When I shop at Trader Joe’s there is usually a line of people snaking up the front. I walked past them into the shop.
There’s an even more important path I want to take: the path to getting the Covid-19 vaccination. This time, I plan to wait my turn.
I’m not a line cutter. Trader’s Joe prioritizes people over 60 and disabled people for an hour twice a week due to the pandemic. So, at 64, I was entitled to cross the line, and I did. In fact, the only time I go to the store again is during her senior hours.
I feel a little guilty about getting special treatment. One time I took my veil off my head before entering the shop so that people waiting outside could see my gray hair. They don’t look impressed.
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I’m not weak. I’m still fast walking and can walk around the shop quite well. But I crossed the line.
Just because I have the right to do it, is it the right thing to do?
We spend our lives navigating between two opposing poles: self-interest and altruism.
People who only think about themselves are difficult to be around, sometimes even dangerous.
But people who never think about themselves can create problems too. It’s a balancing act.
Until a year and a half ago, I commuted every day to New York. If I see a pregnant woman or an elderly person having difficulty standing up, I will offer my seat on the train or subway. If I travel again, I will do the same.
Why do I feel okay dodging lines at Trader Joe’s even if I can afford to stand in them? For one, even seniors in good health are more susceptible to viruses. It’s convenient to quickly enter a store masked, shopping, and a skedaddle.
But there’s another factor: I hate waiting in line.
I have thought a lot about lines and cuts when the coronavirus vaccination campaign was launched. I am a strong believer in vaccination, and want to get needles in my arm as quickly as possible.
However, because I am under 65 years of age and not an essential worker, I may not be vaccinated for a while.
I find this frustrating and completely appropriate. Those who are most susceptible and / or exposed to the virus through their work should be vaccinated first.
Indeed, our household has benefited from this policy. My wife and son are both in a high-risk group which makes them eligible for early vaccination. They got their first shot a few weeks ago. That’s a relief.
I have been releasing articles from home lately. I am in a better position to wait for this than millions of other Americans.
So I’ll be waiting for my turn on the vaccination route.
But I’ll keep avoiding the queues at Trader Joe’s when I’m away. However, I will probably go less often. Now that my wife has been vaccinated, she says she has to go shopping. I can live with that. .
SÃO PAULO – Researchers and doctors sound the alarm a new, more aggressive type of coronavirus from the Amazon region of Brazil, which they believe is responsible for the recent increase in deaths, as well as infections in younger people, in parts of South America.
Brazil’s daily death toll from the disease climbed to its highest level this week, pushing the total number of Covid-19 deaths in the country past a quarter of a million. On Tuesday, Brazil reported a record 1,641 deaths from Covid. Neighboring Peru is struggling to curb a second wave of infections.
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The new variant, known as P.1, was 1.4 to 2.2 times more contagious than the version of the virus previously found in Brazil, and 25% to 61% more capable of reinfecting people who had been infected with the previous strain, according to a study. released Tuesday.
With mass vaccination away across the region, countries like Brazil are at risk of becoming breeding grounds strong virus version that could make the current Covid-19 vaccine less effective, public health specialists warn.
A more prolonged pandemic could also devastate the economies of countries like Brazil, slow growth and widen already large piles of sovereign debt as governments make payments to the poor, economists say.
“We have a dramatic situation here – the health systems in many states in Brazil have collapsed and others will be damaged in the coming days,” said Eliseu Waldman, an epidemiologist at the University of São Paulo.
Several doctors have reported a surge in younger patients on their Covid-19 wards, many in their 30s and 40s with no underlying health problems. In Peru, some doctors said patients became seriously ill sooner, just three or four days after first symptoms appeared, compared with an average of nine to 14 days last year.
“This virus behaves differently,” said Rosa Lopez, a doctor in the intensive care unit at Guillermo Almenara Irigoyen Lima Hospital. “It is very aggressive … the situation is very difficult, very dire.”
