Editor’s note: This is a live account of COVID-19 updates from Tuesday, May 10, as the day unfolded. It is no longer being updated. Click here to see all the most recent news about the pandemic, and click here to find additional resources.
Health experts were left wondering about the effectiveness of Pfizer’s COVID-19 pill, Paxlovid, after a small number of patients saw their symptoms return several days after completing the five-day pill treatment.
Meanwhile, Shanghai entered its seventh week in lockdown as pandemic restrictions continued heightening in Beijing.
Videos showing health care workers in hazmat suits dragging people who had reportedly tested positive for COVID-19 from their homes circulated through Chinese social media before they were taken down.
We’re updating this page with the latest news about the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects on the Seattle area, the U.S. and the world. Click here to see the rest of our coronavirus coverage and here to see how we track the daily spread across Washington.
Jimmy Kimmel had COVID-19 and lived to tell late-night audiences about it.
The “Jimmy Kimmel Live” host on Monday detailed his bout with the infection last week during his monologue, explaining how his young daughter infected him and his wife, Molly. His symptoms included fatigue and headache — “also the symptoms of having children,” he said.
“I tested positive on Monday. By Friday afternoon the virus just took a look around my body and said, ‘Yuck. I’m getting out of here,’” he quipped, noting that he otherwise “had it easy.”
“Let me tell you, I drank so much bleach, my teeth are whiter than a fundraiser at Mar-A-Lago, look at that,” he said, making fun of former President Donald Trump’s dangerous notion in April 2020 that ingesting disinfectants was a panacea.
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Unlike most of China’s coronavirus prevention measures, vaccination is not mandatory, and low uptake among the country’s most vulnerable and elderly groups is a major reason Communist Party leaders feel compelled to persist with a grueling “zero covid” approach.
As the costs of lockdown in China have mounted, the need to vaccinate the entire population has become paramount. Shanghai has suffered staggeringly over the past month, with residents trapped by a strict lockdown unable to reach hospitals and suffering psychological breakdowns after weeks-long home confinement with an unknown end date. Supply chains worldwide have been upended.
Despite the mounting criticism, China’s top leaders declared on Thursday that there would be no let up on the zero-covid policy, and that they would fight any attempts to question the approach. The committee, led by President Xi Jinping, said relaxation of controls now would lead to “massive numbers of infections” and deaths.
They only need to look next door to Hong Kong, where the omicron outbreak this year tore through the high numbers of unvaccinated elderly people and resulted in one of the highest fatality rates in the world.
The head epidemiologist of the national covid response team, Liang Wannian, said last week that vaccination rates among the elderly and children were not high enough, and “if we choose the so-called policy of coexisting with the virus, medical resources would be very likely be overwhelmed.”
Some younger people have been required to get vaccinated for their jobs, but vaccination of retirees remains optional. Incentives like eggs, grains and other foodstuffs – a staple of China’s vaccination drive since last year – are now being bolstered by home checkups, mobile clinics and the widespread mobilization of public servants to ensure the elderly get shots.
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On Thursday, California lawmakers voted unanimously, 7-0, to move a bill that would allow kids to get COVID-19 and other FDA-approved vaccines without permission from their parents or guardians, despite vocal opposition from people hesitant about safety of the vaccine and kids’ rights to choose.
In January, Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, introduced Senate Bill 866, the Teens Choose Vaccines Act, to allow young people ages 12 to 17 to bypass their parents’ vaccine hesitancy or busy schedules, and give them more autonomy over their bodies.
“Teens should be able to protect their own health with vaccines – whether against COVID, flu, measles or polio – even if their parents refuse or can’t take them to get the shot,” Wiener said on Twitter on Thursday. “Our legislation to allow teens to get vaccinated on their own just passed a key committee.”
Most opponents of the bill are adamant the vaccine causes injuries, and say it’s not safe for kids to make their own decisions about the COVID vaccine in particular.
Hundreds of people — including parents — shared serious concerns and direct attacks against state lawmakers for considering passage of the bill during public comment at the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Thursday. Many said Wiener and state leaders want to strip away the rights of parents because the bill allows kids to make decisions over their bodies when they’re not of legal age. They also said the bill promotes a vaccine that causes bodily harm.
Proponents of SB 866 have argued that teens in this state can access HPV vaccine, reproductive health, abortions, birth control and other health services without consent from a parent or guardian, and should have the right to decide whether to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
“With the COVID-19 pandemic ravaging our communities, the crisis of ‘anti-vax’ parents is only getting worse,” Arin Parsa, 14, founder of Teens for Vaccines, said at a press conference in San Francisco back in January when Wiener first introduced the bill.
