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US Lowers India Advisory; Pfizer's Booster Shots: Virus Update – BNN



(Bloomberg) — The U.S. State Department lowered its India travel advisory to its second-lowest level of “exercise increased caution” after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the South Asian nation now has “moderate level of Covid-19.”

In the U.S., the number of people dying with Covid-19 in hospitals is hitting previous highs in some hot-spot states with low-to-average vaccination rates, upending hopes the virus has become less lethal. Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE submitted early-stage data to U.S. regulators showing that a third dose of their vaccine led to higher levels of protective antibodies when given eight to nine months after the initial regimen.

In Asia, Thailand extended curbs in Bangkok and other hot spots while Indonesia allowed more malls to reopen in Java and Bali even as it lengthened restrictions on the islands.

Key Developments:

  • Global Tracker: Cases top 207.4 million; deaths pass 4.36 million
  • Vaccine Tracker: More than 4.7 billion doses administered
  • Where are we in the quest for Covid treatments?: QuickTake
  • U.S. scales back India travel warning
  • Pfizer and BioNTech filed early data on boosters’ protection
  • Covid hospital deaths hit previous peaks in hot-spot areas

New Zealand Film Industry Hit (8:12 a.m. HK)

New Zealand’s planned phased reopening of borders in early 2022 has come too late to save the nation from losing one of its world-famous attributes, the filming location of “Lord of the Rings,” as crews deem the nation’s stringent quarantine requirements untenable.

Indonesia’s New Cases Lowest Since June (8:08 a.m. HK)

The country reported 17,384 confirmed infections on Monday, the least since June 23. One in five people tested were found to have the virus, a sign of insufficient testing. Indonesia continues to top the world’s tally of daily deaths, with 1,245 fatalities reported on Monday.

More cities on Java and Bali islands will be allowed to reopen shopping malls for people who are vaccinated with capacity limits, as the government extends virus curbs until Aug. 23.

Indonesia will also allow some export-oriented companies to operate with 100% workforce on site using two shifts and strict health protocol, in a bid to find a way to reopen the economy without worsening its coronavirus outbreak. That program will involve 390,000 workers.

The government is preparing roadmaps to reopen other sectors, including education and tourism, as it gears up to live with the virus for a few more years. It will focus on accelerating vaccination, stepping up testing and tracing, while enforcing mask mandates. Indonesia aims to administer 100 million total vaccine doses as of the end of the month, from 83 million so far. Indonesia will also lower the maximum price for real-time polymerase chain reaction testing.

Singapore Teen Gets $166,000 (8:06 a.m. HK)

Singapore is giving S$225,000 ($166,000) to a 16-year-old boy who is recovering from a cardiac arrest after having his first dose of Covid-19 vaccine, in order to help defray the costs of his medical care, the Ministry of Health said in a statement Monday.

The patient, who had required intensive care, is recovering steadily and will likely be discharged in the coming weeks, according to the statement. However, he will likely require outpatient rehabilitation for some time before he can return to school and resume other activities.

Thailand Virus Fight Needs More Money (8:04 a.m. HK)

Thailand’s central bank governor called for an additional 1 trillion baht ($30 billion) in government spending to counter coronavirus, saying the blow to the economy from the pandemic is greater than from the Asian financial crisis in 1997.

Meanwhile, Thailand will extend the closure of non-essential businesses and movement controls in its virus hotspots, including the capital Bangkok, until the Covid outbreak shows clear signs of easing.

CoronaVac’s Side Effect (6:45 a.m. HK)

People vaccinated with CoronaVac face a small increased chance of developing a temporary facial paralysis known as Bell’s palsy, according to scientists, but the benefits of getting the shot still outweigh the risks.

Nearly 5 in 100,000 more people may experience Bell’s palsy after the CoronaVac jab produced by Sinovac Biotech Ltd. than you would expect to see in the population, according to a study published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases journal. The study, conducted in Hong Kong, compared Bell’s palsy rates reported within 42 days of either receiving the CoronaVac or the locally-produced Pfizer Inc. vaccine. The study found two more people per 100,000 were likely to suffer from the side effect than normal after the Pfizer shot, though cautioned more research was needed.

The authors of the study led by Ian Chi Kei Wong, a professor at the University of Hong Kong, recommended its continued use in protecting people against Covid-19 noting that “Bell’s palsy remains a rare, mostly temporary, adverse event.”

