The United States leads the world in cases of COVID-19. We’ll provide the latest updates on coronavirus cases, government response, impacts to our daily life, and more.
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Summer Camp Groups Release COVID-19 Guidance
May 18, 6:45 p.m.
Two of the nation’s largest summer camp organizations — the YMCA of the USA and the American Camp Association — released a “field guide” on Monday to operate safely this summer amid coronavirus concerns. About 14 million people typically attend 8,400 overnight and 5,600 summer day camps, according to the guide.
The 80-page document gives detailed advice for social distancing, transportation, and campers and staff with preexisting medical conditions. The guide also gives specific information about activities such as crafts, swimming and performing arts. The information is meant to supplement the one-page flowchart released by the CDC last week.EXPANDED COVERAGELatest News
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According to the guide, camps shouldn’t open if state and local officials don’t allow it. They should also be in areas that met the third phase of White House guidelines, which call for a two-week decline in COVID-19 cases and hospital capacity to care for new patients.
First, camps should pre-screen all staff and campers for COVID-19 symptoms, according to the guide. During camp, directors and administrators may choose to take temperatures daily and isolate or send home people with symptoms.
The guide suggests that overnight camps operate as a “bubble,” allowing only staff and campers who have tested negative. They may also follow shelter-in-place guidelines for the duration of the camp.
In addition to the “bubble” concept, camps may incorporate “cohort” or “household” rules that keep staff and campers in small groups for daily activities, particularly ones that require close contact. This tactic could limit the spread of a potential outbreak and allow staff to trace contacts.
Other recommendations include frequent disinfection, handwashing procedures and enough equipment, such as life preservers, so campers don’t have to share during the program.
Some of the recommendations could make operating a camp more expensive, NPR reported.
“I am aware of some Y camps that have made basically a business decision that it’s better to forego this summer, cut expenses way back and be prepared for next year,” Paul McEntire, chief operations officer of the YMCA, told NPR.
Some summer camps are planning to reopen, even if delayed, the news outlet reported, including camps in Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Montana, New York and Texas. Other have canceled programs entirely.
VA: More Than 1,000 Have Died From COVID-19
More than 1,000 people have died from COVID-19 in the Department of Veterans Affairs health care system, the agency reported on its tracking site. The official tally was 1,015 on Monday afternoon.
Among those, 700 died at one of the agency’s veteran hospitals. The other deaths occurred elsewhere but were reported to the department. The VA has reported more than 12,300 positive cases, with 9,200 recovered and 2,100 still active, according to the tracking site.
The total number of veterans who have died from COVID-19 is even higher, the Washington Post reported. About 550 veterans have died in state-run veterans homes as well, according to Vietnam Veterans of America, and 28 states aren’t reporting veteran deaths. The advocacy group is collecting data for an upcoming report, the newspaper said.
“VA grieves for all of the Veterans and loved ones affected by this heartbreaking situation,” said agency spokeswoman Christina Noel.
The agency’s death toll includes active duty service members, patients with military health care and civilians enrolled in VA care in humanitarian cases. Most cases are likely among the 9.5 million veterans enrolled in VA care, the newspaper reported.
One active duty service member has died from the coronavirus. A sailor on the USS Theodore Roosevelt died in a Naval hospital in Guam in April, the newspaper reported previously. A National Guard soldier died in March before he was mobilized, the newspaper also reported.
The coronavirus has affected VA staffers as well. More than 2,000 have tested positive, and 30 have died, the VA reported on a separate tracking page. Six employees who died were in New Jersey.
The number of active COVID-19 cases in VA care has declined since the beginning of May, the Military Times reported Monday. The decrease could indicate a return to normal operations at some hospitals in coming weeks, the news outlet said.
VA Secretary Robert Wilkie was invited to a House Appropriations Committee hearing to give an update on the agency’s coronavirus response. The hearing, which was scheduled for Tuesday, has been postponed.
Pro Sports Should Plan to Resume Play: NY Governor
Professional sports teams should start planning to resume play without fans, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday.
“New York state will help those major sport franchises to do just that,” Cuomo said, CBS News reported. “Hockey, basketball, baseball, football, whoever can reopen, we’re a ready, willing, and able partner.”
Even if there are no fans at games, they could be televised, Cuomo said.
He made the comments as the state continued to have declines in coronavirus-related hospitalizations, intubations, and deaths, CBS News reported.
