The U.S. coronavirus infection rate being driven by the delta variant is more than 10 times the rate needed to end the pandemic, Dr. Anthony Fauci says.
Fauci, in an interview with Axios, said the nation is struggling with about 160,000 new cases a day – “not even modestly good control” – and won’t get appreciably better until more Americans are vaccinated, he said.
“The endgame is to suppress the virus,” Fauci said. “In a country of our size, you can’t be hanging around and having 100,000 infections a day. You’ve got to get well below 10,000 before you start feeling comfortable.”
More vaccinations won’t completely end infections, but ” you’re not going to have it as a public health threat,” he said. He said current variants, while troublesome, remain controllable with current vaccines. And, the longer it takes to end the pandemic, the more likely a “monster variant” will emerge that eludes vaccines, he said.
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► Severe coronavirus breakthrough infections are rare, and mostly happen in older people with other underlying health conditions, a new Yale University study revealed.
► Popular podcaster and UFC commentator Joe Rogan is criticizing media coverage, specifically from CNN, on how he was treating his COVID-19 diagnosis.
► At least 10 people died in North Macedonia in a fire that started at a makeshift hospital for COVID patients on Wednesday, public health officials said. The cause of the fire was not immediately known.
► The state of Hawaii is launching the Hawaii Smart Health Card, a digital vaccine card that will allow residents to use their smartphones to prove they’ve been vaccinated against COVID-19, as Honolulu and Maui begin implementing vaccine requirements in restaurants and other businesses.
📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has recorded more than 40.4 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 652,600 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. Global totals: More than 222.6 million cases and 4.5 million deaths. More than 177.1 million Americans – 53.3% of the population – have been fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.
📘 What we’re reading: After lying low for months since the Capitol insurrection Jan. 6, members of the far-right street gang the Proud Boys have been showing up at protests against mask mandates and coronavirus vaccine requirements. How the Proud Boys are offering muscle at anti-mask rallies.
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Pfizer’s vaccine contains only a fraction of a key active ingredient found in Moderna’s jab and also produces a lower antibody response, according to a study. A study of 1,600 Belgian health workers published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine produced twice as many antibodies as Pfizer’s at six to 10 weeks after vaccination.
Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine has 30 micrograms of mRNA, while Moderna’s has 100 micrograms. Philip Dormitzer, Pfizer’s chief scientific officer, told the Financial Times this week that Pfizer and its codeveloper BioNTech used the minimum dose level to get an immune response. A higher dose risked more side effects, he said.
“If you look at what’s going on with all the COVID-19 vaccines out there, the derailer has often been adverse events that have cropped up,” Dormitzer said. The vaccines, however, produce similar side effects, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
A new study by Minnesota researchers indicates that COVID vaccinations do not increase the chances of a miscarriage. The study, published this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association, reviewed data from more than 100,000 pregnancies. The data was drawn from eight major health systems – Kaiser Permanente: Washington, Northwest, Northern California, Southern California and Colorado; Denver Health; HealthPartners; and Marshfield Clinic, Wisconsin – from December 2020 through June 2021.
The results were similar for all the vaccines approved or authorized by the Food and Drug Administration.
Some states are nearing a point of having to ration care in hospitals as COVID hospitalizations surge. At Kootenai Health hospital in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, a conference center has been transformed into a field hospital with patients being treated with ventilators in classrooms. At the nearby hospital, COVID patients in emergency rooms are overflowing into hallways. On Tuesday, there were only nine intensive care beds available in the entire state, officials said. The state has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country: Only 40% fully vaccinated.
Kentucky, too, is rapidly approaching a crisis standard of care, its governor said Wednesday. More than two-thirds of hospitals are experiencing a critical staffing shortage, he said. Gov. Andy Beshear told CNN the state is “right at” or “quickly approaching that point” at which hospitals will have to begin rationing care.
“So we are at a very precarious situation,” he said.
The Biden administration says the U.S. has the capability to offer booster shots to its residents and share the vaccine to other nations, after the head of the World Health Organization called for a moratorium boosters until the end of the year.
Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that low-income countries cannot be “the second or third priority” for COVID-19 vaccines, saying their health workers, older people and other at-risk groups have the same right to be protected as those in wealthier countries.
But White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Wednesday said this was a “false choice.” Psaki said the U.S. has shared 140 million doses with over 90 countries to date. Boosters are expected to become available in the U.S. beginning Sept. 20 to those who have received two doses of an mRNA vaccine at least eight months prior.
“The president and this administration has a responsibility to do everything we can to protect people in the United States, in this country,” she said. .. Our view is we can do both.”
A Florida judge Wednesday blocked Gov. Ron DeSantis’ ban on mandatory masks at schools from remaining in effect while he appeals an earlier ruling that struck down his order.
Circuit Judge John Cooper approved a request by lawyers for parents suing DeSantis over masks, endorsing their position that keeping the ban in place would create a potential health risk in schools.
Throwing out the automatic stay of his earlier order is unusual, Cooper conceded. But he added, “We’re not in normal times. We’re in a pandemic.”
DeSantis had ordered that counties allow parents to have their children simply opt out of mask requirements. But Cooper ruled that school boards are empowered to mandate that all students wear face coverings, unless they obtain a medical exception.
-John Kennedy, Capital Bureau, USA TODAY Network-Florida
Contributing: The Associated Press