Your Friday Briefing
Is ‘forever boosting’ tenable?
Experts concerned about ‘forever boosting’
A year ago, just two doses of a Covid-19 vaccine — or even one, in the case of Johnson & Johnson’s formulation — were thought to offer sufficient protection against the coronavirus.
Now, faced with the extraordinarily contagious Omicron variant, Israel has begun offering fourth doses to some high-risk groups. The U.S. expanded eligibility for boosters to adolescents this week and backed away from describing anyone with two shots as “fully vaccinated.”
Many are wondering when it all ends.
Scientists, facing an unpredictable virus, are reluctant to predict the future. But in interviews this week, nearly a dozen said that whatever happened, trying to boost the entire population every few months was not realistic. Nor does it make much scientific sense. Many say the booster plan is not practical, as fewer people have showed up for boosters than for their second doses.
Some scientists say waiting for a variant-specific booster would be better than the current general boosters.
Quotable: “It’s not unheard-of to give vaccines periodically, but I think there are better ways than doing boosters every six months,” said Akiko Iwasaki, an immunologist at Yale University. Other strategies, she said, could “get us out of this forever-boosting kind of a situation.”
The science: Booster shots undoubtedly increase antibody levels and help to prevent infection. As a result, they may relieve pressure on the health care system by temporarily slowing the spread of the virus. But the immunity boost is transient.
Strategy changes: Several advisers who counseled President Biden before he took office urged the president to create a new strategy for living with Covid indefinitely rather than try to stamp it out.
In other developments:
Here’s a look at the current two-week lockdown in Xi’an, China.
After a 10-hour airport standoff over his visa and medical exemption for the Australian Open, Novak Djokovic, the No. 1 men’s tennis player, was told to leave the country.
Omicron is taking out New York City Transit workers, the latest hit to subway ridership.
Italy made Covid vaccinations mandatory for people 50 and older.
Rio de Janeiro canceled Carnival street parties, but the parade will go on.
Biden goes after Trump on Capitol attack anniversary
With lawmakers gathered in the Capitol on the anniversary of the Jan. 6 assault on the building by a pro-Trump mob, President Biden denounced Donald Trump for spinning a “web of lies” and threatening democracy.
In his most scathing attack on the former president since taking office, Biden accused Trump and his allies of holding “a dagger at the throat of America” and trying to undermine the legitimacy of the election system.
Biden’s speech kicked off a daylong commemoration that underscored just how fractured the U.S. remained a year after Trump refused to accept a decisive defeat at the ballot box.
The day was part national commemoration, part group therapy session and part slick production as Democrats marked the deadliest attack on the Capitol in two centuries.
Just two Republicans took part in a moment of silence for the lives lost: Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming and her father, former Vice President Dick Cheney.
Related: Within hours of the riot, the “stop the steal” campaign gave way to revisionist histories of Jan. 6. This is how they took hold among Trump supporters.
Russia sends troops to Kazakhstan
Thousands of troops from a Russia-led military alliance arrived in Kazakhstan to try to restore order after a night of protests turned violent and the police reported dozens of deaths.
The protesters, rallying against surging fuel prices, set government buildings on fire and overran the airport. Commercial banks and stores were ordered closed yesterday, causing people to rush to A.T.M.s to collect cash and line up for bread. The Kazakh authorities said that by last night, they had regained control of government buildings in Almaty, the country’s largest city.
In addition to those who were killed, about a thousand people were injured and up to 400 were hospitalized. Around 2,000 protesters were detained. Western officials were watching closely.
The troop deployment is the first by the Collective Security Treaty Organization, a military alliance of former Soviet states, dominated by Russia. The operation was described as a temporary peacekeeping mission.
Background: The revolt in Kazakhstan began on Sunday as a protest against a rise in fuel prices and a demand for voting power. Even when the government said it would rescind the price increase, the protests grew.
Analysis: The crisis presented Russia’s leader, Vladimir Putin, with an opportunity to reassert influence in the former Soviet domain. But analysts say it could plant the seeds of rebellion at home.
Context: Kazakhstan has by far the highest G.D.P. per capita in the region and plenty of reserves, driven by billions in profits from oil. Most of this wealth, however, has not been equally distributed, with the elites living lavishly while many survive on meager salaries.
THE LATEST NEWS
News From Europe
Britain’s prime minister, Boris Johnson, was rebuked by his ethics adviser over the costly refurbishment of his Downing Street apartment.
Pope Francis said that people who had pets instead of children were being selfish. “It takes away our humanity,” he said.
An Italian citizen who worked in publishing was charged with wire fraud and identity theft for stealing unpublished book manuscripts.
Around the World
Canada’s ban on conversion therapy, which makes it a crime to repress a person’s sexual orientation or gender expression, goes into effect today. Above, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and other Canadian leaders after the adoption of the ban last month.
North Korea said it would not participate in the Beijing Winter Olympics because of the coronavirus pandemic and moves by “hostile forces.”
Pakistan cleared the way for the first woman in the country’s history to become a Supreme Court justice, when a judicial commission approved the elevation of Justice Ayesha Malik to the top court on Thursday.
Politicians in Chile are calling for a pause in new mining contracts for lithium over the social and environmental risks.
The New York Times Company is buying The Athletic, an online sports news outlet with 1.2 million subscriptions.
Don’t brood about the things you can’t reach. Live as if your time is limited. Focus on the people you care about. Enjoy the pleasures at hand.
These lessons on living were all shared by some of the oldest New York City residents, who spoke to our reporter over the course of seven years. Above, Ruth Willig, 98. We found their stories and wise insights to be useful pillars on which to build a good life.
Lives lived: Peter Bogdanovich, who directed the acclaimed films “The Last Picture Show” and “Paper Moon” before his professional reputation was tarnished in one of Hollywood’s most conspicuous falls from grace, died at 82.
ARTS AND IDEAS
The kid king of YouTube
Over the last seven years, a 10-year-old boy, Ryan Kaji, and his family have created a toy empire on YouTube — amassing billions of views and earning tens of millions of dollars for the family each year.
Ryan was first filmed at 3, playing with toys that his parents funded with a $20-a-week budget. Eventually a papier-m?ch? egg video went viral, his parents quit their day jobs and the videos turned into a major business.
Now, across 10 channels that make up “Ryan’s World,” he plays with a new toy almost every day of the week, adding up to an avalanche of content that can overwhelm a child’s brain, click after click.
In this week’s New York Times Magazine, Jay Caspian Kang looks at why so many children want to watch Ryan’s videos. Read the full article here.
PLAY, WATCH, EAT
What to Cook
What to Watch
Willem Dafoe, Alfred Molina and Jamie Foxx talk about reprising their memorable bad-guy roles in the latest “Spider-Man” sequel.
Now Time to Play
Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Deeply love (five letters).
And here is the Spelling Bee.
That’s it for today’s briefing. Thanks for joining me. — Melina
P.S. Juliana Barbassa, who leads Latin America coverage for our International desk, will join the Books desk as the new deputy for news and features.
The latest episode of “The Daily” is about the Capitol riot.
You can reach the team at email@example.com.