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More peripheral losses inflicted as US sheds off Covid-19 restrictions

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New York | Thursday, 2022 5:15:09 AM IST
As coronavirus cases continue to decline across the US, all states but one -- Hawaii -- have dropped their mask mandates or have made plans to do so in the coming weeks, while Target and Apple stores joined other retailers this week in pulling back their own mandates, reported The Washington Post (WP) on Wednesday.

In addition, some cruise lines, including Norwegian and Royal Caribbean International, said they are relaxing mask requirements for vaccinated passengers after putting stricter rules in place during the Omicron surge. The industry was hit hard early in the pandemic as horror stories of onboard outbreaks made headlines, said the report.

Vaccinated people should still wear masks when indoors in an area of "substantial or high transmission," according to the latest US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines. Those categories still cover more than 95 per cent of the whole country, according to WP.

However, with new daily cases falling, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said last week that her agency is reviewing its recommendations, Xinhua news agency reported.

"We want to give people a break from things like mask-wearing, when these metrics are better, and then have the ability to reach for them again should things worsen," she added.

US life insurers, as expected, made a large number of Covid-19 death-benefit payouts in 2021. More surprisingly, many saw a jump in other death claims, too. Some insurers see continued high levels of these deaths for some time, even if Covid-19 deaths decline this year.

Industry executives and actuaries believe many of these other fatalities are tied to delays in medical care as a result of lockdowns in 2020, and then, later, people's fears of seeking out treatment and trouble lining up appointments, according to The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday.

"The losses we are seeing continue to be elevated over 2019 levels due at least in part, we believe, to the pandemic and the existence of either delayed or unavailable healthcare," Globe Life Finance Chief, Frank Svoboda was quoted as telling analysts and investors earlier in February.

Among the non-coronavirus-specific claims are deaths from heart and circulatory issues and neurological disorders, he said.

"We anticipate that they'll start to be less impactful over the course of 2022 but we do anticipate that we'll still at least see some elevated levels throughout the year," he added.

While coronavirus vaccine jabs still provided protection during the Omicron wave, the shield of coverage they offered was weaker than during other surges, according to new data from the CDC. The change resulted in much higher rates of infection, hospitalisation and death for fully vaccinated adults and even for people who had received boosters.

"The decline in protection continued a pattern driven by coronavirus vaccines' reduced effectiveness over time, combined with the increasing contagiousness of the Delta and Omicron waves," said WP on Wednesday while reporting about the CDC data and conclusions.

Before Delta struck the US in July, there were five to 10 cases of Covid-19 for every 100,000 fully vaccinated adults each week, while the rate for unvaccinated people was 50 to 90 cases. In the Delta wave, unvaccinated people were five times as likely to get infected as vaccinated people. With Omicron, that difference dropped to less than three times as likely, according to the WP report.

The new data showed that vaccines provided greater protection against hospitalisation than for infection during the Omicron wave, even as that protection waned. Before Omicron, unvaccinated people were 15 times as likely to be hospitalised as were fully vaccinated people. With the latest coronavirus variant, the difference in rates dropped to about seven times as much, said the report.

--IANS int/khz/

( 627 Words)

2022-02-23-23:28:02 (IANS)

 
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