Covid-19: U.S. Surpasses 500,000 Covid-19 Deaths, a Monumental Loss

Credit score…Todd Heisler/The New York Occasions

The US reached a staggering milestone on Monday, surpassing 500,000 recognized coronavirus-related deaths in a pandemic that has lasted virtually a yr. The nation’s whole virus toll is greater than in some other nation on the planet. It has far surpassed early predictions of loss by some federal consultants. And it signifies that extra Individuals have died from Covid-19 than did on the battlefields of World Battle I, World Battle II and the Vietnam Battle mixed.

“The magnitude of it’s simply horrifying,” stated Jeffrey Shaman, a professor of environmental well being sciences at Columbia College who has modeled the virus’s unfold and says that the size of loss was not inevitable, however a results of the failure to regulate the virus’s unfold in the US. “It’s been a failure,” he stated.

The US accounts for about 20 % of the world’s recognized Covid deaths, however makes up simply 4.25 % of the worldwide inhabitants.

About one in 670 Individuals has died of Covid-19, which has turn into a number one reason for demise on this nation, together with coronary heart illness and most cancers, and has pushed down life expectancy extra sharply than in many years. The losses, monumental for the nation, have been searingly private for the relations and associates of the five hundred,000.

“It by no means goes away,” the Rev. Ezra Jones of Chicago stated of his grief for his uncle, Moses Jones, who died of the coronavirus in April.

The harrowing milestone comes amid hopeful information: New virus circumstances and deaths have slowed dramatically, and vaccine distribution has steadily picked up tempo. However uncertainty stays about rising variants of the virus, some extra contagious and probably extra deadly, so it might be months earlier than the pandemic is contained. Scientists say the trajectory of the U.S. demise toll will rely upon the pace of vaccinations, the results of the variants and the way intently individuals follow pointers like mask-wearing and social distancing.

Within the early days of the pandemic, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the highest infectious-disease professional within the nation, and Dr. Deborah L. Birx, who was coordinating the coronavirus response on the time, projected final March that even with strict stay-at-home orders, the virus would possibly kill as many as 240,000 Individuals, a quantity that appeared unimaginable on the time.

“As sobering a quantity as that’s, we must be ready for it,” Dr. Fauci stated on the time.

Lower than a yr later, the virus has killed greater than twice that quantity.

U.S. deaths from Covid-19 got here quicker because the pandemic wore on. The nation’s first recognized Covid-19 demise occurred in Santa Clara County, Calif., on Feb. 6, 2020, and by the tip of Could, 100,000 individuals had died. It took 4 months for the nation to log one other 100,000 deaths; the following, about three months; the following, simply 5 weeks.

The virus has reached each nook of America, devastating dense cities and rural counties alike by means of surges that barreled by means of one area after which one other.

In New York Metropolis, greater than 28,000 individuals have died of the virus — or roughly one in 295 individuals. In Los Angeles County, the toll is about one in 500 individuals. In Lamb County, Texas, the place 13,000 individuals stay scattered on a sprawling expanse of 1,000 sq. miles, the loss is one in 163 individuals.

The virus has torn by means of nursing properties and different long-term care services, spreading simply amongst weak residents: They account for greater than 163,000 deaths, about one-third of the nation’s whole.

Virus deaths even have disproportionately affected Individuals alongside racial strains. Over all, the demise charge for Black Individuals with Covid-19 has been virtually two occasions greater than for white Individuals, in keeping with the Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention; the demise charge for Hispanics was 2.3 occasions greater than for white Individuals. And for Native Individuals, it was 2.4 occasions greater.

By Monday, about 1,900 Covid deaths had been being reported, on common, most days — down from greater than 3,300 at peak factors in January. The slowing got here as a aid, however scientists stated variants make it troublesome to challenge the way forward for the pandemic, and historians cautioned towards turning away from the size of the nation’s losses.

“There will probably be an actual drive to say, ‘Look how properly we’re doing,’” stated Nancy Bristow, chair of the historical past division on the College of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Wash., and creator of “American Pandemic: The Misplaced Worlds of the 1918 Influenza Epidemic.” However she warned towards inclinations now to “rewrite this story into one other story of American triumph.”

United States › United StatesOn Feb. 21 14-day change
New circumstances 55,195 –44%
New deaths 1,247 –32%

World › WorldOn Feb. 21 14-day change
New cases 292,003 –20%
New deaths 5,729 –25%

U.S. vaccinations ›

Where states are reporting vaccines given




Biden and Harris Honor 500,000 Americans Lost During Pandemic

As the nation passed a “truly grim, heartbreaking milestone” on Monday, President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris observed a moment of silence during a ceremony at the White House.

Today we mark a truly grim, heartbreaking milestone: 500,071 dead. That’s more Americans who have died in one year in this pandemic than in World War I, World War II and the Vietnam War combined. That’s more lives lost to this virus than any other nation on Earth. We often hear people described as “ordinary Americans.” There’s no such thing. There’s nothing ordinary about them. The people we lost were extraordinary. They spanned generations. Born in America, immigrated to America. But just like that, so many of them took their final breath alone in America. As a nation, we can’t accept such a cruel fate. While we’ve been fighting this pandemic for so long, we have to resist becoming numb to the sorrow. We have to resist viewing each life as a statistic or a blur or on the news. We must do so to honor the dead, but equally important, care for the living, those they left behind.

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As the nation passed a “truly grim, heartbreaking milestone” on Monday, President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris observed a moment of silence during a ceremony at the White House.CreditCredit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, surrounded by candles going up to a balcony on the White House South Lawn, bowed their heads in a moment of silence, as the U.S. Covid-19 death toll topped 500,000 Monday evening.

In the ceremony to remember those who died of the coronavirus — the second memorial service Mr. Biden has held — he urged Americans to remember everyone who died and he instilled hope toward healing.

