Good morning. This is Jonathan Spira reporting. Here now the news of the pandemic from across the globe on the 964th day of the pandemic.
If a jogger runs in a park and no one sees him, will 33 people catch Covid?
That is effectively the question Chinese health officials are asking as they contend that a jogger in Chongqing somehow managed to infect a total of 39 people, many of which were entered the park well after he left the scene.
“The first coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) case infected with the SARS-CoV-2 Omicron subvariant BA.2.76 who caused local transmission was reported in Chongqing Municipality on August 16, 2022,” a study in the China CDC Weekly journal. “For 35 minutes, the Patient Zero jogged along a lake at a local park without wearing a mask. Among the 2,836 people potentially exposed at the time, 39 tested positive. Overall, 38 out of 39 cases did not wear a mask on the morning of August 16. All 39 cases lacked any previous exposure to the variant before testing positive on their nucleic acid test.”
To support its conclusions, the CCDC cited patient interviews, park surveillance footage, and SARS-CoV-2 genetic data, which reportedly linked the cases but is strangely absent from the report.
This dubious claim of infection through fleeting encounters in open air as the jogger trotted through the park appears to go against everything we have learnt about Covid transmission in almost three years.
If this claim does turn out to be true, however, it would extensively change our understanding of virus transmission and the precautions we need to take.
It seems more likely that this report is less science and more political in an aim to support Xi Jinping’s “zero-Covid” policy. Let’s hope that is the case.
In other news we cover today, a flu shot currently in development could target as many as 20 influenza viruses at once, Chinese authorities are cracking down on pandemic policy dissent, and Chinese students are using a Friedman physics formula on their protest signs.
Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have come up with a new approach to flu vaccines. An experimental flu shot aims to target 20 different influenza viruses in a single dose of vaccine using mRNA technology. If trials reveal that the idea works, it won’t save people from getting an annual flu shot but it will likely protect people against new strains of influenza that could result in an epidemic or pandemic.
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy announced the start of a review of his administration’s handling of the pandemic, enlisting a regional law firm and the Boston Consulting Group in its efforts.
“The Covid-19 pandemic was one of the biggest challenges our state – and nation – has ever faced,” Murphy said. “Throughout the pandemic, my responsibility as governor demanded that I make every decision based on the available data, facts, and science in order to preserve the health and safety of all 9.3 million residents, regardless of the politics.”
The Garden State was one of the first to be hit in the early days of the pandemic. It announced its first positive case in March 2020.
The Chinese government is clamping down on protests against its “zero-Covid” policies. Police in a close formation were present to discourage such gatherings in Beijing and Shanghai and also in the special administrative region of Hong Kong. Over the past several days, protests had exploded in those cities following protests on Friday in Urumqi, capital of Xinjiang, over a deadly fire the night before that officials said resulted in the death of ten people. Some Chinese residents believe that Covid restrictions contributed to a delay in putting out the fire, increasing the loss of life..
Testing the limits of China’s tolerance for protest, students are using rather unconventional symbols on protest signs include a blank white sign and a physics formula. The formula in question is one of the Friedmann equations, named after physicist Alexander Friedmann. Some believe it is a play on the physicist’s last name, which sounds like “free man” in English.
OTHER HEALTHCARE NEWS
Scientists revived an ancient virus that had remained frozen for an estimated 48,500 years. Seven viruses in total were found in the Siberian permafrost. The work was conducted in a controlled laboratory to minimize any risk.
It was found at the bottom of a lake in Yukechi Alas in Yakutia, Russia. The type of virus is known as a pandoravirus, or giant virus. It infects single-cell organisms such as amoebas. After being revived, they all proved to be active and able to replicate in test subjects.
Now here are the daily statistics for Tuesday, November 29.
As of Tuesday morning, the world has recorded 646.7 million Covid-19 cases, an increase of 0.4 million cases, and 6.64 million deaths, according to Worldometer, a service that tracks such information. In addition, 625.1 million people worldwide have recovered from the virus, an increase of 0.3 million.
