Republicans, FoxNews soften anti-health messages as delta-driven COVID-19 spike accelerates
Canada now has vaccinated a higher percentage of its population than the USA, as "hesitancy" turns to hard opposition in many counties across the country.
There’s a lot to cover this week. Here are the top items:
The FDA says COVID-19 vaccines will get “priority review” for full approval, which could mean one or more of the vaccines could clear the agency’s formal review process within the next 2-3 months.
With the delta variant accounting now for more than 4 out of every 5 new COVID-19 cases, some communities are seeing new surges of hospitalizations even though many of the infected have mild symptoms.
The rate of deaths in the USA remains low (239/day average in past seven days,) but this represents a 50% increase over the prior week.
Two out of every three counties in the USA have less than 40% of their population vaccinated, according to CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky.
Some hospitals in Florida have limited visitors and altered other services as the state is seeing a dramatic surge in new COVID-19 cases.
The Washington Post’s Philip Bump showed how closely the unvaccinated counties correspond to political views.
“These shots need to get into everybody’s arm as rapidly as possible,” said Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday.
And a few other stories of note:
For an outstanding compilation of data on vaccine effectiveness and how scientists will determine whether additional doses may be necessary, check out this epic 147-tweet thread by NYU infectious disease and epidemiology professor Dr. Celine Gounder.
Another lab study posted online and not yet peer-reviewed suggests that the J&J shot is less effective against the delta variant. NIH and other experts say that most of the data available so far indicates the shot works nearly as well as the two mRNA vaccines and all three equally prevent death.
NYC says hospital workers must be vaccinated against COVID-19 or get tested for the virus at least weekly. San Francisco now requires all city workers to be vaccinated.
In Hollywood, studios can require actors and crew who must work in close quarters during filming to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
Former NIH and now-Harvard scientist Dr. Kizzy Corbett, who led research leading to the Moderna mRNA COVID-19 vaccine, pleaded on Twitter Tuesday for people to get vaccinated. She shared what she is seeing at a Louisiana hospital where she was visiting a non-COVID severely ill family member.
At least one White House staff member and an aide to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tested positive for COVID-19 after meeting with the Texas lawmakers who decamped to Washington, D.C., to block a Texas legislative special session. Six of the Texas lawmakers tested positive.
They were criticized after photos and videos, including media interviews, showed the lawmakers traveling last week on a private plane and chartered bus without wearing masks.
“We got sloppy,” admitted one of the “fugitive” legislators.
Disinformation watch: In the latest Senate health committee hearing on COVID-19, Sen. Rand Paul once again attacked White House Chief Medical Adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci. Although this was mostly a sideshow, Paul was once again attempting to “prove” that the SARS-CoV-2 virus was created by a Chinese lab funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health — and kept interrupting Dr. Fauci’s explanation that Paul was misrepresenting the research. Here’s the video:
How disinformation spreads: NPR traced the journey of one of the more common COVID-19 vaccine myths to illustrate how “influencers” and ethically dubious publishers amplify “questions” that fuel vaccine hesitancy or rejection.
FoxNews turnaround on COVID shots? Two prominent FoxNews personalities, Steve Doocy and Sean Hannity, advocated for COVID-19 vaccinations in the past 24 hours. However, prime time stars Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham both continued to “question” them.
Check your sources #1: A Wall Street Journal commentary by a Johns Hopkins professor criticizes the push to vaccinate teenagers, saying that COVID-19 presents too small a risk to justify vaccinating children. This is the same expert who said in February, “I expect Covid will be mostly gone by April, allowing Americans to resume normal life.”
Check your sources #2: Florida’s governor says COVID-19 is a “seasonal virus” that will start going away next month.
RIP: A Massachusetts politician who spread false conspiracy theories and other misinformation about COVID-19 died of the infection after returning from a trip to South Dakota, according to Raw Story and the Cape Cod Times.
Thank you for reading and subscribing.