Coronavirus Information: World Instances Cross 200 Million
Here’s what you need to know:
Credit…Sakchai Lalit/Associated Press
The known total of global coronavirus infections surpassed 200 million on Wednesday, according to the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University, a daunting figure that also fails to capture how far the virus has embedded itself within humanity.
While always an imperfect measure of a virus that causes no symptoms in large parts of the populations it infects, case counts have provided a useful tool for much of the pandemic — like a flashing red light in the cockpit of a jetliner warning of imminent danger.
A surge in case numbers has in most cases been followed by a crush of people crowding emergency rooms and, several weeks later, a rise in fatalities.
The official tally stands at more than 614,000 deaths in the United States. More than 550,000 in Brazil. More than 425,000 in India. Mexico has recorded more than 240,000 fatalities, and Peru nearly 200,000. Britain, Colombia, France, Italy, and Russia have all recorded well north of 100,000 deaths. The global toll as of Wednesday was 4.2 million, itself a rough estimate given the discrepancies in the way nations record Covid-19 deaths.
As the coronavirus continues to find new hosts across the planet, the emergence of the Delta variant — thought to be twice as infectious as the initial form of the virus — is adding fuel to a fire that has never stopped raging. Fully vaccinated people are protected against the worst outcomes of Covid-19 caused by the Delta variant.
In the week of July 19 to 25, nearly four million cases were recorded by the World Health Organization, many of them occurring in countries lacking vaccines. More than 69,000 people died over that same week.
Despite countless lockdown restrictions and radical shifts in individual behaviors, the virus continues to spread at a staggering pace.
Some countries, like Australia, once had success keeping case counts low thanks to geographic isolation and strict lockdown measures. But that may not be possible with the Delta variant; Australia’s largest city, Sydney, is scheduled to be under lockdown until at least Aug. 28 as it tackles a continuing Delta outbreak. And governments have faced increasingly angry protests while enforcing lockdowns on weary populations and struggling businesses, and imposing new vaccine requirements.
Over the last six months — as the world raced to 200 million cases in half the time it took to reach 100 million — the calculus for measuring the danger of the moment has become more nuanced.
In countries where vaccines are scarce, the math of the pandemic remains unchanged. When the Indonesian authorities reported nearly 57,000 new cases on one day in early July — seven times as many as a month earlier — they also reported a record 1,205 deaths, bringing the country’s official toll from the pandemic to more than 71,000.
But in rich nations with ample vaccine supplies, public health officials are watching to see how mass inoculation campaigns have severed the link between case counts and pressure on health care systems. In Spain and Britain for example, cases have begun declining after the Delta variant drove numbers to concerning heights. But in other countries like Malaysia and Thailand, that climb is continuing.
In the United States, with about 93 million people eligible for shots who have chosen not to get them, experts say that a rise in cases this winter is inevitable.
The spread of the virus among the vaccinated is being intensively watched in rich nations, and much remains unknown. Are there differences in breakthrough infections depending on which vaccine is administered? How long does it take for protection to fade? And when does the number of cases indicate a flood of patients that could overwhelm health care systems?
Public health officials are confident that there is little evidence to suggest that the virus has found a way to escape the main goal of vaccines: preventing serious sickness and death.
But there is also agreement that hundreds of millions of cases are now an inescapable part of our world of seven billion people. And with dramatic gaps in vaccination between wealthier and poorer nations, there is the extra challenge of funneling doses to those who remain unprotected. The W.H.O. on Wednesday called for a moratorium on booster shots until the end of September in an effort to help all countries inoculate 10 percent of their populations.
“We have to understand that this virus is now endemic and that we have to be thinking about our long-term strategies for dealing with it as a global phenomenon,” said Robert West, a professor emeritus of health psychology at University College London who is a subcommittee member of SAGE, a scientific body advising Britain’s government on policy.
“It is now inevitable that we’re going to be looking at thousands, if not tens of thousands, of deaths a year from this virus for the foreseeable future,” he said, “in the same way that we see deaths from other causes.”