Major League Baseball is already making plans to start play.
Texas Reports Biggest 1-Day Increase in New Cases
As Texas moves forward with reopening, the state department of health reported 1,800 new coronavirus cases on Saturday — the largest one-day increase in the state since the pandemic began.
Many of those new cases were reported in counties with meat-packing plants. Gov. Greg Abbott said he’s sending “surge response” teams to hot spots and that increased testing explains the rise in new cases.
“As Texas continues ramping up its testing capabilities, there will be an increase in positive cases as the state targets the most high-risk areas: nursing homes, meat packing plants and jails,” Abbott said in a news release. “That is exactly why I established surge response teams. By immediately deploying resources and supplies to these high risk areas, we will identify the positive cases, isolate the individuals and ensure any outbreak is quickly contained.”
Abbott also announced the Texas Division of Emergency Management will work with local fire departments to expand testing in nursing homes.
Under relaxed state restrictions, gyms in Texas were allowed to reopen on Monday at 25% capacity, with proper spacing of equipment and gym users, TV station KHOU reported. Nonessential manufacturing and work offices can reopen with 25% capacity as well.
The state now has more than 47,000 reported cases, with 27,000 people who have recovered, the state department of health said.
First COVID Vaccine Tested on Humans Shows Promise
May 18, 11:20 a.m.
The first coronavirus vaccine tested on humans has yielded positive results, with a small number of people who were tested showing an immunity against the virus, drugmaker Moderna said Monday in a news release.
Moderna, a Massachusetts-based company, said the vaccine called mRNA-1273 “was generally safe and well tolerated.” The company said it plans to move ahead with the next two phases, in which larger numbers of people will be tested this year.
The news release said three different dosage levels — 25, 100 and 250 micrograms — were given to 45 participants, and all of them developed detectable antibodies.
But the eight people who received doses of 25 and 100 micrograms in March responded best, developing antibodies that were just as high or higher than the antibodies found in people who’d gotten the coronavirus and then recovered, the company said.
The vaccine uses something called the messenger RNA approach. It does not require a virus to make the vaccine.
“I think the totality of science tells us that this is the right antigen and it should be protective,” Tal Zaks, Moderna’s chief medical officer, said Monday on a call with journalists to discuss the results, according to Business Insider.
The testing is being done in coordination with the National Institutes of Health and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. It has not been peer-reviewed or published in a medical journal.
There currently is no vaccine against the coronavirus. Moderna and other companies are racing to develop a vaccine against the virus, which has killed 89,000 people in the United States alone.
It’s unclear how soon a vaccine might hit the market. Anthony Fauci, MD, of the White House coronavirus task force, has cited a 12- to 18-month timeline for development.
At least 90 potential COVID-19 vaccines are under study, and six of those are already being tested on humans in clinical trials to determine if they’re safe.
HHS Secretary: Reopening Requires ‘Very Localized’ Decisions
May 17, 6:40 p.m.
Communities will ultimately decide whether places where people gather — such as bars, restaurants, and schools — are ready to reopen due to coronavirus concerns, Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said Sunday.
“These are very localized determinants. There should not be one-size-fits-all approaches to reopening,” he said on CNN’s State of the Union.
Azar said it is safe to reopen the country because half of U.S. counties reporting cases of the coronavirus “haven’t had a single death,” The Washington Post reported.
He also mentioned other health consequences from extending shelter-in-place orders, such as suicides, and delayed heart procedures, cancer screenings, and childhood vaccines.
At the same time, people in crowded bars aren’t wearing masks or practicing social distancing, said CNN host Jake Tapper.
“I think, in any individual instance, you’re going to see people doing things that are irresponsible,” Azar said. “That’s part of the freedom that we have here in America.”
Under the first phase of reopening, the White House guidelines state that people should still physically distance themselves from others, stick to social settings with fewer than 10 people, and avoid places where “appropriate distancing may not be practical.”
“We count on local leaders to implement and interpret that, according to the local situation,” Azar said.
In states that are opening, cases haven’t spiked so far, he said, though new case numbers could be delayed. Officials are using surveillance systems to track respiratory diseases to watch for an increase, he said. They’re now testing for asymptomatic cases in places where people are in close quarters, such as nursing homes, prisons, and meatpacking plants.
