Is The Worst Over? Models Predict A Steady Decline In COVID Cases Through March

Link:https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2021/09/22/1039272244/is-the-worst-over-modelers-predict-a-steady-decline-in-covid-cases-through-march?utm_source=facebook.com&utm_term=nprnews&utm_campaign=npr&utm_medium=social

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The most likely scenario, says Lessler, is that children do get vaccinated and no super-spreading variant emerges. In that case, the combo model forecasts that new infections would slowly, but fairly continuously, drop from about 140,000 today now to about 9,000 a day by March.

Deaths from COVID-19 would fall from about 1,500 a day now to fewer than 100 a day by March 2022.

That’s around the level U.S. cases and deaths were in late March 2020 when the pandemic just started to flare up in the U.S. and better than things looked early this summer when many thought the pandemic was waning.

And this scenario projects that there will be no winter surge, though Lessler cautions that there is uncertainty in the models and a “moderate” surge is still theoretically possible.

There’s wide range of uncertainty in the models, he notes, and it’s plausible, though very unlikely, that cases could continue to rise to as many as 232,000 per day before starting to decline.

Author(s): Rob Stein, Carmel Wroth

Publication Date: 22 Sept 2021

Publication Site: NPR

Covid-19: Life expectancy is down but what does this mean?

Link:https://www.bbc.com/news/health-58659717

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Despite the name, these life expectancy figures, known as “period life expectancy”, do not predict an actual lifespan.

Instead, they show the average age a newborn would live to if current death rates continued for their whole life.

And as Covid death rates are unlikely to continue long-term, the new estimates do not mean a boy born in 2020 will have a shorter life than one born in 2019.

But they do provide a snapshot of the effect of the pandemic that can be compared over time and between countries and different populations.

Author(s): Christine Jeavans

Publication Date: 23 Sept 2021

Publication Site: BBC

Europe’s Covid-19 Vaccination Success Faces Winter Test

Link: https://www.wsj.com/articles/europes-covid-19-vaccination-success-faces-winter-test-11632303001?mod=djemwhatsnews

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Europe has pushed ahead of the U.S. in vaccinating its citizens and has experienced a summer of relatively subdued Covid-19 caseloads, hospitalizations and deaths, despite the spread of the Delta variant.

Deaths from Covid-19 in the European Union averaged around 525 over the seven days through Tuesday and around 140 in the U.K. In January, daily deaths peaked at 3,500 in the EU and around 1,200 in the U.K., according to national data compiled by the University of Oxford’s Our World in Data project.

Adjusted for population, EU deaths equate to around 1.2 per million a day, and U.K. deaths to 2.1 per million. That compares with 6.1 per million currently in the U.S.

The difference reflects wider vaccine coverage, especially of older and high-risk groups. The 27 countries of the EU have fully vaccinated 61% of the bloc’s 448 million population, compared with 55% in the U.S., according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and its EU counterpart. Big EU nations picked up the vaccination pace after a slow start this year. France has fully vaccinated 67% of its population, Germany 63% and Italy 66%. The U.K., which left the EU in 2020, has fully vaccinated 66% of its residents.

Author(s): Jason Douglas in London, Erin Delmore in Berlin and Eric Sylvers in Milan

Publication Date: 22 Sept 2021

Publication Site: Wall Street Journal

Has the Pandemic Finally Peaked in the U.S.?

Link: https://reason.com/2021/09/23/has-the-pandemic-finally-peaked-in-the-u-s/?utm_medium=email

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Will COVID-19 cases and deaths surge again this winter? The combined just-released results of 9 models applied to four different scenarios at COVID-19 Modeling Hub project that diagnosed cases could—using the projections of the more hopeful models—drop to around 9,000 cases per day by March. The scenarios range from the most hopeful, with childhood COVID-19 vaccinations and no new viral variant, to one with no child vaccinations and a new variant.

……

University of North Carolina epidemiologist Justin Lessler, who helps run the hub, tells NPR that the most likely scenario is that children do get vaccinated and no super-spreading variant emerges.

The good news is that about 55 percent of all Americans (181 million) are now fully vaccinated (64 percent of those age 12 and up). Given that unreported COVID-19 cases are generally thought to be considerably higher than the 42 million diagnosed cases, that suggests perhaps around 100 million Americans have developed natural immunity to the virus.

Author(s): Ronald Bailey

Publication Date: 23 Sept 2021

Publication Site: Reason

Spanish flu v. COVID-19: Comparing the Numbers and Forgetting the Lessons

Link: https://marypatcampbell.substack.com/p/spanish-flu-v-covid-19-comparing

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So, period life expectancy dropped about 12 – 13% in 1918 in the U.S., mainly due to the Spanish flu, because there was an outsized effect from young adults being the main group killed by the disease (also, period life expectancy was relatively short — under 60 years!). That was a drop of about 7 years.

But life expectancy dropped only about 1 year in 2020 due to COVID impacts, and that was a decrease of less than 3% compared to 2019.

So if you want to compare the effect of the Spanish flu vs. COVID-19 on the U.S. population, all of these rates —- percentage change in period life expectancy, age-adjusted death rates, or even crude death rate — are all more reasonable choices than simply number of people who died.

Author(s): Mary Pat Campbell

Publication Date: 22 Sept 2021

Publication Site: STUMP at substack

Florida death certificate review raises questions about official number of COVID-19 deaths

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We had the opportunity to review death certificates for some of Florida’s recent COVID-19 deaths, and we can tell you definitively that Florida is counting deaths that were not directly caused by COVID-19.

