White House

Biden Celebrates Milestone of 200 Million Doses in First 100 Days of Presidency

During a speech giving an update on the country’s vaccination efforts, Biden announced that the country has surpassed his goal of 200 million shots administered in his first 100 days in office.

The president also announced a new tax credit during the speech on Wednesday that will give workers of small businesses paid time off in order to receive Covid-19 vaccinations.

Biden called for companies of all sizes to allow employees paid time off to get a vaccine but the tax credit, which will be funded by the Covid-19 relief bill passed last month, will only be available to businesses with fewer than 500 employees.

The new tax credit system allows for up to $511 a day for each employee but Biden called on all firms, regardless of size, to offer time off and other incentives, such as gift cards or bonuses, to encourage employees to get vaccinated as soon as they can.

Biden said in his speech this week: “Back in December, I set a goal of administrating 100 million shots, vaccine shots in my first 100 days in office. At the time, some told us that couldn’t be done, it was awfully ambitious, but we did it in 58 days because of the incredible staff I have. And so I set a second goal to deliver 200 million shots in my first 100 days in office, a goal unmatched in the world or in prior mass vaccination efforts in American history.”

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“When tomorrow’s vaccine and vaccination numbers come out, it will show that today, we did it,” the president continued.

“Today, we hit 200 million shots in the 92nd day in office. 200 million shots in a hundred days, in under a hundred days actually. It’s an incredible achievement for the nation and here’s the context.

“You know, at the pace we were moving when I took office, it would have taken us more than 220 days, almost seven months, seven and a half months to reach 200 million shots. Instead of marking this a milestone in April, we would not have seen it until early September at the earliest. Some experts say that the rapid vaccination effort has already saved tens of thousands of American lives. We’ll never know exactly, but we know it saved lives that would have otherwise been lost.”

Even with the United States this week reaching Biden’s goal of 200 million administered shots, vaccine supply is starting to outweigh demand in some areas of the country. Despite the suspension of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine because of an ongoing safety review, the government has been shipping out more doses of each vaccine than are being used in recent weeks, a senior administration official told ABC News.

Biden revealed that the country is now entering a new phase of its vaccinations efforts as focus is shifted from getting the vaccine to those most vulnerable to the general population.

The administration official claimed that while some are resistant against the vaccine because of safety concerns, others are simply feeling less urgency because they are younger and require a process with fewer obstacles and some encouragement.

“I’m proud of the work my administration has done to get Americans vaccine, but more than that, I’m proud of the American people, the volunteers who showed up to staff vaccination sites in their neighborhoods, drove senior citizens to get their shots, FEMA, the military, the National Guard, state and local health departments and providers running sites safely and efficiently, retired healthcare workers coming back to give life-saving shots to people in their communities.,” Biden continued during his speech.

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“This is an American achievement, a powerful demonstration of unity and resolve, what unity will do for us, and a reminder of what we’re going to accomplish when we pull together as one people to a common goal.

“Now that we’ve reached this milestone, we’re entering a new phase of our vaccination effort. As of Monday, at my direction, with the support of 50 governors, Democrats and Republicans alike, everyone over the age of 16 will be eligible to get vaccinated. The first three months of our vaccination program focused on targeting vaccines to specific high-risk groups. Now our objective is to reach everyone, everyone over the age of 16 in America.

“We head into this next phase, it’s important for us to look at where we stand. After three months of targeting vaccinations largely to healthcare workers, frontline workers, and people with high-risk conditions, nursing homes, nursing home residents and seniors, the progress we’ve made has been stunning.

“Let me point out a few achievements. First, as of this past Sunday, more than 50% of adult Americans have had at least one vaccine shot. We still have a long way to go, but that’s an important marker of progress. When it comes to our target groups, the largest groups we focused on in these past 92 days have been seniors, Americans aged 65 and older that account for 80% of all the COVID deaths before we started vaccinating.”

Real-World Data Shows Pfizer And AstraZeneca Side Effects Are Less Than Initially Expected

According to a recent study published in the Lancet Infectious Diseases journal, fewer people reported side effects after their Pfizer or AstraZeneca vaccines in the real world when compared to the amount of individuals who experienced side effects in clinical trial settings. 

The study revealed one in four people who got their vaccination from either company reported mild systemic side effects. Systemic reactions are defined as reactions that affect the whole body, so things like injection-site pain don’t count. 