“We look for early indicators,” Azar said. “Then we use the traditional public health tools to surge in there” with testing, isolation, and contact tracing.
Even still, some states are seeing an increase in cases. During its first weekend without statewide restrictions, Wisconsin received an influx of visitors from Illinois, where stay-at-home orders are still in place, according the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Hundreds of people traveled to Lake Geneva on Saturday, even as Wisconsin reported its highest one-day count of 502 new cases.
And Texas reported its highest one-day count, according to The Texas Tribune. More than 1,800 new cases were recorded on Saturday, including more than 700 from Amarillo, where meatpacking plants have led to a cluster of infections.
Disney: Shopping Area in Florida Reopens Wednesday
Walt Disney Co. will reopen parts of the Disney Springs entertainment and shopping complex at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida on Wednesday, the company announced on Saturday.
The company and unions representing the workers reached an agreement about the safeguards to protect employees, according to Reuters, which has been one of the biggest questions in reopening theme parks.
“While our theme parks and resort hotels remain temporarily closed, the phased reopening of Disney Springs is a welcome milestone as we navigate through this unprecedented time together as responsibly as we can,” Disney Springs Vice President Matt Simon said in the statement.
Some third-party stores will reopen at Disney Springs this week, and on May 27, three venues operated by Disney — World of Disney, D-Luxe Burger and the Marketplace Co-Op — will reopen.
“Rest assured, there is plenty of magic awaiting you at Disney Springs — it just may feel a bit different than before,” Simon said.
To reopen safely, Disney Springs will have several new changes. All guests over age 3, cast members, and third-party employees will be required to wear “appropriate” face coverings that cover the nose and mouth at all times, except when sitting at a dining table.
Temperature screenings will be required at the entrances, and anyone with a temperature of 100.4 or higher will be sent to another location for rescreening. People who measure 100.4 or higher again won’t be allowed inside.
Disney Springs will also maintain physical distancing during the reopening phase and limit the number of people allowed in each location. Markings on the ground will show proper distancing in lines. Cashless and contactless payment options will be available, too.
The company also has increased cleaning and disinfection procedures, including high-traffic areas such as elevators, escalators, handrails, benches, tables, and restrooms. Handwashing and hand sanitizer stations will be available.
Cast members are being trained to explain new procedures and answer questions. They’ll also encourage guests to follow the new rules.
“I understand this is a great deal of change to absorb,” Simon said in the statement. “Today’s world is different, and it’s going to require a shared responsibility, with everyone doing their part.”
The latest information about shopping and dining locations, operating hours, and safety procedures will be posted at DisneySprings.com/reopening.
More USS Roosevelt Sailors Test Positive Again
May 17, 11:18 am.
Eight more sailors on the USS Theodore Roosevelt tested positive for the coronavirus again, according to The Associated Press. That means 13 now seem to have COVID-19 a second time while working on the ship.
All of these sailors went through 2 weeks of quarantine and isolation and tested negative twice over a couple of days before working again.
On Friday, the Navy said that five sailors tested positive a second time. On Saturday, a Navy official, who requested anonymity, said that eight more tested positive.
Officials discovered the outbreak on the aircraft carrier in March and stopped in Guam. More than 1,000 crew tested positive, and 4,000 of the 4,800 crew members went to shore for quarantine and isolation. In late April, hundreds of sailors returned to the ship in waves to get ready to sail again.
But some sailors began showing symptoms again in early May, such as a cough and fever, according to Politico. Others had body aches and headaches.
The 13 sailors have left the ship and are back in isolation on the U.S. Naval Base Guam, officials told the news outlet.
FDA Authorizes First at-Home COVID-19 Sample Kit
May 16, 4:40 p.m.
A new at-home coronavirus kit will be available to collect a sample and send it to a lab for analysis, the FDA announced on Saturday.
The FDA issued an emergency use authorization to Everlywell Inc. for the Everlywell COVID-19 Test Home Collection Kit. Under separate authorizations, the FDA also allowed two COVID-19 diagnostic tests to be used at the laboratories for the at-home samples.
“The authorization of a COVID-19 at-home collection kit that can be used with multiple tests at multiple labs not only provides increased patient access to tests, but also protects others from potential exposure,” Jeffrey Shuren, MD, director of the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health, said in the news release.
