USA TODAY US Edition

Doctor shares grief: ‘I’m sorry, but it’s too late’

- Contributi­ng: Steven Vargas, John Bacon, Ryan Miller, Bailey Schulz, Morgan Hines, Laura Testino The Associated Press

An Alabama physician says in a heartbreak­ing post on social media she is making progress in encouragin­g people to vaccinate – as she struggles to keep them alive.

Dr. Brytney Cobia, a hospitalis­t at Grandview Medical Center in Birmingham, wrote on Facebook she is treating a lot of young, otherwise healthy people for serious coronaviru­s infections.

“One of the last things they do before they’re intubated is beg me for the vaccine,” she wrote. “I hold their hand and tell them that I’m sorry, but it’s too late.”

Cobia wrote that, when the patient dies, she hugs their family members and urges them to get vaccinated. She said they cry and tell her they thought the pandemic was a “hoax,” or “political,” or targeting some other age group or skin color.

“They wish they could go back. But they can’t,” Cobia wrote. “So they thank me and they go get the vaccine. And I go back to my office, write their death note, and say a small prayer that this loss will save more lives.”

Cobia was pregnant when she battled COVID-19 last summer, suffering from a low-grade fever, sore throat, fatigue, congestion and sneezing. She spent a weekend with other family members – and eight of them ultimately tested positive for the virus, including her husband. Most suffered more severe symptoms than she did, she said.

“The fear that I feel for myself and my unborn baby is bad enough, but the guilt that I feel for exposing people that trusted me is what I want to focus on,” she wrote in a Facebook post at the time.

Johnson & Johnson shot may be less effective against delta variant

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine may not be as effective as those with mRNA technology, according to a study posted by bioRxiv. The 13 million people who received the shot may need to receive a second dose, ideally the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, the study says. Although they have not been peer-reviewed nor published, the findings align with studies of the AstraZenec­a vaccine that concludes one dose of the vaccine is 33% effective against symptomati­c disease of the delta variant and 60% effective against the variant after the second dose. The results contradict studies published by J&J that say a single dose of their vaccine is effective against the variant.

Lambda variant arrives in Texas

A Houston area hospital reported its first case of the lambda variant of the coronaviru­s, but public health experts say the variant is unlikely to take hold in the U.S. in the same way the delta variant has. Dr. S. Wesley Long, Houston Methodist’s medical director of diagnostic biology, said the variant does not appear to be as easily transmissi­ble. Lambda was first identified in Peru and quickly spread to other South American countries. In the U.S., there have been fewer than 700 sequenced cases identified.

Tennessee school district to require masks

Shelby County Schools, Tennessee’s largest district, will continue requiring masks of all students and staff, regardless of vaccinatio­n status. All students are required to return to in-person learning Aug. 9, the first time since the district shuttered in March 2020. Since then, all in-person attendance for students has been optional. The district says it encourages COVID-19 vaccinatio­ns, but will not require them of students or employees.

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