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High Number of Babies and Children are Dying of COVID-19 in Brazil

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Approximately 1,300 babies in Brazil have died since the beginning of the pandemic. This statistic defies overwhelming evidence that COVID-19 rarely kills children.

What We Know:

  • Last year, Jessika Ricarte noticed something was off about her one-year-old son, Lucas. First, he lost his appetite. After his godmother, a nurse, suggested he had a sore throat, he developed a fever. The appetite loss and fever transformed into fatigue and labored breathing. Jessika took Lucas to the hospital and asked for a COVID test. Although an oximeter indicated that Lucas’ blood oxygen levels were at 86%, the doctor would not administer a test. Lucas was not feverish at the time, and the medical professional stated COVID-19 was rare in children. He sent Jessika home with antibiotics, but it did not help her son. 
  • The symptoms reduced, but Lucas’ tiredness did not. Weeks went by and his condition kept getting more aggressive. Jessika returned to the local hospital, where they finally tested her son. Lucas tested positive. Officials transferred Lucas to a pediatric intensive unit in Sobral, over two hours away. Lucas received a diagnosis of multi-system inflammatory syndrome (MIS). Despite a month’s treatment and multiple attempts to save his life, Lucas ultimately lost his battle with the coronavirus. Dr. Manuela Monte, the pediatric doctor who attended Lucas, said she was shocked by the severity of his condition, as he did not have any risk factors. 
  • While the Health Ministry reports that 800 children under 9-years-old have died of COVID-19, experts say the death toll is higher. This might be from a lack of widespread testing, little contact tracing efforts, and vaccine shortages. University of São Paolo epidemiologist Dr. Fatima Marinho estimates that 2,060 children under 9, including 1,302 babies, have died. The senior adviser to the international non-governmental Vital Strategies says she based her prediction on the number of deaths from an unspecified acute respiratory syndrome throughout the pandemic.
  • Marinho debunked the misconception that children are not at-risk for COVID-19. She told BBC that there have been 10 times more deaths from the unexplained disease over the past year. They are low-risk for the coronavirus, but the scale of the epidemic increases the chance of younger people becoming ill. Additionally, she saw a rise in MIS cases among children. NBC says the newly identified and serious health condition is associated with the virus that causes coronavirus infections. MIS affects children up to six weeks after they are contaminated.
  • Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) declared on Thursday the Brazilian government’s “failed response” led to thousands of avoidable deaths. MSF President Dr. Christos ChrIstou shamed President Jair Bolsonaro for his lack of prioritizing throughout the pandemic. The right-wing leader dislikes lockdowns and holds large events without wearing a mask. It was not until March that he began to consider vaccines as an option. 

 “Each week there is a grim new record of deaths and infections — the hospitals are overflowing, and yet there is still no coordinated centralized response,” said Christou.

  • Christou expects the situation to worsen during the next weeks if nothing changes. He reprimanded the country for refusing to “adapt evidence-based public health measures.” According to Christou, Brazil needs a fast, science-based, and well-coordinated reset. Doing so will prevent deaths and the destruction of the “once prestigious Brazilian health system.” 
  • MSF warned of an unfolding “humanitarian catastrophe.” The high number of cases has damaged hospitals. Many are faced with basic medicine and oxygen supply shortages. Sao Paolo’s health secretary Jean Carlo Gorinchteyn said Brazil’s situation was dire in its most populous state. Officials warned that more than 640 hospitals could possibly collapse. Gorinchteyn further asked for the government’s support. He adds it is not only necessary for Sao Paolo, but also for the entire country. 

Since the beginning of the COVID-19, Brazil’s record of cases stands at more than 13.5 million cases. 365,444 citizens have died from the disease, as shown in data from John Hopkins University from April 15. Just last week, more than a quarter of COVID deaths came from Brazil; it is the country with the second-highest number of deaths behind the United States of America. An increase in COVID-19 tests can protect many more Brazilian children from being like Lucas. 

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Alex Haynes is Editor-At-Large/NYC Editor at Urban Newsroom, Executive Editor at UNR's Black Alerts and the host of Boss Mornings and Unmuted Nation. Alex joined Urban Newsroom in 2010 and contributes regular op-ed and editorial pieces while advising the columnist and contributing staff.

Coronavirus

U.S. May Approve COVID-19 Booster Shots at 6 Months

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The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is currently reviewing booster data from vaccine manufacturers and other countries given at 6 months.

