Coronavirus Update

The coronavirus pandemic rages on, with cases of the disease at an all time high. On Friday, January 8, the U.S. reported 283,204 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total to 21,862,773 cases. This is compounded by the fact that a new, highly contagious strain of the coronavirus from the U.K. has been detected in several states in the U.S., raising concerns that it will spread throughout our country. Fortunately, the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccines that are currently being slowly distributed have been shown to be effective on the new strain. The bigger issue is the slowness of the distribution of the vaccines; experts are warning that herd immunity could now take almost 3 years instead of one. President-elect Biden, though, intends to release available vaccines quickly once he is inaugurated on January 20. 

Record Number of Deaths Reported

Data provided by Johns Hopkins University has shown that the U.S. has now had a single day during which more than 4,000 COVID-19 deaths were reported, the most deaths ever reported in one day from the illness. California and Texas are both experiencing high levels of hospitalizations; Los Angeles County had reports of ambulance crews waiting outside hospitals for hours, and Texas for the 5th day in a row experienced high hospitalization numbers.

white figures of people with a shot in front of them with the word "herd immunity" on the shot
Because the vaccine has not been utilized as much as it was expected to be, herd immunity can take almost 3 years to go into effect.

U.S. Could Take 3 Years To Reach Herd Immunity

The coronavirus vaccine is not being administered as quickly as it was projected to be. More than 22 million doses have been distributed, and only 6.7 million people have received their first dose of a vaccine. Federal officials had projected that 20 million people were going to receive their first dose by the beginning of the year; at this current rate, it could take almost 3 years to reach herd immunity. 

President-elect Biden has announced that he plans to release all available doses when he gets into office. The goal is to allow more people access to a first dose. “The President-elect believes we must accelerate distribution of the vaccine while continuing to ensure the Americans who need it most get it as soon as possible. He supports releasing available doses immediately, and believes the government should stop holding back vaccine supply so we can get more shots in Americans’ arms now,” said TJ Ducklo, a spokesman for Biden’s transition team.

Giving the first dose to everyone instead of holding back available supplies for second doses could help reduce the number of new cases. However, releasing all available vaccines could be an issue. Vaccine manufacturing has not ramped up enough to be able to provide a large number of vaccines, which would limit availability of second doses. 

President-Elect Biden Calls For Increased Stimulus Amount

The IRS is currently sending out $600 payments to Americans, but Biden has said he believes that more should be provided. On Friday, January 8, Biden called for increasing the most recent stimulus payments to $2,000, which he suggested should be part of the next coronavirus stimulus bill. hundred dollar bills stacked in front of each other.

“We need more direct relief flowing to families and small businesses, including finishing the job and getting people $2,000 in relief,” Biden said in Delaware. “$600 is simply not enough when you have to choose between paying rent or putting food on the table and keeping the lights on.”

However, one Democrat is not in support of the idea. U.S. Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia said that he would only support sending the money to those who really need it. “If they can direct money and they say, ‘This will help stimulate the economy,’ hell yeah I’m for it,” Manchin told the newspaper. “But basically right now, you better get them vaccinated.”

New U.K. Covid-19 Strain In Several States

A new strain of the virus found in the U.K. has been identified in the U.S. The CDC has identified at least 52 cases of the B.1.1.7 mutation in the U.S. in the following states:

  • California
  • Florida
  • New York
  • Colorado
  • Georgia

Connecticut, Pennsylvania and Texas also announced cases of the new strain on Thursday, January 7. Governors worry that the new strain could lead to another shutdown because of the virulence of the strain. Fortunately, the coronavirus vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech appears to be effective against the new variants identified in the U.K. and South Africa. 

No New U.S. Variants

viruses in different shades of red.
There have been new variants of the coronavirus from the U.K. and South Africa that reached America, but no findings of a new U.S. variant.

The White House coronavirus task force has suggested that there could be a new variant of the virus that evolved in the U.S. and is spreading. This new strain, which is different from the U.K. variant, is spreading in communities and may be 50% more transmissible than the current strain, according to the task force. However, the CDC has said that it has not seen the spreading of a highly contagious new U.S. variant. 

