Joe Biden to focus on economic recovery after Covid as 17.5m vaccine shots given in US – live


Joe Biden’s new administration is faced with a monumental task in curbing the deadliest wave of the Covid-19 pandemic so far in a race against time before a new, more contagious coronavirus variant threatens already strained US health resources.

The Biden administration has mere weeks to speed vaccine deployment, and convince more Americans to wear masks, wash hands and social distance. And it must be done amid a rocky transition, critical supply shortfalls, widespread new infections, shaky public trust and a vaccine rollout that “has been a dismal failure so far”.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has now issued stark warnings about a more infectious new variant of Covid-19, called B117.

Various scenarios could play out. In one model, Covid-19 infections decline in March, only to crest again in late April and early May driven by B117 infections. This model assumed there was no widespread community vaccination. In another model, B117 still overtakes current strains, but it declines alongside current dominant strains. The decline would take place in an environment of overall reduced transmission, because people maintain social distance and vaccines are distributed to about 1 million a day.

This endpoint can be reached, CDC modelers said, but only if people curb the spread of Covid-19 and vaccine uptake is high. Biden has repeatedly pledged to vaccinate 100 million Americans in 100 days, which would roughly match modeling by the CDC.

“We need to ask average Americans to do their part,” said Jeff Zients, the White House Covid-19 response director. “Defeating the virus requires a coordinated nationwide effort.”

Read more of Jessica Glenza’s report here: Biden team in race against time as new strain threatens to intensify Covid wave

A key conservative doctors’ group pushing misinformation about Covid-19 vaccines faces growing fire from medical experts about its woeful scientific grounding, while its leader, Dr Simone Gold, was charged early this week for taking part in the 6 January attack on the Capitol.

Gold, who founded America’s Frontline Doctors last spring with help from the Tea Party Patriots organization, was arrested on Monday in Beverly Hills, where she lives, and faces charges of entering a restricted building, violent entry and disorderly conduct.

Prior to her arrest, a headshot of Gold holding a bullhorn that she used to give a talk inside the Capitol appeared on an FBI flyer headlined “Seeking Information” about suspects in the Capitol attack. Gold first acknowledged her presence at the Capitol and voiced “regret” to the Washington Post, after a video surfaced of her walking inside the Capitol.

Last May, Gold’s group gained fast attention as several allied rightwing organizations, including Tea Party Patriots and the FreedomWorks Foundation, began a well-funded publicity drive attacking state lockdowns and downplaying the risks of the pandemic.

Gold and her fledgling group attacked policies advocated by top scientists like Dr Anthony Fauci and other national experts on the pandemic, and they promoted misinformation at rallies in Los Angeles and Washington and on rightwing media outlets owned by Salem Radio and Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network.

Gold’s mission has included touting the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine, a phoney Covid- 19 cure that Donald Trump endorsed which carries serious health risks, and suggesting that the lockdown’s mental health effects were more harmful than the Covid-19 virus.

Last July, Gold delivered her message at a well-publicized rally her group hosted in front of the supreme court, which drew about 10 doctors, including two ophthalmologists. Gold, who had been working at two hospitals before the rally, was fired afterwards and quickly tapped the conservative attorney and Trump ally Lin Wood to represent her.

Read more of Peter Stone’s report here: ‘Wilful ignorance’: doctor who joined Capitol attack condemned for Covid falsehoods

Amanda Gorman, the 22-year-old poet who stole the show with her poem The Hill We Climb at the presidential inauguration on Wednesday, has landed yet another book deal, with her forthcoming debuts shooting straight to the top of the charts.

Hours after she stepped off the dais, publisher Penguin Children’s announced that it would be releasing Gorman’s poem as a hardcover book in spring, with plans to print 150,000 copies in the first run, unprecedented even for a whole poetry collection, “due to overwhelming demand”.

Days before Gorman’s reading, it was also announced that her debut collection, also titled The Hill We Climb, will be published on 21 September in the US. The national youth poet laureate’s first picture book, Change Sings, written as a children’s anthem, is due to come out the same day.

Youth poet laureate Amanda Gorman reads The Hill We Climb at Biden inauguration – video

Both books shot to the top of Amazon’s charts within minutes of Gorman taking to the stage, with the poet sharing her reactions to her newfound fame on social media. “I’m dying!” she shouted in one Instagram story, as she watched a newsreader on television read a glowing tweet addressed to her from Lin-Manuel Miranda, the creator of the musical Hamilton, which inspired part of her poem. In another video, she was filmed staring at Amazon on a laptop, where The Hill We Climb and Change Sings reached No 1 and No 2 respectively on the overall book charts.

“Y’all my Instagram literally is broken, this is not a game, this is not a joke. I just looked up and had one million followers,” she said. “I can’t even post anything … there is so much love and support coming via the app, so thank you so much. This is wild.”

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