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Facebook Remains Under Fire For Continuously Spreading Covid-19 Vaccine Misinformation 

President Joe Biden called out tech giants and social media platforms like Facebook for failing to tackle the problem of misinformation being spread regarding the Covid-19 vaccine. The White House released a statement in which they claimed to have zeroed in on the “disinformation dozen,” which is in reference to 12 major social media accounts that have shown to be responsible for spreading a majority of the anti-vaccine misinformation online. 

“Facebook has repeatedly said it is going to take action, but in reality we have seen a piecemeal enforcement of its own community standards where some accounts are taken off Instagram but not Facebook and vice versa. There has been a systemic failure to address this,” said Imran Ahmed, the CEO of the Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH), the organization behind the “disinformation dozen” study.

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The report identified 12 “superspreader accounts,” and a Facebook spokesperson claims the company has permanently banned all pages groups and accounts that “repeatedly break the rules on Covid misinformation including more than a dozen pages groups and accounts from these individuals.”

The CCDH confirmed that they have removed 35 accounts across multiple social media platforms so far. There are currently about 8.4 million followers spread across 62 active accounts that are still spreading anti-vaccine misinformation.

The main issue with these accounts is the amount of followers who believe that the information is real. Many of these accounts post false facts about the vaccine that claim its unsafe, ineffective, and not worth getting despite the overwhelming amount of evidence from a multitude of studies on these vaccines before they were distributed to the public. 

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Jessica Gonzalez is the co-CEO at Free Pass, a media equity group, who recently spoke out about how a lot of these posts are prevalent on Spanish-language Facebook.

“Facebook needs a much better mechanism to stop the spread of false information about the vaccine, and they need to make sure they’re doing that across languages. It’s difficult to gauge the scope of the issue when Facebook doesn’t share figures.”

According to the social media watchdog Accountable Tech, “11 out of the top 15 vaccine related-posts on Facebook last week contained disinformation or were anti-vaccine.”

Vaccination rates in the US are currently plateauing as new cases continue to rise among unvaccinated individuals almost exclusively. 67% of Americans have received at least one vaccination and 58% are fully vaccinated. 

“Action needs to be taken regarding vaccine misinformation. Social media has greatly contributed to this misinformation – there’s no doubt. When we have a public health crisis and people are dying every day, enough is enough,” said Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar.

Singapore Announces Separate Rules For People Who Received Their Covid-19 Vaccines 

Singapore is introducing new health and safety measures for those who are vaccinated against Covid-19. New cases are continuing to rise in the city, so only fully vaccinated individuals and people who have recovered from Covid-19 will now be able to dine in groups of five without taking a Covid test.

The health ministry made the announcement this week, stating these rules would go into effect on July 19th. Any food and beverage establishment must implement a system so that they can check every patrons vaccination status. 

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Children under the age of 12, who are not yet eligible for the vaccine, are able to dine together with members of their household without taking a Covid test. The press release from the health ministry claimed that individuals are fully vaccinated once it’s been two weeks since their second dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. 

Authorities have also stated that those who receive shots developed by China’s Sinovac Biotech will not be given the same perfs as those who have received a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. Sinovac’s vaccine has not yet been included in Singapore’s national vaccine program, and is only available in the city-state through a special access route. 

A cluster of about 120 new Covid cases have been linked to a KTV lounge in Singapore. Nightclubs, bars, KTV/karaoke lounges have all been banned from operating in Singapore since the beginning of the pandemic. 

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A number of these establishments have been able to remain open, however, by just serving beverages and food and not providing any other entertainment services. The number of new infections hit 127 this week; up 23 from the week before according to the health ministry. 

Singapore in total has experienced about 63,000 cases of Covid-19. Health Minister Ong Ye King recently told reporters that 73% of the population has received at least one dose of their vaccine while 45% of the population is fully vaccinated. 

That figure is currently set to rise by 50% in the coming weeks based on currently scheduled vaccination appointments in the city-state. 

“Our  country is well on track to meet its target of having two-thirds of its population to be fully vaccinated by August 9.”

Unvaccinated parties can still go out to eat at certain establishments, however, they need to endure testing and contact-tracing efforts beforehand.

Australia’s Covid-19 Delta Outbreak Worsening Despite Lockdown Measures 

Sydney, Australia is already debating extending their current lockdown as Australian health officials continue to report a daily rise in Covid-19 cases. These daily rises are specifically fueled by the highly contagious Delta variant of the virus that’s been spreading around the world. 

