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"I want to wait and watch."

This is a peculiar response I receive from my friends and some family members in the United States when I ask them about their thoughts on COVID-19 vaccination. This is a peculiar response for a couple of reasons: COVID-19 vaccines are exceptionally effective, are now readily available and are the best way to end the pandemic and return to normalcy.

The dangerous Delta variant of the coronavirus is spreading so quickly in the United States that it's likely the mutant strain will become predominant in the U.S. within weeks, according to a new analysis.

The variant, first identified in India, is the most contagious yet and, among those not yet vaccinated, may trigger serious illness in more people than other variants do, say scientists tracking the spread of infection.

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Just a warning - this next conversation contains adult content, descriptions of sex acts and popular comic book characters. This may not be suitable for children.

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Organizers for the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics announced they will allow some local spectators into each venue as long as no state of emergency is in effect.

Up to 10,000 domestic fans will be allowed at events, or 50% of the venue's capacity, whichever is less, organizers said Monday.

The coronavirus situation in Japan has improved in recent weeks with increased vaccinations, though critics still believe it would be safer to close the games to all spectators.

A worrying spike of coronavirus infections in Europe is being driven by the delta variant, according to global health leaders, even as immunization rates in some countries are on the way up.

Increased cases reported in the U.K. and Portugal have forced officials to reimplement lockdown restrictions or hold off on lifting pandemic mandates. Officials in France, Germany and Spain said they are closely monitoring clusters of infection tied to the delta variant.

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Australia is one of the world's global pandemic success stories. There's been less than a thousand deaths in a population of 25 million. But that success has come at a price, as NPR's Diaa Hadid reports from Fremantle.

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When it comes to raising resilient children, Jeff Nelligan knows more than a thing or two.

He has three sons, dripping with hustle and composure. One of them is a senior at West Point, another graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy and the third from Williams College, where he played lacrosse. "I've raised three bad*****," Nelligan says bluntly (as he does often). "I hate to say it that way, but these kids have the ability to get over adversity, and that's resilience."

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Sahr Tarawaly is proud to be the breadwinner for his family. Each day the 14- year-old fetches water for several of his neighbors. He collects firewood to sell by the side of the road. He goes around to construction sites and asks for work sweeping and cleaning up debris. When fishing boats come in, he helps them draw in their nets.

"I used to like mathematics," the round-faced teenager says. But that was in the past. "Now I go down to the beach to fish, to have fish to eat."

Sahr dropped out of school two years when he was 12.

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It's still a mystery. How did the pandemic begin?

There is the leading hypothesis among scientists: The virus hopped from an animal — possibly a bat — to a human, or to some other animal, which later spread the disease to humans.

And then there is the lab leak hypothesis: The virus somehow escaped from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

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Brazil's Main COVID Strategy Is A Cocktail Of Unproven Drugs

Jun 15, 2021

In January, Thalita Rocha stood by her mother-in-law, Maria da Cruz Lima, at a public health clinic in Manaus, Brazil. Lima, a 67-year-old retired nurse, had caught the highly contagious COVID-19 gamma variant (formerly called P.1) assailing the Amazon's largest city. She was waiting for a spot to open up at an intensive care unit but was feeling optimistic — a nurse had started her on oxygen, and she seemed to be improving. An oximeter clipped onto Lima's index finger measured her blood oxygen saturation and was finally showing healthy levels, around 98%.

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The U.S. is banning the importation of dogs from more than 100 countries for at least a year because of a sharp increase in the number of puppies imported into the country with fraudulent rabies vaccination certificates.

"We're doing this to make sure that we protect the health and safety of dogs that are imported into the United States, as well as protect the public's health," Dr. Emily Pieracci of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tells NPR.

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India's COVID-19 Outbreak Is Slowing Down

Jun 14, 2021

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Abdalhamied Sharaf Aldein, a doctor in rebel-held northern Syria, has survived airstrikes and barrel bombs by the Syrian government, or its ally Russia, while caring for patients in at least eight different hospitals and medical clinics.

Now working at a hospital in Bab al Hawa, close to the Turkish border in a part of Syria controlled by the opposition, Aldein says the attacks have become so terrifyingly routine that it's hard to keep an exact count. Sometimes the hospital or clinic where he was working would be destroyed, other times just damaged.

Each week, we answer frequently asked questions about life during the coronavirus crisis. If you have a question you'd like us to consider for a future post, email us at goatsandsoda@npr.org with the subject line: "Weekly Coronavirus Questions." See an archive of our FAQs here.

When Asha Gond first started skateboarding, neighbors in her village of Janwar in central India were aghast. They urged the teenager's parents to keep her busy with housework or get her married. When she walked through the village, skateboard in hand, they would sneer at her and make disparaging comments. Skateboarding is for boys, Gond, now 21, recalls the villagers saying.

It can be genuinely thrilling when a new drug is approved for use in the U.S. It may be a big step forward in treating folks with, say, HIV or diabetes or breast cancer.

But sometimes the very people who took part in the trials to determine if the drug is effective and safe may not be able to benefit.

That's the conclusion of a new study published in JAMA Open Network.

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The U.S. will donate 500 million doses of COVID vaccine to the rest of the world. President Biden made that announcement today in Cornwall, England.

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A 7-year-old boy lost both parents to COVID-19 and is alone in the family apartment, with no relatives to care for him. Neighbors know about the situation but are afraid to intervene directly — afraid of being entangled in red tape, afraid of catching the virus.

A new drug makes teen girls collapse! And it's secretly a birth control pill, part of a plan to reduce the national population.

Those are some of the rumors that revolve around the treatments for life-threatening diseases.

Now imagine you have 24 hours to come up with a plan to discourage people from believing the rumors and encourage them to seek treatment.

President Biden is set to announce Thursday that the United States has bought 500 million doses of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine to donate to COVAX, which is distributing vaccines to countries that cannot afford to buy enough shots, a source familiar with the deal confirmed to NPR.

The news comes after Biden's arrival Wednesday in England on the first foreign trip of his presidency. He has said he wants to use the eight-day European trip to marshal a plan with other G-7 nations to help end the pandemic around the world.

The emergence of new and more infectious variants of the coronavirus has raised a troubling question: Will the current crop of COVID-19 vaccine prevent these variants from causing disease?

A study out Wednesday in the journal Nature suggests the answer is yes.

Vaccines are now on their way to parts of the world where vaccines are sorely lacking.

The Biden administration is exporting an initial batch of 25 million doses from a promised 80 million for countries in need, part of the president's pledge on June 3 to "lead the world in the fight to defeat COVID-19."

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