W.H.O. Calls for Moratorium on Covid Vaccine Boosters
The World Health Organization urged wealthy nations not to distribute booster shots until at least the end of September to reserve supplies and help every country inoculate at least 10 percent of its population.
Even while hundreds of millions of people are still waiting for their first dose, some rich countries are moving towards booster doses. So far, more than four billion vaccine doses have been administered globally. More than 80 percent have gone to high and upper-middle income countries, even though they account for less than half of the world’s population. I understand the concern of all governments to protect their people from the Delta variant. But we cannot and we should not accept countries that have already used most of the global supply of vaccines using even more of it while the world’s most vulnerable people remain unprotected. We need an urgent reversal. From the majority of vaccines going to high-income countries to the majority going to low-income countries. Accordingly, W.H.O. is calling for a moratorium on boosters until at least the end of September to enable at least 10 percent of the population of every country to be vaccinated.
The World Health Organization urged wealthy nations not to distribute booster shots until at least the end of September to reserve supplies and help every country inoculate at least 10 percent of its population.CreditCredit…Christopher Black/Who, via Reuters
The World Health Organization called on Wednesday for a moratorium on coronavirus vaccine booster shots until the end of September, so that vaccine supplies can be focused on helping all countries vaccinate at least 10 percent of their populations. The agency made its appeal to the world’s wealthiest nations to address the wide disparities in vaccination rates around the world.
“I understand the concern of all governments to protect their people from the Delta variant,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the W.H.O., said in a briefing. “But we cannot — and we should not — accept countries that have already used most of the global supply of vaccines using even more of it, while the world’s most vulnerable people remain unprotected.”
With the debate over booster shots heating up, the call highlighted a moral and scientific case long pressed by humanitarian groups: With the staggering gaps in vaccination rates around the world and cases surging as the Delta variant spreads, vaccine doses should be given first to vulnerable people in poorer nations. Fully vaccinated people are protected against the worst outcomes of Covid-19 caused by the Delta variant.
W.H.O. officials went to pains to distinguish between booster shots used to shore up immunity in vaccinated populations, for which the science is not yet clear, and additional doses that may be needed by the immunocompromised to develop immunity in the first place. Officials said they objected to boosters, not to additional doses for some subgroups.
Of more than four billion vaccine doses in total that have been administered around the world, more than 80 percent have been used in high- and upper-middle-income countries, which account for less than half of the world’s population, Dr. Tedros said.
“We need an urgent reversal, from the majority of vaccines going to high-income countries to the majority going to low-income countries,” he said.
Scientists have not reached a consensus on whether booster shots are needed to boost immunity in fully vaccinated people. Still, with worries mounting about continuing pandemic waves and future lockdowns, an increasing number of countries, like Germany, Israel and France, are preparing to offer booster doses to segments of their populations, or have already started administering them. Russia has made additional shots available to anyone six months after inoculation, and Hungary is offering them four months post-vaccination.
Studies have indicated that the immunity generated by the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines is long-lasting, and researchers are still working to understand recent Israeli data suggesting that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine declined in effectiveness months after inoculation. Pfizer has begun making a case for booster shots in the United States as well, and if third shots are cleared for the general population, the boosters would potentially represent a multi-billion-dollar business for Pfizer.
Asked about the W.H.O.’s call on Wednesday afternoon, Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said at a news conference, “We feel that it’s a false choice, and that we can do both.”
“We will have enough supply to ensure, if the F.D.A. decides that boosters are recommended for a portion of the population, to provide those as well,” Ms. Psaki added, noting efforts by the administration to send vaccine doses to other countries.
Deaths from Covid-19 have surged in African nations in recent months, while many health workers and elderly or vulnerable people in the region have remained entirely unprotected. Doctors Without Borders said recently that it would be “unconscionable” to give booster doses in richer nations before people in poorer ones get their first doses.
Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the top infectious disease expert in the United States and an adviser to Mr. Biden, said on Tuesday that in some cases, it takes more than the usual number of shots to completely vaccinate immunocompromised people.
