Senior Death Rate Soared, Vax Fake News Hits Pregnant Women, Cuba Lifts Mask Rule, World Covid Stats

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During the Omicron Wave, Death Rates Soared for Older People

Last year, people 65 and older died from Covid at lower rates than in previous waves. But with Omicron and waning immunity, death rates rose again.

Despite strong levels of vaccination among older people, Covid killed them at vastly higher rates during this winter’s Omicron wave than it did last year, preying on long delays since their last shots and the variant’s ability to skirt immune defenses.

This winter’s wave of deaths in older people belied the Omicron variant’s relative mildness. Almost as many Americans 65 and older died in four months of the Omicron surge as did in six months of the Delta wave, even though the Delta variant, for any one person, tended to cause more severe illness.

While overall per capita Covid death rates have fallen, older people still account for an overwhelming share of them.

“This is not simply a pandemic of the unvaccinated,” said Andrew Stokes, an assistant professor in global health at Boston University who studies age patterns of Covid deaths. “There’s still exceptionally high risk among older adults, even those with primary vaccine series.”


Cuba lifts mask mandate as vaccination rate soars and deaths plummet

HAVANA, May 31 (Reuters) – Cuba on Tuesday lifted a mask mandate in place for two years following a successful vaccination drive that health officials say has contributed to a sharp drop in cases and nearly three weeks without a single death from COVID-19.

The island, whose communist government has long sought to stand out by providing a free healthcare system that focuses on preventative treatment such as vaccinations, developed its own COVID vaccines and became the first country in the world to begin the mass vaccination of kids as young as age 2.

Cuba has since vaccinated 94% of its population with at least one dose of its home-grown vaccines, according to a Reuters tally.

Health minister José Ángel Portal said the wide-ranging vaccination program had led to a “radical change” in contagion and health risks and prompted the decision to do away with masks in most scenarios.

Officials said masks will remain mandatory for those in hospitals, as well as for people with pre-existing conditions or respiratory infections.

Across much of Cuba, which is suffering from a severe economic crisis and shortages of food and medicine, brightly-colored and varied homemade masks had become the norm and many appeared reluctant on Tuesday to leave home without them.

Most are reused and dangle from porches and clothes lines to dry in the sun.

“I am going to continue with the mask,” said Enrique Otero, a 63-year old mechanical engineer. “I am diabetic and I take a bus [daily] in Havana.”

Cuba’s Health Ministry said cases of coronavirus had nonetheless fallen for nine successive weeks, with daily infections plunging to under 100 in the latter half of May, and just two deaths in the month, according to ministry data.

Cuban scientists have said their protein-based Abdala, Soberana 02 and Soberana Plus COVID vaccines give upwards of 90% protection against symptomatic illness when offered in three-dose schemes, though that research has not yet been vetted by the World Health Organization.

Reporting by Nelson Acosta, editing by Dave Sherwood and Aurora Ellis

Vaccine misinformation affects pregnant women 


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The  Hill- Seven in 10 women who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant believe or are unsure about false claims related to COVID-19 vaccines, a Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) poll found.

Twenty-nine percent of respondents in the demographic believed at least one of three false statements.

Among women who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, 60 percent said they believe that pregnant women should not get the vaccine or are unsure if this is true; 58 percent said they believe vaccines cause infertility or are unsure; and 52 percent said they believe it is unsafe for breastfeeding women to get vaccinated or are unsure about the claim.

Beyond those who heard the misinformation and believed it to be true, larger shares of pregnant women or those planning to become pregnant were unsure about the statements.

For women younger than 50, the poll found a higher tendency to believe or be unsure of the misinformation among those who were unvaccinated and those who did not have a college degree.

The impact: CDC estimates show roughly 3 in 10 pregnant women remain unvaccinated against COVID-19, a figure that lags adults overall.



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