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The findings were also based on data from the ZOE COVID Symptom Study app, which more than 620,000 people in the United Kingdom have used to share their vaccine side effects. According to the data: “far fewer people reported fatigue than in clinical trials. Roughly 14% of app users said they experienced fatigue after their second Pfizer shot, while 63% reported feeling fatigued after either dose during the company’s clinical trials. Among AstraZeneca recipients, about 21% documented fatigue via the app, compared with 53% in trials.”

“The data should reassure many people that in the real world, after effects of the vaccine are usually mild and short-lived, especially in the over-50s who are most at risk of the infection,” Tim Spector, the study’s lead author and an epidemiologist at King’s College London, said in a statement

The ZOE app revealed that headaches were the most commonly reported side effect for the Pfizer vaccine specifically. About 13% of Pfizer recipients said they experienced a headache after their second dose; 55% of clinical trial patients reported having a headache after their second Pfizer dose. 

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For AstraZeneca, about 23% of recipients in the real world reported headache via the app, while 53% of clinical trial participants experienced headaches. Although it’s not a systemic side effect, injection-site pain has also been less common in real world settings. 

84% of all Pfizer clinical trial participants experienced some level of pain where they received their vaccination. Real world data suggests that about 57% of Pfizer recipients experienced soreness after their first dose while 51% reported soreness after the second injection. The AstraZeneca vaccine showed similar results as well. 

It’s important to note that since a lot of the data is based on self-reporting through a smartphone app, there’s obviously room for error as participants may have forgotten to log their side effects, or opted to not log all of them. 

According to Yahoo News: “In J&J’s clinical trials, less than 50% of people reported arm pain, and around 38% reported headaches and fatigue. Nearly 92% of people in the Moderna clinical trials, meanwhile, reported pain at the injection site after the second dose, while nearly 69% reported fatigue, and 63% reported a headache.”

Doctor Giving Vaccine

Johnson and Johnson Rare Blood Clots Cause CDC Headaches

Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine has had its use in the US suspended after health advisers told the government this week that more evidence is required to decide if a handful of extremely rare blood clots were linked to the shot.

Only six cases out of more than 7 million inoculations in the US have been reported with the one-dose vaccine but the government officially recommended a pause in Johnson & Johnson vaccinations this week. European regulators declared last week that such clots are a possible risk with the AstraZeneca vaccine, a shot produced in a similar way but not yet approved for use in the US.

Advisers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had to wrestle with the fact that the US has enough vaccine alternatives to carry on without the Johnson & Johnson vaccine for some time, but other countries anxiously awaiting the one-and-done shot may not.

“Yesterday, the FDA and CDC announced that out of an abundance of caution, it recommended a pause in the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine as they review data involving six reported US cases of a rare and severe type of blood clot in individuals after receiving the J&J vaccine. I want to be clear that this announcement will not have a significant impact on our vaccination program. The J&J vaccine makes up less than 5% of the more than 190 million recorded shots in the arms in the US to date,” White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Jeff Zients said during the latest White House Covid-19 press conference.

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“Importantly, this means we have more than enough supply of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to continue the current pace of vaccinations, meet the president’s goal of 200 million shots by his 100th day in office, and continue to reach every adult who wants to be vaccinated by the end of May. We are working now with our state and federal partners to get anyone currently scheduled for a J&J vaccine quickly rescheduled for a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. We’re seeing this take place across the country.”

The reported clots, now under investigation, are extremely rare varieties. They occurred in atypical places, in veins that drain blood from the brain and usually have low platelet counts. The sufferers of the clots were also unusual as well, as they were people with low level of clot-forming platelets.

According to the CDC’s Dr Tom Shimabukuro, the six cases of blood clots have raised alarm bells because that number is at least three times more than experts would have expected to see even of more typical brain-damage clots.

“The president has committed to the American people that his administration will always lead with science, tell the truth, and give Americans the facts as we know them,” Zients continued at the press conference.

“Over the past 24 hours, we’ve been working to provide clear information to the public related to the J&J pause, engaging state and local health officials, governors, community leaders, clinicians, and medical experts, and our public health officials will continue to appear on television, radio and social media to communicate directly to the American people so Americans have the latest information and answers to their questions and the opportunity to learn more about the safety and the efficacy of the vaccines and the importance of getting vaccinated.”