“Giving them an additional shot is almost not considered a booster, it’s considered part of what their original regimen should have been,” Dr. Fauci said in an interview with the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Many such patients, and “maybe most of them, have not gotten an adequate immune response to begin with,” he said.
That point was echoed by Dr. Bruce Aylward, a senior W.H.O. adviser, who said at Wednesday’s briefing that for people like solid organ transplant patients, a third dose would be part of “their primary series” of treatment and not a booster.
The W.H.O.’s appeal largely put the onus of fixing the world’s vaccine gaps on the world’s wealthiest nations, saying that the leadership of Group of 20 countries would determine the course of the pandemic. Dr. Tedros asked health ministers of those countries, who are meeting ahead of a planned summit in October, to make “concrete commitments” to reach the organization’s global vaccination target.
Vaccine producers, he said, should give priority to supplying Covax, a U.N.- backed alliance that was supposed to ensure that poorer countries’ health workers and vulnerable residents were all inoculated.
But the program has struggled to acquire enough doses, and is half a billion short of its targets. Supplies have dried up from some of the manufacturers it was most relying on, leaving a number of its recipient countries nearly or entirely out of vaccines in recent months.
Wealthier nations have a clear incentive to fill vaccination gaps in a continuing crisis that has gripped every corner of the world: the longer the virus rampages, the more dangerous it can become, as new variants emerge that may endanger progress even in even largely vaccinated nations.
The pandemic will not end “unless the whole world gets out of it together,” Dr. Aylward said. “With the huge disparity in vaccination coverage, we are simply not going to achieve that.”
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The Biden administration is developing plans to require all foreign travelers to the United States to be vaccinated against Covid-19, with limited exceptions, according to an administration official with knowledge of the developing policy.
The plan, first reported by Reuters, will be part of a new system to be put in place after the current restrictions on travel into the country are lifted, but officials have yet to determine when that might be done.
President Biden has been under pressure for months to ease restrictions on people wishing to travel to the United States, particularly as other countries, including England, Scotland and Canada, relax their own measures.
But White House officials have said in recent days that there is no plan to lift current restrictions anytime soon, in light of the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant.
“Given where we are today,” Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, told reporters last week, “with the Delta variant, we will maintain existing travel restrictions at this point.”
That stance was reiterated on Wednesday evening by White House officials who said that there was no timetable yet for requiring foreign travelers to be inoculated.
“The interagency working groups are working to develop a plan for a consistent and safe international travel policy, in order to have a new system ready for when we can reopen travel,” the administration official, who was not authorized to publicly detail the plan, wrote in an email. “This includes a phased approach that over time will mean, with limited exceptions, that foreign nationals traveling to the United States (from all countries) need to be fully vaccinated.”
Travelers from Iran, China, Brazil, the United Kingdom, South Africa, India, the Republic of Ireland and Europe’s Schengen area — spanning 29 countries, city-states and micro-states — are currently barred from entering the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control, unless they are a U.S. citizen or they spend 14 days before arrival in a country that is not on that list.
The United States began restricting travel by foreigners in January 2020, when former President Donald Trump cut off some travel from China in the hope of preventing the spread of the virus. That effort largely failed.
But health officials pressed the Trump administration to expand travel bans to much of Europe during the first surge of the pandemic in the spring of 2020, and more countries have been added to the ban as the original virus and several variants have spread rapidly from country to country.
This week, the Biden administration said that it would keep in place Title 42, a public health rule that allows the government to turn back people attempting to enter the United States from its southern border.
The decision, confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday, amounted to a shift by the administration, which had been working on plans to begin lifting the rule this summer, more than a year after it was imposed by the Trump administration.
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Countries across the Americas must do more to help Indigenous communities prevent and treat Covid-19 infections — and that starts with collecting far more extensive and reliable data, a leading World Health Organization official said on Wednesday.
“While each group is unique, no matter where you look, our Indigenous communities are more vulnerable to Covid infections,” said Dr. Carissa Etienne, the director of the Pan American Health Organization, which is part of the W.H.O.
