Coronavirus

Updated June 17, 2021 at 3:52 PM ET

The U.S. Embassy in Kabul says it is suffering from a major COVID-19 outbreak that has largely confined staff to their quarters and is disrupting many of its operations. Earlier this week, the embassy announced that it was suspending in-person visa interviews for Afghans who had worked for the U.S. military.

Updated June 23, 2021 at 4:24 PM ET

It's been a little more than a month since adolescents as young as 12 became eligible in the United States to receive the Pfizer vaccine against COVID-19, and nearly all reports have been positive: The vaccine is very effective in this age group, and the vast majority of kids experience mild side effects, if any — the same sore arm or mild flulike symptoms seen among adults who get the shot.

Updated June 17, 2021 at 9:34 AM ET

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has declared that the variant of coronavirus first detected in India is a variant of concern, meaning it poses a significant threat to those who are not vaccinated.

The Delta variant, also known as B.1.617.2, is the most contagious yet. The CDC estimates that it may be responsible for nearly 10% of all new COVID-19 infections in the United States. In some Western U.S. states, the variant may be responsible for nearly 20% of cases.

Updated June 16, 2021 at 5:19 PM ET

The Federal Reserve will continue pumping money into the economy despite a sharp jump in consumer prices.

The central bank said Wednesday it would leave interest rates near zero and maintain its aggressive program of bond purchases in hopes of encouraging a faster rebound from the pandemic recession.

"We at the Fed will do everything we can to support the economy for as long as it takes to complete the recovery," Fed chairman Jerome Powell told reporters Wednesday.

Dr. Leora Horwitz treats fewer and fewer COVID-19 patients at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City. Still, she thinks there are too many.

And, notably, the COVID-19 patients almost all have something in common.

"I've only had one patient who was vaccinated, and he was being treated for cancer with chemotherapy," she says, alluding to recent research on the vaccines' limited effectiveness for cancer patients.

Royal Caribbean's new megaship, Odyssey of the Seas, was supposed to hail the company's return to business as near-usual this summer. But the ship's launch is now delayed after eight crew members tested positive for the coronavirus. Its first scheduled trips are now canceled.

The Odyssey of the Seas had been slated to make its debut sail with paying passengers on July 3 — more than a year after the pandemic hobbled the cruise ship industry. Its first voyage is now delayed for four weeks, until July 31. By then, summer will be nearly halfway over.

More than 15 months since the first confirmed death due to COVID-19 in the U.S., the coronavirus pandemic has claimed more than 600,000 lives across the country.

But that trend has slowed from thousands to hundreds per day in recent weeks, thanks largely to the ready availability of vaccines.

Alex Goldstein started the Twitter account @FacesofCOVID in March of 2020 to help him make sense of grief.

The account has been his way to honor some of the nearly 600,000 people who have died in the U.S.

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.

The first results from a large efficacy study of a new kind of COVID-19 vaccine are now out, and they are good. Very good.

According to Novavax, the vaccine's manufacturer, it had a 100% efficacy against the original strain of the coronavirus and 93% efficacy against more worrisome variants that have subsequently appeared.

Studying the brains of fruit flies is not the kind of work that you can easily do from home. You need special microscopes and something called a fly-ball tracker, which neuroscientist Vivek Jayaraman likens to a treadmill. A very tiny treadmill.

"We position them on a little ball. The fly walks on the ball. It's in a virtual reality space," explains Jayaraman in his lab at the Janelia Research Campus, part of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

The largest U.S. database for detecting events that might be vaccine side effects is being used by activists to spread disinformation about COVID-19 vaccines.

World leaders of the Group of Seven are expected to announce Friday a commitment to share 1 billion of their COVID-19 vaccine resources with lower-income countries struggling to control the spread of the virus.

On Thursday, President Biden announced plans for the U.S. to donate 500 million doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine globally. The first 200 million are expected to be distributed this year and the rest will follow in 2022.

For Manas Ray, the distance from his home in Massachusetts to India, where his extended family lives, has made the coronavirus pandemic feel like a nightmare.

At least 12 friends and family members close to the biochemist have been infected since April 2020, including his mother, Bandana. Reports earlier this spring from his friends and relatives were especially bleak as the second wave devastated the country he left 33 years ago.

"It's very hard on me because I'm so far away from them and cannot help," Ray tells Morning Edition.

Fifteen months into the pandemic, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued a mandatory workplace safety rule aimed at protecting workers from COVID-19. But it only applies to health care settings, a setback for unions and worker safety advocates who had called for much broader requirements.

Mehran Mossaddad has spent much of the pandemic scared and lying awake at night. He's a single dad with an 10-year-old daughter living outside Atlanta.

"I get panic attacks not knowing what's in store for us," he says. "I have to take care of her."

Mossaddad drives Uber for a living, but when the pandemic hit, he stopped because he couldn't leave his daughter home alone. As a result, he has fallen more than $15,000 behind on his rent, and his landlord has filed an eviction case against him.

Updated June 10, 2021 at 9:56 AM ET

Prices for a lot of things are surging across the U.S., and John McConnell's recent car-shopping experience helps explain why.

McConnell, from Colorado Springs, Colo., was recently looking for a Toyota Tacoma to replace his two-year-old Nissan Altima and was shocked to see the one he wanted priced several thousand dollars above the sticker price.

He plans to buy it anyway.

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.

Hey Washingtonians! Get A Vaccine. Smoke A Joint.

Jun 9, 2021

Still anxious about getting the COVID-19 vaccine? Washington state is offering adults a relaxing new incentive — marijuana joints.

The program, launched by the state's Liquor and Cannabis Board and named "Joints for Jabs," runs until July 12 and allows state-licensed dispensaries to give qualifying customers one pre-rolled joint at an in-store vaccination clinic.

Eligible participants must be 21 years old or older and have to have received their first or second dose during that visit.

The Delta variant, which was first detected in India, now accounts for more than 6% of all infections in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And this highly transmissible variant may be responsible for more than 18% of cases in some Western U.S. states.

Pages