Covid-19 Is Still A Part Of Our Reality: How The Virus And Our Immunity Has Changed

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 97% of people in the US have some level of immunity against Covid-19 through vaccination, infection, or both. Covid-19 infections are now on the rise again, and with the government slowing down on health and safety measures since the public health emergency was declared over in May, many individuals are wondering what to do as we enter this next wave of infections.


US Experts Warn Of New Covid Variant, Eris

This summer in the US, a new Covid-19 variant has become the dominant strain currently spreading throughout the nation, according to infectious disease experts. Experts are warning Americans to remain diligent about their Covid-19 safety procedures and vaccine boosters to keep themselves protected from this spike. 

The technical name of this strain is EG.51, a subvariant of Omicron also referred to as Eris. The Eris variant is currently the leading strain of the virus, accounting for about 17% of Covid cases in the US, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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Experts state that the rise in infection and hospitalizations do not indicate a need for health and safety measures to be mandated, however, the new variant is a part of a potential evolution of the virus, so it’s important for people to protect themselves. 

​​“As this virus continues to circulate, the potential for mutations to occur remains, and so we will see new genetic variants. It’s very often the case when we see new genetic variants that they may increase in circulation. Sometimes they replace the variants that came before; sometimes they just kind of burn themselves out,”  said Jennifer Nuzzo, an epidemiologist and director of the Pandemic Center at Brown University School of Public Health.

People should continue to take Covid-19 tests if they feel sick, and stay diligent about monitoring virus data, especially if they’re in a vulnerable immunocompromised position. 

“We do need to continue to keep our eye out and be cautious for something that is truly like a new pandemic strain, which EG.5.1 is not,” said Justin Lessler, an epidemiology professor at the University of North Carolina.

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“The biggest concern that we have right now is that testing is not nearly what it was in many, many countries, including the United States,” Nuzzo said. This means it’s more difficult to track trends in the virus. 

“Even if there is a high percentage of test positivity, it’s unclear whether it’s because the only people getting tested right now are people who are really quite ill and know very well that they have Covid, versus maybe in the past people getting tested were people who needed a negative test before they could play sports or go to camp. That meant that we were sampling a larger portion of the population,” Nuzzo said

“Public health agencies rely on wastewater testing, which allows them to see the amount of Covid and what variants are in that concentration. But it’s harder for people collecting that data to determine whether that means people are getting sicker or whether a person who is infected is infecting more people on a per-person basis,” Nuzzo said.

“We can’t link the wastewater data to people. It’s totally anonymous. If the variant is a problem, we will see it, but the question is: how early will we see it? I don’t think there is this hidden severe wave,” Nuzzo added.

“Also, as the fall virus season approaches – meaning a likely uptick in Covid, flu and RSV cases – it’s important for healthcare workers to conduct tests in places with inadequate healthcare infrastructure, such as rural areas and low-income communities,” Nuzzo said.

According to the CDC, there were around 9,000 Covid-19 hospitalizations during the last week of July, marking a 28% increase from June.


Study Suggests Global Rise In Type 2 Diabetes Attributed To Refined Carbs And Red Meat Consumption 

According to a new study recently published in the journal Nature Medicine, consuming too many refined carbohydrates, such as wheat and rice products, as well as a lack of grains is contributing to the global growth rate of type 2 diabetes. 

Senior author Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, professor of nutrition and medicine at Tufts University said in a statement that the “study suggests poor carbohydrate quality is a leading driver of diet-attributable type 2 diabetes globally.”

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The study also stated that the consumption of red, processed meats is also a contributing factor. The main three conclusions the study cited as primary drivers to over 14 million new cases of type 2 diabetes in 2018 were eating too few whole grains, too many processed carbohydrates/grains, and too much red meat.

“These new findings reveal critical areas for national and global focus to improve nutrition and reduce devastating burdens of diabetes.”

The study estimated that 70% of cases of type 2 diabetes around the world in 2018 were linked to habits relating to food consumption. 

Dr. Mozaffarian and his team involved in the study developed their research model based on dietary intake from 1990 and 2018, and applied the research to 184 countries. When they compared the numbers from 1990 to 2018, they found that 8.6 million more cases of type 2 diabetes brought on by poor diet choices developed. 

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For men, urban residents, and younger individuals especially, the researchers found that eating too many unhealthy foods was a larger contributing factor than not enough healthy foods in some cases. 