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To date, the Johnson and Johnson vaccine has only played a minor role in the United States’ vaccination efforts. More than 120 million Americans have received at least one vaccine dose, the vast majority of which have been shots made by Moderna of Pfizer. 23% of the population is fully vaccinated.

Although the Johnson and Johnson vaccine is not pivotal to the US’ overall vaccination plan, there are fears the clot concerns could undermine confidence in the shot that was tipped by many to help some of the hardest-to-reach populations – in poor countries or in places like homeless shelters in the US.

“Stepping back, building vaccine confidence and increasing access to vaccination is central to our efforts to put this pandemic behind us. That’s why we’ve invested $3 billion to help states and community-based organizations build vaccine confidence, particularly in the hardest hit and highest risk communities,” Zients said.

“We are getting fact-based messaging and resources into the hands of trusted local messengers. And it’s why we are making data on the state of the pandemic publicly available, holding these regular press briefings and are committed to sharing the facts at every turn.

“Yesterday’s action should give the American people confidence in the FDA and CDC, the thoroughness of their review process and their commitment to transparency and protection of public health. We believe that by empowering Americans with data and facts, we will strengthen the public’s trust in government and increase their confidence in the vaccines.”

Vaccine Development

Greta Thunberg Calls Out Vaccine Inequality Between Rich And Poor Countries

Teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg wants the world to “step their game up” when it comes to vaccine manufacturing, development, and distribution. Specifically, she joins a call from a multitude of climate and human rights activists who are fighting against vaccine inequality after the world’s richest countries purchased a majority of the planet’s Covid-19 doses, leaving those in poorer countries without. 

 The World Health Organization announced this week that 5.2 million new confirmed coronavirus cases have appeared throughout the world within the past week; this marks the largest weekly count yet according to the United Nation’s health agency.

Thunberg recently donated $120,000 from her charitable foundation to the WHO foundation to help buy more Covid vaccines for poor countries where they’re especially needed right now.

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“It is completely unethical that high-income countries are now vaccinating young and healthy people if that happens at the expense of people in risk groups and on the front lines in low- and middle-income countries,” said Thunberg, who was recently invited as a guest for a regular WHO briefing.

“While the development of Covid vaccines in record time is impressive, it’s estimated that one in four people in high-income countries have received them so far, while only one in 500 in middle and lower-income countries have.”

“The international community, governments and vaccine developers must step up their game and address the tragedy that is vaccine inequity. Just with the climate crisis, those who are the most vulnerable need to be prioritized and global problems require global solutions,” she continued. 

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Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO’s director general, recently discussed how new Covid cases rose for an eighth straight week in a row around the globe, while Covid-related deaths have been on the rise for the past five weeks straight. 

“Infections among people 25 to 29 are increasing at an alarming rate, possibly as a result of highly contagious variants and increased social mixing among younger adults.”

In total, more than 3 million patients have died within the past year of the pandemic, and more than 141 million residents around the world have been infected, according to Johns Hopkins University which has been collecting data since the beginning of the pandemic. 

Thunberg said people need to “step up for one another. We young people may be the ones who are least affected … by the virus in a direct way. Of course, many young people fail to draw that connection. Not all, but some.”

AstraZeneca Vaccine Linked to Potentially Fatal Blood Clot

A review by the UK drugs regulator has found that by the end of March 79 people in the UK had suffered rare blood clots after vaccinations, with 19 of those passing away. The regulator said that this did not constitute proof that the jab caused the clots, but it did say the link was becoming firmer.

AstraZeneca’s vaccine is cheaper to produce than most of the alternatives and it can safely be stored at higher temperatures, but the blood clot story is just the latest in a line of misfires from the pharmaceutical firm.

First, there were issues with trial data and controversies over trials in which half doses were administered. There have also been questions over the safety and efficacy of the drug in the elderly, and French President Emmanuel Macron even brandished it ‘quasi-ineffective’.

“Over 20 million doses of the AZ vaccine have been given in the UK. And we know that vaccines are the best way to protect people from COVID-19 and have already saved thousands of lives. And in fact, around 6,000 modeled in the UK by the end of February, but no effective medicine or vaccine is without risk. And with vaccines more complex than usual because the benefits can be to people other than the individual taking the vaccine,” Professor Raine said at a press conference held by UK and EU regulators to discuss the AstraZeneca vaccine.