People can use the kit at home after completing an online questionnaire, which is reviewed by a doctor. The kit has nasal swabs to collect the sample. Then patients put the swab in a saline tube for transport, which they can ship overnight to a specific lab — either Fulgent Therapeutics or Assurance Scientific Laboratories — that is authorized to test the at-home samples.
Once results are ready, patients can check them through Everlywell’s online portal or the company’s network of doctors.
Although the FDA previously issued two emergency use authorizations for at-home diagnostic tests, the Everlywell collection kit is the first sample kit that can be used with multiple authorized labs, the FDA said. The kit is available by prescription only.
“It is important to note that this is not a general authorization for at-home collection of patient samples using other collection kits, swabs, media, or tests, or for tests fully conducted at home,” according to the news release.
UK Trial Tests Whether Dogs Can Sniff Out Coronavirus
May 16, 3:47 p.m.
A new trial in the United Kingdom will study whether dogs that are trained as medical sniffers can detect the coronavirus in infected humans.
Dogs have been trained to detect malaria, Parkinson’s disease, and some types of cancers, according to Medical Detection Dogs, the UK charity that runs the training program.
“In principle, we’re sure that dogs could detect COVID-19. We are now looking into how we can safely catch the odour of the virus from patients and present it to the dogs,” said Claire Guest, CEO and co-founder of the organization.
The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Durham University will work with Medical Detection Dogs to do the trial. Dogs would learn to distinguish the scent by sniffing samples during training, which would be collected from patients at London hospitals. The trial has received more than 500,000 pounds in funding, according to Durham University.
Respiratory diseases such as COVID-19 change a human’s body odor, so the researchers believe there is a “high chance” that dogs could detect it. Dogs could potentially detect differences in temperature that could indicate a fever, too.
If successful, dogs could be ready after a 6-week training program, according to the organization. Within 6 months, trained dogs could be deployed to airports and borders to identify infected travelers.
“The aim is that dogs will be able to screen anyone, including those who are asymptomatic, and tell us whether they need to be tested,” Guest said.
The dogs could potentially screen up to 250 people per hour, the BBC reported. Called “bio-detection dogs” or “Covid dogs,” the group of six trial participants would include Labradors and cocker spaniels.
CDC Warns Pediatricians About Rare Inflammatory Condition
May 16, 12:08 p.m.
The CDC has updated its coronavirus advisory to pediatricians to warn about a rare and sometimes deadly inflammatory condition that affects children and may be connected COVID-19.
Called multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children, or MIS-C, the condition has caused at least three deaths in the United States, health authorities say.
“Healthcare providers who have cared or are caring for patients younger than 21 years of age meeting MIS-C criteria should report suspected cases to their local, state, or territorial health department,” the CDC advisory says.
Symptoms include a fever, low blood pressure, rashes, red eyes, stomach upset, and inflammation of the heart and its arteries. Some of these symptoms overlap with toxic shock syndrome and Kawasaki disease, which is one of the leading causes of heart disease in children.
Children don’t appear to be as vulnerable to the coronavirus as adults. But in New York, the hot spot for MIS-C in the United States, the state health department said there appeared to be a connection between this new illness and COVID-19 because many of the young patients tested positive for the coronavirus or its antibodies.
MIS-C cases have been reported in 15 states and some European nations. More than 100 cases have been reported in New York state, where three children, aged 5, 7, and 18, have died.
Not many of the children have shown breathing problems, which is a common symptom of the coronavirus.
Tests Show Vaccine Protects Monkeys Against COVID-19
May 16, 11:29 a.m.
There’s good news about a coronavirus vaccine being developed by Oxford University in England.
Tests show that the vaccine provided protection against the virus when given to rhesus macaque monkeys at the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases’ Rocky Mountain Laboratories in Hamilton, MT, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and a preprint paper posted on the server bioRxiv.
Six monkeys received the vaccine 28 days before being infected with the coronavirus. Three other animals served as the control group and did not receive the vaccine, the preprint paper said.
The vaccinated animals didn’t get sick or develop lung problems, the NIH said in a news release. Two of the three control animals developed some form of pneumonia.
Rhesus monkeys are often used in tests because they share about 93% of their genes with humans, according to the National Primates Research Center.
Based on the research, testing on humans began April 23 in the United Kingdom, the NIH said.
The information has not been peer-reviewed but is shared online to help other researchers in the race to develop a COVID-19 vaccine.
