As of this morning, 1,003,198 Americans had died from COVID-19, the most-- by far-- of any country in the world. For every million Americans, 3,000 have died. Apparently, it's going to take a lot more deaths before many Americans decide this is serious enough to get vaccinated or wear a mask. Yesterday, the world saw 1,588,744 new cases of COVID-19 reported, a bit down from the 1,773,828 cases reported on Thursday. Thursday there were 5,122 new deaths and yesterday that was 4,622. The dozen countries with the most new cases reported yesterday:
South Korea- 339,396 (393 deaths)
Germany- 276,746 (300 deaths)
France- 143,571 (121 deaths)
Vietnam- 108,979 (51 deaths)
Italy- 75,616 (146 deaths)
Australia- 58,700 (28 deaths)
Japan- 49,063 (129 deaths)
UK- 39,925 (172 deaths)
Austria- 37,910 (40 deaths)
Netherlands- 34,989 (20 deaths)
Brazil- 34,576 (259 deaths)
USA- 31,927 (692 deaths)
The other countries reporting a high death count Friday were Russia (398), Hong Kong (192), Mexico (155), Indonesia (120), Spain (113) and Poland (110).
The conference in Berlin I was supposed to go to this spring just announced it has been postponed indefinitely. But most of my friends in Europe have told me that their countries have decided to just live with it (or, of course, just die with it). Europeans are generally more protected from serious illness and death by vaccines than Americans are. Largely because of the low-IQ Trumpists living among us, we have incredibly higher death rates than any European country. In the U.S., 65% of people are fully vaccinated-- from 81% in Rhode Island and Vermont to just 51% in socially backward and overly politicized states Alabama, Wyoming and Mississippi.
These are the fully vaccinated rates in 15 European countries:
More worrying for our country is that just as COVID is taking a little rest and preparing for another attack, the U.S. has decided to power down our defenses. This morning, Axios reported that "communities across the country are choosing to shut down COVID testing and vaccination sites, even as experts warn that another wave could be on the horizon. The Omicron surge showed how our defenses can be quickly overwhelmed, but many places are scaling back anyway."
Worse: "There might not be relief from the federal government if another surge comes, as the Biden administration sounded the alarm that it doesn't have the funding to secure fourth vaccine doses for many Americans should they become necessary."
My doctor decided a 4th shot was necessary for me a couple months ago-- and I got it. Now the federal government is about to start giving it for all Americans over 50 who want it.
The Biden administration is planning to give Americans age 50 or older the option of a second booster of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna coronavirus vaccine without recommending outright that they get one, according to several people familiar with the plan.
Major uncertainties have complicated the decision, including how long the protection from a second booster would last, how to explain the plan to the public and even whether the overall goal is to shield Americans from severe disease or from less serious infections as well, since they could lead to long Covid.
Much depends on when the next wave of Covid infections will hit, and how hard. Should the nation be hit by a virulent surge in the next few months, offering a second booster now for older Americans could arguably save thousands of lives and prevent tens of thousands of hospitalizations.
But if no major wave hits until the fall, extra shots now could turn out to be a questionable intervention that wastes vaccine doses, deepens vaccination fatigue and sows doubt about the government’s strategy. The highly contagious Omicron subvariant BA.2 is helping to drive another surge of coronavirus cases in Europe and is responsible for about a third of new cases in the United States, but health officials have said they do not anticipate a major surge caused by the subvariant.
...A second booster is at best a stopgap measure. Many experts argue that the existing coronavirus vaccines need to be modified because the virus’s variants are diminishing their power; the question is how to reconfigure them. A surge in the fall is considered highly likely, whether it comes in the form of the Omicron variant, a subvariant like BA.2 or a new lineage entirely.
More than a dozen studies are underway to find the next generation of vaccines, with the first results expected in May or June. If all goes well, that would allow enough time to produce new doses before the fall. One major hitch is that the Biden administration says it does not have the money it needs to reserve its place in line by paying vaccine manufacturers for doses in advance.