‘How can we not be tense?’ Turkey’s coronavirus infections soar

By Daren Butler and Tuvan Gumrukcu

ISTANBUL/ANKARA (Reuters) – The red letters scrolling across the front of Fikret Oluk’s bus say: “Stay Home Turkey.” But the Istanbul driver said passengers are ignoring rules and overcrowding, sometimes without masks, even as coronavirus infections rocket.

Turkey – which has the highest level of daily new COVID-19 cases in Europe and the Middle East – again tightened measures last week to contain the rapid spread after calls for action by doctors and opposition politicians.

Among the rules are a limit of 69 passengers on Oluk’s busy urban bus route. When 89 are aboard, he says he draws the line.

“But unfortunately people do not listen. They attack us and put us in a difficult position,” said the driver of 10 years.

“How can we not be tense? Our lives are currently dependent on these masks. But unfortunately, just like people don’t think about themselves, they don’t think about us either,” he said.

Interviews with Turks who have received a vaccine and those waiting for one show a mix of fear and frustration with record COVID-19 deaths and infections, which neared 56,000 on Thursday alone, and an uneven adherence to the rules.

The head of the Turkish Medics Association told Reuters she believed the biggest misstep of President Tayyip Erdogan’s government was broadly easing restrictions in March as daily case numbers fell below 10,000. She said this sacrificed the gains made over the winter, calling the approach “social murder.”

“We called this a ‘social murder’ because they already know what will cause these deaths, they do not have any preventative measures,” Sebnem Korucu Fincanci said, adding that intercity travel, manufacturing and public transportation should be halted.

Erdogan and his government came under fire last month for a party congress with thousands of people, many of whom were seen violating social distancing rules and not wearing or improperly wearing masks. Opposition parties and critics accused Ankara of undermining efforts to curb infections.

‘BE REALISTIC’

Nurettin Yigit, head doctor at a specially-built pandemic hospital in Istanbul, said the impact on the health system of the latest surge had been less than in previous waves and called the timing “unlucky.”

“The moment we began this controlled normalization, the entry of other mutations from other countries started,” he told Reuters as medical staff administered vaccines to patients. He attributed the rise partly to people travelling domestically.

Ankara has blamed coronavirus variants for the surge in infections, saying some 85% of total cases across the country are from the variant first identified in Britain, as well as a lack of commitment to measures such as social distancing and mask wearing.

On Friday, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca told the Hurriyet daily that the solution to the “serious rise” in infections was to speed up vaccinations, adding he aimed to have all citizens over 20 years old vaccinated by July.

Fincanci called Ankara’s vaccination goals unrealistic and criticized what she called the inaccurate reporting of case and death numbers. “They have to be realistic, they have to be transparent,” she said.

Turkey has administered around 18 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines so far, roughly enough to cover about 11% of the population, according to a Reuters tally.

The government has dismissed criticisms over its handling of the pandemic and the measures it has implemented, saying public health is the priority.

It has adopted fresh stay-at-home orders for weekends and will halt dining at restaurants starting Tuesday for the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan.

But the country has remained largely open for business since last June and many have hit the streets and cafes as the weather has warmed – worrying some who have stayed home.

“I haven’t drank tea in a café for 11 months. I don’t leave the house,” said Mehmet Tut, 62, sitting outside a hospital treatment room after receiving his first vaccine shot on Friday.

“We will still be careful as we wait for the second dose” even as others are not taking enough precautions, he said. “They expect everything from the state but it is up to us. If we are careful we won’t get sick.”

(Additional reporting by Yesim Dikmen, Bulent Usta and Mert Ozkan; Writing by Jonathan Spicer; Editing by Rosalba O’Brien)

Climate change, rich-poor gap, conflict likely to grow: U.S. intelligence report

By Jonathan Landay and Mark Hosenball

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Disease, the rich-poor gap, climate change and conflicts within and among nations will pose greater challenges in coming decades, with the COVID-19 pandemic already worsening some of those problems, a U.S. intelligence report said on Thursday.

The rivalry between China and a U.S.-led coalition of Western nations likely will intensify, fueled by military power shifts, demographics, technology and “hardening divisions over governance models,” said Global Trends 2040: A More Contested World, produced by the U.S. National Intelligence Council (NIC).