New South Wales state reported 112 new cases of Covid-19 despite the fact that Sydney, the country’s largest city, is currently entering its third week of lockdown. Case numbers have been reaching record highs every day. New infections luckily dropped slightly this Sunday, from 45 to 34. 

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State Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the “progress of that figure in coming days would determine whether Sydney’s lockdown would be extended. That’s the number we need to get as close to zero as possible. It is really up to us. The health expert advice will be based on what those numbers look like. I can’t be clearer than that.”

Total infections in this particular outbreak are reaching 700. 63 individuals are currently hospitalized while 18 are in intensive care. 

Lockdown measures in Sydney include school closures, stay-at-home orders, and of course mask mandates and social distancing procedures anywhere essential workers are present. Many small business owners are worried about the economic impact of another lockdown if the government doesn’t provide any economic assistance. 

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Australia was able to previously contain their Covid-19 flare-ups with strict lockdowns, speedy contact tracing efforts, and social distancing rules. The nation has experienced 31,200 cases and 911 deaths since the pandemic began. 

Only 11% of Australia’s adult population of 20.5 million have been fully vaccinated. Critics believe a lack of communication with the public and vaccine shortages in general have led to the outbreak the nation is currently enduring. 

Federal health guidance in Australia currently recommends the AstraZeneca vaccine be restricted to individuals over the age of 60 while the Pfizer vaccine is limited to individuals between the age of 40 and 60. 

In New South Wales, vaccine centers and pharmacies will be able to give the AstraZeneca vaccine to anyone over the age of 40. The state government also claimed they would be opening a vaccination hub in western Sydney, which is the epicenter of the outbreak.

US Officials Worried About An Increase In Covid-19 Infections Pre-Holiday Weekend

Local officials throughout the US are warning residents to remain diligent when it comes to Covid-19 safety protocols, as an increase in infections throughout the nation’s less vaccinated areas has health experts worried about an increase in infections following the fourth of July weekend. 

Arkansas currently has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the nation, and is enduring a major increase in infections. Los Angeles County has been vaccinating people at the same rate as the rest of the nation, but is warning residents about a potential new wave of the Delta variant of the Covid virus. 

“We are now going in the wrong direction yet again with Covid-19 infections here in the state of Arkansas,” said Dr. Cam Patterson, chancellor at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.

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“With July 4th holiday coming up and eventually kids going back to school, we have to be concerned that this would be a trend that could continue. And if it does, it would appear that we may be in the beginning of the third surge of Covid-19 here in the state of Arkansas,” he said.

More than 90% of the active Covid-19 cases in Arkansas are among people who have not been vaccinated, and that trend is the same throughout the rest of the nation as well. California’s Health Director Barbra Ferrer claimed that 59% of Los Angeles County residents are vaccinated, but the county recently reported 506 new cases, the largest single day increase since mid-April. 

“We have enough risk and enough unvaccinated people for Delta to pose a threat to our recovery and masking up now, could help prevent a resurgence in transmission.”

Overall the US has seen a 10% increase in its seven-day average of new Covid-19 cases, according to Dr. Rochelle Walenskym who heads the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

“Looking state by state and county by county, it is clear that communities where people remain unvaccinated are communities that remain vulnerable. This is all true as we monitor the continued spread of the hyper-transmissible Delta variant.”

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“Two-thirds of adults in the US have received at least one dose of the vaccine as of Thursday. Over the past week, an average of 661,795 people became fully vaccinated daily,” according to the CDC. 

Dr. Anthony Fauci claimed that vaccinated Americans should still be able to celebrate the fourth of July weekend. 

“That is, if you were vaccinated, you have a high degree of protection. If you are not, you should wear a mask, and you should think very seriously about getting vaccinated,” said Fauci.

The other piece of good news is that the vaccines being distributed throughout the US are proving to protect against the Delta variant of the Covid-19 virus. Johnson & Johnson just released data that showed their vaccine is effective against the Delta variant and individuals who receive the one-shot won’t need a booster. 

“Current data for the eight months studied so far show that the single-shot Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine generates a strong neutralizing antibody response that does not wane; rather, we observe an improvement over time,” Dr. Mathai Mammen, head of research and development at J&J’s Janssen vaccine arm, said in a statement.

Experts Claim Americans ‘Don’t Realize How Lucky We Are’ In Terms Of Covid-19 Vaccines

About 53% of all Americans are currently inoculated with at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine while about 44% of the population is now fully vaccinated, according to data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“We have a long way to go as a globe. The United States — we don’t even realize how lucky we are here because we’ve had access to the vaccine early on. We basically have people turning the vaccine away. We think the whole world behaves that way, but that’s not the case,” Dr. Suzanne Judd, an epidemiologist at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health, said.

