2021-02-25 11:20:33 | Nursing Home Deaths Plummet – The New York Times

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Story by: David Leonhardt The New York Times World News

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There are two new pieces of encouraging news about the pandemic — and two worrisome developments. Let’s take them one at a time, starting with the positive.

They have plummeted, falling by more than 60 percent between late December and early February. The main cause is straightforward: Nursing home residents have been among the first people to be vaccinated.

This chart — from my colleagues Matthew Conlen, Sarah Mervosh and Danielle Ivory — tells the story:

It’s another sign of how powerful the vaccines are. The decline in deaths happened surprisingly fast, said Dr. Sunil Parikh, a Yale University epidemiologist. It occurred even though most nursing home residents and employees have not yet received both of their vaccine shots — and it has likely continued over the past two weeks, which are not shown in this chart.

“I’m almost at a loss for words at how amazing it is and how exciting,” said Dr. David Gifford, the chief medical officer for the American Health Care Association, which represents long-term-care facilities.

The nursing home data add to the evidence that the vaccines don’t just work in research trials — they work in the real world, too. (A new study of Israel, published yesterday in The New England Journal of Medicine, offered the same message.)

The Food and Drug Administration released a report about a vaccine that it has not yet approved — from Johnson & Johnson — and the data were extremely positive.

Like the two vaccines that are already being administered in the U.S. — from Moderna and Pfizer — Johnson & Johnson’s eliminated both death and hospitalization in its research trial: About 20,000 people received the vaccine in the trial, and not a single one was hospitalized with Covid-19 symptoms a month later.

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“I’ll never stop being amazed at zero hospitalizations among vaccinated in study after study,” Dr. Aaron Richterman of the University of Pennsylvania wrote. “It’s astonishing.” Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an infectious disease expert, called the results “terrific.” Dr. Kavita Patel wrote: “I would definitely recommend it for myself and my patients.”

The same is happening worldwide:

The storms of the past week are the major cause of the vaccination slowdown, having temporarily closed sites and delayed vaccine shipments. Whatever the reason, though, it will have consequences: Fewer vaccinations mean more deaths.

The biggest task facing the Biden administration over the next two months is accelerating the pace from the current 1.4 million vaccines per day to about three million per day.

Other Covid developments:

  • The federal government is backing the test of an online portal to help the public find vaccines.

  • Moderna said it would test vaccines modified to protect against a variant first discovered in South Africa.

  • A new variant is spreading in New York City, researchers say.

  • Ghana and other West African countries will begin vaccinating people as part of Covax, a global vaccine-sharing initiative. But as rich countries buy most of the supply, inequalities remain.

  • Corruption scandals are exposing how powerful and well-connected people in South America jumped the vaccine line.

  • President Biden nominated three people to the board of the United States Postal Service. If confirmed, they would give Democrats the power to oust Louis DeJoy, the postmaster general appointed by President Donald Trump.

  • Jerome Powell, the Federal Reserve chairman, said the pandemic’s economic fallout had disproportionately hurt women and suggested that improved child care policies could help the economy.

  • Repairing the damage from the Capitol riot — including toppled 19th-century lanterns and damaged busts — could cost more than $30 million.

  • Biden lifted a freeze on green cards, ending the Trump administration’s ban on legal immigration.

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Source References: The New York Times World News

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