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Dr. Sanjay Gupta explains how the race between the vaccines and the variants could leave the nation split into two groups

It has been neck and neck for a while, and honestly, I was ready to cheer a vaccine victory. We nearly dropped to an average of fewer than 10,000 new cases a day, an important number because, according to President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci, that number moves the country into “containment” — a time when we would finally get our arms around the spread. We came tantalizingly close: 11,299 cases in late June.
But, then the variants caught some speed, and the vaccine started to fall behind; we are now at an average of 23,472 new cases a day as of Tuesday, and all indications point to that number rising. There are many countries around the world that now are seeing case rates increase against a backdrop of sparse vaccine supply. Here in the United States, we have plenty of vaccine available, a precious commodity almost every country around the world wishes they had. We have the means to distribute vaccines and have even made them totally free of charge.
I believe most of us also fundamentally understand the best way to get a handle on the pandemic and return fully to life as we know it is to vaccinate enough people. What we are lacking is the will.
It may be that some parts of the country really haven’t gotten the memo on the importance of vaccines — or even worse, they are receiving another far more insidious message: that it’s the vaccines themselves that are the problem.
They aren’t the problem. They are our best shot at being rescued from this ongoing pandemic. Research from the Commonwealth Fund estimates the Covid-19 vaccines have already saved about 280,000 lives and averted up to 1.25 million hospitalizations in the United States. A vaccine protects not only the person getting it but those around them as well — including children under the age of 12, for whom the current coronavirus vaccines are not yet authorized, or those who have weakened immune systems that prevent their bodies from generating a strong immune response after vaccination.
That is the very definition of herd immunity: providing a ring of protection around the vulnerable. In order to get there, around 70% of people need to be fully vaccinated. That level of immunity will make it so that we are no longer such willing hosts to the virus and put us on a path to eventually run it out of town.
The vaccines also directly protect us from future variants; mutated versions of the virus that emerge in infected people and can be more contagious than the original strain. Right now, it’s the Delta variant that is wreaking havoc in the United States and elsewhere, but the more the virus spreads, the higher the chances another variant of concern will take its place. Vaccinations slow these mutations from happening because if a person doesn’t get infected in the first place, their body can’t possibly become a breeding ground for a mutation.

A look at the numbers

President Joe Biden set what initially appeared to be an attainable goal: have 70% of the adult population with at least one Covid-19 vaccine shot by July 4th. But after months of steady vaccine progress, the numbers began to dwindle and the goal was missed.
Currently about 59% of the US population has at least one dose and 48% is fully vaccinated, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But that doesn’t tell the full story. The United States cannot be painted with a single brush stroke, and nowhere is that more true than with this pandemic. As things stand now, the top five states have 60% or more of their population fully vaccinated versus less than 36% for the bottom five states.
According to a CNN analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University and the CDC, states that have fully vaccinated more than half of their residents reported an average of 2.8 new Covid-19 cases per 100,000 people each day last week, compared to an average of about 7.8 cases per 100,000 people each day in states that have vaccinated fewer than half of their residents. That’s almost a three-fold difference. It’s in those states with the highest vaccination rates where you can see the vaccines truly work their magic. It’s not just cases decreasing, but more importantly, hospitalizations and deaths plummeting as well. The vaccines accomplished exactly what they were designed to do.
Early data from a number of states suggests that 99.5% of those Covid-19 deaths during the first six months of the year have been in unvaccinated people. Just consider that if a patient in the United States is hospitalized or dies of Covid, 99 times out of 100 they are unvaccinated. Dying at this stage in the pandemic is almost like a soldier dying after a peace treaty has been signed. Heartbreaking and largely preventable.
CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky called any suffering or death from Covid-19 “tragic,” and noted that available vaccines mean that “the suffering and loss we are now seeing is nearly entirely avoidable.”
“We have seen the successes of our vaccination program over the last eight months with cases, hospitalizations and deaths far lower than the peaks we saw in January,” she said. “And yet on the other hand, we are starting to see some new and concerning trends.”
One of those trends is the falling rate of vaccination. An average of 282,143 people are reaching “fully vaccinated” status each day — one of the lowest daily rates since the end of January, when vaccination efforts were just picking up steam. And it’s almost a 50% drop from last week, when an average of about 535,000 people became fully vaccinated each day. At our peak in mid-April, an average of nearly 1.8 million people — more than six times as many — were becoming fully vaccinated every day.