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All adults in America are currently eligible to receive one of the three vaccine options approved in the country; Pfizer, Moderna, or Johnson & Johnson. However, many other countries around the world only have one vaccine option available for their large populations of unvaccinated individuals. 

“There are whole countries where only 1% of the population has had access to the vaccine. That means the coronavirus will continue to spread in those countries and will be problematic in those countries.”

“It means travel restrictions could happen. It means that it may impact Americans in terms of how they interact through work with people from those countries. It definitely will continue to impact us, so we have to be aware that it’s a good 18 months away before there’s enough vaccine to really stop the spread of the virus worldwide,” Judd explained.

The CDC revealed that at least 13 states have hit their goals of getting 70% of their residents partially vaccinated, which has led to many governors lifting restrictions and mask mandates. However, there is still a large group of Americans who are refusing to get the vaccine. 

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According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, “7% of those who are unvaccinated said they will only get the shot if they are required, while 13% are still definitely not getting a vaccine.”

“The problem, though, is that mutant variants of the virus are able to form as the virus circulates for longer. So even with at least 70% vaccinated, there is still a risk.”

“That 30% that winds up in another state, say that the state makes it to 70% and there are 30% unvaccinated. It poses a risk to that 30%. We really want to get to the 70% target in all states. That’s what will make this virus go away and not stay with us. If we don’t, we’re going to wind up battling outbreaks basically,” Judd said. 

Vaccines are showing that they’re effective against fighting the new strains, but not as strongly as it fights the regular virus. 

“The initial variants, we were looking at 90% effective and maybe it’s more like 70% with the Delta variant, but that’s great. Honestly, that’s a public health win. 70% is not something to throw away and say ‘that’s not good enough.’ That’s so much better than 10, 15, 20%. Again, if we can get people vaccinated, we don’t have to worry about the Delta variant,” Judd claimed.

“It’s not just the United States that’s in this fight. It’s really a global fight, a global struggle, a global effort.”

World Health Organization

WHO Says New Covid-19 Cases Continuing To Outpace Vaccination Efforts 

The World Health Organization (WHO) has announced this week that the Covid-19 virus is still spreading at a faster rate than the vaccines are being distributed. With the recent creation of the G7 vaccine, the WHO is hoping to share a billion doses with poorer nations who haven’t had access the way that the US has. 

“This is a big help, but we need more, and we need them faster. Right now, the virus is moving faster than the global distribution of vaccines. More than 10,000 people are dying every day … These communities need vaccines, and they need them now, not next year,”  World Health Organization (WHO) chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told journalists.

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The Group of Seven (G7) industrialized powers did pledge to exceed their promise of more than one billion doses considering the world needs more than 11 billion to get every single citizen fully vaccinated. 

Covax, a global body that is responsible for vaccine distribution throughout the world, is filtering a majority of the G7 vaccines. “WHO wants at least 70% of the world’s population vaccinated by the next G7 meeting in Germany next year. To do that, we need 11bn doses. The G7 and G20 can make this happen,” said Tedros.

“We need to see more clarity around the actual number of doses donated, and exactly how long it’s going to take to translate their pledges into real impact and access,” Hu Yuanqiong, of the medical charity Doctors Without Borders, stated.

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Many critics have pointed out that the existence of Covid vaccine patent protections is the main reason the entire world isn’t producing effective vaccines everywhere right now. Instead of sharing the treatment for this illness that has killed millions all around the world, wealthier countries are hoarding the patents and selling them at high prices for poor countries that can’t afford it and are continuing to watch their people die. 

“Fully-fledged negotiations towards a possible suspension of intellectual property protections for Covid vaccines, as well as other medical tools needed to battle the pandemic, have just begun at the World Trade Organization after months of contentious debate.”  said Max Lawson, Oxfam’s head of inequity policy.

“G7 leaders say they want to vaccinate the world by the end of next year, but their actions show they care more about protecting the monopolies and patents of pharmaceutical giants.”

Human Rights Watch agreed, stating that:  “Focusing on vaccines and making charitable donations are not enough. The G7’s failure to unequivocally support a temporary waiver of global intellectual property rules is a deadly status quo.”

Currently, more than $16 billion is necessary to fully fund the efforts currently in place to speed up vaccine production, and overall access to Covid-19 diagnostics, treatments, and vaccines.