Regional powers and non-state actors may exert greater influence, with the likely result “a more conflict-prone and volatile geopolitical environment” and weakened international cooperation, it said.

The report by top U.S. intelligence analysts, which is produced every four years, assessed the political, economic, societal and other trends that likely will shape the national security environment in the next 20 years.

“Our intent is to help policymakers and citizens … prepare for an array of possible futures,” the authors wrote, noting they make no specific predictions and included input from diverse groups, from American students to African civil society activists.

Challenges like climate change, disease, financial crises and technological disruption “are likely to manifest more frequently and intensely in almost every region and country,” producing “widespread strains on states and societies as well as shocks that could be catastrophic,” the report said.

It said the coronavirus pandemic that has killed more than 3 million people marked the greatest “global disruption” since World War Two, with the consequences likely to last for years.

COVID-19, it said, exposed – and sometimes widened – disparities in healthcare, raised national debts, accelerated nationalism and political polarization, deepened inequality, fueled distrust in government and highlighted failed international cooperation.

In the process, it is slowing – and possibly reversing – progress in fighting poverty, disease and gender inequality.

Many problems caused by the pandemic are forecast by the report to grow by 2040.

“There is a certain set of trends that we’ve identified that seem to be accelerating or made more powerful because of the pandemic,” said an NIC official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The report posed five scenarios for what the world might look like in 2040.

The most optimistic – a “renaissance of democracies” – found that democratic governments would prove “better able to foster scientific research and technological innovation, catalyzing an economic boom,” enabling them to cope with domestic stresses and to stand up to international rivals.

The most pessimistic scenario – “tragedy and mobilization” – posited how COVID-19 and global warming could devastate global food supplies, leading to riots in Philadelphia that kill “thousands of people.”

(Reporting by Jonathan Landay and Mark Hosenball in Washington; Editing by Tim Ahmann and Peter Cooney)

AstraZeneca woes grow as Australia, Philippines, African Union curb COVID shots

By Reuters Staff

(Reuters) – Australia and the Philippines limited use of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, while the Africa Union dropped plans to buy the shot, dealing further blows to the company’s hopes to deliver a vaccine for the world.

The vaccine – developed with Oxford University and considered a frontrunner in the global vaccine race – has been plagued by safety concerns and supply problems since Phase III trial results were published in December, with Indonesia the latest country forced to seek doses from other vaccine developers.

The Philippines suspended the use of AstraZeneca shots for people below 60 after Europe’s regulator said on Wednesday it found rare cases of blood clots among some adult recipients although the vaccine’s advantages still outweighed its risks.

Australia recommended people under 50 should get Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine in preference to AstraZeneca’s, a policy shift that it warned would hold up its inoculation campaign.

The African Union is exploring options with Johnson & Johnson having dropped plans to buy AstraZeneca’s vaccine from India’s Serum Institute, the head of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told reporters.

AstraZeneca’s shot is sold at cost, for a few dollars a dose. It is by far the cheapest and most high-volume launched so far, and has none of the extreme refrigeration requirements of some other COVID-19 vaccines, making it likely to be the mainstay of many vaccination programs in the developing world.

But more than a dozen countries have at one time suspended or partially suspended use of the shot, first on concerns about efficacy in older people, and now on worries about rare side effects in younger people.

That, coupled with production setbacks, will delay the rollout of vaccines across the globe as governments scramble to find alternatives to tame the pandemic which has killed more than 3 million.

‘EXTREMELY RARE’

Italy joined France, the Netherlands, Germany and others in recommending a minimum age for recipients of AstraZeneca’s shot on Wednesday and Britain said people under 30 should get an alternative. South Korea also suspended use of the vaccine in people under 60 this week, while approving Johnson & Johnson’s shot.

AstraZeneca has said it is working with the British and European regulators to list possible brain blood clots as “an extremely rare potential side-effect”.

South Africa also paused AstraZeneca vaccinations last month because of a small trial showing the shot offered minimal protection against mild to moderate illness caused by the dominant local coronavirus variant.

AstraZeneca is grappling with production issues that have led to shortfalls of its shot in several countries.

