The Indian strain was classified as a “variant of concern” by the World Health Organization (WHO) on Monday, meaning it could show, among other indicators, that it is more transmissible, causes more serious diseases, and does not respond to treatment. , avoids an immune response or cannot be diagnosed by standard tests.
There are questions about the role of the resurgence of cases and deaths in India, the WHO said on Wednesday, explaining that several other contributing factors – such as religious and political rallies – may have also contributed.
Option B.1.617 has also spread far beyond India’s borders. The United Kingdom – which is scheduled to take its “biggest step” towards normalcy by dropping most pandemic restrictions next Monday – has reported the highest number of cases of the strain outside India, the WHO said. Asked about the option, England’s chief medical officer, Chris Whitty, said Monday that “we don’t know if it will lead to significant problems in the autumn”. In the United States, meanwhile, where B.1.617 is also present, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) still classifies it as an “option of interest,” but notes that this classification may escalate or de-escalate based on scientific evidence.
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IN: Will the Covid vaccine protect me against option B.1.617?
WHAT IS IMPORTANT TODAY
Russia and China find common ground in vaccine diplomacy
Chinese companies have reached agreements last month to produce more than 260 million doses of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine, which has been approved for use in more than 60 countries – many of them developing countries. As hundreds of millions of doses of the Russian shot are distributed, they will carry the label: “Made in China.”
But there is a darker side to this collaboration, with Russia’s recent disinformation efforts trying to undermine vaccine confidence in the United States and Britain. China has done the same, with state media summarizing reports of deaths from US and European vaccines. Bobo Luo, an expert on Sino-Russian relations and a former diplomat, said it was difficult to know whether the closeness would remain in the long run, as both Chinese and Russian leaders are united by growing Western opposition to their governments.
US authorities gather teenagers to get vaccinated before options spread
To get adolescents and their parents on board, primary care providers, pediatricians and family physicians will talk to parents and children will be crucial, said Dr. Nirav Shah, president of the Association of State and territorial health officials. “Here we need to talk not only with the patient, the adolescent, but also with their parents and guardians, to do the case with both at the same time.”
How does “cautious embrace” work?
Children who do not yet qualify for the vaccine (and are short enough) can hug their vaccinated loved ones around the waist, although they should skip the dirty kisses. Keeping their face away from the person they are embracing is key here, said Vanderbilt University professor of infectious diseases Dr. William Schaffner. While unvaccinated teenagers are unlikely to want to squat to hug someone, they should hold a mask as they hug and tilt their face away from the person they are hugging, Schaffner added.
Fully vaccinated people who have missed physical contact are lucky: they can hug each other, experts say. “Fully vaccinated people can hug without restrictions, including indoors, without masks,” said Dr. Leana Wen, a visiting professor of health policy and management at George Washington University in Milken, a public health institute. Wen added that this also applies to all vaccinated people. And if you’re not ready to hug someone yet, that’s fine too. Cuddling with someone you love was unthinkable even a few months ago, and it’s a dramatic change in the way we live since March 2020. Wen advises you to take life after the vaccine at your own pace.
ON OUR RADAR
- Everest climbers have been asked to return oxygen canisters to the mountains as Nepal’s Covid-19 cases jump. Some hospitals in Kathmandu are forced to divert patients, and doctors are raising concerns about an “oxygen crisis.”
- After the sister of Shahnawaz’s best friend Shaikh, who was six months pregnant, died from Covid last May at the gates of a congested hospital in Mumbai, he sold his car to give free oxygen to coronavirus patients. He now conducts a 24/7 operation with a team of 20 volunteers to help others in need.
- Silvio Berlusconi, the former prime minister of Italy, returned to the hospital with Covid-related illness just weeks after discharge. The 84-year-old president of the Forza Italia party contracted the virus last September.
- Pope Francis held his first public audience in six months on Wednesday, telling a crowd of about 300 people gathered outside the Vatican that he was happy to see them “face to face”. The pope did not wear a mask and stopped talking, shaking hands and signing the crowd, which were all wearing masks and had their temperatures measured.
- The island of Capri hopes to attract tourists back with the promise of being “without Covid”. The Italian paradise has stepped up its pre-summer vaccination campaign – inoculating 80% of its population so far – in hopes of bringing back holidaymakers after the tourism sector saw a 70% drop in turnover last year.
TODAY’S TOP COUNCIL
Here’s how you can avoid Covid-19 in your home for worship
So, it’s best to disguise yourself, stay at least six feet away from people who don’t live in your household, and avoid poorly ventilated areas. Try sitting near an open window or door or choose a service where people tend to sing less. You can also ask your worship home if it regularly cleans frequently touched surfaces such as benches, pens or offering plates – and of course you can BYOS (bring your own disinfectant) too.
Worship homes can also use stationary boxes to collect offerings instead of submitting a basket or accepting donations online. If food is offered at or after services, choose pre-packaged foods instead of a buffet or dishes if possible.