A version of this story appeared in the April 21 edition of CNN’s Coronavirus: Fact vs. Fiction newsletter. Sign up here to receive the need-to-know headlines every weekday.
The Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines don’t appear to pose any serious risks during pregnancy, an early analysis of real-world data from the United States shows.
On Wednesday, the country saw its highest daily rise in infections and deaths since the start of the pandemic – 295,041 new Covid-19 cases and 2,023 fatalities – as hospitals turn away patients and beg for more oxygen, while desperate families plead for beds and medicines on social media.
“The volume is humongous,” said Jalil Parkar, a senior pulmonary consultant at the Lilavati Hospital in Mumbai, which has had to convert its lobby into an additional Covid ward. “It’s just like a tsunami.”
Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the nation on Tuesday, acknowledging the country’s “very big battle” against Covid-19. He however appealed to states to “use a lockdown as their last option,” even as the capital New Delhi entered its first full day of a week-long lockdown, Jessie Yung and Vedika Sud report.
On Monday, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal warned that failing to halt movement in the city could lead to “tragedy.” When India went into lockdown last March, the mass exodus of migrant workers from the cities became one of the most enduring images of the country’s battle against the virus – and is believed to have helped to spread Covid-19 nationwide.
This month, thousands of people have been seen heading to railway stations and bus stops in cities such as Mumbai and Delhi, yet the central government has maintained that no reverse migration is taking place.
The second wave, which has surpassed the first, was a situation created by complacency, say experts, pointing to the government relaxing measures, and a false sense of security from the public. Weeks before cases began climbing again, the federal health minister declared that India was “in the endgame” of the pandemic.
Despite warnings of Covid risks, sports matches resumed, elaborate weddings were held and movie cinemas reopened. This month, one of the biggest pilgrimages on Earth, the Hindu festival the Kumbh Mela, went ahead.
Modi, who has a significant Hindu base, refrained from commenting on the Kumbh Mela and its Covid risks for weeks. He finally appealed to pilgrims to avoid congregating in Haridwar earlier this week. But for some, Modi’s message rang hollow, as he continued to hold massive political rallies ahead of parliamentary and local council elections in four states and one union territory.
YOU ASKED. WE ANSWERED.
Q. Do my kids need to be vaccinated before going to summer camp?
A: The B.1.1.7 variant, which was first identified in the United Kingdom, is more transmissible than previous strains, which means we must be extra cautious, says CNN Medical Analyst Dr. Leana Wen. This includes:
- Being even more on guard than before. “For example, if you are going to eat outdoors at a restaurant, check to make sure that they are abiding by CDC guidelines and there is at least 6 feet of distancing between tables. Those not yet fully vaccinated should wait until they are vaccinated before dining in close proximity with someone else at their table,” she said.
- Wear a mask in public, practice physical distancing, and avoid indoor gatherings with people not in your household.
- “It’s even more critical than ever to be vaccinated as soon as it’s your turn,” Wen added.
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.
WHAT’S IMPORTANT TODAY
J&J told to clean up its troubled Baltimore plant
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) said Tuesday it had found a possible link between the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine and rare blood clots, but stressed the overall benefits outweigh the risks. For use in the European Union, the agency said the vaccine must include a warning about “unusual blood clots with low blood platelets.”
The underlying mechanism that may be involved in the blood clots linked to the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in the US and AstraZeneca’s vaccine in Europe is extremely rare and appears to involve a little-understood immune response.
Experts say taking the vaccines far outweighs the risks. Blood clots in general are relatively common – affecting 900,000 Americans a year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). And being infected with coronavirus greatly raises this risk.
Covid-19 cases keep going up in the US despite vaccinations. Here’s why.
Covid-19 vaccinations in the United States are continuing at an impressive pace, and now all Americans aged 16 and up can get a shot. But health officials warn that the country remains in a “complicated stage” of the pandemic.
In the past seven days, the US reported an average of more than 67,100 new Covid-19 infections daily, according to Johns Hopkins University data. That’s slightly below the previous week’s figure, but it’s still 25% above what it was nearly a month ago.
There are several reasons for this rise, say experts, namely dangerous coronavirus variants – such as the more contagious B.1.1.7 strain that has helped fuel another surge in Michigan. Pandemic fatigue and more Americans moving around are also not helping.
China’s vaccine nationalism softens as country signals it may approve foreign-made shots
As much as China may want to promote its domestically produced Covid-19 vaccines, it also has to face reality.
Beijing issued a policy last month making it easier for foreigners to apply for a visa to China if they had received a Chinese vaccine. Experts warn it sets a dangerous precedent that could leave the world separated into vaccine silos.
There’s also a practical problem: it is impossible to get a Chinese vaccine in many countries, including the US, because they have not been approved for use by regulators, Nectar Gan and James Griffiths report.
ON OUR RADAR
- Greece will gradually begin easing Covid-19 restrictions starting next month after the Greek Orthodox Easter. The country has lifted quarantine requirements for vaccinated travelers and those testing negative from key tourism markets.
- Black market traders in India are charging up to 10 times the recommended retail price for remdesivir amid a shortage of the antiviral drug. There’s no evidence it works in reducing Covid-19 deaths.
- Germany’s parliament, the Bundestag, has voted in favor of giving the federal government powers to impose nationwide lockdown measures against Covid-19.
- For fully vaccinated people, the risk of still getting Covid-19 – described as “breakthrough infections” – remains extremely low, a new study out of New York suggests.
- Spain will donate between 5% and 10% of its Covid-19 shots to Latin America and the Caribbean once half its population is inoculated.
“About 30-40% of the people with long Covid report improvement in their symptoms after vaccines, so that gives us some hope in trying to understand what we can do to help them, but also what is potentially causing the disease,” – Akiko Iwasaki, immunologist at Yale University.
“We can’t do this alone. There’s no one individual who’s going to be able to save us, no matter how hard they try. And so, the same is true with climate change.” — Kim Cobb, PhD, climate scientist at Georgia Tech