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Pandemic

Editorial: COVID-19 exposed truths we can no longer ignore

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Since the magnitude of the threat posed by a new strain of coronavirus became apparent in early 2020, California, the nation and the world have seen a massive upheaval in daily life. More than 170 million coronavirus cases, a likely too low number, have been confirmed worldwide and more than 3.7 million people have died from COVID-19 – nearly one in six in the United States and more than 62,000 here in California.

The virus has devastated families; The economic shock from the pandemic and the resulting home-from-home orders have left more than 20 million people unemployed and cost more than $ 17 trillion in economic activity. Then there are the psychological consequences of financial insecurity, tens of millions of parents pushed into the service as auxiliary teachers, and people who have to endure significant life events – marriage, birth, death of loved ones – without the close embrace of family and friends.

There is no silver lining in this disastrous event. But to move forward, America needs to recognize the ruptures, weaknesses and inequalities in many of our systems. We need to move from toxic individualism to collective uplift. We must recognize the role of genocide and slavery in spreading systemic racism while pursuing policies that benefit all vulnerable families who disproportionately bear the brunt of the pandemic. We need to renew faith in the expertise and science that made possible the life-saving vaccines that now need to be distributed around the world. It is imperative that the nation address – not just acknowledge – the realities that we cannot ignore.

There is a lot to analyze. Members of the Los Angeles Times Editorial Committee, each with expertise in specific areas, have reviewed some of these topics in editorials below, which offer insights, suggestions, and recipes for re-imagining how California and the nation do certain things .

An important lesson from the pandemic is that our economic system rewards wealth disproportionately while treating workers as disposable parts of a business plan rather than as people with inherent dignity and worth. Our unemployment insurance system needs a major rethink and instead of distributing a fraction of the income to those who have become unemployed, we should develop plans to help companies retain workers during short-term downturns while better positioning workers for their jobs Jobs are gone forever to turn to new hiring opportunities.

About half of Americans get their health insurance through their employers, fueling a system of great inequality and leading to a dark irony of the pandemic: Millions of suddenly unemployed lost the employer-provided health insurance they would need if they caught the virus That made them unemployed from the start. Universal coverage is essential, although we recognize that it will take moving through a particularly sensitive political Sleeping Beauty to get there. the state should at least start offering state health insurance.

We need a health system that people can rely on, that does not impoverish them through illness alone and that does not keep them locked in their jobs. Access to health care should be a basic human right, and we need to look for models that are cheaper and more comprehensive than the current one, where margins and motives feed into almost every level of care.

But there is much, much more to consider and do. We need full access to affordable childcare so that parents are not forced to choose between paychecks and their child. We need to better prepare for the next pandemic by creating a stronger and more reliable social safety net. We need to develop stronger preparedness plans, including stockpiling critical materials like personal protective equipment for healthcare providers, and then implementing them.

In addition to rethinking criminal justice as a system of vengeance and punishment, we need to help our California citizens live better, healthier, and safer lives while protecting society from those whose problems and behaviors make them too dangerous. We need to address the disproportionate impact of the virus – as well as extensive environmental risks – on people due to their economic status and living and working conditions.

We need to recognize that old models of working life are driven more by inertia and corporate culture than by the needs of companies or employees. We were reminded of what the sky could be like when our commuter cars collectively emit less of the lung irritant particles and greenhouse gases that fuel rising global temperatures.

Our pollution problems don’t start and end with the air, of course. Our consumer economy has also become a one-way economy, where the convenience of single-use plastics outweighs their environmental footprint, consumer goods are over-packaged, household products seem slated to be prematurely obsolete, and marketers are constantly admonishing us to ditch what we prefer in the next year’s model. We need to produce less linearly – raw materials are sold to consumers, then landfilled or occasionally recycled – and focus more on a more circular approach with less waste and longer-term support for usable products.

Our educational system has bent under the strain of the past 18 months, an experience that confirms how unequal the system can be. As schools return to classroom teaching, we should consider ways to better align educational practices and expectations with the world we all live in, including reassessing our reliance on college degrees as both an end result of education and Expectation in the workforce.

People shouldn’t have to go into debt for education that is beyond their needs and those of employers. At the same time, people who want these training courses should have access to them at a lower cost.

Even before the pandemic, Los Angeles in particular faced a terrifyingly persistent homelessness problem that only worsened as more people lost jobs and homes. We need to find better ways to ensure that people, in good times and bad, have safer options at night than a piece of cardboard under the stars. Recognizing the right to housing is a good place to start.

