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1) New Data Shows Drop In Vaccine Effectiveness
The Topline: While the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines still appear to be largely effective at protecting against the worst effects of COVID for most people, recent data has revealed that both vaccines seem to drop in their ability to protect against mild or asymptomatic cases over time.
An English study looked at the vaccines’ effectiveness against the Delta variant over time, and according to The New York Times, it showed the Pfizer vaccine is around 90% effective at preventing symptomatic infection two weeks after the second dose – but drops to a 70% effective rate after around five months.
The same study showed the Moderna vaccine’s protectiveness goes down over time, as well, but less dramatically.
Remember: Symptomatic infection is essentially any infection with symptoms, even if they’re mild.
Studies in the U.S. and Canada showed both Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccines are very effective at preventing people from requiring hospitalization. The amount of protection did decline over time, though not as much. For example, studies from the UK and Canada showed Pfizer was still at least 90% effective at preventing hospitalization at five months.
U.S. and Canadian studies showed both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines decreased in effectiveness against any degree of infection, including asymptomatic infection, over time.
A U.S. study showed the Pfizer vaccine was a little over 50% effective at about five months, whereas a Canadian study showed the Moderna vaccine remained above 75% at about six months.
Two of the studies were not yet peer-reviewed, and only one was published, but experts say the research shows consistent trends.
2) More Americans Retire Without Social Security
The Topline: Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, a growing number of senior citizens have retired without claiming Social Security.
‘The Great Resignation’
Last year, the number of Americans 65 and older who retired rose by about 5%. The number of people in the same age bracket who claimed Social Security benefits fell by 5% over that time period.
Most Americans qualify for their full monthly benefit between 65 and 67, depending on when they were born. They can begin collecting Social Security at age 62, but usually only receive 75% of their benefit for the rest of their life. If someone delays retiring until age 70, he or she can receive up to 132% of a full monthly benefit.
The stock market has continued to rise, leading to a historic increase in the value of retirement accounts. The number of 401(k)s worth a million dollars has nearly doubled since last year, and million-dollar IRAs increased by 60%, meaning older Americans who have invested the longest can draw on those funds earlier than they anticipated.
Home prices have also increased 18% since last August – the largest single year jump in 45 years. Some retirees are downsizing, selling off their houses, and living off the proceeds.
Retirees can only maximize their Social Security check if the Social Security system is fully solvent — and the agency’s 2021 report projected Social Security will be insolvent in 2033, a year earlier than previously expected.
At that time, the program is projected to only have enough cash to pay 76% of benefit claims, meaning the average Social Security check would fall by almost $400 a month.
3) Afghanistan’s Humanitarian Crisis Worsens
The Topline: With winter quickly approaching, experts are warning of a looming humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan, all while the number of American green card holders stranded in the country remains unclear.
Quote Of The Day: “It is as bad as you possibly can imagine…we’re now looking at the worst humanitarian crisis on Earth. Ninety-five percent of the people don’t have enough food, and now we’re looking at 23 million people marching towards starvation…The next six months are going to be catastrophic. It is going to be hell on Earth.”
– David Beasley, executive director of the United Nations World Food Programme
A few months have passed since the U.S. withdrew forces from Afghanistan, handing power back to the Taliban after 20 years. Now, the consequences of the withdrawal are being felt in new ways.
First, it’s being reported that there are as many as 14,000 legal permanent U.S. residents still in Afghanistan.
Republican Representative Chris Smith (NJ) asked the Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources regarding the number of people left behind, and he was told they essentially don’t know.
Afghans are now facing the prospect of an approaching winter with some areas of the country already reporting a drought, meaning if the winter is as bad as some predict, there could be a massive humanitarian disaster of hunger and famine.
Last week, CNN reported there were multiple cases of young girls being sold into sex slavery. One case involved a 9-year-old girl who was sold to a 55-year-old man. Her father said they had to sell her to keep other family members alive. Another involved a 10-year-old girl who was sold to a 70-year-old man.
The U.S. announced they would be sending more than $144 million in aid, bringing the total U.S. aid in the region to nearly half a billion dollars in 2021, but there are concerns the money will be intercepted since the Taliban is in control.
Other Stories We’re Tracking
A group of Loudoun County parents have gathered the required number of signatures to file a petition for the removal of the Loudoun County school board chairwoman and to begin legal challenges to remove three other members of the board. The group cites the “complete breakdown in trust” between the community and the school board and its failure to “keep our children safe.” The action against the school board follows exclusive Daily Wire reporting, which exposed a sexual assault case in a girls’ school bathroom that prompted widespread criticism of the district’s handling of the case. Parents have also protested radical ideological teaching in the district.
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