- A new report from the CDC found that younger adults were statistically just as likely to get the coronavirus and be hospitalized as people who were 65 and older.
- The report contradicts the general narrative that younger people are in less danger.
- Meanwhile, hoards of spring breakers are still partying in crowded areas and beaches in Florida, despite warnings from the CDC and efforts by Gov. Ron DeSantis to shut down bars and clubs and limit group sizes on beaches.
- In a now-viral CBS clip, several young party-goers said that they care more about their spring break than the global outbreak.
Partying On Brings Public Health Risks
The world might feel like it’s coming to an end, but while you’re at home eating beans or hoarding thousands of dollars of hand sanitizer, there are still plenty of people out partying for spring break.
It should come as no surprise that a group of people who couldn’t care less about totally endangering everyone’s health and safety also don’t care about their own wellbeing. But now, they’re speaking out.
“If I get corona, I get corona. At the end of the day, I’m not going to let it stop me from partying,” Ohio native and self-described aspiring SoundCloud rapper Brady Sluder told CBS in a now-viral video.
“You know, I’ve been waiting, we’ve been waiting for Miami spring break for a while, about two months we’ve had this trip planned, two, three months, and we’re just out here having a good time,” he continued. “Whatever happens, happens.”
To his credit, two, three months is a very long time.
In an effort to stop party-goers from doing even more damage, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis addressed the situation Tuesday by closing all bars and clubs for 30 days and limiting beach parties to 10 people— if you can even call 10 people a party!
But that seems to have just angered the springer breakers, who now feel as though their undeniable human rights are being violated.
“It’s really messing up with my spring break,” said 21-year-old Brianna Smith. “What is there to do here other than go to the bars or the beach? And they’re closing all of it. I think they’re blowing it way out of proportion. I think it’s doing way too much.”
“What they’re doing is bad, we need a refund,” said Atlantis Walker, another 21-year-old visiting Florida. “This virus ain’t that serious.”
Florida already has reported 328 confirmed coronavirus cases and eight deaths, but like everywhere else in the U.S., they have a massive test shortage, so that number is likely higher.
Florida Politicians Respond
Speaking on Fox and Friends Thursday, DeSantis doubled down on his message to party hungry visitors.
“The message I think for spring breakers is that the party’s over in Florida, you’re not going to be able to congregate on any beach in the state,” he said. “Many of the hot spots that people like to go to, whether it’s Miami Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Clearwater Beach, are closed entirely for the time being.”
DeSantis also said that the videos of crowded beaches and other public areas were from people who went down to Florida before things got bad. Now, he says people are canceling trips.
The videos circulated last weekend and early this week, so you can decide for yourself if that was before things got bad.
Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) also hit similar points during an interview with CNN Thursday morning.
“Get off the beach,” he said. “I mean, unless you can figure out how to be completely isolated from anyone else.”
“Take some personal responsibility here, don’t infect other people,” he added. “Don’t take a chance that you’re going to be the one to cause your grandparent or your parents or another friend from school to get sick.”
Both politicians refused to say whether they would close the beaches altogether.
New CDC Report
Scott’s argument about spreading the virus is important, and while his message is true for people everywhere, it’s especially important for those in Florida.
The sunshine state is the infamous host of two major populations that are incredibly dangerous when put together: drunk kids on vacation who think they are indestructible and old people.
On one hand, you have a state where 27% of the population is over 60 and thus at risk for coronavirus, and on the other hand, you have a massive tourism industry that brought in more than 126 million people in 2018 alone.
While some of those people are there to marvel at Florida’s unparalleled biodiversity or buy some bath salts, a lot of people are there to party. And right now, those people are putting everyone at risk.
Many of those young spring breakers seem to believe that they will not get the coronavirus, or that if they do, they’ll be okay. But a new report released by the CDC Wednesday indicates that those assumptions are not true at all.
According to the report, out of the 508 patients known to have been hospitalized in the U.S., 20% of them were between 20 and 44—roughly millennials— and more than half of them were under 65.
Though notably, less than 1% of those under 19 were hospitalized, and the vast majority of deaths— about 80%— were from people 65 and older.
But one of the most shocking pieces of information from this report was the number of younger adults who tested positive for the coronavirus. Of the 2,449 patients with known ages, 29% were between 20 and 44, and more than half were under 65.
Meaning that statistically, people under 65 were just as likely to get the virus and have conditions serious enough to be hospitalized as those who were over 65.
