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Biden marks 1 million Americans dead from COVID
President Joe Biden on Thursday commemorated the death of 1 million people in the Unites States from COVID-19, marking what he called “a tragic milestone” and urging Americans to “remain vigilant” amid the ongoing pandemic.
In a statement, Biden acknowledged the loss’ impact on families left behind and urged the country not to “grow numb to such sorrow,” noting “a nation forever changed.”
The United States on Wednesday recorded more than 1 million COVID-19 deaths, according to a Reuters tally, crossing a once-unthinkable milestone about two years after the first cases upended everyday life. The loss represents about one death for every 327 Americans, or more than the entire population of San Francisco or Seattle.
U.S. will share COVID-19 vaccine technology, Biden tells global summit
The United States will share technologies used to make COVID-19 vaccines through the World Health Organization and is working to expand rapid testing and antiviral treatments for hard-to-reach populations, President Joe Biden said on Thursday.
The U.S. will contribute an additional $200 million to a global health fund for future pandemic preparedness at the World Bank, he said, bringing its total contribution to $450 million.
“We are making available health technologies that are owned by the United States government, including stabilized spike protein that is used in many COVID-19 vaccines,” Biden said in his opening speech for the second global COVID-19 summit.
North Korea reports first COVID-19 outbreak, orders lockdown in ‘gravest emergency’
SEOUL — North Korea confirmed its first COVID-19 outbreak on Thursday, calling it the “gravest national emergency” and ordering a national lockdown, with state media reporting an Omicron variant had been detected in Pyongyang.
The first public admission of COVID infections highlights the potential for a major crisis in a country that has refused to accept international help with vaccination and shut down its borders.
As of March, no cases of COVID-19 have been reported, according to the World Health Organization, and there is no official record of any North Koreans having been vaccinated.
Two possible cases of severe acute hepatitis identified in Alberta
There have been two possible cases of severe acute hepatitis with no known cause identified in Alberta, Dr. Deena Hinshaw announced Wednesday.
The chief medical officer of health said that of the two cases, one patient has been treated and discharged from the hospital while the other remains in hospital. Due to patient confidentiality, she said, she could not provide information on where the cases were found but that they were both in children under the age of 16.
“It is important to remember that the definition for possible cases is very broad, which means that any child with severe liver inflammation for whom a cause is not found is being counted,” said Hinshaw. “There are many causes of hepatitis and it can take time to investigate to determine if there is a known cause. This means that a case may initially present in one of these possible unknown cause categories but, after further investigation or testing a diagnosis may be determined. If that happens, the case would be removed from the possible case count.”
Hinshaw said parents should understand that the reporting of these cases does not mean there is an elevated risk of disease in the community.
Hospitalizations decrease in Alberta, Paxlovid eligibility to be expanded
During Alberta’s weekly COVID-19 update, Health Minister Jason Copping said hospitalizations are beginning to decline in the province.
“Hospitalizations have decreased over the past week, including patients in ICU with COVID,” Copping said. “It’s still early days. All of these numbers fluctuate from day-to-day, and they wont necessarily drop in a straight line from here. It looks like the peak in hospitalizations was on April 26, around two weeks ago.”
Copping said assuming the downward trend continues, it will mean fewer admissions, fewer beds blocked and fewer staff off sick because of COVID.
“Admissions may not continue to drop straight down every day, but we hope to see relief soon for the staff and physicians in our hospitals,” he said. “COVID itself is adding less to the numbers than we’ve seen in past waves, but the system is under real strain.”
Hospital occupancy remains high in Edmonton and Calgary. A few of the largest sites, according to Copping, are operating at over 100 per cent capacity.
“There have been peak levels recently right across the province, but the pressure is concentrated in the two big cities, in line with our usual trends.”
Separately, eligibility requirements are also set to be expanded for Albertans seeking prescriptions for the COVID-19 treatment pill Paxlovid.
Copping said requirements will now include people aged 16 and older, First Nations people aged 50 and older with two or fewer doses of COVID-19 vaccine and at least one pre-existing condition. Additionally, peopled aged 70 and older, and First Nations aged 60 and older with three or fewer doses of vaccine along with two or more pre-existing conditions.
“That is in addition to the people who are currently eligible,” he said.
Copping recognized eligibility for Paxlovid can be complex and said more information on requirements can be found by visiting the AHS website.
During chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw’s portion of the update, she provided more information on cases of severe, acute hepatitis among children.
Two cases of the severe hepatitis in children younger than 16 have been reported in Alberta. Hinshaw said one is still being treated in hospital, the other has been treated and released.
Hinshaw also touched on Influenza in Alberta, and said three people in the province have died due to the flu.
Alberta reports 4,551 new cases, 70 deaths over seven-day period
Here are COVID-19 numbers released today by Alberta Health, covering a seven-day period from May 3 to May 9:
- The province is reporting 4,551 new COVID-19 cases over seven days, through 21,906 tests completed.
- There are 1,225 people in hospital with COVID-19, a decrease of 47 since May 4. There are 37 people in ICU, a decrease of nine since May 4.
- There were another 70 COVID-related deaths reported to Alberta Health Services, bringing the total to 4,391 since the start of the pandemic. There have been 1,076 deaths reported in Alberta since Jan. 1.
- Alberta’s two-dose vaccination rate for the population age 12 and over is 86.9 per cent.
By the numbers: Hospitalizations, deaths and cases by age
Some U.S. patients reporting COVID rebounds after taking Pfizer pills
More than 2.8 million courses of Pfizer Inc’s COVID-19 oral antiviral treatment Paxlovid have been made available at pharmacies around the United States, with the Biden administration working to improve access to the drug.
As Paxlovid has become more widely used, some patients have reported that COVID-19 symptoms recurred after completing treatment and experiencing improvement. Here is the latest information on these rebounds:
Pfizer has said that from more than 300,000 patients it is monitoring who received the 5-day treatment, around 1-in-3,000 – about 0.03% – reported a relapse after taking the pills.
Brian May says he has daily ‘brown-outs’ since contracting COVID-19
Brian May has been suffering from daily “brown-outs” since contracting COVID-19.
The Queen legend fell ill with the virus in December 2021 after a birthday lunch with friends, and he has been dealing with a “strange” condition which causes him to suddenly fall asleep.
Appearing on the How Do You Cope podcast, he said: “I have a strange persisting condition, I think from the COVID, which are kind of brown-outs…
“Generally I’m OK, I’m not tired all the time, but I’ll get to a certain point in the day where something inside my head goes, ‘You have to sleep now. You don’t care about any of this, go to sleep – who cares?’
Toronto Pearson travellers face long waits as airport hit by double whammy of COVID screening and staff shortages
Canadians traveling through Toronto Pearson International Airport are facing lengthy wait times and the situation is likely to worsen in coming weeks.
The airport is being hit with a double whammy of staffing shortages and longer processing times due to public health screening measures, according to Greater Toronto Airports Authority spokesperson Tori Gass. The COVID-19 measures can double or even quadruple the required processing time, she said.
“We are forced to sort of hold passengers on their airplanes because of capacity issues,” Gass said. “There’s not enough space inside the terminal.”
China censors WHO chief’s call to end ‘zero-COVID’ controls
When the head of the World Health Organization described China’s hard-line “zero-COVID” policy as not “sustainable,” the reaction in China on Wednesday was swift – his comments were censored and he was branded “irresponsible.”
Authorities in China have blocked debate over its controversial approach of constantly striving for zero coronavirus infections through draconian lockdowns. Researchers have warned that abandoning the policy would unleash a “tsunami” of coronavirus cases.
In a briefing Tuesday, WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called on China to rethink its severe COVID controls in light of the more-transmissible omicron coronavirus variant.
COVID-19’s impact on the brain can be similar to effect of aging 20 years: study
Researchers from the University of Cambridge in England suggest that a severe case of COVID can result in a person losing as many as 10 IQ points. In fact, even in recovered patients, there is evidence that the disease can result in cognitive and mental health issues including brain fog, issues with remembering words, sleeplessness, anxiety, and PTSD.
“Cognitive impairment is common to a wide range of neurological disorders, including dementia, and even routine aging, but the patterns we saw – the cognitive ‘fingerprint’ of COVID-19 – was distinct from all of these,” David Menon, lead author on the study, published in the journal eClinicalMedicine, said in a statement.
A separate study mentioned in the statement suggests that one out of every seven people who caught COVID in the U.K. were reporting cognitive difficulties up to 12 weeks after their initial positive test.