Nearly half of the more than 62 million Indigenous people in the Americas live and work in urban centers and travel home to visit their communities, a pattern that increases the chance of viral transmission. Many also hail from communal societies, which makes social distancing a challenge.
“This frequent movement and gathering creates opportunities for Covid to spread,” Dr. Etienne said. And even in urban centers, Indigenous people face “invisible barriers” to care, including language and poverty, she said.
Yet reliable data on Covid’s impact on Indigenous people is itself in short supply. Most countries in the region collect no figures at all on Covid’s effect on Indigenous people. Based on the limited information reported to the W.H.O. by a few countries, including Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru, at least 617,000 Indigenous people have been infected with Covid-19 in the Americas and nearly 15,000 have died.
“It is likely that many more have been infected and many more have died, but we may not know it because they have struggled to get the Covid care that they deserve,” Dr. Etienne said. “For many of our Indigenous people, the right to health remains a promise unfulfilled.”
Dr. Etienne urged countries to collect “more and better data” that she said was “essential to guide effective policies,” and would help public health efforts to “understand and resolve the challenges that are facing our Indigenous groups.”
“Too few countries collect data on the pandemic’s impact across ethnic groups,” she added, “leaving ministries of health blind to important and valuable trends on how the virus is affecting our Indigenous communities.”
The call for increased attention to Indigenous people comes as more than 1.2 million Covid-19 cases and 20,000 deaths were reported in the Americas over the past week.
Covid infections are rising in North America, primarily because of an increase in cases in the southern and eastern United States as well as in central Mexico. Infections are climbing in Guatemala, too, particularly among people younger than 50.
Among Caribbean nations, Cuba, Martinique and the British Virgin Islands are experiencing particularly sharp increases.
Vaccines “remain out of reach for too many people,” Dr. Etienne said, noting that only 18 percent of people in Latin America and the Caribbean have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19.
There was some good news in much of South America, where case numbers are largely dropping, although some Brazilian states have seen an increase in infections. Twenty-two countries in the Americas have detected the Delta variant as of this week, although so far it has largely been associated with travelers.
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In late spring, the 142 nursing homes operated by the Good Samaritan Society hit a milestone that was unthinkable just four months earlier: Zero cases of Covid-19 across the whole company, from 900 at the peak of the pandemic.
The relief was short-lived.
The case count has ticked up again: It’s still below 100 among residents and staff, the company said, but includes many breakthrough cases of vaccinated residents testing positive. Then last week, two vaccinated residents died with Covid at the Good Samaritan Society-Deuel County nursing home in Clear Lake, S.D.
The company said it had pinpointed the cause of the spread there and at some of its other facilities: The breakthroughs happened in the same homes where unvaccinated staff were testing positive, seemingly carrying the virus into the home from the community.
Late last month, the company became one of the largest long-term care chains in the country to order mandatory vaccines for staff, highlighting turmoil within an industry desperate to avoid a repeat of the devastation that swept through this highly vulnerable population.
About 133,000 nursing home residents died of Covid over the course of the pandemic, although the death rate has plummeted in recent months with more than 80 percent of residents now vaccinated. Over all, Covid deaths among nursing home residents and staff members accounted for nearly one-third of the nation’s pandemic fatalities.
Calls for vaccine mandates among health care workers have grown and gained urgency, but they have also met resistance in the nursing home industry: Some homes say it will cost them staff in a field already afflicted by high turnover.
Only about 60 percent of nursing home staff members are vaccinated, and some states report an even lower rate, with less than half inoculated, according to the most recent government data.
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With its population vaccinated against the coronavirus at a fast pace and only a handful of new cases being reported, Israel all but declared victory over the virus earlier this year.
But now, as the country’s authorities struggle to contain the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant, they are set to reintroduce restrictions, in what they say is a last attempt to forestall another lockdown.
The new measures, announced by the government late Tuesday, include expanding vaccine and mask-wearing requirements for some gatherings, a shift back to a work-from-home policy, and more sweeping travel restrictions. Some of the new restrictions are expected to take effect Sunday, and others later in August.
