17 Sep, 2021 05:44 AM4 minutes to read
Artist Suzanne Brennan Firstenberg has placed more than 660,000 white flags in Washington’s National Mall park. Video / SBS News
Footage of an exhibition honouring those who have died of Covid-19 in America has brought home the scale of the devastation wrecked on the country.
Artist Suzanne Brennan Firstenberg has placed more than 660,000 white flags in Washington’s National Mall park to represent people who have died from Covid in the United States. She will continue to add to the display each day as the death toll increases.
“We have to remember that this happened and learn from it … We can never let this happen again. Never again,” Firstenberg told the Washington Post.
🇺🇸🦠 A sea of 650,000 white flags – one for every person who died from coronavirus in the US – is taking shape in front of the Washington Monument at the National Mall.
“In America: Remember” by @sbfirstenberg will be on display from Sept. 17 to Oct. 3.#COVID19 pic.twitter.com/waYJDaSKdJ
— Michael Knigge (@kniggem) September 15, 2021
There have been more than 41 million Covid cases in the US since the beginning of the pandemic and the country has been one of the worst-hit regions in the world.
While the US was able to get cases down following a spike during its winter early this year, cases have grown again and it is currently averaging 170,000 new infections every day and 1800 deaths.
Workers prepare to plant white flags as part of artist Suzanne Brennan Firstenberg’s temporary art installation. Photo / APDespite the population having free access to vaccines since April, more than at third are still not vaccinated, making the US the least vaccinated G7 country.
The US is now the least vaccinated G7 country. pic.twitter.com/2oT7qrzPYZ
— Florian Ederer (@florianederer) September 11, 2021
It comes as US health authorities revealed that fully vaccinated people were 11 times less likely to die of Covid and 10 times less likely to be hospitalised compared to the unvaccinated since the highly contagious Delta became the most common variant.
The data came from one of three new papers published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, all of which underscored Covid vaccines’ ongoing effectiveness against severe outcomes.
A worker walks past white flags that were planted as part of artist Suzanne Brennan Firstenberg’s temporary art installation. Photo / APWorkers plant white flags as part of artist Suzanne Brennan Firstenberg’s temporary art installation. Photo / APFor reasons that are not yet well understood, data from one of the studies suggests Moderna’s vaccine has offered a slightly higher level of protection in the Delta period.
It comes a day after US President Joe Biden announced an aggressive new immunisation plan that includes requiring companies employing more than 100 people to either vaccinate their workers or test them weekly.
“As we have shown in study after study, vaccination works,” CDC director Rochelle Walenksy said during a press briefing on Friday.
The first study examined hundreds of thousands of cases in 13 US jurisdictions from April 4 to June 19, the period before Delta was dominant, and compared them to those from June 20 to July 17.
Between these periods, a vaccinated person’s risk of Covid infection rose slightly: from being 11 times less likely to be infected compared to an unvaccinated person, to five times less likely.
Protection against hospitalisation and death remained more stable, but fell more among people aged 65 and above than for younger age groups.
The CDC and the Food and Drug Administration are assessing the need for booster shots, and it is likely the elderly will be among the first to receive them when the Biden administration starts to roll them out later this month.
One of the studies, which assessed vaccine effectiveness from June – August at more than 400 hospitals, emergency departments and urgent care clinics, stratified efficacy by brand.
Efficacy against hospitalisation was highest for Moderna at 95 per cent; then Pfizer at 80 per cent; and finally Johnson & Johnson at 60 per cent.
Overall efficacy against hospitalisation was 86 per cent for all age groups but this fell to 76 per cent for those over 75.
The two mRNA vaccines, Pfizer and Moderna, have always performed slightly better than the J&J adenovirus vector vaccine — possibly because the latter is administered as one dose.
It isn’t clear why Moderna’s vaccine appears to have a slight edge on Pfizer in the Delta period.
It could be linked to its higher dosing level of 100 micrograms versus 30 micrograms, or possibly the greater interval between the first and second shots (four versus three weeks), which might be associated with a heightened immune response.