Indonesian Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin said on Thursday the country was in talks with China on getting as many as 100 million COVID-19 vaccine doses to plug a gap in deliveries after delays in the arrivals of AstraZeneca shots.

India has put a temporary hold on all major exports of AstraZeneca’s shot made by the Serum Institute of India (SII), the world’s biggest vaccine-maker, as domestic infections rise.

That has affected supplies to the GAVI/WHO-backed global COVAX vaccine-sharing facility through which 64 poorer countries are supposed to get doses from the SII, the program’s procurement and distributing partner UNICEF told Reuters last month.

Britain is slowing its vaccine rollout due to a shipment delay from India and is at loggerheads with the EU over exports. Australia has also blamed delays in its immunization campaign on supply issues in Europe.

AstraZeneca has cited reduced yields at a European factory behind the supply shortfall to the European Union.

Merkel backs tougher COVID lockdown in Germany

BERLIN (Reuters) -Chancellor Angela Merkel supports demands for a short, tough lockdown in Germany to curb the spread of the coronavirus as infection rates are too high, a German government spokeswoman said on Wednesday.

Germany is struggling to tackle a third wave of the pandemic and several regional leaders have called for a short, sharp lockdown while the country tries to vaccinate more people.

“Every call for a short, uniform lockdown is right,” deputy government spokeswoman Ulrike Demmer told reporters, adding Germany was seeing a growing number of intensive care patients.

“We need a stable incidence below 100,” she said, referring to the number of cases over seven days per 100,000 inhabitants. It is currently 110.1, according to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases.

She also said the government was looking at whether nationwide, rather than regional, measures were needed.

“The range of regulations does not help acceptance,” said Demmer. While some states have imposed night-time curfews over Easter, others are experimenting with some easing of restrictions.

Merkel pressed regional leaders on March 28 to step up efforts to curb rapidly rising coronavirus infections, adding a thinly veiled threat that she would otherwise have to consider what steps could be taken on a nationwide basis.

One option would be to amend the Infection Protection Act to stipulate what should happen under certain scenarios and which could enable the federal government to enforce a nationwide lockdown without getting approval of the 16 state premiers.

Demmer said the government was still looking into this option, but that no final decision had been taken yet.

Bild newspaper reported that conservative lawmakers were currently working on a draft law to give the federal government more powers to get the third wave under control.

The majority of Germany’s federal state premiers was against bringing forward talks scheduled for April 12 on what action to take.

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany rose by 9,677 on Wednesday to more than 2.9 million, the Robert Koch Institute said. It has warned that the numbers may not yet show the full picture as not all cases were registered over Easter. Some 77,401 people have died.

(Reporting by Andreas Rinke and Michael Nienaber; Writing Madeline Chambers; Editing by Maria Sheahan, Kirsti Knolle)

Scientists call for new probe into COVID-19 origins: with or without China

SHANGHAI (Reuters) – A joint China-World Health Organization (WHO) study into COVID-19 has provided no credible answers about how the pandemic began, and more rigorous investigations are required – with or without Beijing’s involvement, a group of international scientists and researchers said on Wednesday.

The joint study, released last week, said the likeliest transmission route for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, involved bats and other wildlife in China and southeast Asia. It all but ruled out the possibility it had leaked from a laboratory.

In an open letter, 24 scientists and researchers from Europe, the United States, Australia and Japan said the study was tainted by politics.

“Their starting point was, let’s have as much compromise as is required to get some minimal cooperation from China,” said Jamie Metzl, senior fellow at the Atlantic Council think tank, who drafted the letter.

The letter said the study’s conclusions were based on unpublished Chinese research, while critical records and biological samples “remain inaccessible”.

WHO Director General Tedros Adhanon Ghebreyesus said last week China had withheld data.

Liang Wannian, China’s senior COVID-19 expert, denied this and appeared to rule out any further joint investigations in China, saying the focus should shift to other countries.

Metzl said the world might have to “revert to Plan B” and conduct an investigation “in the most systematic way possible” without China’s involvement.

China has rejected allegations that SARS-CoV-2 leaked from a research laboratory in Wuhan, the city where COVID-19 was first identified.

The joint China-WHO study said the lab leak was “extremely unlikely”, saying there was “no record” that any laboratory had kept SARS-CoV-2-related viruses. Tedros said more research was required to “reach more robust conclusions”.