The wrath of Delta

Another new and concerning trend involves the rise of the Delta variant, which is believed to be much more contagious; it now makes up more than 50% of Covid-19 cases in the US — and in some places, that number tops 80%. Its dominance is making the vaccination issue even more pressing.
Fauci called it “a real bad actor virus” on CBS earlier this week.
The Delta variant, first identified in India, is likely behind the current uptick in cases. The US is now averaging more than 23,000 new Covid-19 cases each day, according to Johns Hopkins University, almost double two weeks ago. The average number of daily cases is rising in 46 states. And we’re seeing 261 new Covid-19 deaths each day — a 21% increase from last week. Again, deaths that are largely preventable.
How contagious is the Delta variant? If you remember back to the start of the pandemic, we measured how infectious a communicable disease is using a mathematical term called R0 (R-nought), also called the reproduction number. It basically estimates the average number of people one infected individual will go on to infect. If the R0 number falls below 1, the disease eventually dies out.
According to estimates, the original virus found in Wuhan, China had an R0 between 2.4 and 2.6. The Alpha variant, which had been the dominant variant and was first identified in the United Kingdom, was between 4 and 5. The Delta variant’s reproduction number is estimated to be somewhere between 5 and 8.
That means the Delta variant is estimated to be two to three times more contagious than the original virus first seen in Wuhan, Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, said via email.
What does that look like in real life? Unforgiving. A remarkable look at CCTV footage from Australia revealed a simple encounter between two people passing each other at an indoor shopping area that resulted in two separate instances of transmission. The encounter was brief. The premier of New South Wales, where the incidents occurred, even called it “scarily fleeting.”
That is why the rise of the Delta variant coupled with low vaccination areas is really worrying public health experts, just as they were ready to start looking at Covid in the rear view mirror.
A new data analysis by researchers at Georgetown University has now identified 30 clusters of counties with low vaccination rates and significant population sizes that are vulnerable to surges in Covid-19 cases and could become breeding grounds for even more deadly Covid-19 variants. The five most significant clusters are sprawled across large swaths of the southeastern United States and a smaller portion in the Midwest. No surprise, most are already seeing increases in Covid-19 cases.
“We can’t have it both ways; we can’t be both unmasked and unvaccinated. That won’t work,” Dr. Jonathan Reiner, a CNN medical analyst and professor of medicine and surgery at George Washington University, said Monday.
Or as Dr. Barney Graham, deputy director of the Vaccine Research Center at the NIAID and one of the developers of the Moderna vaccine, told me: The country will no longer be split into vaccinated and unvaccinated; it will simply be split into vaccinated and infected.
That’s where this road leads.

How to unstick the stuck vax rate

The simple answer is: Get vaccinated. You know that by now, and again, most people do. The doctors, nurses and health care teams recommending this are not political, but I can understand why you might think otherwise lately.
During the Conservative Political Action Conference’s summer gathering in Dallas last weekend, attendees cheered author Alex Berenson when he pointed out that the Biden administration fell short of its vaccination goal.
At least 34 states as of June have introduced bills that would limit requiring someone to demonstrate their vaccination status or immunity against Covid-19 in certain areas such as workplaces or government buildings, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures; 13 of those bills have passed into law. That includes at least seven states — Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Indiana, Montana, Oklahoma and Utah — that enacted legislation this year that would restrict public schools from requiring either coronavirus vaccinations or documentation of vaccination status.
And in Tennessee Dr. Michelle Fiscus, a pediatrician who has served as the state’s medical director of the vaccine-preventable diseases and immunization for two years, says she was fired after she shared information about a decades-old state policy that allowed some teens to be immunized without parental consent.

