99% of COVID deaths are now of unvaccinated people, experts say


COVID cases, hospitalizations and deaths are rising again as the extremely contagious delta variant of the coronavirus takes hold as the dominant strain in the US. In some parts of the country, there are more hospitalizations and cases of COVID than there were last winter, the peak of the pandemic.

The vast majority of people being hospitalized with COVID and dying from the disease haven’t been fully vaccinated, according to public health officials. More than 97% of hospitalizations from COVID right now are of unvaccinated people, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, said Friday, adding: “There is a clear message that is coming through: This is becoming a pandemic of the unvaccinated.” In early July, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the president’s chief medical advisor, told CBS that 99.2% of COVID deaths are now in unvaccinated people.

In Texas, 99.5% of people who died from COVID from February through July 14 weren’t vaccinated, per the Texas Tribune’s reporting on preliminary data from the Texas Department of State Health Services. (Vaccines became available to adults in the state at the end of March. At-risk people were able to get them sooner.) In southern Missouri, an area that leads the nation as a delta variant hot spot, “almost every COVID-19 patient in Springfield’s hospitals is unvaccinated,” the Atlantic reported. The dozen or so that were vaccinated, according to the report, were elderly or immunocompromised — people for whom studies have shown vaccines are likely not as effective.

Can vaccinated people get long Covid? Doctors say risk is ‘very, very small’


Coronavirus infections leading to long-haul Covid-19 in fully vaccinated people are probably very rare, experts say.

The Covid-19 vaccines have been shown to significantly reduce infections, as well as the risk of severe consequences of the illness, including hospitalization and death. That means that if a fully vaccinated person does become infected, the illness is much more likely to be mild.

But for many Covid-19 long-haulers, it was a mild infection that set off their lingering symptoms, leaving many to wonder whether a mild breakthrough case in someone who is fully vaccinated could do the same.

It is theoretically possible, experts say, for that to occur. But doctors treating Covid-19 patients across the country contend that it doesn’t appear to be a significant risk.

Breakthrough infections resulting in long Covid-19 are “quite rare,” said Dr. Greg Vanichkachorn, an occupational medicine specialist who works with post-Covid-19 syndrome patients at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.

Vanichkachorn’s observation, while based only on what he’s seen in the clinic, is echoed at other post-Covid-19 clinics.

Dr. Michele Longo, an assistant professor of neurology at Tulane University in New Orleans who works with long-haul patients, said she has not seen such patients following a breakthrough infection. Neither has Dr. Maureen Lyons, medical director of the Care and Recovery from Covid-19 Clinic at Washington University in St. Louis.

Dr. Ziyad Al-Aly, a clinical epidemiologist, also at Washington University, is studying the effects of Covid-19 vaccination on the risk of long Covid-19. His research, which is not yet finished, looks at information on more than 5 million veterans within a Department of Veterans Affairs database, including 200,000 who were diagnosed with Covid-19.

“Of the people who get vaccinated and end up with a breakthrough infection, their risk of coming back to the clinic with some long Covid manifestation is very, very small,” Al-Aly said.

Canada to open border to fully vaccinated Americans in August


Canada will open its borders to fully vaccinated Americans next month after a nearly 17-month closure.

The move to ease border restrictions comes after significant gains in the country’s vaccination rate and a steady drop in Covid-19 cases.

If the virus progress continues, Canada will welcome all fully vaccinated international travellers by 7 September.

All travellers will need to present a negative Covid-19 test before entry.

The changes for American travellers and US permanent residents will go into place on 9 August.

The Canadian government first shut its borders in March 2020, barring entry to all non-essential foreign travellers with few exceptions.

Washington state reaches COVID vaccine goal: 70% of residents 16 and up have at least one shot


Washington state has reached its goal of 70% of residents 16 years and older initiating vaccination against the coronavirus.

That’s almost 8 million doses to 4.3 million Washingtonians with 3.9 million fully vaccinated people, officials with the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) said Wednesday during a news briefing.

A vaccination rate of 70% had been set as a goal nationally by President Joe Biden and in Washington by Gov. Jay Inslee, who had promised an early reopening of the state if the goal was reached before June 30, which did not happen. The state’s COVID-19 restrictions were eased on the last day of June.

Only 1% COVID Cases And Deaths Occurred In Fully Vaccinated New Yorkers This Year


Since the start of the year, unvaccinated New Yorkers have comprised the overwhelming majority of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths. That’s the takeaway from new data released Wednesday by the New York City Department of Health.