“We often hear people described as ordinary Americans,” Mr. Biden said in a televised address before the ceremony. “There’s nothing ordinary about them. The people we lost were extraordinary, they span generations, born in America and immigrated to America. But just like that, so many of them took their final breath alone in America.”

Mr. Biden also called for lowering federal flags to half-staff for the next five days, to mark the somber milestone, which he compared with the number of Americans who died in both world wars and the Vietnam War combined.

Mr. Biden often talks about his grief and has been known to bond with people over the losses he has endured. His son Beau died in May 2015 at the age of 46, and his first wife and baby daughter died in a car accident in 1972.

On the eve of Mr. Biden’s inauguration, he held a national mourning ceremony at the Reflecting Pool by the Lincoln Memorial for the 400,000 people who had then died from the virus. The pool was surrounded by a symbolic 400 lights.

Even as the number of deaths each day remains high, there are signs of improvement across the country. Since mid-January, the number of U.S. hospitalizations has steadily and swiftly declined. And the number of new cases has decreased more than 40 percent over the past two weeks and is down 70 percent since its high point on Jan. 8, according to a New York Times database.

Experts credit the declines, in part, to widespread mask wearing, social distancing and vaccinations. About 12 percent of people in the country have received at least one vaccine dose, and about 5 percent are fully vaccinated.

At a news briefing before the memorial ceremony, Andy Slavitt, a White House pandemic adviser, said the grim milestone makes the administration “more determined to turn the tide on Covid-19 so the losses can subside and the healing can begin.”

“As a nation, we can’t accept such a cruel fate,” Mr. Biden said in his speech before the moment of silence among the candles.

“This nation will smile again,” he added. “This nation will know sunny days again. This nation will know joy again. And as we do, we’ll remember each person we lost, the lives they lived and the loved ones they’ve left behind. We will get through this. I promise you.”

Parade grounds in Washington in October, with white flags representing the number of people who have died from Covid-19 in the United States.
Credit…Stefani Reynolds for The New York Times

The enormous scale of illness and death wrought by the coronavirus is traced in figures that have grown so far beyond the familiar yardsticks of daily life that they can sometimes be difficult to get a handle on.

The news on Monday that the United States had recorded 500,000 Covid-19-related deaths in just a year is just the latest example.

One way to put that in context is to compare it to other major causes of death in 2019, the year before the pandemic took hold in the country.

  • Three times the number of people who died in the U.S. in any kind of accident, including highway accidents, in 2019 (167,127).

  • More than eight times the number of deaths from influenza and pneumonia (59,120).

  • More than 10 times the number of suicides (48,344).

  • More than the number of deaths from strokes, diabetes, kidney disease, Alzheimer’s and related causes, combined (406,161).

  • Only heart disease (655,381) and cancer (599,274) caused more deaths.

When full data for 2020 is available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Covid-19 will certainly be one of the leading killers. But trying to project where it will rank may be complicated. A very large share of deaths from Covid-19 have been people who were medically vulnerable because of other significant health problems like cancer, lung or heart disease. Some number of them would probably have succumbed to those causes, and been counted in those categories, if their deaths had not been hastened by Covid-19.




Boris Johnson Maps Out Plan to Lift Virus Lockdown

Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain outlined a plan to remove lockdown measures as a path toward “freedom” for the region.

We cannot escape the fact that lifting lockdown will result in more cases, more hospitalizations and sadly, more deaths, and this would happen whenever lockdown is lifted, whether now or in six or nine months, because there will always be some vulnerable people who are not protected by the vaccines. This roadmap should be cautious, but also irreversible. We’re setting out on what I hope and believe is a one-way road to freedom, and this journey is made possible by the pace of the vaccination program. In England, everyone in the top four priority groups were successfully offered a vaccine by the middle of February. The sequence will be driven by the evidence. So outdoor activity will be prioritized as the best way to restore freedoms while minimizing the risk. At every stage, our decisions will be led by data, not dates.

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain outlined a plan to remove lockdown measures as a path toward “freedom” for the region.CreditCredit…Pool photo by Geoff Caddick

LONDON — Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain said Monday that schools in England would reopen on March 8 and that people would be allowed to socialize outdoors starting on March 29, the tentative first steps in a long-awaited plan to ease a nationwide lockdown prompted by a highly contagious variant of the coronavirus.

Mr. Johnson’s “road map” was intended to give an exhausted country a path back to normalcy after a dire period in which infections skyrocketed and hospitals overflowed with patients. At the same time, Britain rolled out a remarkably successful vaccination program, injecting 17 million people with their first doses.

That milestone, combined with a decline in new cases and hospital admissions, paved the way for Mr. Johnson’s announcement. But the prime minister emphasized repeatedly that he planned to move slowly in reopening the economy, saying that he wanted this lockdown to be the last the nation had to endure.

Under the government’s plan, pubs, restaurants, retail shops, and gyms in England will stay closed for at least another month — meaning that, as a practical matter, daily life will not change much for millions of people until the spring.

“We’re setting out on what I hope is a one-way journey to freedom,” Mr. Johnson said in a statement to the House of Commons. “This journey is made possible by the success of the vaccine program.”

The specific timetable, Mr. Johnson said, will hinge on four factors: the continued success of the vaccine rollout; evidence that vaccines are reducing hospital admissions and deaths; no new surge in cases that would tax the health service; and no sudden risk from new variants of the virus.

“At every stage,” the prime minister said, “our decisions will led by data, not dates.”

Mr. Johnson was scheduled to present the plan to the nation in an evening news conference, along with data that he said showed that the two main vaccines — from Pfizer and AstraZeneca — both reduced severe illness.

Mr. Johnson’s appearance in Parliament ended days of speculation about the government’s timetable. But it is likely to kindle a new round of debate about whether Mr. Johnson is easing restrictions fast enough.

With pubs and restaurants not allowed to offer indoor service until May, some members of Mr. Johnson’s Conservative Party are likely to revive their pressure campaign to lift the measures more quickly.