The Oxford scientists are making the vaccine from a weakened version of a common cold viruscalled the adenovirus taken from chimpanzees. The vaccine is combined with genes to trigger antibodies that allow the immune system to destroy the virus
Covid vaccine tracker: How’s my country and the rest of the world is doing?
When it comes to the coronavirus vaccine there is one question most people are asking – when will I get it? A handful of countries have set very specific vaccination targets, but for the rest of the world, the picture is less clear.
Getting the world vaccinated against Covid-19 is a matter of life and death, involving complicated scientific processes, multinational corporations, government promises, and backroom deals. So figuring out when and how everyone in the world will get the vaccine is not easy.
Agathe Demarais is the director of global forecasting at the Economist Intelligence Unit, which has done some of the most comprehensive research on the topic. She has looked at the world’s production capacity, along with the healthcare facilities needed to get vaccines into people’s arms, the number of people a country has to contend with, and what they can afford.
- Coronavirus cases, deaths, vaccinations by country
- Will countries be left behind in the vaccine race?
- The vaccines that work – and the others on the way
Many of the findings seem to fall along predictable lines of rich v poor. The UK and the US are both well supplied with vaccines right now because they could afford to invest a lot of money into vaccine development and put themselves at the front of the queue.
Rich countries that didn’t do that, like Canada or those in the EU bloc, are a little further behind. Canada was criticized at the end of last year for buying up five times the supply it needs to cover its population, but it seems it wasn’t positioned for priority delivery.
That’s partly because the country decided to invest in vaccines from European factories, afraid that the US under Donald Trump would issue export bans. It turned out to be a bad bet. European factories are struggling with supply and recently it has been the EU, not the US, that has been threatening export bans.
“As long as the European market doesn’t have enough vaccines, I think that big imports to Canada are going to remain off the cards,” says Ms. Demarais. Most low-income countries haven’t started vaccinating yet. But some countries in the middle are doing better than expected.
Global vaccine rollout
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Serbia is eighth in the world in terms of the percentage of its population vaccinated, ahead of any country in the EU.
Its success is partly down to an efficient roll-out but it’s also benefitting from vaccine diplomacy – a battle between Russia and China for influence in eastern Europe. It’s one of the few places where the Russian vaccine Sputnik V and the Chinese vaccine SinoPharm are already available.
On paper, Serbians are given a choice of what vaccine they would prefer – Pfizer, Sputnik, or SinoPharm. In reality, most people end up being given SinoPharm.
And the influence China is exerting here is likely to be long-term. Countries giving a first and second dose of one of the Chinese vaccines are also likely to look to Beijing for booster doses if needed.
The United Arab Emirates is also relying heavily on the SinoPharm vaccine – it makes up 80% of the doses being administered there right now. And the UAE is building a SinoPharm production facility.
“China is coming with production facilities, trained workers, so it’s going to give long-term influence to China,” says Ms. Demarais. “And it will make it very, very tricky for recipient governments to say no to China for anything in the future.”
Being a global vaccine superpower, however, doesn’t mean your population will be vaccinated first. The EIU’s research predicts two of the world’s vaccine production powerhouses, China and India, may not be sufficiently vaccinated until the end of 2022. That’s because they have huge populations to contend with, as well as a shortage of health workers.
In India, the country’s success as a Covid vaccine producer is largely down to one man, Adar Poonawalla. He’s chief executive of the Serum Institute of India, the world’s largest vaccine producer.
Last year, his family started to think he has lost his mind when he began betting hundreds of millions of dollars of his own money on vaccines that he didn’t know would work.
In January, the first of those vaccines, developed by Oxford and AstraZeneca, was delivered to the Indian government. Now he’s producing 2.4 million doses a day. He’s one of two main suppliers to the Indian government – and is also supplying Brazil, Morocco, Bangladesh, and South Africa.
“I thought the pressure and all the madness would end now that we’ve made the product,” he says. “But the real challenge is trying to keep everybody happy.
“I thought there’d be so many other manufacturers who would be able to supply. But sadly, at the moment at least, in the first quarter, and perhaps even the second quarter of 2021, we’re not going to see a substantial increase in supply.”
He says production cannot be ramped up overnight. “It takes time,” Mr. Ponnawalla adds. “People think that the Serum Institute has got a magic sauce. Yes, we’re good at what we do but it’s not a magic wand.” He currently has an edge because he started building facilities in March last year, as well as stockpiling things like chemicals and glass vials in August.
