Covid-19, Booster Shots and Vaccine News: Live Updates


ImageA student receives the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine at James Madison High School in the Bronx in September.
Credit…James Estrin/The New York Times

A second dose of the coronavirus vaccines made by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna can nearly triple the chances of a rare heart condition in young men, according to a large new study published on Monday. But the absolute risk of the condition, called myocarditis, remains extremely low.

The study found 5.8 cases per million second doses in men, with an average age of 25 years. The risk after the first dose was much less, at 0.8 cases per million, not more than normally would be seen in that age group. The findings were published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.

The results may be underestimates. The researchers tracked the medical status of vaccinated individuals for only a short time, and may have missed people whose heart problems were not severe enough to require hospitalization.

Concerns about myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle, have been the subject of intense discussion among advisers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and may have led the Food and Drug Administration to ask vaccine manufacturers to expand their clinical trials in younger children.

Experts have thus far said that the benefits of the vaccines far outweigh the rare risk of myocarditis. But citing the heart condition as a worry, regulators in some countries like Britain and Hong Kong have recommended a single dose of the vaccine for adolescents aged 12 to 15 years.

Other studies have also found that vaccination increases the risk of myocarditis. An Israeli study published in August looked at the electronic health records of about 2 million people and found an additional 2.7 cases of myocarditis for every 100,000 vaccinated people, compared with unvaccinated ones.

But the same research found that the risk of myocarditis from having Covid-19 was much higher, resulting in an extra 11 cases of the condition for every 100,000 infected people.

The C.D.C. has estimated that of a million second doses given to boys ages 12 to 17, the vaccines might cause a maximum of 70 myocarditis cases, but would prevent 5,700 infections, 215 hospitalizations and two deaths.

In the new study, researchers analyzed the medical records of 2.4 million members of the Kaiser Permanente Southern California health care system, aged 18 years or older. The participants had received at least one dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines between Dec. 14, 2020, and July 20, 2021.

The team identified individuals who were hospitalized within 10 days of receiving a vaccine dose and discharged with a diagnosis of myocarditis. The researchers found 15 cases of confirmed myocarditis in the vaccinated group, 13 of which were observed after the second dose.

None of those affected had a history of heart problems, and none were readmitted to the hospital after being discharged.

Credit…Bryan Anselm for The New York Times

Johnson & Johnson is planning to ask U.S. regulators early this week to authorize a booster shot of its coronavirus vaccine, according to officials familiar with the company’s plans. The firm is the last of the three federally authorized vaccine providers to call for extra injections, amid mounting evidence that at least older adults and others in high-risk groups need more protection.

Federal officials have become increasingly worried that the more than 15 million Americans who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine face too much risk of severe Covid-19. The Food and Drug Administration on Friday scheduled an Oct. 15 meeting of its expert advisory committee to discuss whether to grant emergency use authorization of a booster shot of the vaccine.

That is part of a broader effort by the government to shore up the protection provided by all three vaccines. Regulators last month authorized a booster shot for many recipients of Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine and are contemplating doing the same this month for recipients of Moderna’s.

The fact that the advisory committee meeting on Johnson & Johnson was scheduled even before the company filed an application to the Food and Drug Administration reflects a particular sense of urgency in the Biden administration to provide more protection to recipients of that vaccine.

Although the federal government has emphasized for months that all three vaccines are highly effective, a recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose vaccine was only 71 percent effective against hospitalization from Covid, compared with 88 percent for Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine and 93 percent for Moderna’s.

“Real-world data suggest that the two-dose Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech mRNA vaccine regimens provide more protection” than the single dose of Johnson & Johnson, the researchers said. Other research found that Johnson & Johnson recipients were more likely to have breakthrough infections or symptomatic Covid than recipients of the other two vaccines.

Johnson & Johnson cites some studies with better results: A study of nearly two million people, funded by the company, estimated that the vaccine was 81 percent effective against hospitalization. Other research suggests that protection from Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine does not wane over time like protection from Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine.

Nonetheless, Johnson & Johnson now appears to agree with federal officials that a single shot of its vaccine is not enough.

Last month, the company announced that a second dose, given two months after the first, increased the vaccine’s effectiveness against symptomatic Covid by about 22 percentage points, to 94 percent. Johnson & Johnson also said two shots were 100 percent effective against severe disease, although that estimate was less conclusive.

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Eliminating Covid-19 Is ‘Incredibly Difficult,’ Jacinda Ardern Says

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern of New Zealand acknowledged an end to the country’s “Covid zero” strategy, seven weeks into a lockdown that had failed to halt an outbreak of the Delta variant.

The health advice has been that to date, we’ve managed to largely control the outbreak, but as you can see with this outbreak and with Delta, the return to zero is incredibly difficult. And our restrictions alone are not enough to achieve it quickly. In fact, for this outbreak, it’s clear that long periods of heavy restrictions has not got us to zero cases, but that is OK. Elimination was important because we didn’t have vaccines. Now we do, so we can begin to change the way we do things. We have more options, and there’s good cause for us to feel optimistic about the future, but we cannot rush. That’s why we need to continue to contain and control the virus as much as possible while we make our transition from a place where we only use heavy restrictions to a place where we use vaccines and everyday public health measures. We need to keep using the tools we have. We need to vaccinate. We need to test. We need to find cases. We need to isolate them and actively control any outbreak now and in the future.

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Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern of New Zealand acknowledged an end to the country’s “Covid zero” strategy, seven weeks into a lockdown that had failed to halt an outbreak of the Delta variant.CreditCredit…Mark Mitchell/Mark Mitchell/NZME, via Associated Press

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern of New Zealand acknowledged an end on Monday to the country’s strategy of eliminating the coronavirus, announcing that restrictions would be gradually lifted in Auckland, the country’s largest city.

Ms. Ardern’s announcement — which came seven weeks into a lockdown that has failed to halt an outbreak of the Delta variant — signaled an end to the “Covid zero” strategy New Zealand has pursued for a year and a half, closing its borders and quickly enforcing lockdowns to keep the coronavirus in check.

The nation maintained that goal even as other Asia-Pacific countries transitioned to coexisting with the viral threat. On Monday, Ms. Ardern said the country would switch to “a new way of doing things.”

“With Delta, the return to zero is incredibly difficult, and our restrictions alone are not enough to achieve that quickly,” Ms. Ardern told reporters. “In fact, for this outbreak, it’s clear that long periods of heavy restrictions has not got us to zero cases.”

“What we have called a long tail,” she added, “feels more like a tentacle that has been incredibly hard to shake.”

Overall, New Zealand’s approach to the virus has been a spectacular success, giving it one of the lowest rates of cases and deaths in the world, and allowing its people to live without restrictions during most of the pandemic. But the transmissibility of the Delta variant has challenged the old playbook and made lockdowns effective at containing the virus.

New Zealand is still reporting dozens of new cases a day, almost all of them in Auckland, after the latest outbreak began in mid-August.

The mood among many in Auckland has soured as the most recent lockdown has stretched on, with thousands of people breaking a stay-at-home order on Saturday to demonstrate against the restrictions. Vaccinations have also lagged, with fewer than half of people 12 and older having been fully vaccinated, far behind most developed countries.

Ms. Ardern began to acknowledge the discontent two weeks ago, when she announced, after more than a month of a highly restrictive stay-at-home order, that some rules would be relaxed in Auckland even as much of the lockdown order remained in place.

In Australian cities like Sydney and Melbourne, leaders have said they are abandoning a zero-Covid approach but have kept in place some heavy restrictions. Singapore, too, has shifted to what it calls living with the virus, using metrics like hospitalizations and deaths instead of caseloads to guide its reopening now that it has vaccinated much of its population. China is perhaps the last major country to pursue a Covid-zero approach.

To move away from lockdowns altogether, New Zealand will have to achieve widespread vaccination, Ms. Ardern said. Some 79 percent of people 12 and older have received at least one dose, and 48 percent have received two doses, according to data from the Ministry of Health. Full immunization of the population — New Zealand’s stated aim — could take months.

The country’s most at-risk communities are also its least vaccinated. While more than 95 percent of people of Asian descent and 80 percent of white people have received at least one dose, the figure falls to about 73 percent for Pacific Islanders and less than 57 percent for Maori people.

In a post on Twitter, the Maori writer and political commentator Morgan Godfery expressed concern about what abandoning the elimination strategy might mean for those in disadvantaged communities.

