A version of this story appeared in the March 18 edition of CNN’s Coronavirus: Fact vs. Fiction newsletter. Sign up here to receive the need-to-know headlines every weekday.
Coronavirus reinfections are rare, but it’s more common for people 65 and older to get infected more than once, according to a study published Wednesday in the Lancet medical journal.
The study, which looked at reinfection rates among 4 million people in Denmark, found that most people who have had Covid-19 seemed to have protection from reinfection for more than six months. In a follow-up after six months, the study found no evidence that protection was waning. But a check of the demographics of who was getting infected again showed it was mostly people 65 and older, Jen Christensen reports.
The older age group had only about 47% protection against repeat infection, compared to younger people who seemed to have about 80% protection from reinfection, the team wrote. The finding is not completely unexpected, since as people age their immune systems weaken.
“Given what is at stake, the results emphasize how important it is that people adhere to measures implemented to keep themselves and others safe, even if they have already had COVID-19,” study co-author Dr. Steen Ethelberg of the Statens Serum Institut in Denmark said in a statement.
That advice is not being heeded in some parts of the US where governors are lifting measures aimed at preventing its spread. Even though nearly 1 in 8 Americans are fully vaccinated, the country may be on the cusp of a second surge, after case numbers that were declining in recent weeks appeared to level off.
Chicago officials earlier this month raised indoor capacity for bars, restaurants and other businesses, while Baltimore leaders said yesterday that they were easing restrictions on places including religious facilities, retail stores, malls, and fitness centers.
“We’re in a race to get the population vaccinated,” Dr. Richard Besser, the former acting director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), told CNN on Wednesday. “At the same time, we’re fighting people’s exhaustion with the restrictions that public health has put in place and we’re fighting the move by so many governors to remove the restrictions that are keeping us all safe.”
YOU ASKED. WE ANSWERED.
Q: I have a high BMI and qualify for the vaccine. Does this mean I am unhealthy?
A: With obesity a factor in Covid-19 vaccine eligibility, many Americans are scrambling to find out their body mass index, or BMI. But experts say the meaning behind those numbers – and how to lower them – isn’t always so clear-cut.
The CDC lists obesity as an underlying medical condition, and defines it as someone who has a body mass index of between 30 and 40.
Having a BMI of over 30 can lead to severe health problems such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease, and obesity increases the risk of having a more severe reaction to Covid-19.
Having a high BMI, however, doesn’t necessarily mean you’re unhealthy. There are some rare cases when a healthy person can have an apparently unhealthy BMI. This includes weight trainers and people with athletic builds who have a lot of muscle on them, creating a high BMI number, said Dr. Caroline Apovian, co-director of the Center for Weight Management and Wellness at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts.
If you’re unsure if your high BMI number is due to fat or muscle, Apovian recommends seeing a weight loss specialist to have more specific tests done.
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
Covid-19 drove hundreds of Africans out of Guangzhou. A generation of mixed-race children is their legacy
At the turn of the 21st century, the Chinese city of Guangzhou – already a magnet for internal migrants – became an accidental experiment in multiculturalism in China, as loose immigration rules and factories churning out cheap products attracted droves of African entrepreneurs. Business boomed, and by 2012 as many as 100,000 sub-Saharan Africans had flocked to the city, making it the largest African expatriate community in Asia, Jenni Marsh reports.
But the pandemic drove hundreds of Africans out of the city, sparked the most severe anti-Black racial clashes in China in decades, and remade business operations, with Chinese factories connecting with African customers directly over e-commerce platforms. The ones who remain are rooted there due to their Chinese partners and children.
EU continues attack on AstraZeneca as it unveils vaccine passports
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen attacked AstraZeneca for alleged under-production and under-delivery, blaming them in part for the slow vaccine rollout in Europe.
This comes as the EU’s medicines regulator prepares to issue guidance on the safety of the vaccine after many countries suspended their rollouts following reports of blood clots. The regulator has already said there is no evidence of a link between the AstraZeneca shots and clots.
Von der Leyen stressed that she trusted the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine, but warned that an export ban the EU brought in during its recent row with the drug company could be used if it felt other countries were not exporting sufficient numbers of vaccines.
The EU also unveiled its proposal for a “Digital Green Certificate,” or vaccine passport, to allow for safe and free movement within the bloc during the pandemic. The certificate confirming that a person has been vaccinated against Covid-19, has received a negative test result or has recovered from Covid-19 can be used across all 27 member states.
Tanzania’s President, who undermined his country’s Covid-19 response, has died
After dismissing the seriousness of Covid-19, Tanzania’s President John Magufuli died at a hospital in Dar es Salaam from a heart ailment. At the start of the pandemic, Magufuli urged citizens to “pray coronavirus away,” said the “satanic virus can’t live in the body of Jesus Christ,” and blamed the growing number of positive cases on faulty test kits.
In June, he claimed his country had eradicated coronavirus “by the grace of God,” questioned the safety of foreign Covid-19 vaccines and made no plan to procure any shots for his country, instead pushing for the use of herbal medicine and steam treatments. Tanzania hasn’t reported Covid-19 figures since April 2020, prompting the World Health Organization to call for the East African country to publish data and ramp up public health measures.
ON OUR RADAR
- Violence toward Asian Americans has spiked across the US, coinciding with the Covid-19 pandemic. San Francisco police are now increasing patrols following recent assaults.
- Former Brazilian leader Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva urged US President Joe Biden to call an emergency coronavirus summit as the country’s daily Covid-19 death toll reached a new record.
- Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’s laissez-faire approach to the pandemic appears to be paying off politically.
- US Education Secretary Miguel Cardona on Wednesday projected optimism that the fall would bring a school year that looks “more like what it was before Covid,” but stressed that his focus remains on resuming in-person learning this spring.
“As if stepping on [the] scale wasn’t emotionally loaded enough, I had to do it in a waiting room full of people.” – Madeleine Thompson, CNN Audio associate producer
Many states are making people with a certain BMI eligible for vaccines. But because weight carries such a stigma, showing up to an appointment may not be as easy as it sounds. CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta hears from a co-worker about her personal experience getting vaccinated, and navigating the complex relationship between weight and health. Listen now.