MGM Resorts’s Vaccine Mandate (6:30 a.m. HK)

MGM Resorts International, the largest casino operator on the Las Vegas Strip, is now mandating Covid-19 vaccinations for all of its salaried employees. Staff that works exclusively at home is exempt. The company is working on ways to vaccinate more of its hourly staffers: housekeepers, bartenders and dealers who are typically represented by unions.

Las Vegas resorts have pushed vaccinations in part because earlier this year state regulators allowed them to open at higher levels of capacity based on their share of inoculated workers. Wynn Resorts Ltd. said 82% of its staff had received the shots, an unusually high number, in part due to them operating an on-site clinic for the vaccinations.

Wyoming Hospitalizations Highest Since January (5:45 a.m. HK)

In Wyoming, where less than half of adults are fully vaccinated, Covid-19 hospitalizations are at the highest since January, the Casper Star-Tribune reported.

Casper’s Wyoming Medical Center, the state’s largest, was caring for 33 virus patients Monday, about 15% of its capacity, the newspaper said. A rural hospital in Cody re-opened a special eight-patient Covid-19 unit and it was full over the weekend. In the state capital, Cheyenne Regional Medical Center is caring for 27.

Just under 43% of adults and less than 16% of children over 12 are fully inoculated in Wyoming, the Star-Tribune reported. The state’s population is about 580,000.

Vaccine Hesitancy Costing Steelworkers Bonus (4:45 p.m. NY)

The second largest American steelmaker is struggling to meet a vaccine threshold that would give a $3,000 bonus to each worker.

Cleveland-Cliffs Inc. promised a $1,500 bonus to all of their 25,000 employees who receive a jab, with the cash bonus increasing to $3,000 if an individual’s work site hits 75%, according to company spokeswoman Patricia Persico. The program is based on vaccination rates per site, with “more than” 20 of 46 locations above the 75% rate. The company-wide rate is about 60%.

The Cleveland, Ohio-based producer isn’t way behind its efforts for the incentive program, which expires Aug. 21, and it expects vaccinations this week to be even better, Persico said Monday in an email. United Steelworkers President Tom Conway said the company has been struggling to get unionized workers vaccinated.

CDC Panel Reviews Boosters Next Week (4:40 p.m. NY)

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices will meet Aug. 24 to discuss additional doses of Covid-19 vaccine, including booster shots.

Earlier Monday, Pfizer and BioNTech said they submitted early-stage data to U.S. regulators showing that a third dose of their Covid-19 vaccine led to higher levels of protective antibodies when given eight to nine months after the initial regimen.

Deaths Hit Previous Peaks in Hot Spots (2:25 p.m. NY)

The number of people dying with Covid-19 in hospitals is hitting previous highs in some hot-spot states with low-to-average vaccination rates, upending hopes the virus has become less lethal.

In Florida, an average of about 203 people a day are dying in the hospital with confirmed or suspected Covid-19, matching the state’s November 2020 peak, according to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services data. That’s a daily average of about nine per million residents, the data show.

Louisiana, Arkansas and Missouri have also seen deaths among patients with Covid-19 soar in the past two weeks.

CDC Lowers Travel Advisory for India (2 p.m. NY)

The CDC lowered its travel advisory for India one notch to Level 2, citing a “moderate level of Covid-19.”

Verizon Delays Return to Office (1 p.m. NY)

Verizon Communications Inc. said it’s delaying its return to office for two months to Nov. 1. Previously, employees were told to start coming into the office on a hybrid basis after Labor Day on Sept. 7.

The New York-based telecom, which has been encouraging employees to wear masks and get vaccinated, is considering whether to make the shots mandatory for all employees but didn’t give a timeframe for when it might address the issue again.

D.C. Requires Shots for Health-Care Workers (12:50 p.m. NY)

All health-care workers in the District of Columbia must have received at least the first dose of Pfizer Inc. or Moderna Inc. vaccine, or one dose of Johnson & Johnson shot by Sept. 30, Mayor Muriel Bowser said.

Pfizer Submits Third-Dose Data to FDA (11:35 a.m. NY)

Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE said they have submitted Phase 1 trial data to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for a third dose of their Covid-19 vaccine. The companies said in a statement that people who received a third dose of their mRNA vaccine showed “a favorable safety profile and robust immune responses.”

