Follow our coverage of the coronavirus pandemic, vaccines and the Delta Variant.
The F.D.A. is aiming to give full approval to Pfizer’s Covid vaccine on Monday. Pfizer vaccines were administered at the St. John Chrysostom Catholic Parish in The Bronx on Sunday. Credit… James Estrin/The New York Times The Food and Drug Administration is pushing to approve Pfizer-BioNTech’s two-dose Covid-19 vaccine on Monday, further expediting an earlier timeline for licensing the shot, according to people familiar with the agency’s planning. Regulators were working to finish the process by Friday but were still working through a substantial amount of paperwork and negotiation with the company. The people familiar with the planning, who were not authorized to speak publicly about it, cautioned that the approval might slide beyond Monday if some components of the review need more time. An F.D.A. spokeswoman declined to comment. The agency had recently set an unofficial deadline for approval of around Labor Day. The approval is expected to pave the way for a series of vaccination requirements by public and private organizations who were awaiting final regulatory action before putting in effect mandates. Federal and state health officials are also hoping that an approved vaccine will draw interest from some Americans who have been hesitant to take one that was only authorized for emergency use, a phenomenon suggested by recent polling. Some universities and hospitals are expected to mandate inoculation once a vaccine is fully approved. The Pentagon this month said it planned to make Covid vaccinations mandatory for the country’s 1.3 million active-duty troops “no later” than the middle of next month, or sooner if the F.D.A. acts earlier. Once it obtains the approval, Pfizer-BioNTech is planning to quickly ask the F.D.A. to approve a third dose as a booster shot. The Biden administration on Wednesday announced that fully vaccinated adults should prepare to get booster shots eight months after they received their second doses, beginning Sept. 20. Pfizer is expected to finish submitting data that it says shows a third shot is safe and effective next week. The F.D.A. last week updated its authorizations of Pfizer-BioNTech’s and Moderna’s vaccines to allow third doses for some immunocompromised people, a decision backed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Regulators are still reviewing Moderna’s application for full approval for its coronavirus vaccine, and a decision could come at least several weeks after the one for Pfizer-BioNTech. Moderna is planning to submit its data in support of a booster shot in September. Noah Weiland and Read more
Jesse Jackson and his wife, Jacqueline, are hospitalized with Covid-19. The Rev. Jesse Jackson speaking at a voting rights demonstration this month in Washington. Credit… Jose Luis Magana/Associated Press The Rev. Jesse Jackson and his wife, Jacqueline, have been hospitalized after testing positive for Covid-19, Mr. Jackson’s Rainbow PUSH Coalition said on Saturday in a statement. Both were being treated at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago, The Associated Press reported. “Doctors are currently monitoring the condition of both,” the statement read. No further details were available about their condition. Mr. Jackson is 79, and Jacqueline Jackson is 77. Mr. Jackson got vaccinated in January. He has been campaigning to convince more Black Americans to get inoculated. “Vaccination is imperative to save lives, particularly for African Americans, disproportionately the greatest victims of the virus,” he said at the time. He revealed in 2017 that he had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Mr. Jackson has been a civil rights advocate for more than 50 years and sought the Democratic presidential nominations in 1984 and 1988. He was a close associate of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Read more
Continue reading the main story
Phil Valentine, a radio host who scoffed at Covid, then urged his followers to get vaccinated, dies. Phil Valentine, a conservative radio personality, once wrote that his chances of dying from Covid-19, should he become infected, were probably “way less than one percent.” Credit… Shelley Mays/The Tennessean Phil Valentine, a prominent conservative radio host in Tennessee who refused to get vaccinated, then urged his followers to get a shot after being hospitalized with Covid-19, has died, his station said on Saturday. Mr. Valentine scoffed at the need for vaccines, writing on his blog that his chances of dying from the virus, should he become infected, were “way less than one percent.” He announced his Covid-19 diagnosis on July 11 and pledged to return to his show within a day or two. “Unfortunately for the haters out there, it looks like I’m going to make it,” he wrote. “Interesting experience. I’ll have to fill you in when I come back on the air. I’m hoping that will be tomorrow, but I may take a day off just as a precaution.” Less than two weeks later, his radio station, 99.7 WTN, announced that the Nashville host was hospitalized “in very serious condition, suffering from Covid pneumonia.” The statement said Mr. Valentine had had a change of heart and urged others to get a vaccine. “Phil would like for his listeners to know that while he has never been an ‘anti-vaxer’ he regrets not being more vehemently ‘pro-vaccine,’ and looks forward to being able to more vigorously advocate that position as soon as he is back on the air, which we all hope will be soon,” the station said. Some people responded to the announcement with words of support for Mr. Valentine, while others said he deserved to get sick. On Saturday, the station announced on Twitter that Mr. Valentine had died, urging followers to “keep the Valentine family in your thoughts and prayers.” We are saddened to report that our host and friend Phil Valentine has passed away. Please keep the Valentine family in your thoughts and prayers. pic.twitter.com/vhXpE7x0oX — SuperTalk 99.7 WTN (@997wtn) August 21, 2021 Read more