“The PM says we must now live with the virus,” he wrote. “But the ‘we’ means these same lines of inequality. The virus will now burrow in gangs, the transitional housing community, and unvaccinated brown people. In 2020, Jacinda asked for shared sacrifice. In 2021, it’s a particular sacrifice.”

Credit…Hannah Mckay/Reuters

LONDON — England on Monday streamlined its coronavirus restrictions on international travel in and out of the country and eased testing and quarantine requirements for fully vaccinated arrivals, citing the success of Britain’s vaccination campaign.

The change, which went into effect at 4 a.m. local time, replaced a three-tier traffic light-inspired system with a single “red” list of countries and territories that present the highest risk.

Critics had complained that the old system — which periodically involved the government altering the risk status of countries and which left Britons scrambling to figure out the latest rules during vacations — had caused confusion within the travel industry.

“We are accelerating towards a future where travel continues to reopen safely and remains open for good,” Grant Shapps, Britain’s transportation secretary, said in a statement, “and today’s rule changes are good news for families, businesses and the travel sector.” Mr. Shapps attributed the move to the vaccination rate; 67 percent of the population of the United Kingdom is fully vaccinated.

Under the new rules, fully vaccinated travelers entering England will no longer be required to take a pre-departure coronavirus test when returning from a country that is not on the red list. And though travelers must still pay for a test to take on the second day after their return, beginning later this month, the government said it would accept less expensive rapid tests over polymerase chain reaction, or P.C.R., tests.

Arrivals who tested positive, however, would still need to isolate and take a P.C.R. test, “which would be genomically sequenced to help identify new variants,” the government said.

Testing and quarantine requirements for those who are not fully vaccinated remain the same, as do rules for those entering from “red” list countries.

After the success of a pilot test involving arrivals from United States and Europe, England will also begin a phased approach to recognizing vaccinations that have been administered in other countries and territories, expanding that list on Monday to over 50 countries including the United Arab Emirates, Japan and Canada.

In the past week, Britain reported an average of 33,779 daily cases and 112 daily deaths, according to a New York Times database. Cases have increased by 16 percent from the average two weeks ago.

Credit…Anna Watts for The New York Times

New York City’s requirement that virtually everyone who works in the city’s public schools be vaccinated against the coronavirus compelled thousands of Department of Education employees to get a Covid shot in the past week, leading to extremely high vaccination rates among educators, according to preliminary data released on Friday.

At least 98 percent of principals and 93 percent of teachers, as well as 90 percent of non-education staff members, had been vaccinated by Friday, city officials said.

The union that represents city teachers, which has been tracking vaccinations among its members separately, said that about 95 percent of its members had received at least one vaccine dose.

New York’s mandate, which takes effect when the school day starts on Monday, is the mayor’s first attempt at requiring vaccination without a test-out option for any city workers. The requirement applies to well over 150,000 people who work in the nation’s largest school system.

School employees who did not show proof that they had received at least one vaccine dose were automatically placed on unpaid leave late Friday. Anyone who got a shot over the weekend would be allowed to report to school Monday and added back to the payroll.

Educators who do not provide vaccination proof will be barred from entering schools and placed on unpaid leave, with health insurance, for a year. Those who get vaccinated after Monday can return after they have received a first dose.

While the mandate clearly pushed many employees to get vaccinated, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s decision to impose it will be further tested this week, as some schools grapple with possible staff shortages caused by the departure of unvaccinated employees.

At many schools, the mandate will have little to no effect. But some schools are likely to have to call on large numbers of substitute teachers. Others will probably have to switch from serving hot lunches to offering grab-and-go options because of a lack of cafeteria aides.

As of Friday afternoon, about 4,000 teachers were still unvaccinated, and about 30 principals or assistant principals had not received a shot. About 15,000 non-education staff members were not vaccinated.

Union officials said they were particularly concerned about school safety agents who had refused to get vaccinated. They work for the Police Department and cannot be easily replaced.

Credit…Jeff Chiu/Associated Press

Andrew Wiggins, the Golden State Warriors guard who had resisted getting a Covid-19 vaccine, has received one, the team’s coach, Steve Kerr, told reporters on Sunday.

This means Wiggins will be able to play in home games in San Francisco, since city ordinances require individuals to be fully vaccinated to enter facilities such as indoor gyms. Wiggins had attempted to circumvent those restrictions by filing for a religious exemption, which the N.B.A. denied.

The N.B.A. had said publicly that if players in markets with similar mandates — meaning the Nets and the Knicks, who play in New York, and the Warriors, who play in San Francisco — could not play because of their unvaccinated status, they could lose salary.

Initially, it seemed Wiggins would hold out and miss the home games. He told reporters last week that his back “was against the wall, but I’m just going to keep fighting for what I believe.”

The league has said in recent days that 95 percent of N.B.A. players had received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine. The players’ union has rejected instituting a leaguewide vaccine mandate. Wiggins was one in a small group of prominent players who were unvaccinated. But Wiggins did receive support from vaccinated teammates like Draymond Green, who said he wouldn’t push Wiggins to take the vaccine.

“To me, it feels like it has turned into a political war,” Green told reporters last week. “When you are talking about vaccination and nonvaccinated, I think it’s become very political. And for someone who is not extremely into politics, when you make something so political and not everyone is into politics, then you can also turn those people off. I think there is something to be said for people’s concern about something that’s being pressed so hard. Like, why are you pressing this so hard?”

Green’s comments received support from the N.B.A.’s biggest star, LeBron James, as well as a frequent critic of the N.B.A., Senator Ted Cruz, Republican from Texas. The senator also said in a Twitter post on Wednesday, “I stand with Andrew Wiggins,” as well as other unvaccinated players, including Jonathan Isaac of the Orlando Magic and the Washington Wizards’ Bradley Beal.

Credit…Jim Wilson/The New York Times

The churning disruption in the global supply chain has now reached the world of books, just as the holiday season — a crucial time for publishers and bookstores — approaches.

Publishers are postponing some release dates because books aren’t where they need to be. Older books are also being affected, as suppliers struggle to replenish them.

To get a book printed and into customers’ hands, there are essentially two different supply chains. On both paths, at virtually every step, there is a problem.

Books that require a lot of color, like picture books, are often printed in Asia. But transporting cargo to the United States has become excruciating, with every imaginable product jostling for position.

First, there aren’t enough shipping containers. Publishing professionals say that a container, which can hold roughly 35,000 books, used to cost them about $2,500 but can now be as much as $25,000.

Once books get into a container, the ship carrying it is likely to wait in line to dock at a backed-up port. Last month, a record 73 ships were bobbing around in the water near the Port of Los Angeles and the Port of Long Beach.

Worker shortages are also slowing down operations at warehouses and distribution centers. Companies are raising wages to attract more staff members, but they’re competing with others who are doing the same thing. And the virus has aggravated staffing issues, as some workers get sick and others are told to quarantine. At some book distribution centers, one executive said, vaccination rates are low.

All of these problems compound one another, and there isn’t much anyone in the book business can do to fix things.





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J&J Booster Data, Travel Advisory, Return to School Visits – NBC Chicago


Johnson & Johnson released new data surrounding booster shots of the single-dose coronavirus vaccine, showing they provide a strong immune response months after people receive a first dose. But what will that mean for those who already got their first dose vaccine?

Plus, U.S. Secretary of Education of Miguel Cardona is scheduled to make three stops in Illinois and a “special announcement” at a suburban Chicago school as part of a “Return to School Road Trip.”

Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus pandemic across Illinois today:

Chicago Travel Advisory Set for Update Tuesday

Chicago’s travel advisory is set for an update Tuesday, one week after the city removed Connecticut and the District of Columbia from its list.

The removal of the state and territory marked the only two locations to be taken off the city’s travel warning list, which recommends unvaccinated travelers from such locations test negative for COVID-19 and quarantine.

“I’m happy to say that we do have two states, well technically one state – Connecticut, and then D.C., Washington D.C. – that have now come off the travel advisory,” Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said during a Facebook Live last week. “So the rest of the country is still on, but it’s nice to see a little bit of progress. Connecticut is one of the most vaccinated areas, and so hopefully we’ll continue to see states turn yellow on this map.”

States are added to the advisory’s “orange list” when COVID metrics rise above the threshold of 15 cases per day per 100,000 people. Any below that mark are on the “yellow” list, with public health officials still warning against non-essential travel.

