Editor’s note: This is a live account of COVID-19 updates from Friday, May 20, as the day unfolded. It is no longer being updated. Click here to see all the most recent news about the pandemic, and click here to find additional resources.
Some patients who completed the treatment of the anti-COVID drug Paxlovid reported returning symptoms or positive tests, prompting health officials to urge individuals who become infectious once again to be cautious.
Meanwhile, advisers to the U.S. government on Thursday said kids ages 5 to 11 should get a booster dose of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention quickly adopted the panel’s recommendation, opening a third COVID-19 shot to healthy elementary-age kids — just like what is already recommended for everybody 12 and older. Here are a few ways to locate a vaccine for young children.
We’re updating this page with the latest news about the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects on the Seattle area, the U.S. and the world. Click here to see the rest of our coronavirus coverage and here to see how we track the daily spread across Washington.
Despite a landmark toll from COVID, there is still no U.S. memorial to the dead
Minutes before a crowd of lawmakers gathered on the steps of the Capitol last week to mark the impending U.S. death toll of 1 million from COVID-19, it began to rain.
The shower ended by the time that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other members of Congress walked down from the building, but the slate-gray sky — and an American flag waving at half-staff above them — set the somber tone of the event.
“Behind each number is a name of a person, beloved,” Bishop Mariann Edgar Budde, leader of Washington’s Episcopal diocese, said in prayer. “Far too many taken, much too soon, and sometimes alone.”
Minutes later, after a musical performance by the Air Force chorus and a moment of silence for COVID-19 victims, the lawmakers began filtering back into the Capitol. There were no other prepared remarks. The moment had passed.
Can Novavax, still awaiting OK in U.S., win over COVID vaccine skeptics with its old-school technology?
Since their debut just 18 months ago, three COVID-19 vaccines have saved an estimated 2.2 million American lives, changed the trajectory of a pandemic and inspired all manner of conspiracy theories.
Two of those shots prompt a recipient’s own cells to manufacture a key piece of the coronavirus by following instructions encoded in messenger RNA, or mRNA for short. The vaccines developed by Pfizer and Moderna have revolutionized our approach to immunizations, and they’ve done so with blinding speed.
That’s left many people yearning for something a bit more old-school.
A COVID-19 vaccine from Novavax could fit that bill. In a world of newfangled ideas about training the immune system to spot and defend against an invading virus, the Novavax vaccine does it the old-fashioned way: by introducing an exact replica of the coronavirus spike protein into the bloodstream to show the immune system what the invader looks like.
WHO clears China’s CanSino COVID vaccine for emergency use
The World Health Organization said Thursday that it has granted an emergency use authorization for the coronavirus vaccine made by China’s CanSino Biologics, the 11th such shot to receive the green light.
The U.N. health agency said the single-dose CanSino vaccine was found to be about 92% effective against severe COVID-19 and 64% effective in preventing people from getting symptoms of the disease. WHO’s expert vaccine group recommended the vaccine for everyone age 18 and over.
The CanSino vaccine uses a harmless virus called an adenovirus to deliver the spike protein of the coronavirus into the body, which then prompts an immune response. The technology is similar to vaccines made by Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca, which use different adenoviruses.
Boeing's post-pandemic hiring blitz helps WA outpace nation in job growth
Washington’s job market is rebounding faster than it is across much of America, and is barely a thousand jobs short of its all-time high, according to the latest state jobs report.
One surprising case in point: Boeing, which spent much of the pandemic on life support, now seems to be on a hiring tear.
The aerospace giant is hiring from 50 to 80 machinists and an additional 25 to 40 engineers, technical workers and interns every week, according to the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers and the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace, the two major unions representing Boeing workers. Most of the machinist hires are new, as Boeing has already called back most of its laid off workers, a machinists union spokesperson said.
But the state’s jobs rebound won’t feel like a win to everyone, especially those in some communities outside of the Seattle area or in sectors, such as restaurants, that aren’t enjoying quite the same recovery.
COVID’s rise over coming weeks could strain Colorado health system if too many workers get sick, officials warn
Colorado should expect COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations to keep rising for a few weeks, and while state officials aren’t expecting anything close to last winter’s surge, hospital capacity could become a problem if large numbers of health care workers are out sick.
State epidemiologist Dr. Rachel Herlihy noted COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations have been rising, as have the percentage of tests coming back positive and the amount of virus found in wastewater samples. The state’s modeling team projected a peak in mid-June, assuming current trends continue.
“All of our data shows an increase in transmission,” she said. “Our health care providers and our health care facilities could see some stress in the coming weeks.”