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The Amazonian strain, P.1, emerged in the Brazilian city of Manaus late last year and quickly caught the attention of Brazilian and international scientists racing to map its distribution. The large number of variant mutations to the spike protein, which help the virus penetrate cells, is of particular concern.
“We are at the worst of times. I wouldn’t be surprised if P.1 were all over Brazil now, ”said Felipe Naveca, a researcher at the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation who has studied the new strain. He estimates that Brazil is already home to hundreds of new Covid-19 variants, even though P.1. is the most worrying so far, he said.
However, researchers are still confused as to why more young people are getting sick and whether P.1 is more deadly, or more contagious.
“The recent epidemic in Manaus has weighed on the city’s health care system, leading to inadequate access to medical care,” wrote study author P.1, led by Nuno Faria, a professor of viral evolution at the University of Oxford and Imperial College London. .
“We were therefore unable to determine whether the estimated increased relative risk of death was due to P.1 infection, pressure on the Manaus health care system, or both,” they wrote.
A study led by Mr Naveca released last week showed that in some cases the P.1 strain carried a viral load about 10 times higher than the initial version of the virus circulating in Brazil for most of the pandemic. But an international group of scientists led by Mr Faria concluded that it would not be possible to determine whether P.1 infection was associated with increased viral load until detailed clinical investigations were carried out.
Researchers in South Africa grapple with the same questions while studying Another new variant, B.1.351. Doctors there also reported increased hospitalizations and deaths for younger patients, but the researchers concluded that more younger people became seriously ill as more people became infected overall. The likelihood of younger people dying increased, they said, because hospitals were overwhelmed, not because the variant itself was more lethal.
Another possible explanation for the increase in younger patients is that the virus has spread through many of the elderly who have died, said Francisco Cardoso, an infectious disease specialist at Emílio Ribas hospital in São Paulo.
Latin America has been one of the world’s Covid-19 hotspots since the pandemic began, but in recent days doctors in Brazil have grown increasingly desperate, portraying horror scenes across the country. While the new strains are largely to blame, so is a lack of preparation and prevention by regional governments, said public health specialists.
Hospitals operate with ICU occupancy rates above 80% in nearly two-thirds of Brazilian states. After many patients suffocate in Manaus Earlier this year when the hospital ran out of oxygen, prosecutors were investigating reports from another Amazon city that intubated patients were tied to their beds after a sedative shortage.
In Peru, where the government has detected the P.1 strain, hospitals were quickly pushed out of capacity as infections spiked in January after one of the world’s worst outbreaks last year. Doctors are now choosing among dozens of patients when the ICU beds are open, while Chile is donating rescue oxygen amid an acute shortage.
The scene comes as the US, UK and Israel celebrate falling infection rates amid a mass vaccination campaign, evidence of a widening immunity gap between rich and poor countries. While more than 15% of people in the US have received a Covid-19 shot, Brazil has administered the vaccine to only 3% of the population. Peru and Colombia have vaccinated less than 1%.
If Latin America doesn’t find a way to speed up vaccination campaigns, other countries such as Colombia and Bolivia that have seen a slowdown in recent infections could also fall victim to the new variant, infectious disease specialists said.
The longer the disease is allowed to rot in countries like Brazil, the more likely it is that new variants will emerge that reduce the effectiveness of the Covid-19 vaccine, thus also becoming a threat to countries that have immunized their populations.
“Unless everyone in the world gets the vaccine immediately, none of us will be protected,” said Patricia Garcia, a former Peruvian health minister and epidemiologist. It will never stop.
Cesar Palacios, a 44-year-old pediatrician in the northern Peruvian city of Piura, lost his parents and younger sister to the disease earlier this year. She spent 10 days on a ventilator after she fell ill herself, her illness escalating rapidly as oxygen levels in her blood dropped to dangerous territory, at 86% just a day after her first symptoms. A few days later he was in the ICU.