Mr. Johnson, however, appears determined to avoid a repeat of his messy reopening of the economy last May after the first phase of the pandemic.

Then, the government’s message was muddled — workers were urged to go back to their offices but avoid using public transportation — and some initiatives, like subsidizing restaurant meals to bolster the hospitality industry, looked reckless in hindsight.

Under Mr. Johnson’s plan, the current coronavirus restrictions would be lifted in four steps, with a gap of five weeks between steps. That way, the government would have four weeks to analyze the impact of each relaxation and another week’s notice of the changes to the public and businesses.

All the moves would be made throughout England, with no return to the regional differences in rules that applied last year, depending on local infection rates. The government warned that the dates specified are the earliest at which the restrictions would be lifted, and that the steps may happen later.

When students go back to school, they will be regularly tested for the virus while older pupils will be required to wear face masks. Those living in nursing homes will be allowed one regular visitor, but few other restrictions will be lifted.

Starting on March 29, up to six people would be allowed to meet outdoors, including in gardens. Outdoor sports will be permitted and though people will be urged to stay in their areas, they will not be urged to remain in their homes.

Then, no earlier than April 12, retail shops will reopen, along with hairdressers, beauty salons, gyms, museums, and libraries, while people will be able to eat and drink outside in pub and restaurant gardens in small groups.

Starting on May 17, up to six people, and groups drawn from two households, will be able to meet indoors, including in pubs and restaurants. Hotels will also be able to reopen and spectators will be allowed into sporting events in limited numbers.

Restrictions on foreign travel could also be eased, though that will be addressed by one of several policy reviews being launched by the government. These will also focus on the possible use of vaccine passports to help open up the economy, and on guidance and rules on social distancing measures such as the use of face masks.

A COVID-19 vaccination superstation sits idle and empty due to the lack of vaccine in San Diego on Monday.
Credit…Mike Blake/Reuters

A White House official said Monday that it expects all doses of the vaccine delayed by recent extreme weather to be delivered by the middle of this week.

“Today alone, we plan to deliver seven million doses,” Andy Slavitt, a White House pandemic adviser, said at a press briefing on Monday afternoon. That number is a combination of normal distribution and backlogged doses delayed by weather last week. On Friday, the White House said that six million doses had been held up because of winter storms across the country.

Among other efforts, Mr. Slavitt cited expanded weekend hours at McKesson, the medical distribution company that has contracted with the federal government to deliver vaccination supplies.

Winter storms delayed efforts to maintain and increase the pace of vaccinations. About 1.52 million vaccine doses were being administered per day last week, according to a New York Times database. Although that is still above President Biden’s target, it was the lowest rate since Feb. 8.

Shipping delays last week left New York City with fewer than 1,000 first doses of a coronavirus vaccine on hand, but the city expects to get a new shipment on Monday, Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a midmorning news conference. All the doses the city had been expecting last week should arrive by Wednesday, officials said.

The stall in deliveries interrupted the city’s vaccination effort, with officials halting the scheduling of appointments as they awaited fresh supplies.

“We basically lost a full week in our vaccination efforts,” Mr. de Blasio said.

Texas, where the frigid storm left millions without power and water for a time, has reopened some inoculation sites. The state has been assigned almost 600,000 first doses of the vaccine for the coming week, according to the state health department, up from about 400,000 first doses for the week of Feb. 15.

The White House praised the efforts to ramp up distribution to make up for time lost to the elements. “Progress began as soon as the weather began to improve,” Mr. Slavitt said at the press briefing. “We encourage vaccination sites to follow that same lead of those who are working extended hours to catch up on deliveries by scheduling more appointments to vaccinate the anxious public as quickly as possible.”

When movie theaters reopen in New York City, masks will be mandatory, and theaters must assign seating to patrons to guarantee proper social distancing.
Credit…Angela Weiss/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Movie theaters in New York City will be permitted to open for the first time in nearly a year on March 5, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced at a news conference on Monday.

The theaters will only be permitted to operate at 25 percent of their maximum capacity, with no more than 50 people per screening. Masks will be mandatory, and theaters must assign seating to patrons to guarantee proper social distancing. Tests for the virus will not be required.

Movie theaters were permitted to open with similar limits in the rest of the state in late October, but New York City was excluded out of concern that the city’s density would hasten the spread of the virus there.

The virus has battered the movie theater industry. In October, the owner of Regal Cinemas, the second-largest cinema chain in the United States, temporarily closed its theaters as Hollywood studios kept postponing releases and cautious audiences were hesitant to return to screenings. AMC Entertainment, the world’s largest movie theater chain, has increasingly edged toward bankruptcy.

The economic effects of the pandemic have been particularly felt in New York City, one of the biggest movie markets in the United States. Theaters in the city closed in mid-March, as the region was becoming an epicenter of the pandemic in the country.

While other indoor businesses, including restaurants, bowling alleys and museums had been allowed to open in the city, Mr. Cuomo had kept movie theaters closed out of concern that people would be sitting indoors in poorly-ventilated theaters for hours, risking the further spread of the virus.

Theaters that open will be required to have enhanced air filtration systems. Public health experts say when considering indoor gatherings, the quality of ventilation is key because the virus is known to spread more easily indoors.

Mr. Cuomo’s announcement was applauded by the National Association of Theater Owners.

“New York City is a major market for moviegoing in the U.S.; reopening there gives confidence to film distributors in setting and holding their theatrical release dates, and is an important step in the recovery of the entire industry,” the association said in a statement.

In a statement, AMC’s chief executive, Adam Aron, said the company would open all 13 of its New York City theaters on March 5.

The move came just days after Mr. Cuomo said that indoor family entertainment centers and places of amusement could reopen statewide, at 25 percent maximum capacity, on March 26. Outdoor amusement parks will be allowed to open with a 33 percent capacity limit in April.