For manufacturers starting production now, it will take months to produce vaccines. And the same applies to any boosters that might be needed to tackle new variants.
Mr. Ponnawalla says he is committed to supplying India and then Africa through a scheme called the Covax facility.
Coax, an initiative led by the WHO and other health organizations aims to get affordable vaccines to every country in the world. Countries that can’t afford vaccines will get them for free through a special fund. The rest will pay. But the theory is that they will get a better price by negotiating through the bloc than if they had done so on their own.
Coax is planning to start delivering vaccines this month. But the plan is being undermined by the fact many countries involved are also negotiating their deals on the side.
Mr. Poonawalla says almost every leader in Africa has been in touch with him to access vaccines independently. Last week, Uganda announced it had secured 18 million doses from the Serum Institute at $7 a jab – much more than the $4 being paid by Coax. The institute says it is in talks with Uganda but denies this deal was ever signed.
In total, Mr. Poonawalla’s firm is due to supply 200m doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to Covax and has promised 900m more doses in the future.
The Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention has since advised against the rollout of the vaccine in countries where the South African strain is present. He says he is still committed to the scheme but admits it faces problems. It’s dealing with too many different vaccine producers, he says, each offering varying prices and timelines for delivery.
Ms. Demarais and the EIU are not overly optimistic about what Covax can achieve either. The timelines for delivery of vaccines are still not clear and even if things go according to plan, the scheme only aims to cover 20-27% of a country’s population this year. “It’s going to make a small marginal difference, but not a game-changer,” she says.
In her forecast, some countries may not get widespread coverage even by 2023. Some may never be fully covered. Vaccination may not be a priority for every country, especially one that has a young population and is not seeing huge numbers of people getting sick.
The problem with that scenario is as long as the virus can prosper somewhere it will be able to mutate and migrate. Vaccine-resistant variants will continue to evolve.
It’s not all bad news. Vaccines are being produced faster than ever but the scale of the task – inoculating 7.8 billion people around the world – is gigantic. And it’s never been attempted before.
Ms. Demarais believes governments should level with their people on what is possible. “It’s very difficult for a government to say, ‘No, we’re not going to achieve widespread immunization coverage before several years.’ Nobody wants to say that.”
Vaccines against Covid-19
Data from two separate studies published in the UK, one in England and another in Scotland, have shown vaccines against Covid-19 are effective in cutting disease transmission and hospitalizations from the first dose.
Analysis from Public Health England has shown the vaccine manufactured by Pfizer-BioNTech reduces the risk of catching infection by more than 70% after a first dose.
That risk is reduced by 85% after a second dose.
The public health body’s study of real-world data also showed vaccinated people who go on to become infected are far less likely to die or be hospitalized.
Hospitalization and death from Covid-19 are reduced by over 75% in those who have received a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, according to the analysis.
“This crucial report shows vaccines are working — it is extremely encouraging to see evidence that the Pfizer vaccine offers a high degree of protection against coronavirus,” Health Secretary Matt Hancock said.
Britain is one of the countries hardest-hit by the Covid-19 pandemic, with 120,757 deaths.
It was the first nation to begin mass vaccinations in December and more than 17 million people have now received at least a first vaccine dose, one-third of the UK’s adult population.
“We will see much more data over the coming weeks and months but we should be very encouraged by these initial findings,” said Dr. Mary Ramsay, Head of Immunisation at Public Health England.
At the same time, a study in Scotland has shown the Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccinations have led to a reduction in Covid-19 admissions to hospitals after a first dose.
The study, led by the University of Edinburgh, found that by the fourth week after receiving the initial dose the Pfizer vaccine reduced the risk of hospitalization from Covid by up to 85%.
The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine reduced the risk by 94%.
“These results are very encouraging and have given us great reasons to be optimistic for the future,” Professor Aziz Sheikh, who lead the research, said in a statement.
“We now have national evidence, across an entire country, that vaccination protects Covid-19 hospitalizations.
“Roll-out of the first vaccine dose now needs to be accelerated globally to help overcome this terrible disease,” he added.
The research compared the outcomes of those who had received their first jab with those who had not.
It found that vaccination was associated with an 81% reduction in hospitalization risk in the fourth week among those aged 80 years and over when the results for both vaccines were combined.