“When you are going to be on a mechanical ventilator, you think, am I going to live? Am I going to die? “Said Dr. Palacios. “I have no other choice. I am very afraid. “
While Peru has imposed a curfew on Lima and other states with high infections, Brazilian cities such as São Paulo and its capital, Brasília, have imposed stricter restrictions over the past few days.
But many Brazilians break the rules, following directions from the country’s president. Right-wing leader Jair Bolsonaro has played down the disease and attacked state governors for imposing a lockdown, accusing them of destroying local businesses.
The military police in São Paulo raided about 50 companies over the weekend that refused to comply, including a group of 190 elderly Brazilians holding a clandestine party.
—Luciana Magalhaes in São Paulo and Gabriele Steinhauser in Johannesburg contributed to this article.
SYDNEY – For harvesting red papayas in the tropical heat of northern Australia, farmer Paul Fagg has long been attracted to an unusual crowd of foreign tourists.
Not this year.
Australia destroyed the coronavirus with one of the strictest border control regimes In the world. But the success created problems for the nation’s farmers, who couldn’t find the labor they needed to pick and grow crops. Backpacking tourists, who typically make up 80% of the workforce harvesting fresh produce, have flocked since the pandemic began, without arriving to replace them. Seasonal workers from the Pacific islands are also largely on lockdown, even though many countries are considered to be free of Covid-19.
Quarantine of workers on farms has been tried, but it is far from what farmers need. Several Australians have accepted offers of government money to move to rural areas. Labor shortages hurt the economy: Farmers report falling profits, and some fear foreclosure. Many are now growing fewer crops, which can drive up food prices.
With increasing fatigue among the regular staff on the 190-acre Skybury farm and little prospect of extra help, Mr. Fagg and colleagues decided late last year to tear up older papaya plants and sacrifice about $ 100,000 in monthly income.
SERRANA, Brazil – As Covid-19 rages across Brazil, killing nearly a quarter of a million people, high infection rates have turned the country into a perfect vaccine testing ground.
Now, Brazil is using its misfortune to help answer one of the pandemic’s most pressing questions as millions of people are being inoculated around the world: Can someone being vaccinated still transmit the virus?
In the first trial of its kind globally, researchers on Wednesday started a project to vaccinate the entire adult population of Serrana, the worst-hit commuter city of 45,000 people in the state of São Paulo, before any other state.
By immunizing everyone in the city through a controlled stage, they say the results will help global scientists understand how quickly a vaccine can curb. coronavirus pandemic. And inoculating entire cities would counter the growing anti-vaccination movement in Brazil and demonstrate the broader benefits of mass immunization, such as the rapid economic recovery expected with Serrana’s rapid reopening.
“This will give us information on the percentage of people who need to be vaccinated to achieve herd immunity – nobody knows this yet,” said Marcos Borges, professor of medicine at the University of São Paulo near Ribeirão Preto who led the study.
SÃO PAULO – As soon as the Covid-19 vaccine became available in a farming town in Brazil’s central savanna, health secretary Assis Silva Filho ordered nurses to vaccinate his wife before local hospital officials.
“She is the love of my life!” said Mr Silva Filho, who also works part-time as an evangelical pastor in Pires do Rio, a city of 32,000 people. He added, “I will die for him,” in a video he posted to Facebook last month.
After being reported by people who witnessed the vaccinations, he was targeted by prosecutors on criminal charges for suing for profit as a public official, resigned and agreed to pay a $ 9,000 fine.
Brazil has only been running a vaccination campaign against Covid-19, but the country’s authorities have been overwhelmed by several thousand reports of people breaking rules to get immunizations before they are most vulnerable.
Among those investigated were influential politicians, business owners and lawyers, along with a host of other professionals, from veterinarians to fashion bloggers, who mostly incriminated themselves after posting vaccination selfies to social media, prosecutors said. Line jumpers were largely divided into two groups, said prosecutors, with political or wealthy ties and those with friends in the medical community.