Vaccine benefits outweigh risks

It’s true that there have been a few concerning possible side effects associated with the vaccines. They include reports of a rare neurological condition called Guillain-Barré syndrome developing in some who received the Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine as well as reports of rare blood clots in others; and heart inflammation in a small number of people who received Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna vaccines.
While these are all serious conditions, it’s important to remember these events are very, very rare occurrences out of the almost 185 million people who have received at least one shot in this country. And it’s reassuring to know that in the vast majority of cases, those who developed these side effects recovered. The same can’t be said for Covid-19, which has killed more than 607,000 people in this country, caused almost 34 million infections, and can cause symptoms that linger long after the person has “recovered.”
It’s also true there have been breakthrough cases of Covid-19 among the fully vaccinated, but that is to be expected. Even if an infection occurs, the important thing to remember is that the vaccines offer excellent protection against severe disease and death — the two most important outcomes. And that’s true even for the Delta variant, according to recent data from Israel and the United Kingdom.
Some progress is being made. A new poll released Tuesday by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that about 20% of Americans who were initially hesitant about or squarely against getting the Covid-19 vaccine have since gotten their shots. Of course, seen from the glass-half-empty perspective, that means 80% haven’t.
Convincing most unvaccinated Americans to get their shots will take more time than initial phases of vaccinations, White House Covid-19 chief Jeff Zients told reporters at a Covid-19 response team briefing earlier in the month.
“Each person in this phase will take longer to reach, but that makes them no less important. And the spread of the Delta variant, which poses a particular threat to our young people, only strengthens our resolve to reach everyone,” he said.
That’s an effort I am 100% behind.

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GOP candidate for governor of New York Lee Zeldin explains plan to turn around crime in state amid surge

Rep. Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y., GOP candidate for governor of New York, explained his plan to turn around crime in the state during an exclusive interview with “Sunday Morning Futures,” arguing that it’s important to “support law enforcement more, not less.”  

Zeldin, who noted that he was raised in a law enforcement household, told host Maria Bartiromo, “I’m hearing it from all across our state, from people of all walks of life, they want to strengthen public safety in our state.”

The police debate has been at the top of the American conscience in the year since a White, now-former police officer in Minneapolis, Derek Chauvin, knelt on the neck of George Floyd for more than nine minutes; Floyd later died. 

Chauvin has since been convicted of murder, but Floyd’s death sparked nationwide protests and ignited the defund the police movement. Congress is currently mulling sweeping police reform legislation in an effort to hold officers more accountable for misconduct. 

According to a Fox News poll conducted in April during the final days of Chauvin’s trial, found that by a nearly 2-1 margin, 62-33 percent, registered voters disagree with reducing police funding and moving it to other areas.

 Zeldin made the comments as cities across the country are experiencing an increase in violent crime. In New York City, for example, there has been an 8.5% increase in murders year-to-date as of July 4 and a 37.8% spike in shooting incidents, according to data provided by the NYPD

Zeldin noted that other measures to reduce crime in the state includes reversing cashless bail in the state. 

NYC MURDER CAUGHT ON VIDEO IN BROAD DAYLIGHT

Under previous New York law, prosecutors would determine whether to make a bail recommendation or agree to have the defendant released on their own recognizance. The case judge would then make a determination. Defense attorneys would typically make arguments that bail would be inappropriate, or should be set at a low amount, which judges would take into consideration.

Under the current law, courts are now prohibited from setting any monetary bail or keeping defendants in custody before trial in almost every type of misdemeanor case, and for a long list of felonies as well.

Zeldin also argued that it’s important to “keep qualified immunity, enact a bill of rights for law enforcement that recognizes their inherent right to self-defense, that gives them the resources they need to ensure they are not unfairly targeted.” 

He stressed that the measures, if implemented, would strengthen public safety in New York. 

