Millions Are Saying No to the Vaccines. What Are They Thinking?

Feelings about the vaccine are intertwined with feelings about the pandemic.MAY 3, 2021

Derek ThompsonStaff writer at The Atlantic

An illustration of a vaccine needle and the word “No.”

Updated at 10:07 a.m. ET on May 4, 2021.

Several days ago, the mega-popular podcast host Joe Rogan advised his young listeners to skip the COVID-19 vaccine. “I think you should get vaccinated if you’re vulnerable,” Rogan said. “But if you’re 21 years old, and you say to me, ‘Should I get vaccinated?’ I’ll go, ‘No.’”

Rogan’s comments drew widespread condemnation. But his view is surprisingly common. One in four Americans says they don’t plan to take the COVID-19 vaccine, and about half of Republicans under 50 say they won’t get a vaccine. This partisan vaccine gap is already playing out in the real world. The average number of daily shots has declined 20 percent in the past two weeks, largely because states with larger Trump vote shares are falling off the pace.

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What are they thinking, these vaccine-hesitant, vaccine-resistant, and COVID-apathetic? I wanted to know. So I posted an invitation on Twitter for anybody who wasn’t planning to get vaccinated to email me and explain why. In the past few days, I spoke or corresponded with more than a dozen such people. I told them that I was staunchly pro-vaccine, but this wouldn’t be a takedown piece. I wanted to produce an ethnography of a position I didn’t really understand.


The people I spoke with were all under 50. A few of them self-identified as Republican, and none of them claimed the modern Democratic Party as their political home. Most said they weren’t against all vaccines; they were just a “no” on this vaccine. They were COVID-19 no-vaxxers, not overall anti-vaxxers.

Many people I spoke with said they trusted their immune system to protect them. “Nobody ever looks at it from the perspective of a guy who’s like me,” Bradley Baca, a 39-year-old truck driver in Colorado, told me. “As an essential worker, my life was never going to change in the pandemic, and I knew I was going to get COVID no matter what. Now I think I’ve got the antibodies, so why would I take a risk on the vaccine?”

Some had already recovered from COVID-19 and considered the vaccine unnecessary. “In December 2020 I tested positive and experienced many symptoms,” said Derek Perrin, a 31-year-old service technician in Connecticut. “Since I have already survived one recorded bout with this virus, I see no reason to take a vaccine that has only been approved for emergency use. I trust my immune system more than this current experiment.”

Others were worried that the vaccines might have long-term side effects. “As a Black American descendant of slavery, I am bottom caste, in terms of finances,” Georgette Russell, a 40-year-old resident of New Jersey, told me. “The fact that there is no way to sue the government or the pharmaceutical company if I have any adverse reactions is highly problematic to me.”

Many people said they had read up on the risk of COVID-19 to people under 50 and felt that the pandemic didn’t pose a particularly grave threat. “The chances of me dying from a car accident are higher than my dying of COVID,” said Michael Searle, a 36-year-old who owns a consulting firm in Austin, Texas. “But it’s not like I don’t get in my car.”

And many others said that perceived liberal overreach had pushed them to the right. “Before March 2020, I was a solid progressive Democrat,” Jenin Younes, a 37-year-old attorney, said. “I am so disturbed by the Democrats’ failure to recognize the importance of civil liberties. I’ll vote for anyone who takes a strong stand for civil liberties and doesn’t permit the erosion of our fundamental rights that we are seeing now.” Baca, the Colorado truck driver, also told me he didn’t vote much before the pandemic, but the perception of liberal overreach had a strong politicizing effect. “When COVID hit, I saw rights being taken away. So in 2020, I voted for the first time in my life, and I voted all the way Republican down the ballot.”

After many conversations and email exchanges, I came to understand what I think of as the deep story of the American no-vaxxer. And I think the best way to see it clearly is to contrast it with my own story.

My view of the vaccines begins with my view of the pandemic. I really don’t want to get COVID-19. Not only do I want to avoid an illness with uncertain long-term implications, but I also don’t want to pass it along to somebody in a high-risk category, such as my grandmother or an immunocompromised stranger. For more than a year, I radically changed my life to avoid infection. So I was thrilled to hear that the vaccines were effective at blocking severe illness and transmission. I eagerly signed up to take both my shots, even after reading all about the side effects.

The under-50 no-vaxxers’ deep story has a very different starting place. It begins like this:

The coronavirus is a wildly overrated threat. Yes, it’s appropriate and good to protect old and vulnerable people. But I’m not old or vulnerable. If I get it, I’ll be fine. In fact, maybe I have gotten it, and I am fine. I don’t know why I should consider this disease more dangerous than driving a car, a risky thing I do every day without a moment’s worry. Liberals, Democrats, and public-health elites have been so wrong so often, we’d be better off doing the opposite of almost everything they say.

Just as my COVID-19 story shapes my vaccine eagerness, this group’s COVID-19 story shapes their vaccine skepticism. Again and again, I heard variations on this theme:

I don’t need some novel pharmaceutical product to give me permission to do the things I’m already doing. This isn’t even an FDA-approved vaccine; it’s authorized for an emergency. Well, I don’t consider COVID-19 a personal emergency. So why would I sign up to be an early guinea pig for a therapy that I don’t need, whose long-term effects we don’t understand? I’d rather bet on my immune system than on Big Pharma.