Worldwide, the number of active coronavirus cases as of Tuesday at press time is 14,939,906, an inrease of 140,000. Out of that figure, 99.7%, or 14,903,535, are considered mild, and 0.2%, or 36,371, are listed as critical.
The United States reported 57,397 new coronavirus infections on Tuesday for the previous day, compared to 6,304 on Monday, 1,190 on Sunday, 25,718 on Saturday, 36,030 on Friday, and 103,540 on Thursday, according to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The 7-day incidence rate is now 39,145. Figures for the weekend (reported the following day) are typically 30% to 60% of those posted on weekdays due to a lower number of tests being conducted.
The average daily number of new coronavirus cases in the United States over the past 14 days is 41,755, an increase of 6% averaged over the past 14 days, based on data from the Department of Health and Human Services, among other sources. The average daily death toll over the same period is 314, an increase of 6% over the same period, while the average number of hospitalizations for the period was 28,135, a figure that is statistically unchanged. In addition, the number of patients in ICUs was 3,379, an increase of 5%.
In addition, since the start of the pandemic the United States has, as of Tuesday, recorded 100.5 million cases, a higher figure than any other country, and a death toll of just over 1.1 million. India has the world’s second highest number of officially recorded cases, almost 44.7 million, and a reported death toll of 530,615.
The newest data from Russia’s Rosstat state statistics service showed that, at the end of July, the number of Covid or Covid-related deaths since the start of the pandemic there in April 2020 is now 823,623, giving the country the world’s second highest pandemic-related death toll, behind the United States. Rosstat reported that 3,284 people died from the coronavirus or related causes in July, down from 5,023 in June, 7,008 in May and 11,583 in April.
Meanwhile, France is the country with the third highest number of cases, with just under 37.7 million, and Germany is in the number four slot, with just under 36.4 million total cases.
Brazil, which has recorded the third highest number of deaths as a result of the virus, 689,601, has recorded 35.2million cases, placing it in the number five slot.
The other five countries with total case figures over the 20 million mark are South Korea, with 27 million cases, Japan, with over 24.6 million, placing it in the number seven slot, and Italy, with just under 24.3 million, as number eight, as well as the United Kingdom, with 24 million, and Russia, with 21.6 million.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that, as of last Thursday, 267.8 million people in the United States – or 80.7% – have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. Of that population, 68.8%, or 228.4 million people, have received two doses of vaccine, and the total number of doses that have been dispensed in the United States is now 653.5 million. Breaking this down further, 91.7% of the population over the age of 18 – or 236.6 million people – has received at least a first inoculation and 78.6% of the same group – or 202.8 million people – is fully vaccinated. In addition, 13.9% of the same population, or 36 million people, has already received an updated or bivalent booster dose of vaccine.
Starting on June 13, 2022, the CDC began to update vaccine data on a weekly basis and publish the updated information on Thursday by 8 p.m. EDT, a statement on the agency’s website said.
Some 68.5% of the world population has received at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine by Tuesday, according to Our World in Data, an online scientific publication that tracks such information. So far, 12.99 billion doses of the vaccine have been administered on a global basis and 2.09 million doses are now administered each day.
Meanwhile, only 24.6% of people in low-income countries have received one dose, while in countries such as Canada, China, Denmark, France, Italy, the United Kingdom, and the United States, at least 75% of the population has received at least one dose of vaccine.
Only a handful of the world’s poorest countries – Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia and Nepal – have reached the 70% mark in vaccinations. Many countries, however, are under 20% and, in countries such as Haiti, Senegal, and Tanzania, for example, vaccination rates remain at or below 10%.
In addition, with the start of vaccinations in North Korea in late September, Eritrea remains the only country in the world that has not administered vaccines.
Anna Breuer contributed reporting to this story.
(Photo: Accura Media Group)