Good morning. This is Jonathan Spira reporting. Here now the news of the pandemic from across the globe on the 966th day of the pandemic.
As we enter the 38th month since the coronavirus reared its ugly head, with the world having seen approximately 650 million cases, the United States reported 115,515 new infections, the highest since September 7 of this year, when that figure was 143,853.
Meanwhile, protests against pandemic-induced lockdowns have been roiling Chinese cities and they may have helped Chinese leaders see the light, namely that there are alternatives to the draconian “zero-Covid” policies that have been in place to swat case figures even in the single digits.
Saying “it’s facing a new situation,” the Chinese government began rolling back some coronavirus pandemic-induced restrictions following nationwide protests about its so-called “zero-Covid” policies. China’s vice premier, Sun Chunlan, who is in charge of the country’s pandemic response, also said the country is facing “new tasks” in the fight against Covid. Sun pointed to the lower pathogenicity of the omicron variant and an improved vaccination rate as reasons why China’s Covid policy could be “optimized in small steps.”
In other news we cover today, the number of new infections in China once again declined after hitting record numbers a few days earlier, the parents of a four-month-old baby in New Zealand are refusing surgery unless donor blood comes from individuals not “tainted by vaccination,” and a cruise ship is being forced to bypass Australia after experiencing a Covid outbreak on board.
Former President Bill Clinton, who served as the 42nd president from 1993 to 2001, said he had tested positive for the coronavirus. The 76-year-old said he was experiencing “mild symptoms” and that he is both vaccinated and boosted.
“I’ve had mild symptoms, but I’m doing fine overall and keeping myself busy at home,” Clinton said in a tweet.
The Food and Drug Administration withdrew its authorization for Eli Lilly’s Covid drug bebtelovimab, saying that it was not expected to be able to neutralize the currently dominant BQ.1 and BQ.1.1 omicron sublineages. The move takes away authorization from the last SARS-CoV-2 monoclonal antibody treatment, and leaves Pfizer’s antiviral drug Paxlovid, Merck’s Lagevrio, and Gilead Sciences’ Veklury as the remaining treatments for the disease, aside from convalescent plasma for some patients.
China’s National Health Commission reported 36,061 new Covid infections for Wednesday, of which 4,150 were symptomatic and 31,911 asymptomatic. The figure was down from 37,828 the previous day and 71,310 on Wednesday.
Beijing reported 5,023 new cases, a slight day-over-day increase, while Shanghai reported 197, also a slight increase.
Meanwhile, primary school students in Hong Kong returned to full-day in-person classes after three years of pandemic-induced disruptions.
In New Zealand, the parents of a four-month-old child are refusing what would be life-saving heart surgery if a donor’s blood is “tainted by vaccination.” The country’s health service is petitioning a court for the guardianship of the sick baby. The New Zealand Blood Service said donated blood was not segregated by whether donors were vaccinated. It also said there was no evidence there was any risk in using blood from a vaccinated person.
Chinese officials will reportedly begin to crack down on people who like social media posts that are deemed illegal or harmful as nationwide protests against the government’s “zero-Covid” policies continue. The plans were announced by the Cyberspace Administration of China in new guidelines set to take effect in the middle of the month.
A Princess Cruises ship with “slightly elevated” coronavirus cases is skipping a stop in an Australian port. The Grand Princess will bypass Australia after consulting with local health authorities about conditions on board the vessel.
Meanwhile, two former Cathay Pacific Airways flight attendants were each sentenced to eight weeks in jail on Thursday by a Hong Kong court. The two breached the Covid-19 quarantine rules in Hong Kong while infected with the highly contagious Omicron variant. They were thought to be responsible for starting one of the earliest clusters of infection in the city’s fifth wave of Covid.
Magistrate Edward Wong Ching-yu said at the sentencing that the case was serious because the two had already been exempted from self-isolation due to their profession, but had abused their rights and privileges and carried out “totally unnecessary activities” infecting nine members of the public.
Now here are the daily statistics for Thursday, December 1.
As of Thursday morning, the world has recorded 648.2 million Covid-19 cases, an increase of 0.6 million cases, and 6.64 million deaths, according to Worldometer, a service that tracks such information. In addition, 626.1 million people worldwide have recovered from the virus, an increase of 0.3 million.
Worldwide, the number of active coronavirus cases as of Thursday at press time is 15,485,555, an increase of 305,000. Out of that figure, 99.8%, or 15,448,903, are considered mild, and 0.2%, or 36,642, are listed as critical. The percentage of cases considered critical has not changed over the past 24 hours.
The United States reported 111,515 new coronavirus infections on Thursday for the previous day, compared to 47,939 on Wednesday, 57,397 on Tuesday, 6,304 on Monday, and 1,190 on Sunday, according to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The 7-day incidence rate is now 40,813. 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 45,219, an increase of 15% 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 262, a decrease of 7% over the same period, while the average number of hospitalizations for the period was 32,445, an increase of 15%. In addition, the number of patients in ICUs was 3,794, an increase of 16%.
In addition, since the start of the pandemic the United States has, as of Thursday, recorded 100.6 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 530,620.
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 over 37.8 million, and Germany is in the number four slot, with 36.5 million total cases.
Brazil, which has recorded the third highest number of deaths as a result of the virus, 689,853, has recorded 35.3 million 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 over 27.1 million cases, Japan, with 24.9 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 the past 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 Thursday, according to Our World in Data, an online scientific publication that tracks such information. So far, 13 billion doses of the vaccine have been administered on a global basis and 1.88 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)