Overall, the nation has learned a lot from facing some uncomfortable truths during this pandemic, and we continue to learn. It is certainly a daunting task to reshape significant sections of society and governance, especially at a time when facts are too often viewed as malleable, trust in government is weak, and too many political leaders come up with lies, manipulations and Gamemanship instead of governance.

But it is a task that we still have to take on. We will be a better country for that.

Pandemic

Kremlin blames ‘nihilism’ as Moscow sees record COVID-19 infections

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A specialist wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) sprays disinfectant while disinfecting Rizhsky train station, one of the measures taken to contain the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Moscow, Russia, June 17, 2021. Moscow Department for Russian Emergencies Ministry / Handout via REUTERS

MOSCOW, June 18 (Reuters) – The Kremlin on Friday blamed a surge in COVID-19 cases on reluctance to get vaccinated for “nihilism” after fears raised a record of 9,000 new infections in the capital third wave had stoked.

Russia, the largest country in the world, reported 17,262 new coronavirus infections nationwide.

Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin extended the restrictions he had previously imposed, including a ban on public events with more than 1,000 people, the closure of cafes and restaurants at 11 p.m. and the closure of fan zones set up for the European Football Championship. Continue reading

Sobyanin said earlier this week that Moscow, home to 13 million people, was facing a new, more aggressive and contagious variant of the coronavirus and that the situation in the city was rapidly deteriorating.

It was not clear if he was referring to the Delta variant, which was first identified in India and which led to a resurgence of cases in the UK.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said President Vladimir Putin is closely monitoring the situation.

When asked to explain the increase in cases, Peskov blamed the virus’ “cunning nature”, an indication of its mutations, and “total nihilism and low vaccination rate”. Continue reading

At a briefing, he rejected the idea, postulated by some critics, that Russians were reluctant to vaccinate because they mistrusted the authorities.

As of June 2, the latest available census, only 18 million Russians had received at least one dose of vaccine: that is far less than most western countries for one eighth of the population.

The Moscow authorities this week ordered all workers with public functions to be vaccinated. Continue reading

Sobyanin said Friday he expected the city government to begin vaccinating migrant workers with Sputnik Light – a single dose of the Sputnik-V vaccine – early next month.

But he also said it was “vital” to give more booster doses – a third dose, in effect. He said he had just received a booster himself after being fully vaccinated twice a year ago.

He said the third dose offered was a repeat of the first dose of the double Sputnik-V vaccine.

Several Russian officials and members of the business elite, as well as some members of the public, have already secured third and fourth doses of Sputnik V, Reuters reported in April. Continue reading

How long a vaccine will protect against COVID-19 will be crucial as countries assess when or if re-vaccination is needed, and Russia’s results are closely monitored elsewhere.

Reporting by Gleb Stolyarov; Letter from Olzhas Auyezov; Editing by Maria Kisselyova

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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Pandemic

Global COVID-19 death toll exceeds 4 million

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June 18 (Reuters) – Coronavirus-related deaths worldwide passed a dismal 4 million milestone on Thursday, as many countries struggle to get enough vaccines to keep their populations safe, according to a Reuters tally.

While the number of new cases and deaths has declined in countries like the United States and the United Kingdom, several countries are experiencing vaccine shortages as the Delta variant becomes the dominant strain worldwide.

According to a Reuters analysis, it took over a year for the COVID-19 death toll to hit 2 million, while the next 2 million were recorded in just 166 days.

The five largest countries by total deaths – the United States, Brazil, India, Russia, and Mexico – account for about 50% of all deaths worldwide, while Peru, Hungary, Bosnia, the Czech Republic, and Gibraltar have the highest death rates when populations adjust is. (Chart on worldwide cases and deaths)

Countries in Latin America are facing the worst outbreak since March, with 43 out of 100 infections reported in the region worldwide, according to a Reuters analysis. The nine countries that reported the most deaths per capita in the past week were all in Latin America.

Hospitals in Bolivia, Chile and Uruguay mostly see COVID-19 patients between the ages of 25 and 40 as the trend towards younger patients continues. In Sao Paulo, Brazil, 80% of intensive care unit (ICU) inmates are COVID-19 patients.

Rising deaths are straining the operating capacity of crematoriums in developing countries, and gravediggers in several countries have been forced to add a number of new graves to cemeteries.

India and Brazil are the countries with the highest number of reported deaths on a seven-day average each day and are still facing cremation issues and shortage of burial sites. According to a Reuters analysis, India is responsible for every third death reported worldwide on a daily basis.