US Education Secretary to Make 3 Stops in Illinois, ‘Special Announcement’

U.S. Secretary of Education of Miguel Cardona is scheduled to make three stops in Illinois Tuesday as part of a “Return to School Road Trip,” with a “special announcement” expected during one of the events.

Cardona will first visit Walter R. Sundling Junior High School in Palatine for what he and Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker say will be a “special announcement,” though further details on what it might be have not yet been released. U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy will also be attendance.

Cardona will also tour a health center in Cicero administering COVID-19 vaccinations and Chicago State University, where he will host a roundtable discussion on “the future of predominantly Black institutions and equity in education.”

The bus tour taking place this week aims to “highlight schools and communities that have safely welcomed students back to in-person learning,” according to a release from the U.S. Department of Education.

Read more here.

J&J Says 2nd Dose of Its COVID-19 Vaccine Boosts Protection

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.

Read more here.

Chicago-Area Doctors Express Hope After Pfizer Says COVID Vaccine Safe for Kids Ages 5 to 11

Pfizer says it’s ready to seek approval from the FDA to give its coronavirus vaccine to kids ages 5-to-11, and Chicago area doctors are hailing that news as an important step forward in finally stamping out the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We have been anticipating this. We’re really excited about it. Waiting for the EUA (Emergency Use Authorization) to go in before we can look at the final data,” said Dr. Frank Belmonte,Chief Medical Officer at Advocate Children’s Hospital.

After clinical trials involving more than 2,268 children, age 5 to 11, Pfizer and BioNTech say the vaccine showed “robust neutralizing antibody responses,” and that research shows that it is safe for children to take.

The clinical trial consisted of a two-dose regimen, 21 days apart, with children in the younger age group getting a smaller dose of vaccine than what’s been authorized for individuals ages 12 and up.

COVID Vaccine for Children Under 12: Pfizer’s Latest Update, Timing and More

Pfizer’s latest announcement that its COVID-19 vaccine works for children ages 5 to 11 and that it will seek U.S. authorization for this age group soon marked a key step toward beginning vaccinations for youngsters. But when could that happen?

Dr. Bill Gruber, a Pfizer senior vice president, told The Associated Press the companies aim to apply to the Food and Drug Administration by the end of the month for emergency use in this age group, followed shortly afterward with applications to European and British regulators.

Earlier this month, FDA chief Dr. Peter Marks told the AP that once Pfizer turns over its study results, his agency would evaluate the data “hopefully in a matter of weeks” to decide if the shots are safe and effective enough for younger kids.

The timeline follows earlier predictions from health care experts who said authorization could come this fall for kids under 12.

Read more.

FDA Approval, Kids, Boosters and More: Which COVID Vaccine is Best for You?

From booster shots to FDA approval and emergency use authorization to efficacy against the delta variant and more, how do the COVID vaccines compare to each other and which is best for you?

There are various reasons why someone might choose a particular vaccine, but according to medical experts, the most important thing is getting vaccinated.

Still, it’s a question many ask as they prepare for their vaccination.

According to medical experts, the three vaccines currently available in the U.S. each offer protection, but certain factors could determine which vaccine you are eligible to receive.

Here’s a breakdown of what we know so far about each vaccine.

Pfizer Says COVID-19 Vaccine Works in Kids Ages 5 to 11

Pfizer said Monday its COVID-19 vaccine works for children ages 5 to 11 and that it will seek U.S. authorization for this age group soon — a key step toward beginning vaccinations for youngsters.

The vaccine made by Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech already is available for anyone 12 and older. But with kids now back in school and the extra-contagious delta variant causing a huge jump in pediatric infections, many parents are anxiously awaiting vaccinations for their younger children.

For elementary school-aged kids, Pfizer tested a much lower dose — a third of the amount that’s in each shot given now. Yet after their second dose, children ages 5 to 11 developed coronavirus-fighting antibody levels just as strong as teenagers and young adults, Dr. Bill Gruber, a Pfizer senior vice president, told The Associated Press.

The kid dosage also proved safe, with similar or fewer temporary side effects — such as sore arms, fever or achiness — that teens experience, he said.

Read more here.

Cook County Health Officials to Discuss Booster Shots

Cook County officials are set to hold a press conference Monday to “discuss booster shots, the Trust Us vaccine ad campaign, and provide an update on the COVID-19 pandemic in Cook County.”

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, Cook County Health CEO Israel Rocha, CCH Chief Medical Officer Dr. Claudia Fegan and Cook County Department of Public Health Co-leads Dr. Kiran Joshi and Dr. Rachel Rubin will be among those speaking at the press conference, scheduled for 9 a.m.

Watch it live in the player above.

FDA Panel’s Decision to Reject COVID Booster Shot for Broad Use Explained

A Food and Drug Administration panel of outside experts overwhelmingly rejected a plan Friday to give Pfizer COVID-19 booster shots across the board, but instead agreed to distribute extra doses to people 65 and up as well as those at high risk of severe illness.

The twin votes represented a heavy blow to the Biden administration’s sweeping effort, announced a month ago, to shore up nearly all Americans’ protection amid the spread of the highly contagious delta variant.

Members voted against that recommendation to give a third shot of Pfizer’s vaccine to individuals age 16 and up, citing concerns about the level of evidence showing the boosters are safe for younger people. 

Here’s a full breakdown of what happened and why.

Where to Find Rapid, Drive-Up and Appointment-Free COVID Tests Near Chicago

With increased COVID-19 testing across Illinois, more residents have been searching for convenient ways to receive a coronavirus test in the Chicago area.

The Illinois Department of Public Health provides community-based testing sites, which are open to all residents regardless of symptoms and do not require appointments.

Here are the locations in the Chicago area.

Coronavirus by the Numbers: More Than 200 COVID Outbreaks Reported in Illinois Schools

More than 200 coronavirus outbreaks have been reported at schools across Illinois, with several involving more than a dozen cases at educational institutions, according to statewide data.

The latest figures from the Illinois Department of Public Health show 206 outbreaks are active at Illinois schools as of Friday, including 26 in Cook County alone.

Read more here.

Moderna vs. Pfizer: Is One Vaccine Stronger Against Delta Variant?

With many now able to choose which COVID vaccine they receive, questions surrounding which offers better protection against the now-surging delta variant have spiked.

Several studies have been conducted to determine vaccine effectiveness, but is one vaccine actually better than the others?

According to medical experts, the three vaccines currently available in the U.S. each offer protection.

Here’s a breakdown of what we know so far about each vaccine.



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Covid-19 Live Updates: Travel Restrictions, Booster Shots and Vaccines


ImageTravelers exiting a terminal at Los Angeles International Airport in May.
Credit…Frederic J. Brown/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The Biden administration will lift travel restrictions starting in November on those from abroad who are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, ending a travel ban implemented to limit the spread of disease and reopening the United States to relatives who have been separated from families and employees from businesses.

Foreign travelers who provide proof that they are fully vaccinated before boarding a flight will be able to fly to the United States starting in “early November,” Jeff Zients, the White House pandemic coordinator, said Monday.

“International travel is critical to connecting families and friends, to fueling small and large businesses, to promoting the open exchange ideas and culture,” Mr. Zients said. “That’s why, with science and public health as our guide, we have developed a new international air travel system that both enhances the safety of Americans here at home and enhances the safety of international air travel.”

The administration has restricted travel for foreigners looking to fly to the United States from a group of European countries, Iran and China for more than a year. Fully vaccinated travelers will also need to show proof of a negative test for the coronavirus within three days before coming to the United States, Mr. Zients said.

Unvaccinated Americans overseas aiming to travel home will have to clear stricter testing requirements. They will need to test negative for the coronavirus one day before traveling to the United States and will need to be tested again after arriving, Mr. Zients said. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will also soon issue an order directing airlines to collect phone numbers and email addresses of travelers for a new contact-tracing system. Authorities will then follow up with the travelers after arrival to ask whether they are experiencing symptoms of the virus.

The administration’s action came on the eve of a visit by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who was expected to press Mr. Biden to lift the ban. British officials had hoped the president would announce a relaxation of restrictions when he came to Cornwall, England, in June for the Group of 7 summit meeting and were disappointed when he did not. Their frustration has only deepened since then.