Zeldin, a staunch ally of former President Trump and a four-term lawmaker who represents the state’s 1st Congressional District in the eastern half of Long Island, declared his candidacy for governor of the Empire State in April, arguing that “to save New York, Andrew Cuomo’s gotta go.” 

Zeldin became the first major Republican to launch a challenge against New York’s embattled three-term Democratic governor, who faces allegations of sexual harassment from several female accusers, which has triggered an independent investigation by the state attorney general and an impeachment investigation in the State Assembly. Cuomo’s also facing a federal probe into the state’s handling of COVID deaths at nursing homes amid the coronavirus pandemic.  

New York doesn’t have gubernatorial limits, and Cuomo announced in May of 2019 that he would run in 2022 for a fourth term steering the state.

While New York is a reliably blue state where Cuomo won reelection to a third term in 2018 by a massive 23-point margin, the governor has politically been severely wounded by the dual scandals. 

Cuomo is resisting calls to resign as he continues to emphasize that people should wait until the results of the attorney general’s investigation before making up their minds and passing judgment. While he has apologized for making some women uncomfortable, he has denied that he ever inappropriately touched a woman.

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The governor and his office have also pushed back on the nursing home deaths cover-up allegations, denying that nursing home fatality data was altered.

Fox News’ Paul Steinhauser, Marisa Schultz, Ronn Blitzer, Victoria Balara and Brooke Singman contributed to this report. 

England star Raheem Sterling explains dressing room celebrations ahead of Italy clash

England star Raheem Sterling has reacted after his side’s 2-1 Euro 2020 win over Denmark on Wednesday night. The Three Lions have made the final of the European Championships for the first time in their history. And football is now just one match away from coming home…

England beat Denmark 2-1 in front of a raucous Wembley crowd.

The visitors took the lead courtesy of an excellent free kick from Mikkel Damsgaard, whose swerving effort gave Jordan Pickford no chance between the sticks.

But then England upped the ante – and were rewarded.

Sterling forced an own goal from Simon Kjaer, who put the ball into his own net after some brilliant work from Bukayo Saka on the right wing.

And Harry Kane then scored a penalty in extra time to send the Three Lions through, with England now one victory away from ending 55 years of hurt. 

And Sterling, speaking after the game, has insisted England players will celebrate the win afterwards – but won’t go overboard ahead of Sunday’s massive showdown with Italy.

“It was a top performance. We had to dig in deep,” he said.

“It was the first time we conceded but we responded well and showed good spirit.

“We knew it would be difficult. We stayed patient and we knew the legs and aggressiveness we have in the team we’d be okay.

“It’s another step in the right direction. We have to focus on the weekend now. It’s step-by-step. We know what football means to this country. The energy, the atmosphere…It was top.

“Now we have Italy. We will celebrate a little bit then focus on Italy.”

Pundits in the ITV studio were also delighted.

Emma Hayes said: “Finding words to describe something that the entire country will be overwhelmed with is impossible.

“I feel so emotional to be here, this is a wonderful time for football in this country.

“These footballers, Gareth Southgate and his staff, deserve all the plaudits.

“They’ve brought joy to all of us.”

Ian Wright singled out Sterling for praise, insisting he was the best player on the pitch.

“I’ll just say one name, Raheem Sterling,” he said.

“He’s attacked this tournament, and again today I think he was the difference.

“I’m delighted for him, I’m delighted for Gareth and I’m delighted for this country.”

And Gary Neville reacted by saying: “Denmark played a brilliant game, they faded a bit towards the end, but I have to say Gareth Southgate, his team, his staff, all of them, they’ve been absolutely unbelievable.

“Everyone is mesmerised in this stadium right now.

“The standard of leaders in this country in the past couple of years has been poor.

“Looking at [Southgate], that’s everything a leader should be.

“He’s respectful, he’s humble, he tells the truth, he’s genuine, he’s fantastic. Unbelievable, he’s done a great job.”