The governor also said that the state was working on guidelines to allow pool and billiards halls to reopen after the state lost a lawsuit from pool hall operators. Those establishments will be allowed to reopen at 50 percent capacity with masks required, he said.

Cases in New York remain high despite climbing down from its January peak. Over the last seven days, the state averaged 38 cases per 100,000 residents each day, as of Sunday. That is the second-highest rate per capita of new cases in the last week in the country, after South Carolina.

Preparing a dose of the Moderna vaccine this month at a community center in the Bronx.
Credit…James Estrin/The New York Times

The Food and Drug Administration said on Monday that vaccine developers would not need to conduct lengthy randomized controlled trials to evaluate vaccines that have been adapted to target concerning coronavirus variants.

The recommendations, which call for small trials more like what’s required for annual flu vaccines, would greatly accelerate the review process at a time when scientists are increasingly anxious about how the variants might slow or reverse progress made against the virus.

The guidance was part of a slate of new documents the agency released on Monday, including others addressing how antibody treatments and diagnostic tests might need to be retooled to respond to the virus variants. Together, they amounted to the federal government’s most detailed acknowledgment of the threat the variants pose to existing vaccines, treatments and tests for the coronavirus and come weeks after the F.D.A.’s acting commissioner, Dr. Janet Woodcock, said the agency was developing a plan.

“We want the American public to know that we are using every tool in our toolbox to fight this pandemic, including pivoting as the virus adapts,” Dr. Woodcock said in a statement Monday.

Most of the vaccine manufacturers with authorized vaccines or candidates in late-stage trials have already announced plans to adjust their products to address the vaccine variants. The Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines use mRNA technology that the companies have said can be used to alter the existing vaccines within six weeks, although testing and manufacturing would take longer.

Moderna has already begun developing a new version of its vaccine that could be used as a booster shot against a virus variant that originated in South Africa, known as B.1.351, which seems to dampen the effectiveness of the existing vaccines.

A fast-spreading coronavirus variant first observed in Britain has also gained a worrisome mutation that could make it harder to control with vaccines. That variant with the mutation was found in the United States last week.

Still, the guidance did not appear to be written with the assumption that new vaccines were imminent, or would be needed at all. Despite the recent indications that some variants — and particularly B.1.351 — make the currently authorized vaccines less effective, the shots still offer protection and appear to greatly reduce the severity of the disease, preventing hospitalizations and death.

An updated Covid-19 vaccine can skip the monthslong process of a randomized clinical trial that would compare it with a placebo, the agency said. But a tweaked vaccine will still need to go undergo some testing. In trials proposed by the F.D.A., researchers will draw blood from a relatively small group of volunteers who have been given the adapted vaccine. Scientists will then observe what percentage of volunteers’ samples produce an immune response to the variants in the lab, and how large that response is. The vaccines will be judged acceptable if they produce an immune response that is relatively close to what is prompted by the original vaccines.

The volunteers will also be monitored carefully for side effects. The agency said the testing can be done in a single age group and then extrapolated to other age groups.

The guidance also encouraged the use of animal studies to support the case for modified vaccines, in case immune response studies come up with ambiguous conclusions.

The F.D.A. acknowledged that many questions remain unanswered, such as what type of data would trigger the need for an adapted vaccine and who would make that decision. The agency also noted that scientists have not yet determined what level of antibodies in a vaccinated person’s blood would protect someone from the virus.

Some other vaccines are regularly updated in a similar way. Because the influenza virus evolves rapidly from one year to the next, vaccine developers have to come up with new recipes annually.

The newly tweaked Covid-19 vaccines would be authorized under an amendment to the emergency authorization granted to the original vaccine, regulators said.




Developing Potent Antivirals Is the ‘Direction of the Future’, Fauci Says

Dr. Anthony S. Fauci said on Monday the next phase in the fight against Covid-19 is developing “potent antivirals” that directly act on the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

The bottom line of what we need to do looking forward, and the clear need in this is the development of potent antivirals directly acting on SARS-CoV-2, very similar to what was done with the highly successful drug development program for H.I.V., as well as for Hepatitis C. And what I refer to as the future development of therapeutics will be based on the identification of vulnerable targets in the SARS-CoV-2 replication cycle, and the design of drugs to inhibit these vulnerable targets. As I mentioned, we are beginning this, and this is going to be the direction of the future. Baricitinib and remdesivir have earned emergency use authorization and a number of immunomodulators, including those that block a variety of cytokines and cytokine receptors, are currently in clinical trials. The F.D.A. will give guidance to how these companies can address a problem that we know is with us already, and that will be a problem in the future.

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Dr. Anthony S. Fauci said on Monday the next phase in the fight against Covid-19 is developing “potent antivirals” that directly act on the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, looking ahead to the next phase of the fight against the coronavirus, said Monday that the United States must mobilize to develop “potent antivirals” to fight Covid-19, just as the federal government and private industry once developed highly specialized drugs to combat two other viruses: H.I.V. and hepatitis C.

So far, just one antiviral medication, remdesivir, has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat Covid-19. Speaking to reporters during Monday’s White House coronavirus briefing, Dr. Fauci said the effect of that drug is “clear, but modest.” Other treatments, including the steroid dexamethasone and monoclonal antibodies, are also in use.

What is needed now, he said, are drugs that are specifically designed to attack “vulnerable targets” in the replication cycle of the virus.

“Looking forward, and the clear need in this is the development of potent antivirals directly acting on SARS-CoV-2 very similar to what was done with the highly successful drug development program for H.I.V., as well as for hepatitis C,” Dr. Fauci said, adding, “This is going to be the direction of the future.”

Dr. Fauci’s comments, coming at a time when the Biden administration is almost singularly focused on its vaccination campaign, suggest that he expects Covid-19 to be a sustained and lasting threat. They were also a tacit admission that, while the government spent billions developing vaccines, the effort to find therapeutics has been neglected.

