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Michigan bill expanding immunity from medical lawsuits is vetoed

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Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Monday vetoed Republican-sponsored legislation that would have given additional health providers and facilities legal protection from lawsuits in any state-declared emergency and have continued the immunity for longer during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.The governor, a Democrat, said she would have considered signing the bill if it only had attempted to “mop up” an issued created when the GOP-led Legislature refused to lengthen her declared COVID-19 emergency. The measure goes “much further,” however, she wrote in a letter to senators.”For example, this bill would give health care providers and the facilities that employ them broad immunity every time an emergency or disaster is declared, regardless of whether the circumstances demand this extreme measure,” Whitmer said. “A person receiving treatment at a hospital or a resident in a nursing home would be powerless to seek relief when they are harmed in any but the most egregious cases.”The legislation was supported by hospitals, doctors, nurses and nursing homes but opposed by plaintiffs’ lawyers.One of the statutes Whitmer has cited to declare the virus emergency — the underpinning of her various orders to curb the spread of COVID-19 — includes a provision shielding health providers and hospitals from …

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Russia clears coronavirus vaccine; Putin says his daughter got it

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By VLADIMIR ISACHENKOVMOSCOW (AP) — Russia on Tuesday became the first country to clear a coronavirus vaccine and declare it ready for use, despite international skepticism. President Vladimir Putin said that one of his daughters has already been inoculated.
Putin emphasized that the vaccine underwent the necessary tests and has proven efficient, offering a lasting immunity from the coronavirus. However, scientists at home and abroad have been sounding the alarm that the rush to start using the vaccine before Phase 3 trials — which normally last for months and involve thousands of people — could backfire.
Speaking at a government meeting Tuesday, Putin said that the vaccine has undergone proper testing and is safe.
“I know it has proven efficient and forms a stable immunity, and I would like to repeat that it has passed all the necessary tests,” he said. “We must be grateful to those who made that first step very important for our country and the entire world.”
The Russian leader added that one of his two adult daughters has received two shots of the vaccine. “She has taken part in the experiment,” Putin said.
Putin said that his daughter had a temperature of 100.4 Fahrenheit on the day of the first …

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San Quentin coronavirus disaster exposes a dangerous road to ‘herd immunity’

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For critics of aggressive stay-at-home orders, the solution seems clear: Reopen the economy and enough people will eventually become infected by the novel coronavirus to achieve “herd immunity” even before a vaccine is available.The idea is that eventually, a sufficient percentage of the population will have survived COVID-19 and become immune, which in turn protects the rest of the uninfected population by interrupting the spread of the virus.But the disastrous situation unfolding at San Quentin State Prison over the last two months has become the latest of several cautionary tales that show how any effort to achieve herd immunity before a vaccine is available would come with enormous costs in terms of illness and death.COVID-19 spread unchecked across California’s oldest prison in ways that stunned public health experts, despite efforts to control the disease. As of Monday, there had been more than 2,200 cases and 25 deaths, among a population of more than 3,260 people. On Sunday, a guard became one of the latest to die.
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That means more than two-thirds of the prison’s population has been infected, said Dr. George Rutherford, epidemiologist and infectious diseases expert at UC San Francisco. And though new cases have slowed, …

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If UK has achieved herd immunity where does Australia go next?

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There are some early signs the United Kingdom could be approaching coronavirus herd immunity, which may shine a spotlight on Australia’s commitment to a suppression strategy.A leading epidemiologist, Professor John Mathews from University of Melbourne, said the latest British data would need to be assessed in about a fortnight in “the cold light of day” but herd immunity may be occurring.Official statistics from NHS England pointed to a huge drop in the number of coronavirus patients being treated in hospitals now compared to mid-April, during the height of the pandemic. Thousands of people in the UK flocked to the beach last weekend during a heatwave. (PA / Andrew Matthews)Doctors in England are today treating around 700 patients daily, down from approximately 17,000 four months ago.The 96 percent drop has led to suggestions herd immunity could be close.Prof. Mathews, a former head of Australia’s National Centre for Disease Control and ex-Federal Government Deputy Chief Medical Officer, said the UK’s delayed lockdown measures may ultimately prove advantageous.The UK waited longer than many European countries to enforce strict lockdowns.During a media briefing in early March, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said banning major public events would have little effect on the …

