When Graciane da Silva died of Covid-19 at a Rio de Janeiro hospital last June, her death was seen as unusual — she was only 28 and, at the time, the coronavirus was mostly claiming the lives of the elderly. But something has shifted in Brazil, Matt Rivers writes.
More younger Brazilians now appear to be getting severely ill and dying from Covid-19, doctors say, amid a national surge in daily deaths and cases that are driving global numbers up too.
Nearly a dozen ICU physicians and nurses since mid-January across multiple hospitals in Brazil say their ICU beds are filled with more young people than ever.
“We have otherwise healthy patients that are between 30 and 50 years old, and that is the profile for the majority of patients,” said Dr. Pedro Archer, a 33-year-old intensive care physician at a public hospital in Rio de Janeiro. “That is the big differentiator in this latest wave.”
The question is: Why? There’s little data available to explain it, but experts are looking at whether the P1 variant first detected in Brazil is infecting more young people and making them sicker. A recent study shows it could be up to 2.2 times more contagious. Experts also point to an increase in parties around the new year and then Carnival holidays.
“Death for a person in their 30s is very, very painful,” said Dr. Maria Dolores da Silva, a 42-year veteran of intensive care medicine in São Paulo. “They have their whole lives ahead of them and Covid takes it.”
YOU ASKED. WE ANSWERED.
Q. Many parents are getting vaccinated, but their kids can’t do so yet. Can grandparents visit, if kids aren’t vaccinated?
A. Getting parents vaccinated is really important. It reduces their own chance of illness, as well as their likelihood of transmitting coronavirus to others including their children, Dr. Leana Wen says. It also makes visits from other family members safer.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said fully vaccinated people can visit another family in which not everyone is vaccinated, so long as those who are not yet vaccinated aren’t at high-risk for severe disease from Covid-19 themselves. That means it’s fine for grandparents to visit their children and grandchildren, and stay with them, have dinner with them indoors, hug them and not wear masks. Read here for more tips from Dr. Wen.
Send your questions here. Are you a health care worker fighting Covid-19? Message us on WhatsApp about the challenges you’re facing: +1 347-322-0415.
WHAT’S IMPORTANT TODAY
AstraZeneca revises efficacy data
Drug giant AstraZeneca has updated its data on how well its coronavirus vaccine works, saying it is 76% effective in preventing symptomatic Covid-19, after the US’ independent Data and Safety Monitoring Board said the company was using outdated clinical trial results.
The revision is small — down from 79% — and for over-65s, the company revised its data up, from 80% to 85%. It maintains its shot is 100% effective in preventing severe disease and hospitalizations. The data debacle is the latest of many missteps that have called AstraZeneca’s management into question, Julia Horowitz writes.
Vaccine nationalism to be focus of EU summit
European Union leaders will convene at a virtual summit today as they iron out plans to control vaccine exports, in an ongoing spat with the United Kingdom over the supply of doses, particularly of the AstraZeneca shot.
The EU is struggling to obtain enough doses to roll out effective inoculation programs, but other countries, including the US and UK, have also largely kept doses made in their countries to themselves. US President Joe Biden is expected to dial into the meeting, at the EU’s invitation.
India put a temporary hold on all major exports of AstraZeneca shots made by the Serum Institute of India (SII) in order to meet domestic demand, Reuters reported Thursday, citing sources. SII was manufacturing AstraZeneca vaccines for much of the developing world. CNN reached out to SII and the Ministry of External Affairs for comment, but has not received a response.
Boris Johnson’s latest gaffe could threaten Britain’s vaccine rollout
The UK’s gaffe-prone Prime Minister has made frantic attempts to row back on his comments that his country’s successful vaccine rollout was “because of capitalism, because of greed, my friends.”
The timing of these comments — made in a private call with Conservative Party backbenchers on Tuesday — could be troubling for the PM. European Commission leaders are trying to unite the EU’s 27 member states in viewing the UK as the bad guy and getting tougher with vaccine export controls that will affect the country, Luke McGee writes.
India detects new ‘double mutant’ variant
It’s unclear how many infections in India have been linked to this newly discovered variant, or whether the strain is any more dangerous. However, the health ministry said such variants typically increase infectivity and could “confer immune escape,” meaning people may be less able to fight the infection.
A “double mutant” variant is a strain that carries two mutations. India made the discovery as infections surge there, raising fears of a second wave.
ON OUR RADAR
- The second wave of Covid-19 has hit Africa much harder than the first one, new analysis has shown.
- British TV anchor Kate Garraway opens up about her husband’s harrowing, year-long ordeal with Covid-19, which has left him hospitalized since last March.
- The Covid-19 pandemic has changed our sense of mortality. “That vague inevitability that I assumed would happen in the distant future smashed me over the head like an anvil in an old cartoon,” Allison Hope writes
- Dr. Anosh Ahmed from Loretto Hospital resigned following a discovery that the hospital improperly distributed the Covid-19 vaccine at Trump Tower in downtown Chicago.
- Seven in 10 people hospitalized for Covid-19 have still not fully recovered five months after discharge, a study finds.
If you’ve been eating more and gaining weight during the pandemic, you’re not alone. Recent research showed that some people may have gained more than 1.5 pounds on average per month during Covid-19 lockdowns last March and April.
So what to do about it? “Definitely cut yourself a break,” CNN health and nutrition contributor Lisa Drayer says, adding that it’s only natural to reach for comfort foods in times of stress. But Drayer recommends some small changes that can make a big difference: Consume small and frequent meals, include protein on your plate, and walk for at least 30 minutes a day. Read here for more tips from Drayer.
“Health experts say over and over again, it’s what you do when you get there that’s the problem, regardless of … the mode that you’re traveling.” — CNN Correspondent Pete Muntean
As more and more people in the US get their vaccinations, some are making travel plans, and airports are seeing bigger crowds. CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Sanjay Gupta speaks with Muntean, who covers aviation and transportations, about the latest guidance on travel restrictions and how to vacation safely. Listen now.