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“Our role is to continually monitor safety during widespread use to confirm that the vaccines are performing as expected to identify any very rare side effects and to ensure the benefits outweigh the risks. The public’s safety is at the forefront of our minds. Our teams of safety experts, scientists, clinicians, and epidemiologists have investigated, reviewed, and evaluated thoroughly and scientifically all safety reports. And our safety rubric reviews are carried out in tandem with the vaccination program.

“We’ve gathered a large amount of data on the safety profile of the available vaccines, and we’ve done a rigorous scientific review of all the available data with regards to suspected blood clots with low platelet count.”

A Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) review found that the 79 cases and 19 deaths occurred after 20 million doses had been administered, meaning there is a risk of about four in one million of developing a blood clot, and one in a million of dying from it.

The review also found that nearly two-thirds of the cases were seen in women, while the people who died were all aged between 18 and 79, with three of them under the age of 30. Each of the recorded cases came after the first dose but because of the lower number of second doses, no conclusion should be drawn from this, according to the review.

“The Commission on Human Medicines Expert Working Group has also met frequently and critically assessed all the data alongside our regulatory review. And this has also included lay representatives and advice from leading hematologists,” Professor Raine continued. “Based on the current evidence, the benefits of the COVID-19 vaccine AstraZeneca against COVID-19 and its associated risks, hospitalization and death continues to outweigh the risks for the vast majority of people.

“Our review has reinforced that the risk of this rare suspected side effect remains extremely small. By the 31st of March, over 20 million doses having been given, we have had 79 case reports up to and including that date, 31st of March. All 79 cases occurred after the first dose. Of these 79 cases, 19 people have sadly died.

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These cases occurred in 51 women and 28 men, age from 18 to 79 years. And from these reports, the risk of this type of rare blood clot is about four people in a million who received the vaccine. Three out of the 19 were under 30 years. 14 of the 19 were of the cerebral venous sinus thrombosis with low platelets and five were other kinds of thrombosis in major veins.”

The EU’s medicines regulator has announced that it believes unusual blood clots should now be listed as a possible rare side effect of the AstraZeneca jab, but also that the benefits outweigh the risks. Some European countries have already begun to restrict distribution of the vaccine.

The World Health Organization said that the links between the vaccine and blood clots were ‘plausible’ while not confirmed, adding that incidents of the clots were ‘very rare’ among the nearly 200 million people who have received the jab across the world.

“The balance of benefits and risks is very favorable for older people, but it is more finely balanced for the younger people. And we at the MHRA are advising that this evolving evidence should be taken into account when considering how the vaccine is used,” Professor Raine said at the press conference.

“Today we’ll be communicating information and advice to healthcare professionals on how to minimize risks. And this will provide a lot of guidance, including how to report any suspected cases.”

Immunity Coronavirus

Expert Claims Israel May Have Reached ‘Sort Of Herd Immunity’ From Covid-19

Eran Segal is a computational biologist at the Weizmann Institute of Science who recently spoke with the local Israeli media about how Israel in general may have reached a “sort of herd immunity” after getting nearly 4.9 million residents fully vaccinated. This led to a 97% decrease in the amount of new Covid-19 cases appearing in the nation.

“It is possible that Israel has reached a sort of herd immunity and regardless, we have a wide safety net. I think that makes it possible to remove some of the restrictions immediately.”

Segal claimed that now that most Israelis are immunized, a multitude of economic sectors can begin reopening to assist the nation in its recovery post-pandemic. He also cited that since the gatherings over the Purim and Passover holidays did not lead to any direct spike in cases, the vaccines were proving to be more than effective.

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If Israel does actually achieve this goal, they will be the first country in the world to hit herd immunity. Last week, researchers at the University College London said that the United Kingdom would reach herd immunity by Friday; a claim that was immediately disputed.

Israel has already begun rolling back on a multitude of coronavirus restrictions within the recent months as more and more citizens received their vaccinations. Businesses were able to reopen, even venues and other gathering activities were able to occur more frequently has morbidity levels dropped exponentially with the country’s world-leading vaccination drive.

The Israeli Health Ministry is expected to lift outdoor mask mandates in public spaces later this month while some restrictions on gatherings and schools are still being enforced to protect younger generations.