British officials note that the United States had not imposed a similar ban on people from Caribbean nations, which had a higher rate of infection than Britain, or from Argentina, which had lower percentage of its population vaccinated. About 82 percent of people in Britain above the age of 16 have had two shots.

The European Union and Britain both allowed fully vaccinated people from the United States to travel without quarantining and officials there were annoyed when the United States did not reciprocate.

The ban, European officials point out, has kept families separated since March 2020, when former President Donald J. Trump first announced it, as the coronavirus was erupting across Europe. European countries have weathered a third wave of infections propelled by the Delta variant. But in several countries, including Britain, infection rates have begun to level off and even decline.

Stephen Castle contributed reporting from London.

Credit…Anna Watts for The New York Times

New York City will introduce weekly coronavirus testing at all public schools starting next week, Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Monday, as officials try to strengthen safety protocols.

The city’s powerful teachers’ union called on Sunday for the city to conduct weekly surveillance testing in schools, instead of the current policy of testing students every other week.

Mr. de Blasio, a Democrat in his final year in office, also announced a change to quarantine rules: Unvaccinated students will not have to quarantine if they had close contact with a student who tested positive — if they were masked and three feet apart. The announcement signaled a relaxing of the previous quarantine rules, which required unvaccinated close contacts of a student who tested positive to quarantine for 10 days.

The new rules are set to take effect on Sept. 27, the same day that a vaccine mandate for teachers and other school staff is expected to go into effect.

Michael Mulgrew, the president of the teachers’ union, the United Federation of Teachers, wrote a letter to Mr. de Blasio on Sunday calling on the city to strengthen its testing policy.

“While so far our public schools have successfully reopened, I am concerned that this year’s reduced frequency of Covid testing means that thousands of children will spend days in classrooms without the early warning system that last year made our schools among the safest places in the community,” Mr. Mulgrew said in the letter.

Credit…Matthew Busch for The New York Times

The Food and Drug Administration is likely to authorize Pfizer booster shots this week for many Americans at high risk of falling seriously ill from the coronavirus, now that a key advisory committee has voted to recommend the measure.

On Friday, a panel of experts endorsed offering Pfizer booster shots for ages 65 and older, and people 16 and over who are at high risk of getting severe Covid-19 or who work in settings that make them more likely to get infected.

The agency, which often follows the committee’s advice but is not required to, is expected to decide early this week. An advisory committee of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is scheduled to meet Wednesday and Thursday to discuss booster shots before that agency — which sets vaccine policy — issues its recommendations.

The decision on Pfizer booster shots is just one of a series of key questions that the agency is expected to consider in coming weeks. Officials have said they expect to soon have data on whether boosters are needed for people who got the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines.

Also expected this fall is a decision on a shot for children ages 5 to 11, an intensely watched issue given that about 48 million children are not yet eligible for a vaccine, but have largely returned to classrooms. On Monday, Pfizer said that a trial showed that its vaccine produced a strong immune response in children ages 5 to 11, and officials have said they expect results from Moderna’s children’s trial later this fall.

Interviewed on Sunday-morning news shows, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease doctor and an adviser to President Biden, asked Americans to be patient and not to get a booster shot until they were eligible. That includes people 65 and over who received the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines.

“We’re working on that right now to get the data to the F.D.A., so they can examine it and make a determination about the boosters for those people,” he said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “They’re not being left behind by any means.”

Last month, the Biden administration proposed a plan that would have made all vaccinated Americans eligible for a booster shot eight months after their second shot, or their first in the case of the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

But the expert panel concluded that boosters were not necessary for most younger, healthier Americans, unless their jobs put them at special risk for infection.

Jobs in that category would include health care workers, emergency responders and teachers, according to Dr. Peter Marks, who oversees the F.D.A.’s vaccine division.

Whatever the F.D.A. decides about boosters this week, Dr. Fauci predicted it will likely be revised as more data comes in. “In real time, more and more data are accumulating,” he said on ABC’s “This Week.” “There will be a continual re-examination of that data, and potential modification of recommendations.”

Dr. Francis S. Collins, the director of the National Institutes of Health, echoed those remarks on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” saying that the category of who is eligible for an extra shot was likely to be expanded in the “coming weeks.”

F.D.A. officials will also spend the coming weeks and months evaluating vaccines for children under 12. On Sunday on ABC, Dr. Fauci said a decision on children’s vaccines would certainly come “this fall,” adding, “sometime in the mid- to late fall, we will be seeing enough data from the children from 11 down to 5 to be able to make a decision to vaccinate them.” A decision on vaccines for children under 5 would come after that.

The flurry of decisions comes as public health officials hope to avoid a repeat of last fall and winter, when a surge of infections led to peak levels of hospitalizations and deaths in the United States.

The extremely transmissible Delta variant now accounts for more than 99 percent of cases tracked in the country, according to the C.D.C. While hospitalizations and new cases have started to trend slowly downward, deaths have topped an average of 2,000 a day for the first time since March 1, according to a New York Times database. Vaccinations have been shown to protect against severe illness brought on by the variant.

Dr. Fauci said on Sunday that the key to avoiding a fall and winter surge would be encouraging adults who were eligible but still unvaccinated to change their mind.

“I believe if we get that overwhelming majority of the people vaccinated as we enter into the fall and winter, we can have good control over this and not have a really bad winter at all,” he said on “Meet the Press.”

Credit…Atul Loke for The New York Times

India’s health minister said on Monday that the country would resume exports of Covid-19 vaccines, five months after halting shipments during its own devastating wave of infections.

The health minister, Mansukh Mandaviya, said that exports would resume starting next month, and that the vaccines would help fulfill India’s commitment to Covax, the United Nations-backed vaccine sharing initiative.

He said that India would produce more than 300 million vaccine doses in October and a total of at least a billion over the final three months of 2021.

“We will help the world and also fulfill our commitment toward Covax,” Mr. Mandaviya said.

The minister did not specify which vaccines India would supply to Covax, or how many doses. Before halting exports in April, the country exported 66.4 million doses, a combination of commercial sales, grants and shipments to Covax, which is designed mainly to help low- and middle- income countries.

India’s decision comes as its domestic vaccination campaign has picked up after a slow start. The government says it expects to finish inoculating all 944 million adults in the country by December.

So far, 61 percent of adults in India have received their first dose, according to government data. The two main vaccines in use are Covishield, the local name for the AstraZeneca vaccine, manufactured in India by the Serum Institute of India, and Covaxin, produced by the Indian company Bharat Biotech.

The decision on exports comes days before India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrives in the United States, where he is scheduled to participate in a summit including President Biden and the leaders of Australia and Japan, and to speak at the annual gathering of the U.N. General Assembly. The global vaccination effort is expected to be a focus of both meetings, and the Biden administration had been trying to persuade Mr. Modi to resume exports.

India was initially expected to be the main vaccine supplier for the Covax initiative, and its export ban came as a heavy blow to the program, which is so far behind schedule that fewer than 10 percent of people in poor countries are vaccinated.

India began to expand vaccine coverage to all adults in the country in May, after a devastating second wave of infections that overburdened its health care infrastructure, leaving thousands dead and many struggling to find hospital beds. The country’s total caseload stood on Monday about 318,000, the lowest in approximately six months, according to official data.

Credit…Phil Walter/Getty Images

New Zealand will ease coronavirus restrictions in Auckland, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Monday, ending nearly five weeks of the strictest lockdown in the country’s most populous city.

Some businesses, including restaurants and cafes, will be allowed to reopen for takeout and delivery beginning Tuesday night, and as many as 10 people will be permitted to gather in the city for ceremonies including funerals and weddings, Ms. Ardern told reporters. In New Zealand’s four-tier system of Covid rules, Auckland will now be at Level 3, the second most restrictive. The rest of the country has been under Level 2 for the past two weeks.

The measures have frustrated residents and shuttered businesses, as the country remained one of the few committed to completely eliminating the Delta variant of the coronavirus. There were 22 new cases reported on Monday, down from a peak of 83 during this outbreak. New Zealand began slowly relaxing some of the world’s strictest antivirus measures earlier this month, aiming to reopen borders to foreigners some time next year.

“We keep doing the job of stamping out Covid,” Ms. Ardern said. “We are not stepping out of Level 4 because the job is done. Nor are we moving because we don’t think we can achieve the goal of stamping out Covid-19.”

