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 concerns that their injection may require a booster, the company said its immune response lasts eight months and longer.
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 West Missouri’s least vaccinated 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:
►A bipartisan proposal in the US House would ban mink fur farming in the US in an attempt to stem possible coronavirus mutations, which researchers said can be accelerated when the virus spreads among animals.
►Coming on the vital benefits of the coronavirus vaccine, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards on Friday vetoed three Republican-sponsored bills striking vaccination mandates in the state.
►India reported more than 400,000 deaths from COVID-19 on Friday, half of them in the past two months, as the virulent delta variant infected hundreds of thousands every day.
►Even as 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.
►Preliminary data reviewed by the CDC suggests that almost all of the people who have died from COVID-19 in the past six months were unvaccinated, Walensky said in a White House briefing Thursday.
► Ohio Governor Mike DeWine vetoed a budget provision that would have refunded fines to state companies named for violating public health orders during the pandemic, saying it would send a “horrible” message.
►Thailand 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.
►Israel delayed reopening its borders to vaccinated visitors to August 1, after the country reported its highest daily infection rate in three months.
📈Numbers of the day: The United States has more than 33.6 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 and at least 605,100 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Global totals: Over 182.8 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.
📘What 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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What you need to know about summer travel to Europe
As COVID and entry restrictions ease, travelers can still expect to see masks, closed places and social distancing requirements in Europe. The rules vary by region and are constantly evolving.
Kyle Potter, editor-in-chief of Thrifty Traveler, has seen changes since arriving in Madrid, Spain on Tuesday – his second time in the city and his first post-pandemic trip to the country.
Some of the popular markets in the area, like Platea Madrid, remain closed. Group sizes are limited both indoors and outdoors, and social distancing rules are still in place. Potter found the crowds sparse but the masks plentiful, even though Spain abandoned its outdoor mask mandate last month.
For those planning a trip to Europe this summer, here are some of the COVID restrictions in place at some of the top destinations.
– Bailey Schulz, USA TODAY
Michigan opens $ 5 million draw on COVID-19 vaccine
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced the MI Shot to Win contest on Thursday, describing a lottery-style raffle officials hope to push the state’s vaccination rate above 70% for residents 16 and older.
The raffle will run until August 3, with a single draw of $ 50,000 per day for 30 days, as well as a chance to win a single draw of $ 1 million and a single draw of $ 2 million.
For those 12 to 17 years of age vaccinated, the raffle also includes nine chances to win a four-year contract for the Michigan Education Trust (MET) Charitable Tuition Program valued at $ 55,000 each.
– Kristen Jordan Shamus, Detroit Free Press
July 4 raises concerns in Missouri
Health officials working to increase delayed COVID-19 vaccination rates in Missouri are increasingly anxious as the July 4 weekend approaches, creating the right conditions for the fast-spreading delta variant pushes 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 “emergency response teams”. 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. “The 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.
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 when 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 authorized, 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