America wins vaccine lottery. Rest of the world loses out

In a bid to boost flagging inoculation rates, Ohio, New York and Maryland are all giving away millions of dollars through special lotteries, just the latest in efforts by governments, employers, sports teams and others to motivate more people to get the shot as vaccination rates slow.
The White House is trying yet another way. It announced today it is partnering with a series of prominent dating apps to offer incentives to customers who’ve been inoculated.

Vaccinated users on Tinder, Hinge, OKCupid, BLK, Chispa, Plenty of Fish, Bumble and Badoo will gain access to premium content “like boosts, super likes, and super swipes” with proof of vaccination, according to the White House. Users will also be able to filter potential matches by vaccination status or book vaccination appointments through the apps.

The announcements sparked both reams of praise and howls of outrage on social media. The idea that some Americans might need cash incentives to get a potentially life-saving vaccine would likely be mind-boggling to the millions of vulnerable people and health-care workers in the developing world who still don’t have access to the vaccine.

It’s not just the world’s poorest countries that are struggling to offer the inoculation to everyone who wants it. In the United Kingdom, people under the age of 34 are still not eligible for the shot. Australia is currently vaccinating people over the age of 50. France and Germany are only planning to open their programs to all adults in the coming weeks. Japan hasn’t even started vaccinating the general public yet.

But while younger people in many rich countries must still wait their turn, at least their governments have guaranteed they will receive the vaccine eventually.

In the developing world, that’s not the case. COVAX, the vaccine-sharing initiative, is only expected to reach 27% of the populations of lower-income countries this year. The rest will have to wait until next year, at least.

YOU ASKED. WE ANSWERED.

Q: Q: If nine fully vaccinated New York Yankees got infected, does that mean the vaccine doesn’t work?

A: No, experts say the cases actually show the vaccine is working, and that testing remains a useful tool.

“It’s preventing serious infections in those staff and players with the Yankees,” Dr. Costi Sifri, an infectious disease physician and hospital epidemiologist at the University of Virginia, told CNN.

“Those infections that occurred, the so-called breakthrough infections, importantly were for the most part mild to moderate infections,” he said.

None of the nine people ended up severely ill or in need of hospitalization. However, finding so many breakthrough cases in one spot does say something about the importance of testing.

In the general population, breakthrough Covid-19 infections are rare. As of April 26, 9,245 breakthrough cases were identified in the US out of some 95 million fully vaccinated people at the time, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said. Many of these breakthrough cases are so mild that as of last week, the CDC is no longer tracking them.

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WHAT’S IMPORTANT TODAY

They recovered from Covid, only to die of ‘black fungus’

In early May, doctors in India began raising the alarm about a rise in mucormycosis — a rare and potentially deadly infection also known as black fungus. Many of those being infected are coronavirus patients, or those who have recently recovered from Covid-19, whose immune systems have been weakened by the virus or who have underlying conditions — most notably diabetes.

In the past few weeks, thousands of black fungus cases have been reported across the country, with hundreds hospitalized and at least 90 dead. Here’s what we know about black fungus and its spread in India.
A doctor assists a Covid-19 patient with black fungus at a hospital in Jabalpur, India.

Stark racial disparities persist in US vaccinations

Black Americans’ Covid-19 vaccination rates are still lagging, months into the nation’s campaign, while Hispanics are closing the gap and Native Americans show the highest rates overall, according to federal data obtained by Kaiser Health News.

The data, provided by the CDC in response to a public records request, gives a sweeping national look at the race and ethnicity of vaccinated people on a state-by-state basis. Yet nearly half of those vaccination records are missing race or ethnicity information.

Texas governor bans public schools from requiring masks. Here’s what parents think

When Bridget Wiedenmeyer learned Texas was banning mask mandates in public schools, she immediately worried about her 11-year-old daughter — who has a chronic lung condition but is too young to be vaccinated against Covid-19. About 20 miles away, Teresa Ridenhour’s children celebrated when they learned they won’t be required to wear masks in school anymore.
Across Texas, parents are rejoicing, criticizing or just trying to adjust to the new ban. And while it’s easy to denounce an opposing viewpoint, some parents’ reasons may be more nuanced than you think, Holly Yan reports.

ON OUR RADAR

  • Authorities in Belgium are hunting for a far-right extremist who had threatened one of the country’s top doctors and had a rocket launcher in his car. The doctor was under police protection over threats from people unhappy with Covid-19 restrictions.
  • South Korea and Japan approved Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine today. Japan also approved the AstraZeneca shot, adding it to the previously authorized Pfizer vaccine. South Korea has been using Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson. Both countries have low vaccination rates — Japan has fully inoculated 1.9% of its population, South Korea 2.5%.
  • A district of northern Thailand has launched a raffle campaign for inoculated residents to win a live cow each week for the rest of the year, in a bid to boost its Covid-19 vaccination drive.
  • A doctor who died from Covid-19 left his family a sports card collection worth $20 million.
  • The US military has seen a 55% jump in Covid-19 vaccinations among active-duty service members over the last month, a senior defense official told CNN.
  • The European Union Covid-19 vaccine passports should come into effect on July 1, a top official said yesterday.

TODAY’S TOP TIP

Millions of parents and caregivers — mostly women — either lost their jobs or were forced to leave work during the pandemic so they could handle caregiving demands at home.

The rest, lucky by comparison, spent the year doing more multitasking and tantrum management than they’d ever imagined possible.

The pandemic fully exposed America’s caregiver crisis, and care has gone from something rarely acknowledged by businesses and political leaders to a cause worthy of innovation and attention. Here’s how life could get better for working parents and caregivers.

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