The reversal, coming only a few months after Israel reopened its economy and glimpsed a vaccinated, post-pandemic future, is widely regarded as a test for Israel’s new prime minister, Naftali Bennett, who criticized his predecessor, Benjamin Netanyahu, for his handling of the crisis.
“Our goal is to keep Israel open, but not to get to the stage where the hospitals will one day have to say: ‘There’s no room, you can’t come in,’” Mr. Bennett said on Wednesday at the inauguration of a vaccination center in Jerusalem. “We know when to hit the brakes.”
A country of nine million people where most citizens over 16 are fully inoculated with the two-dose Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, Israel was among the first countries to offer a third dose to people with compromised immune systems, which it began to do last month. Israel has since begun to administer third doses to people aged 60 and over.
Still, about a million Israelis who are eligible to be vaccinated have so far refused to do so, despite the wide availability of the vaccine.
The Israeli authorities have been alarmed by the swift surge in new cases reported daily in the country, which could be counted on one hand in mid-June but have surpassed 3,000 in recent days, according to Israeli Ministry of Health data.
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When the Milwaukee Bucks defeated the Phoenix Suns in Game 6 of the N.B.A. finals last month, thousands of fans watching the victory in person in the arena yelled and cheered.
Tens of thousands more fans gathered to watch the game on giant, open-air screens erected outside the arena in the area known as the Deer District. Afterward, there was a huge parade.
Now, those gatherings are raising concerns among Wisconsin health officials. Milwaukee County has seen a steep rise in cases since the Bucks won, and health officials say they believe the game and surrounding events may have contributed to the increase.
Among people who tested positive for Covid-19 in Wisconsin, 491 said they had been in the Deer District in the two weeks before their positive test result, Elizabeth Goodsitt, a spokeswoman for the Wisconsin Department of Health Services said in a statement on Wednesday.
Around 52 percent of people in Wisconsin are fully vaccinated, according to a New York Times database.
The combination of unvaccinated people in the state, the presence of the highly contagious Delta variant and crowded Bucks events where less than half the attendees wore masks, could lead to a further rise in cases, Julie Willems Van Dijk, deputy secretary of the state health department, told reporters on Wednesday.
In the county of Milwaukee, the seven-day average of new cases rose to 315 on Tuesday, up from 67 on the day of the championship game, July 20, according to the New York Times database.
Statewide, the one-week average of new Covid-19 cases each day in Wisconsin has shot up in the last two weeks, to 962 on Tuesday, from 223 on July 20, according to the database. The victory parade took place on July 22.
“We know people wanted to be jubilant and celebrate” at those events, Ms. Willems Van Dijk said on a conference call, but “I didn’t see half of the participants wearing a mask, which would be the recommended behavior for someone who is not vaccinated.”
Some people, she said, “were really boisterous and yelling loud, which is a great way to spread infection.” She added: “I anticipate we’ll see additional cases as a result of those gatherings.”
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With a surge of coronavirus infections ripping through much of the United States, the Food and Drug Administration has accelerated its timetable to fully approve the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine, aiming to complete the process by the start of next month, people familiar with the effort said.
President Biden said last week that he expected a fully approved vaccine in early fall. But the F.D.A.’s unofficial deadline is Labor Day or sooner, according to several people familiar with the plan. The agency said in a statement that its leaders recognized that approval might increase public confidence and had “taken an all-hands-on-deck approach” to the work.
Giving final approval to the Pfizer vaccine — which has been used in the U.S. under an emergency authorization granted late last year — could help increase inoculation rates at a moment when the highly transmissible Delta variant of the virus is sharply driving up the number of new cases.
A number of universities and hospitals, the Defense Department and at least one major city, San Francisco, are expected to mandate inoculations once a vaccine is fully approved. Final approval could also help mute misinformation about the safety of vaccines and clarify legal issues about mandates.
Federal regulators have been under growing public pressure to fully approve Pfizer’s vaccine ever since the company filed its application on May 7. “I just have not sensed a sense of urgency from the F.D.A. on full approval,” Dr. Ashish K. Jha, the dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, said in an interview on Tuesday. “And I find it baffling, given where we are as a country in terms of infections, hospitalizations and deaths.”
