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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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Coronavirus

Schools Are Disciplining Kids With Virtual Classes, Advocates Say That Could Violate Their Rights

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Advocates are calling these actions the “new face of denial of access to public education”.

What We Know:

  • A six-year-old named Raynardo Antonio Ocasio has been banned from his classroom since September. Raynardo was banned from in-person learning for failing to wear a mask. The school, Zeta Charter School in Manhattan, has stated that pushing Raynardo out was necessary to keep teachers and students safe during the pandemic. Administrators and other schools across the country made similar decisions during the reopening process.
  • Raynardo has a speech and language impairment that makes it challenging for him to comply with instructions. He had difficulty expressing himself while wearing a mask. A psychologist was brought to the school in order to support Raynardo, but after numerous efforts, his school decided to send him home for virtual classes. The decision to send Raynardo home wasn’t intended to be permanent.
  • Student advocates in six states informed NBC News that they’re working with students impacted by these actions. Critics argue that removing students because of their behavior is a violation of students’ rights. Federal law requires public schools to provide all students with the support they need to succeed. This could entail bringing in a counselor or working with parents to improve a child’s behavior.
  • Advocates argue that the students they’ve seen removed from in-person classes are the same ones who’ve traditionally been more likely to be removed from class. These kinds of students include children with disabilities, those with a hard time following some rules, and Black or Latino children who are more likely to be punished for their behavior than their white classmates. Those students were already more likely to struggle in school than their peers according to civil rights and educational justice advocate, Lorraine Wright.

Raynardo has been attending school virtually for more than seven months and advocates say what happened amounts to an informal removal.

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National Pharmacy Chains Have Wasted Hundreds of Thousands of Covid Vaccine Doses

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Two nationwide pharmacy chains trusted with handling vaccinations are largely responsible for the majority of wasted doses.

What We Know:

  • According to the CDC, there were 182,874 wasted doses of the covid vaccine as of late March. The pharmacy chains CVS and Walgreens are responsible for 128,500 wasted shots. According to Kaiser Health News, CVS accounted for nearly half of those, with Walgreens representing 21%.
  •  The CDC data indicates that the two companies wasted more shots of the vaccine than all of the states, territories, and federal agencies combined. The data, however, does not indicate how the pharmacies were able to waste so many of the vaccine doses. Many critics cited the disorganized rollout of the vaccine as the primary factor contributing to the waste.
  • The Trump administration heavily leaned on the two pharmacies to vaccinate those long-term care facilities during the early phase. A CVS representative stated “nearly all” of its wasted vials came during this period.
  • The report found that freezer malfunctions were the most common source of wasted vials. The Pfizer was the first to be distributed in December. The vaccine initially required that it be kept in ultra-cold storage, making it difficult to transport and store properly. The report found that the Pfizer vaccine made up 60% of all lost doses.
  • In a statement, CDC spokesperson Kate Fowlie said, “though every effort is made to reduce the volume of wastage in a vaccination program, sometimes it’s necessary to identify doses as ‘waste’ to ensure anyone wanting a vaccine can receive it, as well as to ensure patient safety and vaccine effectiveness.”

According to the CDC, nearly 250 million doses of the covid vaccine have been administered. Over 100 million Americans have been fully vaccinated so far, which amounts to about 32% of the population.

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Some Health Insurers Ending Waivers for COVID Treatment Fees

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As several pandemic restrictions are lifted across the country, health insurers are looking to roll back on waivers for coronavirus treatment.

What We Know:  

  • During the height of the pandemic, many health insurance companies voluntarily waived deductibles, copayments, and other added fees for insured patients that contracted COVID-19Patients who became severely ill and required hospitalization or medical treatment also had their fees waived
  • Those in the industry were applauded for aiding customers during a physically, emotionally, and financially difficult time. But as more aspects of normality return to how they used to be, the less coverage health insurers are giving to COVID-19 patients. 
  • Starting at the end of 2020 and continuing onward, a number of health insurance companies are quietly ending their fee waivers for covid treatment policies. Sabrina Corlette, research professor and co-director of the Center on Health Insurance Reforms at Georgetown University, said, When it comes to treatment, more and more consumers will find that the normal course of deductibles, copayments, and coinsurance will apply. 
  • Even so, federal law prevents insurers from charging for coronavirus testing and vaccination, ensuring clients are still able to know if they have contracted the virus. However, if a person is to be hospitalized with coronavirus, they may receive a hefty bill.  

Robert Laszewski, an insurance industry consultant in Maryland, called the ending of the waivers for treatment “a big deal” if you become severely ill. On top of that, he adds, “and then you find out you have to pay $5,000 out-of-pocket that your cousin didn’t two months ago.” 

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