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Rich countries turn to booster shots. Will the US follow suit?

By Tara John, CNN

A growing number of countries are turning to booster vaccine shots as the world grapples with the Delta variant and data on the potential for waning immunity.

  • On Tuesday, the United Arab Emirates joined Germany, Israel and the United Kingdom in recommending third shots for the elderly. Israel announced its booster program last week following a strong recommendation from a government-appointed team of experts, who based their findings on data suggesting significant waning immunity from infection over time
  • Not everyone is advocating the move. The World Health Organization (WHO) told CNN last month that it didn’t know whether booster vaccines will be needed, citing limited data. US regulators have also said Americans do not need a third shot — just yet. But that mood is shifting. On Tuesday, Dr. Anthony Fauci said there was an effort to make vaccine boosters available to people with compromised immune systems.    
  • This comes after President Joe Biden announced a series of new steps to get Americans inoculated, including a requirement that all federal employees must attest to being vaccinated or face strict protocols. On Tuesday, meat producer Tyson Foods said all its workers had to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 by November 1. Tyson’s move was notable since company mandates in the US up until now had largely focused on corporate employees. 
  • With less than half of the US population fully vaccinated, the outlook remains grim as cases surge in the country. On Tuesday, for the first time since February, more than 50,000 hospital beds across the country were occupied by Covid-19 patients, according to the US Department of Health and Human Services — with states reporting that many if not all admissions were unvaccinated patients.
  • The Delta variant is also wreaking havoc globally. In Africa, Covid-19 deaths have risen rapidly over the past month, as fatalities surged by 80% within the last four weeks, the WHO said. China’s spiraling outbreak has reached Wuhan, the original epicenter of the pandemic, prompting citywide testing as authorities scramble to contain its first reported local infections in more than a year. Some fear the return of a stringent lockdown. Meanwhile, Thailand has built a Covid-19 hospital in Bangkok’s Don Muang Airport. 


Q: Can Covid-19 affect the nervous system?

A: Covid-19 may be associated with cognitive decline and acceleration of Alzheimer’s-like symptoms, according to an international consortium of researchers who are trying to understand the long-term consequences of the virus on the central nervous system.

Dr. Gabriel de Erausquin, a professor of neurology at the University of Texas Health Science Center, and his colleagues studied more than 200 adults age 60 and older from Argentina who were infected with Covid-19. They found that patients who had a persistent loss of smell were more likely to experience cognitive issues. Three to six months after they were infected, more than half of the patients still struggled with forgetfulness, and about a quarter experienced additional cognitive challenges.

How sick a patient was with Covid-19 was not an indicator of whether they would experience cognitive decline. Erausquin however stressed that the research does not show that Covid-19 increases a person’s risk for Alzheimer’s, and there are some big questions that can only be answered with time.

Send your questions here. Are you a health care worker fighting Covid-19? Message us on WhatsApp about the challenges you’re facing: +1 347-322-0415.


The tragedy of Covid victims who said no to the vaccine

They didn’t have to die. This is the terrible truth of America’s new pandemic battlefront, as the malicious, highly infectious Delta variant surges, targeting millions who sadly left it too late to protect themselves with safe, free and effective vaccines, writes Stephen Collinson.

Michael Freedy, a Las Vegas father of five, could still be the light of his kids’ lives. Instead, they will be always haunted by one of his wrenching final texts before he died on Thursday: “I should have gotten the damn vaccine.”

About 99.999% of fully vaccinated Americans have not had a deadly Covid-19 breakthrough case

CDC data shows that more than 99.99% of people fully vaccinated against Covid-19 have not had a breakthrough case resulting in hospitalization or death.

The data highlights what leading health experts across the US have highlighted for months: Vaccines are very effective at preventing serious illness and death from Covid-19 and are the country’s best shot at slowing the pandemic down and avoiding further suffering.

Hackers block Italian vaccine booking system in ‘most serious cyberattack ever’

Hackers attacked and blocked an Italian Covid-19 vaccination booking system earlier this week, in what has been called the worst cyberattack Italy’s health service has ever seen.

The IT system of the health department of Lazio, one of the most populated regions in Italy and home to capital Rome, was the target of an attack that began Sunday by unknown perpetrators. Local authorities said they had received a generic ransom request but with no further claims.

On Monday, Lazio regional health councilor Alessio D’Amato assured more than 500,000 citizens that had already booked their Covid-19 vaccines through August 13 would still be able to get their shot.


Returning to the office? Here’s how to avoid miscommunication

Many companies are bringing workers back into the office. However, barring a Delta variant surge, many employers are maintaining at least a partially remote element to the job. The struggles of communicating with coworkers at a distance aren’t going anywhere, but there are ways to combat them. Read more here.

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