Although 192 million Americans — 58 percent of the population and 70 percent of adults — have received at least one shot, many remain vulnerable to the ultracontagious, dominant Delta variant. The country is averaging nearly 86,000 new infections a day, an increase of 142 percent in just two weeks, according to a New York Times database.
Recent polls by the Kaiser Family Foundation, which has been tracking public attitudes during the pandemic, have found that three of every 10 unvaccinated people said that they would be more likely to take a fully approved vaccine. But the pollsters warned that many respondents did not understand the regulatory process and might have been looking for a “proxy” justification not to get a shot.
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The reinstatement of the federal eviction moratorium on Tuesday came as a relief for progressives, but for White House officials it was just the starting gun of a 60-day sprint to distribute billions in rental aid, in a nerve-rattling race that could be stopped by the courts at any moment.
President Biden’s decision to implement a new freeze to replace the moratorium that expired on Saturday was a risky strategy intended to reset the legal clock by creating a new initiative that has not yet been subject to a court challenge from landlords.
But while most key administration players signed off on the tactic after legislative efforts to extend the freeze failed, some in the administration believed such an effort might jeopardize the administration’s authority to take action during future health emergencies.
On Wednesday, the White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, acknowledged the legal fragility of the new extension, which came after a June Supreme Court ruling in which Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh issued an explicit warning to the administration not to extend the moratorium beyond July 31 without congressional approval.
“We don’t control the courts, we don’t know what they will do,” Ms. Psaki told reporters at the White House.
But the decision, she added, was necessary — and represented Mr. Biden’s message to tenants “that he shares their concern” and “wants renters to be able to stay in their homes.”
The new evictions ban signed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is scheduled to expire on Oct. 3, and is more narrowly targeted than the first, limited to areas facing significant threats from the Delta variant of the coronavirus.
But it will still cover about 90 percent of renters nationwide. And one of its main aims is to buy more time to stand up the troubled Emergency Rental Assistance program — which has thus far allocated just $3 billion of $47 billion slated by Congress to pay for back rent accrued during the pandemic.
But the effectiveness of the massive program, which is intended to keep millions of tenants from being evicted, ultimately rests on the efforts of local officials and the removal of bureaucratic impediments that often come down to details, like making sure state aid applications are easy to fill out.
On Wednesday, the Treasury Department posted a series of sample application forms, based on streamlined paperwork used in Virginia and other states, intended to quicken the pace of payments.
Landlords and conservatives opposed the decision to extend the ban, arguing that it violated constitutional property rights and denied owners access to their main mechanism for dealing with tenants who will not pay rent or follow the rules.
“The sad reality for many smaller landlords whose obligations continued throughout the pandemic as rents went uncollected is that they may never collect the overdue amounts from judgment-proof tenants,” Joel Zinberg, a senior fellow with the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a conservative Washington think tank, said in an email.
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Mayor Bill de Blasio’s announced on Tuesday that people participating in indoor activities at restaurants, gyms, movie theaters and performances in New York City must soon show proof of vaccination for the coronavirus.
There are a few main ways to prove you are vaccinated, Mr. de Blasio said: a new app released by the city, called NYC Covid Safe; the state’s Excelsior Pass; or by simply showing your paper vaccination card or a copy of your official vaccination record. One dose of a two-dose vaccine is sufficient to meet the new mandate, though that only offers a fraction of the protection gained by getting both doses.
The city is likely to announce additional methods in the coming weeks.
“The bottom line will be someone will have to have proof,” Mr. de Blasio said. “As long as that proof is accurate and real, wherever it comes from, that’s what they’ll need to show.”
Here’s what we know:
Beginning Aug. 16, indoor dining, indoor fitness and indoor entertainment venues, such as movie theaters, concert halls and night clubs, must check for vaccination status, the city announced. The requirement will apply to both customers and workers. Enforcement will not begin until Sept. 13, so businesses will have a grace period to figure out how to follow the new mandate.