Author: Jack Otway
Read more here >>> Daily Express :: Sport

Former GB tennis player and sports psychologist explains Emma Raducanu’s Wimbledon exit

Dr Amanda Owens told GB News that 18-year old Emma Raducanu was thrust into the limelight and had a lot of pressure placed on her by the UK. She added that the rising tennis star must be protected and needs to be given time to rest and recover after her remarkable run at Wimbledon.

Dr Owens said: “I think there are a number of factors here, the fact she is 18.

“She got thrust into the limelight, she has got a great team around her however I think we need to look after her.

“She needs to look at what she has achieved in the last few weeks which is really incredible.

“Certainly, she is not used to the media limelight and we need to protect her.”

READ MORE: John McEnroe blasted for Emma Raducanu comments after Wimbledon exit

She continued: “Also, the breathing problems could be a number of factors.

“We do not know exactly what has happened here.

“She has never had the experience of playing on Court One that late, she had a lot of pressure on her from the UK, everyone was backing her and was very excited.

“It could be a number of factors here but we need to look after her and she needs to rest and recover.”

Ajla Tomljanovic, Ms Raducanu’s opponent in the last 16, said: “I am actually really kind of shocked,” 

She continued: “It’s obviously so bittersweet because Emma must be really, really hurt if she came to the decision to retire.

“To play as a Brit at home, it’s unbelievable so I am really sorry for her because I wish we could have finished it.

“It’s sport – it happens – but I am really wishing her all the best.”

Author: Svar Nanan-Sen
Read more here >>> Daily Express :: Sport

Anne Robinson explains why she was ‘stiff’ in first few episodes of Countdown

But now she’s beginning to find her Countdown feet, the presenter revealed she’s started trying new things.

“But I think now – I’m endlessly curious,” she said.

“I’ve started to talk to the contestants, to talk to them in each round and it’s become great fun!”

Talking to the contestants was something Anne stated she never did when she hosted game show, the Weakest Link.

Author: Jessica Williams
Read more here >>> Daily Express :: Celebrity News

Carol Vorderman explains ‘very lumpy’ appearance in tight workout clothes during her walks

Countdown legend Carol Vorderman, 60, has admitted she tends to stuff rubbish down her top and leggings when she’s out walking in the Welsh countryside in order to avoid littering. The maths expert, who is usually spotted enjoying daily walks in skintight workout gear, shared her admission with Julia Bradbury on her BBC Radio Wales show yesterday.

Carol’s comment prompted the former Countryfile presenter, who is also a walking enthusiast, to declare that her habit must make her body look “very lumpy” to any onlookers.

The star got onto the subject while discussing Julia’s work with environmental charity, Keep Britain Tidy.

Julia fumed of littering: “It’s just so horrible! 

“How can you go to a beautiful location, suck in those views, enjoy it, and then leave your bag of chips behind? I don’t get it.”

READ MORE… Matt Baker inundated with support as he shares ‘big news’

Carol agreed with her radio guest, before giving her listeners some handy tips and tricks about how to keep tidy while out and about.

She told Julia: “I don’t get it!

“I will always take a little plastic bag with me, or if I’m on a long walk obviously my rucksack, all my rubbish goes in my rucksack.

“But there have been times when I’ve gone, ‘I just fancy a Welsh cake’ and it comes in a little bag.

 

Julia quipped: “So basically, everyone’s going, ‘God, that Carol Vorderman has become very lumpy! What are those funny shapes? Is she alright? Has she got some strange disease? She’s got leg lumpitus, what’s going on?’”

Carol giggled at Julia’s remark and admitted: “I’m not a class act Julia Bradbury.”

“You are! That’s why we love you,” Julia reassured the presenter.

It comes after Carol took to Twitter to share her progress after taking on The Big Walk for Wales’ leading prostate health charity Prostate Cymru.

Carol has to walk 26 miles in July to complete the challenge.

At the beginning of this month, Carol explained she has a trick to prevent herself from suffering any knee problems.