Public health agencies have a goal of tracking the spread of a reportable disease, and for that reason, guidance was issued in March that any person who tested positive for COVID-19 should be counted as a COVID-19 death. However, the death count is now prominently featured in newscasts and used as a talking point to claim that some governments aren’t “doing enough” to stop the spread of COVID-19. COVID-19 metrics, including the number of reported deaths, are increasingly cited by governments as a reason to write public health recommendations into law.

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A change in CDC guidance published on March 24, 2020 (COVID-19 Alert No.2) encouraged doctors to include COVID-19 in PART 1 “for all decedents where the disease caused or is assumed to have caused or contributed to death.” This was reinforced on April 5 (COVID-19 2020 Interim Case Definition), when the CDC said any death with COVID-19 on the death certificate is counted as a COVID-19 death, even if it was just presumed and had no confirming laboratory or clinical validation. In other words, the CDC guidance explicitly does not distinguish between deaths from COVID-19 and deaths with COVID-19. 

This is contrary to World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines, which say to count only deaths “resulting from a clinically compatible illness, in a probable or confirmed COVID-19 case, unless there is a clear alternative cause of death that cannot be related to COVID disease (e.g. trauma). There should be no period of complete recovery from COVID-19 between illness and death. A death due to COVID-19 may not be attributed to another disease (e.g. cancer).” 

Author(s): JENNIFER CABRERA AND LEN CABRERA

Publication Date: 11 November 2020

Publication Site: Rational Ground

U.S. Covid-19 Death Toll Surpasses 1918 Flu Fatalities

Link: https://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-covid-19-death-toll-surpasses-1918-flu-fatalities-11632176583

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The U.S. on Monday crossed the threshold of 675,000 reported Covid-19 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University, which tracks data from state health authorities. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates the influenza pandemic killed about that many people in the U.S. a century ago, in 1918 and 1919. Both figures are likely undercounts, epidemiologists and historians say.

There are several differences between the current pandemic and the one that claimed nearly as many lives more than 100 years ago. The U.S. at that time was roughly one-third its current size, so the flu pandemic took a proportionately bigger toll on the population. That pandemic had a devastating effect on young people, including small children and young-to-middle-aged adults, while Covid-19 has hit older people hardest, according to health officials.

Author(s): Jon Kamp and Jennifer Calfas

Publication Date: 20 Sept 2021

Publication Site: WSJ

Pfizer, BioNTech Say Covid-19 Vaccine Is Safe for Children Aged 5 to 11

Link: https://www.wsj.com/articles/pfizer-biontech-say-covid-19-vaccine-is-safe-for-young-children-generates-immune-response-11632134701

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Pfizer Inc. and partner BioNTech SE said their Covid-19 vaccine was found to be safe in children ages 5 to 11 years in a late-stage study and generated a strong immune response in them, bringing the prospect of broader vaccination coverage closer.

Pfizer said it would share the results with regulators in the U.S. and other countries and seek emergency-use authorization in the U.S. as early as the end of the month.

The companies said the two-dose shot was found to be safe and well tolerated among the children in the study. The vaccine generated levels of antibodies that were similar to those of younger adults, meeting the study’s measurements of success, according to the companies.

Pfizer and BioNTech said they hadn’t yet determined vaccine efficacy — how well it protects against Covid-19 — for children in the age group. Not enough young subjects in the study have become sick to compare rates between children who got a vaccine and those who got a placebo, but researchers could still learn more as the trial continues.

Author(s): Jared S. Hopkins

Publication Date: 21 Sept 2021

Publication Site: Wall Street Journal

J&J: Booster dose of its COVID shot prompts strong response

Link: https://apnews.com/article/business-health-coronavirus-pandemic-science–4f86b7f00d354c289af17503eeb50824

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Johnson & Johnson released data showing that a booster dose to its one-shot coronavirus vaccine provides a strong immune response months after people receive a first dose.

J&J said in statement Tuesday that it ran two early studies in people previously given its vaccine and found that a second dose produced an increased antibody response in adults from age 18 to 55. The study’s results haven’t yet been peer-reviewed.

Publication Date: 21 Sept 2021

Publication Site: AP News

In The Fight Against COVID, Health Workers Aren’t Immune To Vaccine Misinformation

Link: https://www.npr.org/2021/09/18/1037975289/unvaccinated-covid-19-vaccine-refuse-nurses-heath-care-workers

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As new data shows 1 in 500 Americans has died from COVID-19 and the delta variant continues to surge across the country, the next challenge many health care leaders face is within their own staffs: the 27% of of U.S. health care workers who have not been vaccinated against the disease as of July, according to a study by The COVID States Project.

On top of that, other research shows that since the vaccine first became available to health care workers in December 2020, the rate of vaccination among nurses and nursing home aides has been lower than that of physicians. This may be of particular concern because nurses and aides have such frequent and close contact with patients.

Data shows health care workers have gotten the COVID-19 vaccine at a higher rate than the general population: 73% versus 64% of non-health care workers. And many may assume that people who work in health care industry are more enthusiastic about the vaccine and less apprehensive.

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While a majority of nurses are vaccinated and more than half support vaccine mandates in the workplace, some are pushing back against requirements to get vaccinated or face mandatory testing and say they would rather leave their jobs. And hospitals are already feeling the effects.

Author(s): Deepa Shivaram

Publication Date: 18 Sept 2021

Publication Site: NPR