Metzl said China should disclose information that would allow the lab hypothesis to be disproved.

“China has databases of what viruses were being held… there are lab notes of the work that was being done,” he said, “There are all kinds of scientists who are actually doing the work and we don’t have access to any of those resources, or any of those people.”

(Reporting by David Stanway, Editing by Timothy Heritage)

Canada’s hospitals deploy artificial lungs, scramble for staff as COVID-19 hits younger patients

By Anna Mehler Paperny and Allison Martell

TORONTO (Reuters) – Younger Canadians are bearing the brunt of the nation’s latest COVID-19 surge, creating growing demand for artificial lungs and a struggle to maintain staffing in critical care units as hospitals make last-ditch efforts to save patients.

Treatment with artificial lungs, known as extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, or ECMO, is much more likely to be deployed for patients under age 65, explained Marcelo Cypel, surgical director for the extracorporeal life support program at Toronto’s University Health Network (UHN).

Last week, there were a record 19 ECMO patients at UHN, 17 of them with severe COVID-19. When the sickest COVID-19 patients’ lungs fill with fluid and mechanical ventilators can no longer do the job, artificial lungs can save lives.

By Monday, doctors had weaned some off the machines and were down to 14 ECMO patients, 12 of them with COVID-19.

The need for these artificial lungs reflects a change in Canada’s epidemic, which has taken a turn for the worse, with new cases surging and outbreaks hitting workplaces and schools.

With many seniors vaccinated and new, far more contagious coronavirus variants circulating widely, younger patients are increasingly arriving in intensive care.

“It’s very different now than the first wave, when we saw older people with comorbidities,” Cypel said. “We’re seeing more … young essential workers.”

The ECMO situation is under control for now, but things can change very quickly, Cypel cautioned.

When hospital systems in other countries were overwhelmed, they had to stop using ECMO because it requires a lot of staff – seven or more people to start the treatment.

About 55% of people who receive the therapy survive, Cypel said. However, they are often left with “severe physical limitations” from their extended hospital stay, he added.

Many of Canada’s provinces are in the grip of a worsening third COVID-19 wave, as they struggle to hasten vaccine rollouts. The country reported more than 6,200 new cases on Monday, with the percentage of people testing positive for the virus up to 3.8%.

‘SEEING BURNOUT’

In British Columbia, where hospitals are bracing for a surge in demand for intensive care unit (ICU) beds caused by the highly concerning P.1 virus variant first discovered in, and now ravaging, Brazil, critical care doctor Del Dorscheid from Vancouver’s St. Paul’s Hospital is more worried about staffing than artificial lung use.

On a given shift, he said, a third of the staff are working overtime.

“They’re working so hard to find bodies to fill those empty spots,” he said. “I wouldn’t say we’re seeing more mistakes. Not yet, anyways. But we are certainly seeing burnout.”

For ICUs, there is no end in sight. As of Tuesday, there were 497 COVID-19 patients in Ontario’s ICUs, a new high. Last week, experts advising the provincial government said that could rise to 800 by the end of April even with a new stay-at-home order – or approach 1,000 without it. The province stopped short of a new stay-at-home order.

New restrictions implemented in Ontario last week change little for hardest-hit areas. In Toronto, patios for outdoor bars and restaurants closed, and a plan to reopen salons was shelved. On Monday, hard-hit Peel, west of Toronto, moved on its own to suspend in-person classes at schools for two weeks.

Canada’s vaccination rate has picked up after a slow start, with 15% of the population getting at least one shot. But data from the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences shows that the Ontario communities at highest risk of COVID-19 transmission also have the lowest rates of vaccination.

These communities tend to have a high proportion of residents unable to work from home, many of them non-white immigrants holding down jobs at high risk of virus exposure.

Some lack cars to drive to vaccination sites or paid time off to get the vaccine, said Brampton doctor Amanpreet Brar. Some of the hardest-hit neighborhoods lack pharmacies that dispense COVID-19 vaccines.

“It really reflects systemic inequities we see in our society,” said Brar. “They’re considered non-essential, while their work is considered essential.”

