Pritzker to announce this week when vaccine will be available to people 65 and older
Pritzker said Monday he expects he will announce later this week when Illinois will move on to the next phase of vaccine distribution that will include people 65 and older, but generally prioritize those over 75. AP Photos
State health officials hope to make significantly more progress in vaccinating citizens before a COVID-19 mutation that is thought to be 50% more contagious takes root in Illinois.
It’s “only a matter of time” until the new virus strain — known as the “UK variant” — is identified in Illinois and becomes the dominant strain within months, causing an uptick in cases and deaths, the state’s top health official Dr. Ngozi Ezike said Monday.
The new strain has been identified in at least nine states.
As of Sunday, 334,939 doses of vaccine had been administered in Illinois — a number that includes Chicago, which handles vaccine distribution separately from the state, as well as a federally run program to vaccinate residents and staff at nursing homes.
The vast majority of doses have gone to health care workers in the state’s first phase of vaccination, which includes about 850,000 people.
Pritzker said Monday he expects he will announce later this week when Illinois will move on to the next phase of vaccine distribution that will include people 65 and older, but generally prioritize those over 75.
The second phase includes about 3.2 million people and, despite some hesitancy among health care workers slated for vaccination in the first phase, Ezike said she expects the vaccine to start “flying off the shelf” when made available to them.
Read Stefano Esposito’s full story here.
7:02 a.m. COVID-related pneumonia is far harder to treat — here’s how NU researchers hope we can fight it
Northwestern University researchers say they’ve potentially discovered a way to more effectively treat COVID-related pneumonia, a life-threatening condition of the virus.
The peer-reviewed research was published online Monday in the scientific journal Nature. A small, early-stage human study — using Northwestern data — is expected to begin within weeks to see if a drug treatment can drastically reduce the impact of pneumonia on those hospitalized with the virus.
It’s unlikely that a treatment will be developed before mass vaccinations should essentially bring the pandemic under control, but doctors expect people will continue to get sick. In fact, the treatment may be critically necessary if a similar virus emerges in the future.
“We will undoubtedly see more of these related coronaviruses,” Scott Budinger, chief of pulmonary and critical care medicine at Northwestern’s Feinberg School of Medicine, said in an interview. “I think we will be better prepared.”
Read Brett Chase’s full story here.
- Monday, state health officials reported 53 coronavirus-related deaths and 4,776 new cases. That brings the total death toll in Illinois to 17,627 since the start of the pandemic.
- The seven-day statewide positivity rate, which indicates how rapidly the virus is spreading, fell to 7.6% on Monday from 7.9% on Sunday, officials said. A week ago, the positivity rate was 8.6%.
- As of Sunday night, 3,540 people were being treated in hospitals in Illinois for the coronavirus. Of those, 759 were in intensive care and 401 were on ventilators.
- Cook County accounted for 43 of the new deaths, including nine people under the age of 60 as well as six people — three men and three women — in their 90s.
Analysis & commentary
8:11 a.m. Scientific community must reach out to African Americans to bolster confidence in vaccine
On Friday, I received my first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. I was honored to be accompanied by Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett, the brilliant African American viral immunologist who is a rock star in the field of immunology science.
From Dr. Corbett’s post at the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, she led the team that performed the scientific miracle of developing and testing the Moderna vaccine in record time. Now she is working to overcome the widespread hesitancy in the Black community about vaccination. Vaccination is imperative to save lives, particularly for African Americans, disproportionately the greatest victims of the virus.
Now the vaccines offer the potential of staunching the march of the pandemic and saving millions of lives. For understandable reasons — remember the infamous Tuskegee experiments? — African Americans harbor suspicions about scientists and vaccines.
Corbett’s role in leading the development of the Moderna vaccine in itself should calm some of the fears. Both of the vaccines currently approved for emergency use — the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines — have proven to be greater than 94% effective at preventing COVID-19 and even more effective at preventing severe cases. That reality enables scientists like Corbett to have confidence in treating African Americans with the vaccine.
Racial violence plagues this country to this day. For the country to reach herd immunity, more than three in every four persons must be vaccinated. If African Americans or Latinos decline to be vaccinated, all will remain at risk. The past cannot be erased. But the present offers hope with Dr. Corbett’s leadership providing reassurance.
Read the Rev. Jesse Jackson’s full column here.
Source by chicago.suntimes.com