Eating too much refined rice, wheat, potatoes, processed/unprocessed meats, and drinking too much sugar-sweetened beverages account for the main dietary habits attributed with 60% of the total global diet-attributable cases of type 2 diabetes. 

On the other end, a lack of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and yogurt attributed to around 39% of cases. 

Individuals in Poland, Russia, and other Eastern/Central European countries where diets tend to focus on red/processed meat and potatoes, had the highest percentage of new type 2 diabetes cases. 

“Our modeling approach does not prove causation, and our findings should be considered as estimates of risk,” the authors wrote.

Omicron Could Infect 50% Of Europeans Within Next Two Months

The World Health Organization (WHO) warned this week that a west-to-east “tidal wave” of new Omicron infections could infect more than half of Europe’s population within the next two months. The WHO stated that the wave of infections could potentially shut down multiple health systems across Europe which would leave more individuals at risk for infection. 

The WHO’s Europe director, Hans Kluge, said that the region has already recorded more than 7 million new cases of Covid within the first week of 2022, which is two-times the amount of infections when compared to two weeks ago. More than 1% of the European population is catching Covid each week within 29 countries, according to WHO’s data. 

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Kluge also explained how the Omicron variant has been reported in 50 out of Europe’s 53 states, and was becoming the dominant strain in western Europe.

“At this rate, more than 50% of the population in the region will be infected with Omicron in the next six to eight weeks. We’re deeply concerned, as we have yet to see its full impact in countries where levels of vaccination uptake are lower, and where we will see more severe disease in the unvaccinated,” Kluge explained. 

Kluge explained that Omicron cases have specifically “exploded” in Denmark, where the current Covid-19 hospitalization rate for unvaccinated patients is six times higher than for those who are fully vaccinated. 

“While vaccines provide good protection against severe disease and death, rising hospital admissions are still challenging health systems and service delivery in many countries … and threaten to overwhelm them in many more.”

The WHO warned that countries in Europe that have yet to be impacted by Omicron have a small window of time to protect themselves and their most vulnerable citizens. 

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Kluge explained how every country’s government should be mandating high-quality masks in every closed and indoor space, as well as ensuring individuals have their full vaccine series and booster doses when applicable. 

“Where the Omicron surge has begun, the priority should be to avoid and reduce harm among the vulnerable, and minimize disruption to health systems and essential services.”

“This means prioritizing vulnerable people for primary course and booster doses, advising them to avoid closed, crowded spaces, and offering the possibility to work remotely wherever possible until the infection surge passes,” Kluge said.

He continued to explain how PCR testing should be prioritized for critical workers and individuals more at risk for severe disease, and rapid tests should be sent out at a larger rate. 

Keeping schools open had “important benefits for children’s mental, social and educational wellbeing, so we’re urging governments to review protocols on testing, isolation and quarantine of classroom contacts to minimize disruption to learning,” Kluge explained.

Covid-19 Brazil

Brazil Covid-19 Cases Surge This Week, Breaking Its Single Day Record 

Brazil has broken its record for new Covid-19 cases reported in a single day this Wednesday with 115,228 new cases. This increase is due to the nation’s continuous delays in vaccine distribution.

Brazil’s health ministry and data from Reuters revealed that the country now leads the world for the highest seven-day average of new Covid-19 cases and fatalities; they surpassed India last week, which is also struggling greatly due to a lack of vaccine distribution and access. 

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When it comes to the total number of infections, Brazil is currently in third behind the US and India with about 18 million cases, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. 

Brazil, however, has now surpassed India in terms of total death, with more than 570,000 fatalities as a result of Covid-19; India has experienced around 392,000 deaths. 

The US and other wealthier countries are seeing cases decline as more and more individuals receive their vaccinations. Other countries haven’t been so lucky in terms of receiving vaccines due to a lack of infrastructure and access. 

According to the Brazilian Health Ministry, 12% of the nation’s population is fully vaccinated. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has faced constant protests and criticism from citizens and other political leaders over his lack of action throughout the pandemic and slow distribution of vaccines. 

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According to news reports, “a Brazilian Senate committee is investigating allegations of misconduct in the government’s response, particularly arguments that Bolsonaro did not respond to offers from Pfizer for its vaccine last year, instead making a deal to receive the more expensive inoculation from India’s Bharat Biotech.”