Children under 12 are still not yet eligible to receive any of the vaccines. On Wednesday morning, Mr. de Blasio said that they would be allowed to enter restaurants with vaccinated adults if they are masked.
The NYC Covid Safe and the state’s Excelsior Pass can be downloaded from both the Apple and Android app stores.
City officials emphasize that the paper card issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and used across the country works as proof. City residents who lost their card can look it up online or write to the city’s vaccination registry to ask for a paper record of their vaccination.
Those who were vaccinated outside of New York or the United States can still use the city’s app, the paper card, and most likely, a photo on their smartphone of their paper card.
Credit…Matthew Odom for The New York Times
For every one million Americans immunized with a coronavirus vaccine, about 60 develop temporary heart problems, according to a study published on Wednesday in the journal JAMA Network.
The complications were all short-lived, the researchers found. And these heart problems are far more common among patients who develop Covid-19, outside experts noted.
Analyzing the medical records of just over 2 million people who had received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine through May 2021, the new study found 20 cases of myocarditis, or inflammation of the heart muscle, and 37 cases of pericarditis, inflammation of the membrane surrounding the heart.
Patients who were hospitalized were discharged after only a few days, and none died.
The incidence of myocarditis in the study, at 10 cases per million vaccinated, is higher than the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s estimate of 4.8 cases per million, suggesting that there may be more cases than are reported to the federal database for tracking so-called adverse events following vaccinations.
“We see that these adverse events are leading to very short and unremarkable hospital stays,” said Dr. Jeremy Faust, an emergency medicine physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston who was not involved in the study. “The same can’t be said of hospitalizations for Covid-19 in this or any age group so far.”
“When people are hospitalized for Covid, the consequences are far more severe,” added Dr. Faust, who has compared rates of myocarditis following vaccination to those among Covid-19 patients.
The researchers, with the Providence health care system, evaluated medical records from 40 hospitals in Washington, Oregon, Montana and Los Angeles County, Calif.
They found that myocarditis developed a median of 3.5 days after vaccination, mostly after the second dose, and in people with a median age of 36 years. Three-quarters of the 20 cases were in men.
The 19 patients who were admitted to the hospital were discharged after a median of two days. About three weeks after vaccination, 13 patients had recovered from their symptoms and the remaining seven were improving.
Pericarditis affected older patients, at a median age of 59 years, and later, about 20 days after vaccination, the researchers found. Pericarditis, too, was more common in men. Of the 37 cases identified, 13 were admitted to the hospital; the median stay was one day.
A separate study, posted online last week, suggested that the incidence of myocarditis in boys ages 12 to 17 who had Covid-19 was 876 per million; in girls of the same age group with Covid-19, the incidence was 213 cases per million.
The study has not yet been peer reviewed or published in a scientific journal.
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Vaccines in England were 60 percent effective at preventing symptomatic cases of Covid-19 caused by the Delta variant, researchers reported on Wednesday, a figure lower than most previous estimates that scientists nevertheless said ought to be interpreted cautiously.
The results, drawn from testing a random sample of nearly 100,000 volunteers, offered some of the most extensive evidence to date of vaccines’ performance against the Delta variant, which has driven surges of cases in Britain, the United States and elsewhere. They indicated that vaccines were 50 percent effective at preventing people from becoming infected, with or without symptoms.
But scientists cautioned that the results had an exceedingly high degree of statistical uncertainty, and relied largely on volunteers self-reporting their vaccination status.
The study sent tests to a random sample of volunteers, rather than relying on people to seek coronavirus tests themselves, so its figures include people who may not otherwise have thought much of their symptoms or known they had the virus at all. Estimates of vaccine effectiveness tend to be lower in studies that include mild or asymptomatic cases.
The results also did not distinguish between the different vaccines being used in Britain. By mid-July, roughly twice as many people had been fully vaccinated with the AstraZeneca vaccine as with Pfizer’s, the main two shots in use in Britain. In previous studies, the Pfizer vaccine has appeared more effective against the Delta variant than AstraZeneca’s.
