The latest on the coronavirus pandemic and vaccines

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What you need to know

  • US Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations are increasing – particularly for younger people – while deaths are going down, the CDC director warned.
  • Johnson & Johnson says it’s “aware” of rare blood clotting cases but maintains there is “no clear causal relationship” with its vaccine.
  • The World Health Organization’s director-general says the risks from Covid-19 are much higher than AstraZeneca vaccine related risks, urging everyone to get a vaccine.

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Key coronavirus model projects more than 618,000 Covid deaths in the US by August

A memorial ceremony for the 938 Berks County residents who died from Covid-19 was held at the Reading Hospital in West Reading, Pennsylvania on April 8.

About 618,523 people will have died from coronavirus in the US by August 1, according to the latest forecast from the University of Washington Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation’s (IHME) influential coronavirus model.

That projection accounts for the scale up of Covid-19 vaccine distribution in the US over the next 90 days and continued spread of the B.1.1.7 virus variant throughout the nation.

An April 1 forecast projected 609,000 deaths by July 1 and warned that continued relaxation of public health measures and increases in mobility could lead to large surges of cases, like those seen in Michigan.

In the worst-case scenario, in which fully vaccinated people return to pre-pandemic levels of mobility, the model predicts 697,573 deaths by August 1. If 95% of the US population wore masks, the projection drops to 604,413 deaths by August 1.

Bolivia extends border closure with Brazil over Covid-19 concerns

The border between Brazil and Bolivia is seen closed in the Brazilian city of Brasiliia, in Acre state on Friday, April 2nd, 2021.

Bolivia’s border with Brazil will remain closed for one additional week until April 17, so that further Covid-19 infections can be avoided, authorities announced on Friday.

“After reviewing the different evaluations regarding the epidemiological evolution at the border, it was decided to close another seven more days through a multi-ministerial resolution,” Bolivia’s Vice Minister of Foreign Trade and Integration, Benjamín Blanco, told the state Bolivian Information Agency (ABI).

As of Thursday, Bolivia’s health ministry reported a total of 279,207 coronavirus cases and 12,412 deaths.

FDA "highly likely" to allow Pfizer's Covid-19 vaccine for children ages 12 to 15, official says

A nurse loads a syringe with a dose of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine at the Blood Bank of Alaska in Anchorage on March 19, 2021.

It’s “highly likely” the US Food and Drug Administration will allow Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine to be used in children aged 12 to15, according to the acting chairman of an FDA vaccine advisory committee.

“It’s highly likely, if the data submitted support it,” said Dr. Arnold Monto, a professor of epidemiology at the University of Michigan. Monto is also serving as acting chairman of the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee in their review of Covid-19 vaccines.

“I think it could be done relatively quickly,” he added.

Pfizer applied to the FDA earlier today to expand its emergency use authorization (EUA) or its vaccine to be used in children aged 12 to 15. Currently it is authorized for ages 16 and up.

Monto said the FDA likely won’t ask the committee he chairs to meet to discuss expanding the use of Pfizer’s vaccine down to 12-year-olds.

“They’re not going to have advisories every time they tweak things,” he said.

He couldn’t speculate on how long it would take the FDA to consider Pfizer’s request to amend its EUA.

Moderna and Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccines have been authorized for use in people over the age of 18.

Brazil's Sao Paulo state and Rio de Janeiro announce easing of some Covid-19 restrictions

People are seen on a queue to access a lottery shop at the Lapa neighborhood during the Covid-19 pandemic in Rio de Janeiro, on April 8.