Bolsonaro and former US president Donald Trump received very similar criticism throughout the pandemic in 2020 due to their downplaying of the virus’ severity, and pushing for drug treatments that showed no evidence of preventing Covid-19. 

Bolsonaro has been fined by several local government bodies for not enforcing local mask mandates which led to an exponential increase in cases within the past year. 

He said earlier this month while speaking in Sao Paulo that “those who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 should not have to wear a mask. Whoever is against this proposal is because they don’t believe in science, because if they are vaccinated, there is no way the virus can be transmitted.”

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Airline CEOs Urging Governments To Open Travel Between US And UK

Several large airlines based in the United States and United Kingdom have called upon their government leaders in an attempt to revive air travel between the two countries. Airline leaders are asking for an international summit to discuss the issue and lay out a possible plan for bringing back travel between the two nations. 

US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and his UK counterpart Grant Shapps received the letter which was signed by the CEOs of Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, American Airlines, British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, and JetBlue Airways.

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“Public health must guide the reopening of international air travel and we are confident that the aviation industry possesses the right tools, based on data and science, to enable a safe and meaningful restart to transatlantic travel.” 

JetBlue and US industry group Airlines for America have stated previously that they both have plans to revive travel between the US and UK this summer. 

“US and UK citizens would benefit from the significant testing capability and the successful trial of digital applications to verify health credentials.” 

The executives discussed in the letter how an increase in vaccinations between both countries, as well as advanced testing efforts now being implemented in international airlines, should give travelers the confidence that they’ll be safe from infection. 

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Both nation’s airlines also discussed the economic recovery efforts that they’re enduring, as the travel industry took one of the biggest hits as a result of the pandemic. The US is the nation that currently bars the most non-US citizens from entering into the country due to Covid-19 safety concerns. 

“Just last week, Secretary Buttigieg and G7 Transport Ministers met to discuss the complexities around reopening international travel and how to do so safely.” the U.S. Transportation Department said in a statement. 

“These conversations are ongoing. The Department will be reviewing the letter with other agencies as part of the whole of the government approach to COVID recovery.”

The UK’s Department for Transport didn’t immediately respond to the letter, however, it’s expected that the two nations will be in talks in the coming months on how to best reopen travel. 

USA Covid-19 Virus

Experts Claim US Is Turning A Corner On Covid-19, Expecting Cases To Drop Exponentially 

Experts are remaining positive that while the rate of Covid-19 vaccinations is slowing in the US, in a matter of weeks we could begin to see a major decline in cases and deaths. Dr. Johnathan Reiner is a professor of medicine and surgery at George Washington University who recently spoke to the press about this optimistic outlook on the coming months. 

“This summer is going to seem so much closer to normal than we’ve had in a very long time. The key statistic to think about is … what percentage of the adult population has received at least one vaccination.”

“Roughly 58% of US adults — and nearly 46% of the country’s total population — have received at least one Covid-19 vaccine dose, and more than 34% of the US population is fully vaccinated,” CDC data shows.

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Reiner says that once the US passes the 60% mark for American adults with at least one dose, it’s likely that case numbers will plummet greatly. “I expect during the month of May we will see daily cases drop dramatically and deaths finally drop to quite low numbers.” Although the US hasn’t technically reached herd immunity yet, other experts still believe it will begin to return to a sense of normalcy this summer. 

Dr. Anthony Fauci predicted that about 70-85% of Americans need to be immune from Covid-19 for the nation to truly reach herd immunity; when enough people are immune from the virus that is spread will be suppressed. 

“However, even before you get to that, as you get more and more people vaccinated, you will reach a point … where you’ll start to see the number of cases going down dramatically, I would say we’re turning a corner.”

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Last week President Joe Biden set a goal of administering at least one Covid-19 vaccine dose to 70% of American adults by July 4th. Experts at this point, however, think getting people vaccinated will be an uphill battle this summer. 

“We’ve got a path ahead of us, which will involve getting people even easier access to the vaccine, making sure that people build their confidence, those who have questions about the vaccines, that we answer their questions. And making sure that we do … this in a fair and equitable way,” White House Covid-19 Response Coordinator Jeffrey Zients said. 