The British government is starting an antibody surveillance program. Health workers at an N.H.S. test and trace Covid testing unit at the Civic Centre west of London, in May. Credit… Adrian Dennis/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images The British government is starting an antibody surveillance program for adults who test positive for the coronavirus in order to develop a better understanding of its vaccine campaign and the immune response to different virus variants. The program, which the U.K. Health Security Agency said would begin on Tuesday, will allow for up to 8,000 participants each day who book a P.C.R. test through the National Health Service’s “test and trace” program. However, the antibody tests, which will be free, will be sent only to those who test positive for the virus. The information gathered will help gauge reinfection rates for those who had previously caught the virus, as well as measure breakthrough cases, and also study those who did not mount an immune response. The British health secretary, Sajid Javid, said in a statement on Sunday that those who take part in the new public program would help “strengthen our understanding of Covid-19 as we cautiously return to a more normal life.” United Kingdom Coronavirus Map and Case Count See the latest charts and maps of coronavirus cases, deaths, hospitalizations and vaccinations in United Kingdom. Previously, antibody tests were mostly available for only clinical or research purposes. The Health Security Agency said that it hoped that the data collected from the initiative would improve its understanding of the protection provided by antibodies after either infection or vaccination. It said the data could also provide insight about those who do not develop an immune response. Upon testing positive for the coronavirus, those who have opted into the new program — limited to those 18 and over — will be sent two finger-prick antibody tests. The first must be done as soon as possible after the P.C.R. result, before the body has time to generate antibodies in response to the current infection, and the second 28 days later. Read more
Continue reading the main story
Severe weather forces the cancellation of the concert to celebrate New York City’s return after the pandemic. Thousands were enjoying the music when lightning interrupted We Love NYC: The Homecoming Concert. Credit… Kena Betancur/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images It was supposed to be a glorious celebration of the re-emergence of New York City after more than a year of pandemic hardship — a concert bringing thousands of vaccinated fans on Saturday evening to the Great Lawn of Central Park to hear an all-star lineup. And for the first couple of hours it was, with messages of New York’s resilience sandwiched between performances by the New York Philharmonic, Jennifer Hudson, Carlos Santana, LL Cool J, and Earth, Wind and Fire, among others. But shortly after 7:30 p.m., as Barry Manilow was performing “Can’t Smile Without You,” lightning brought the concert to a halt. “Please seek shelter for your safety,” an announcer intoned, stopping the music, as people began filing out of the park. When the concert was announced by Mr. de Blasio in June, plunging coronavirus case numbers and rising vaccination figures had filled the city with hope. But circumstances have shifted considerably over the past two months. The spread of the highly contagious Delta variant has led some city businesses to postpone the return to their offices, prompted the city to institute vaccine mandates for indoor dining and entertainment and threatened to destabilize the wider concert business.
Continue reading the main story
Global Roundup Sri Lanka issues a lockdown to stem its Covid surge, and other news from around the world. Sri Lanka issued a 10-day lockdown on Friday night in an effort to prevent further spread of the coronavirus there. Credit… Chamila Karunarathne/EPA, via Shutterstock After a surge in Covid-19 cases and deaths, Sri Lanka issued a 10-day lockdown on Friday night in an effort to prevent the country’s health system from becoming overwhelmed. The island nation in South Asia has recorded more than 3,600 cases a day since Tuesday, according to government health data. Keheliya Rambukwella, the country’s health minister, said on Twitter that essential services would still function normally and that vaccination efforts would continue during the lockdown. “I sincerely request all citizens to adhere to the law and #StayHome,” he said on Twitter, pleading that the public do all they can as the country confronts a surging caseload. Last week, the World Health Organization provided emergency medical equipment, including beds and oxygen concentrators, to 78 hospitals in Sri Lanka. Dr. Alaka Singh, the W.H.O. representative to Sri Lanka, said in a statement that the organization would provide a “supply of urgent lifesaving equipment to hospitals across the country.” The country has already put in place a number of restrictions, such as closing schools and gyms and banning musical shows and weddings. Sri Lanka has fully vaccinated about a quarter of its population. The country has recorded more than 385,000 Covid cases and 7,183 deaths since the start of the pandemic. In other news from around the world: Vietnam recorded 10,654 cases on Friday, one of its highest daily tallies during the pandemic, according to statistics from the W.H.O. Ho Chi Minh, the country’s largest city, issued stay-at-home orders. Just 1.6 percent of the country’s population is fully vaccinated.
