COVID19 🦠 Newsbites
Brazil plunges into crisis as a second wave and deadly new variant overwhelm hospitals
A second wave of Covid-19 is ripping through Brazil, pushing hospitals and ICUs toward collapse. The country has broken its own record three times this month for the number of deaths in a 24-hour period. More than 270,000 people are known to have died due to Covid-19, giving Brazil the second-highest national death toll after the US.

While a new variant of the coronavirus spreads throughout the country, many Brazilians continue to defy mask mandates and mobility restrictions following the example of President Jair Bolsonaro, who recently said people need to "stop being sissies" and "whining" about the virus.
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All living former Presidents except Trump urge Americans to get vaccinated in new ad campaign
The ad campaign reunites almost every member of the so-called President's Club, the group of living former commanders in chief. Former President Donald Trump and former first lady Melania Trump are not featured in either ad, the only living president and first lady to not participate. CNN has previously reported that both received the coronavirus vaccine in January at the White House but did not publicize the fact until weeks after they had left Washington. On Wednesday, before the ad was published, Trump put out a statement claiming credit for the vaccine, but he was not included in the ad promoting it to the American people.

There are two ads in the campaign: a minute-long, more personal spot that shows the four former presidents and former first ladies receiving their vaccines, and another that features Clinton, Bush and Obama standing together to urge Americans to step up and get vaccinated.

The ads are being released at a critical time in the fight against the coronavirus and one year after the outbreak was first declared a pandemic.

With vaccines becoming more widely available in cities and states across the country, those in charge of getting vaccines in the arms of Americans are eager to use the influence of people such as the former presidents to push people to get their shots. Vaccine hesitancy remains an issue, even as the number of people hesitant to get the vaccine has been dropping rapidly.
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16 states no longer require face coverings
Here are the states with no mask requirements:
  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Idaho
  • Iowa
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • North Dakota
  • Oklahoma
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
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With Trump gone, QAnon groups focus fury on attacking coronavirus vaccines
Within the alternative universe of the “Q NEWS OFFICIAL TV” group on Telegram, coronavirus vaccines aren’t saving lives and bending the pandemic toward its eventual end. Rather, they are bioweapons concocted by an evil cabal of corrupt government officials and drug companies.

Their goal? Depopulation. Social control. Altering the very genetic structure of our species.

Such unhinged conspiracy theories once ran rampant on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. But months of purging accounts that trafficked heavily in the baseless QAnon ideology — especially after it helped fuel the Jan. 6 siege on the U.S. Capitol — have reduced those voices on leading social media sites.

Now adherents of QAnon, an extremist ideology that the FBI has deemed a domestic terrorism threat, can be found in the less-visible but still-virulent world of encrypted chat app groups on Telegram and elsewhere. These largely unmoderated online spaces have become cauldrons of ludicrous claims about the pandemic and breeding grounds for an increasingly intense alliance between QAnon and covid denialism.

Videos with names such as “Murder By ‘Vaccine’ — The Evidence Mounts!” and “Doctors and Nurses Giving the coronavirus vaccine Will Be Tried as War Criminals” have been viewed tens of thousands of times after being linked on QAnon-themed channels, including “Q NEWS OFFICIAL TV,” which has more than 50,000 members. Other QAnon groups on Telegram have more than 200,000 members — and endless streams of misinformation about the pandemic.

“Nothing so far has been able sink QAnon, whether it be massive purges by social media companies or the failure of its so-called plan to manifest,” said Rita Katz, executive director of the SITE Intelligence Group, which tracks online extremism. “Now, as energy around its election-related conspiracy theories loses momentum, the Q movement has doubled its focus on themes like covid-19 denialism and vaccine skepticism.”
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High Obesity Rates In Southern States Magnify COVID-19's Threat
Obesity and weight-related illnesses have been deadly liabilities in the COVID-19 era. A report released this month by the World Obesity Federation found that increased body weight is the second-greatest predictor of COVID-19-related hospitalization and death across the globe, trailing only old age as a risk factor.