The researchers, led by a team from Imperial College London, said that their estimates of vaccine effectiveness were lower than those reported previously in England, but consistent with data from Israel.
Other studies in England have suggested that vaccines are more than 90 percent effective in preventing people from being hospitalized with a Covid-19 case caused by the Delta variant.
“Participants who reported being vaccinated were at substantially reduced risk of testing positive compared with those who reported not being vaccinated,” the latest study said. It has not been published in a peer-reviewed journal.
The study also compared the viral loads in vaccinated and unvaccinated people who tested positive for the virus, finding that vaccinated people carried less virus. That suggested, the researchers wrote, that vaccinated people who tested positive were less infectious. Other studies, including from the United States, have found similar viral loads in infected people, whether or not they were vaccinated.
Scientists said that it was difficult to tell from the study precisely how much the vaccines reduced the risk of infection or transmission. The findings were drawn from a random sampling of volunteers over late June and early July, part of a routine infection survey known as React-1.
“The React-1 findings, when coupled with other studies demonstrating the impact of coronavirus vaccines on reducing hospitalization and death from Covid-19, are encouraging,” said Dr. Tom Wingfield, a senior clinical lecturer at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine.
But, he said, the results were also “a reminder that, even with extremely high vaccine coverage, we are highly likely to have a further wave of SARS-CoV-infections in the autumn.”
Credit…Paul Sancya/Associated Press
The American drugmaker Pfizer, which developed a coronavirus vaccine with its German partner BioNTech, said Wednesday that it was requiring all of its U.S. workers and contractors to be vaccinated or get a weekly coronavirus test. Vaccinations are encouraged for those outside the United States, and accommodations will be made for those with medical conditions or religious objections, the company said.
The New York auto show, scheduled to run Aug. 20-29 at Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in Manhattan, has been canceled because of the rise of the Delta variant and state and local efforts to stop its spread, organizers said in statement Wednesday posted on the show’s website. “Over the past few weeks, and especially within the last few days, circumstances have changed making it more difficult to create an event at the high standard that we and our clients expect,” Mark Schienberg, president of the show, said in the statement, adding that the show will return in April.
Vanguard, the investment giant, is offering a $1,000 reward to fully inoculated employees, a spokesman for the company told The New York Times. With about 17,300 employees, that could equate to a check of roughly $17.3 million. “The incentive recognizes crew who have taken the time to protect themselves, each other, and our communities by being vaccinated,” the spokesman said.
The Washington Post pushed back its office return to Oct. 18 from Sept. 13, according to a memo sent to staff on Tuesday that was viewed by The New York Times. The Post said last week that it would require all workers to provide vaccination proof as a requirement of employment once the company returns to the office.
Politico’s publisher, Robert Allbritton, told employees in an email viewed by The New York Times on Wednesday that the company was pausing its plans for an office return, which originally had been set for Sept. 7, and did not have a new target date “given the fluidity of the situation.”
All autoworkers will be required to wear masks at unionized plants, offices and warehouses, the United Automobile Workers union, General Motors, Ford Motor and Stellantis said on Tuesday. The requirement will apply regardless of whether workers are vaccinated and is in response to the latest guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The union and automakers said they would not require workers to be vaccinated but were “strongly encouraging” vaccinations.
Tyson Foods, one of the nation’s largest meat processors, said on Tuesday that it would require vaccines for its U.S. workers — about half of whom remain unvaccinated. Vaccinations will be a condition of employment for all U.S. workers, and any new employees must be vaccinated before they start work, the company said. Tyson is offering $200 to frontline workers who verify that they are fully vaccinated. The company already offered employees up to four hours of pay if they are vaccinated outside of their normal shift.
Microsoft will require proof of vaccination for all employees, vendors and guests to gain access to its U.S. offices, the tech giant said Tuesday in an email to employees, adding that it will push back its return-to-office date by a month, to no earlier than Oct. 4. Parents with children who are too young to be vaccinated will be able to work from home until January. The company employs roughly 100,000 people in the United States and had previously planned to return to office in early September, though with flexibility for employees to work up to half of their time from home.