Monday CoronaBuzz, October 11, 2021: 32 pointers to updates, health information, research news, and more.

Please get vaccinated. Please wear a mask when you’re inside with a bunch of people. Much love.


The Guardian: Could the global Covid death toll be millions higher than thought?. “The World Mortality Dataset contains information on more than 100 countries. Among those missing are most African and many Asian countries, including some of the world’s most populous and – judging by news reports and other sources – worst-affected. India, for example, does not routinely release national vital data, yet some researchers estimate its Covid death toll could be as high as 4 million.”


Associated Press: Fewer in US turn to food banks, but millions still in need. “Hunger and food insecurity across the United States have dropped measurably over the past six months, but the need remains far above pre-pandemic levels. And specialists in hunger issues warn that the situation for millions of families remains extremely fragile.”


Poynter: Louisiana lawmakers wrongly say a name change for Pfizer’s vaccine scuttles the FDA’s approval. “In August, the Food and Drug Administration gave full and final approval to the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer for people 16 and older. But 10 Republican Louisiana lawmakers allege ‘there is no FDA approval for the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine for COVID-19.’ The state representatives put that in bold at the top of a Sept. 29 letter to Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards. No, it’s not like those lawmakers didn’t get the memo on FDA approval. They saw it, but they tried to make the argument that it didn’t count.”

Rolling Stone: Eric Clapton Isn’t Just Spouting Vaccine Nonsense—He’s Bankrolling It. “In the past, Clapton has been reluctant to voice his political views. As he told Rolling Stone in 1968, ‘What I’m doing now is just my way of thinking, but if it gets into a paper somewhere, people will say that what I’m saying is the way they ought to think. Which is wrong, because I’m only a musician. If they dig my music, that’s great, but they don’t have to know what’s going on in my head.’ But in recent months Clapton has himself become a leading vaccine skeptic, part of a community that Dr. Anthony Fauci has said is ‘part of the problem — because you’re allowing yourself to be a vehicle for the virus to be spreading to someone else.'”


CNET: Used car price rises not letting up as predicted, and the peak hasn’t come yet. “It remains a poor time to be in the market for a new car. Or a used car. According to an Automotive News report on the latest data from Cox Automotive on Monday, wholesale used car prices rose to record highs this past September. In turn, that means the prices dealers charge used car buyers also continue to rise.”

Associated Press: Americans quit their jobs at a record pace in August. “The Labor Department said that quits jumped to 4.3 million in August, the highest on records dating back to December 2000, and up from 4 million in July. Hiring also slowed in August, the report showed, and the number of jobs available fell to 10.4 million, from a record high of 11.1 million the previous month.”

Daily Sabah: COVID-19 pandemic causes huge rise in mental health problems: Study. “The first year of the coronavirus pandemic saw a ‘stark rise’ in mental health disorders, with around 160 million additional cases worldwide, according to estimates by doctors and scientists in Australia and the U.S….Women were also affected more than men and younger people to a greater extent than the elderly, despite the latter being far more vulnerable to severe illness and death if infected.”


Committee to Protect Journalists: ‘It is becoming unbearable:’ Journalists say they have become ‘scapegoats’ at anti-vaccine protests. “Journalists in Europe told CPJ that some protesters target members of the press, who they see as representing the same forces they are rallying against. While most of the reporters vowed to continue their coverage of demonstrations against lockdowns, masks, and COVID vaccines, some also voiced concern that reporters—especially those without institutional support, like freelancers—may not be able to continue much longer.”


CNN: More organ transplant centers require patients to get Covid-19 vaccine or bumped down waitlist. “At issue is whether transplant patients who refuse the shots are not only putting themselves at greater risk for serious illness and death from a covid infection, but also squandering scarce organs that could benefit others. The argument echoes the demands that smokers quit cigarettes for six months before receiving lung transplants or that addicts refrain from alcohol and drugs before receiving new livers.”


New York Times: Racial Bias Skewed Small Business Relief Lending, Study Says. “From the very start of the Paycheck Protection Program last year, it was clear that minority entrepreneurs, especially Black business owners, struggled more than white borrowers to find a willing lender. A new research project indicates that the problem was particularly pronounced at smaller banks — and human bias appears to be the main reason.”

