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COVID 19

Booster shots are being proposed as the United States fights COVID-19 with a vaccine regimen

Adam Layaan Kurik Riza

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A booster shot for COVID-19 immunization was considered in the United States on Friday, as the pandemic continues to spread, albeit some states, such as California, are actually doing better than in recent weeks.

According to The New York Times (NYT), the seven-day average of verified pandemic cases stood at 150,366 nationwide on Thursday, with the 14-day change representing a 9% decrease. On Thursday, there were 1,969 COVID-19-related deaths, representing a 29% increase over the previous 14 days.

New coronavirus cases and COVID-infected people According to the New York Times, 19 hospitalizations in the United States have begun to drop, though they remain significantly higher than earlier in the summer, and the number of new deaths continues to rise.

As the Delta variety has ravaged unvaccinated neighborhoods, the number of new deaths has risen to more than 1,900 every day, an increase of nearly 30 percent in the last two weeks. According to the report, almost one in every 500 Americans has died as a result of the sickness.

The federal data shows that the rate of immunizations remained rather slow, with 64 percent of eligible people in the United States fully immunized. According to health officials, the majority of patients who are hospitalized and dying are not vaccinated, whereas communities with greater rates of immunization have generally fared better, according to the article.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, California’s viral transmission declined from “high” to “substantial” earlier this week (CDC). It later recovered, although the total number of new cases per 100,000 population remained lower than in any other state.

“A vigorous push for immunizations, coupled with local mask laws and a public mostly ready to go along with them, appear to have helped flatten the state’s curve,” experts told The Washington Post (WP) on Friday.

“In comparison to many other states in the country, California made swift efforts to assess the scale of the problem and to deploy more COVID-19 control measures,” Robert Kim-Farley, an infectious disease expert at UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, told WP. “I believe that if California had not taken these measures to reduce transmission, we could have ended up with substantially greater levels.”

The Golden State’s change in CDC designation, a measure of how well states are doing in combatting the virus, was lauded by public health professionals, who suggested it was an indication that the state was nearing a tipping point. According to the study, “the struggle against Delta is far from done in California, which still faces a slew of hurdles in containing cases.”

The US government’s quest to make COVID-19 vaccination boosters widely available was put to the test on Friday when a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advisory council gathered to examine evidence on the extra injections, a matter that has divided federal health experts.

An outside team of around 20 scientific advisers analyzed data on the Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE vaccine’s decreased COVID-19 protection over time, as well as how people tolerated further doses.

Pfizer has sought regulators to approve booster shots for anyone aged 16 and up, and the FDA stated this week that all doses approved for use in the country are still effective without boosters.

While US health officials, certain other countries, and vaccine manufacturers have stated that boosters are required, many scientists, including some inside the FDA and the CDC, disagree.

The FDA panel subsequently agreed to recommend COVID-19 vaccine booster shots for Americans 65 and older, as well as those at high risk of serious illness, but rejecting the use of booster shots in general.

“Anything less than a full-throated endorsement could complicate the (US President Joe) Biden administration’s plan to begin distributing extra shots next week to boost immunity among the vaccinated and counter highly transmissible variants of the virus such as Delta,” The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday.

 

Source: Xinhua News Agency

 

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COVID 19

Mandatory COVID-19 Green Pass rule on job market enters into force in Italy

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All workers in the Italian job market are required to hold the Green Pass proving COVID-19 vaccination, otherwise they will be put on unpaid leave, according to the latest anti-pandemic protocol that came into effect on Friday.

The latest anti-pandemic protocol requiring all workers in the Italian job market to hold the Green Pass proving COVID-19 vaccination entered into force on Friday.

The Italian government introduced the rule on Sept. 16, then gave companies and employers one month to adjust.

The Green Pass is the certificate showing proof that a person has received at least one dose of the vaccine, or is fully immunized, or has recovered from the infection, or has tested negative in the last 48 hours.

The new rule is now in force for all workers in both private and public sectors.

The rule provides that any worker who fails to show the Green Pass will be put on unpaid leave, but could not be dismissed. They could also face a fine of up to 1,500 euros (1,740 U.S. dollars) for not complying.

Employers would be held responsible for checking their workers enter their job posts with the Green Pass.

A tourist shows her green pass before entering the Torre degli Asinelli in Bologna, Italy, on Aug. 6, 2021. (Xinhua/Gianni Schicchi)

While the majority of Italy’s population accepted it as necessary to further proceed towards normal life, the move met with protests by some parts of the society.