Many health experts believe the official death toll is underestimated worldwide, with the World Health Organization (WHO) estimating the death toll as much higher last month.

Last week, the Indian state of Bihar significantly increased its COVID-19 death toll after discovering thousands of unreported cases, adding weight to concerns that India’s total death toll is well above the official figure.

As poorer countries struggle to vaccinate their populations due to vaccine shortages, wealthier countries have been urged to donate more to help contain the pandemic.

“The main problem in America is access to vaccines, not vaccine acceptance,” said Carissa Etienne, director of the Pan American Health Organization, on Wednesday, urging donor countries to send vaccinations as soon as possible.

The Group of Seven (G7) rich nations had pledged to provide 1 billion COVID-19 vaccinations to help poorer countries vaccinate their populations.

(Corrects the day of the week in the first paragraph)

Reporting by Roshan Abraham and Ahmed Farhatha in Bengaluru; Additional coverage from Lasya Priya M; Edited by Lisa Shumaker and Karishma Singh

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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Pandemic

CureVac Shares Plunge Premarket on Disappointing Covid-19 Vaccine Trial

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Shares in Germany’s CureVac CVAC -3.47%

NV fell nearly in half in pre-trading hours, suggesting significant losses for investors as the market reopened after the drug company reported disappointing results from a study on its experimental Covid-19 vaccine.

Nasdaq-listed CureVac said late Wednesday that its vaccine was 47% effective against the disease in an interim analysis of a large clinical trial, a disappointing result that will likely cloud the vaccine’s prospects for wider use.

For the main listing in the US, shares fell 45% in over-the-counter trading. The shares of the Frankfurt-listed company traded 43% lower on Thursday.

The setback could hamper vaccination campaigns in Europe because the German company has a contract with the European Commission to supply up to 405 million doses, one of the bloc’s largest deals with a single company. CureVac has partnered with major pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline GSK 0.22%

SPS and Novartis AG

NVS -0.13%

to help make cans.

CureVac was once considered one of the most hopeful candidates for developing a successful Covid-19 vaccine. It received support from the German government, which had a 17% stake in the company, and the company was listed in the US last August. The company had a market valuation of $ 18.29 billion at the close of trading on Wednesday.

The share price had already declined in the past few days due to growing doubts about the study and the company’s ability to get its vaccine approved in Europe in the second quarter as planned.

A government spokesman declined to comment on the interim analysis, but said it would not affect the German vaccination schedule. On its website, the German Ministry of Health no longer includes CureVac in its vaccine delivery forecasts for the remainder of 2021.

CureVac’s vaccine uses a gene-based technology, messenger RNA, similar to that used by Moderna Inc.

and Pfizer Inc.,

with his partner BioNTech SE,

Manufacture Covid-19 vaccines.

In comparison, these vaccines were at least 94% effective in large clinical trials last year before new virus variants spread significantly. The Moderna and Pfizer shots have formed the backbone of mass vaccination campaigns in the US and other countries.

CureVac’s vaccine is slightly different from the Pfizer and Moderna shots, with a formulation that allows for storage at higher temperatures than the other shots.

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CureVac, together with its partner Bayer AG, carried out a combined clinical phase 2/3 study with its vaccine from December, in which around 40,000 people in 10 countries in Latin America and Europe took part.

The study volunteers received two doses of either the CureVac vaccine or a placebo, and the researchers tracked how many in each group got Covid-19.

The proliferation of new coronavirus variants may have played a role in the disappointing effectiveness, CureVac said.

Approximately 57% of Covid-19 cases for which virus sequence data was available were caused by variants of concern – those that are more easily transmitted or can cause more serious illness – and most of the remaining cases were caused by other, less characterized variants, announced the company.

“Although we had hoped for a stronger interim result, we are aware that demonstrating high efficacy in this unprecedented variety of variants is a challenge,” said Dr. Franz-Werner Haas, CEO of CureVac.

The company said the effectiveness of the vaccine in the study varied based on age, with results suggesting effectiveness in younger people but not conclusive effectiveness in those over 60 years of age.

CureVac’s early work on a Covid-19 vaccine last year first caught the attention of then-President Donald Trump. In March 2020, the German government accused the US of tricking CureVac into moving to the US to work on a vaccine.

The company continued to develop the shot after its founder, who returned as CEO, suffered a debilitating stroke and took medical break.

Write to Peter Loftus at peter.loftus@wsj.com

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