It also seems to contradict the general narrative that people under 65 are significantly less at risk. They are less at risk for dying, but not necessarily for getting the virus or being hospitalized.
“Younger people may feel more confident about their ability to withstand a virus like this,” said Dr. Christopher Carlsten, the head of respiratory medicine at the University of British Columbia explains. “If that many younger people are being hospitalized, that means that there are a lot of young people in the community that are walking around with the infection.”
Even beyond that, there have also been recent reports that some people who get over the virus still have lasting issues.
“Lots of young people are getting hospitalized, a lot more than we’re messaging, and, yes, maybe you don’t die, but living with a damaged lung or damaged organ is not a good outcome,” said Prabhjot Singh, a physician and health systems expert at Mount Sinai Health System and the Icahn School of Medicine.
In other words, despite what Brady Sluder might tell you, whether young or old, you should worry about getting the coronavirus.
See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (The Hill) (Fox News)
Texas Doctor Says He Violated Abortion Law, Opening Matter Up for Litigation
Under the state’s new law, any citizen could sue the doctor, which would make the matter the first known test case of the restrictive policy.
Dr. Braid’s Op-Ed
A Texas doctor revealed in an op-ed published in The Washington Post Saturday that he performed an abortion in violation of the state’s law that bans the procedure after six weeks, before most people know they are pregnant.
The law, which is the most restrictive in the country and does not have exceptions for rape and incest, also allows civilians to sue anyone who helps someone receive an abortion after six weeks.
In the op-ed, Dr. Alan Braid, who has been practicing as an OB/GYN in Texas for 45 years, said that just days after the law took effect, he gave an abortion to a woman who was still in her first trimester but already beyond the state’s new limit.
“I acted because I had a duty of care to this patient, as I do for all patients, and because she has a fundamental right to receive this care,” he wrote. “I fully understood that there could be legal consequences — but I wanted to make sure that Texas didn’t get away with its bid to prevent this blatantly unconstitutional law from being tested.”
Braid went on to say that he understands he is taking a personal risk but that he believes it is worth it.
“I have daughters, granddaughters and nieces,” he concluded. “I believe abortion is an essential part of health care. I have spent the past 50 years treating and helping patients. I can’t just sit back and watch us return to 1972.”
If someone does opt to sue Braid over this matter, he could potentially be the state’s first test case in playing out the legal process. However, it is unclear if anti-abortion groups will follow through, despite their threats to enforce the law.
A spokesperson for Texas Right to Life, which set up a website to report people suspected of violating the ban, told reporters this weekend that it is looking into Braid’s claims but added, “It definitely seems like a legal stunt and we are looking into whether it is more than that.”
Even if abortion opponents hold off on Braid’s case, there are other legal challenges to the Texas law.
Shortly after the policy took effect, the Department of Justice filed a lawsuit attempting to stop it. Last week, the department filed an emergency motion asking a federal judge in the state to temporarily block the ban while that legal battle plays out, with a hearing for that motion set for Oct. 1.
Regardless of what side the federal judge rules for, the other is all but ensured to sue, and that fight could take the question to the Supreme Court in a matter of months.
See what others are saying: (NPR) (The Texas Tribune) (The Wall Street Journal)
Pfizer Says Low Dose of COVID-19 Vaccine Is Safe and Effective in Kids 5 to 11
Pfizer Says Kids’ Vaccine Works
Pfizer announced Monday morning that its joint COVID-19 vaccine with BioNTech is safe and effective in kids ages 5 to 11.
While Pfizer’s vaccine candidate for younger children is the same version the FDA has already approved for people 12 and older, the children’s dose is only one-third of the amount given to adults and teens. Still, Pfizer said the antibody response they’ve seen in kids has been comparable to the response seen in older participants.
Similarly, the company said side effects in children have been similar to those witnessed in adults.
Pfizer said it expects to finish submitting data, which still needs to be peer-reviewed and then published, to the FDA by the end of the month. From there, the agency will ensure that Pfizer’s findings are accurate and that the vaccine will be able to elicit a strong immune response in kids at its current one-third dosage.
That process could take weeks or even all of October, but it does open the possibility that the vaccine candidate could be approved around Halloween.
While experts like Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, have called Pfizer’s announcement largely predictable, they’ve also urged people to let the research run its course.
With cases among children skyrocketing in recent months, some parents have begun urging pediatricians to give their children the jab early. Those kinds of requests are likely to increase with Pfizer’s announcement; however, officials have warned parents about acting too quickly.