Other nations in the Asia Pacific region have begun to reopen despite rising numbers of new cases, acknowledging that strategies that aim to eliminate the virus may be untenable. Australian authorities have said that country will begin to reopen once 70 percent of the eligible population is vaccinated. Singapore has loosened quarantine rules for some travelers. In Vietnam, businesses are reopening, although cases are still high.

Ms. Ardern insisted that the change in rules for Auckland should be considered a cautious step. Across the rest of New Zealand, restrictions at indoor gatherings, including restaurants and bars, will be further eased, allowing 100 people to gather. The new restrictions will remain in place for at least two weeks, and will be reassessed on Oct. 4.

Credit…Brian Inganga/Associated Press

At a virtual summit on Wednesday, while the annual United Nations General Assembly meeting is underway, President Biden will urge other vaccine-producing countries to balance their domestic needs with a renewed focus on manufacturing and distributing doses to poor nations in desperate need of them.

The push, which White House officials say seeks to inject urgency into vaccine diplomacy, will test Mr. Biden’s doctrine of furthering American interests by building global coalitions. Covax, the United Nations-backed vaccine program, is so far behind schedule that not even 10 percent of the population in poor nations is fully vaccinated, experts said. And the landscape is even more challenging now than when Covax was created in April 2020.

Some nations in Asia have imposed tariffs and other trade restrictions on Covid-19 vaccines, slowing their delivery. India, home to the world’s largest vaccine maker, banned coronavirus vaccine exports. And an F.D.A. panel on Friday recommended Pfizer booster shots for those over 65 or at high risk of severe Covid, meaning that vaccine doses that could have gone to low and lower-middle income countries would remain in the United States.

Officials said Wednesday’s summit would be the largest gathering of heads of state to address the coronavirus crisis. It aims to encourage pharmaceutical makers, philanthropists and nongovernmental organizations to work together toward vaccinating 70 percent of the world’s population by the time the U.N. General Assembly meets in September 2022, according to a draft document the White House sent to the summit participants.

Experts estimate that 11 billion doses are necessary to achieve widespread global immunity. The United States has pledged to donate more than 600 million — more than any other nation — and the Biden administration has taken steps to expand vaccine manufacturing in the United States, India and South Africa. The 27-nation European Union aims to export 700 million doses by the end of the year.

But on the heels of the United States’ calamitous withdrawal from Afghanistan last month that drew condemnation from allies and adversaries alike, the effort to rally world leaders will be closely watched by public health experts and advocates who say Mr. Biden is not living up to his pledges to make the United States the “arsenal of vaccines” for the world.

Credit…Mike Kai Chen for The New York Times

The Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine has been shown to be safe and highly effective in young children ages 5 to 11, the companies announced early on Monday. The news should help ease months of anxiety among parents and teachers about when children, and their close contacts, might be shielded from the coronavirus.

The need is urgent: Children now account for more than one in five new cases, and the highly contagious Delta variant has sent more children into hospitals and intensive care units in the past few weeks than at any other time in the pandemic.

Pfizer and BioNTech plan to apply to the Food and Drug Administration by the end of the month for authorization to use the vaccine for ages 5 to 11. If the regulatory review goes as smoothly as it did for older children and adults, millions of elementary school students could be inoculated before Halloween.

Trial results for children younger than 5 are not expected until the fourth quarter of this year at the earliest, according to Dr. Bill Gruber, a senior vice president at Pfizer and a pediatrician.

Pfizer and BioNTech announced the results in a statement that did not include detailed data from the trial. The findings have not yet been peer-reviewed nor published in a scientific journal.

But the new results dovetail with those seen in older children and in adults, experts said.

“There’s going to be a huge number of parents who are going to heave a big sigh of relief when they hear this,” said Dr. Kristin Oliver, a pediatrician and vaccine expert at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. “We’ve been waiting for these kids to be protected.”

Children have a much lower risk of Covid-19 than adults, even when exposed to the Delta variant. Still, some small number of those infected develop a life-threatening condition called multi-system inflammatory syndrome in children, or MIS-C. Others may have lingering symptoms for months.

Nearly 30,000 children were hospitalized for Covid in August; the least vaccinated states reported the highest rates. At Seattle Children’s hospital, about half of the children who are admitted for Covid are older than 12, according to Dr. Danielle Zerr, a pediatric infectious diseases expert at the hospital.

“I’ve been dismayed at the fact that the sickest children in our hospital with acute Covid-19 or MIS-C are children who could have been vaccinated,” Dr. Zerr said.



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Covid-19 Live Updates: Travel Restrictions, Booster Shots and Vaccine News


Piazza San Marco in Venice in July. Italy has reintroduced some restrictions for U.S. travelers.
Credit…Giulia Marchi for The New York Times

Italy now requires travelers from the United States to take a test before arrival, and unvaccinated American visitors must isolate for five days. Sweden is barring all nonessential U.S. visitors. The Netherlands says vaccinated travelers must isolate after arriving from the United States — and unvaccinated ones are not welcome.

In removing the United States from a safe list of countries whose residents can travel without coronavirus testing or quarantine requirements, the European Union last week opened the door to myriad rules, restrictions and hurdles for travelers, with the bloc’s member countries implementing different measures.

The surge of coronavirus deaths and hospitalizations in the United States has led some countries — including Bulgaria, Italy, the Netherlands and Sweden — to enforce new obstacles, and the list could grow.

The E.U. suggestion to reimpose restrictions on unvaccinated U.S. travelers is not binding, however, and many European governments have yet to act on it. Some may even choose to ignore it entirely, creating confusion for travelers.

For questions about requirements in a given European Union member state, the best answers can usually be found on the website of its U.S. Embassy. Most, including France, Spain and Germany, still welcome travelers from the United States without much hassle.

It is different for a few others, and that’s where the confusion starts.

For instance, any traveler from the United States, no matter their nationality, is prohibited from entering Bulgaria “unless they meet an exception,” according to the U.S. Embassy in Sofia. Those exceptions include students with a visa, citizens from an E.U. country, and foreign officials or medical professionals.

In Italy, meanwhile, the U.S. Embassy in Rome states that vaccinated travelers must take a virus test 72 hours before arrival, and that unvaccinated ones must isolate for five days. France has no travel restrictions on American visitors, but a “health pass,” based on testing or proof of vaccination, is needed to access cultural venues, restaurants or bars, among other places.

These varying measures, which can appear dizzying to non-Europeans, reflect a reality that the pandemic has only amplified: As much as the European Union strives to present a unified front on many issues, the bloc is made of 27 member countries with diverging — sometimes competing — interests, and facing different epidemiological situations.

After the European Union closed its external borders in March last year, it urged member states to reopen to U.S. travelers and some others in June, hoping that a revival of tourism would boost E.U. economies.

Yet some countries had already moved ahead, while others waited for the recommendations from E.U. officials. A similar scenario is at play with the new travel guidelines. And the hurdles don’t only affect travelers from the United States or other non-European countries; some member states have implemented new measures for travelers coming from other E.U. countries, too.

Overall, the European Union has fared better than the United States in vaccinations: 70 percent of the E.U. adult population has been fully inoculated, compared with 64 percent in the United States.

And while the more transmissible Delta variant of the virus is becoming dominant in Europe, case numbers across most of the continent have not yet resurged to the levels seen in the United States.

Yet just as the virus’ spread varies across U.S. states, E.U. member countries are seeing divergent outbreaks. More than 83 percent of Belgium’s adult population has been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, for instance, but only 20 percent have been inoculated in Bulgaria, which has one of the highest death rates in the world and has lately faced a surge of hospitalizations and deaths.

A Covid-19 testing site in Seoul last week. The metropolitan area has more than half South Korea’s population, and 75 percent of its recent virus cases.
Credit…Ahn Young-Joon/Associated Press

South Korean health authorities urged caution on Wednesday as they reported more than 2,000 new Covid-19 cases in one day, nearing last month’s record.

“We’re taking this as a very dangerous sign,” said Park Hyang, a senior health official, at a news conference in the capital, Seoul. “We urge residents of the Seoul metropolitan area to be especially careful. The virus is spreading on a large scale and infections are appearing anytime and anywhere.”

Cases have remained stubbornly high even as the pace of vaccinations has quickened. While social distancing restrictions have remained in place, the government has eased some rules on private gatherings. The health officials also said that people aren’t adhering to them as much as pandemic fatigue accumulates.

