Covid-19 cases are spiking across the United States as the delta variant continues to spread, vaccination rates lag severely in low-income nations compared to high-income nations, and more in this week's roundup of Covid-19 news.
- The American Nurses Association (ANA) earlier this month issued a statement urging all nurses and other health care providers to get vaccinated against Covid-19, Health Leaders Media reports, joined several other provider groups who have done the same. Specifically, ANA's board of directors added the three Covid-19 vaccines authorized for emergency use by FDA to their longstanding position on immunizations, which calls for "all nurses and health care professionals to be immunized against vaccine-preventable diseases." ANA President Ernest Grant said in a press release, "ANA fully backs the CDC's recommendation to prioritize the vaccination of nurses and other frontline health care workers." Adding that it is "deeply concerning at this point in the pandemic, many nurses abroad to not have access" to Covid-19 vaccines, Grant also called for "[i]mmediate action to…increase the global supply and distribution of Covid-19 vaccines." According to WHO, around 135 million health care workers around the world have yet to be vaccinated. (Davis, Health Leaders Media, 7/22)
- New cases of Covid-19 have almost tripled in the United States over the past two weeks amid the spread of the delta variant, AP/Modern Healthcare reports. According to Axios, the nationwide daily average for new coronavirus cases increased 55% from the previous week, and 46 states have reported increases in daily cases. Hospitalizations from Covid-19 have also increased recently, with several hospitals across the country reporting their highest numbers in months. However, according to CDC, nearly all recent Covid-19 hospitalizations (97%) and deaths (99%) have occurred in those who were not vaccinated; breakthrough infections among vaccinated people remain rare and, when they do occur, are rarely severe. In response to case increases, several localities in areas with low vaccination rates have established vaccine mandates for public employees or re-implemented indoor masking requirements. (Baker, Axios, 7/22; AP/Modern Healthcare, 7/21)
- Only about 50% of nursing home staff and 78% of nursing home residents have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19, according to an AARP analysis—a situation that may place nursing home residents at particularly high risk of severe illness or death. As of mid-June, only one-fifth of nursing homes had at least 75% of their staff fully vaccinated. "There is a strong relationship between vaccination rates of staff and vaccination rates of residents," AARP wrote. "This means that in states where the vaccination rate of staff is low, there are also more unvaccinated residents who are vulnerable to a resurgence of the virus." (Owens, Axios, 7/16)
- Covid-19 vaccinations in the United States may have helped prevent up to 279,000 deaths and 1.25 million hospitalizations, according to a new study from Yale University and the Commonwealth Fund. For the study, researchers created models to analyze vaccination efforts—such as daily doses administered—and Covid-19 infections, hospitalizations, and deaths between October 1, 2020 and July 1, 2021. According to the researchers, if only half as many vaccinations had occurred within that timeframe, there would have been an additional 121,000 deaths and 450,000 hospitalizations. Without any vaccinations, the researchers predicted that the country would have seen a more severe "spring surge" in cases due to emerging variants, which would have resulted in around 4,500 deaths per day. Overall, according to CDC, the United States has administered more than 330 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine, and around 67% of Americans have received at least one dose. "This underscores that the swift vaccine rollout in the U.S. averted a remarkable number of cases, hospitalizations and deaths, despite the emergence of highly transmissible variants like the delta variant," Alison Galvani, a professor of epidemiology at the Yale School of Medicine and the study's lead author, said. (Avery, USA Today, 7/12; Gonzalez, Axios, 7/9; Choi, The Hill, 7/8; Greenwood, Yale News, 7/8)
- A Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) analysis found that only 1% of people in low-income countries have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, compared with 51% of people in high-income countries. Additionally, KFF found that low-income countries will not meet the World Health Organization's (WHO) goal of a global 40% vaccination rate by the end of the year unless their vaccination rates increase by a factor of 19. "There is a massive and growing gap in vaccinations by country income," Josh Michaud, one of the analysis's authors, said in a tweet. According to The Hill, advocates have urged higher-income nations to increase global vaccine access not only by donating doses but also by boosting manufacturing capacity for vaccines. The United States has pledged to donate more than 500 million doses to other countries, although delivery of some doses has been delayed by regulatory and logistical challenges. (Sullivan, The Hill, 7/21)
- Urging hesitant Americans to get vaccinated, President Joe Biden on Wednesday said he expected FDA would give final approval to a Covid-19 as soon as this coming fall. "My expectation talking to the group of scientists we put together, over 20 of them plus others in the field, is that sometime maybe in the beginning of the school year, at the end of August, beginning of September, October, they'll get a final approval," Biden said. Last week, FDA granted priority review for full approval to Pfizer-BioNTech's Covid-19 vaccine, and a decision is expected by January 2022. However, in line with President Biden's statement, Janet Woodcock, FDA's acting commissioner, said that agency "intends to complete the review far in advance" of the initial expected decision date. (Weiland/Karni, New York Times, 7/21)