COVID19 🦠 Newsbites
Ivanka Trump breaks Twitter silence to posts photos of herself getting a COVID-19 vaccine
  • Ivanka Trump posted photos of herself receiving a COVID-19 vaccine on Wednesday.
  • Trump is the first member of her immediate family to publicize her vaccination.
  • Republican voters and Trump loyalists are disproportionately hesitant or unwilling to get vaccinated.
Ivanka Trump, former President Donald Trump's eldest daughter, broke her months-long silence on Twitter to post photos of herself getting a COVID-19 vaccination on Wednesday.

"Today, I got the shot!!! I hope that you do too!" Trump tweeted. "Thank you Nurse Torres!!!"

Trump, who hasn't tweeted in almost three months, is the first member of her immediate family to publicize her vaccination. The former president and first lady didn't tell the public that they were vaccinated. The news that they privately received immunizations in January was first reported by The New York Times in March.

Trump's enthusiastic post about the COVID-19 vaccine is potentially significant because Republican voters and Trump loyalists are disproportionately hesitant or unwilling to get vaccinated.

About 25% of Trump voters told pollster Frank Luntz that they "definitely will not" get vaccinated and another 21% said they would wait for over a year to get the shot. Younger Republican women, those who live in rural areas, and those who don't have a college degrees, are particularly concerned about getting a vaccine.
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A number on Covid-19 vaccinations that will leave you shaking your head in wonder
The vaccine -- whether it's Moderna, Pfizer or, yes, Johnson   Johnson -- is our only path back to normal. Every expert says so. Unless and until we reach herd immunity, the virus will constrain our ability to get back to some semblance of what life was like before March 2020.

The only other way we get there is if lots and lots more people get Covid-19 -- like somewhere between 70% and 85% of the population. Which, if past is prologue, would mean a lot more deaths before we got to that point.

Given those two choices, getting the vaccine seems like the better one! Right? Right!

So, why do nearly half of Republicans say they will "never" get it?

Some part of that group is either broadly suspicious about vaccines or has their doubts about the Covid-19 vaccine in particular because it was developed far faster than any previous vaccine.

The large number of Republicans who say they never will get the vaccine seems to me to be better explained by the fact that, unfortunately, the coronavirus has been politicized -- largely by ex-President Donald Trump -- almost since it arrived on our shores.

After dismissing the virus -- and its impacts -- in early 2020, Trump repeatedly promised that things were getting better and that we would be back to normal very, very soon. (Remember when he said he wanted to see church pews filled for Easter 2020?) Then once it became clear that until a vaccine was developed masks were our best defense against the virus, Trump spent months downplaying the need for masks and mocking the likes of Joe Biden for wearing one. And in the waning days of his presidency -- and after he had left office -- Trump publicly questioned the judgment of Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, and sought to undermine the broader views of infectious disease experts.

... The politicization of the virus is how we get to the point where more than 4 in 10 Republicans are willing to say that they will never do a thing that is the only serious path back to normal. It didn't have to be this way -- and more people could die, who didn't need to, because of it. And what's worse? It's hard to imagine anyone being able to change that reality.
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Many Evangelicals say they won't be vaccinated against Covid-19. Some experts say distrust and misinformation have played a role
The anti-Covid vaccine sentiment among Evangelicals is fed by a mixture of distrust in government, ignorance about how vaccines work, misinformation and political identity, some experts say.

"They (Evangelicals) are the group that is the most likely to say that they are not going to take the vaccine," Samuel Perry, a sociology professor at University of Oklahoma who specializes in religion, told CNN. "They have from the beginning exercised or expressed the most resistance to the vaccine."

And they have maintained that stance over and over in surveys in the last six months, according to Perry.

Among Republicans, White Evangelical Christians are more likely than other religious groups to believe in certain conspiracy theories, according to a study by the conservative American Enterprise Institute.

"There is a tendency within White Christian nationalism, to want to believe these kinds of conspiracies, because I think it reinforces this idea of an us versus them," Perry said. "The problem is, the people who are feeding that fear, have an incentive to keep stoking that fear because people keep clicking, and people keep listening."

News and information "silos" are also playing a part in vaccine hesitancy among Evangelicals, who listen to conservative media hosts who question the vaccines or outright denounce them, Perry said.

Fox News' Tucker Carlson, for example, recently questioned whether the vaccines actually work.

... Evangelicals make up about 25% of the US population, according to Pew. And some experts say that 70% of the population needs to get the vaccine to help control Covid-19.

"This is a highly contagious infection," Dr. William Schaffner, professor of medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, previously told CNN. "So we anticipate that in order to really substantially control the disease, we will have to vaccinate around 70% of the population at least, it's so contagious, that we need lots of people protected so that the virus can't find somebody else to infect."
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Moderna hopes to have Covid booster shot for its vaccine ready by the fall, CEO says
  • Moderna hopes to have a Covid booster shot available for Americans by the fall, according to CEO Stephane Bancel.
  • Last month, the NIH began testing a variety of offerings from Moderna to use as a third shot as concern grows about emerging variants.
  • The Massachusetts-based biotech firm expects to submit booster shot data to U.S. regulators within a few months, Bancel told CNBC on Wednesday.
The Food and Drug Administration’s approach to authorizing modified Covid vaccines is similar to that of annual flu vaccines, meaning they could be cleared for emergency use without lengthy clinical trials.

Bancel’s comments came one day after Moderna announced its existing vaccine was more than 90% effective at protecting against Covid up to six months after the second dose. It was more than 95% effective against severe disease within that same time frame, the biotech firm said in its update, which could bring it closer to obtaining full regulatory approval.