That’s a concern ahead of Chuseok, a three-day national holiday later this month when families will be able to travel to see one another. As of Tuesday, about 61 percent of South Koreans had received at least one vaccine dose and more than 36 percent were fully vaccinated, the health authorities said.

At the current pace, the health authorities said they expect to fully vaccinate 70 percent of the population by the end of October. That would allow the country to return to a more normal way of life in November, they said. But, they added, for the country to open up, cases must go down.

The country recorded 2,050 daily new cases on Wednesday, of which about 75 percent were found in the Seoul metropolitan area. More than half of South Korea’s population lives in Seoul.

The Delta variant made up an estimated 97 percent of the cases from the past week, said Bang Dae-bon, the head epidemiologist of the government’s Central Disease Control Headquarters, at a news conference on Tuesday.

Ms. Park, the senior health official, said more people had been traveling in the past two weeks, and traffic on highways was rising.

A vaccination center in Melbourne in May. So far, less than a third of Australians are fully vaccinated.
Credit…Darrian Traynor/Getty Images

The Australian government’s approach to securing Covid vaccines has come under scrutiny again after it released documents detailing the early stages of talks with the drug maker Pfizer.

Internal government emails, released in response to a Freedom of Information request by an opposition party politician, show that a Pfizer Australia representative wrote to the Australian minister of health, Greg Hunt, in late June last year to request a meeting. The Pfizer representative wrote that the pharmaceutical giant had “the potential to supply millions of vaccine doses by the end of 2020.”

The request was passed to a senior official, a first assistant secretary of the health department, who met with Pfizer the following month. Subsequent emails show that Pfizer had asked the Australian government to sign a confidential disclosure agreement, which the official said was “not usual practice” for the government.

The exchange occurred around the same time that the U.S. and British governments were finalizing multibillion-dollar deals with Pfizer to secure access to large numbers of vaccine doses. That month, Britain bought 30 million doses and the United States 100 million.

The released documents do not include information about costs, or about the scope of the confidentiality agreement.

Opposition politicians including Ged Kearney, the lawmaker who filed the Freedom of Information request, have used the documents to amplify criticism that Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s government bungled the vaccine rollout, which has been slowed in part by a tight supply of Pfizer doses. Opposition leaders criticized the government for a slow response to Pfizer’s offer, which they said put Australia “months behind other countries.”

Mr. Hunt’s office rejected suggestions that the government had been slow to act. A spokesperson for the Department of Health said that the government had “constant informal engagements” with Pfizer before the email, on June 30, but were told that the company was not ready to begin formal talks.

After Pfizer wrote to Australia on June 30, the government “moved immediately to formal negotiations,” including negotiating a confidentiality agreement, the spokesperson added. In August 2020, Mr. Hunt’s office met with Pfizer’s leadership to discuss issues such as supply chains and costs for the first time, the released documents show.

Last November, Australia signed a deal with Pfizer to procure 10 million doses, the first of which arrived in February, about two months after the United States received its initial supplies. Australia has since purchased another 30 million doses from the company.

So far, just 52 percent of Australians have received at least one vaccine dose and 31 percent are fully vaccinated, compared with 62 percent with at least one dose and 53 percent fully vaccinated in the United States. More than half of Australia’s population of 25 million is in lockdown as outbreaks of the Delta variant surge.

This is not the first time that the Australian government has faced scrutiny over its approach to Pfizer. In July, Kevin Rudd, a former prime minister, claimed that he had personally appealed to Pfizer’s chief executive, Albert Bourla, to speed up vaccine deliveries to Australia after Mr. Morrison had failed to speak to him. Mr. Morrison’s government denied that account and said that it was in regular contact with Pfizer’s leadership in Australia.

Parents in Mexico are fighting a government program that restricts vaccination to people over the age of 18, though regulators have approved shots for use in children as young as 12.
Credit…Joebeth Terriquez/EPA, via Shutterstock

Hundreds of parents in Mexico are asking for court injunctions to have their children vaccinated against Covid-19 before they return to school, because the government is yet to offer a shot to people ages 12 to 18 even though they are authorized to receive it.

The legal battle is taking place as the more transmissible Delta variant has pummeled Mexico, where only 28 percent of the population is fully vaccinated. The country is recording some of its highest daily caseloads of the pandemic, according to data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s administration wants all students to return to school for in-person classes, which have been suspended for almost a year and a half. The Pfizer vaccine was approved in Mexico for use in children age 12 and above in June, but so far only those age 18 and above have been able to get shots.

In the United States and various Latin American countries, vaccinations for children age 12 and above are well underway. But Mexican officials have downplayed the risk of the virus for minors, saying older people still waiting for their doses should be given priority.

Alma Franco, a lawyer from the southern region of Oaxaca, was one of the first parents to sue and win an injunction. When she was granted the vaccine for her 12-year-old son, she tweeted a photo of the constitutional appeal, or “amparo,” a legal process used in Mexico. In her appeal arguing that her son should be entitled to vaccination, Ms. Franco cited both the Health Department’s approval for the Pfizer vaccine and Mexico’s laws around equal medical care.

Since then, she said, about 1,000 parents from around the country have emailed her asking how they can do the same.

“Most of the parents who have asked me for the amparo are just worried about what’s happening at a global level, and particularly in Mexico,” Ms. Franco said.

Hugo López-Gatell Ramírez, the deputy health minister who is running Mexico’s response to the coronavirus, said at a news conference on Tuesday that 262 legal appeals have been filed by parents since August, with the number rapidly increasing. He said that although he understood why parents want to ensure their children are vaccinated, every dose given to a student because of judicial action would otherwise have gone to someone with a higher risk of dying from Covid-19.

“Scientific evidence is abundantly clear and consistent that those who have the highest risk of severe Covid, hospitalization, intubation and death are older people,” Mr. López-Gatell said. “There is a scale where the risk is progressively decreasing for younger ages.”

The new school year in Mexico began on Aug. 30, and the Mexican department of public education released a statement on Tuesday saying that 12 million students 18 and under were attending classes in over 135,000 schools. Entering the second week of the academic year, 88 schools have had coronavirus cases, and 39 had closed “as a preventive measure,” Delfina Gómez Álvarez, the secretary of education, said in the statement.

A woman waiting for a malaria test in La Paz, Colombia. The pandemic has made treatment for illnesses such as malaria, TB and H.I.V. harder to come by.
Credit…Federico Rios for The New York Times

The Covid-19 pandemic has severely set back the fight against other global scourges like H.I.V., tuberculosis and malaria, according to a sobering new report released on Tuesday.

Before the pandemic, the world had been making strides against these illnesses. Overall, deaths from them had dropped by about half since 2004.

But the pandemic has flooded hospitals and disrupted supply chains for tests and treatments. In many poor countries, the coronavirus diverted limited public health resources from treatment and prevention of these diseases.

Many fewer people sought diagnosis or medication, because they were afraid of catching the coronavirus at clinics.

Unless comprehensive efforts to beat back the illnesses resume, “we’ll continue to play emergency response and global health Whac-a-Mole,” said Mitchell Warren, executive director of AVAC, a nonprofit organization promoting H.I.V. treatment worldwide.

The report was compiled by the Global Fund, an advocacy group that funds campaigns against H.I.V., malaria and tuberculosis.

Before the arrival of the coronavirus, TB was the biggest infectious-disease killer worldwide, claiming more than a million lives each year. The pandemic has exacerbated the damage.

In 2020, about a million fewer people were tested and treated for TB, compared with 2019 — a drop of about 18 percent, according to the new report.

Compared with 2019, the number of people who sought testing for H.I.V. last year declined by 22 percent, and those who opted for H.I.V. prevention services by 12 percent. Medical male circumcision, thought to slow the spread of the virus, decreased by 27 percent.

However, there were some hopeful developments: The crisis forced health agencies and ministries in many poor countries to adopt innovations that may outlast the pandemic. Among them: dispensing several months’ supplies to patients of TB and H.I.V. drugs, or condoms, lubricants and needles; using digital tools to monitor TB treatment; and testing simultaneously for H.I.V., TB and Covid-19.

The Food and Drug Administration has warned Covid-19 patients against taking the anti-parasitic drug ivermectin, especially in concentrated doses intended for large livestock.
Credit…Rolex Dela Pena/EPA, via Shutterstock

An Ohio judge on Monday reversed an earlier decision requiring a hospital to administer ivermectin, an anti-parasitic drug that is primarily used as a veterinary deworming agent, to a patient as a treatment for Covid-19.