While therapies like remdesivir have improved the care of Covid patients, the drugs are hardly cure-alls and they are not for everyone. Efforts to repurpose other drugs, or discover new ones, have not had much success.

The Trump administration poured $18.5 billion into vaccines, a strategy that resulted in two vaccines that now have emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration, with others on the way. But its investment in drugs, under a public-private partnership known as Accelerating COVID-19 Therapeutic Interventions and Vaccines — ACTIV for short — was far smaller, about $8.2 billion, most of which went to just a few candidates, like monoclonal antibodies.

At the same time, the government poured money into testing drugs that did not work against Covid-19 but were pet projects of Mr. Trump, including the malaria drugs hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine. The Trump administration also funneled tens of millions of dollars into an expanded access program for convalescent plasma, infusing almost 100,000 Covid patients before there was any robust evidence that it worked.

Preparing a dose of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine in Edinburgh this month.
Credit…Pool Photo by Jane Barlow, via AFP–Getty Images

The first studies of Britain’s mass inoculation program showed strong evidence on Monday that the coronavirus vaccines were working as intended, offering among the clearest signs yet that the vaccines slash the rate of Covid-19 hospital admissions and may be reducing transmission of the virus.

A single dose of either the AstraZeneca vaccine or the one made by Pfizer could avert most coronavirus-related hospitalizations, the British studies found, though researchers said it was too early to give precise estimates of the effect.

The findings on the AstraZeneca shot, the first to emerge outside of clinical trials, represented the strongest signal yet of the effectiveness of a vaccine that much of the world is relying on to end the pandemic.

And separate studies of the Pfizer vaccine offered tantalizing new evidence that a single shot may be reducing the spread of the virus, showing that it prevents not only symptomatic cases of Covid-19 but also asymptomatic infections.

The findings reinforced and went beyond studies out of Israel, which has also reported that the vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech offered significant protection from the virus in real-world settings, and not only in the clinical trials held last year. No other large nation is inoculating people as quickly as Britain, and it was the first country in the world to authorize and begin using both the Pfizer shot and the one developed by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford.

The studies released on Monday — two on the Pfizer shot and one on it and the AstraZeneca injection — showed both vaccines were effective against the more infectious coronavirus variant that has taken hold in Britain and spread around the world.

“Both of these are working spectacularly well,” said Aziz Sheikh, a professor at the University of Edinburgh who helped run a study of Scottish vaccinations.

Still, the findings contained some cautionary signs. And even as British lawmakers cited the strength of the vaccines in announcing a gradual loosening of lockdown restrictions, government scientists warned that many more people needed to be injected to prevent cases from spreading into vulnerable, vaccinated groups and occasionally causing serious disease and death.

A boom in gym memberships is likely as soon as people are sure it’s safe.
Credit…Alyssa Schukar for The New York Times

The U.S. economy remains mired in a pandemic winter of shuttered storefronts, high unemployment and sluggish job growth. But attention is shifting to a potential post-Covid boom.

Forecasters have always expected the pandemic to be followed by a period of strong growth as businesses reopen and Americans resume their normal activities. But in recent weeks, economists have begun to talk of something stronger: a supercharged rebound that brings down unemployment, drives up wages and may foster years of stronger growth.

There are hints that the economy has turned a corner: Retail sales jumped last month as the latest round of government aid began showing up in consumers’ bank accounts. New unemployment claims have declined from early January, though they remain high. And measures of business investment have picked up.

Economists surveyed by the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia this month predicted that U.S. output would increase 4.5 percent this year, which would make it the best year since 1999. Some expect an even stronger bounce: Economists at Goldman Sachs forecast that the economy would grow 6.8 percent this year and that the unemployment rate would drop to 4.1 percent by December, a level that took eight years to achieve after the last recession.

“We’re extremely likely to get a very high growth rate,” said Jan Hatzius, Goldman’s chief economist. “Whether it’s a boom or not, I do think it’s a V-shaped recovery,” he added, referring to a steep drop followed by a sharp rebound.

The growing optimism stems from several factors. Coronavirus cases are falling in the United States. The vaccine rollout is gaining steam. And largely because of trillions of dollars in federal help, the economy appears to have made it through last year with less structural damage than many people feared last spring.

Consumers are also sitting on a trillion-dollar mountain of cash, a result of months of lockdown-induced saving and rounds of stimulus payments.

“There will be this big boom as pent-up demand comes through and the economy is opening,” said Ellen Zentner, chief U.S. economist for Morgan Stanley. “There is an awful lot of buying power that we’ve transferred to households to fuel that pent-up demand.”

Even if there is a strong rebound, however, economists warn that not everyone will benefit.

Standard economic statistics like the unemployment rate and gross domestic product could mask persistent challenges facing many families, particularly the Black and Hispanic workers who have borne the brunt of the pandemic’s economic pain. That could lead Congress to pull back on aid when it is still needed.


President John Magufuli of Tanzania in 2016. Having cast doubt on coronavirus vaccines and other measures to curb the spread of the pandemic, he is now changing course.
Credit…Thomas Mukoya/Reuters

Officially, Tanzania has not reported a single coronavirus case since April 2020. According to government data, the country has had only 509 positive cases and 21 deaths since the start of the pandemic.

Almost no one believes those numbers to be credible. But they fit with President John Magufuli’s declaration that the pandemic was “finished.”

Now, facing criticism from the World Health Organization and skepticism from the public as Tanzanians take to social media to voice concern a couple of rising variety of “pneumonia” circumstances, Mr. Magufuli is altering course and asking individuals to take precautions towards the coronavirus and put on masks.

Talking throughout a church service within the port metropolis of Dar es Salaam, the president requested congregants to proceed praying for the illness to go away but in addition urged them to observe “recommendation from well being consultants.”

In a statement released by his office, Mr. Magufuli stated his authorities had by no means barred individuals from sporting masks however urged them to make use of solely these made in Tanzania.

