, even hospitalizations are ticking up. The twists and turns of a pandemic can be hard to predict, but this most recent increase was almost inevitable: A more transmissible and more deadly variant called B.1.1.7 has established itself at the precise moment when many regions are opening up rapidly by lifting mask mandates, indoor-gathering restrictions, and occupancy limits on gyms and restaurants.
Covid-19 deaths in the U.S. are expected to bottom out in the next two weeks and then may inch higher as the nation races to blunt an incipient new wave of cases with its vaccination campaign.
Officials contend the problem isn’t resort-goers. But locals aren’t so sure.
Excess deaths in Mexico for 2020 and early 2021 exceeded 417,000, more than double the official number of fatalities from the pandemic, the federal government said in a report that also sharply raised what it called Covid-related deaths.
Experts say Chile’s government eased restrictions on travel, business and schools much too early, creating a false sense of confidence that the worst of the pandemic was over.
Since the genome sequence of SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for COVID-19, was first reported in January 2020, thousands of variants have been reported. In the vast majority of cases, these variants, which arise from random genomic changes as SARS-CoV-2 makes copies of itself in an infected person, haven’t raised any alarm among public health officials. But that’s now changed with the emergence of at least three variants carrying mutations that potentially make them even more dangerous.
With new coronavirus infections rising across the United States once again, at least one governor in a hot spot state appealed to the Biden administration for extra vaccine doses to help staunch the worsening spread.
Vaccines against COVID-19 are about 90 percent effective at blocking coronavirus infections, real-world studies of health care workers, firefighters, police, teachers and other essential workers suggest.
Germany’s government said Tuesday it will restrict the use of the AstraZeneca PLC’s Covid-19 vaccine for people younger than 60 following fresh blood-clotting incidents among recipients, potentially presenting the country’s sputtering vaccine rollout with fresh delays.
COVID-19 vaccines developed by Pfizer Inc with BioNTech SE and Moderna Inc reduced risk of infection by 80% two weeks or more after the first of two shots, according to data from a real-world U.S. study released on Monday.
The AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is indispensable right now. As one of the first vaccines out of the gate, it’s been at the center of the World Health Organization’s plan to roll out some 2 billion doses to 92 nations by the end of the year. It’s also one of just a handful of vaccines that are already being produced and distributed on such a massive scale that they might change the near-term course of the pandemic.
The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in more than 2 million deaths globally. Two interconnected stages of disease are generally recognised; an initial viral stage and a subsequent immune response phase with the clinical characteristics of hyperinflammation associated with acute respiratory distress syndrome. Therefore, many immune modulators and immunosuppressive drugs, which are widely used in rheumatological practice, have been proposed as treatments for patients with moderate or severe COVID-19. In this Review, we provide an overview of what is currently known about the efficacy and safety of antirheumatic therapies for the treatment of patients with COVID-19.
Official Reporting for March 31, 2021
World Health Organization
Confirmed Cases: 127 349 248
Deaths: 2 787 593
Confirmed Cases: 128,125,926
Total cases: 30,147,895 (+60,699 New Cases)
Total deaths: 547,296 (+592 New Deaths)
Science and Tech
When variants of SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) emerged in late 2020, concern arose that they might elude protective immune responses generated by prior infection or vaccination, potentially making re-infection more likely or vaccination less effective. To investigate this possibility, researchers from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health, and colleagues analyzed blood cell samples from 30 people who had contracted and recovered from COVID-19 prior to the emergence of virus variants. They found that one key player in the immune response to SARS-CoV-2—the CD8+ T cell—remained active against the virus.
Psychological and Sociological Impact
When not caring for COVID-19 patients—her latest was a man with bacterial lung and blood infections superimposed on SARS-CoV-2 pneumonia—Krutika Kuppalli has been helping oversee the rollout of pandemic vaccines at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC), where she’s an infectious disease physician. She has also been meeting with vaccine-hesitant hospital staff, sitting on a committee that reviews all planned COVID-19 clinical trials at MUSC, applying for funding to study patients with Long COVID, and handling online harassment that has followed her numerous media appearances and two rounds of congressional testimony last summer.
Getting evicted can hurt you in a bunch of different ways. You don’t have to tell that to 57-year-old Gregory Curry in Dothan, Ala. “I’ll be honest with you, I was petrified by this situation,” Curry says. “What I’ve had to go through over this last year.”
Millions of people are at risk of losing electricity in the coming weeks because of unpaid power bills, even as Congress has authorized billions of dollars in supplemental relief.
Efficacy of ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 (AZD1222) vaccine against SARS-CoV-2 variant of concern 202012/01 (B.1.1.7): an exploratory analysis of a randomised controlled trial – Lancet
The emerging plasticity of SARS-CoV-2 – Science
Interim Estimates of Vaccine Effectiveness of BNT162b2 and mRNA-1273 COVID-19 Vaccines in Preventing SARS-CoV-2 Infection Among Health Care Personnel, First Responders, and Other Essential and Frontline Workers — Eight U.S. Locations, December 2020–March 2021 – CDC MMWR
Misinformation, Disinformation, and Conspiracy Theories
A few decades ago, nobody really questioned vaccines. They were viewed as a standard part of staying healthy and safe. Today, the number of people questioning vaccines risks prolonging a pandemic that has already killed hundreds of thousands of Americans. Doubt, a new series from Prognosis, looks at the forces that have been breaking down that trust. We’ll trace the rise of vaccine skepticism in America to show how we got here — and where we’re going.
In the series premiere of “Doubt,” we meet Jon, a New York City paramedic struggling to decide whether he should get vaccinated. Bloomberg health reporter Kristen V. Brown shows how the pandemic has led many people like him to question vaccines for the first time — and how this distrust threatens to prolong the pandemic.
Meet the man behind all the myths: Andrew Wakefield. Wakefield’s retracted 1998 study linking autism to vaccines helped kickstart the modern vaccine hesitancy movement. We’ll explore the forces that helped propel Wakefield into the spotlight and show how groundwork Wakefield laid decades ago helped seed the mistrust we’re seeing in the age of the coronavirus.
The 2015 Disneyland measles outbreak was a pivotal moment in explaining the vaccine hesitation we see today. The outbreak made clear that number of people opting out of vaccination was significant. But it also changed the people protesting vaccines. Before that, activists speaking out about vaccines had mainly been parents concerned about the safety of their kids. California’s push to get rid of vaccine exemptions in the wake of the outbreak changed the conversation. It became political. It became about choice and freedom and democracy.
Downtown Pawhuska, Okla., is busy these days with filmmakers working on preproduction of the upcoming Martin Scorsese film “Killers of the Flower Moon.” You can tell who is in the film crew by the N95 face masks they wear. The locals don’t wear face masks.
Coping in 2020 (and probably most of 2021)
Pet chickens, pink hair, an old plane: Here’s what’s keeping readers going through the pandemic