Cruise Line on Water

Two Passengers Test Positive For Covid On First Major Sea Cruise Hosting Americans 

Two guests aboard the first major sea cruise to host American passengers since the Covid-19 pandemic first began have tested positive for Covid-19 in what the cruise line is calling a required end-of-cruise testing. 

The two guests shared a stateroom on the seven-day Celebrity Millennium cruise from St. Maarten. The two are reportedly asymptomatic, in isolation, and being closely monitored by an on board medical team, the cruise line said in a news release this week. 

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“We are conducting contact tracing, expediting testing for all close contacts and closely monitoring the situation.” 

“The ship set sail Ssturday with fully vaccinated crew and guests and following comprehensive protocols that align with our destination partners and exceed CDC guidelines to protect the health and safety of our guests,” the release said.

It’s not completely shocking that two individuals still tested positive for Covid despite the fact that the cruise was strictly for vaccinated individual, as the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published a study this week that claimed “breakthrough coronavirus cases,” or cases that appear in vaccinated individuals, aren’t uncommon, and as expected the cases that did appear were completely mild. 

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Fully vaccinated individuals are more than 90% protected against infection while partially vaccinated people are 81% less likely to become infected than those who are completely unvaccinated. 

According to an ongoing study of essential workers who got Pfizer/BioNTech’s or Moderna’s vaccine, “those who got breakthrough infections after one or two doses had 40% less virus in their bodies and were 58% less likely to have fever. They spent two fewer days in bed than unvaccinated Covid-19 patients.”

The release claimed that every individual on the cruise was required to show proof of vaccination as well as a negative Covid-19 test that was taken within 72 hours of the cruise’s initial departure. 500 passengers were on board. 

“This situation demonstrates that our rigorous health and safety protocols work to protect our crew, guests and the communities we visit,” the news release said.

The Royal Caribbean Group, the parent company of Celebrity Cruise Lines, focused more on the fact that returning to Barbados “for the first time in over a year is truly special. Every measured step was taken to ensure that we protect the health and safety of our guests, crew and the residents of this treasured destination and we are thankful,” its post said.

CDC To Hold Emergency Meeting Over Rare Heart Inflammation Side Effect In Covid Vaccines 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced this week that they will be holding an emergency meeting on June 18th to discuss reports of heart inflammation following doses of both the Pfizer and Moderna Covid-19 vaccines. While the CDC claims that these reports have been rare, they’re still higher than initially expected, hence the meeting. 

The CDC has identified 226 cases that could meet the agency’s definition of myocarditis and pericarditis following the injections. A majority of those who experienced inflammation have recovered while 41 experienced ongoing symptoms, 15 are still currently hospitalized, and 3 are in the intensive care unit.

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“It’s a bit of an apples-to-oranges comparison because, again, these are preliminary reports. Not all these will turn out to be true myocarditis or pericarditis reports.”

Dr. Tom Shimabukuro, a CDC vaccine safety official, stated that so far their findings were mostly “consistent with reports of rare cases of heart inflammation that had been studied in Israel and reported from the US Department of Defense earlier this year.” 

A panel of independent advisers for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA0 will be meeting this upcoming Thursday to review the new details regarding myocarditis and pericarditis. The meeting will also serve to discuss how the FDA should approach giving an emergency use authorization for using these vaccines in younger children; the next phase of reaching herd immunity in America. 

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Pfizer already received an emergency use authorization for their vaccine in Americans 12 and up last month, and announced that they were already going through trials to make sure it’s safe for children as young as 6 months old. Moderna is also in the process of seeking a EUA for their vaccine in adolescents. 

Pfizer believes they can finish their children’s trials by the beginning of September, while FDA officials have warned that authorizing vaccines for younger age groups, especially babies and toddlers, could take longer due to how much their bodies are still developing. The FDA believes children will likely be able to receive their vaccines by mid to late fall at the earliest. 

“We recognize that some adverse reactions, for example myocarditis or pericarditis as discussed earlier today, may be too infrequent to detect in a safety database of typical size for pre-licensure clinical trials,” said Dr. Doran Fink, a top official in the FDA’s vaccine office.

“Risk-benefit considerations to determine whether to issue an emergency use authorization for use of a COVID-19 vaccine into healthy pediatric individuals will need to account for this information, and risk-benefit consideration will likely be different, not only compared to those for adults, but also they may be different for younger versus older pediatric groups,” Dr. Marion Gruber, director of the FDA’s vaccine office, said at the meeting.