“The masks imported from outdoors the nation are suspected of being unsafe,” the assertion stated.

Mr. Magufuli’s feedback come a day after the director-general of the World Well being Group urged the nation to start out reporting coronavirus circumstances and share information.

Mr. Magufuli, 61, who was re-elected final October, has derided social distancing, publicized unproven therapies as a treatment for the virus, questioned the efficacy of coronavirus testing kits provided by the Africa Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention and stated that “vaccines don’t work.”

But well being consultants, spiritual entities and overseas embassies have issued warnings in regards to the rising variety of circumstances — and as deaths observe, the fact is tougher to dismiss.

The vice chairman of the semiautonomous island of Zanzibar, Seif Sharif Hamad, died final week after contracting the virus, according to his political party. The US Embassy in Tanzania additionally stated in a press release it was “conscious of a big improve within the variety of Covid-19 circumstances” since January.

Lawmakers are more and more asking the well being authorities to elucidate why so many individuals had been dying from respiratory issues.

Talking on Friday on the funeral of a authorities official, nonetheless, Mr. Magufuli stated that residents ought to put God first and never be instilled with concern in regards to the virus.

“It’s attainable that we wronged God someplace,” he said. “So let’s stand with God, my fellow Tanzanians.”

In his assertion, the W.H.O. chief, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, stated he had spoken to “a number of authorities” within the nation about their plans to mitigate the unfold of the coronavirus however had but to obtain any response.

“This example stays very regarding,” he stated.

In different information from all over the world:

  • The French Riviera, the famed strip alongside the Mediterranean coast that features jet-setting scorching spots like Saint-Tropez and Cannes, will probably be locked down over the following two weekends in an try to struggle again a spike in coronavirus infections. An infection charges surged as many French individuals flocked to the coast to flee gloomy cities like Paris.

  • Hong Kong’s chief govt, Carrie Lam, and different prime officers acquired the Sinovac coronavirus vaccine on Monday because the semiautonomous Chinese language territory prepares to start its mass inoculation marketing campaign. Widespread vaccinations are set to start on Friday, with well being care employees, individuals over 60, and nursing house residents and workers members receiving them first.

  • In an effort to hurry up vaccinations in Bulgaria, Prime Minister Boiko Borisov referred to as for “inexperienced corridors” permitting anybody who needed a vaccination to get one. The response seems to be higher than anticipated: The strains evoked the interval of communist rule, when individuals would spend hours ready to get primary provides like oil or meat.

  • Spain reported on Monday its lowest positivity charge of the yr. The nation has additionally given out over 3 million doses of vaccine since late December, when its vaccination rollout started. Over the weekend, there have been 20,849 new confirmed circumstances, down from over 30,000 the earlier weekend, in keeping with Spain’s well being ministry. Nonetheless, Fernando Simón, the pinnacle of Spain’s well being emergency middle, advised a information convention on Monday night that the encouraging trendline shouldn’t lead regional authorities to push for “an extreme leisure” of lockdown measures.

Gov. Philip D. Murphy of New Jersey will allow 10 percent seating capacity at indoor sports and entertainment venues with 5,000 or more seats, and 15 percent at outdoor venues.
Credit score…Mike Stobe/Getty Photographs

New Jersey, house to a number of main league sports activities groups, will permit a restricted variety of followers to attend sports activities and leisure occasions at venues with 5,000 or extra seats as quickly as subsequent week, Gov. Philip D. Murphy stated on Monday.

Indoor venues will probably be restricted to 10 % of their seating capability, whereas outside venues will probably be restricted to fifteen % capability, Mr. Murphy stated in a radio interview on WFAN. The occasions can start subsequent Monday at 6 a.m.

Mr. Murphy’s announcement comes two weeks after an analogous choice by New York’s governor, Andrew M. Cuomo, whose plan allowed followers at venues with 10,000 or extra seats beginning this week, supplied that seating is proscribed to 10 % of the venue’s capability.

Mr. Cuomo’s announcement coated a number of New York Metropolis-area sports activities franchises, just like the Nets, Knicks, Rangers and Islanders, which may start to have followers within the stands as quickly as Tuesday. Attendees in New York have to indicate proof of a unfavorable P.C.R. take a look at for the coronavirus taken inside 72 hours of the occasion.

Mr. Murphy stated that New Jersey wouldn’t require take a look at outcomes, however individuals on the venues will probably be required to put on face coverings at video games and stay socially distanced. Public well being consultants say when contemplating indoor gatherings, the standard of air flow is essential as a result of the virus is understood to unfold extra simply indoors.

Circumstances in New Jersey, whereas nonetheless excessive, are actually on the decline, nearing ranges reported in early November. During the last seven days the state averaged 33 circumstances per 100,000 residents every day, as of Sunday. That was the third-highest charge per capita of latest circumstances within the final week, after New York and South Carolina.

The governor’s announcement will permit his state’s professional hockey crew, the Devils, to play house video games beginning subsequent Tuesday, the crew’s first house sport after the change takes impact.

“This can be a day towards which our complete workers has been planning, working, and looking out ahead to for the previous 11 months,” stated the crew’s president, Jake Reynolds, in a press release.

The state additionally has two professional soccer groups, the Giants and the Jets; a Main League Soccer crew, the Crimson Bulls; and a Nationwide Girls’s Soccer League franchise, Sky Blue F.C. Mr. Murphy stated he hoped these groups would nonetheless be capable of have followers when their seasons started later this yr.

“I’ll be shocked if we’re not at the next stage of capability for Jets, Giants, Rutgers soccer, you identify it, as we get into the summer season and fall,” Mr. Murphy stated.

A number of different states have already permitted sports activities followers inside venues throughout the pandemic, particularly at outside stadiums for soccer and baseball. However Mr. Cuomo and Mr. Murphy had resisted till December, when Mr. Cuomo labored with the N.F.L. to permit a restricted variety of followers at a Buffalo Payments playoff sport of their open-air stadium.