For both yes-vaxxers like me and the no-vaxxers I spoke with, feelings about the vaccine are intertwined with feelings about the pandemic.

Although I think I’m right about the vaccines, the truth is that my thinking on this issue is motivated. I canceled vacations, canceled my wedding, avoided indoor dining, and mostly stayed home for 15 months. All that sucked. I am rooting for the vaccines to work.

But the no-vaxxers I spoke with just don’t care. They’ve traveled, eaten in restaurants, gathered with friends inside, gotten COVID-19 or not gotten COVID-19, survived, and decided it was no big deal. What’s more, they’ve survived while flouting the advice of the CDC, the WHO, Anthony Fauci, Democratic lawmakers, and liberals, whom they don’t trust to give them straight answers on anything virus-related.

The no-vaxxers’ reasoning is motivated too. Specifically, they’re motivated to distrust public-health authorities who they’ve decided are a bunch of phony neurotics, and they’re motivated to see the vaccines as a risky pharmaceutical experiment, rather than as a clear breakthrough that might restore normal life (which, again, they barely stopped living). This is the no-vaxxer deep story in a nutshell: I trust my own cells more than I trust pharmaceutical goop; I trust my own mind more than I trust liberal elites.

So what will change their minds?

I cannot imagine that any amount of hectoring or shaming, or proclamations from the public-health or Democratic communities, will make much of a difference for this group. “I’ve lost all faith in the media and public-health officials,”said Myles Pindus, a 24-year-old in Brooklyn, who told me he is skeptical of the mRNA vaccines and is interested in the Johnson & Johnson shot. “It might sound crazy, but I’d rather go to Twitter and check out a few people I trust than take guidance from the CDC, or WHO, or Fauci,” Baca, the Colorado truck driver, told me. Other no-vaxxers offered similar appraisals of various Democrats and liberals, but they were typically less printable.

From my conversations, I see three ways to persuade no-vaxxers: make it more convenient to get a shot; make it less convenient to not get a shot; or encourage them to think more socially.

1. Try something like “DoorDash for vaccines.”

To get people to participate in an activity they don’t really care about, you make it as easy and tantalizing as possible. Some people have already suggested offering money, free food, or even lottery tickets in exchange for vaccination. But one source who asked to remain anonymous suggested that state health departments should offer something like DoorDash for vaccines.

With any new technology, the early adopters are the ones most willing to tolerate glitches and a bad experience. That’s fine when supply is limited, but as you try to get to mass market, you need to perfect the product and experience.

All of which to say: Cities should start to roll out a vaccine in-home service, which people can book on short notice. Providers come to you, and maybe bring you some sort of gift along with the vaccine. Cities should have enough capacity and staff to do that at this point, and a service such as this would be key to getting young people in particular to take it.

2. Make it suck more to not be vaccinated.

Governments and companies may find that soft bribery is the best way to get the no-vaxxers to the clinics. Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, for example, has linked her state reopening policies to progress in shots, letting restaurants and bars increase their occupancy once 60 percent of the state has been vaccinated, and promising to lift mask orders when 70 percent of Michiganders have received both doses.

Millions of people want to go to sporting events, attend concerts, or travel internationally. If those who cannot prove that they’ve been vaccinated are denied service, I expect that some will sign up for shots purely as a means of reengaging in their favorite activities. “If all or most countries instituted vaccine passports, that might change [my mind],” Younes, the attorney, told me.

But the cultural backlash against domestic restrictions could be prodigious. If blue-state governors and sports stadiums deny economic activities to the unvaccinated while red-state stadiums allow anybody to sit at a bar or in the bleachers, it will deepen the culture-war tensions between scolding liberals and accommodating conservatives in a way that might not be good for Democrats politically, even if they have the upper hand in the public-health argument.

3. “What if natural immunity isn’t enough to protect your grandmother?”

The most common argument against the vaccines is: My immune system is good enough for me. One counterargument is: That’s right, but the vaccines are even better at protecting others.

Even for people who have already recovered from COVID-19, getting fully vaccinated strengthens the antibody and T-cell protection against the disease and likely provides superior protection from variants that can pierce our natural immunity.

Why do more levels of protection matter? Because the vaccines aren’t just about building a defensive wall around safe young bodies. We’re also collectively building a wall around the more vulnerable members of society. And little holes in the wall can lead to unnecessary deaths.

In April, the CDC reported that an unvaccinated health-care worker set off an outbreak in a mostly vaccinated Kentucky nursing home. Several vaccinated seniors got sick and one vaccinated resident died.* To be absolutely clear: The vaccines worked to protect most residents. But no vaccine is perfect, and the COVID-19 vaccines won’t stop all infections, especially for some people with weak immune systems.

I made this case to several no-vaxxers: Your grandparents, elderly neighbors, and immunocompromised friends will be safer if you’re vaccinated, even if you’ve already been infected. I played with the “COVID is no worse than driving” metaphor that many of them offered. I agree that driving is acceptably safe for most people, I said. But imagine, I added, if you could have a forward collision warning system installed in your car for free? An already-pretty-safe activity would become an even safer activity; and what’s more, you’d be protecting other people on the road at minimal cost to yourself.