What We Know:

  • An unnamed source told the Wall Street Journal the boosters would be approved for all three COVID-19 vaccines administered in the US- Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson. In addition, they declared approval would come in mid-September.
  • The information comes after officials reported that booster shots would become available to some adults 8 months after their last dose beginning on September 20. These include healthcare providers, nursing home residents, and other seniors. However, booster rollout depends on FDA approval and recommendation from a key Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) outside vaccine advisory committee.
  • Officials want people to receive the third dosage because of the current rise in Delta strain cases. Studies show that the coronavirus vaccine loses potency after several months. Additionally, the Delta strain currently holds the highest number of infections among vaccinated and unvaccinated people; despite this, those who obtained the vaccine experience milder breakthrough infections.
  • In addition, the CDC and FDA urge citizens to receive vaccinations as hospitalizations rise once more. Recently, the U.S. saw 100,000 people hospitalized, a number only seen since before vaccines were easily accessible. A third of the country’s hospitalizations come from states with low vaccination rates, large populations, and governors who disagree with vaccine and mask mandates, such as Texas and Florida. As of Aug. 25, Texas saw 23,412 new daily cases, 248 deaths, and 14,000 hospitalizations. On that same date, Florida saw 26,203 positive cases, 9 fatalities, and 17,000 hospitalizations.

Alongside more hospitalizations, daily numbers are also creeping back up. On Aug. 25, the U.S. saw 148,000 new cases, only 3,000 less than Jan. 30’s report. In contrast, deaths from COVID-19 waned since January, dropping from 3,100 a day to 1,100 a day.

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FDA grants full approval to Pfizer’s Covid vaccine

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The Food and Drug Administration granted full approval to Pfizer-BioNTech’s two-dose vaccine Monday for people ages 16 and up, making it the first Covid-19 vaccine to pass this final regulatory hurdle.

“The FDA’s approval of this vaccine is a milestone as we continue to battle the Covid-19 pandemic,” Acting FDA Commissioner Dr. Janet Woodcock said in a statement. “While millions of people have already safely received Covid-19 vaccines, we recognize that for some, the FDA approval of a vaccine may now instill additional confidence to get vaccinated. Today’s milestone puts us one step closer to altering the course of this pandemic in the U.S.”

What We Know:

  • The FDA’s decision may also pave the way for more vaccination mandates: Many businesses were waiting for full approval before they required employees to be vaccinated.

“Full approval could not come at a more important time, as the highly contagious delta variant continues to drive up caseloads and deaths across the U.S.,” the president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Dr. Richard Besser, former acting director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said in a statement. “I am hopeful that full approval will address any remaining concerns and will move many people to a ‘yes’ on vaccination.”

  • Besser said the lack of vaccines in middle- and low-income countries “represents a global failure,” adding, “Ensuring an adequate supply of vaccines in every country and community must be a health, economic, and moral imperative for the world.”
  • Federal health officials announced that, starting September 20th, people who received the Pfizer vaccine will be eligible for third doses eight months after their second doses. The FDA has not yet signed off a third dose.  No Covid vaccines have been authorized or approved for use in children under 12, though this is expected to change soon with FDA approval.

Pfizer’s vaccine is one of three in use in the U.S. Moderna has also applied for full approval, also known as a Biologics Licensing Application. Johnson & Johnson has not yet applied for full approval, and remains in use under emergency authorization.

Pfizer’s product was the first Covid vaccine to gain emergency use authorization, in December. As of Monday, more than 203 million doses have been given in the U.S., according to the CDC.

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Coronavirus

Reverend Jesse Jackson and His Wife, Jacqueline, Hospitalized with COVID-19

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Reverend Jesse Jackson and his wife Jacqueline are currently being treated at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago.

What We Know:

  • News about the couple’s diagnosis became public after a statement released by the Reverend’s Rainbow/Push Coalition on Saturday. In the statement, officials declared that doctors were monitoring both Jesse and Jacqueline; it did not provide any further information.
  • However, their son, Jonathan, provided more information on Sunday. Jonathan told the Associated Press that doctors are carefully observing Jesse and Jacqueline because of their ages. Additionally, the two responded “positively” to treatments and were resting. On Monday, Jonathan said his parents’ status did not change and asked for prayers for the two,
  • Despite his hospitalization, Jesse received his first coronavirus vaccine dosage in January 2021 during a publicized event. Alongside obtaining protection against the disease, he urged his followers to receive the vaccine as soon as possible. The Associated Press reported that it is unclear if Jacqueline also got the vaccine.
  • Underlying health concerns might have been the cause for both of them catching COVID-19. Family members said Jacqueline had an unspecified condition which made them concerned recently. In addition, Jesse was diagnosed in 2015 with Parkinson’s disease and underwent gallbladder surgery earlier this year.
  • Rev. Jesse Jackson worked with mentor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in moving the Civil Rights Movement forward. His impact helped guide the movement on numerous issues, such as voting rights. After the movement and even currently, Jesse continued working to make a change in his society. Police recently arrested Jesse for civil disobedience after participating in a sit-in at Sen. Kyrsten Sinema‘s Phoenix office with 39 others.

Black News Alerts prays that Jesse and Jacqueline make a speedy recovery and continue inspiring many.

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