Saturday, February 5, 2022

PBS NewsHour on U.S. death rate, long COVID, vaccines for preschoolers, and coronavirus in deer, a pandemic update

PBS NewsHour uploaded four clips about the pandemic this week, which helped convince me to write about it today after the reality of the Guantánamo Bay prison still being open for a third decade depressed me — not that COVID-19 is any better. I begin with PBS NewsHour examining Why the COVID death rate in the U.S. is so much higher than other wealthy nations.

More than two years into this pandemic, the United States death toll is the highest in the world. The country is closing in on 900,000 deaths, and its death rate is alarming -- particularly given that the U.S. was the one of the first to have the vaccine. Geoff Bennett looks at why the nation is struggling compared to much of the world.
Two of the main reasons why so many Americans are still unvaccinated are low social trust and misinformation from both politicians and media personalities. As Dr. Brian Castrucci said to Business Insider, which MSNBC quoted: "For every single death certificate that has COVID-19 as a primary cause of death, partisanship should be listed as a contributing cause. This pandemic was politicized from day one."

In the next clip, PBS NewsHour asked Who is most likely to suffer from long COVID?

With hundreds of thousands of Americans contracting COVID everyday, health officials worry that may mean more people will end up suffering from so-called “long COVID," the mysterious ailment that can affect the body and the mind for months or longer after an initial infection. William Brangham looks at the latest research on the disorder, beginning with the perspective from a long-COVID survivor.
Not only is the pandemic likely to evolve into endemic COVID, but the health effects could remain for a lifetime. It could be like polio, which gave my next-door neighbor growing up a limp and put Franklin Delano Roosevelt into a wheelchair.

The next clips moved from gloom about the future to hope, as PBS NewsHour explained What parents need to know about a possible COVID vaccine for children under age 5.

Pfizer asked the Food and Drug Administration Tuesday to authorize two low-dose shots for children between six months and 5 years old. Dr. Yvonne Maldonado, a professor of pediatric infectious disease at Stanford University who has helped conduct trials for the under-5 vaccine, joins Judy Woodruff to discuss.
Here's to the pediatric vaccine being found safe and effective so that the FDA approves it.

I conclude with the clip that drew my attention to PBS NewsHour's coverage of the pandemic this week, Scientists discover shockingly high rates of COVID infections among white-tailed deer.

Scientists have recently discovered what they are calling a silent outbreak of coronavirus among white-tailed deer. William Brangham reports about how one of the most ubiquitous species in North America contracted COVID, and what that means for the future of the pandemic.
This is not entirely new, as I reported it as the final story in Vaccinations approved for children 5-11 and news about COVID-19 antivirals as U.S. passes 750,000 dead and deer are infected, a pandemic update last November, but it's still concerning. As I wrote then: "I certainly found this news worrisome, but as long as the deer don't get sick and die or pass it back to humans, I'm not going to panic. Again, may it stay that way."

Enough reality. Stay tuned for the first Sunday entertainment feature of February.

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