I can’t tell you this argument got a lot of people to drop the phone, sprint to a vaccine clinic, and sign up for a Fauci tattoo on their arm. The truth is that I’m not sure that I changed anybody’s mind. But I can honestly say that this argument gave several no-vaxxers a bit of pause. They responded by talking about chains of transmission throughout the community, rather than focusing on their own immune system. Several of them asked to see evidence of my position so that they could examine it for themselves.

The United States suffers from a deficit of imagining the lives of other people. This is true of my side: Vaccinated liberals don’t take much time to calmly hear out the logic of those refusing the shots. But it’s also true of the no-vaxxers, who might reconsider their view if they grasped the far-ranging consequences of their private vaccination decisions. Instead of shaming and hectoring, our focus should be on broadening their circle of care: Your cells might be good enough to protect you, but the shots are better to protect Grandpa.

Russia starts mass producing world’s first COVID-19 vaccine for animals

03-May-2021Thomas Wintle


Russia is mass producing the world’s first coronavirus vaccines for animals. /VETANDLIFE.RU/Reuters

Russia has started mass producing the world’s first COVID-19 vaccines for animals, with its first batch of 17,000 doses soon set for local distribution.

The country’s agricultural watchdog, Rosselkhoznadzor, announced the achievement on Friday, saying that while the jabs would initially be used at home, foreign firms had also shown interest in them.

According to the regulator: “About 20 organizations are ready to negotiate registration and supply of the vaccine to their countries. The file for registration abroad, in particular in the European Union, is under preparation.”


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Russia, the first country to come up with the animal jab, registered the Carnivac-Cov vaccine in March 2021, after tests showed it generated antibodies against the coronavirus in dogs, cats, foxes and mink.

The county’s regulator said the inoculation would protect vulnerable species and thwart viral mutations. 

It added that companies from Germany, Greece, Poland, Austria, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Malaysia, Thailand, South Korea, Lebanon, Iran and Argentina had inquired about purchasing the vaccine.

According to local media, production capacity is at around 3 million doses per month and is expected to increase to 5 million.

READ MORE: How do you kill 17m mink sick with a COVID-19 mutation?

The race to find such a jab became urgent following multiple reports of animals contracting the virus early on in the pandemic, with the World Health Organization expressing serious concern over the risk of transmission with other species.

Companion animals such as cats and dogs have tested positive for COVID-19, but there have also been cases in big cats in sanctuaries, gorillas in zoos, and several other mammals.

Last November, Denmark was forced to cull its population of up to 17 million mink after a mutated strain was discovered in sick animals in the country’s fur farms. 

With other countries reporting similar infection spikes among the species, concerns over the virus’s impact on the livestock industry have grown.

However, the impact of the novel coronavirus has not been as deadly for animals as diseases such as Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI), better known as bird flu, or African Swine Fever (ASF), the latter of which led to the deaths of around 8 million pigs. Source(s): Reuters18

Why COVID-19 should change our stance on animal farming

By Jenny Henry & Darlene Levecque | Opinion | April 28th 2021

Meat, dairy and egg production in Canada involves forcing thousands of animals to live in filthy conditions. By any epidemiological standard, this is a disaster waiting to happen, write Jenny Henry and Darlene Levecque. Photo by Mercy for Animals Canada

As Canadians venture beyond the one-year mark since the official declaration of the COVID-19 pandemic, we do so with much reflection and lessons learned. We now look very differently at issues of public health, personal hygiene and even travel. However, one area that appears to be lacking the mass scrutiny and worry it deserves, especially in the wake of a pandemic caused by a zoonotic disease, is our food system, particularly how we breed, confine and slaughter animals.

It is likely that COVID-19 emerged in much the same way as bird flu, swine flu, Ebola and mad cow disease: from food markets and factory farms. Farmed and caged animals create the perfect breeding environment for zoonotic diseases, and not just in other countries. Canadians need to be much more concerned about the potential for future pandemics stemming from our own food system.

The environmental impacts of raising animals for food have been made abundantly clear in recent years. Animal agriculture is wiping out rainforests, causing mass extinction of species, polluting our air and waterways, and bringing us dangerously close to causing irreversible changes to the Earth’s climate systems. And now it appears that if global warming doesn’t get us, a zoonotic disease just might.


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Meat, dairy and egg production in Canada involves packing thousands of animals together in massive sheds, forcing them to live in filthy conditions, filling man-made lagoons with animal waste and making staff work in dangerously close contact with animals and each other. By any epidemiological standard, this is a disaster waiting to happen. In fact, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that “three out of every four new or emerging infectious diseases in people come from animals.”

Federal and provincial governments in Canada help fund meat, dairy and egg production to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars each year through subsidies, grants and loans. In 2019, for example, the federal government began doling out $1.75 billion over eight years to nearly 11,000 dairy farmers across Canada to compensate for market losses, while also providing up to $10 million in grants for selected dairy processors via the Dairy Processing Investment Fund. The Canadian government also announced in 2019 a $6-million investment to help promote pork exports and, last year, a $691-million gift to egg and chicken farmers. And this is all before receiving government aid for pandemic-related market disruptions. That’s a lot of taxpayer money being distributed to a food system that poses tremendous risk to the health and home of Canadians.