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Whitmer vetoes bill to expand immunity from medical lawsuits

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LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Monday vetoed Republican-sponsored legislation that would have given additional health providers and facilities legal protection from lawsuits in any state-declared emergency and have continued the immunity for longer during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.The governor, a Democrat, said she would have considered signing the bill if it only had attempted to “mop up” an issued created when the GOP-led Legislature refused to lengthen her declared COVID-19 emergency. The measure goes “much further,” however, she wrote in a letter to senators.ADVERTISEMENT“For example, this bill would give health care providers and the facilities that employ them broad immunity every time an emergency or disaster is declared, regardless of whether the circumstances demand this extreme measure,” Whitmer said. “A person receiving treatment at a hospital or a resident in a nursing home would be powerless to seek relief when they are harmed in any but the most egregious cases.”The legislation was supported by hospitals, doctors, nurses and nursing homes but opposed by plaintiffs’ lawyers.One of the statutes Whitmer has cited to declare the virus emergency — the underpinning of her various orders to curb the spread of COVID-19 — includes a provision shielding health …

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COVID sparks lawsuits in CT, but not the ‘epidemic’ businesses seeking immunity expected

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Washington – After 15 years on the job, dental hygienists Katarzyna Rojinska and Izebela Cwalina were furloughed by the pandemic, then fired when they balked at returning to work due to concerns their workplace was unsafe.They are suing their employer, a periodontist who has offices in Middletown and New Britain, for wrongful termination. Their case is one of about 50 COVID-related lawsuits filed in both state and federal courts in Connecticut.
Their lawsuit is the kind being cited in a new wave of lobbying of Congress by representatives for businesses, schools, colleges and hospitals seeking immunity from what they fear will be a flood of of virus-related lawsuits. Yet, months into the pandemic, there is no such avalanche of litigation.
According to a COVID-19 case tracker established by the law firm of Hunton Andrews Kurth,  as of Aug. 6, nearly half of the 50 COVID cases filed in Connecticut are insurance-related, brought by businesses suing their insurers for failing to cover losses due to coronavirus shutdowns. Nearly 25 percent of the 4,113 COVID-19 cases filed nationwide are also insurance-related contract cases.

Source: Hunton Andrews Kurth. Data last updated August 6, 2020. Hover or click for the precise number of lawsuits. Credit: Kasturi Pananjady

Other cases were brought by …

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COVID-19 is pushing Indians to rely on ‘immunity-boosting’ brands and home remedies

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“How many of the immunity boosters in the marketplace actually do anything at all? And the short answer is none of them have provided any real evidence that they boost immunity,” said Dr Satyajit Rath, an immunologist with the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research in Pune. In one sense, these are just placebos, he said. But on the other hand, “I’m unhappy because that feel-good boost is based on an erroneous understanding of immunity.” Immunity is the body’s response to foreign entrants seen as a threat, including bacteria, viruses, allergens and more. The immune system recognises particles called antigens as foreign, and reacts to them. However, the messaging around ‘immunity boosting’ products would lead you to believe that there is a simplistic and homogenous path to strengthening it. That, however, isn’t the case. Dr Satyajit Rath explained, “So the simplest interpretation of the idea of boosting immunity is that you make it much easier for these responses to happen. Now when you make it much easier for these responses to happen, the likelihood that they will happen, even when there is no trigger, goes up. And all these immune responses, while they do help the body …

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Why Herd Immunity Won’t Save Us : Short Wave

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A man wearing a protective mask walks next to travelers as they line up to board a boat in Stockholm, Sweden.

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Herd immunity. It’s the idea that enough people become immune to an infectious disease that it’s no longer likely to spread. It makes sense theoretically. But as NPR’s Geoff Brumfiel tells us, the reality, in this coronavirus pandemic, is potentially full of risk and probably unachievable. Email the show at shortwave@npr.org. This episode was produced by Abby Wendle, fact-checked by Berly McCoy, and edited by Viet Le.

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