“No one should really be freelancing — they should wait for the appropriate approval and recommendations to decide how best to manage their own children’s circumstances,” Bill Gruber, Pfizer’s senior vice president of vaccine clinical research and development, said according to The Washington Post.
See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (The New York Times) (Axios)
Contradicting Studies Leave Biden’s COVID-19 Booster Plan Up in the Air
While some studies show that the effectiveness of Pfizer and Moderna’s COVID vaccines decrease over time, other publications argue the decline is not substantial and a full-flung booster campaign is premature.
Booster Rollout in Flux
President Joe Biden’s plan to offer COVID-19 booster shots is facing serious hurdles just a week before it is set to roll out. Issues with the plan stem from growing divisions among the scientific community over the necessity of a third jab.
The timing of booster shots administration has been a point of contention for months, but the debate intensified in August when Biden announced that, pending regulatory approval, the government would start offering boosters on Sept. 20 to adults eight months after they received their second dose of Pfizer or Moderna.
The announcement was backed by the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the acting commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and White House chief medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci, among others.
However, many scientists and other health experts both inside and outside of the government have continually criticized the plan. They have claimed the data supporting boosters was not compelling and argued that, while the FDA approved third doses for immunocompromised Americans, the push to give them to the general public was premature.
The plan also drew international backlash from those who argued the U.S. should not launch a booster campaign when billions of people around the world have not gotten their first dose yet. Earlier this month, the World Health Organization (WHO) extended its request that wealthy countries hold off on giving boosters until at least the end of the year.
Those arguments appeared to be bolstered when federal health regulators said earlier this month that they needed more time to review Moderna’s application for booster shots, forcing the Biden Administration to delay offering third shots to those who received that vaccine.
Now, Pfizer recipients will be the only people who may be eligible for boosters by the initial deadline, though that depends on a forthcoming decision from an FDA expert advisory committee that is set to vote Friday on whether or not to recommend approval.
Debate Continues in Crucial Week
More contradictory information has been coming out in the days leading up to the highly anticipated decision.
On Monday, an international group of 18 scientists, including some at the FDA and the WHO, published a review in The Lancet arguing that there is no credible data to show the vaccines’ ability to prevent severe disease declined substantially over time, so boosters are not yet needed for the general, non-immunocompromised public.
The experts claimed that any advantage boosters may provide does not outweigh the benefit of giving the extra doses to all those who are unvaccinated worldwide.
On the other side, a study released Wednesday in The New England Journal of Medicine found that people who received a third shot of Pfizer in Israel were much less likely to develop severe COVID than those who just had the first two jabs.
The same day, both Pfizer and Moderna published data backing that up as well. Pfizer released an analysis that said data on boosters and the Delta variant from both Israel and the U.S. suggested “that vaccine protection against COVID-19 infection wanes approximately 6 to 8 months following the second dose.”
Moderna also published data, that has not yet been peer-reviewed, which also found its jab provided less immunity and protection against severe disease as time went on.
Further complicating matters was the fact that the FDA additionally released its report on Pfizer’s analysis of the need for a booster shortly after Pfizer’s publication. Normally, those findings would shine a light on the agency’s stance on the issue, but the regulator did not take a clear stand.
“Some observational studies have suggested declining efficacy of [Pfizer] over time […] while others have not,” the agency wrote. “Overall, data indicate that currently US-licensed or authorized COVID-19 vaccines still afford protection against severe COVID-19 disease and death.”
It remains unclear what the FDA panel will determine when they meet Friday, or what a similar CDC expert panel that is expected to meet next week will decide regarding vaccination policies.
Notably, officials at the two agencies are not required to follow the recommendations of their expert panels, though they usually do.
Even if the FDA approves Pfizer’s application as it stands to give boosters to those 16 and older, people familiar with the matter said the CDC might recommend the third jabs only for people 65 and older or those who are especially at risk.
Regardless of what is decided, experts have said that it is absolutely essential for the agency to stand firm in its decision and clearly explain its reasoning to the public in order to combat further confusion and misinformation.
“F.D.A. does the best in situations when there are strongly held but conflicting views, when they’re forthcoming with the data and really explain decisions,” Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, a vice dean at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health told The New York Times. “It’s important for the F.D.A. not to say, ‘Here’s our decision, mic drop. It’s much better for them to say, ‘Here’s how we looked at the data, here are the conclusions we made from the data, and here’s why we’re making the conclusions.’”