J&J may not be as effective against delta variant: COVID updates

Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine may not be as effective as those using mRNA technology, according to a new study Tuesday.

The study published by bioRxiv says the 13 million people who received the vaccine may need a second dose, ideally the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. Although the study was not peer-reviewed or published, the results are consistent with studies of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which conclude that a dose of the vaccine was 33% against symptomatic disorders of the Delta variant and 60% against the variant after the second dose is effective.

“The message we wanted to get across wasn’t that people were making the J. & J. Vaccine, but we hope it will either go with another dose of J. & J. or a boost with Pfizer or Moderna, ”Nathaniel Landau, virologist at New York University’s Grossman School of Medicine who led the study, told the New York Times.

The results contradict the studies published by Johnson & Johnson that say a single dose of their vaccine is effective against the variant.

The delta variant continues to spread in the US and accounts for about 83% of cases in the nation, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Not all vaccines are 100% effective, as the increase in cases in vaccinated people shows, but they have been shown to save people from serious illness.

Also on the news:

► The head of the World Health Organization says the Tokyo Olympics should not be judged by how many COVID-19 cases there are because it is impossible to eliminate risks.

►Las Vegas employees are now required to wear masks indoors, but the mandate won’t extend to tourists walking the Strip or congregating in crowded casinos, Clark County commissioners decided. The new mandate will remain in force until at least August 17th.

►Apple is reportedly postponing its return to office by at least a month until October due to the spread of the Delta variant, Bloomberg reported. CEO Tim Cook previously said employees would be returning to the office three days a week in September.

►A White House official and a staff member from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, tested positive for the coronavirus after attending an event together, a White House official confirmed. Both were fully vaccinated.

► Amazon will no longer test its warehouse workers at the end of the month due to vaccine availability and free testing, The Information reported. The initiative started last year when tests were difficult to secure, and reported that around 1.4% of their workers tested positive at some point in 2020.

📈Today’s numbers: There have been more than 34.1 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 609,000 deaths in the United States, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. The global totals: more than 191 million cases and 4.1 million deaths. According to the CDC, more than 161.4 million Americans – 48.6% of the population – have been fully vaccinated.

📘What we read: At a time when the infection rate has doubled, many remain unvaccinated, and the Delta variant is much more contagious than the original, it is important to realize that vaccines are not working properly.

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FEMA Funeral Assistance Fund not easy to draw

Americans who have lost loved ones to COVID-19 can apply for up to $ 9,000 in funeral aid, but some find the money hard to come by. More than $ 710 million has been distributed to 107,000 people so far. However, some applicants said they could provide FEMA with evidence that their relative had died of COVID if another cause of death, such as underlying conditions such as heart disease or diabetes, was listed on the death certificate – especially in the early days of the pandemic when testing was limited. FEMA says it is streamlining paperwork, but Kalpana Kpoto says she submitted paperwork to the FEMA website three times after her mother died last year. Her documents were eventually approved, but she didn’t see any money.

“I’m still waiting,” said Kpoto, “It’s a process.”

Life expectancy in the United States has fallen sharply since World War II

The United States saw the largest one-year decline in life expectancy since World War II during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the Hispanic and black populations saw the largest decline, according to government data released Wednesday.

Life expectancy at birth fell 1.5 years to 77.3 years in 2020 – the lowest level since 2003, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics. Between 1942 and 1943, during World War II, life expectancy in the United States decreased by 2.9 years.

“The numbers are devastating,” said Chantel Martin, assistant professor of epidemiology at the University of North Carolina’s Gillings School of Global Public Health at Chapel Hill. “The declines that we are seeing, particularly in the Hispanic and non-Hispanic black populations, are massive.”

Health experts said the life expectancy data is further evidence of the disproportionate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on color communities.

According to the data, COVID-19 deaths contributed approximately 74% of the decline in life expectancy in the general US population. Another 11% of the decrease can be attributed to the increase in deaths from accidental or accidental injuries, including deaths from drug overdose. Read more here.

– Grace Hauck

1 million children may have been orphaned as a result of the pandemic

A recent study shows further devastating effects of the coronavirus pandemic on children around the world. Boston Children’s Hospital researchers estimate that, according to their model, published Tuesday in The Lancet, more than a million children could have been orphaned from deaths related to COVID-19. They defined orphans as the loss of at least one parent.

Countries with the highest numbers of children who have lost primary caregivers include the United States, South Africa, Peru, India, Brazil, and Mexico. Read more here.

– Adrianna Rodriguez

Forest fire smoke can increase the risk of COVID-19

Scientists from Nevada argue in a new study that forest fire smoke can increase the risk of contracting the coronavirus. A study published last week by scientists at the Desert Research Institute found that coronavirus infection rates rose disproportionately during the 2020 forest fire season, when smoke from fires in neighboring states covered much of northern Nevada.

In an article in the Journal of Exposure Science & Environmental Epidemiology, Desert Research Institute researcher Daniel Kiser and four co-authors note that the test positive rate in Washoe County was during times when monitors measured high levels of particulate matter in the air , wildfire smoke increased significantly.

For every 10 micrograms per cubic meter of tiny particles known as PM2.5 in the air, the positivity rate increased by about 6.3% two to six days later, the study found. Kiser said the study was an observation and found the increase was due to other factors, such as the second increase last year, student return to schools, or changes in local restrictions. However, he said brief spikes during periods of high pollution suggest a link between smoke and the spread of the virus.

“This temporary connection in the midst of a huge surge in overall cases convinced us that something was going on,” he told the Associated Press.

Tennessee’s largest district will be masked mandatory this fall

Shelby County Schools, Tennessee’s largest district, will continue to require masks from all students and staff regardless of vaccination status, the district said. All district students must return to face-to-face learning on August 9 for the first time since the district closed in March 2020. Since then, personal participation has been optional for students. The teachers had to return in person in March last year.

The district says it is encouraging COVID-19 vaccinations but will not require them from students or staff.

“The district is aware of the increasing cases and the spread of the Delta variant,” says the SCS announcement. The move is in line with guidelines issued by the American Academy of Pediatrics on Monday urging students to study in person this school year and requiring all people to wear masks in schools regardless of vaccination status.

– Laura Testino, Commercial Appeal in Memphis

Contribution: The Associated Press

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