The judge, Michael A. Oster Jr., wrote that “there can be no doubt that the medical and scientific communities do not support the use of ivermectin as a treatment for Covid-19” and that the plaintiff had failed to provide convincing evidence to show that it was effective.

The Food and Drug Administration has warned Covid-19 patients against taking ivermectin. Concentrated doses intended for horses and other large livestock can be toxic in humans, the agency has said.

However, the drug has become a popular subject among conservative talk show hosts. Physicians and toxicologists have raised alarms about people obtaining ivermectin from livestock supply centers amid a surge in calls to poison control centers about overdoses and adverse reactions to the drug.

The Ohio lawsuit was filed by Julie Smith, who was acting as the guardian for her husband, Jeffrey Smith. A different judge granted a 14-day injunction last month, ordering West Chester Hospital north of Cincinnati to administer the drug to Mr. Smith.

Mr. Smith, 51, tested positive for the virus on July 9 and the following week was admitted to West Chester Hospital’s intensive care unit, according to court documents. On Aug. 1, he was sedated, intubated and placed on a ventilator.

Ivermectin was prescribed by Mr. Smith’s physician, who does not have privileges at West Chester Hospital and did not see Mr. Smith before approving the treatment, court records show.

“While the court is sympathetic to the plaintiff and understands the idea of wanting to do anything to help her loved one, public policy should not and does not support allowing a physician to try ‘any’ type of treatment on human beings,” Judge Oster wrote.

In May, Prague Castle held a memorial for Czech victims of the coronavirus, with nearly 30,000 candles set out in its plazas. The Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Bulgaria have had some of the European Union’s highest excess mortality rates during the pandemic.
Credit…David W Cerny/Reuters

BRUSSELS — More than 70 percent of the European Union’s adult population has been fully vaccinated, making it one of the world’s vaccination leaders. But vaccination rates in Eastern and Central Europe are all below that average, exposing the bloc to new waves of infections and creating a divide that E.U. officials and experts say could hamper recovery efforts.

While 80 percent of the adult populations in countries like Belgium, Denmark and Portugal have been fully vaccinated, European data shows that the figure plunges to about 32 percent in Romania and about 20 percent in Bulgaria, where deaths have been surging.

Those countries, along with the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland, have had some of the highest excess mortality rates across the European Union during the pandemic. And inoculation rates have fallen broadly in recent weeks, particularly in countries like Poland and Slovakia.

“We cannot afford to have parts of Europe less protected, this makes us all more vulnerable,” Stella Kyriakides, the European Union’s health commissioner, said.

The high vaccination rates in Western European countries are an achievement that few would have believed possible earlier this year, when E.U. member countries were embroiled in sluggish rollouts that probably caused thousands of additional deaths and quarreling with bloc officials and vaccine makers over delivery issues.

But they made a strong comeback, and countries like France and Germany are about to vaccinate millions with booster shots. Spain is aiming to inoculate 90 percent of its total population soon. And Italy is considering making vaccinations mandatory. In contrast, large swaths of the populations of Eastern European nations have yet to receive a single dose.

“The story we hear about the pandemic in France, Germany or the Netherlands is very different than the one we hear in Bulgaria or Poland,” said Ivan Krastev, a Bulgarian political scientist and the co-author of a report on the perceptions of the pandemic in 12 E.U. countries.

The scarcity of doses that dogged early vaccination campaigns across the bloc is no longer an issue. Instead, misinformation, distrust of the authorities, and ignorance about the benefits of inoculation seem to be behind the low uptake in Central and Eastern Europe.

The World Health Organization warned last month that 230,000 people in Europe could die of the coronavirus by December, citing slowing vaccination rates and the lack of restrictive measures to combat the spread.





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US sticks with 8-month timeline for booster shots for now: COVID news


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The U.S. is sticking with it eight-month timeline for COVID-19 booster shots, at least for now, the nation’s top infectious disease expert said Sunday.   

President Joe Biden had suggested Friday that the administration was weighing whether to give booster shots as early as five months after vaccination as the super contagious delta variant drives up transmission rates across the U.S. Biden had cited advice he received from the Israeli prime minister.

Dr. Anthony Fauci said Sunday that officials are open to shifting the recommendation based on evolving information, but for now the eight months stands.

“We’re not changing it, but we are very open to new data as it comes in. We’re going to be very flexible about it,” Fauci said.

He said there was “no doubt” in his mind that people will need to get an extra shot after they have received the two-dose Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. The Biden administration  has set Sept. 20 as the launch date for booster shots, pending approval from the FDA and CDC.

Also in the news:

►The European Union may recommend by Monday banning non-essential travel from the U.S. because of its high rate of coronavirus infections, the Wall Street Journal reported Sunday. The paper said some countries may still decide to allow U.S. visitors with proof of vaccination.

►The risks of getting a blood clot if you contract COVID-19 are far greater than from receiving the Pfizer-BioNTech and AstraZeneca vaccines, according to a new BMJ study. Lead author Julia Hippisley-Cox told USA TODAY the purpose of the study was to demonstrate any risks associated with the vaccine are substantially less than with the COVID-19 infection.

►Contact tracers say the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota is the source of at least 178 COVID-19 infections across five states. Since the start of the rally, cases in South Dakota have shot up, and the epicenter of the rally, Meade County, is reporting the highest rate of cases in the state.

►Two Oregon counties have requested refrigerated trucks from the state because of mortuaries being overwhelmed with COVID-related deaths. Tillamook County Emergency Director Gordon McCraw said it was not possible to transport bodies to other counties because of infection among staff members.

►Newspaper reporter Brendan Quealy of the Record-Eagle said he was punched in the face while covering an anti-masking event near Traverse City, Michigan. Quealy said two men confronted him and one of them shoved him into a fence and punched him in the face with both fists.

📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has recorded more than 38.7 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 637,200 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. Global totals: More than 216.2 million cases and 4.4 million deaths. More than 173.1 million Americans – 52.1% of the population – have been fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.

📘 What we’re reading: COVID-19 is surging among America’s youth. Doctors worry children of color, who disproportionately suffer from lack of access to health care, obesity and other chronic conditions, face the greatest risk. Read more.

Keep refreshing this page for the latest news. Want more? Sign up for USA TODAY’s Coronavirus Watch newsletter to receive updates directly to your inbox and join our Facebook group.

The highly contagious delta variant of the coronavirus may double the risk of hospitalization among unvaccinated people, according to a new study.

The U.K. study, published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases, is part of a growing body of evidence that suggests the latest delta variant may be causing more severe illness than prior strains. 

“This large national study found a higher hospital admission or emergency care attendance risk for patients with COVID-19 infected with the delta variant compared with the alpha variant,” researchers found.

The study included more than 40,000 patients with COVID-19 who underwent genome sequencing to determine which variant of the virus they had. Most were unvaccinated. During the course of the study from March 29 to May 23, the delta variant became more prevalent.

As explosive Hurricane Ida roared ashore in Louisiana on Sunday, the pandemic presented complications to the typical array of disaster preparations. Louisiana has been overwhelmed with cases, and most hospitals were preparing to continue operating through the storm. Gov. John Bel Edwards said shelters would operate with reduced capacities “to reflect the realities of COVID.”

The storm arrived on the 16th anniversary of Katrina’s landfall as a Category 3 hurricane. Most of the city flooded, almost 2,000 people died, and federal officials estimated the damage at $125 billion. Ida was nearing Category 5 strength as it approached the Louisiana coast.

New COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations across Louisiana waned this week, but the state remains firmly in the grips of the worst yet fourth-wave COVID-19 surge. In the past four weeks, Louisiana has reported a total of 99,368 confirmed cases of COVID-19, the largest four-week total the state has seen since the pandemic began.

Louisiana’s Department of Health announced Friday that given the threat posed by Hurricane Ida to the state’s Gulf Coast, it will not be operating

– Andrew Capps-Lafayette Daily Advertiser

A man who led efforts in his Central Texas community against mask wearing and other preventive measures died from COVID-19.

Caleb Wallace, 30, died Saturday, his wife, Jessica Wallace, said on a GoFundMe page, the San Angelo Standard-Times reported. He was a father of three children, and his wife was pregnant with their fourth child.