“What I really worry about is that those people who are already on the fence don’t get vaccinated and we don’t reach herd immunity come the fall. Then with the winter … we have a big resurgence, maybe we have variants coming in from other countries, and we could start this whole process all over again and have another huge pandemic come the winter.” CNN medical analyst and emergency physician Dr. Leana Wen claimed. 

Fauci claims its unlikely the US will see the kind of surge that we did last fall and winter since more Americans are vaccinated now, however, we must remain diligent with the health and safety procedures that have been keeping so many of us safe throughout the past year, at least until a greater herd immunity is met.

Positive Coronavirus

Over 900 Clinic Staff Members In The Midwest Got Covid-19 Within Two Weeks 

More than 900 staff members working within the Midwest’s Mayo Clinic system have been diagnosed with the coronavirus within the past two weeks alone. That’s about 30% of the total number of cases that have appeared in the area since March. Kelley Luckstein recently spoke with the press about the severity of the situation that the Midwest is currently experiencing. 

“Our staff are being infected mostly due to community spread, which accounts for 93% of the staff infections. This impacts our ability to care for patients.”

Across the Midwest the Mayo Clinic system has about 1,500 staff members working specifically with restrictions related to Covid-19 exposures and diagnosis’. The entire Mayo clinic system consists of various clinics, hospitals, and other facilities that work to serve patients living in Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. 

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Midwestern states have been impacted severely throughout this pandemic, especially within the latest wave of new cases appearing throughout the nation. Wisconsin’s governor declared a new state of emergency this week while Minnesota’s governor announced a slew of new restrictions that would be enforced in the coming weeks. Dr. Amy Williams is the executive dean of the Mayo Clinic practice and offered the public a general Covid-19 update for the week to express her concern over all the new surges in cases. 

“There are three things you need to take care of any patient: Space, supplies and staff. And what we are most worried about is staff.”

Staff members to the clinic being infected with the virus is a worst case scenario situation, and is the main reason America has continuously needed to enforce things like mask wearing and social distancing. While like may have returned to normal in certain areas of the country, our nation’s hospitals have not taken a break from seeing all the devastation this pandemic has caused. 

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“We don’t want families to be sick. We don’t want families to lose loved ones. We want everyone to be safe. We will get through this, but we need to be safe, we need to protect each other.”

In northwestern Wisconsin, the Mayo Clinic Health System reported last week that 100% of its hospital beds were now full with Covid-19 patients. “The public urgently needs to treat COVID-19 as the health emergency it is to prevent the health care system from being overwhelmed,” the health system said in last week’s statement.

About 50% of the ICU is occupied with Covid-19 cases as well. The health system also stated that Covid-19 patients typically need to stay in the hospital two to three times longer than any non-Covid patient. 

“While we are temporarily deferring elective procedures in order to free up beds for COVID-19 patients, the public needs to understand we continue to care for other patient populations in addition to COVID patients — we remain open for trauma, emergency care, and urgent care needs while also caring for COVID patients. We need your help and we need it now,” Williams stated. 

Williams urged the public to continue to take this pandemic seriously and to protect themselves and their loved ones, and is also preparing for the coming weeks where even more cases are expected to appear and overwhelm the hospitals throughout the nation yet again. 

US Fights Covid-19

US Hits Highest Weekly Average Of Covid-19 Cases Since Beginning Of Pandemic 

The new seven-day average of coronavirus cases in the US hit 68,767 on Sunday, topping the previous peak average of 67,293 reported back in July, and setting the record for highest number of new cases appearing within seven-days. This past Friday and Saturday marked the two highest single days of new cases, with more than 83,000 cases being added each day. 

Health experts claim that this is the resurgence of cases that they were warning about in the summer that would spike in the fall and winter. They also warn that this will likely be the worst wave of infection the US has seen so far. The US has already seen more than 8.6 million cases of Covid-19 and 225,230 deaths; putting us in one of the most dangerous and vulnerable positions in the world in terms of this virus.  US Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb spoke with the press this past weekend about the new surges in cases.

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“We’re entering what’s going to be the steep slope of the curve. If we don’t implement some forceful policy intervention that could curb the spread this is going to continue to accelerate, and it’s going to be more difficult to get under control.”