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The head of the World Health Organization called on Pfizer to make its COVID-19 treatment more widely available in poorer countries, saying Tuesday that the pharmaceutical company’s deal allowing generic producers to make the drug was insufficient.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during a news briefing that Pfizer’s treatment was still too expensive. He noted that most countries in Latin America had no access to Pfizer’s drug, Paxlovid, which has been shown to cut the risk of COVID-19 hospitalization or death by up to 90%.
“We remain concerned that low- and middle-income countries remain unable to access antivirals,” Tedros said,
The WHO chief warned that the unequal distribution of COVID-19 drugs could ultimately mirror the grossly disproportionate distribution of coronavirus vaccines.
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Susan Rice, the White House domestic policy adviser, has become the latest member of the Biden administration to report testing positive for the coronavirus, announcing Monday on Twitter that she had received the result that morning.
Rice is among a handful of high-ranking officials and members of the media who have tested positive for the coronavirus, renewing concern about Biden’s potential exposure.
On Wednesday, the State Department announced that Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who attended the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner April 30, had tested positive. A spokesperson for the department said that Blinken, who had mild symptoms, had not seen Biden in several days.
George Cheeks, the president and CEO of CBS, tested positive Thursday; he had been sitting beside Biden at the dinner, the network confirmed Friday.
Many had questioned whether it was advisable to pack 2,600 people into a windowless hotel ballroom. Proof of vaccination and a same-day negative test were required and boosters were strongly encouraged, but masks were optional.
The city of Shanghai is doubling down on pandemic restrictions after a brief period of loosening up, frustrating residents who were hoping a more than monthlong lockdown was finally easing as the number of new cases falls in China’s financial center.
On Tuesday, service was suspended on the last two subway lines that were still operating, marking the first time the city’s entire system has been shut down, according to The Paper, an online media outlet.
Teams in white protective suits have begun entering the homes of coronavirus-infected people to spray disinfectant, prompting worries among some about damage to clothes and valuables, and about leaving their keys with a community volunteer when they are taken to quarantine — a new requirement so disinfectant workers can get in.
In some areas, people have been ordered to stay in their homes again for a “quiet period” after being let out for limited shopping in recent weeks.
China’s adherence to a “zero-COVID” strategy, as many other countries loosen restrictions and try to live with the virus, is exacting a growing economic and human cost. Evermore extreme measures have been required to bring outbreaks under control because the omicron variant spreads so easily. China’s ruling Communist Party, with an eye on a major party congress this fall, is showing no signs of backing off anytime soon.
Fengxian district, a suburban area in southern Shanghai, entered a “quiet period” on Monday, with permits for residents to leave their compounds suspended and shops and supermarkets closed except for delivery, the Shanghai Media Group reported.
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As Anayo Mbah went into labor with her sixth child, her husband battled COVID-19 in another hospital across town. Jonas, a young motorcycle taxi driver, had been placed on oxygen after he started coughing up blood.
Jonas would never meet his daughter, Chinaza. Hours after the birth, Mbah’s sister-in-law called to say he was gone. Staff at the hospital in southeastern Nigeria soon asked Mbah and her newborn to leave. No one had come to pay her bill.
Mbah began the rites of widowhood at the home where she lived with her in-laws: Her head was shaved, and she was dressed in white clothing. But just weeks into the mourning period that traditionally lasts six months, her late husband’s relatives stopped providing food, then confronted her directly.
“They told me that it was better for me to find my own way,” Mbah, now 29, said. “They said even if I have to go and remarry, that I should do so. That the earlier I leave the house, the better for me and my children.”
She left on foot for her mother’s home with only a plastic bag of belongings for Chinaza and her other children.
“I decided that I might die if I continue to stay here with my children,” she said.
Across Africa, widowhood has long befallen great numbers of women — particularly in the continent’s least developed countries where medical facilities are scarce. Many widows are young, having married men decades older. And in some countries, men frequently have more than one wife, leaving several widows behind when they die.
Now, the coronavirus pandemic has created an even larger population of widows on the continent, with African men far more likely to die of the virus than women, and it has exacerbated the issues they face. Women such as Mbah say the pandemic has taken more than their husbands: In their widowhood, it’s cost them their extended families, their homes and their futures.
Read the story here.
Norwegian health authorities said Tuesday that the country has a surplus of COVID-19 vaccines and has already discarded more than 137,000 doses because there is declining demand in low-income countries.
The Norwegian Institute of Public Health said it plans a further disposal of doses if global demand does not change. In Norway there is high vaccine coverage while globally a demand for donations has fallen.
Earlier this month, health officials in neighboring Denmark said that 1.1 million excess COVID-19 vaccines would be discarded because their expiration date is near, and efforts to donate them to developing countries have failed.