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Israel is continuously limiting the number of people who can enter and/or exit the nation every day as well, as many experts are worried about the multitude of variants around the world that could potentially undermine the effectiveness of their vaccination program.

Government ministers this past week voted to further ease certain Covid-19 restrictions in schools; they removed the requirement that made fourth graders learn in much smaller class sizes. Ministers also ended the requirement that made all students present a health declarations signed by their parents to enter into a classroom. All universities and colleges are also now able to hold all tests in person.

Currently, Israeli residents are allowed to gather outdoors in crowds up to 100 and up to 20 for indoor gatherings. Cultural and even venues are allowed to host up to 750 people under the Green Pass Program. This program is designed to grant access to public venues exclusively for individuals who have been fully vaccinated or have recovered from the coronavirus.

As of this past Saturday there were 4,002 active Covid-19 cases throughout Israel; 221 of which were recently diagnosed last week. The Health Ministry claims that 268 individuals are in serious condition, but the death toll has remained at 6,292. According to the ministry over 5.3 million citizens are vaccinated with their first dose while 4.9 million are now fully immunized.

World Health Organization

UK, USA Criticize WHO Covid Report, Accuse China of Withholding Data

As part of a statement signed by 12 other countries, the US and UK have heavily criticized a World Health Organization (WHO) report into the origin of the coronavirus pandemic, while also accusing China of ‘withholding access to complete, original data and samples”.

The statement, whose other signatories include Australia and Canada, came soon after the head of the WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, admitted that his organization’s investigation was “not extensive enough” and that his team of experts had difficulties accessing raw information during their four-week visit to Wuhan at the beginning of the year.

On Tuesday, shortly after Tedros’ comments, the 14 countries – including the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia, Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia and Israel – said in a statement that they “fully” supported the WHO’s efforts to bring an end to the pandemic, including understanding how it “started and spread”.

But they also added that they felt it was “essential that we voice our shared concerns that the international expert study on the source of the SARS-CoV-2 virus was significantly delayed and lacked access to complete, original data and samples”.

The long-awaited report by WHO-commissioned experts and their Chinese counterparts concluded that the global pandemic probably came to humans from animals.

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WHO leader Tedros admitted that he believed there should be a continued examination of the theory that the virus had escaped from a Wuhan institute of virology laboratory, despite the report concluding that it was ‘extremely unlikely’ to be the source of the pandemic.

“In my discussions with the team, they expressed the difficulties they encountered in accessing raw data,” Tedros said.

“I expect future collaborative studies to include more timely and comprehensive data sharing,” he said pointedly while adding that the report “advances our understanding in important ways”.

“Although the team has concluded that a laboratory leak is the least likely hypothesis, this requires further investigation, potentially with additional missions involving specialist experts, which I am ready to deploy,” Tedros said.

While the WHO report found that a number of possible sources of the pandemic were unlikely, officials revealed that this investigation was just the beginning and a network of new, detailed investigations would now have to take place.

“We will see that in the report, there is a lot of very detailed information and useful information that again point towards the need for very specific new studies,” Dr. Ben Embarek revealed at the WHO briefing on their findings on Tuesday.

“The Chinese counterparts, ahead of our coming were also conducting a large number of surveys on animals, different types of animals, wild animals, animals from zoos, animals from farms, domestic animals, et cetera, dozens of thousands of animals were tested and all negative. So again, showing the difficulty of picking up a particular species as a potential intermediary host.”

“(President Biden believes) that the American people, the global community, the medical experts, the doctors, all of the people who’ve been working to save lives, the families who have lost loved ones, all deserve greater transparency. They deserve better information. They deserve steps that are taken by the global community to provide that,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said during her latest press conference, during which the topic of the latest WHO report was brought up by the attending media.

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“So there was an extensive statement put out by a number of countries, including the U.S. But let me highlight, and we’re still reviewing the report, but let me highlight some of the concerns that have come up to date: the report lacks crucial data, information, and access.

“It represents a partial and incomplete picture. There was a joint statement, as I noted that was put out. We also welcome a similar statement from the EU, and EU members sending a clear message that the global community shares these concerns.

“There are steps from here that we believe should be taken. There’s a second stage in this process that we believe should be led by international and independent experts. They should have unfettered access to data. They should be able to ask questions of people who are on the ground at this point in time. And that’s a step that WHO could take,” Psaki continued.