The government has invested some money into safer and healthier plant protein production over the last couple of years, providing nearly $100 million to Winnipeg-based Merit Functional Foods, which produces plant-based protein from Canadian peas and canola. Alberta-based Food Processing Development Centre is also receiving $2.6 million of federal funding to “support the installation of equipment specifically focused on supporting companies to develop new plant-based foods and products,” according to a Western Economic Diversification Canada statement. But this is just not enough to fund a full transition to safer food production that we so urgently need.

For so long, the animal agriculture industry — including lobby groups such as Dairy Farmers of CanadaChicken Farmers of Canada and the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association — has played a huge role in shaping federal agricultural policy, spending millions of dollars on lobbying efforts each year.

As a non-partisan advocacy group, Nation Rising is trying to level that playing field by lobbying governments to shift multibillion-dollar subsidies away from animal agriculture and towards the creation of a more sustainable, plant-based food system. We are also working to educate and empower the public to meet with their own MPs and demand change.

Canada cannot continue breeding, confining and killing animals for food on the scale that we do, and the government should not be continuing to fund it. Aside from the mass suffering of animals, the environmental degradation and noted health concerns associated with consuming animal products, we now know of the major risks that factory farming can pose to public health.

Canadian governments should be helping animal farmers transition to safer plant-based food production, write @vegan_bumblebee and @LevecqueDarlene of @NationRising.

Canadian governments should look to initiatives being led in the U.S. and Europe, such as Transfarmation, by international advocacy group Mercy For Animals, The Vegan Society’s Grow Green campaign and ReFarm’d for examples on how to help animal farmers transition to safer plant-based food production.

We’ve reached a precipice. If Canadian governments and industries don’t start planning for a fundamental shift toward more sustainable and less harmful food production, we might not last another hundred years.

Jenny Henry and Darlene Levecque are co-founders of Nation Rising, a non-partisan political advocacy group lobbying the federal government to shift subsidies away from animal agriculture and towards the creation of a plant-based food system.April 28th 2021

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Coronavirus denier Ted Nugent tests positive for COVID-19

ByJosh K. Elliott  Global NewsPosted April 20, 2021 1:56 pm

Ted Nugent is shown at his Michigan ranch in this image from a Facebook Live video on Apr. 19, 2021.
Ted Nugent is shown at his Michigan ranch in this image from a Facebook Live video on Apr. 19, 2021. Ted Nugent/Facebook

Descrease article font size-AIncrease article font sizeA+

You don’t have to believe in the coronavirus to get it, as musician Ted Nugent acknowledged with the revelation that he has tested positive for COVID-19.

“I was officially tested positive for COVID-19,” Nugent revealed on Facebook Live Monday. “I got the Chinese s—,” he added, in a nearly nine-minute video peppered with profanity, anti-Asian racism, conspiracy theories and false claims about the virus.

Nugent revealed that he had flu-like symptoms for 10 days, and that he finally got tested on Monday.

“I thought I was dying,” he said. He added that he could hardly crawl out of bed, and that the agony of the disease finally prompted him to get tested for it.

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Nugent then launched into a tirade against getting tested at all.

“What would be the good from knowing?” asked the musician.

“It’s not good to know,” he added, before pushing several conspiracy theories and hailing the values of “truth” and “logic.”

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The revelation came less than a month after Nugent blasted lockdowns on social media.

“My common sense meter would demand the answer to: Why weren’t we shut down for COVID 1 through 18?” he said earlier this month on Facebook Live.

The number refers to 2019 — the year in which the disease was discovered. (There was no COVID 1-18.)

Nugent spent several months denouncing the pandemic as a hoax, often while voicing his support for ex-U.S. president Donald Trump. He suggested that the pandemic was “not real” and a “scam.” He also claimed that people who wore masks were “sheep.”

Despite testing positive, Nugent on Monday continued to cast doubt on the pandemic while pushing pro-Trump conspiracy theories.

His tirade was occasionally punctuated with a dry cough.

Covid-19 deaths are accelerating, WHO warns, as world records most cases ever in a single week

By Rob Picheta, CNN

Updated 9:27 AM ET, Tue April 20, 2021

Overwhelmed Indian hospitals are turning patients away

Now PlayingOverwhelmed Indian…Overwhelmed Indian hospitals are turning patients away 02:29

(CNN)Covid-19 infections have been rising at an alarming rate for eight consecutive weeks, the World Health Organization (WHO) has warned, as the virus sweeps unabated through hotspots in several corners of the globe.More than 5.2 million new cases were recorded last week — the most in a single week since the pandemic began — WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during a news briefing in Geneva on Monday.Deaths also increased for the fifth straight week, he said, with the pandemic now officially claiming more than 3 million lives.

And Tedros warned that the pace of the pandemic is accelerating, even as some countries tout their own improved vaccination programs.

“It took nine months to reach 1 million deaths, four months to reach 2 million and three months to reach 3 million deaths,” said Tedros. “Big numbers can make us numb, but each one of these deaths is a tragedy for families, communities and nations.”