There are currently 453 reported cases in the U.S. involving the B.1.351 variant, according to data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That variant, in particular, has concerned public health experts. It’s been shown to reduce the effectiveness of existing Covid vaccines, including from Moderna.

Bancel on Wednesday reiterated his belief that annual Covid vaccine boosters will be commonplace going forward, saying the coronavirus “is not going away” and it’s “not leaving the planet.”

“I anticipate in the next year or so, we’re going to see a lot of variants. But as more and more people get vaccinated or naturally infected, the pace of the variant is going to slow down and the virus is going to stabilize like you see with flu,” he said.

Eventually, Bancel added, Moderna hopes to be able to have a two-in-one vaccine of sorts that protects against seasonal flu and Covid. The company in September announced its intentions to make a flu vaccine.

“What we’re trying to do at Moderna actually is to get a flu vaccine in the clinic this year and then combine our flu vaccine to our Covid vaccine so you only have to get one boost at your local CVS store ... every year that would protect you to the variant of concern against Covid and the seasonal flu strain,” Bancel said.

“We believe we can get to a high efficacy flu vaccine,” he added. On any given year, current flu vaccines are roughly between 40% and 60% effective, according to the CDC.
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'It's Not A Never Thing' — White, Rural Southerners Hesitant To Get COVID Vaccine
"There's nothing inherently unique about living in a rural area that makes people balk at getting vaccinated. It's just that rural areas have a larger share of people in the most vaccine-resistant groups: Republicans and white evangelical Christians," says Drew Altman, president and CEO of the Kaiser Family Foundation.

The foundation's latest survey data find that more rural residents have been fully vaccinated than urban dwellers. But this is likely because there haven't been the same long waits in rural areas to get the vaccine. And now the initial demand has tapered to a drip. Currently, the number of rural residents (21%) saying they'll never get the vaccine is twice the number (10%) in urban areas.

... Public health officials in Tennessee expected to face some reluctance when the COVID-19 vaccine finally arrived. But they were surprised to realize that the most stubborn group might be white, largely conservative residents in rural Tennessee.

National polling by NPR, PBS NewsHour and Marist finds that rural, white Republicans — particularly supporters of Trump's — are among the least likely to get a vaccine. The issue is evident in state-by-state vaccination rates, with Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi and Tennessee trailing the rest of the country. The White House has begun launching new initiatives targeting so-called red states, such as setting up partnerships with NASCAR, professional sports and even country music.

... In many rural communities, scant attention has been paid to batting down rumors or answering vaccine questions. Public health officials in Tennessee and other Southern states have been far more focused on building trust with Black and immigrant groups concentrated in urban areas. And even their outreach in rural communities has targeted those traditionally underserved groups.

But some leaders of rural communities are the ones actively sowing doubts. They include state legislators pushing anti-vaccine legislation and even a few pastors piping up on Sunday mornings.

... Southern states, where vaccination rates are the lowest in the country, have frequently turned to ministers, seeing them as key allies who are trusted at the local level. But it's mostly Black churches, from Mississippi to Georgia, that have agreed to hold informational town halls or organize and host vaccine events.
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Fauci Says Coronavirus Vaccines Are Highly Effective Against U.K. Variant

Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, testified before Congress that the current vaccines on the market would be effective at preventing against the U.K. coronavirus variant, which is considered particularly contagious.

The good news is that one of the variants that’s becoming dominant in this country, the B.1.1.7., which was originally recognized in the United Kingdom, is very well covered by the vaccines that we are using. And in fact, even with others that are more problematic, if the vaccine doesn’t protect against the initial infection, it protects against severe disease. I want to close by a comment that I believe really characterizes where we are. We are in a race between vaccinating as many people as quickly and as expeditiously as we possibly can, and the threat of the resurgence of viruses in our country, because as we know, we’re at a precarious situation with many states having increases in the daily number of cases. In fact, the average is now over 60,000 per day. And that is something that we really must pay attention to.
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Dr. Fauci and Rep. Jordan Spar Over Reopening

Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, President Biden’s top medical adviser for the coronavirus, and Representative Jim Jordan, Republican of Ohio, engaged in a heated exchange over the current virus restrictions in the country.

“What metrics, what measures, what has to happen before Americans get more freedoms?” “My message, Congressman Jordan, is to get as many people vaccinated as quickly as we possibly can to get the level of infection in this country low, that it is no longer a threat. That is when, and I believe when that happens, you will see —” “What determines when?” “I’m sorry —” What measure, I mean, are we just going to continue this forever? When does, when does, when do we get to the point, what measure, what standard, what objective, outcome do we have to reach before Americans get their liberty and freedoms back?” “You know, you’re indicating liberty and freedom. I look at it as a public health measure to prevent people from dying and going to the hospital.” “You don’t think Americans’ liberties have been threatened the last year, Dr. Fauci? They’ve been assaulted. Their liberties have.” “I don’t look at this as a liberty thing, Congressman Jordan.” “Well, that’s obvious.” “I look at it as a public health thing. You’re making this a personal thing, and it isn’t.” “It’s not a personal thing.” “No — you are. That is exactly what you’re doing.” “No, your recommendations carry a lot of weight, Dr. Fauci, we just had the chair of the Financial Services Committee said she loves you, and you’re the greatest thing in the world.” “Will the gentleman yield?” “Our conclusions are consistent —” “Will the gentleman yield?” “No, it’s my time.” “Can I answer the question, please? My recommendations are not a personal recommendation. It’s based on the C.D.C. guidance.” “And the American people want Dr. Fauci to answer the question, what does it have to be —” “It has expired, sir.” “You need to respect the chair and shut your mouth.”
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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