The World Health Organization warned Monday that Europe will likely see 236,000 new COVID-19 deaths by Dec. 1, and Dr. Anthony Fauci said the U.S. could suffer another 100,000 deaths in the same time frame, mostly among people who continue to refuse vaccination.
“Last week, there was an 11% increase in the number of deaths in the region — one reliable projection is expecting 236,000 deaths in Europe, by Dec. 1,” WHO Europe director Hans Kluge said, as AFP reported. So far, Europe has suffered about 1.3 million COVID-19 fatalities.
High transmission rates across the continent are “deeply worrying, particularly in the light of low vaccination uptake in priority populations in a number of countries,” said Kluge. Vaccination rates are lowest in countries in the Balkans, the Caucasus and in some former Soviet republics.
Fauci, meanwhile, lamented the new estimate for COVID deaths, which he said is “both entirely predictable [and] entirely preventable.” Speaking on CNN’s “Face the Nation,” Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser, urged the unvaccinated to get their shots.
“We have about 80 million people in this country who are eligible to be vaccinated who are not yet vaccinated,” he said.
Fauci favors mandating vaccines for schoolchildren as soon as the necessary authorizations have been granted, arguing that the benefits would far outweigh the risks. “I believe that mandating vaccines for children to appear in school is a good idea,” Fauci said. “This is not something new. We have mandates in many places in schools, particularly public schools,” noting a history of vaccination requirements for polio, measles, mumps, rubella and hepatitis.
Louisiana, one of the southern U.S. states with lower-than-desired vaccination rates, saw its hospitals come under renewed pressure over the weekend, as Hurricane Ida battered the coast, as the Associated Press reported.
Ida, which has weakened to a tropical storm, hit as hospitals and intensive-care units were filled with patients from the fourth surge of the COVID-19 pandemic, sparked by the highly contagious delta variant. Thoughts of evacuating patients as the hurricane approached Louisiana were deemed unfeasible with nearby states’ medical facilities also stretched thin by the influx of COVID patients.
Daily tallies of new COVID cases in Louisiana went from a few hundred a day through much of the spring and early summer to thousands a day by late July. Gov. John Bel Edwards told the Associated Press on Sunday that more than 2,400 COVID-19 patients are in Louisiana hospitals, saying the state was in a “very dangerous place with our hospitals.”
The state is working to ensure hospitals have sufficient generator power and water so they can keep up with vital patient needs such as oxygen and ventilators.
“I hate to say it this way, but we have a lot of people on ventilators today, and they don’t work without electricity,” the governor said.
The seven-day average of new cases in the U.S. stood at 156,886 on Sunday, according to a New York Times tracker, with the average number of hospitalized patients now above the 100,000 to mark the worst levels since winter. Deaths are averaging more than 1,000 a day, the highest number since March.
Florida is suffering its highest number of daily fatalities of the pandemic, while Kentucky has the greatest patients in hospitals so far.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s vaccine tracker remains stubbornly static, showing some 173.5 million Americans are fully vaccinated, equal to 52.3% of the population. That means they have had two doses of the vaccines developed by Pfizer
with German partner BioNTech
or one dose of Johnson & Johnson’s
The CDC will meet Monday to discuss and vote on the framework for a booster program, which is expected to greatly benefit Pfizer and BioNTech. Their coronavirus vaccine is the only vaccine to have secured full authorization for adults in the U.S., as other vaccines continue to be administered under emergency-use authorizations.
Pfizer has started to beef up its sales force to push the vaccination program, according to the Financial Times, which noted the posting of several positions on LinkedIn last week: a senior director to lead a U.S. COVID launch and a senior manager for U.S. COVID consumer marketing.
Elsewhere, a new variant of the coronavirus that causes COVID has emerged in South Africa, according to new research, which suggests it has higher transmissibility and ability to evade antibodies. The research has been published as a preprint, meaning it has not been peer reviewed, by medRxiv, a server founded by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Yale University and BMJ.
The variant called C.1.2 was first identified in May and has since been found in South Africa and seven other countries. “While the phenotypic characteristics and epidemiology of C.1.2 are being defined, it is important to highlight this lineage given its concerning constellations of mutations,” the researchers wrote.
Singapore said it has vaccinated 80% of its population of 5.7 million, and is gearing up to reopen, the South China Morning Post reported.
The European Union, as expected, is recommending reinstating restrictions on travelers from the U.S., as the delta variant continues to spread, the Wall Street Journal reported. The move is expected to re-establish coronavirus travel restrictions such as quarantine and testing requirements for unvaccinated travelers, although individual EU member states are not obliged to follow the recommendation.
Australia set yet another record case number on Sunday at 1,323, Reuters reported, amid a continued debate about whether the country can lift lockdowns.
In Berlin, municipal authorities are offering a special train service for vaccinations as they push for more people to get shots, the Guardian reported. Officials invited anyone aged 18 or older to step aboard and receive the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, requiring only a single dosage.
The global tally for the coronavirus-borne illness climbed above 216.6 million on Monday, while the death toll rose to 4.5 million, according to data aggregated by Johns Hopkins University.
The U.S. leads the world with a total of 38.8 million cases and 637,540 deaths.
India has the second highest death toll after the U.S. at 438,210 and is third by cases at 32.7 million, the Johns Hopkins data show.
Brazil has second highest death toll at 579,308 and has 20.7 million cases.
In Europe, Russia has 179,233 deaths, followed by the U.K. with 132,760.
China, where the virus was first discovered late in 2019, has had 107,015 confirmed cases and 4,848 deaths, according to its official numbers, which are widely held to be massively underreported.
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