Fauci worries that people resisting vaccination on religious grounds may be confusing that motive with a philosophical objection
U.S. cases of, and hospitalizations from, the coronavirus-borne illness COVID-19 continued their recent steady decline on Monday, as the country seems to be moving past a July surge caused by the highly transmissible delta variant.
There are currently about 20,000 fewer COVID-19 patients in hospitals across the U.S. than there were at the beginning of September, according to a New York Times tracker, and new cases are averaging 106,941 a day, down 28% from two weeks ago.
But the daily death toll remains close to 2,000, and the overall number of fatalities surpassed 700,000 late Friday. Experts lament that at least 200,000 of those deaths were preventable as they came after vaccines became widely available, but many people living in the U.S. refused to get them.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's vaccine tracker is showing that 185.5 million people living in America are fully vaccinated, equal to about 56% of the population, a number that has remained relatively static for weeks.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and President Joe Biden's chief medical adviser, made his latest plea over the weekend for unvaccinated people to get their shots.
"I would hope that people would understand that all of this is for their benefit, for the safety of themselves, their family and their societal responsibility," Fauci said on CNN's "State of the Union," as the Associated Press reported
Fauci said he's worried that people resisting the authorized and even fully approved COVID-19 vaccines based on religious grounds may be confusing that stated motive with a philosophical objection.
The COVID-19 vaccine is no different in concept from receiving other vaccines such as that for measles, which has been done across society for many years, he said, adding that a public health review found "very, very few, literally less than a handful" of established religions that actually oppose vaccinations.
See:Mormon church's president thanks members for getting vaccinated
Religious exemptions have been on the rise since Biden last month announced sweeping new COVID-19 vaccine mandates covering more than 100 million Americans.
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At least three more airlines have joined United Airlines (UAL) in requiring employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19, as the Biden administration steps up pressure on major U.S. carriers to require the shots, the AP reported separately
American Airlines (AAL), Alaska Airlines (ALK) and JetBlue (JBLU) will ask all employees to get their shots, as they provide special flights, cargo hauling and other services for the government. The companies say that makes them government contractors and thus covered by a Biden order directing contractors to require that employees be vaccinated.
American Airlines CEO Doug Parker told employees late Friday that the airline is still working on details, but "it is clear that team members who choose to remain unvaccinated will not be able to work at American Airlines."
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The head of BioNTech (BNTX), the German partner to Pfizer (PFE) in developing its COVID-19 vaccine, told the Financial Times that a different vaccine may be required by next year if the virus keeps mutating to the point it is resistant to vaccines and immune systems.
U ur ahin, the BioNTech chief executive, expects the coming year's focus on booster shots for the vaccinated and a continued effort to vaccinate the unvaccinated, he said.
"We have no reason to assume that the next-generation virus will be easier to handle for the immune system than the existing generation," said ahin in an interview.
Elsewhere, New Zealand's government acknowledged Monday what most other countries had done long ago: that it can no longer completely get rid of the coronavirus
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced a cautious plan to ease lockdown restrictions in Auckland, despite an outbreak there that continues to simmer.
World tourism surged in July, thanks to vaccination rollouts and reduced travel restrictions, but traveler numbers still fell far short of pre-pandemic levels, the U.N.'s tourism body said Monday, as AFP reported Some 54 million tourists crossed international borders in July, the highest figure since April 2020, in the early months of the coronavirus crisis, the World Tourism Organization said in a statement. That was up 58% from last July.
There was more COVID-19 antiviral news following Merck's (MRK) announcement Friday that its experimental oral COVID-19 treatment helped keep people out of the hospital and from dying. RedHill Biopharma (RDHL) said new data from a Phase 2/3 clinical study evaluating its experimental oral antiviral opaganib in severely ill, hospitalized COVID-19 patients found it reduced mortality by 62% when evaluating 251 of the 475 patients enrolled in the study.
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An FDA advisory committee will discuss the submissions made by Moderna (MRNA) and Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) seeking authorization for their COVID-19 vaccine boosters at a meeting scheduled for Oct. 14 and 15.
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The global tally for the coronavirus-borne illness climbed above 235 million on Monday, while the death toll rose above 4.8 million, according to data aggregated by Johns Hopkins University.
The U.S. continues to lead the world with a total of nearly 43.7 million cases and 701,377 deaths.
India is second by cases after the U.S. at 33.8 million and has suffered 448,997 deaths. Brazil has the second highest death toll at 597,948 and 21.5 million cases.
In Europe, Russia has the most reported fatalities at 207,056, followed by the U.K. at 137,338.
China, where the virus was first discovered late in 2019, has had 108,560 confirmed cases and 4,809 deaths, according to its official numbers, which are widely held to be massively underreported.
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
October 05, 2021 06:59 ET (10:59 GMT)
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