Of the half a million cases recorded between New Year’s Day and June 15th, just over 495,000 occurred in people who weren’t fully vaccinated. Compare that against about 5,200 infections in residents with all their shots. Likewise, those without a full course of shots accounted for approximately 8,000 COVID deaths over this period. The fully vaccinated experienced just 94 deaths.

“As the city’s doctor, what keeps me up at night is thinking about those New Yorkers who are still unvaccinated,” Dr. Dave Chokshi, New York City Health Commissioner, said at a press briefing on Wednesday. “I think about how much suffering COVID-19 caused in our city over the past year and a half. I think about the grief and the trauma and the empty chairs around the dinner table. The good news is so much of that suffering is now avoidable because of the vaccine.”

Overall, New Yorkers who weren’t fully vaccinated comprised 98 percent of cases, hospitalizations and deaths.

Canada to reach 55M vaccine doses by week’s end, catching up to U.S. on second doses


Canada is expecting vaccine shipments to keep rolling in this week as the country inches closer to matching the percentage of people in the United States fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

The federal government expects another 1.4 million doses of the shot from Pfizer-BioNTech to arrive in the next seven days.

It also plans to distribute the 1.5 million doses from Moderna that came in last Friday.

By the end of the week, Canadian officials expect to have received a total of more than 55 million doses including the latest shipments, though those figures may change.

The federal government has promised that it would reach 68 million shots delivered by the end of July and says it’s still on track to hit that target.

Fauci says all 3 COVID-19 vaccines effective against delta variant


All three COVID-19 vaccines approved for emergency use by the FDA — Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson — are effective against the highly infectious delta variant, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert said during a White House press briefing Thursday.

“The world is understandably worried about the delta virus variant,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said. “The vaccines indeed are effective against it.”

Fauci cited various studies, including three separate real-world studies which showed Pfizer was 79%, 88% and 96% effective against the delta variant.

Fauci noted a study in Scotland, which showed two doses of the Pfizer vaccine were 79% protective against the variant. Meanwhile, a study from England showed that in symptomatic infection, two doses of the Pfizer vaccine were 88% effective. In hospitalizations in England, two doses of the vaccine were shown to be 96% effective.

In one study, researchers in England studied how effective the two-dose AstraZeneca and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines were against the fast-spreading delta strain compared with the alpha variant that was first detected in the U.K. The vaccines were protective for those who got both doses but were less so among those who got one dose.

“You can make a real-world assumption that our data, applicable to Pfizer, are also applicable to Moderna,” Fauci said.

Covid-19 vaccines saved nearly 280,000 lives in the US, new research estimates


Covid-19 vaccines saved hundreds of thousands of lives and prevented more than a million hospitalizations in the United States, according to new estimates from researchers at Yale University and the Commonwealth Fund.

The researchers compared actual trends in Covid-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths against a modeled trajectory of what those trends would have been if there had been no vaccinations.

By the end of June, the researchers estimate that there would have been about 279,000 additional deaths due to Covid-19 — about 46% more than there were — and as many as 1.25 million additional hospitalizations if there were no vaccinations. And if vaccinations had progressed at half the pace that they did, about 121,000 more people may have died and more than 450,000 more would have been hospitalized.

Illinois reports no new COVID-19 deaths for first time since March 2020


For the first time in nearly 16 months, Illinois has gone a full day without losing a resident to COVID-19.

The Illinois Department of Public Health reported no new COVID-19 fatalities Monday, which hadn’t happened previously since March 16, 2020 — a few days before Gov. J.B. Pritzker ordered residents to stay inside their homes as much as possible to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus.

But for now, the end of a miserable 476-day stretch with viral deaths is the latest sign of optimism for a state slowly emerging from the pandemic.

“We all are very, very pleased that our infection rate in the state of Illinois is way down. The number of cases, the number of hospitalizations, the number of deaths — way, way down,” Pritzker said at an unrelated news conference. “The vaccines have done the work. Thank god for the vaccines.”

Johnson & Johnson’s COVID Vaccine Is Effective Against The Delta Variant, Studies Find


Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine offers strong protection against the delta variant of the coronavirus, the company said Thursday. And the protection appears to last at least eight months.

The results follow similar announcements about the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, in the fight against the fast-spreading delta strain.

In one small laboratory study, researchers observed what happened to the blood of eight vaccinated individuals when it was exposed to the delta variant. And they found that antibodies and immune system cells in the blood were highly effective at neutralizing the virus.

A second study involving 20 patients at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston showed similar results.