Hospitalizations are expected to peak somewhere between 500 and 800, depending on whether the ascendant BA.2.12.1 variant is better at getting around the immune system than previous versions of omicron.
That’s far below the level seen in January, when they peaked at 1,676, but there could be some strain on the health care system if staff can’t work because they’re infected, said Scott Bookman, the state’s COVID-19 incident commander.
World learned little from COVID, is ‘woefully’ unprepared for the next pandemic, report says
The world has learned little from the coronavirus pandemic – and we are not using what we did gain to prevent or deal with another one, a panel convened by the World Health Organization said this week.
Globally, we are “woefully” unprepared for the next pandemic, the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response said Wednesday, presenting a report commissioned by WHO a year ago.
This is not for lack of understanding of what to do, nor is it about the severity of the next pathogen, they said. It’s simply because for some reason there is not enough political will.
“If there were a new pandemic threat this year, next year, or the year after at least, we will be largely in the same place,” said panel co-chair and former New Zealand prime minister Helen Clark. “Maybe worse, given the tight fiscal space of many, if not most, countries right now.”
N. Korea’s low death count questioned amid COVID-19 outbreak
North Korea said Friday that nearly 10% of its 26 million people have fallen ill and 65 people have died amid its first COVID-19 outbreak, as outside experts question the validity of its reported fatalities and worry about a possible humanitarian crisis.
After admitting the omicron outbreak last week following more than two years of claiming to be coronavirus-free, North Korea has said an unidentified fever has been explosively spreading across the country since late April. Its anti-epidemic center has since released fever tallies each morning via state media, but they don’t include any COVID-19 figures.
Some observers say North Korea was likely forced to acknowledge the COVID-19 outbreak because it couldn’t hide the highly contagious viral spread among its people and suffer possible public discontent with leader Kim Jong Un. They believe North Korean authorities are underreporting mortalities to try to show that its pandemic response is effective, while the country lacks test kits to confirm a large number of virus cases.
“It’s true that there has been a hole in its 2 1/2 years of pandemic fighting,” said Kwak Gil Sup, head of One Korea Center, a website specializing in North Korea affairs. “But there is a saying that North Korea is ’a theater state,’ and I think they are massaging COVID-19 statistics.”
Kwak said North Korea is likely partly using the outbreak as a propaganda tool to show that it is overcoming the pandemic with Kim’s leadership. But the country has “a Plan B” and “a Plan C” to seek Chinese and other foreign aid if the pandemic gets out of hand, he said.
New COVID-19 mystery: Some are getting coronavirus again, even after taking Paxlovid
Some coronavirus-positive patients who have completed treatment of the anti-COVID drug Paxlovid are rebounding into illness, and experts are urging people to be cautious if they develop COVID-like symptoms again and become infectious.
It’s unclear how often “post-Paxlovid rebound” occurs, but UC San Francisco Department of Medicine chair Dr. Robert Wachter said he knows of at least one person who completed Paxlovid treatment and then became infectious again, spreading the virus to other family members.
“It can happen,” Wachter tweeted. “If you develop recurrent symptoms and have a [positive] rapid test, you are infectious. Please act accordingly.”
Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said post-Paxlovid COVID-19 relapses are “real.”
“They’ve happened in a significant enough number that they’ve been noticed by lots of folks in lots of different places,” she said.
G7 agree pact to better prepare for future pandemics
The Group of Seven wealthy democracies announced plans Friday to strengthen epidemiological early-warning systems to detect infectious diseases with pandemic potential following the emergence of the coronavirus more than two years ago.
Germany’s health minister, who hosted a two-day meeting of his G-7 counterparts in Berlin this week, said an existing World Health Organization office in Berlin would be used to gather and analyze data more quickly.
Health Minister Karl Lauterbach said the G-7 also wants to increase compulsory contributions to WHO by 50% in the long term to ensure the U.N. agency can perform fulfill its global leadership role.
The ministers who met in the Germany capital separately agreed to provide more support for developing new antibiotics that could be used to treat people infected with resistant strains of bacteria, which kill millions of patients each year.
Boston reports ‘significant increase’ in COVID cases, hospitalizations; Massachusetts lists nearly 5,000 cases
Boston health officials on Thursday reported a “significant increase” in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations amid the omicron subvariant wave, as nearly 5,000 new virus cases were recorded across the state.
The 4,957 daily virus cases in Massachusetts was down from 5,576 reported cases last Thursday, but testing dropped 19.5% from last week.
The omicron BA.2 variant has been spreading across the region, along with the subvariant BA.2.12.1 gaining steam in New England.
The state’s daily average positive test rate has been climbing in recent weeks. The average positive test rate is now 9.35%, way up from 1.6% two months ago.
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