(Editing by Denny Thomas and Bill Berkrot)

Brazil’s COVID-19 death surge set to pass the worst of record U.S. wave

By Pedro Fonseca

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) – Brazil’s brutal surge in COVID-19 deaths will soon surpass the worst of a record January wave in the United States, climbing well beyond an average 3,000 fatalities per day, scientists predict, as contagious new variants overwhelm hospitals.

Brazil’s overall death toll trails only the U.S. outbreak, with nearly 333,000 killed, according to Health Ministry data, compared with more than 555,000 dead in the United States.

But with Brazil’s healthcare system at the breaking point, the country could also exceed total U.S. deaths, despite having two-thirds the population, two experts told Reuters.

“It’s a nuclear reactor that has set off a chain reaction and is out of control. It’s a biological Fukushima,” said Miguel Nicolelis, a Brazilian doctor and professor at Duke University, who is closely tracking the virus.

Right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro has pushed back against mask-wearing and lockdowns that public health experts consider necessary. The country dragged its feet last year as the world raced to secure vaccines, slowing the launch of a national immunization program.

With weak measures failing to combat contagion, Brazil’s COVID-19 cases and deaths are accumulating faster than ever. On the other hand, a widespread U.S. vaccination campaign is rapidly curtailing what has been the world’s deadliest outbreak.

Nicolelis and Christovam Barcellos, a researcher at Brazilian medical institute Fiocruz, are separately predicting that Brazil could surpass the United States in both overall deaths and the record for average deaths per day.

As soon as next week, Brazil may break the record U.S. seven-day average for deaths, forecasts the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington. The U.S. average for daily deaths peaked at 3,285 in January.

The IHME forecast does not currently extend beyond July 1, when it projects Brazil could reach 563,000 deaths, compared with 609,000 U.S. casualties expected by then.

(Reporting by Pedro Fonseca; Writing by Jake Spring; Editing by Brad Haynes and Jonathan Oatis)

Southwest recalls 209 pilots as travel demand recovers

(Reuters) -Southwest Airlines has recalled 209 pilots from a voluntary extended leave program to support its summer schedule, the company said on Monday, as airlines prepare for a recovery in demand as more Americans receive COVID-19 vaccines.

The pilots will return to active status on June 1 and will then complete all of the necessary requalification training requirements before they fly with passengers.

Among other major U.S. carriers, Delta Air Lines and American Airlines have also recalled pilots who were sidelined during the pandemic.

United Airlines, which reached a deal with its union to keep pilots active throughout the downturn, said last week it was preparing to hire about 300 pilots as travel demand rebounds.

Low-cost airlines have also recalled pilots and are hiring again.

(Reporting by Tracy Rucinski; Editing by Leslie Adler and Howard Goller)

Vaccinating adults appears to protect children around them; bar opening event linked to 46 COVID-19 cases

By Nancy Lapid

(Reuters) – The following is a roundup of some of the latest scientific studies on the novel coronavirus and efforts to find treatments and vaccines for COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus.

Vaccinating adults appears to protect children as well

New data from Israel, where health officials moved quickly to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer Inc and partner BioNTech SE, suggests that the vaccination of adults also protects unvaccinated people living around them. Roughly one third of Maccabi Healthcare Services (MHS) 1.95 million members – all above the age of 16 – had received at least a single vaccine dose by Jan. 30. In analyzing outcomes in 223 communities, researchers found that as the number of vaccinated adults went up, infection rates among unvaccinated MHS members in the same community went down – particularly among children. MHS is Israel’s second largest healthcare maintenance organization. “While the observed vaccine-associated protection of unvaccinated is encouraging, further studies are required to understand whether and how it might support the prospect of herd immunity and disease eradication,” the researchers concluded in the study posted on Wednesday on medRxiv ahead of peer review.

