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While hospitals around the United States report oxygen shortages as they treat primarily unvaccinated Americans, a recent University of Washington model said it is possible another 100,000 people could die from Covid-19 by December.

  • That terrifying forecast could be prevented if more Americans get vaccinated, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CNN Sunday. Around 80 million eligible Americans have still not received the shot and they are the very group who could turn things around, he said. Officials are now urging this unvaccinated group to refrain from traveling over Labor Day as the US averages 160,000 new cases a day.
  • Children are increasingly in the firing line. More kids in the US were hospitalized with Covid-19 last month than any other time this past year – proving how seriously the Delta variant can hit any age group. Between August 20 and 26, an average of 330 children were admitted to hospitals every day with Covid-19. Experts say wearing masks in school can help to keep kids safe, and on Monday the Education Department’s civil rights enforcement arm announced investigations in five states to determine whether their indoor mask bans were discriminatory against students with disabilities.
  • Two prominent anti-maskers died over the weekend from Covid-19 – the latest casualties among a string of anti-mask and anti-vaccine crusaders who have died or been hospitalized due to the virus. Florida conservative talk radio show Marc Bernier died on Saturday night. Earlier in the day, prominent mask opponent Caleb Wallace also died after catching Covid-19. He was 30 years old while Bernier was 65.
  • As Western countries prepare to rollout Covid-19 vaccine boosters, a troubling new variant, C.1.2, has popped up across South Africa and seven other countries in Africa, Asia and the Pacific, say researchers. While they are unsure if its constellation of mutations will make it more dangerous, it carries changes that have given other variants increased transmissibility and the ability to evade the immune system’s response to some degree. This comes weeks after the World Health Organization warned that if manufacturers prioritize supply for booster shots in richer nations, it will lead to further vaccine inequity and offer opportunities for the virus to mutate in the rest of the world.
  • Two people have died in Japan days after receiving doses from a batch of Moderna Covid-19 vaccines whose use was suspended last week following concerns over a contamination risk, the country’s Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare said Saturday. A causal link between the vaccine and the deaths has not yet been established, according to the ministry and Takeda Pharmaceutical Company, which distributes the Moderna vaccine in Japan.
  • American children between 5 and 11 could get the green light for vaccines from the US Food and Drug Administration sometime this fall, according to Fauci. Pfizer’s CEO said Tuesday that the company plans to submit data on its vaccine from studies involving that age group by the end of this month.
  • Meanwhile, the debate on booster shots continues. Three separate articles published last week in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report suggest that we don’t need them, and a group of international vaccine scientists say the current evidence does not appear to support a need for booster shots in the general public. But a study from Israel, where the third shot has already been rolled out, indicated that the vaccines’ power to keep people from getting very sick with Covid-19 diminished over time. Last month, Biden announced his administration’s intention to start a booster program by September 20, despite WHO’s call for nations to wait until vaccines are more widely available around the world.

YOU ASKED. WE ANSWERED.

Q: When will the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine booster be available for all adults in the US?

A: On Tuesday, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) confirmed its vaccine advisers will not be convened to consider the requested amendment to the booster’s emergency use authorization – which means the decision could come any time. 

Dr. James Versalovic, interim pediatrician-in-chief at Texas Children’s Hospital, explains why. “As we are fond of saying in pediatrics: Children are not small adults. Children are children,” he said. “Their bodies are developing and will react differently, and we need to treat them differently.”

For people as young as 12, vaccine makers built off the adult trials with an approach known as “immunobridging,” a process that looks for an immune response in children that is similar to adults.

The data showed that for this age group, the immune response was the equivalent of adults’.

Companies take a similar approach with the younger kids, but in early August, out of an abundance of caution, the FDA asked for six months of follow-up safety data, instead of the two months it asked for with adults. It also asked Pfizer and Moderna to double the number of children ages 5 to 11 in clinical trials. Read more here.

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.

READS OF THE WEEK

The intelligence community is still divided about which of the two theories – that the virus came from a lab leak or that it jumped from animals to humans naturally – is likely to be correct. But there is consensus among the intelligence agencies that both of the two prevailing theories are plausible. In a statement, Biden criticized China for its lack of transparency in helping the investigation, and the intelligence community said China’s cooperation would likely be needed to reach a more definitive conclusion.

French President Emmanuel Macron adjusts his face mask at the Elysee Presidential Palace on September 6 in Paris, France.

Both Israel and the UK appeared on track to hit the rough target of 80-90% of fully vaccinated citizens that each of the experts CNN spoke to said is required to drop restrictions, while America had legitimate cause for optimism. But then came a drop in the number of daily vaccinations, which creates an opportunity for the virus to spread, mutate and break through those countries’ borders to others with lower inoculation rates. In other words, it could incubate the next disaster in this pandemic. 

As of August 1, anyone without a “health pass” showing proof of their vaccination status, or a recent negative test, would not be able to enter bars and cafes, or travel long distances by train. Health care workers – a group of roughly 2.7 million people in France – who are not vaccinated face being fired or suspended without pay.

Despite some early opposition, Macron’s gamble looks to be reaping significant rewards. Immediately following his speech on July 12, there was a spike in vaccination appointments in France. Thanks in part to its swelling vaccination rate – along with a massive increase in testing linked to the Covid pass, and the reintroduction of mask mandates in regions badly hit by the Delta variant – mainland France managed to largely sidestep the fourth wave that swept through Europe and the US. A month into France’s new health pass regime, data from the country’s health agency show an overall decline in hospital and ICU admissions since the summer highs.

As the pandemic spread, the perks of Amirzadeh’s job diminished. Now restricted to domestic US flights, her work involves navigating not only the fear of catching Covid-19, but also the recent uptick in disruptive passengers.   

The man had tested negative for the virus nine times during the 21 days of quarantine, before testing positive on Friday – 37 days after entering China, according to state media. Chinese authorities did not reveal when, where or how the man caught the virus, but an incubation period longer than 21 days is highly unusual.

The fresh outbreak in Fujian province on China’s southeastern coast has infected more than 60 people, including 15 elementary school pupils. It emerged just two weeks after China contained its worst coronavirus flareup in more than a year, highlighting the increasing challenge posed by the highly contagious Delta variant – even in the face of the most stringent measures.

TOP TIP

The Covid pandemic is highlighting mental health issues among men

Are there any downsides to getting the booster shot?

Ask questions like: Might kids be able to eat outdoors? Could that be a choice offered to some kids?

You can also ask about quarantine protocols. How will you know if another child tests positive? Is everyone in the class required to quarantine, or is testing an option that can reduce the need for a long quarantine – – and with it missed in-person schooling time. This is another case where rapid, frequent testing is helpful; what kind of testing options are made available for students and their families?