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Q: Will I be able to get free beers for getting vaccinated?

A: The CDC updated its international travel guidance on Monday to give specific advice for both vaccinated and unvaccinated travelers across 120 countries. The guidelines seek to “better differentiate countries with severe outbreak situations” from places where Covid-19 is “sustained, but controlled.”

Pediatric cardiologists say the take-home message is that Covid-19 should scare you much more than the vaccine. There is simply no comparison between the two.

Myocarditis is usually caused by a viral or bacterial infection. A different vaccine, one against smallpox, has previously been linked to it. There’s a wide spectrum of myocarditis. Some people don’t feel anything and they’re fine without treatment. For others, it can be deadly.

But generally, when young people developed myocarditis following vaccination, the numbers were small, and the level of sickness was relatively mild.

Q: Children younger than 12 in the US are not eligible for Covid-19 vaccines yet. How careful should I be with my kids?

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WHAT’S IMPORTANT TODAY

Social workers are scrambling to track them down, worried they may be vulnerable to traffickers or end up on the streets if left to fend for themselves.

A coronavirus variant first spotted in India is expected poised to soon become the dominant one in the United States, where infectious disease modelers say it could cause a “resurgence” of Covid-19 later this year. And it may already account for 1 in every 5 infections nationwide, experts say.

The Delta variant, as it’s now called, has swept across the UK, all but replacing the Alpha variant first identified there late last year, Michael Nedelman and Nadia Kounang write.

“This is the most transmissible of all the variants that we’ve seen,” Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, told CNN’s Ana Cabrera Monday. “We saw what happened in the UK, where it overtook the entire nation. So I’m worried that’s going to happen in the US,” he said.

Meet Japan’s Olympics superfans who want Tokyo 2020 to go ahead

Kyoko Ishikawa is not your average Olympics enthusiast. Sporting a bandana, fans, whistle and traditional Japanese costume, the IT company president is a superfan who has attended every Summer Games since Barcelona 1992.

She even performs a Japanese cheer routine at each one and hopes to carry on the tradition this year.

“The purpose of my cheer activities is to share the message of love, friendship, and peace,” said Ishikawa. “The Games are the one opportunity where we can share that with people from around the world.”

Ishikawa might be upbeat, however, with just one month until the opening ceremony of the Summer Games on July 23, many in Japan are still not convinced by assurances from the government and organizers that it’s possible to stage the Games safely, Emiko Jozuka, Blake Essig and Dan Campisi write.

Organizers are trying to mitigate the risk by setting a 50% cap on spectators at venues, up to a maximum of 10,000 people. They could also restrict the number of fans in the event of a state of emergency or amid any other restrictions to curb the rise of Covid-19 infections.

Pressure mounts on Bolsonaro as Brazil records half a million deaths

There is barely a person in Brazil today who hasn’t lost a loved one to Covid-19, say local scientists, as the country reached the grim milestone of half a million deaths, Rodrigo Pedroso and Juliana Koch write.

On June 18 alone, Brazil accounted for nearly one-third of all Covid-19 deaths worldwide, according to Our World in Data – a figure that experts warn is quickly rising as the virus spreads unchecked throughout the country. The death toll of more than 500,000 is twice as high as it was six months ago, a sign that the mortality rate is accelerating, say experts.

Now pressure on President Jair Bolsonaro and his government is growing: Anti-Bolsonaro rallies were held on Saturday across the country – in Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Brasilia, Salvador and Recife. The country has suffered from a slow vaccine rollout and staunch resistance to containment measures by Bolsonaro, who has downplayed the gravity of the virus. There is no lockdown and just 11.4% of the population is fully vaccinated.

ON OUR RADAR

All eligible athletes should get a Covid-19 vaccine as soon as possible, the AAP said. Currently, only the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is approved for use in people 12 and older. Once people are vaccinated, they are advised to follow CDC guidance for vaccinated individuals, which says they do not need to wear a mask in most situations.

A study published last week in JAMA found that sperm count and quality did not drop in healthy young men after receiving a first or second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, the shots widely used in the US and many other countries. And not getting vaccinated is more likely to bring problems for fertility. A small study published in January found Covid-19 could be harmful to the male reproductive tract.

Compared to healthy males without Covid-19, the study found a significant increase in inflammation and oxidative stress in sperm cells belonging to men with Covid-19. Their sperm concentration, mobility and shape were also negatively impacted affected by the virus.

The studies add to existing research studies that shows no evidence of a link between female fertility and Covid-19 vaccines – or any vaccine, for that matter.

“There’s never been any vaccine that’s been linked with infertility,” Dr. Richard Beigi, from the Immunization, Infectious Disease, and Public Health Preparedness Expert Work Group of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, told CNN in May.

“There is no clear scientific reason to think the new vaccine would cause fertility problems in adults. Likewise, there’s no scientific reason to believe it would cause fertility problems in teenagers. Those are the facts, regardless of how old the person is.”

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WHAT’S NEW THIS WEEK

  • The Delta variant, a more transmissible and possibly more dangerous strain, now makes up more than half of all new infections in the United States. It is of global concern, forcing some Asian-Pacific nations to impose tough restrictions, yet countries are taking different strategies on masks.
  • The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) dropped the mask mandate for vaccinated people in May. But faced with rising infections, some areas are starting to reimpose the face covering and social distancing measures regardless of vaccination status – as Los Angeles County did last week.
  • Meanwhile in England, where the Delta variant is the dominant strain, the government will drop legal requirements for masks and other remaining restrictions in two weeks. The end to the mask mandate comes amid stern warnings from health experts, who say face coverings reduce transmission in crowded spaces and help prevent potentially vaccine-resistant variants from spreading.
  • Israel, one of the most vaccinated nations in the world, lifted most of its restrictions in early June. But an indoor mask mandate has since been reinstated along with other restrictions after a spike in cases caused by the Delta variant.
  • Meanwhile, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine appears to be less effective against infections caused by the Delta variant compared to other strains, according to the Israeli government. As of June 6, the vaccine provided 64% protection against infection, and was 93% effective in preventing severe disease and hospitalizations, the government said. The statement cited top line figures, but did not release underlying data or other details about its analysis. A team at Hebrew University said in a separate statement that it was too soon to tell how much the Delta variant was affecting vaccine efficacy.
  • And in other vaccine news, the Johnson & Johnson shot provides immunity that lasts at least eight months, and appears to protect against the Delta variant, the company said in a statement. Meanwhile, India’s homegrown Covid-19 vaccine, Covaxin, has an efficacy rate of more than 93.4% against severe Covid-19 infection and 77.8% against symptomatic infection, according to data released by its developer.
  • Europe is risking a new wave due to the relaxation of restrictions, the spread of the Delta variant and low vaccination coverage, the World Health Organization (WHO) has warned.
  • In a move that could help vaccine rollout problems, Germany issued what appears to be the strongest recommendation anywhere for the mixing of Covid-19 vaccines on efficacy grounds. It said people who receive a first dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine “should get an mRNA vaccine as their second dose, regardless of their age.

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