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Coronavirus update: More deaths than the 1918 pandemic, Johnson & Johnson promotes its booster

Children lead in new infections

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Photo (c) Onurdongel - Getty Images
Coronavirus‌ ‌(COVID-19)‌ ‌tally‌ ‌as‌ ‌‌compiled‌‌ ‌by‌ ‌Johns‌ ‌Hopkins‌ ‌University.‌ ‌(Previous‌ ‌numbers‌ ‌in‌ ‌parentheses.)‌

Total‌ ‌U.S.‌ ‌confirmed‌ ‌cases:‌ 42,294,019 (42,091,633)‌

Total‌ ‌U.S.‌ ‌deaths:‌ 676,347 (673,781)

Total‌ ‌global‌ ‌cases:‌ 229,222,879 (228, 678,343)

Total‌ ‌global‌ ‌deaths:‌ 4,702,936 (4,695,251)‌

COVID-19 death toll eclipses Spanish Flu pandemic

The U.S. passed a grim milestone this week as the death toll from COVID-19 has surpassed the number of deaths from the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918. That pandemic claimed an estimated 675,000 American lives between 1918 and 1921.

More than 676,000 American deaths have been attributed to the coronavirus pandemic, which began in early 2020. The U.S. death toll has risen this year despite the widespread availability of COVID-19 vaccines.

A century ago, the health profession had few weapons to fight against the flu. There was no vaccine, and the first antibiotic, penicillin, wasn’t invented until 1928.

J&J offers data showing the effectiveness of its booster

While the widespread deployment of booster shots is far from a settled issue, Johnson & Johnson has offered data showing a second shot of its vaccine, administered two months after the first, is 94% effective against moderate to severe COVID-19 cases.

Company officials say the effectiveness of the booster is so high because of the initial dose, which they say produces a significant antibody response.

“Our single-shot vaccine generates strong immune responses and long-lasting immune memory,” said Dr. Mathai Mammen, a top executive at Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen Research & Development. “And, when a booster of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine is given, the strength of protection against COVID-19 further increases.”

An increasing number of kids are getting COVID-19

A report from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) shows cases of COVID-19 among children have increased “exponentially,” especially since schools opened for the fall term. The report says children now account for about 26% of all new cases of the virus.

"After declining in early summer, child cases have increased exponentially, with over 925,000 cases in the past four weeks," AAP said in a statement.

Children may be especially vulnerable since those under age 12 are not yet eligible for vaccination. Health experts predict the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will focus on evaluating vaccinations for kids in the coming weeks. Pfizer has released data that it says shows its vaccine is safe and effective for children between the ages of five and 11.

Around the nation

  • Texas: With COVID-19 cases surging, more restaurants are requiring diners to wear masks, but the opposite is true at a restaurant near Dallas. A couple who wore masks because they have an immunocompromised newborn at home were told the restaurant had a “no-mask” policy. When they declined to remove their masks, they were told to leave.

  • Michigan: State health officials are dealing with what they say is a significant increase in COVID-19 outbreaks. They’ve identified 583 active outbreaks that occurred last week. That’s a 31% increase from the previous week when there were 444 outbreaks.

  • California: California is one of the states where cases were surging just a few weeks ago but now appear to be well under control. The latest data from the COVID-19 tracker at Johns Hopkins University shows just 24.99 new confirmed cases for every 100,000 people in the state.

  • West Virginia: West Virginia was a model of effectiveness during the vaccine rollout earlier this year. But despite that, state health officials are dealing with mounting cases that are straining resources. Officials say cases and hospitalizations are currently at a pandemic high.

  • Nebraska: State officials discontinued Nebraska’s COVID-19 dashboard when cases of the virus declined sharply back in June. Monday, the state brought it back amid a statewide surge in cases. State officials say only about half of Nebraska’s population is fully vaccinated.

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