She told her 463,000 followers: “Morning gang. Walked 10 miles to kick off the @pcbigwalk as #TeamCaptain for @ProstateCymru. 

“Little secret…one leg is 5mm longer than the other (most people have this but don’t realise), so I put an orthotic in one trainer to stop knee problems. 

“It works. I’m defo weird.” 

Author: Kathryn Ingate
Read more here >>> Daily Express :: Celebrity News

Dr Sarah Jarvis explains the rules that should be in place AFTER July 19

It does, however, minimise the risk of catching Covid and, most importantly, reduces the likelihood of ending up in hospital.

In fact, there’s a whopping 92-96 percent drop in the likelihood of being admitted to hospital if you have both jabs.

However, people who have been vaccinated can still pass on the disease to others if they catch Covid themselves.

The lateral flow tests (although not as accurate as the PCR tests) are “pretty good” at letting people know if they’re infectious.

Author: Chanel Georgina
Read more here >>> Daily Express :: Life and Style
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Lewis Hamilton contract: Toto Wolff gives update and explains Mercedes team-mate 'doubt'

Yet, ahead of the Styrian Grand Prix, Hamilton shocked the media by saying there was no need to switch up his team-mate next season with rumours swirling.

He said: “We have begun discussions, and, not a lot to say – just we have had discussions and things are positive so… and yes, Valtteri is my team-mate now, and both of us have had ups and downs in our careers, but as I said he is a fantastic team-mate and I don’t necessarily think that needs to change.”

And Wolff added that team-mate talk wasn’t on the cards during discussions.

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This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Sport Feed

Valtteri Bottas explains explosive French GP radio message – 'I made my point clear'

“Nobody knows about the constructive meetings we have with the team between races and over race weekends, I don’t think it’s anything new,” he added. “I always try and be direct, and I’m glad if you liked it, but I wasn’t happy obviously in that situation.

“But that’s racing, that’s emotions, it’s so hard to describe the feeling when you’re in the car, we’re not in a tea party, we’re in an elite top sport and I want to do well, I want the team to do well, so we race with emotions, even for a Finn.”

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This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Sport Feed

'I worried about funding retirement' Man explains why he set up second pension at 24

Retirement is clearly a long way off for the retail store assistant, however that’s not to say it isn’t something he’s already thinking about. Like many people his age, Matt pays into a workplace pension via auto-enrolment.

“The reason I set up another pension is because I don’t want to worry about money when I grow old,” Matt exclusively tells Express.co.uk.

He added that setting up another pension was the best option for him.

“Even thought retirement is a long way off, I feel like now is the best time to sort things out for the future, because we never know what the future holds for us.

“I’d rather be safe than sorry.”

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Pension saving hasn’t so far been without challenges, however.

Matt explains there has been issues “now and then,” due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“I wasn’t working many hours in certain months, so there were times where I was worried I won’t be able to contribute as much as I would like to,” he tells Express.co.uk.

However, the Covid crisis has also served as an important reminder about the importance of saving for the future.

The digital pension provider, recently authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to run and operate its own SIPP, originally opened for the self-employed in 2019.

In 18 months, Penfold amassed 25,000 customers, 80 percent of which are self-employed.

Commenting on the research, Pete Hykin, co-founder at Penfold, said: “Self-employed workers have had to battle hard to stay afloat throughout Covid-19, but even a protracted global pandemic hasn’t stopped them from contributing to their pensions.

“We’ve found that, without the safety net of salaried employment, self-employed people tend to be more conscious of their day to day finances and more interested in actively safeguarding their future – particularly given their vulnerability to external shocks such as Covid-19.

“And it’s young people that are proving most engaged. Our under 30s customer base has grown 15x since the start of the pandemic, and their average monthly contribution has increased by 60 percent during this time, from £76 a month to £121.

“It’s great to see, but the pensions industry also needs to do more to reach out and engage young people. Providers need to make their pensions relatable in the here and now, instead of focusing on a distant point in the future.”

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This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Finance Feed