By Tara John, CNN
There needs to be enough immunity in the general population from vaccines or infections for the Covid-19 pandemic to transition to an endemic phase — similar to manageable diseases like influenza. This growing debate on whether Covid-19 is endemic really rests on what we are “willing to accept,” said CNN’s Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Would we accept annual Covid-19 deaths at a level similar to that from the flu? Can that number be higher? Lower? The answer really depends on where you live.
- This summer several rich nations, such as the United Kingdom, concluded that Covid-19 was not going away as their high vaccination rates drastically cut the number of hospitalizations and deaths. The UK dropped almost all pandemic measures. Daily cases and deaths are inching up as children return to school — 37,489 positive tests and 209 deaths were recorded on Tuesday — but UK Health Secretary Sajid Javid has played down talk of renewed restrictions, telling Sky News that the best defense against another wave was vaccines.
- The weekly moving average of Covid-19 deaths in the US is at 1,047, around 71% lower than January’s peak, while daily new cases are averaging 153,246, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). But the US is not yet out of the woods. A lagging vaccination rate and climbing case numbers are keeping pressure on the health care system in many states. A CDC study found that more children went to the hospital and emergency room in states with lower vaccination rates. But CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky stressed last week that “more children have Covid-19 because there is more disease in the community,” and not because of increased disease severity in children.
- Meanwhile, Singapore, one of the world’s most vaccinated nations with more than 80% fully jabbed, is taking no chances with its Delta variant outbreak. It warned this week it may need to impose more Covid-19 restrictions despite officials indicating in June that they wanted to move towards a living-with-Covid strategy — where outbreaks were controlled by vaccines and monitoring hospitalizations rather than curtailing citizens’ lives. On Tuesday, it reported 332 new cases and zero deaths.
- After 18 months of basking in their success in keeping Covid out, Australian politicians are now being forced to pivot from a zero-Covid strategy to living with the virus under limited restrictions when at least 70% of eligible people have received two vaccine doses. The question is how they can convince Australians to support the national plan when those in parts of the country that have managed to contain Covid-19, including the states of Western Australia and Queensland, have little appetite to open borders and allow the virus in. Making matters worse, Australia has struggled to vaccinate its population due to a lack of urgency and inadequate supplies. As of last week, only about 37% of people over the age of 16 had received two doses.
- Most countries in the world are far from hitting the endemic phase of the pandemic. Only 3% of Africa’s more than 1 billion people have been fully vaccinated — a sharp contrast from Europe, where 57% have received a full course of vaccination, the World Health Organization said. A planned shipment of Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccines from South Africa to Europe was suspended last week after the deal was criticized by health activists.
- The Climate Action Network (CAN), which includes groups from more than 130 countries, called for a delay to November’s UN climate conference in Scotland. They argue that the failure to provide vaccines to millions of people in poor countries, as well as the high costs of travel and accommodation, would mean countries most affected by the climate crisis will be absent from the COP26 talks. The UK COP26 Presidency has said that it is providing vaccines to all delegates who have requested them, with the first shots beginning this week.
YOU ASKED. WE ANSWERED.
Q: What can parents do to keep kids safe at school?
A: One of the easiest ways parents can help infections stay out of school is to talk to their children every day to see how they are feeling and keep them home if they’re sick.
“The point is to make sure we do this before they get on the school bus,” said Xiaoyan Song, director of infection control and epidemiology at Children’s National Hospital in Washington, DC. “If all the parents did their due diligence and the child is looking great and everything’s normal, before they say goodbye to the kids at the school bus or before they drop the kids off, we’ll have a very, very minimum transmission in the school.”
When kids go to school, they should wear masks indoors, keep a physical distance from others and regularly wash their hands. Schools need good ventilation and to keep surfaces clean. Teachers and staff must be vaccinated and masked.
Send your questions here. Are you a health care worker fighting Covid-19? Message us on WhatsApp about the challenges you’re facing: +1 347-322-0415.
READS OF THE WEEK
Vaccine slowdowns in the wealthy West could incubate the next disaster in the Covid crisis
One of the greatest success stories of the Covid-19 crisis has hit an alarming bump in the road. The initial stages of the vaccine rollout earlier this year in countries such as Israel, the United Kingdom and the United States provided hope that the misery of lockdowns and isolation could soon be a distant memory, at least in a small group of rich nations, Luke McGee reports.
Both Israel and the UK appeared on track to hit the rough target of 80-90% of fully vaccinated citizens that each of the experts CNN spoke to said is required to drop restrictions, while America had legitimate cause for optimism. But then came a drop in the number of daily vaccinations, which creates an opportunity for the virus to spread, mutate and break through those countries’ borders to others with lower inoculation rates. In other words, it could incubate the next disaster in this pandemic.
Dread at 30,000 feet: Inside the increasingly violent world of US flight attendants
Working as a flight attendant previously afforded Mitra Amirzadeh the freedom to explore the world — taking her from her home in Florida to destinations including Kenya, France and Spain, Francesca Street reports.
As the pandemic spread, the perks of Amirzadeh’s job diminished. Now restricted to domestic US flights, her work involves navigating not only the fear of catching Covid-19, but also the recent uptick in disruptive passengers.
How the pandemic turned humble shipping containers into the hottest items on the planet
Roughly 18 months into the Covid-19 pandemic, global shipping is still in crisis, with backlogs looming over the peak holiday shopping period. One look at the market for steel shipping containers, and it’s clear that a return to normal won’t happen any time soon, Julia Horowitz reports.
Before the coronavirus hit, companies could rent a humble 20-foot or 40-foot box with relative ease, allowing them to move goods at a low cost. Containers have a lifespan of about 15 years before they’re recycled into low-cost storage or building solutions. But empty boxes remain scattered across Europe and North America, while supply chain delays mean even more are needed to fulfill orders.
Being fully vaccinated reduces odds of long-term Covid-19 symptoms by half
A study of breakthrough Covid-19 infections finds that vaccines not only reduce the risk of severe disease and hospitalization but can lower the odds of having long-term Covid-19 symptoms too.
“We found that the odds of having symptoms for 28 days or more after post-vaccination infection were approximately halved by having two vaccine doses. This result suggests that the risk of long Covid is reduced in individuals who have received double vaccination, when additionally considering the already documented reduced risk of infection overall,” researchers wrote in the study published in the journal The Lancet Infectious Diseases. So get your vaccination now.
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