While You Were Sleeping: Coronavirus updates for April 21

Coronavirus

INDIANAPOLIS — There were several developments in the coronavirus pandemic you may have missed overnight.

Here’s a look:

Travel advisory expanded. The U.S. State Department is “strongly” urging all Americans to reconsider international travel, according to a press release issued Monday.

In light of “unprecedented risks” posed by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the department has announced plans to update its current travel advisories to better reflect guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In doing so, the department will expand its Level 4 (Do Not Travel) advisory to approximately 80% of the world’s countries.

Decline in vaccine interest. Health experts are seeing a decline in vaccinations nationwide. At one point many were rushing to schedule appointments but that’s no longer the case in some areas.

“What we’re seeing is interest in the vaccine is weaning a little bit across the state,” said Regenstrief Institute, Director of Public Health and Informatic, Dr. Brian Dixion.

Health experts say that could impact Indiana’s goal of reaching herd immunity by Memorial Day, pushing it to June or July.

New variant in Texas. Texas A&M University researchers have identified a new COVID-19 variant that originated in the state.

Scientists at the Texas A&M Global Health Research Complex (GHRC) identified the variant — called BV-1 after Brazos Valley, where it originated — from a saliva sample taken from a student as a part of an ongoing testing program. Researchers believe it’s related to the United Kingdom variant.

The student with the confirmed case showed mild flu-like symptoms for nearly a month, suggesting this new variant may cause a longer than normal infection in young adults. Although only one mild case has been confirmed, researchers are worried that the variant shows resistance to antibodies.

Global cases peak. Last week, the World Health Organization reported the highest number of COVID cases in the world in a single week ever, at 5.2 million new cases.

The news comes as half of Americans have received at least the first dose of the COVID vaccine.

Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director-general of WHO said deaths rose for the fifth straight week, adding that now more than 3 million people have died from COVID worldwide.

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