Sit-ins and rallies were registered in some cities on Friday, the largest of which in the two main ports in the country’s northwest and northeast — Genoa and Trieste, respectively.

Some 5,000 protesters were involved in Trieste, where some of the major harbor’s activities were affected, regional governor Massimiliano Fedriga told private all-news TV channel Sky TG24.

Traffic disruption was reported before the ports of Genoa and of Ancona (central Italy). Smaller protests were also seen in Rome, Milan, Turin, and Venice.

Yet, people opposing the vaccination and the mandatory green pass made a minority in the country, as 80.8 percent of the target population — those aged above 12 — have fully immunized, and over 85 percent had a first dose, according to the Health Ministry.

Italy is the first European Union country to go this far in terms of anti-COVID protocols in the job market. The government had moved gradually in an earlier phase, making vaccines mandatory only for workers in essential sectors such as health care and education.

Students enter a primary school in Bologna, Italy, on Sept. 13, 2021. Over 3.8 million students across Italy went back to school on Monday. (Xinhua/Gianni Schicchi)

However, many remained reluctant, and with the beginning of autumn and the need to boost the economy as much as possible, such stringent regulation was deemed as a necessary further push to the ongoing vaccination campaign, which remains strongly recommended but not mandatory.

At least 8 million people aged above 12 have yet to receive the first vaccine dose, according to the latest report provided by the country’s coronavirus emergency commissioner Francesco Figliuolo.

ROME, Oct. 15 (Xinhua)

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COVID 19

Flu numbers continue to spike in capital

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Statistics show that flu numbers have continued to spike up in the past month, in the capital Male’.

Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital (IGMH) opened a flu clinic and statistics released by the flu clinic show grim numbers. The clinic on a daily basis sees at least 100 people, with numbers bottoming at 123 cases on October 8, Friday.

Health Protection Agency (HPA) had warned public about increasing common cold and influenza cases at the end of September. The Agency had urged public to keep masks on at all times, while out in public, to avoid crowds, and for high-risk individuals to get covid and flu shots as soon as possible.

HPA has also appealed to public to get tested for covid if flu-like symptoms are detected and to go straight to flu clinic, instead of the hospital.

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The IMF has lowered its global economic outlook due to the Delta spike and a vaccination split

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The International Monetary Fund (IMF) modestly lowered its global economic outlook on Tuesday, citing the “great vaccination divide,” supply bottlenecks, and inflation risks as reasons for the COVID-19 spike.

“The global recovery is continuing, but progress has slowed due to the epidemic,” IMF Chief Economist Gita Gopinath said during a virtual news conference held during the IMF and World Bank Group’s annual meetings.

The IMF forecasted worldwide growth of 5.9% in 2021 in its recently issued World Economic Outlook, down 0.1 percentage points from July’s prediction, while warning that the “small headline revision” for the global economy “masks considerable downgrades” for individual nations.

Gopinath said the outlook for low-income developing nations, in particular, has “darkened considerably” due to worsening pandemic dynamics, noting that overall risks to economic prospects have increased and policy trade-offs have become “more difficult.”

According to the report, low-income developing countries are on track to grow by 3.0% this year, down 0.9 percentage point from July’s prediction.

Gopinath said the “big vaccination difference” and substantial variations in policy support are the causes of a “dangerous divergence” in economic prospects among countries, which remains a major concern.

In a remote video interview with Xinhua on Tuesday, Petya Koeva Brooks, deputy director of the IMF’s Research Department, said, “We are really concerned (about the vaccine difference) and we are doing everything we can to make the case to be clear on the numbers, which are worrying.”

“Roughly 60% of the population in advanced economies and about a third in emerging markets are completely vaccinated, but the corresponding figure for low-income countries is less than 5% of the population,” Brooks added.

The IMF asked the international community to step up efforts to guarantee that every country has equal vaccine access, to eliminate vaccine reluctance where there is sufficient supply, and to improve everyone’s economic prospects.

Recent contributions in that regard by China, the Group of Seven developed nations, and other countries are “welcome,” according to the report, though donations should be increased to quickly fulfill the obligations.

“I believe there have been promises of surplus vaccines being shared and other similar things. I believe the logistics side of things has been slow “Brooks went on to say that it’s critical to see that these donation pledges are fulfilled.

The IMF official also urged countries to implement “complimentary” measures such as treatments, testing, and contact tracing, stressing that the global lender has asked policymakers to fund $20 billion in assistance for low-income countries.

 

Source: Xinhua News Agency

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