Mr. Murphy additionally stated that New Jersey would begin to permit mother and father and guardians to observe their kids play each indoor and outside school sports activities, supplied venues meet capability limits, on Monday. The state reopened highschool sports activities to oldsters earlier this month, with indoor attendance restricted to 35 % or 150 individuals.

New Jersey may even permit homes of worship and non secular companies to function at 50 % capability efficient Monday, the governor stated. The restrict is a rise from the earlier cap of 35 % most capability as much as 150 individuals.

Alison Saldanha contributed reporting.

Patricia Carrete, a nurse, during a night shift at a field hospital in Cranston, R.I., this month.
Credit score…David Goldman/Related Press

The variety of Individuals hospitalized for Covid-19 is at its lowest since early November, simply earlier than the surge that went on to ravage the nation for months.

There have been 56,159 individuals hospitalized as of Feb. 21, in keeping with the Covid Monitoring Challenge. That’s the bottom since Nov. 7. It’s a putting decline for a nation that’s approaching 500,000 whole deaths and as soon as had a few of the world’s worst coronavirus scorching spots.

Whereas deaths stay excessive, as a result of it will possibly take weeks for sufferers to die from Covid-19, the variety of U.S. hospitalizations has steadily and quickly declined since mid-January, when the seven-day common reached about 130,000, in keeping with a New York Occasions database. Consultants attributed that peak to crowds gathering indoors in colder climate, particularly throughout the holidays, when extra individuals traveled than at some other time throughout the pandemic.

Consultants have pointed to quite a lot of explanations for why the nation’s coronavirus metrics have been enhancing over the previous few months: extra widespread masks use and social distancing after individuals noticed associates and relations die, higher information about which restrictions work, simpler public well being messaging, and, extra not too long ago, a rising quantity of people that have been vaccinated. Essentially the most weak, like residents of nursing properties and different aged individuals, had been among the many first to obtain the vaccine.

Whereas scientists hope the worst is behind us, some warn of one other spike in circumstances within the coming weeks, or a “fourth wave,” if individuals turn into complacent about masks and distancing, states raise restrictions too shortly or the extra contagious variants turn into dominant and are capable of evade vaccines.

The change may be felt most tangibly in intensive care models: Heading into her evening shift within the I.C.U. at Presbyterian Rust Medical Heart in Rio Rancho, N.M., Dr. Denise A. Gonzales, the medical director, stated she had seen a distinction in her workers.

“Individuals are smiling. They’re optimistic,” she stated. “They’re planning for the longer term.” In the course of the worst of the disaster, “working in such a extremely intense atmosphere the place individuals are so sick and are on a lot assist and realizing that statistically only a few are going to get higher — that’s overwhelming.”

Although the winter wave that hit her hospital system was “twice as unhealthy” because the summer season surge, she stated it appeared extra manageable as a result of hospitals had ready to maneuver sufferers round, workers had extra information about P.P.E. and therapy therapies, and services had higher airflow.

On the CoxHealth hospital system in Springfield, Mo., there was a “moment of celebration” as workers emptied the emergency Covid-19 I.C.U. wing constructed final spring. “Now we have not defeated this illness,” stated Steve Edwards, the system’s chief govt. “However the closing of this unit, not less than for now, is an amazing symbolic victory.”

Employees members sporting biohazard fits and heavy-duty masks had been pictured in a uncommon event of aid and pleasure that Mr. Edwards shared on Twitter.

Dr. Kyan C. Safavi, the medical director of a gaggle that tracks Covid-19 hospitalizations at Massachusetts Common Hospital in Boston, stated the variety of newly admitted sufferers has dropped sharply. The hospital is admitting about 10 to fifteen new sufferers every day, a decline of about 50 % from early January, Dr. Safavi stated.

“Everyone’s bodily exhausted — and possibly slightly bit mentally exhausted — however extremely hopeful,” Dr. Safavi stated.

Originally from Lebanon, Tarek Wazzan is against any vaccines. He is the owner of Lebanese Eatery, a restaurant in Port Richmond. Before the pandemic, Wazzan refused to vaccinate his children and subsequently was not able to send them to school so they are home-schooled.
Credit score…Kirsten Luce for The New York Occasions

Round the US, the vaccine rollout has mirrored the identical troubling inequalities because the pandemic’s demise toll, leaving Black, Latino and poorer individuals at a drawback. In New York Metropolis, house to greater than three million immigrants from all around the world, information launched final week means that vaccination charges in immigrant enclaves scattered throughout the 5 boroughs are among the many metropolis’s lowest.

This month, The New York Occasions interviewed 115 individuals residing in predominantly immigrant neighborhoods in regards to the rollout and their attitudes towards the vaccines.

Solely eight individuals stated they’d acquired a shot. The interviews revealed language and expertise roadblocks: Some believed there have been no vaccine websites close by. Others described distrust in authorities officers and the well being care system. Many expressed fears about vaccine security fomented by information experiences and social media.

The broader public could discover it obscure why individuals in communities ravaged by the coronavirus can be reluctant to line as much as get vaccinated, stated Marcella J. Tillett, the vice chairman of applications and partnerships on the Brooklyn Group Basis.

“That is the place there was a whole lot of sickness and demise,” stated Ms. Tillett, whose basis is distributing funds to social service organizations for vaccine training and outreach. “The concept that individuals are simply going to step out and belief a system that has harmed them is nonsensical.”

To make certain, hundreds of immigrant New Yorkers have gotten vaccinated, navigating the system with endurance, if not ease. Others have relied on social service organizations. BronxWorks not too long ago held a five-day vaccine pop-up on the Grand Concourse within the Bronx, administering lots of of pictures every day.

To extend participation in immigrant enclaves and communities of shade, town has opened vaccine mega-sites at Yankee Stadium within the Bronx and Citi Discipline in Queens, which supply vaccinations to eligible residents of every borough. (There have been experiences of suburbanites coming in to assert doses.)

