Show an ad over header. AMP

Vaccines may limit the damage from coronavirus variants

Many public health experts are optimistic that the fourth wave of the coronavirus that the U.S. has entered won't be as bad as the other three — but emphasize that it will still be important to take precautions.

Why it matters: A more transmissible, deadlier variant of the virus the one that originated in the U.K. — is becoming increasingly prevalent across the country, but the U.S.'s extraordinary vaccination effort may blunt the worst effects of this most recent wave of cases.

Driving the news: The U.S. reported over the weekend that more than 4 million doses had been administered in a day for the first time.

  • More than 3 million vaccines have been administered each day, on average, over the last week, per Bloomberg.
  • Three-quarters of Americans 65 and older have received at least one dose of the vaccine, according to the CDC.

What they're saying: "It's kind of like a race between the potential for a surge and our ability to vaccinate as many people as we possibly can," NIAID Director Anthony Fauci told NPR's Morning Editionon Friday. "And hopefully, if you want to make this a metaphorical race, the vaccine is going to win this one."

  • “I think that there’s enough immunity in the population that you’re not going to see a true fourth wave of infection,” former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said yesterday on CBS’s “Face the Nation." “What we’re seeing is pockets of infection around the country."
  • "The B.1.1.7 variant is almost a new virus. It's acting differently from anything we've seen before in terms of transmissibility and in terms of affecting young people. The good news is all the vaccines seem to work just as well against it," Peter Hotez of the Baylor College of Medicine told CNN.

Yes, but: Experts warn that a victory over the variants is dependent on Americans maintaining precautions, like mask wearing and social distancing, while the vaccination effort continues.

  • Some states' rollback of mitigation measures is working with the rise of the variant that originated in the U.K. to cause the recent spike in cases, Fauci said. "The one thing we don't want to do is pull back prematurely."
  • And in some hot spots, like Michigan, hospitalizations are rising — evidence that not everyone vulnerable to severe infections has yet been vaccinated as the virus gains steam.

Some experts are outright pessimistic. “In terms of the United States, we’re just at the beginning of this surge,” Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, told NBC’s “Meet the Press."

The bottom line: "We’ve prematurely pulled back from some mitigation like masks. We’re near a vaccine inflection point, but not quite there yet," Gottlieb tweeted.

  • "Variants and surges probably delayed a return to more normalcy, but hasn’t foreclosed that opportunity. Better days are ahead."

Czech Republic expels 18 Russian diplomats over 2014 depot explosion

Czech police on Saturday connected two Russian men suspected of carrying out a poisoning attack in Salisbury, England, with a deadly ammunition depot explosion southeast of the capital, Prague, per Reuters.

Driving the news: Czech officials announced Saturday they're expelling 18 Russian diplomats they accuse of being involved in the blast in Vrbetice, AP notes. Czech police said later they're searching for two men carrying several passports — including two named Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov.

Keep reading... Show less

Indianapolis mass shooting suspect legally bought 2 guns, police say

The suspected gunman in this week's mass shooting at a FedEx facility in Indianapolis legally purchased two assault rifles believed to have been used in the attack, police said late Saturday.

Of note: The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department's statement that Brandon Scott Hole, 19, bought the rifles last July and September comes a day after the FBI said in a statement to news outlets that a "shotgun was seized" from the suspect in March 2020 after his mother raised concerns about his mental health.

Keep reading... Show less

U.S. and China agree to cooperate on climate action, but details remain to be negotiated

Despite an increasingly tense relationship, the U.S. and China agreed Saturday to work together to tackle global climate change, including by "raising ambition" for emissions cuts during the 2020s — a key goal of the Biden administration.

Why it matters: The joint communique released Saturday evening commits the world's two largest emitters of greenhouse gases to work together to keep the most ambitious temperature target contained in the Paris Climate Agreement viable by potentially taking additional emissions cuts prior to 2030.

Keep reading... Show less

"We couldn't do two things at once": Biden defends not immediately raising refugee cap

President Biden on Saturday sought to explain why he didn't immediately lift the Trump administration's historically low refugee cap.

Driving the news: Several Democrats accused Biden Friday of not fulfilling his pledge to raise the limit after it was announced he'd keep the cap. The White House said later it would be raised by May 15. Biden told reporters Saturday, "We're going to increase the number."

Keep reading... Show less

Children of color in rural areas battle deep health care disparities

Living in the nation's poorest, most rural communities can be a death sentence for African American and Native American children.

Why it matters: Lack of health care and healthy food make Black and indigenous childrenin the nation’s most disadvantaged counties five times as likely to die as children in other areas of the country,the advocacy group Save the Children found after analyzing federal data.

Keep reading... Show less

How telehealth can narrow racial disparities

Data: CDC; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

Racial disparities have been a constant problem in maternal health care, from rising death rates to the threat of severe COVID-19 among pregnant women. But now experts are hopeful that telehealth can help narrow those disparities.

Why it matters: It's not a complete solution to the racial barriers women of color face. But some experts are optimistic that telehealth — long-distance health care through videoconferences and other technology — can help reduce those barriers by offering flexibility in appointments and better access to diverse providers.

Keep reading... Show less

Capitol Hill's far right pushes Anglo-Saxon values, European architecture

Multiple far-right House Republicans have begun planning and promoting an America First Caucus aimed at pushing "uniquely Anglo-Saxon political traditions," Punchbowl News first reported.

The big picture: "The document was being circulated as the GOP is struggling to determine a clear direction as it prepares to try winning back control of the House and Senate in the 2022 elections," AP writes.

Keep reading... Show less

Super Typhoon Surigae rapidly intensifies to a Cat. 5 near Philippines

Super Typhoon Surigae surged in intensity from a Category 1 storm on Friday to a beastly Category 5 monster on Saturday, with maximum sustained winds estimated at 180 mph with higher gusts.

Why it matters: This storm — known as Typhoon Bising in the Philippines — is just the latest of many tropical cyclones to undergo a process known as rapid intensification, a feat that studies show is becoming more common due to climate change.

Keep reading... Show less



Get Goodhumans in your inbox

Most Read

More Stories