US Coronavirus: ‘Each of these deaths is unnecessary’, says expert of rising Covid-19 death toll as tens of millions still go unvaccinated

Merck and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics said on Friday they had created an antiviral pill that can reduce the risk of hospitalization and death from Covid-19 by 50%, and Merck said it would seek emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for its drug molnupiravir. “as soon as possible.”

“We can prescribe that to people. They will take a five-day course and hopefully can stay home, not come for an IV and keep people out of the hospital. So, it really is. very promising news, “Dr. Jonathan Reiner, CNN medical analyst and professor of medicine and surgery at George Washington University, told CNN’s Pamela Brown on Saturday.

But Reiner noted that full vaccination of the country – the best method to fend off the pandemic – will not happen due to resistance from some, and a substantial number of Americans have died since late February as access to vaccines began to spread.

“We have lost 700,000 Americans now and at least 200,000 of those people have died since vaccines became available to almost everyone in this country, and each of those deaths is unnecessary. So while the news is good for this antiviral agent, really the message people need to get is “get vaccinated.” No one needs to die from this virus, ”he said.

Almost 56% of all Americans and about 65% of eligible ages 12 and over are fully immunized, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

As progress slowly progresses nationwide with the vaccination rate, tens of millions of unvaccinated Americans remain at higher risk of Covid-19.

Different regions of the country continue to have varying levels of success with immunization efforts. Fifteen states have yet to fully immunize more than half of their residents, according to CDC data: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina , Tennessee, West Virginia and Wyoming.

The four states that currently use more than 40% of their hospital intensive care beds for Covid-19 patients are on this list, according to data from the US Department of Health and Human Services on Saturday: Idaho, Wyoming, Virginia -Western and Georgia.

West Virginia Governor Jim Justice on Wednesday urged residents of his state to do their part to turn the situation around. “I keep reminding everyone – in all of this wonderful state – that the way we absolutely reduce this and stop this is to get vaccinated,” he said.

While experts and health officials largely focus on new inoculations that will help reduce hospitalization rates, booster shots for some who were previously fully vaccinated with the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine are gaining traction.

About 4.74 million people have received an extra dose – or a booster – since Aug. 13, according to CDC data, a marked increase from less than two weeks ago. The number of beneficiaries stood at around 2.2 million on September 20.

People 65 years of age and over, people at high risk of serious illness, and people whose work puts them at risk of infection may receive an additional dose.
A health worker administers a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine during a vaccination event in Birmingham, Alabama on Saturday, August 28.

Covid-19 mitigation efforts continue to help children

The more contagious Delta variant has contributed to more Covid-19 infections in children than compared to the start of the pandemic, which is all the more important given that those under 12 cannot yet be vaccinated .

Recent studies, however, have shown that mitigation measures are still an effective tool in reducing infections.

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Covid-19 protocols in summer camps have prevented many from contracting Covid-19, and epidemics have increased when these safety measures were not taken, according to two studies published Friday in the CDC’s weekly report on the morbidity and mortality.

A study compared the number of infections in Louisiana camps since 2020 and found a 31-fold increase in cases from last year to this year.

Last year there were only two epidemics in the camps studied in Louisiana. There were no vaccines at the time, but there was a mask warrant in place and the camps used other mitigation measures. This year, the camps experienced 28 outbreaks involving 321 cases among 2,988 campers and staff.

Although there was a vaccine this year, the difference may have been that Louisiana abandoned its mandate as a mask and “apparent underuse of preventive measures,” according to a report. The Delta variant was also widely distributed in the state in 2021.

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Measures including “vaccinating all eligible adults and adolescents, wearing masks indoors, regular screening tests, physical distancing and cohort, and increasing ventilation can help prevent transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in settings with young people who cannot be vaccinated, ”according to the study. .

A second study looked at the number of infections among more than 7,000 campers and staff in several states from June to August this year. The camps used several prevention strategies, including masks, regular testing, poddings, physical distancing and hand hygiene, and had a 93% vaccination rate among those who were eligible.

The camps only had nine cases of Covid-19, according to the study, and there were no secondary infections.

“These results highlight important guiding principles for Covid-19 prevention protocols in schools and young people,” the study said.

People with disabilities find it harder to access vaccines, study finds

While reluctance to vaccinate remains a significant obstacle in the fight against the pandemic, other difficulties exist for those who wish to be vaccinated.

People with disabilities in the United States were less likely than people without disabilities to be vaccinated against Covid-19, although they report less hesitation and are disproportionately vulnerable to hospitalization or death from Covid-19, according to one new analysis.

People with disabilities are no more hesitant to be vaccinated against Covid-19 than people without a disability and were more often likely to say that they would “definitely” be vaccinated. However, they reported more problems accessing the vaccine, suggests analysis published in the CDC’s weekly report.
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Of those who reported difficulties, they had the most difficulty securing an online appointment. They also said they had difficulty getting to a vaccination site. Other barriers included hours at vaccination sites that did not work with their schedules and not knowing where to get vaccinated.

“Reducing barriers to planning and making immunization sites more accessible could improve immunization coverage for people with disabilities,” the report said.

Of more than 56,000 people who responded to CDC telephone interviews from the end of May to the end of June, about 5,000 said they had some form of disability. Previous studies suggest that more people have at least one disability – about 15% of American adults. A disability in this case included anyone who reported having difficulty seeing, hearing, walking, remembering, making decisions or communicating.

People with disabilities are more vulnerable to Covid-19, in part because they are likely to have a chronic illness that can make Covid-19 serious and are more likely to have problems accessing health care.

CNN’s Jen Christensen, Shawn Nottingham, Melissa Alonso and Aya Elamroussi contributed to this report.

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