“It is highly likely there are many variants evolving simultaneously across the globe,” Jason McDonald, a spokesman for the CDC, said in an email to CNBC. He added that there’s a “strong possibility” there are variants in the U.S., but it could be weeks or months before officials identify a particular variant that is “fueling the surge in the United States similar to the surge in the United Kingdom.”

“Researchers have been monitoring U.S. strains since the pandemic began, including 5,700 samples collected in November and December,” he said. “To date, neither researchers nor analysts at CDC have seen the emergence of a particular variant in the United States as has been seen with the emergence of B.1.1.7 in the United Kingdom or B.1.351 in South Africa.”

Number of Children Getting Vaccinations Continues To Drop

Every parent has a right over what they think is best for their child. Some choose the herbal route when their kids are sick, while others choose the medicinal route. Over the past couple of years, there has been an increase in parents choosing not to give their kids vaccinations. The numbers quadrupled in the last 17 years. The reason for the decline in vaccinations is due to a study that was found to be fraud regarding autism. The study by Wakefield linked vaccines to the increase of autism in children over the years. The lack of vaccination in kids has caused some measle outbreaks all over the world, including in the U.S.

The number of kids getting vaccinated is decreasing every year.
The number of kids getting vaccinated is decreasing every year. This may cause an outbreak of diseases like the measles.

Vaccines & Autism

The study that was linked to autism was found to be untrue. The man who conducted the study, Wakefield, falsified data about the children’s conditions that he observed. Since then, at least seven large studies were conducted and found no association between the MMR vaccine and autism. But because of Wakefield’s falsified study, and the increasing numbers of autism in kids, parents are re-thinking vaccines. Parents are not reassured by the facts that vaccines are not linked to autism and other issues with children. The reason is because they have all met or know someone with an autistic child.

One in 59 kids are on the autism spectrum in the U.S. This is almost a 2% increased rate from the past 2 years. No one truly knows the reason for the increase of autism in kids. However, there are factors associated with higher risk such as mental illness during pregnancy, genetic mutations, birth before 37 weeks gestation, and having parents that are older than 30.

Measles & Vaccines

Due to the decline of kids getting the MMR shot, the number of kids getting the measles has increased. If a baby or toddler gets the measles, the outcome may be deadly for them and their weakened and undeveloped immune systems. The measles virus is a highly contagious one, it affects the respiratory system, immune system, and your skin. In the U.S. there has been a confirmed 137 measle cases among 24 states, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC. The CDC estimates that if there is a 5% drop in the measles vaccination, then the number of children aged 2 to 11 who would catch the measles would triple.

Why So Many Vaccines?

Nearly 1 in 4 people aged 19-35 have not received all the recommended vaccinations. Some parents are concerned about the number of shots that a child has to get, especially since it is so much more than when they were a child. The reason for this is because back in the 1970’s and 80’s, kids were vaccinated against only 8 diseases, Since then, kids are vaccinated against 14 diseases, which is why they receive more shots. Kids these days are protected against almost twice as many diseases. 100 children died from chicken pox the year before the varicella vaccine was introduced to us. Even though a lot of people got the chicken pox and were okay, others were not as fortunate.

Some parents think that herd immunity will help keep their kids safe.
Some parents think that herd immunity will help keep their kids safe. But kids and babies are at most risk if vaccination numbers drop too much.

Herd Immunity

Some parents believe that “herd immunity” will protect their kids from getting a disease, which is why they do not give their children immunization. Herd immunity is the idea that if a large number of the community is vaccinated, then the spread of a contagious disease will be low for those who are not vaccinated. The only problem with this theory is that the community must have 80-90% of them vaccinated, and a drop in this number will lead to the community becoming susceptible to the disease. Those who are at greatest risk of getting the disease are babies and kids.

Some children who are allergic to eggs, or have immune-system deficiencies can not receive certain vaccines. This puts that child at a huge risk of contracting a disease that could compromise their life. It is important that people around the kid are vaccinated so that the child is not in danger. But this can only be achieved if we shield our kids and communities from the diseases with vaccines.

When it comes down to the debate, it depends on the parent and what they believe and feel is right. Know the facts by doing a lot of research, and ask your doctor any questions you have before choosing not to vaccinate.