Caleb Wallace helped organize “The Freedom Rally” in San Angelo on July 4, 2020, in which people carried signs that criticized masks, business closures, the science behind COVID-19 and the media. In April, he demanded the San Angelo school district rescind all its COVID protocols.

Jessica Wallace told the newspaper her husband began experiencing COVID-19 symptoms on July 26 but refused to get tested or go to a hospital. He instead took high doses of Vitamin C, zinc aspirin and ivermectin, an anti-parasitic medicine that officials have urged people not to take.

Marc Bernier, a talk radio host in Daytona Beach, Florida, for 30 years and an outspoken opponent of vaccines, died after a three-week battle with COVID-19, WNDB and Southern Stone Communications announced on Twitter Saturday night.

Bernier, 65, of Ormond Beach, has been remembered in recent days as a conservative who sought out and presented others’ points of view while airing a three-hour afternoon show, weekend shows and specials, such as remote town halls and political debates. 

Bernier had issues with vaccines for years. Mel Stack, an attorney and friend who regularly advertised on the program, said Bernier’s anti-vaccination views were not based on politics, but personal experience based on how he believed vaccines had impacted people close to him.

– Mark Harper, Daytona Beach News-Journal

An unvaccinated, unmasked elementary school teacher infected 22 students and four parents with COVID-19 in California, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

While experiencing nasal congestion and fatigue, the teacher taught for two days before getting a COVID-19 test. The teacher thought the symptoms were simply allergies, but she later tested positive for the coronavirus.

Neither the teacher nor the school were named.

The elementary school requires teachers and students to mask while indoors, but the CDC reported that the teacher was unmasked while reading aloud to the class.

“The outbreak’s attack rate highlights the delta variant’s increased transmissibility and potential for rapid spread, especially in unvaccinated populations such as schoolchildren too young for vaccination,” according to the report. 

– Gabriela Miranda

Contributing: The Associated Press



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Do I need a covid booster shot to travel internationally? 5 things to consider.


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said some people who are moderately to severely immunocompromised may not have built up enough protection with their first vaccinations. That includes people who have been getting treatment for tumors or blood cancers, organ transplant recipients, those with advanced or untreated HIV infection, and others who are taking drugs that suppress the immune system.



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Travel news: Vaccinated Britons could no longer be quarantine free after booster roll-out | Travel News | Travel


This third round of shots is in order to give more protection from coronavirus to those who are at risk.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid said the Government is preparing for the roll-out.

“When it comes to booster jabs we are waiting for the final advice from [the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation] … and when we get that advice we will be able to start the booster programme, but I anticipate it will begin in early September, so I’m already making plans for that,” Mr Javid said.

Matthew Duchars, CEO of the Vaccine Manufacturing and Innovation Centre, said combining the jabs would be ’preferable’ for everyone.





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Covid news: Decision on booster jabs expected within weeks – LIVE


A

decision on whether over-50s will be given a third coronavirus jab is expected to be made within weeks.

Ministers are said to be planning to deliver an average of almost 2.5million third doses a week, with 2,000 pharmacies rolling out the scheme.

If it is approved, all people in the age bracket, plus the clinically vulnerable, in England are expected to be offered a booster vaccine before Christmas.

It comes as millions of people are under strict lockdown in China as the country battles to contain its largest coronavirus outbreak in months.

China reported 55 new locally transmitted coronavirus cases on Monday as an outbreak of the highly transmissible Delta variant reached more than 20 cities and more than a dozen provinces.

Live updates

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Johnson pressed to further ease travel rules to save beleaguered industry

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Hospital care standards ‘maintained’ in pandemic – study

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Unite union’s assistant general secretary urges the Government to further support jobs in the travel industry

Diana Holland, the Unite union’s assistant general secretary for civil air transport, urged the Government to take further action to support jobs in the travel industry.

She said: “The current traffic light system is not working and there is disagreement within Government about how to move forward.

“While the situation remains uncertain and complex, the Government must provide job-saving support to our aviation and travel industry. “

While France and Germany had put in place sector-specific support for the aviation industry, “the UK civil air transport sector has haemorrhaged jobs”, she said.

“With the summer season all but scuppered and travel not expected to return to sustainable levels for the immediate future, the Government must follow the lead of our competitor nations and take action to secure jobs, and make sure aviation can rebuild safely and sustainably for all our futures.”

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Two days in the office will be ‘new normal’ after pandemic

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Hundreds of fraudulent Covid passport claims rejected

Almost 300 fraudulent Covid-19 passport claims have been rejected in Northern Ireland.

The figure emerged after the region’s vaccine certification system was dogged with technical difficulties last week.

It was partially suspended on Tuesday after issues with data sharing emerged.

The new CovidCertNI app enables users to show proof of vaccination for international travel.

Dr Eddie O’Neill, who leads the programme, said on Monday that it is now “stable and running well”.

He also revealed that 294 applications where people have fraudulently tried to claim a certificate have been rejected.

“We had three individuals who made 38 applications between them, putting in different vaccination dates every time,” he told the BBC.

However he said the programme has issued 5.843 certificates in 27-and-a-half hours.

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Hong Kong tells civil servants to get vaccinated or pay for Covid tests

Unvaccinated Hong Kong government employees will soon have to pay for regular Covid-19 tests.

The measures, which also apply to education and health workers, were announced on Monday in a bid to persuade more people to get vaccinated.

City leader Carrie Lam said: “If it’s purely a personal option not to get vaccinated and help society achieve herd immunity, that’s not something a responsible government should allow or tolerate.”

Hong Kong has registered 56 days without any local coronavirus cases and life has largely returned to normal in the global financial hub, except heavy travel restrictions remain in place, with hotel quarantine required for all arrivals.

Authorities were unsatisfied with a slow initial take-up of vaccines, although the numbers have improved in recent months after various businesses announced a range of perks for those who take vaccines, including a lottery prize of an apartment worth about £720,000.

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Hospital standards maintained in pandemic, study finds

Standards of care for hospital patients admitted with Covid-19 did not slip during the pandemic, a new study suggests.

More than three in four people admitted to hospital with coronavirus received “good” or “excellent” care, according to a new review from the Royal College of Physicians.

Researchers examined the case records of 510 patients treated across 19 NHS trusts in England during 2020.

Overall, 96.5% were deemed to have received adequate, good or excellent care, and for 77.4% the care was good or excellent.

It was deemed to be poor for 3.5% of patients.

The reviewers said the “very few instances of poor care” was “exceptional given the enormous pressures that were very rapidly placed upon the NHS at the start of the pandemic”.

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Covid travel: ‘Holiday roulette’ must be stopped, aviation bosses and MPs warn

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Covid travel: Ministers urged not to create ‘complicated’ amber travel watchlist

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Critically endangered tigers recover from Covid-19 in Jakarta

Two Sumatran tigers are recovering from Covid-19 in an Indonesian zoo.

Nine-year-old Tino became ill with shortness of breath, sneezing, and a runny nose on July 9.

Two days later, 12-year-old Hari was showing the same symptoms.

Swabs were taken and results came back positive for Covid, Suzi Marsitawati from the Jakarta Parks and Forestry Agency said.

The tigers were promptly treated with antibiotics, antihistamines, anti-inflammatory drugs and multivitamins.

Their condition is now described as “good”, with Ms Marsitawati saying: “Their appetite has returned and they’re being active”.

It is unclear how the tigers were infected with Covid as the zoo has been closed in line with coronavirus restrictions.

No infections were detected among zoo staff.



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Vaccination Progress, Booster Shots, Travel : Short Wave : NPR


President Biden aims to have 70% of adults vaccinated with at least one shot by July 4. About a dozen states have reached that goal, but vaccination rates in some other states remain low.

Yulia Reznikov/Getty Images


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Yulia Reznikov/Getty Images


President Biden aims to have 70% of adults vaccinated with at least one shot by July 4. About a dozen states have reached that goal, but vaccination rates in some other states remain low.

Yulia Reznikov/Getty Images

Nationwide, almost 65% of adults have had at least one vaccine shot, but vaccination rates vary significantly depending on the state. NPR health correspondent Allison Aubrey gives us the latest on the country’s vaccination progress: which states are on track (and which are not), new research about why it’s important teenagers get vaccinated, and what we know about the possibility of booster shots.

This episode was edited by Jane Greenhalgh and Viet Le, produced by Rebecca Ramirez and fact-checked by Rasha Aridi.



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