“They have not been transparent. They have not provided underlying data. That certainly doesn’t qualify as cooperation. The analysis performed to date from our experts, their concern is that there isn’t additional support for one hypothesis. It doesn’t lead us to any closer of an understanding or greater knowledge than we had six to nine months ago about the origin. It also doesn’t provide us guidelines or steps, recommended steps on how we should prevent this from happening in the future. And those are imperative.”

Pandemic Mental Health

1 In 3 Covid-19 Survivors Diagnosed With Mental Health Disorders Within 6 Months Of Recovery

A pandemic study regarding the long term effects of Covid-19 in its survivors has estimated that 1 in 3 individuals were diagnosed with neurological or psychiatric conditions within six months of their initial infection. 

The study was published this week in the peer-reviewed journal, The Lancet Psychiatry. The study itself used electronic health records from more than 230,000 Covid-19 patients mainly from the US and specifically regarding 14 different brain and mental health disorders. 

The study found that “34% of survivors were diagnosed with at least one of the 14 conditions, with 13% of those people being their first recorded neurological or psychiatric diagnosis. Mental health diagnoses were most common among patients, with 17% diagnosed with anxiety and 14% diagnosed with a mood disorder.”

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Neurological diagnoses were much more uncommon, however, they were more prevalent in patients who experienced serious illness during their Covid-19 infection. 7% of Covid-19 patients who had to be admitted to intensive care had a stroke, for example, and 2% were diagnosed with dementia. 

“It shows the toll that COVID takes is not just with the (disease itself), but also with the aftermath of the condition, which can be extremely complicated, involving not only the brain but other organs in the body as well,” said Dr. William Li, president and medical director of the Angiogenesis Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to the study of abnormal blood vessel growth.

The study also looked at around 100,000 flu patients and more than 230,000 patients who were diagnosed with a respiratory tract infection within the past year and found that neurological and psychiatric diagnoses were more common in individuals who fought Covid-19. 

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“There was a 44% greater risk of brain or mental health disorder diagnoses after COVID-19 than after the flu, and a 16% greater risk than with respiratory tract infections,” according to the study.

Julie Walsh-Messinger, assistant professor in the department of psychology at the University of Dayton, recently discussed how it’s possible that “coronavirus infection could lead to anxiety or depression as these conditions have been associated with inflammation typically seen in Covid-19.”

“We’re seeing higher rates of depression and anxiety across the board regardless of (COVID-19 infection) or not. It’s hard to tease apart how much of it is general stress-induced anxiety or depression because of lack of ability to socialize, lack of ability to engage in activities that one normally enjoys, fear about the future and how much of it is specific to the disease’s progress. Even so, the study is an important first step in what clinicians can expect from their patients who have recovered from COVID-19,” she explained. 

“The size of the study also demonstrates how the long-term effects of COVID-19 can impact a country’s health care system even after the disease is gone. Although the individual risks for most disorders are small, the effect across the whole population may be substantial for health and social care systems due to the scale of the pandemic. Health care systems need to be resourced to deal with the anticipated need,” said lead author Paul Harrison, a professor at the University of Oxford in the U.K.

Doctor Giving Coronavirus Vaccine

Half Of US Adults Could Be Vaccinated By This Weekend 

According to an adviser from the White House, the United States is currently on track to have half of all adults vaccinated with at least one Covid-19 shot by this weekend, however, the adviser also emphasized that this doesn’t mean America is done with the pandemic. 

“We do have to remember that there are 100 million-plus adults that still haven’t been vaccinated. They’re not there yet, and you don’t win the war until you bring everybody over with you.”

President Joe Biden recently announced the goal of getting vaccinations open for all adults in all 50 states by April 19th, a task that is becoming more and more likely to occur as vaccine supplies increase, according to Andy Slavitt, the White House senior adviser who recently spoke to the press regarding the pandemic. 

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Dr. Anthony Fauci has claimed that around 70-85% of the population needs to be vaccinated to reach a proper herd immunity, and many states have a large population of people who don’t want to be vaccinated. Current data projects that certain states will likely be done vaccinating all willing adults by mid-June, while others could take until the end of 2021. 