Pfizer Taps Bond Market for Vaccine Expenses (10:55 a.m. NY)

Pfizer Inc. is tapping the U.S. investment-grade market with a sustainability bond that will help fund Covid-19 vaccine expenses, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The note, due in 2031, may yield 0.75 percentage points above Treasuries, said the person, who asked not to be identified as the details are private.

Proceeds from the sale are marked for research and development expenses and the manufacturing and distribution of Covid-19 vaccines. The New York-based pharmaceutical company sees the vaccine bringing in $33.5 billion of revenue this year, which would make it one of the top-selling medicines ever.

NYC to Require Vaccines for Museums, Zoos (10:05 a.m. NY)

New York City plans to require visitors to its museums and other cultural institutions to be vaccinated, the New York Times reported, citing an unidentified city official.

The policy will require that visitors and employees at the city’s museums, concert halls, aquariums and zoos be vaccinated, the newspaper said. Mayor Bill de Blasio is expected to make the announcement at his briefing Monday morning.

J&J to Require Shots for All U.S. Staff (8:27 a.m. NY)

Health-care giant Johnson & Johnson said it will require all U.S.-based employees and contractors to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 effective Oct. 4. J&J has more than 40,000 employees across the U.S., many of whom have been critical to the development of a single-dose coronavirus vaccine. J&J added that individuals with medical conditions or other reasons not to be vaccinated will be able to seek accommodations.

J&J is “committed to following the science and to taking appropriate measures to support the health and well-being of our employees and contractors, as well as to uphold our responsibilities to the communities in which we live and work,” the company said in an emailed statement. “As Covid-19 continues to devastate families and cause untold hardship, the data shows getting vaccinated is critical to helping end the pandemic.”

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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US President Joe Biden urges Covid-19 booster shots for those now eligible – Times of India



