New ‘highly infectious’ Omicron strains scare China

On October 4, 2022, new Omicron sub-variants BF.7 and BA.5.1.7 were detected in Yantai and Shaoguan cities in South China. The detection was amid the latest Covid outbreak in the country. According to reports by Global Times, It’s the first time the BA.5.1.7 subvariant has been detected on the Chinese mainland. BF.7 variant was first detected in the northwestern region of China and has spread fast to the southern side. Both the sub-variants are said to be highly infectious with greater transmissibility. China reported 1,878 cases on October 9, the highest since August 20. Not just China, the BF.7 subvariant is spreading fast in Belgium, Germany, France and the UK. Meanwhile, BA.5.1.7 has been discovered in more than 100 countries. The World Health Organization has also warned against the BF.7 COVID subvariant as they expect it to become a new dominant variant.

— source | 12 Oct 2022

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Is the Pandemic Over?

Some public health officials criticize Biden’s comments, which come as the White House is pushing people to receive newly reformulated COVID-19 bivalent booster shots. According to data collected by Johns Hopkins, COVID killed 13,000 people across the U.S. over the past month as 2.2 million new infections were reported.

Yale epidemiologist Gregg Gonsalves “Sorry folks. Mr. Biden is dead-wrong. 500 people dying per day. 2nd leading cause of death in US. We’re top in mortality among G7. Life expectancy down. He thinks this is good politics. It may be but it’s predicated on accepting the suffering of millions of Americans,” Dr. Gonsalves said.

Meanwhile, Dr. Monica Gandhi, “What [President] Biden & the [World Health Organization] means ([the WHO] said [the] end [is] in sight last week) is that COVID [is] never over because [it’s] non-eradicable but that [the] emergency phase ends when mortality [is] lower than anytime since March 2020 & when we have biomedical advances,” she said.

— source | Sep 20, 2022

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Capitalism, COVID, Climate & Conflict Fueling Global Hunger

One person is dying of hunger every four seconds. That’s the warning from a coalition of humanitarian groups, who say global hunger is spiraling out of control. Oxfam, Save the Children and other groups say 345 million people are now experiencing acute hunger — double the number from 2019. Humanitarian groups from 75 countries sent an open letter to world leaders and high-level diplomats gathering this week for the United Nations General Assembly here in New York Ciy. This is the first U.N. General Assembly since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and a key meeting Tuesday focused on how the war is contributing to skyrocketing levels of hunger. This is the U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Having just returned from Somaliland last week, I’m able to connect what we’re seeing in the lived, real lives of people and how they’re affected, and connect them with those global numbers you already outlined. Three hundred and forty-five million people are facing extreme hunger as a result of that confluence of climate, COVID and conflict — and that number, in and of itself, 345 million people, more than the entire population of the United States, and this in the 21st century.

Now, we know that we have been calling the alarm for several years. And we’ve had used our early-warning systems to trigger, to show — that have showed drought has continued to erode the lives and livelihoods of pastoralist and agropastoralist communities. Someone I saw in Somaliland, the stories were very similar. A woman named Safia, mother of eight, divorcée, who had stayed in her community as long as she could over the past several years, and ultimately went to a displaced persons camp near Burao called Durdur after she had

— source | Sep 21, 2022

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Disparities in United States COVID-19 vaccine distribution

When reports showed COVID-19 vaccination rates were lower among racial/ethnic minority groups, most discussions focused on mistrust and misinformation among these populations or their reduced access to health care facilities. But new research from University of California San Diego and collaborating institutions has identified an additional barrier to equity: whether or not each health care facility actually received and administered vaccines.

In a study published July 28, 2022 in PLOS Medicine, researchers demonstrated that health care facilities serving underrepresented, rural and hardest-hit communities were less likely to administer COVID-19 vaccines in the early phase of the vaccine rollout.

At that time, 61 percent of eligible health care facilities and 76 percent of eligible pharmacies across the U.S. provided COVID-19 vaccinations. When researchers began comparing these rates with the socioeconomic features of the county each facility was located in, several patterns emerged.

Facilities in counties with a high proportion of Black people were less likely to serve as COVID-19 vaccine administration locations compared to facilities in counties with a

— source University of California – San Diego | Jul 28, 2022

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Pandemic Has Been ‘Lucrative Smash-and-Grab’ for Big Pharma

As Moderna reported higher-than-expected revenue driven entirely by sales of its publicly funded Covid-19 vaccine, health equity campaigners on Wednesday renewed calls for pharmaceutical companies to waive patent protections in order to share their lifesaving technology with developing countries.

Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Moderna reported $4.7 billion in second-quarter sales—a 9% increase over the same period last year—despite taking a nearly half-billion-dollar hit for write-downs on expired or soon-to-expire vaccine doses. Nearly all of the company’s revenue came from sales of its Covid-19 vaccine, its only product on the market—and one whose development was funded entirely by U.S. taxpayers and contributions from private donors.

CNBC reports Moderna is also sitting atop an $18 billion cash pile, and intends to buy back $3 billion worth of its own stock. Furthermore, the company last week announced a $1.74 billion agreement with the U.S. government to supply up to 300 million doses of an updated Covid-19 vaccine for use against the omicron BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants.

— source | Brett Wilkins | Aug 3, 2022

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BA.5 Omicron Variant on Spread

COVID-19 cases are rising as the BA.5 Omicron variant puts more people in the hospital amid high rates of reinfection.

ED YONG: So, BA.5 is the latest version of the Omicron family of variants to hit the U.S. It is displacing its predecessor, BA.2, and it is indeed causing a surge. BA.5’s most important property is its ability to sneak past some of the immune defenses acquired by people either who have been vaccinated before or who have experienced — who have been infected by earlier variants. And that means that everyone is now a little less protected than they were a few months ago. Some people who have even recently been infected are getting infected again. Now, this doesn’t mean that previous immunity is back down to zero — far from it. People who have some degree of immunity, from past infection or vaccination, still have some protection against infection even from BA.5, but it’s less than before, which is why we’re seeing more reinfections now than before.

The good news is that the most severe outcomes, things like being sick enough to warrant an intubator, needing oxygen and, of course, dying, the vaccines do seem to still be protecting against those. But it’s still important to prevent infections. I think that a lot of this country, including its highest political echelons, have seemed to have forgotten that basic goal. Preventing infections is really important for preventing long COVID, for sparing the healthcare system, for all this and more. And because of that, BA.

— source | Jul 14, 2022

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More people are dying of COVID under Biden than Trump

On Thursday, the White House announced that President Joe Biden tested positive for COVID-19 and was experiencing mild symptoms. This news arrived as the nation continued to experience yet another wave of the highly contagious virus with few to no mitigation efforts or policies in place.

In 2021, when former President Donald Trump left office—against his will despite having lost—about 400,000 people in the U.S. had officially died of COVID-19. For most of Trump’s reign, there were no vaccines for COVID-19; they only began to be used in the final weeks of his administration, and their benefits had not yet been widely felt. Indeed, for the first few months of the pandemic, there hadn’t been very effective therapeutics at all; in New York City, the death toll grew so quickly, they had to use refrigerated trucks as temporary morgues, and people in jail were asked to dig mass graves for the bodies.

Trump was a cartoon villain of COVID mendacity, running around the country hosting maskless rallies; when he himself contracted the novel coronavirus and was admitted to Walter

— source | Steven W. Thrasher | Jul 21, 2022

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