Gottlieb claims the best way to get these outbreaks under control is a national mask mandate. “A mandate can be expressly limited to the next two months, it’s easier to wear a mask in the winter than the summer. The inconvenience would allow the country to preserve health-care capacity and keep more schools and businesses open.” Deaths are already projected to increase based on these new weekly spikes anyway, and the best way to prevent that from continuing to happen would be a mask-mandate; especially since the reinstatement of a nation-wide lockdown has seemed out of the question for months now. 

According to data released by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, if 95% of Americans wore masks in public, more than 100,000 lives could be saved in the US through February. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, claims that since so many Americans are adamant about not wearing a mask in public, a mandate would be the only way to really curb the spread entirely. 

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More than two-thirds of states have reported an increase in new Covid-19 cases this past week. No state is reporting above a 10% in terms of  improvement and case numbers going down. In El Paso County, Texas, residents are seeing one of the biggest spikes in the country, and have reported that all intensive care units in their hospitals are at 100% capacity. Because of this the county has implemented a curfew for the next two weeks. 

While researchers around the world are racing to develop a vaccine, it’s naive to think one will be ready, safe, and effective enough to be distributed in time to combat this second wave that we’re currently enduring. Gottlieb claims the next two to three months will just have to be dealt with as we’ve been. Fauci, however, is still confident that a vaccine will be available sooner rather than later. 

“We will know whether a vaccine is safe and effective by the end of November, beginning of December. The amount of doses that will be available in December will not certainly be enough to vaccinate everybody — you’ll have to wait several months into 2021.”

For now, the most imperative thing citizens in the US can do is listen to their healthcare providers and take all the necessary safety precautions to protect you and your loved ones from these spikes in cases. Also, make sure in the next week you either get out to vote early, or mail in your absentee ballot so that you vote for the candidate you want assisting you and your community/state/country through the rest of this global health crisis.

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The World Has Now Experienced 40 Million Cases Of Covid-19 

The number of confirmed Covid-19 cases has now surpassed 40 million worldwide. According to Johns Hopkins University, which has been collecting data on the pandemic since it first started in March, global cases surpassed the 40 million mark this past Monday.

The reality is, however, that the actual worldwide total is likely much larger, as testing site access is a major variable and many individuals who contract the virus are asymptomatic and don’t even know that they have it. The same argument can be applied to the number of deaths associated with Covid-19; which currently stands at 1.1 million worldwide. 

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The United States, India, and Brazil have reported the highest number of cases globally. The US has encountered 8.1 million cases, India 7.5 million, and Brazil 5.2 million. Europe has also seen major new surges in cases within the past month, and has experienced more than 240,000 Covid-19 deaths. 

The World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed last week that Europe had reported a record breaking weekly high of 700,000 Covid-19 cases. The WHO also claimed that these cases in Europe are responsible for a third of the cases globally. Specifically, Britain, France, Russia, and Spain account for about 50% of the new cases appearing in the region of Europe. Many smaller countries are also seeing intense outbreaks when compared to the beginning of the pandemic. 

“The new measures being taken across Europe are absolutely essential in stopping COVID-19 from overwhelming its hospitals. Those include new requirements on mask-wearing in Italy and Switzerland, and closing schools in Northern Ireland and the Czech Republic.”

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The WHO also explained that Europe would be “closing restaurants and bars in Belgium, implementing a 9 p.m. curfew in France and having targeted limited lockdowns in parts of the U.K.” The agency also claimed that several cities in Europe need to prepare for an “overwhelming” amount of hospital patients who will require intensive care services. While it’s imperative that everyone work together to slow the spread of the virus, the possibility of a second-wave has already become a reality for some parts of the world, so the time to prepare is now. 

WHO estimates that 1 in 10 people worldwide have contracted the virus at this point; that’s around 780 million people. If those stats are accurate the actual number of Covid-19 cases is 20 times higher than the official number of cases being reported. 

Some researchers and experts have argues that if we allow Covid-19 to spread in populations that are not totally vulnerable it could help build a general herd immunity in the world, however, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus isn’t as convinced that herd immunity may help curb the spread of the virus, however, the world needs a vaccine, not deliberate exposure to this virus. 

“Allowing a dangerous virus that we don’t fully understand to run free is simply unethical.”

The United Nation’s health agency agreed with Ghebreyesus, and hopes within the coming weeks to collect enough data on Covid-19 to determine if any possible vaccines that are currently being tested are effective enough to be distributed by 2021.