The authorities in China placed hundreds of people in quarantine after infections were detected in cargo workers at the Shanghai airport, according to Reuters. Read more
In Melbourne, Australia, a protest against Covid restrictions turned violent. Police officers used pepper spray against demonstrators in Melbourne, Australia, on Saturday. Credit… William West/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images MELBOURNE, Australia — Protesters in Melbourne demonstrating against Covid restrictions on Saturday clashed with the police, who used pepper spray to disperse them. Several officers were injured and hundreds of people were arrested, the police said. More than 4,000 people joined the protest, one of a number of anti-lockdown demonstrations that were held on Saturday in Australian cities. Protesters in Melbourne, most of whom appeared not to be wearing masks, charged police lines, threw objects at officers and set off flares, according to news reports and footage posted on social media. Four officers were treated for concussions, one for a broken thumb and two others for possible broken noses, according to the police in the state of Victoria, which includes Melbourne. Another officer was treated at the scene for a cut on the neck. The police said it was the first time officers had been forced to use “a range of nonlethal options” to disperse anti-lockdown protesters in Melbourne, which has seen a number of demonstrations against restrictions. Officers fired pellets and used pepper spray. “While there were some peaceful protesters in attendance, the majority of those who attended came with violence in mind,” the police said in a statement. Earlier Saturday, Daniel Andrews, the premier of Victoria, extended Melbourne’s lockdown, which has been in place since early August, to the entire state, after 17 new cases were detected in the regional hub of Shepparton. Restrictions in Melbourne were also tightened. Child care is now only available to essential workers, and the authorities are recommending that children wear masks. A much smaller protest was held on Saturday in Sydney, the epicenter of Australia’s current Covid outbreak, in which the Delta variant of the virus has been dominant. New South Wales, the state that includes Sydney, reported 825 new cases on Saturday, the most since the pandemic began. Roughly 250 people attended the Sydney protest, vastly outnumbered by about 1,500 officers patrolling the streets, officials said. Forty-seven people were arrested and 260 tickets were issued for violations of Covid restrictions. The authorities in Sydney had barred taxis and ride-share services from taking people to the central business district in an attempt to head off the protest. Trains had also been prevented from stopping at stations in the area. “Anybody who attends the protest tomorrow is going to feel the full force of the N.S.W. police force,” David Elliott, police commissioner of the state of New South Wales, which includes Sydney, said on Friday. “You’ll also be endangering the lives of your loved ones and of course prolonging this lockdown. You’re going to be doing everything you want to stop.” Earlier this week, Mr. Elliott said it was “no coincidence” that a recent spike in the number of daily infections in the state had followed an anti-lockdown protest three weeks ago. About 5,000 people attended a peaceful protest on Saturday in Brisbane, where no restrictions are in place, according to the local police. Read more
Continue reading the main story
Hospital staff shortages in the U.S. are putting patients at risk. A Covid patient at Ocean Springs Hospital in Mississippi, part of the Singing River nonprofit health system, which has 169 unfilled nursing positions. Credit… Rory Doyle for The New York Times Cyndy O’Brien, an emergency room nurse at Ocean Springs Hospital on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi, could not believe her eyes as she arrived for work. There were people sprawled out in their cars gasping for air as three ambulances with gravely ill patients idled in the parking lot. Just inside the front doors, a crush of anxious people jostled to get the attention of an overwhelmed triage nurse. “It’s like a war zone,” said Ms. O’Brien, who is the patient care coordinator at Singing River, a small health system near the Alabama border that includes Ocean Springs. “We are just barraged with patients and have nowhere to put them.” The bottleneck, however, has little to do with a lack of space. Nearly 30 percent of Singing River’s 500 beds are empty. With 169 unfilled nursing positions, administrators must keep the beds empty. Nursing shortages have long vexed hospitals. But in the year and a half since its ferocious debut in the United States, the coronavirus pandemic has stretched the nation’s nurses as never before, testing their skills and stamina as desperately ill patients with a poorly understood malady flooded emergency rooms. Spurred by a sense of duty, they flocked from across the country, sometimes working as volunteers. More than 1,200 of them have died from the virus. Now, as the highly contagious Delta variant pummels the United States, bedside nurses are depleted and traumatized, their ranks thinned by early retirements or career shifts that traded the emergency room for less stressful nursing jobs at schools, summer camps and private doctor’s offices. Across the country, the shortages are complicating efforts to treat hospitalized coronavirus patients, leading to longer emergency room waiting times and rushed or inadequate care as health workers struggle to treat patients who often require exacting, round-the-clock attention, according to interviews with hospital executives, state health officials and medical workers who have spent the past 17 months in the trenches. Read more