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Latest Indiana coronavirus updates for Sunday, Sept. 26, 2021

Latest updates in the COVID-19 pandemic for Sunday, Sept. 26, 2021.

INDIANAPOLIS — Here are Sunday's latest updates on the coronavirus pandemic, including the latest news on COVID-19 vaccinations and testing in Indiana.

Registrations for the vaccine are now open for Hoosiers 12 and older through the Indiana State Department of Health. This story will be updated over the course of the day with more news on the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Latest US, world numbers

There have been more than 42.94 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States as of 5:30 a.m. Sunday, according to Johns Hopkins University. There have been more than 687,750 deaths recorded in the U.S.

Worldwide, there have been more than 231.58 million confirmed coronavirus cases with more than 4.74 million deaths. More than 6.07 billion vaccine doses have been administered worldwide.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness like pneumonia, or death.

UK counts on vaccines, 'common sense' to keep virus at bay

Britain's Conservative government is hoping a combination of relatively high vaccination rates and common-sense behavior will keep a lid on coronavirus infections this fall and winter and avoid the need for restrictive measures. That plan employs a lighter touch than most nations. 

Britain has recorded more than 135,000 coronavirus deaths. But it also has seen 65% of its whole population fully vaccinated. Prime Minister Boris Johnson says people should get vaccinated and “be sensible” to keep the virus in check. 

But critics say the government's approach has often been “too little, too late,” and this plan could be one more example.

Most insurance plans stop waiving costs of COVID hospitalizations

Early in the pandemic, many insurance companies were waiving the costs of hospital care for COVID patients.  Now, most of those cost-waivers are coming to an end.

In November 2020, 88% of health insurance group plans waived all costs associated with COVID-19 hospital stays, according to a study by KFF, a nonprofit, health policy analysis group. By October 2021, 82% of health insurance plans will no longer dismiss those expenses, the study said.

“What that means for patients is if you have a COVID-related hospital stay, you're going to be on the hook for your deductible and your co-insurance, which could be thousands of dollars,” said Cynthia Cox, vice president of KFF and co-author of the study.

One reason health insurers were voluntarily waiving COVID hospital costs is they wanted to avoid a federal mandate from Congress, according to Cox.

Now that those COVID cost waivers are expiring, unvaccinated patients are the ones who'll be paying most of the out-of-pocket hospital expenses.

COVID-19 vaccine boosters could mean billions for drugmakers

Billions more in profits are at stake for some vaccine makers as the U.S. moves toward dispensing COVID-19 booster shots to shore up Americans’ protection against the virus. How much the manufacturers stand to gain depends on how broad the rollout proves to be. 

The Biden administration last month announced plans to give third doses for nearly everybody. But U.S. regulators and government advisers have rejected the across-the-board approach and instead said booster shots of Pfizer’s vaccine should go to people 65 and older and others at high risk from COVID-19. Still, some top U.S. health officials expect boosters to become broadly available in the coming weeks or months.