And, as more at-risk or older adults are fully inoculated and some economies open up, the director-general suggested the brunt of the virus’s spread may be shifting towards younger adults. He told reporters that infections and hospitalizations among people age 25 to 59 are “increasing at an alarming rate,” possibly due to highly transmissible variants and increased social mixing among younger people.Concerns about more young adults contracting Covid-19 have already been reported by doctors in some hotspots — including Brazil, where a new variant has caused a devastating surge in hospitalizations and deaths.

Shots ramp up as variants cause concern

The stark warning from WHO serves as a reminder of the state of the pandemic, which has not yet dissipated in the face of the world’s disparate vaccine rollouts.India is suffering from a calamitous second wave of the virus, and a significant portion of the world’s infections is occurring there. The country has reported more than 200,000 new cases on each of the past six days — nearly 1.5 million in the last week — and crowded hospitals are turning away patients as they battle the spread.Among India’s many active cases is former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who is in stable condition in hospital after contracting Covid-19.

India will offer Covid-19 vaccines to everyone 18+ in May

India will offer Covid-19 vaccines to everyone 18+ in MayWith more than 15 million infections, the country is now only second to the United States in global case tallies. The US has reported almost 32 million infections.England added India to its travel ban list on Monday and Prime Minister Boris Johnson canceled a scheduled trip there, but political campaigning is ongoing despite the dire situation.Narendra Modi’s ruling party said it would hold “small public gatherings” with a cap of 500 people in the state of West Bengal, one of the five states where state elections are currently being held, according to a statement from the party Monday.Much of Asia is similarly grappling with increasing cases. A surge in Thailand has dampened hopes of welcoming more tourists there, with hospitality venues identified as a cause of recent outbreaks.In the US, where millions of people are being vaccinated daily, cases and hospitalizations have risen over the past month. Experts cite coronavirus variants — including the more contagious B.1.1.7 strain that recently fueled another surge in Michigan — and a spreading sense of pandemic fatigue as contributing factors.Meanwhile, in Europe, there are some signs of a plateau in the continent’s third wave of infections, and a bumpy vaccine rollout has started accelerating across the European Union.

But vaccine hesitancy and the lingering effects of earlier vaccine scares there are still evident; a mass vaccination center in the southern French city of Nice was forced to close early over the weekend after just 58 people turned up for 4,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine — which may be linked to a very small number of rare blood clot cases — a spokesman for the regional police told CNN.And European regulators face another decision about the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which US authorities paused after a handful of clotting cases were reported. A decision by the European Medicines Agency on the shot is expected Tuesday.

CNN’s Naomi Thomas, Christina Maxouris and Saskya Vandoorne contributed reporting

Is this the end? What’s the outlook on the pandemic?

Vaccination rates are high in the U.S., but that doesn’t mean we can let up just yet.ByChia-Yi Hou | Apr. 8, 2021 of 01:06Volume 20% 

Story at a glance

  • Although cases may be decreasing around the country, coronavirus cases are still relatively high in some areas and are spiking in Michigan.
  • Issues like partial vaccination of a population could come into play.
  • Inequitable access to vaccines remains a concern, especially globally.

With many states in the U.S. relaxing restrictions and the weather turning warmer, it may seem like we are coming out of the pandemic. However, with cases recently spiking in Michigan and concerning cases and death rates elsewhere in the world such as Brazil, it’s a reminder that we are not yet out of the woods.

Last year, we looked at the different ways the pandemic could come to an end. Now with vaccines and variants on the scene, here’s a revisit to the topic and what we know now.

Partial vaccination

There could be issues getting the pandemic under control if we’re stuck at low levels of vaccination or partial vaccination. The way that immunity works at the population level means that, depending on the pathogen’s transmission rates, immunization at a low percentage of the total population would not be enough to prevent some transmission and cases to occur.

The ideal percentage vaccinated varies by disease, but for COVID-19 some experts estimate it to be at least 70 percent, although this may change as more data become available. If in the U.S. the vaccination rate slows down before we reach a high enough percentage, that could mean that we get small outbreaks and pockets of COVID cases around the country where the vaccination rates are lowest.

Our country is in a historic fight against the Coronavirus. Add Changing America to your Facebook or Twitter feed to stay on top of the news.

Then there’s the issue of partial vaccination on the individual level. People who have gotten one dose are partially protected after a few weeks, but they may potentially interact with people who haven’t had any shots or also have had one shot. Vaccination does not totally prevent infection, as far as we know, and people who are vaccinated may be able to transmit the virus to others even if that has a very low probability of happening.

So with people around the country at varying stages of vaccination and immunity, that could lead to a patchwork of COVID cases that could allow the virus to remain in the population. Research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that even one dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines provide a good amount of protection, but more data is needed to show this is happening on a national scale.

Once domestic travel picks up again, this complicates the situation further. Then a single location is no longer a simple population on its own. It has individuals entering and leaving the population. For example, this could mean that even if New York is doing well with vaccinating its population, unvaccinated people who are traveling to New York could continue to bring in the coronavirus and add to local outbreaks. The focus on each state’s progress would be less informative and the focus would need to be on national progress.






Recurring vaccination

Experts have not yet determined what a potential vaccination schedule might be for the coronavirus. Experts are also studying whether these existing vaccines protect against the coronavirus variants that have cropped up in the U.S. and around the world.