WASHINGTON: President Joe Biden on Friday urged those now eligible for Covid-19 booster shots to get the added protection a day after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention endorsed the doses for millions of older or otherwise vulnerable Americans.
Opening a major new phase in the U.S vaccination drive against Covid-19, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky signed off on a series of recommendations from a panel of advisers late Thursday. Biden praised the decision and aimed to set aside any unease about the vaccination, saying that he would get his own booster soon.
“It’s hard to acknowledge I’m over 65, but I’ll be getting my booster shot,” Biden said. “It’s a bear, isn’t it?”
The advisers said boosters should be offered to people 65 and older, nursing home residents and those ages 50 to 64 who have risky underlying health problems. The extra dose would be given once they are at least six months past their last Pfizer shot.
However, Walensky decided to make one recommendation that the panel had rejected.
The panel on Thursday voted against saying that people can get a booster if they are ages 18 to 64 years and are health-care workers or have another job that puts them at increased risk of being exposed to the virus. But Walensky disagreed and put that recommendation back in, noting that such a move aligns with an FDA booster authorization decision earlier this week. The category she included covers people who live in institutional settings that increase their risk of exposure, such as prisons or homeless shelters, as well as health care workers.
An administration official said the White House did not have input in Walensky’s decision nor was given a heads-up. Biden on Friday said “the decision is left to the scientists and the doctors. That’s what happened here.”
The panel had offered the option of a booster for those ages 18 to 49 who have chronic health problems and want one. But the advisers refused to go further and open boosters to otherwise healthy front-line health care workers who aren’t at risk of severe illness but want to avoid even a mild infection.
The panel voted 9 to 6 to reject that proposal. Walensky decided to disregard the advisory committee’s counsel, issuing a statement saying she had restored the recommendation.
“As CDC Director, it is my job to recognize where our actions can have the greatest impact,” Walensky said late Thursday night. “At CDC, we are tasked with analyzing complex, often imperfect data to make concrete recommendations that optimize health. In a pandemic, even with uncertainty, we must take actions that we anticipate will do the greatest good.”
It’s rare for a CDC director to overrule the panel recommendation; experts said it has only happened once this century.
Experts say getting the unvaccinated their first shots remains the top priority, and the panel wrestled with whether the booster debate was distracting from that goal. Biden stressed that the administration’s focus remained on getting people to get their first shots and that he intended to keep rolling out “vaccination requirements wherever I can.”
“The refusal to get vaccinated have cost all of us,” the president said. “It is not hyperbole: it is literally a tragedy. Don’t let it be your tragedy.”
All three of the Covid-19 vaccines used in the US are still highly protective against severe illness, hospitalization and death, even with the spread of the extra-contagious delta variant. But only about 182 million Americans are fully vaccinated, or just 55% of the population.
“We can give boosters to people, but that’s not really the answer to this pandemic,” said Dr. Helen Keipp Talbot of Vanderbilt University. “Hospitals are full because people are not vaccinated. We are declining care to people who deserve care because we are full of unvaccinated Covid-positive patients.”
Thursday’s decision represented a dramatic scaling back of the Biden administration plan announced last month to dispense boosters to nearly everyone to shore up their protection. Late Wednesday, the Food and Drug Administration, like the CDC panel, signed off on Pfizer boosters for a much narrower slice of the population than the White House envisioned.
The booster plan marks an important shift in the nation’s vaccination drive. Britain and Israel are already giving a third round of shots over strong objections from the World Health Organization that poor countries don’t have enough for their initial doses.
Walensky opened Thursday’s meeting by stressing that vaccinating the unvaccinated remains the top goal “here in America and around the world.”
Walensky acknowledged that the data on who really needs a booster right away “are not perfect.” “Yet collectively they form a picture for us,” she said, “and they are what we have in this moment to make a decision about the next stage in this pandemic.”
The CDC panel stressed that its recommendations will be changed if new evidence shows more people need a booster.
The CDC advisers expressed concern over the millions of Americans who received Moderna or Johnson & Johnson shots early in the vaccine rollout. The government still hasn’t considered boosters for those brands and has no data on whether it is safe or effective to mix-and-match and give those people a Pfizer shot.
“I just don’t understand how later this afternoon we can say to people 65 and older, ‘You’re at risk for severe illness and death, but only half of you can protect yourselves right now,’” said Dr. Sarah Long of Drexel University.
About 26 million Americans got their last Pfizer dose at least six months ago, about half of whom are 65 or older. It’s not clear how many more would meet the CDC panel’s booster qualifications.
CDC data show the vaccines still offer strong protection against serious illness for all ages, but there is a slight drop among the oldest adults. And immunity against milder infection appears to be waning months after people’s initial immunization.
For most people, if you’re not in a group recommended for a booster, “it’s really because we think you’re well-protected,” said Dr. Matthew Daley of Kaiser Permanente Colorado.
Public health experts not involved in Thursday’s decision said it is unlikely people seeking third doses at a drugstore or other site will be required to prove they qualify.
Even with the introduction of boosters, someone who has gotten just the first two doses would still be considered fully vaccinated, according to the CDC’s Dr. Kathleen Dooling. That is an important question to people in parts of the country where you need to show proof of vaccination to eat in a restaurant or enter other places of business.
Among people who stand to benefit from a booster, there are few risks, the CDC concluded. Serious side effects from the first two Pfizer doses are exceedingly rare, including heart inflammation that sometimes occurs in younger men. Data from Israel, which has given nearly 3 million people — mostly 60 and older — a third Pfizer dose, has uncovered no red flags.
The U.S. has already authorized third doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines for certain people with weakened immune systems, such as cancer patients and transplant recipients. Other Americans, healthy or not, have managed to get boosters, in some cases simply by asking.

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B.C. records seven COVID-related deaths, 80% of those eligible fully vaccinated – News 1130



VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Seven more British Columbians have died due to COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, as Fraser Health once again recorded the most new cases in the province.

A total of 743 new infections were recorded on Friday, including 292 in Fraser Health and 177 in Interior Health. Vancouver Coastal Health recorded 111 cases and Northern Health saw 106. Island health recorded the remaining 57 cases.

Four of the latest deaths were within the Fraser Health Authority, while Interior Health, Northern Health, and Island Health recorded one each.

The Fraser Health region also has the most active cases, with 2,029 of the 5,979 province-wide.

Related articles: Province begins crack-down on businesses that ignore vaccine card enforcement

The province says 319 COVID-19 patients are in the hospital, including 149 in the ICU.

Earlier Friday, the health ministry issued a statement, confirming all COVID-19 patients who are hospitalized are counted in the daily totals once they enter the facility, but are removed from the total even if they remain hospitalized but are no longer infectious.

“Once a patient in critical care is no longer infectious with COVID-19, the patient is removed from daily critical-care totals. However, for planning purposes, these patients are still included in the overall COVID-19 counts for the hospital,” the ministry added in a statement.

It says some patients need to stay in the hospital for “difficulties with other health conditions … that are no longer directly tied to COVID-19,” or because they may have caught the virus while in the hospital and still need care for the original issue they were admitted for.