New York Times: Moderna, Racing for Profits, Keeps Covid Vaccine Out of Reach of Poor. “After developing a breakthrough vaccine with the financial and scientific support of the U.S. government, Moderna has shipped a greater share of its doses to wealthy countries than any other vaccine manufacturer, according to Airfinity, a data firm that tracks vaccine shipments. About one million doses of Moderna’s vaccine have gone to countries that the World Bank classifies as low income. By contrast, 8.4 million Pfizer doses and about 25 million single-shot Johnson & Johnson doses have gone to those countries.”

Axios: Unruly customers threaten economic recovery. “The pace of the economic recovery hinges in part on workers returning to jobs that involve dealing with an unpredictable public. But many of those workers say increasingly combative customers — angry about everything from long wait times to mask mandates — have prompted them to quit.”


New York Times: ‘Go out there and enjoy Halloween,’ Dr. Fauci says.. “Despite the wide availability of Covid-19 vaccines, not all Halloween parades have been safe from virus-related cancellations this year…. But Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease doctor, came to the defense of the mask-friendly holiday during a CNN interview on Sunday, saying that outdoor trick-or-treating was perfectly safe.”

Politico: Deborah Birx is interviewing with congressional investigators looking into the Covid-19 pandemic this morning. . “Dr. Deborah Birx, the former White House Coronavirus Response Coordinato, is taking questions from the congressional select committee investigating the pandemic this morning, according to two sources familiar with the interview. The session is part of the probe into how the Trump administration handled the onset of the global coronavirus pandemic.”


Reuters: Singapore Airlines : expands quarantine-free travel, eyes COVID-19 ‘new normal’. “Singapore is opening its borders to more countries for quarantine-free travel as the city-state seeks to rebuild its status as an international aviation hub, and prepares to reach a ‘new normal’ to live with COVID-19.”

BBC: Coronavirus in DR Congo: How funds went missing – report. “The Congo Research Group, based in New York University, says several new committees were set up that cost more money but failed to solve the problems. Its report says only $6m of the $363m Covid funding awarded by the IMF last year has been publicly accounted for. The Congolese government has not responded to BBC requests for comment.”

Associated Press: Scandinavians curb Moderna shots for some younger patients. “Scandinavian authorities on Wednesday suspended or discouraged the use of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine in young people because of an increased risk of heart inflammation, a very rare side effect associated with the shot. Sweden suspended the use of Moderna for those recipients under 30, Denmark said those under 18 won’t be offered the Swiss-made vaccine, and Norway urged those under 30 to get the Pfizer vaccine instead.”

New York Times: An inquiry calls Britain’s early pandemic response a ‘public health failure.’. “A parliamentary inquiry has found that the British government’s initial response to the Covid-19 pandemic ‘ranks as one of the most important public health failures the United Kingdom has ever experienced,’ blaming it for ‘many thousands of deaths which could have been avoided.'”


WRAL: FEMA delivers help to struggling Wake County EMS. “New state-of-the-art ambulances and trained EMS crews are arriving in Wake County on Friday. FEMA has assigned ambulances to 10 counties in North Carolina overwhelmed by calls during the pandemic, including Robeson, Franklin, Mecklenburg, New Hanover, Guilford, Brunswick, Graham, Macon, Pender and Wake counties.”


Daily Beast: Unvaxxed Allen West Has COVID Symptoms, Takes Unproven Meds. “Right-winger Allen West has suspended in-person events for his Texas gubernatorial campaign because he developed COVID symptoms after his wife tested positive. In a Saturday morning Twitter thread, the Trump-loving ex-congressman said he has not gotten the COVID vaccine but is ‘already taking Hydrochloroquine and Ivermectin protocols’—two unproven drugs popular with the anti-vaxxer crowd.”


The Hill: Ex-Trump lawyer Sidney Powell sues over Pentagon vaccine mandate. “Pro-Trump lawyer Sidney Powell is suing the Department of Defense, seeking to block the Pentagon from enforcing its COVID-19 vaccine mandate. Powell’s Texas-based group Defending the Republic announced Wednesday that it had filed a lawsuit against Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on behalf of 16 active-duty service members ‘in support of their right to refuse’ the coronavirus vaccine.”

CNN: Kyrie Irving ‘will not play or practice’ with the Brooklyn Nets due to vaccination status. “Brooklyn Nets general manager Sean Marks has confirmed Kyrie Irving ‘will not play or practice with the team until he is eligible to be a full participant,’ as issues relating to the star guard’s vaccination status continue. On Friday, a New York City Hall official told CNN that Irving will be allowed to practice at the team’s facility but will not be eligible to play in the Nets’ home games at Barclays Center due to the city’s Covid-19 vaccine mandate.”