People who participated in the clinical trials for the coronavirus vaccines are receiving booster shots six months or more after their initial doses. An initial study from Pfizer and BioNTech suggests that its vaccine maintains 90 percent efficacy at the half year mark post second dose. If it turns out that the current vaccines are less effective at protecting against the coronavirus variants, the vaccine developers may need to produce adapted versions.

We are still learning about how long immunity lasts and how well the vaccines protect against the coronavirus variants. It may come to be that this time next year everyone will need a booster shot to maintain immunity against the virus. If, or when, that time comes, the urgency to get a booster shot may not be there for many people, and that could lead to varying levels of immunity within the population. That could leave many people with higher susceptibility to the coronavirus than others, which could boost infection rates and lead to more cases. This could mean that small outbreaks may move through and be sustained in the population if enough people are susceptible.

Inequitable access to vaccines

An issue that has become prominent around the world is inequitable access to vaccines, and one reason for that is intellectual property rights. The companies that developed the vaccines that are currently approved for emergency use are not willing to give up patent rights and share the methods for making their vaccines with other companies. This could slow down the long-term vaccination roll out for countries that were not able to secure doses before.

In addition, some wealthier countries prepaid for more than they needed because it wasn’t certain yet which vaccines would get emergency use approval. Other countries were lost in the free for all to buy up vaccines and are relying on a global effort called COVAX to get the shots. Many lower-income countries will be the last ones on the list to get vaccines, some not expecting any shipments until 2022 and some experts suggesting that many would not get any until 2024 if current behavior by high-income countries continues.

COVAX has purchased about 1 billion doses and could reserve 900 million more. It aims to immunize 20 percent of the people most vulnerable to the virus in low-income countries. But that falls short of getting most of the population in these countries vaccinated to stop the spread of the virus.

This presents a problem for all of us. While international travel is limited, as people start moving around more this increases the risk of arriving in a place where there are high numbers of cases or where many people are not yet vaccinated. Similar to the problem with people traveling domestically making it important to focus on national progress, this would make it important to focus on global vaccination progress.

Local outbreaks and epidemics

For all these reasons, it’s likely that there will continue to be local outbreaks and smaller epidemics around the country and in other parts of the world. The global pandemic may diminish to the point where it may not be a crisis any longer, but there could continue to be cases for a long time to come. We may stop calling it a pandemic at some point, but the novel coronavirus may still be around for a while after that.

Whether it is a pandemic or not depends on the global effects. On the other hand, COVID-19 could become endemic to humans, meaning that it will circulate in our populations indefinitely similarly to influenza. That does not mean that we will see death rates like we have in the past year. As we adapt to the coronavirus and it adapts to us, we could move towards a sort of equilibrium where the virus proliferates in our bodies but doesn’t kill us as easily.

These are all still unknowns at this point. As experts gather more data on how the vaccination roll outs have affected transmission of the virus and the number of cases, we’ll understand more about these dynamics.

For up-to-date information about COVID-19, check the websites of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization. For updated global case counts, check this page maintained by Johns Hopkins University.

You can follow Chia-Yi Hou on Twitter.







Georgia becomes third state to shut down Johnson & Johnson vaccine site after adverse reactions

April 10, 2021, 6:56 AM

Johnson & Johnson’s coronavirus vaccine is facing a double dose of problems. Georgia is the third state to temporarily shut down a vaccine site after eight people suffered adverse reactions to the shot. 

Earlier this week, 18 people in North Carolina reported side effects, while 11 people in Colorado reacted to the shot with symptoms ranging from dizziness, nausea and fainting. 

“This is a really potent vaccine, and what we’re seeing is some of that potency relating at a very rare side effect that we just have to be aware of,” said Dr. David Agus, a CBS News medical contributor. 

All three major U.S. vaccines produced adverse reactions in more than 60,000 people nationwide. For each manufacturer — Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson — just one-tenth of 1% of all people have reported side effects. 

Another problem facing Johnson & Johnson is distribution. The company is dramatically scaling back shipments to states by 86% next week. 

Meanwhile, Michigan is experiencing dreadful deja vu as some hospital intensive care units near capacity. 

“We all know what works and this has to be a team effort. We have to do this together. Lives depend on it,” Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer said. 

Whitmer is asking for a two-week pause on indoor dining, in-person learning for high schools and youth sports — a driving factor in new cases among kids. 

Pfizer is the first company to seek an expansion of its emergency use authorization to give its vaccine to children as young as 12. 

In California, thousands were turned away after being told to show up to one site with extra doses. In New York City, variants comprise nearly 80% of new daily cases, with 45% homegrown. Another 30% are driven by the variant first discovered in the U.K., which is believed to be up to 70% more contagious and more lethal. 

Agus is warning Americans not to panic. 

“The current vaccines that are out there in the public work against all of the variants,” the CBS News medical contributor said. “Science is overcoming here. And that’s why I think that by June we’re going to overcome this virus in the United States and get to a new normal here.” 

Infectious Disease Expert Explains Why Next COVID-19 Wave In U.S. Is Inevitable

04/06/2021 06:08 am ET Updated 7 hours ago

It’s likely too late to stop this upcoming surge, warned Michael Osterholm.


By Lee MoranContent loading…

Infectious disease expert Michael Osterholm on Monday warned of the inevitability of another wave of coronavirus infections in the United States.

