The Biden administration has pointed to misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines as one of its biggest obstacles in trying to end the pandemic in the U.S.
New public opinion data indicates just how monumental that challenge has become.
The latest results of the Kaiser Family Foundation’s Vaccine Monitor — an ongoing assessment of Americans’ attitudes about the vaccines — reveals widespread belief in pandemic misinformation. More than three-quarters (78%) of the adults surveyed believed or were unsure about at least one of eight incorrect statements related to the vaccines or the pandemic.
The findings broke along party lines, not surprisingly in a deeply polarized country, with unvaccinated adults and Republicans more likely to believe the incorrect information. Last month’s Vaccine Monitor showed 39% of Republican voters remain unvaccinated, as opposed to 10% of Democrats.
The latest results highlight the importance of choosing reliable news sources. Between 11% and 16% of the people who trusted information from CNN, MSNBC, network news, NPR and local television news believed or where uncertain about four of the eight false statements, and one-third did not believe any of them.
By comparison, around 40% of those who trust coronavirus information from conservative outlets like Fox News (36%), One America News (37%) and Newsmax (46%) believed or were unsure about at least half the eight erroneous statements.
Also in the news:
►Full COVID vaccination will be mandatory for frontline workers of England’s National Health Service but not until early April. About 90% of them have had their shots, Healthy Secretary Sajid Javid said, but 103,000 remain unvaccinated.
►Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday will host a virtual meeting with ministers from across the world — called a ministerial — to assess the state of the pandemic and discuss global health security. Participants have not been announced.
►More than 360,000 U.S. children under 12 have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data updated Tuesday morning.
►A data survey from The New York Times showed the gap in COVID-19 death rates between red and blue counties grew faster in October than any previous month.
📈Today’s numbers: The U.S. has recorded more than 46.6 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 757,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. Global totals: More than 250.7 million cases and 5 million deaths. More than 194.2 million Americans – 58.5% of the population – are fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.
📘 What we’re reading: COVID-19 continues to be present on cruise ships sailing in U.S. waters, data from the CDC obtained by USA TODAY shows. But travelers are feeling more secure with the protocols in place.
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Pfizer-BioNTech ask that boosters get OK for all US adults
Pfizer and its partner BioNTech on Tuesday requested authorization from the Food and Drug Administration for booster shots of their COVID-19 vaccine for all Americans age 18 and older as coronavirus infections tick back up in the U.S.
Boosters are currently cleared for seniors 65 and above, the immunocompromised and people at high risk of exposure to the virus.
The companies said in a statement that a Phase 3 trial of more than 10,000 participants showed the boosters are safe and have 95% efficacy against COVID compared to people who have not received a booster.
There has been growing evidence that vaccine protection against infection wanes over time, especially in light of the highly transmissible delta variant. However, questions remain about the need for healthy young Americans to get booster shots when half the world has not been inoculated because of vaccine scarcity, and about 50 countries have a vaccination rate below 10%.
Global infections this year nearly twice the 2020 total already
Almost twice as many worldwide cases of COVID-19 have been reported already in 2021 as in all of 2020, a USA TODAY analysis of Johns Hopkins University data shows.
Of the nearly 251 million global coronavirus infections throughout a pandemic that began early last year, about 167 million have been recorded in 2021, after 84 million in 2020.
Deaths have followed a similar pattern, though not quite as dramatic, in large part because of the development of vaccines. After the virus killed at least 1.88 million people in 2020, it has claimed about 3.18 million lives this year. Much of the world has limited access to testing, and evidence suggests both cases and deaths are dramatically undercounted.
Among the countries with large case counts that have increased from one year to the next: The U.S. has gone from 20.2 million to 26.5 million; India from 10.3 million to 24.1 million; and Brazil from 7.7 million to 14.2 million.
The increase in infections is striking in light of the arrival of vaccines, initially in limited supplies in December 2020 but later more widespread in wealthy countries like the U.S. and much of Europe. That’s a testament of the high transmissibility of the delta variant, which raged throughout this past summer.
— Mike Stucka
Federal lawyers say vaccine mandate saves lives, should remain while case are litigated
The Biden administration framed its vaccine mandate for private employers in life-and-death terms in a legal filing that sought to get the requirement back on track after it was halted by a federal court.
The filing Monday was made in response to a stay issued over the weekend by the New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Stopping the mandate from taking effect will only prolong the COVID-19 pandemic and would “cost dozens or even hundreds of lives per day,” lawyers for the Justice and Labor departments said. As of Monday, the seven-day rolling average for daily new deaths in the U.S. was 1,110, but it’s not clear what role a future vaccine mandate for private businesses would play in reducing that figure.
The mandate would apply to private businesses with more than 100 workers. Employees who do not receive the shots by Jan. 4 would be required to wear a mask and be tested weekly for the coronavirus.
Read more about the rules here.
Federal court upholds United Airlines employee vaccine mandate
A federal judge on Monday allowed United Airlines to continue its vaccine mandate for employees, ruling the airline could place unvaccinated staff on unpaid leave, even if they had received medical or religious exemptions to the vaccine.
United became the first major airline to require employees to get vaccinated. Six employees sued the airline in September, arguing “United has put its religious and disabled workers in an impossible position – take the COVID-19 vaccine, at the expense of their religious beliefs, [or face indefinite] unpaid leave.”
U.S. District Court Judge Mark Pittman rejected this argument and said human resources policies such as this one are left up to the company.
Singapore halts free COVID-19 treatment for unvaccinated patients
Starting Dec. 8, Singapore will no longer pay for COVID-19 treatment for people who are “unvaccinated by choice,” the country’s Ministry of Health announced Monday.
The Singaporean government has been “footing the full COVID-19 medical bills” for all citizens, permanent residents and long-term visitors “to avoid financial considerations adding to public uncertainty and concern when COVID-19 was an emergent and unfamiliar disease,” the health ministry said in a statement.
Unvaccinated people now make up the majority of patients requiring intensive care, straining health care resources, the ministry added.
With over 82% of its population fully vaccinated, Singapore has one of the highest COVID-19 vaccination rates in the world, according to Johns Hopkins data.
Navajo Nation reports no COVID-19 deaths for 25th time in 40 days
The Navajo Nation on Monday reported 39 more COVID-19 cases but no additional deaths for the 25th time in the past 40 days. The latest numbers pushed the tribe’s totals to 37,455 confirmed COVID-19 cases from the virus since the pandemic began more than a year ago. The known death toll remains at 1,498.
Based on cases from Oct. 22 to Nov. 4, the Navajo Department of Health issued an advisory for 56 communities because of an uncontrolled spread of COVID-19.
“We have to be very careful, take precautions, wear masks in public, get fully vaccinated, and limit traveling off the Navajo Nation,” tribal President Jonathan Nez said. “We all have to do our part to push back on COVID-19.”
The tribe’s reservation is the country’s largest at 27,000 square miles and covers parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.
– Associated Press
Contributing: The Associated Press
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