Even as the U.S. and other countries press ahead with their COVID-19 vaccination programs, infections are increasing faster than ever globally.
A record 5,363,616 new cases were reported in the week ending Saturday, a USA TODAY analysis of Johns Hopkins University data shows. At that pace, nearly nine cases are being reported every second. The growth in cases is being pushed by a stunning spike in India, which is now reporting more than 1.5 million infections every week. Just a month ago, that figure was about 200,000.
The United States, which opened vaccination eligibility for all adults Monday, Brazil and Turkey are the other nations reporting more than 400,000 cases per week. With India, the four countries account for most of the world’s new cases, the USA TODAY analysis shows.
COVID-19 deaths are still below the peak of more than 100,000 per week. About 83,000 weekly deaths are now being reported, a pace of about eight people dying every minute.
– Mike Stucka
Also in the news:
►Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer says her state could be seeing a drop in infections after leading the nation’s COVID-19 daily case rate for weeks. State health officials said Friday that the seven-day average positivity rate had dropped in recent days to 17.1%, but it remained above a December peak of 14.4%.
►The U.S. has reported 32% of adults are fully vaccinated and over 50% of the U.S. adult population has received at least one vaccine dose, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
►Pfizer/BioNTech says they will provide 100 million more doses of their coronavirus vaccine to the European Union this year. The EU’s executive commission exercised an option to purchase the additional doses, bringing the total number of shots to be delivered to the EU in 2021 to 600 million.
►Chicago public schools, the nation’s third-largest district, reopened Monday for the first time since instruction went fully remote amid the pandemic over a year ago.
📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has more than 31.7 million confirmed coronavirus cases and 567,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The global totals: more than 141.1 million cases and 3 million deaths. Nearly 264.5 million vaccine doses have been distributed in the U.S. and 209.4 million have been administered, according to the CDC.
📘 What we’re reading: She contracted COVID-19. Monoclonal antibodies may have saved her life. Read the full story.
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All American adults now eligible for vaccine
Every U.S. adult is now eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.
New Jersey, Massachusetts and Oregon were among a handful of states opening the vaccine availability to every adult on Monday, the deadline set by President Joe Biden. Now the White House has turned its attention to persuading Americans to get the jabs.
“Folks, I have good news,” Biden said in a video posted on Twitter. “Everybody is eligible as of today to get the vaccine. We have enough of it, you need to be protected, and you need in turn to protect your neighbors and your family.
“So please get the vaccine.”
Being anxious about getting a shot is normal, expected and can be resolved with education and role models, experts say.
“People who have questions deserve to have those questions answered. That’s fair and that’s on us,” said Dr. Gregory Poland, director of the Mayo Clinic’s Vaccine Research Group.
UK to ban travel from India, where spike in cases prompts capital shutdown
The United Kingdom will ban most travel from India starting Friday over fears of a new coronavirus variant. UK residents will be allowed in but required to quarantine for 10 days. Health Secretary Matt Hancock said 103 cases of the variant first identified in India, known as B.1.617, have been detected in the U.K., most of them linked to international travel.
An explosive surge in infections has prompted authorities to impose a weeklong shutdown in the Indian capital of New Delhi to prevent its health system from collapsing. Indian officials said they would expand vaccine eligibility to everyone older than 18 starting May 1. India is a major vaccine producer, but the crisis has forced it to delay exports of shots abroad. The country has administered 120 million doses to its population of nearly 1.4 billion.
The virus is now spreading faster in India than at any other time of the pandemic, said Bhramar Mukherjee, a biostatistician at the University of Michigan who has been tracking infections in the world’s second most-populous nation. India’s 15 million-plus cases rank second globally behind the USA’s 31.6 million.
Israel closer to normalcy: Outdoor mask mandate lifted, schools reopen
Israel has lifted an outdoor mask mandate and fully reopened its education system in the latest easing of restrictions following its mass vaccination drive.
About 56% of the population in Israel has been fully vaccinated, the world’s highest percentage, according to a New York Times database. The number is considerably higher – 81% – for those 16 and over, the age limit for the Pfizer vaccine.
New daily infections in Israel have plummeted from a high of about 10,000 a day in January to fewer than 200, and hospitalizations are minimal. The use of masks in indoor public spaces is still required.
Johnson & Johnson vaccine pause might be lifted this week, Fauci says
The pause on using the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine will probably be lifted by Friday, although some restrictions may be required, Dr. Anthony Fauci said Sunday.
Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, told CBS’ “Face the Nation” that “you don’t want to jump ahead of yourself and decide you know the total spectrum of this, which is one of the reasons why they paused and why hopefully by Friday we’ll know.”
Fauci, who also took his message to NBC’s “Meet the Press,” said he doubts the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will “just cancel” the J&J vaccine and continue allowing only the two-dose vaccines developed by Pfizer and Moderna.
“Everything is on the table,” Fauci said. “My estimate is that we will continue to use it in some form. I doubt very seriously if they just cancel it. I don’t think that’s going to happen. I do think that there will likely be some sort of warning or restriction or risk assessment.”
States began halting the use of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine last week after federal health officials recommended a pause “out of an abundance of caution” because of rare but dangerous blood clots.
France to begin international travel next month
France will begin to lift travel restrictions on international travel with the United States and other non-European Union nations starting next month, French President Emmanuel Macron told CBS News.
Macron told “Face the Nation” that officials in Paris are working to develop a way for “French, European citizens but also American citizens” who are vaccinated to travel more freely by this summer. Macron said he had spoken with the White House about potential plans for lifting some travel restrictions between France and the US, though talks were still in their early stages.
Macron said, ideally, travel would be open “for US citizens who are vaccinated, with a special pass,” suggesting a so-called vaccine certificate or passport would be necessary for travel in France.
– Matthew Brown
Contributing: The Associated Press