Experts are dismayed by Florida’s stance against vaccinating healthy children, and the US COVID death toll tops 960,000

Florida took its recent contradictory stance on federal efforts to deal with the coronavirus pandemic on Monday when Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo said the state will officially recommend anti-COVID-19 vaccinations for healthy children.

The news was met with dismay from pundits and White House officials alike.

“I’m really concerned that this is going to make parents question what they’re hearing from every other source — pediatricians, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the CDC,” said Dr. University of Florida professor Sonja Rasmussen, a pediatrician and a former infectious disease specialist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told the Associated Press.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said it is “deeply disturbing that there are politicians peddling conspiracy theories and questioning vaccines when they are our best cure for the virus.”

Ladapo made the announcement at a roundtable organized by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis and attended by a group of doctors critical of the coronavirus lockdown and mandate politics, the AP reported.

“The Florida Department of Health will be the first state to officially recommend anti-COVID-19 vaccines for healthy children,” Ladapo said at the end of the panel.

“We are scratching the bottom of the barrel, especially in healthy children, when it comes to actually being able to quantify with any accuracy and confidence the potential benefit,” he added.

Read: The global death toll from COVID reaches 6 million and the WHO warns the pandemic is not over yet

The Food and Drug Administration enrolled children in the immunization program after studies found smaller doses were 91% effective in preventing symptomatic COVID. As in adults, vaccines have proven to be the best defense against the highly infectious Omicron variant. While many vaccinated individuals have experienced breakthrough infections even after a booster dose, almost all cases are mild or asymptomatic.

The majority of the approximately 1,500 Americans who die from COVID each day are unvaccinated. And while children are less likely to develop serious illnesses than adults, those with underlying conditions such as asthma, diabetes or obesity are at risk of worse cases and hospitalizations. And nearly 1,000 children in the US have died from COVID, not all of whom had an underlying problem.

The US currently has an average of 43,250 cases per day, according to a New York Times tracker, 51% less than two weeks ago. It’s an average of 37,118 hospital admissions, down 43% from two weeks ago. And deaths eventually drop to about 1,473 a day, although that remains an undesirably high number.

The World Health Organization reiterated its message that the pandemic is not over and that new variants are likely.

“The composition of current COVID-19 vaccines may therefore need to be updated,” the agency said in a statement issued with its Vaccines Technical Committee.

“Any update to the current COVID-19 vaccine composition would aim to at least maintain protection against serious illness and death while ensuring the breadth of the immune response against circulating and emerging variants that may be antigenically distinct,” the statement said.

What is endemic and how will we know when Covid-19 will become endemic? WSJ’s Daniela Hernandez explains how public health experts assess when a virus like Covid-19 enters an endemic stage. Photo: Michael Nagle/Zuma Press

Other COVID-19 news you should know:

• A new study published in the British magazine NatureIt turned out that people with COVID suffered tissue damage in the brain, mainly in areas associated with smell, reported the New York Times. The study involved 785 adults aged 51 to 81 who are participants in the UK Biobank, a collection of medical records. The researchers reviewed scans taken before and after contracting the virus on a date between March 2020 and April 2021.

• Moderna mRNA,
said it would never use its patents related to COVID-19 vaccines to prevent others from making its vaccine in more than 90 low- and middle-income countries, but signaled it was prepared start enforcing patents in wealthier countries, the Wall Street Journal reported. The drugmaker said Monday it now expects anyone in higher-income countries who want to use its patented technologies to respect it intellectual property of the company. It also said it was willing to license its patents to others in those countries on “commercially reasonable terms.”

• Americans can again order free COVID-19 test kits from the federal government. The US government will mail COVID tests to people who order them through the United States Postal Service. You can order them online here, or by calling 1-800-232-0233. Each order consists of four rapid antigen tests and is shipped free of charge – there is an order limit of two per residential address – for a total of eight tests – according to the USPS website.

• Hong Kong considering postponing mass COVID testing plans to April, The South China Morning Post reported. The move aims to bring down the current high mortality rates and allow more care for the elderly, the newspaper reported. Hong Kong counted 30,493 new cases on Tuesday and reported 291 deaths. It is under pressure from Beijing to do more to contain the spread, in line with China’s zero-COVID strategy.

As countries ease Covid-19 restrictions, Hong Kong is sticking to a ‘dynamic zero Covid’ approach – with help from Beijing. A surge in cases has overwhelmed hospitals and is threatening business confidence in the global financial hub. Photo: Bertha Wang/Bloomberg

Here’s what the numbers say

The global number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 rose to over 448.1 million on Monday. based on data from Johns Hopkins Universitywhile the death toll climbed over 6 million.

The US leads the world with 79.3 million cases and 960,354 deaths.

the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tracker shows that 216.2 million people in the US are fully vaccinated, which is 65.1% of the population. But only 95.2 million are vaccinated, which is 44.1% of the vaccinated population. Experts are dismayed by Florida’s stance against vaccinating healthy children, and the US COVID death toll tops 960,000

Brian Lowry

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