Some states have been criticized for prematurely lifting mask mandates and other procedures meant to curb the spread of the virus due to the fact that they feel the vaccine’s release is enough to re-open the world. Fauci claims this couldn’t be more false: 

“It’s too premature to declare victory, we’ve got to continue to hang in there a bit longer by continuing with the public health measures.”

Slavitt claims that the US is more than equipped to stay on course with vaccination efforts, which is a great sign for the future of the nation in regards to this pandemic’s end. This is great news considering more and more health experts are growing concerned with the number of variants of the virus appearing throughout all 50 states. 

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Dr. Rochelle Walensky is the director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention who recently discussed how “the daily rate of new cases has been on the rise over the last four weeks due to highly transmissible variants like B117 spreading.” According to Walensky within the past week alone five states have accounted for 44% of new Covid-19 cases. 

Within the past week there have been around 453,000 new cases in the US; New York, Michigan, Florida, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey accounting for 198,000 of those cases. According to data from Johns Hopkins University, “Michigan had the highest rate per capita and is leading the country in terms of new cases. Along with Michigan, Minnesota is also reporting some of the highest new cases in the country, however both states have high levels of vaccination.”

Many health experts are also discussing how to monitor which US citizens have been vaccinated and which haven’t in a post-pandemic world. Many believe that vaccine passports, or some form of official written proof of vaccination, should be required to enter into certain highly populated spaces. New York, for example, is currently testing out “Excelsior passes” to grant vaccinated citizens access to sports events and concerts at limited capacity. 

Director for the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota Michael Osterholm, recently claimed that “in addition to vaccination documentation debates, the US will also have to contend with ‘long Covid,’ a condition in which even patients with relatively mild illnesses could suffer symptoms long after their infection.”

One in three people who have been infected with Covid-19 have reported longer mental health and neurological symptoms, according to a recent study, so the US will have to continue to fund research that can help those individuals in their continued Covid journey after the pandemic comes to its eventual end.

Children Drinking Juice Box

Manchester Schools To Perform Study On Children’s Wellbeing Post-Pandemic 

A multitude of school districts in Manchester are participating in a study that’s looking into the wellbeing of children and their emotional responses to reentering the world as the pandemic reaches its eventual end. Two-thirds of parents believe that mental health should be prioritized over academic attainment in the coming school year. 

The Greater Manchester Young People’s Wellbeing Program will be running the study that will be gathering data from tens of thousands of young students across 250 secondary schools in the city of Manchester. This is the first study of its kind in the UK, and it will begin collecting data this fall. Initially, the program will attempt to learn young people’s feelings and concerns over returning to school, as well as their physical activity. 

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Research is also being conducted for the University of Manchester in association with the Anna Freud Center, the Youth Sports Trust, and the Greater Manchester combined authority. This major collaborative effort shows that Manchester authorities and educators are greatly concerned that students won’t be able to learn as successfully due to the amount of adjustments they’ve had to make within the past year. 

David Gregson is a philanthropist who first brought up the idea of performing this study. Gregson argues that “the UK has neglected the wellbeing and physical health of children in favor of academic attainment, to the detriment of their actual development.” 

The Youth Sports Trust also recently performed a survey that suggested parents agree with Gregson’s argument. The survey found that “65% of parents believed wellbeing was a key factor in choosing a child’s secondary school, while only 48% said the same of exam results. Meanwhile, 70% of parents with children between the ages of 11 and 16 said their children’s wellbeing had suffered during the pandemic.”

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“I first took this idea to Greater Manchester in 2019 and all Covid has done, as the tide has gone out, is expose the pebbles we knew existed. For me, our education system has become too focused on attainment. A necessary but insufficient assessment,” Gregson said. 

“We’ve got ourselves into the position where we think that attainment is the be-all and end-all and I don’t agree with that. I want to change that dialogue and I want to improve the wellbeing of young people in Greater Manchester to prove that point.”

Gregson claims that all the data collected in this program will be shared with local authorities and government leaders so that they can recognize, and hopefully change, areas of need within the education system. 

“My 10-year plan is to add a second leg to the assessment of young people in Britain that we don’t just think of them as people who get GCSE results,” Gregson said. 

“That we think about another equally important part of their makeup, which is their wellbeing, their sense of self-esteem, their sense of optimism. We’ll need all of that. We needed it pre-Covid and we’ll certainly need it after Covid.”