COVID-19 deaths decline 17% in the Americas, says health agency

BRASILIA, Nov 17 (Reuters) – COVID-19 deaths have decreased 17% in the Americas over the past week, but the most populous countries like the United States, Brazil and Colombia are seeing a leveling of new infections after weeks of declining trends, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) said on Wednesday.

Mexico is reporting an increase in new deaths and in the Caribbean Trinidad and Tobago had a sharp rise in deaths as intensive care unit (ICU) beds fill with COVID-19 patients, PAHO said.

In an important milestone, half of the people in Latin America and the Caribbean have now been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, though coverage remains below 10% in Nicaragua and Haiti, PAHO Director Carissa Etienne said.

“The COVID pandemic is still very active in our region,” she warned in a webcast news conference.

Countries across Central and South America have seen a decline in new infections, except for Bolivia, it said.

As Uruguay and Chile have relaxed pandemic restrictions, COVID-19 cases have spiked, even with their high vaccination coverage, the health agency said.

Etienne urged people in the region to get vaccinated and stick to social distancing and mask wearing as the holiday season approaches.

Reporting by Anthony Boadle Editing by Bill Berkrot

US: Vaxxing Kids Picking Up Pace

Coronavirus vaccine getting put into arm


© Associated Press – Lynne Sladky

The pace of vaccinating younger children against the coronavirus is speeding up. The White House said about 10 percent of children aged 5 to 11 will have received at least their first COVID-19 vaccine shot within the two weeks since it became available to the younger age group.

More than 2.6 million 5- to 11-year-olds are expected to have received their first dose by the end of the day on Wednesday, officials said during a briefing, citing the “strength” of the administration’s vaccination rollout for children, which has been fully operational for 10 days. There are 28 million children eligible.

White House coronavirus coordinator Jeff Zients contrasted the timeline with the 50 days it took to reach 10 percent of adults with one COVID-19 shot.

Children’s vaccinations doubled in the first full week of the program, compared to the previous week, with 1.7 million kids getting their shots in the last week alone. The number of vaccination sites available to children also increased by 50 percent to 30,000 last week.

The numbers for kids come as the U.S. is set to hit a milestone of 80 percent of Americans aged 12 and older receiving at least one shot. According to Zients, 300,000 people are getting their first dose every day. The White House has pointed to the growing acceptance and uptake of vaccines as evidence that mandates work— many businesses across the country are requiring employees to be vaccinated.



Anthony Fauci said COVID-19 in the U.S. will eventually become endemic, but despite increasing vaccinations, it’s not there yet.

Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease doctor, on Wednesday said the nation’s ultimate goal is not to eliminate COVID-19 but to reduce it to a level where it’s not dominating everyday life.

“I don’t think we’re going to eliminate it completely. We want control and I think the confusion is at what level of control are you going to accept it in its endemicity?” Fauci said during a White House briefing.

“We don’t know really what that number is, but we will know it when we get there. It certainly is far, far lower, than 80,000 new infections per day, and is far far lower than a thousand deaths per day, and tens of thousands of hospitalizations,” Fauci added.

Fauci said the key to reaching endemic levels is to get as many people vaccinated, and boosted, as possible.

“So even though there’s a wide bracket under control, we want to get to the lowest possible level that we can get. And rather than picking an arbitrary number, why don’t we get as many people as we can get vaccinated, vaccinated as quickly as possible, and get as many people who are eligible for boosters, getting boosted as possible,” Fauci said.


Moderna pushes for boosters for all adults


© Getty Images

Moderna has submitted a request to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to authorize booster doses of its coronavirus vaccine for all adults, seeking to expand the number of people eligible for a third shot.

The vaccine manufacturer announced that it asked the FDA to allow the 71 million adults initially vaccinated with Moderna’s shots to get a third dose. The 50 microgram dosage in Moderna’s booster is half of the 100 micrograms used for the first two shots for adults.

The FDA previously granted authorization last month for Moderna’s booster dose to be given six months after the second dose to people ages 65 and older and adults at high risk for severe COVID-19 due to underlying conditions or their living or work environments.

Booster debate: The debate over who should get boosters has been active for months, as the initial vaccine series is still considered effective against hospitalization and deaths. But recent research suggests boosters improve protection against infection.

The administration has faced criticism from the World Health Organization (WHO) for prioritizing getting more shots to vaccinated people while other countries struggle to get initial doses for their at-risk populations.

Upcoming: The request comes as the FDA is poised to authorize the Pfizer-BioTech vaccine for all adults ahead of a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advisory meeting on Friday.

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky will have the final say on whether all adult Pfizer-BioNTech recipients can get a third dose.