As a fixture of life in much of America, especially in the American South — home to nine of the nation's 12 heaviest states — obesity is playing a role not only in COVID-19 outcomes but in the calculus of the vaccination rollout.

Mississippi was one of the first states to add a body mass index of 30 or more (a rough gauge of obesity tied to height and weight) to the list of qualifying medical conditions for the shots. About 40% of the state's adults meet that definition, according to federal health survey data, and combined with the risk group already eligible for vaccination — residents 65 and older — that means fully half of Mississippi's adults are entitled to vie for a restricted allotment of shots.

... The sheer prevalence of obesity in the nation was a public health concern long before the coronavirus pandemic — 2 in 3 Americans exceed what is considered a healthy weight, with 42% falling into the obesity range, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But COVID-19 dramatically fast-tracked the discussion from warnings about the long-term damage that excess fat tissue can pose to heart, lung and metabolic functions to far more immediate threats.
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Biden Wants All Adults Eligible for Vaccination by May 1

President Biden on Thursday called on states to make the coronavirus vaccine available to all adults by May 1 and said he was hopeful that the country could return to some form of normal life by the Fourth of July.

A year ago, we were hit with a virus that was met with silence and spread unchecked — denials for days, weeks, then months, that led to more deaths, more infections, more stress and more loneliness. A year filled with the loss of life and the loss of living for all of us. But in the loss, we saw how much there was to gain, in appreciation, respect and gratitude. Finding light in the darkness is a very American thing to do. I’m announcing that I will direct all states, tribes and territories to make all adults, people 18 and over, eligible to be vaccinated no later than May 1. With the passage of the American Rescue Plan, and I thank again the House and Senate for passing it, and my announcement last month of a plan to vaccinate teachers and school staff, we can accelerate massive nationwide effort to reopen our schools safely. If we do this together, by July the Fourth, there’s a good chance you, your families and friends will be able to get together in your backyard or in your neighborhood and have a cookout and a barbecue and celebrate Independence Day. After this long, hard year, that will make this Independence Day something truly special — where we not only mark our independence as a nation, but we begin to mark our independence from this virus.
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Hungary Pays $36 Per Dose for Chinese Vaccine
Hungary has agreed to pay about $36 a dose for Covid-19 vaccines made by Sinopharm, a Chinese state-owned vaccine maker, according to contracts made public by a senior Hungarian official on Thursday. That appears to make the Sinopharm shot among the most expensive in the world.

Hungary has agreed to buy five million doses of the Sinopharm vaccine, priced at 30 euros ($36) each, according to contracts that Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s chief of staff, Gergely Gulyas, uploaded to his Facebook page. That price far surpasses what the European Union has agreed to pay for vaccines from Western manufacturers.

The European Union has said it would pay €15.50 per dose for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, according to Reuters, which cited an internal E.U. document. For AstraZeneca, it agreed to pay $2.15 per dose, according to Belgium’s budget secretary.

The contracts that Mr. Gulyas published also show that Hungary, which has recorded nearly half a million cases and more than 16,000 deaths, has agreed to pay $9.95 per dose for the Russian Sputnik-V vaccine.
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Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a contagious disease caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The first case was identified in Wuhan, China, in December 2019. It has since spread worldwide, leading to an ongoing pandemic.

Symptoms of COVID-19 are variable, but often include fever, cough, fatigue, breathing difficulties, and loss of smell and taste. Symptoms begin one to fourteen days after exposure to the virus. Most people (81%) develop mild to moderate symptoms (up to mild pneumonia), while 14% develop severe symptoms (dyspnea, hypoxia, or more than 50% lung involvement on imaging) and 5% of patients suffer critical symptoms (respiratory failure, shock, or multiorgan dysfunction). At least a third of the people who are infected with the virus remain asymptomatic and do not develop noticeable symptoms at any point in time, but can spread the disease. Some patients continue to experience a range of effects—known as long COVID—for months after recovery and damage to organs has been observed. Multi-year studies are underway to further investigate the long term effects of the disease.

Source: Coronavirus disease 2019 - Wikipedia