“While vaccination is important, it is obviously a critical part of our long-term game plan, we’re not going to have enough vaccine, at the way we’re going, into the arms of enough Americans over the course of the next six to 10 weeks, with this surge, that we’re going to stop it,” Osterholm, the director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, told CNN’s Erin Burnett.

“It’s just simply not going to happen,” he added.

Osterholm noted that some states, even where vaccination uptake has been high, are now experiencing rising daily new infections.

As GOP-led states lift pandemic restrictions, new infections nationwide have plateaued at around 65,000. It’s a stubborn detail that has troubled public health experts.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and top medical adviser of President Joe Biden, cautioned last week that now is “just not the time to pull back and declare premature victory.”

Osterholm on Sunday warned the forthcoming wave will more likely affect children, due to the prevalence of the more contagious B.1.1.7. variant.

“Unlike the previous strains of the virus, we didn’t see children under eighth grade get infected often, or they were not frequently very ill,” Osterholm said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “Kids are playing a huge role in the transmission of this,” he added on Fox News.

Coronavirus pandemic slowdown has made the oceans quieter, which has been good for whales

Not only has pandemic helped accelerate the end of commercial whale hunting, ambient noise in the world’s oceans is also way down.

March 28, 2021, 5:00 AM PDT / Updated March 28, 2021, 8:05 AM PDTBy Sarah Harman and Carlo Angerer

HÚSAVÍK, Iceland — Surrounded by snow-covered mountain ranges, this tiny town on Iceland’s north coast has become the “whale capital” of the country — whale watching is its lifeblood.

“It’s probably the most popular activity for visitors, foreign and domestic,” Heimir Hardarson, captain at North Sailing, said.

As one of the pioneers of whale watching in Iceland, Hardarson has taken people onto ocean waters for nearly 30 years to experience a close encounter with some of the largest animals in the world.

“Very mystical creatures,” he said, “floating around in their weightlessness.”

Image:: Captain Heimir Hardarson takes whale watchers out on his boat in Husavik, Iceland.
Captain Heimir Hardarson takes whale watchers out on his boat in Húsavík, Iceland.Carlo Angerer / NBC News

On a recent morning, Hardarson took a handful of visitors on his boat that usually holds 90 passengers to spot humpback and fin whales in Skjalfandi Bay.

Visitor numbers have been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. But the global slowdown has actually been good for the whales, as human interference has decreased. Ambient noise in the world’s oceans from cruise ships, sonar and construction is way down.

For more on this story watch TODAY this morning at 8 a.m. ET.

“I think, overall, the pandemic has largely been a positive for whales,” said Ari Friedlaender, a marine ecologist and biologist with the University of California at Santa Cruz.

He is studying how the quieter oceans have affected whales by measuring their stress levels through hormone samples. Friedlaender said animals use acoustics such as whale songs to communicate with one another and locate food. Noise in the environment can interfere with those communications and other critical life functions

“The thought is that as you decrease the amount of human activity and noisy environment, we’re going to see a decrease in the stress hormone levels of these animals,” he said.

Image: Husavik on Iceland's north coast has become the "whale capital" of the country.
Húsavík on Iceland’s north coast has become the “whale capital” of the country.VW Pics / Universal Images Group via Getty file

Friedlaender said stress affects whales similarly to how it has an impact on humans, changing their behavior and ability to perform physically and mentally. Stress can also lead to long-term changes affecting a whale’s overall health and its ability to reproduce.

“The animal may not reproduce as frequently as it would have otherwise,” he said. “If it doesn’t reproduce as frequently, the population doesn’t have the opportunity to grow as quickly, or to maintain its population growth.”

The pandemic has had an even more concrete impact on the whale population off Iceland’s coast: It has helped accelerate the end of commercial whale hunting.


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Iceland is one of only three countries in the world that still allow commercial whaling, the other two being Japan and Norway, and last year two Icelandic whaling companies halted hunting operations due to health restrictions. Operators told local media that social distancing regulations would make the usual processing onboard impossible.

“I’m never going to hunt whales again, I’m stopping for good,” Gunnar Bergmann Jonsson, managing director of the minke whaling company IP-Utgerd, told the news agency Agence France-Presse last year. And demand has continued to fall.

“There’s no need to hunt the whales anymore. There’s no need to eat them,” said Eva Björk Káradóttir, director of the Húsavík Whale Museum. “The young generation born after 2000 don’t really do it.”

Image: Captain Heimir Hardarson takes whale watchers out on his boat in Husavik, Iceland.
Captain Heimir Hardarson has taken people onto ocean waters for nearly 30 years to experience a close encounter with some of the largest animals in the world.Carlo Angerer / NBC News

In fact, much of the demand for whale meat within Iceland had been from tourists who wanted to try it during their visits, she said. Icelanders have re-examined their relationship to whales in recent decades.

“I think tourism started and we started to get just people from all over the world. We got a new perspective, and it’s just in that time that we realized really that our land is beautiful, our water is good and also that people were interested in whales,” she said.

Hardarson, the captain of the whale watching boat, said that people have stopped eating whale meat for several reasons, including realizing the senselessness of killing an animal that can live for almost a century. And he highlighted another simple reason, as well.