The project, which used patient data to track the pandemic and the vaccine roll-out in real-time, analyzed a dataset covering the entire Scottish population of 5.4 million between 8 December and 15 February.
Some 1.14 million vaccines were administered to 21% of the Scottish population during the period.
The Pfizer vaccine was received by 650,000 people in Scotland, while 490,000 had the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.
It is the first research to describe the effect of vaccinations on preventing severe illness resulting in hospitalization across an entire country.
Previous results about vaccine efficacy have come from clinical trials.
The study team said the findings applied to other countries using the Pfizer and Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines.
The data reported “is extremely promising,” said Arne Akbar, the president of the British Society for Immunology.
“Although there does seem to be some difference in effectiveness levels measured across age groups, the reduction in hospitalizations for the older age groups is still impressively high,” he said.
“We now need to understand how long-lasting this protection is for one dose of the vaccine.”
Taking Care of Your Mental Health Is a Key Piece of the puzzel to crohns disease
When you have Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, it’s not just your physical health that’s affected. The frequent pain, unpredictability, and worrying that comes with inflammatory bowel disease can disrupt your emotional wellbeing, too.
And that stress, in turn, can make your IBD symptoms even worse.
“It’s pretty well understood that, while stress does not cause IBD, it contributes to flares, and it can contribute to the first expression of IBD,” says Stephen Lupe, PsyD, a clinical health psychologist who specializes in digestive diseases.
That’s why taking care of your emotional wellbeing is a critical part of managing your IBD.
“A lot of patients get stuck in this cycle of putting their life on hold while they try to cope with the disease, and that tends to increase depression, increase anxiety and increase stress,” he explains.
“But we want them to know that they can have a life and the disease at the same time. There are things that we can do to help their bodies cope with these conditions.”
Mental health and IBD go hand-in-hand
Studies have found that people who have IBD are more likely to develop anxiety and depression than people who don’t have it.
“Sometimes, people who are frequently in pain start to become predictive with the pain way before it ever happens, and they’ll stop doing things in anticipation of the pain,” Dr. Lupe notes. “Maybe they’ll stop eating, or they’ll stop going out, and their lives get narrower and narrower, which a lot of times can influence the development of anxiety or depression.”
Sleep problems are also common in people who have IBD, especially during a flare, he adds.
It’s important to be aware of these risks. If you’ve lost interest in doing things you used to love, or are struggling with the day-to-day challenges of living with a chronic gut disorder, speak up and let your doctor know what’s going on. He or she is there to help.
“A lot of gastroenterologists know psychologists that they can refer patients to,” Dr. Lupe says.
Can a health psychologist help you?
If you’re already frequenting your doctor’s office, making yet another medical appointment might not be at the top of your “things I want to do” list.
But seeking help to cope with the mental and emotional aspects of the disease can be an important step in improving your quality of life and managing symptoms. Research suggests that the gut and the brain are connected through the gut-brain axis and that stress may make symptoms worse.
“My job is to talk to patients about all of the things that come along with being diagnosed with a gut condition, whether that’s stress, anxiety or depression, or the lifestyle modifications that need to happen,” Dr. Lupe says.
“We also look at things like body image issues, the stress, and fear that can sometimes come along with having to use the bathroom frequently, and even things like talking to our partners about the sexual performance after being diagnosed.”
A psychologist may recommend one of these forms of therapy:
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy, which focuses on changing thinking and behavioral patterns.
- Acceptance and commitment therapy, where people learn to accept the challenges that come with their condition and focus on being present and mindful in their situation.
- Hypnotherapy, which uses mind-body techniques to help people reach a relaxed state where they are more open to suggestions that may influence the quantity or intensity of symptoms.
Many people find additional support in the form of online or IRL support groups. “This can be very normalizing and validating to meet other people who have the same kinds of things going on in their life,” Dr. Lupe says.
But ongoing struggles with mood, stress, body image, sleep, anxiety, or coping with the day-to-day challenges of living with IBD should be addressed by a mental health professional.
“I think there’s a lot of stigmas, and a lot of patients have fear of talking about some of this other stuff that’s going on,” Dr. Lupe says. “People don’t always realize that there are things that we can do to help our bodies and minds cope so that we can have a life and keep moving forward. So make sure that you advocate for yourself and find a way to talk to someone.”
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