Syrigne of Covid Vaccine

US Must Vaccinate More People To Avoid Covid Variant From Becoming Dominant, Fauci Says 

US health officials are trying to get more and more Americans vaccinated everyday to keep Delta, a Covid-19 variant first identified in India, from proliferating and becoming the dominant strain infecting individuals across the country. 

The variant has already become the most dominant strain in the United Kingdom, accounting for about 60% of the active cases in the UK. Initially, scientists were worried about the Alpha strain, formerly known as the B117 strain, from becoming dominant, but the Delta strain is showing to be more prevalent in those aged from 12 to 20-years-old. 

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In the US currently the Delta variant accounts for about 6% of the cases that scientists have been able to genetically sequence, but the actual number is likely much higher as it takes time to sequence the DNA in each new case. 

“In the UK the Delta variant is rapidly emerging as the dominant variant. We cannot let that happen in the United States.” 

President Joe Biden previously laid out a plan to get 70% of Americans vaccinated with at least one of their doses by the fourth of July. Currently about 63.7% of America’s adult population has received their first dose for those who received either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, and 53% of Americans are fully vaccinated. 

The Delta variant is already thought to be present in 62 countries according to the World Health Organization. 

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“We continue to observe significantly increased transmissibility and a growing number of countries reporting outbreaks associated with this variant.”

The Delta strain in India has caused the healthcare system to practically crumble due to how overwhelmed they’ve become. The Indian government announced this week that the nation would be providing free Covid-19 vaccines to all adults in the country soon. 

Fauci also warned that the Delta variant, like most of the new variants that have appeared, is much more contagious than the initial variant that was spreading throughout the world last March. It also has become associated with a higher risk of hospitalization.

Studies have luckily shown that both the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines are effective against the Delta strain, according to the National Institutes of Health. According to their data two doses of the Pfizer vaccine proved to be 88% effective against the Delta variant while two doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine proved to be 60% effective. 

Delays In Adolescents Receiving Their Covid-19 Vaccinations Could Hinder US Recovery

Dr. Abdul El-Sayed, an expert epidemiologist, recently spoke to the press about how some US populations are seeing an amazing increase in vaccination rates, while other groups in the nation are experiencing lags in their distribution, especially among adolescents, which could lead to a major delay in the country’s recovery as a whole. 

Children currently account for 25% of all Covid-19 cases in America due to the fact that they’re not yet vaccinated. 

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“As we’ve gotten more and more of our seniors vaccinated, more and more people with pre-existing conditions, more and more people who may be healthy and younger, the question becomes how do we protect our children?”

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently performed a study in which they examined more than 200 adolescents aged from 12 to 17-years-old who were hospitalized within the first three months of 2021, likely with Covid-19. The report showed that while there were no deaths, a third of the adolescents were admitted to intensive care units because of their illness, and 5% required mechanical ventilation. 

“Every single one of those hospitalizations, every single one of those kids in the ICU, can now be prevented now that vaccinations are available to those 12 to 17. As certain states lag behind the national average vaccination rate, however, it could spell trouble for the youngest and most vulnerable populations. What we also see is that the same places where adults are lagging, teens are lagging,” emergency physician Dr. Anand Swaminathan said to CNN. 

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About 13 states have hit President Joe Biden’s goal of getting 70% of all US adults vaccinated with at least one Covid-19 vaccine by July 4th. However, experts like Leana Wen claim that the parts of the nation with lower vaccination rates are expected to experience another wave of coronavirus infections among its unvaccinated residents. 

“Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, Wyoming, Tennessee and West Virginia have the lowest vaccination rates – with less than 50% of adults having received at least one dose. Vermont, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maine and New Jersey boast the highest, with 75% or more of their adult population partially vaccinated. One issue for where vaccinations are lagging is lack of access and messaging in certain communities,” Dr. Swaminathan explained.

“There are people who don’t understand the fact that this is free. That messaging hasn’t been done as much as it should be.There are barriers for people who can’t get paid time off of work or have issues finding childcare that prevent them from getting the vaccine.”

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases told CNN that he’s optimistic children younger than 12 could receive their vaccinations by Thanksgiving this year. 

“We are now doing studies that are ongoing, studies that are looking at what we call age de-escalation, children from 12 to 9 and ten 9 to 6 and then 6 to 2 and then 6 months to 2 years. We hope that as we approach the end of the calendar year we’ll have enough information to vaccinate children of any age.”