Illinois bar-opening event linked to 46 cases of COVID-19

An indoor celebration of a bar opening in rural Illinois in February led to 46 new cases of COVID-19 and wider ramifications, according to a U.S. study that serves as a caution about how such events can affect local communities. Four attendees had COVID-19-like symptoms that day. Of the 46 coronavirus infections linked to the party, there were 26 cases among patrons, three in staff members and 17 “secondary cases” in people infected by them, according to a report published on Monday in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The secondary cases included children and residents of long-term care facilities. “Transmission associated with the opening event resulted in one school closure affecting 650 children (9,100 lost person-days of school) and hospitalization of one long-term care facility resident with COVID-19,” researchers said. “These findings demonstrate that opening up settings such as bars, where mask wearing and physical distancing are challenging, can increase the risk for community transmission of SARS-CoV-2,” researchers said. Businesses should “work with local health officials to promote behaviors and maintain environments that reduce the risk for SARS-CoV-2 transmission and develop strategies for reopening safely to prevent outbreaks in the community, such as modifying layouts and operating procedures,” they said.

Congenital heart disease does not worsen COVID-19 risks

Adults with congenital heart defects are not more likely than the average person to have severe COVID-19, or to die from it, according to an international study. Risk factors associated with poor outcomes in these individuals are the same as those associated with poor outcomes in the general public – older age, male gender, a history of heart failure, irregular heart rhythm, kidney problems, diabetes, and need for extra oxygen before becoming infected with the coronavirus, said study coauthor Dr. Jamil Aboulhosn of the UCLA Adult Congenital Heart Center. Researchers analyzed data from 1,044 adults with COVID-19 from 58 congenital heart disease centers worldwide. Even people with very complex heart defects did not appear to have an increased risk of severe COVID-19 as long as they did not already have severe signs and symptoms of heart disease, Aboulhosn said, calling the finding, “somewhat surprising.” The study was published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Stroke patients with COVID-19 have worse outcomes

Among patients who went to a hospital because they were having a stroke, those who tested positive for COVID-19 had higher odds of dying there, a new study shows. The patients with COVID-19 were also more likely to have more severe stroke and to suffer another stroke while hospitalized, researchers reported in the journal Stroke. They studied close to 42,000 patients who arrived at 458 hospitals with ischemic stroke, caused by blockages in arteries that carry blood to the brain. About 3% of the patients tested positive for COVID-19. On average, they got to the hospital as quickly as patients without coronavirus infection. After that, things slowed down. “Likely due to the need for personal protective equipment use and other precautions” by hospital staffers, it took longer for COVID-19 patients to get clot-busting treatments that reopen the clogged vessels, said study coauthor Dr. Gregg Fonarow of the University of California, Los Angeles. The study cannot prove that treatment delays caused the worse outcomes. However, Fonarow said, “these findings suggest there is a need to further enhance stroke protocols to provide more timely diagnosis and treatment for patients with (ischemic stroke) to speed care while still protecting healthcare workers from exposure.”

(Reporting by Nancy Lapid, Marilynn Larkin and Megan Brooks; Editing by Bill Berkrot)

U.S. COVID-19 cases rise for third straight week, hospitalizations also up

(Reuters) – New cases of COVID-19 in the United States rose 5% to more than 450,000 last week, the third week in a row that infections have increased, according to a Reuters analysis of state and county data.

The average number of COVID-19 patients in hospitals rose 4% to more than 37,000 in the week ended April 4, breaking a streak of 11 weeks of falling admissions.

Health officials have expressed concerns about the increase in travel around the Easter holiday and school spring breaks, at a time when more infectious variants of the coronavirus are circulating.

While flu viruses tend to be seasonal, with cases falling as the weather warms, health officials said they have not seen similar trends with the novel coronavirus, pointing to a surge in COVID-19 cases in some regions last summer.

“I don’t think we should even think about relying on the weather to bail us out of anything we’re in right now,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, said at a news briefing on Monday.

Twenty-seven out of 50 states reported increases in new cases last week compared with the previous seven days, according to the Reuters analysis.

Per 100,000 people, Michigan, New Jersey and New York reported both the highest number of new cases and the highest number of hospitalizations.

Deaths from COVID-19, which tend to lag infections by several weeks, fell 17% to about 5,800 last week, or about 834 per day. Health officials have said the country’s vaccination effort could limit deaths even with rising cases.

For a sixth week, vaccinations set a record, with an average of 3.1 million shots given per day last week. As of Sunday, 32% of the U.S. population has received at least one dose and 19% was fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.

(Graphic by Chris Canipe, writing by Lisa Shumaker, editing by Tiffany Wu)