“They are worth way more alive than dead,” he said. “I think there’s going to be no commercial whaling, and in the future. I can see no reason why there should be.”

Image: Captain Heimir Hardarson, on his boat in Husavik, Iceland.
Captain Heimir Hardarson said he did not think commercial whaling would take place in the future. Carlo Angerer / NBC News

He acknowledged that animals are also affected by whale watching tours but said the experience helps motivate people to protect them.

“There are threats also connected to whale watching and something you have to keep in mind to try not to overstress or put too much pressure on the resource in this way,” he said. “We are very concerned about this, so we are trying to keep down speed and we are trying to minimize our carbon footprint.”

His hope now is that with tourism growing as Iceland allows vaccinated visitors to enter the country without having to quarantine, whale watching will once again be big business, helping to support the animals and the whole town.

Now vaccinated, older adults emerge from COVID hibernation

Associated Press

By DAVID SHARP, Associated Press  1 day ago

Regina King, Issa Rae and More Stars Who Stunned in Jaw-Dropping Looks at…The idyllic New England town of Wellsbury from ‘Ginny & Georgia’ is closer…

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Bill Griffin waited more than a year for this moment: Newly vaccinated, he embraced his 3-year-old granddaughter for the first time since the pandemic began.

“She came running right over. I picked her up and gave her a hug. It was amazing,” the 70-year-old said after the reunion last weekend.

Spring has arrived with sunshine and warmer weather, and many older adults who have been vaccinated, like Griffin, are emerging from COVID-19-imposed hibernation.

From shopping in person or going to the gym to bigger milestones like visiting family, the people who were once most at risk from COVID-19 are beginning to move forward with getting their lives on track. More than 47% of Americans who are 65 and older are now fully vaccinated.

Visiting grandchildren is a top priority for many older adults. In Arizona, Gailen Krug has yet to hold her first grandchild, who was born a month into the pandemic in Minneapolis. Now fully vaccinated, Krug is making plans to travel for her granddaughter’s first birthday in April.

“I can’t wait,” said Krug, whose only interactions with the girl have been over Zoom and FaceTime. “It’s very strange to not have her in my life yet.”

The excitement she feels, however, is tempered with sadness. Her daughter-in-law’s mother, who she had been looking forward to sharing grandma duties with, died of COVID-19 just hours after the baby’s birth. She contracted it at a nursing home.

Isolated by the pandemic, older adults were hard hit by loneliness caused by restrictions intended to keep people safe. Many of them sat out summer reunions, canceled vacation plans and missed family holiday gatherings in November and December.

In states with older populations, like Maine, Arizona and Florida, health officials worried about the emotional and physical toll of loneliness, posing an additional health concern on top of the virus.

But that’s changing, and more older people are reappearing in public after they were among the first group to get vaccinated.

Those who are fully vaccinated are ready to get out of Dodge without worrying they were endangering themselves amid a pandemic that has claimed more than 540,000 lives in the United States.

“Now there’s an extra level of confidence. I am feeling good about moving forward,” said Ken Hughes, a 79-year-old Florida resident who is flying with his wife for a pandemic-delayed annual trip to Arizona in April.

Plenty of older adults are eager to hop on a jet to travel. Others are looking forward to the simpler things like eating at a restaurant, going to a movie theater or playing bingo.

Sally Adams, 74, was among several older people who showed up for “parking lot bingo” in Glendale, Arizona. She felt safe because she’d been vaccinated and because she was in her car at the first bingo event in more than year.

Once she fulfills the time to reach peak immunity, she plans to indulge in little things like eating out. Both her and her husband, who is also vaccinated, have only done takeout. Now, they feel like it will be OK to even eat indoors — as long as it’s not crowded.

“We’ll probably go in and take the farthest table from other people just to be on the safe side,” she said.

Indeed, many older adults are taking a cautious approach, especially when the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention declined to ease recommendations for travel.

Frequent traveler Cindy Charest was so excited about the prospect of jetting away for the first time in more than a year that she posted an airplane emoji with a photo of her being vaccinated on social media.

But she’s taking a wait-and-see attitude after the CDC recommended against nonessential air travel, for now.

“I think I got prematurely excited about it,” said Charest, 65, of Westbrook, Maine. But she’s ready to jump when the time comes. She’s watching for changing guidance.

Others are also cautious.

“We’re still in the thick of it,” said Claudette Greene, 68, of Portland, Maine. “We’ve made a lot of progress but we’re not done with this.”

Kathy Bubar said she and her husband are completely vaccinated but are in no hurry to push things. The 73-year-old Portland resident is planning to wait until fall before planning any major travel. She hopes to go on a safari in December.

“My goal in all of this is to not be the last person to die from COVID. I’m willing to be patient and take as long as it takes,” she said.

The Griffins were also cautious before they were reunited with their granddaughter.

Bill Griffin, of Waterboro, didn’t dare have close contact with family members until after being vaccinated because he has lung disease, heart disease, kidney disease and high blood pressure, all factors that pushed him into a high-risk category for COVID-19.

“Everybody wants to live for the moment, but the moment could have been very deadly. We listened to the scientists,” he said.


Associated Press writers Adriana Gomez Licon in Miami and Terry Tang in Phoenix contributed to this report.Continue Reading