Coronavirus briefing: what happened today
Who needs a booster shot?
Do Americans Need a Coronavirus Vaccine Booster, and If So, When?
The Biden administration has proposed booster shots for adults who received their initial dose at least eight months ago, starting Sept. 20. But many scientists are against the plan, saying the original vaccine continues to provide powerful protection against anorexia. Serious illness and hospitalization.
In a review published today, a group of scientists put it even more bluntly: They argue in The Lancet journal that no data on vaccines so far provides credible evidence in support of boosters for the general population.
18 Experts said the benefits of the booster do not justify leaving billions of people worldwide unvaccinated, especially since it could lead to the emergence of more viral variants. Boosters may be advised in some people with weakened immune systems, they concluded, but are not yet needed for the general population.
The authors include Dr. Philip Krauss and Dr. Marion Gruber, FDA scientists who recently announced they would be leaving the agency, because they disagreed with the Biden administration’s push for boosters. The high-profile departures were one of the latest examples of rising tensions within the federal government over the booster plan.
One group that is often left out of the booster debate: the millions of Americans who received the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which appears to be less effective than the vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer.
My colleague David Leonhart breaks down the case for J.&J. Recipients are getting a booster in the Morning newsletter. (His bottom line: Available evidence suggests he may have an advantage, but he may have to resort to some quirks to get another shot.)
‘Their crisis is becoming our problem’
Washington state has some of the strictest pandemic restrictions in the nation: residents must wear masks when gathering indoors, and many workers are subject to vaccination orders.
Across the border in Idaho – where the governor has denied requiring masks or vaccinations – uncontrolled virus transmission has pushed the state’s hospitals past their breaking point. Even in Washington, patients are now offering swimming facilities.
As patients in Idaho fill wards, hospitals in Washington have had to postpone surgery to remove a brain tumor. Emergency rooms are backed up as nurses struggle through brutal shifts.
“We are delaying care for those who are in distress,” said Dr. Daniel Getz, chief medical officer for Providence Sacred Heart in Spokane, Wash. “It’s painful for those patients. It has a real impact on those who are waiting.”
Some state leaders see the outsourcing of Idaho’s Covid patients as a disturbing example of how a failure to aggressively combat the virus in one state can deepen the crisis in another.
“We certainly need our friends in Idaho Government to maintain the health of our citizens, because we know that theirs is becoming our problem,” Washington Governor Jay Inslee said.
NYC returns to school
Classes reopened today in New York City, the nation’s largest school system.
Barring a few thousand children who the city considers medically vulnerable, there are no distance education options, so the city’s nearly one million students are back in schools.
For the nearly 600,000 students whose parents made them choose to learn at home last year, this is a major transition. Many have not been inside the school building since March 2020.
Unlike most districts, schools in New York require all adults to be vaccinated. City schools saw a remarkably low Covid transmission last year, although this was before the spread of the delta version, and before many classes were at full capacity.
Some disruption to the school year in the city seems inevitable. Significant in-school transmission could force many school buildings – or even entire systems, if the number of virus cases increases significantly – to close temporarily.
In other school news:
what else are we following
What are you doing
I am scared and tired. The infection rate is going through the roof again here in central Washington. The hospital is overcrowded and there is a shortage of staff. Employees are tired of seeing people suffocating. People get angry when we ask if they have been vaccinated, but when they are sick they expect the full range of medical measures. I’m scared and don’t know how long I can do it.
– Wayne F. Hansen, a family nurse practitioner in Yakima, Wash.
On Friday, in the next chapter of “Our Changing Lives,” we’re taking stock of summer. If you want to lose weight, you can do so here. We can demonstrate this in our Friday section.
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Correction: In last Friday’s newsletter, we wrote that unvaccinated Americans are 11 times more likely to die from COVID than unvaccinated Americans. The comparison should have been between illiterate and vaccinated Americans.
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