Washington Post: Myanmar’s Suu Kyi pleads not guilty to breaking virus rules. “Ousted Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi and former President Win Myint pleaded not guilty Monday to violating COVID-19 restrictions, their lawyers said, as the pair were formally indicted after the army seized power. Each was charged with two counts under the Disaster Management Act for failing to observe pandemic restrictions during last year’s general election campaign. Each count carries a penalty of up to three years in prison.”


USA Today: Wisconsin parent sues school district, says her son contracted COVID-19 from a classmate. “A Wisconsin parent, with the help of a brewery in the state, has filed a federal lawsuit against the Waukesha School District and Waukesha School Board, saying her son got sick after being exposed to a classmate who had COVID-19 symptoms due to the district’s lack of mitigation protocols.”

Washington Post: Opinion: Florida teachers are quitting their jobs in droves — and who can blame them?. “Teachers are quitting their jobs in droves, particularly younger ones, and who can blame them? As of July, 2,137 teachers have left the Orlando-area Orange County school system, either by resigning or retiring, Wendy L. Doromal, the president of the county’s Classroom Teachers Association, told me, adding that another 493 teachers told a recent survey they are currently thinking of leaving or retiring. ‘It’s more than we have had previously, and it just keeps going and going,’ Doromal said. Statewide, there were 5,000 teachers and 3,700 support-staff vacancies in early August. There is also a major substitute teacher crisis, not to mention an intense shortage of bus drivers.”

WRAL: Three Triangle school districts with a vaccine mandate are an outlier, survey finds. “Person County has a total public and private student population of just 4,367, meaning those cases represent more than 1 positive case for every 25 students in the county. That’s the highest rate of any county in the state. Chapel Hill-Carrboro, Orange and Durham County public school systems all have vaccine mandates in place for their staff members, although religious and medical exemptions are allowed.”


San Francisco Chronicle: Here’s what Bay Area doctors say about how COVID affects the brain. “While driving recently, Cliff Morrison suddenly found himself lost in a forest. He pulled over, looked around and realized he was actually on a tree-lined street half a mile from his home in the Oakland hills, heading to the post office. Morrison, 70, did not have dementia. He had COVID-19.”

WRAL: Is my immunity waning? Doctors advise Pfizer vaccine recipients not to worry. “There’s little doubt now — study after study, in real life and in lab dishes, in the US and elsewhere — that people’s immunity starts to wane just months after they finish the two-dose series of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. While getting two doses of vaccine creates a strong immune response that reduces the risk of severe disease by more than 90%, the protection against milder and asymptomatic infections drops off gradually.”


CNN: Studies confirm waning immunity from Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine. “Two real-world studies published Wednesday confirm that the immune protection offered by two doses of Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine drops off after two months or so, although protection against severe disease, hospitalization and death remains strong. The studies, from Israel and from Qatar and published in the New England Journal of Medicine, support arguments that even fully vaccinated people need to maintain precautions against infection.”

Cal Poly Pomona: New Study Examines How Interplay of Factors Affect COVID-19 Vaccine Rates. “A new study that analyzes the interplay or of race, poverty, politics and age distribution on COVID-19 vaccination rates in each county across the United States has found that the impact of each factor is not universal across geographies.”


CNN: Apple Store security guard stabbed over face mask dispute in NYC. “Officers responded to the West 14th Street location in Manhattan about 6:20 pm ET, Lt. Thomas Antonetti said. The victim, a 37-year-old male whose identity was not publicly disclosed, did not suffer life-threatening wounds and was sent for treatment to Bellevue Hospital, Antonetti said.”

CNET: Laid off for refusing a vaccination mandate: Can you still collect unemployment?. “At the outset, we’ll note that this is an evolving legal issue that’s likely to play out in the courts. As a general rule, employees who resign or are fired for refusing a COVID-19 vaccine are not eligible to collect unemployment. And some legal experts believe that resisting a vaccine mandate could be treated as equivalent to a voluntary resignation, which would disqualify an employee from receiving benefits. But the rules vary by region and employer. Despite a few federally recognized exceptions, most states have not yet officially weighed in on the matter.”

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