The state is holding on-line “fireplace chats” in a number of languages, opening new websites in Brooklyn and Queens, and persevering with to carry pop-up websites to neighborhood organizations.

On Monday, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo stated that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority would enhance bus service to the 2 new vaccine websites from public housing tasks and neighborhood facilities in Brooklyn and Queens to higher serve Black, Latino and poorer New Yorkers who’re most weak to the virus.

Nonetheless, obstacles stay.

Bottles of disinfectant sit on a table at Hickory Hills Elementary School in Marietta, Ga.
Credit score…Audra Melton for The New York Occasions

Coronavirus clusters at six elementary faculties in Georgia resulted from poor social distancing and, to a lesser extent, insufficient masks use by college students, public well being officers reported on Monday.

Academics performed a job in transmitting the virus in all however one of many clusters, and two of the clusters in all probability concerned teacher-to-teacher transmission that was adopted by trainer to scholar transmission, the examine discovered.

Researchers from the Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention examined 9 clusters of three or extra linked infections involving academics and college students in Cobb County, Ga., between Dec. 1 and Jan. 22, a interval when the county, in suburban Atlanta, was experiencing a surge in circumstances.

Some 2,600 elementary college college students — about 80 % of the district’s whole — had been going to high school in individual on the time, and a few 700 workers members had been working in individual.

The researchers recognized transmission clusters involving 13 educators and 32 college students at six faculties within the county; some faculties had multiple cluster.

In 4 of the 9 clusters, an educator was recognized because the index affected person, or authentic supply of an infection. One cluster had a scholar because the index affected person, and the researchers couldn’t decide who the index affected person was in the remaining.

The examine was restricted in some ways, the investigators conceded. They stated it was “difficult” to attempt to distinguish between infections acquired in school and those who had been acquired in the neighborhood.

Some clusters could have been missed, they stated, as a result of virtually half the individuals who had been recognized by means of contact tracing as having probably been uncovered refused to be examined.

As a result of contaminated adults usually tend to have signs and be examined, academics could have been recognized extra continuously than college students as index circumstances, the researchers stated, whereas cases of student-to-student or student-to-teacher transmission could have gone undetected.

Even so, the authors stated, their findings had been according to research in different nations. One in Britain discovered that transmission at faculties occurred most frequently from trainer to trainer; a German examine discovered that in-school transmission charges had been thrice as excessive when the cluster started with an educator, somewhat than a scholar.

The C.D.C. investigators urged academics to observe precautions to forestall coronavirus an infection when they aren’t at school, and to restrict their interactions with colleagues at conferences and over lunch.

In addition they referred to as for academics to be vaccinated. “Though not a requirement for reopening faculties, including Covid-19 vaccination for educators as a further mitigation measure, when obtainable, would possibly serve a number of vital capabilities, together with defending educators in danger for extreme Covid-19 related sickness, probably lowering at school SARS-CoV-2 transmission and minimizing interruption to in-person studying,” the researchers stated.

People waiting to receive the Moderna vaccine in San Diego last month.
Credit score…Ariana Drehsler for The New York Occasions

A coronavirus testing marketing campaign in San Francisco has discovered extra proof {that a} variant first noticed in California could also be extra contagious.

greater than 600 circumstances in one of many metropolis’s predominantly Latino communities, scientists discovered that the proportion of virus samples carrying this variant enormously elevated from late November to late January.

Though the examine was comparatively small, and nobody is aware of whether or not the variant impacts the effectiveness of vaccines, “this isn’t the time to let down the guard,” stated Joe DeRisi, the co-president of the Chan Zuckerberg Biohub and one of many scientists concerned within the new examine. A extra contagious variant might threaten to reverse the decline in circumstances seen over the previous couple of months in California and elsewhere.

The outcomes had been introduced on Monday by the College of California at San Francisco, which carried out the analysis in collaboration with the ​Chan Zuckerberg Biohub, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, and the ​Latino Process Drive for Covid-19. The info haven’t but been printed.

The variant first got here to gentle on Jan. 17, when the California Division of Public Well being reported that it had turn into noticeably widespread in a number of communities throughout the state. The variant, which has passed by a number of names, is now generally known as B.1.429.

The variant might need turn into widespread in one in all two methods. It is perhaps extra contagious, or it’d merely have gone by means of a superspreading occasion, fueling its unfold. “Simply by random likelihood, a foul wedding ceremony or choir apply can create a big frequency distinction,” Dr. DeRisi stated.

Quickly after the announcement, researchers on the Cedars-Sinai Medical Heart in Los Angeles reported that B.1.429 was quickly changing into extra widespread round that metropolis. However these findings had been based mostly on a restricted pattern of simply 185 coronavirus genomes that had been absolutely sequenced.

To get extra samples, Dr. DeRisi and his colleagues targeted their efforts on the predominantly Latino neighborhood within the Mission District neighborhood. There they’ve been working a neighborhood testing program since final April, referred to as Unidos en Salud​.

their samples from late November, the researchers discovered that 16 % of the coronaviruses belonged to B.1.429. By January, after sequencing 630 genomes, the crew discovered 53 % had been B.1.429.

As a result of the researchers had been working their checks in a neighborhood, they might examine how the B.1.429 variant unfold from individual to individual. In some circumstances, complete households got here to get examined. In different circumstances, the researchers adopted up on optimistic checks to ask if they might take a look at different individuals in the identical family. The researchers studied the unfold of B.1.429 and different variants in 326 households.

The researchers discovered that B.1.429 was extra prone to unfold amongst individuals residing in the identical home than different variants had been. Individuals had a 35 % likelihood of getting contaminated if another person of their house was contaminated with the B.1.429 variant. If the individual was contaminated with one other variant, the speed was solely 26 %.

“What we see is a modest, however significant distinction,” Dr. DeRisi stated.

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