“This means some patients who entered hospital or critical care as a COVID-19 patient may no longer be counted as COVID-19 patients once they are no longer infectious, even though they remain in hospital.”

It says as of Sept. 21, 2021, there were 152 patients in B.C. hospitals in that category. “Discontinued isolation,” which is usually over after 10 days if the patient doesn’t have a fever and their symptoms are improving.

B.C. reaches 80% mark for those with two vaccine doses

In the past day, 7,858 British Columbians aged 12 and up received their second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, bringing the total to an even 80 per cent. Another 6,778 people received their first dose bringing that percentage up to 87.5.

According to the province, people not fully vaccinated accounted for 75 per cent of cases between Sept. 16 and Sept. 22. It also says they accounted for 81.9 per cent of hospitalizations between Sept. 9 and Sept. 22.

Related articles:

There are 21 active outbreaks at health-care facilities:

Long-term care: Northcrest Care Centre, Westminster House, Menno Terrace East (Fraser Health), Arbutus Care Centre, Louis Brier Home and Hospital (Vancouver Coastal Health), Village at Mill Creek – second floor, Cottonwoods Care Centre, Spring Valley Care Centre, Kamloops Seniors Village, Hillside Village, The Hamlets at Westsyde, Joseph Creek Care Village, Overlander (Interior Health), Jubilee Lodge (Northern Health), and Victoria Chinatown Care Centre (Island Health)

Acute care: Chilliwack General Hospital (Fraser Health) and Fort St. John Hospital (Northern Health)

Assisted or independent living: Sunset Manor (Fraser Health), David Lloyd Jones, Sun Pointe Village, and Hardy View Lodge (Interior Health)

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Rodents on the rise: How to avoid an infestation this fall



Rodents have become a larger problem for Canadian homeowners since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. The pests that lived near bars and restaurants moved into residential neighbourhoods during lockdowns, spreading out their colonies and causing trouble.

With colder weather just around the corner, these rodents are likely to break into people’s homes. Invasions are especially common in the fall and winter when pests seek a warmer place to stay. Mice sneak in via the holes in the wall, and rats dig underground and into the basement.

While many homeowners deal with mice every year, it is important that they be kept out. Rodents are potential carriers of disease, and they will damage the home’s interior. The following tips, when used together, will help ensure that your home is pest-free this winter.

Block Entry Points

Rodents come from outside. While it may seem like they appear out of thin air, rodents find openings in the outer walls of the home and sneak their way inside. Wall vents, cracked window frames, and doors that have been left open are often to blame.

Examine your home’s exterior very carefully and use caulking or mesh to block the openings you find. Check between the layers of your siding, underneath your deck, and along the edges of your soffits for openings of 5mm or more. Put weatherstripping on the bottoms of your doors and seal cracks in the foundation with epoxy.

If you’re not sure you got them all, contact a mice exterminator for an inspection and pest-proofing service. Professionals offer complete pest-proofing in addition to pest control. They can find the entry points you missed and close them for you. If you know that there are rats in your neighbourhood, a professional can protect your foundation by digging a trench and attaching a mesh to its sides. This will prevent rats from digging into the basement.

Do Some Fall Cleaning

Spring isn’t the only time of year for cleaning. Mice, rats, ants, and other pests can smell the food you keep, and they will want their share. Deep clean the kitchen this fall and maintain it to keep pests out when it gets cold. Vacuum everywhere and clean the floors beneath your major appliances. Keep surfaces clean and store food in airtight containers to reduce odours. Never leave dirty dishes out overnight and use lidded garbage cans.

In addition to food, pests love clutter. Rodents like to hide in quiet, cluttered areas, like messy basements and storage rooms. This way, they can hide as they move from place to place. Get organized this fall and get rid of what you don’t need. Move objects off the floor and create space so there is nowhere for pests to hide.

Tidy up the Yard

Because rodents love food and clutter, it is important that you maintain the yard, as well. Trim back the vines, bushes, and plants that grow around the walls of the home to reduce the number of potential hiding spots. Move patio furniture and firewood away from the sides of the home, as well. Mow the lawn, rake the leaves, and bag all your organic materials for collection.

Pest control experts recommend getting rid of the bird feeder because it attracts rodents. While it is unfortunate, bird feeders are magnets of animal activity. Consider getting rid of it when the temperature cools or switch to one that hangs far away. Harvest your apples and home-grown produce on time, and secure your garbage cans with bungee cords or tight locks.

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