Good morning. This is Jonathan Spira reporting. Here now the news of the pandemic from across the globe on the 968th day of the pandemic.
The World Health Organization had some good news concerning the pandemic but stressed that the world is still in a pandemic and not quite out of the woods yet.
The organization “estimates that at least 90% of the world’s population now has some level of immunity to SARS-CoV-2, due to prior infection or vaccination,” said its Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus in Geneva.
“We are much closer to being able to say that the emergency phase of the pandemic is over – but we’re not there yet. Gaps in surveillance, testing, sequencing and vaccination are continuing to create the perfect conditions for a new variant of concern to emerge that could cause significant mortality.”
Indeed, cases are hovering around record figures in China and, in the manner of a lumbering giant, China is showing signs of reversing course in its so-called “zero-Covid” policy in the face of unprecedented protests against the government.
In other news we cover today, a mask mandate will soon return in Los Angeles and Boris Johnson came closer to dying from Covid than had previously been revealed.
Los Angeles County is on track to move from having a “medium” level of Covid transmission to a “high” level in the coming week. Once that occurs, the county’s indoor mask mandate would be reinstate to combat the increase in cases, said the county’s public health director, Barbara Ferrer, at a press conference on Thursday.
New York State’s health commissioner, Dr. Mary Bassett, announced her resignation after one year in the post. Bassett was appointed by Governor Kathy Hochul following the departure of Dr. Howard Zucker, who resigned shortly after his old boss. Governor Andrew Cuomo, was forced to depart the governorship.
Bassett‘s departure takes effect on January 1, 2023. She said she will return to her position as a professor at the Harvard Chan School of Public Health. She presided over a year that saw the omicron surge in Covid cases, the spread of monkeypox, and a polio outbreak.
Former U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson was much closer to death than had previously been revealed, according to the diaries of Matt Hancock, a member of parliament and former secretary of state for health and social care. Hancock said that the British cabinet had been told that there was a 50% chance that Johnson would require a ventilator. At the time, most patients who went on a ventilator didn’t survive the virus. Senior ministers would have voted on a successor, informed the Queen, and “rallied round” if Johnson had died, according to the former health secretary’s pandemic diaries.
The former prime minister later admitted how close he had come to not surviving the ordeal after contracting Covid. He said that he had been given “liters and liters” of emergency oxygen as he struggled to breathe in intensive care, and stated that doctors had made preparations for his death.
Hancock’s diaries also revealed that Sir Christopher Whitty, England’s chief medical officer, had warned – prior to the lockdown – that some 820,000 people could die from SARS-CoV-2.
An easing of pandemic curbs in China is gathering steam. As daily cases hovered near all-time highs, some cities began loosening coronavirus testing requirements and quarantine rules as the country seeks to make its zero-Covid policy more targeted
Coronavirus testing booths were removed in Beijing to the cheers of residents, while Shenzhen along with other cities said it would no longer require commuters to present a negative Covid test in order to travel or enter parks, following similar moves by officials in Chengdu and Tianjin.
OTHER HEALTHCARE NEWS
All but six states in the United States are reporting “high” or “very high” levels of respiratory viruses. The updated data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that nearly 20,000 people in the country were admitted to the hospital for influenza last week, almost double the figure from the week before.
Meanwhile, a measles outbreak in Ohio has prompted officials there to urge people to have their children vaccinated if they aren’t already.
“Don’t wait until after the holiday. Get them vaccinated now,” health officials there said.
The number of confirmed cases is up from 18 in mid-November to 50 as of Friday. So far, 20 patients have required hospitalization.
Now here are the daily statistics for Saturday, December 3.
As of Saturdaymorning, the world has recorded 649.5 million Covid-19 cases, an increase of 0.7 million cases, and over 6.64 million deaths, according to Worldometer, a service that tracks such information. In addition, 626.8million people worldwide have recovered from the virus, an increase of 0.5 million.
Worldwide, the number of active coronavirus cases as of Saturday at press time is 16,081,980, an increase of 287,000. Out of that figure, 99.8%, or 16,044,984, are considered mild, and 0.2%, or 36,996, are listed as critical. The percentage of cases considered critical has not changed over the past 24 hours.
The United States reported 73,,431 new coronavirus infections on Saturday for the previous day, compared to 98,558 on Friday, 111,515 on Thursday, 47,939 on Wednesday, and 57,397 on Tuesday, according to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The 7-day incidence rate is now 56,618. 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 51,357, an increase of 23% 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 248, a decrease of 13% over the same period, while the average number of hospitalizations for the period was 34,646, an increase of 24%. In addition, the number of patients in ICUs was 4,005, an increase of 20%.
In addition, since the start of the pandemic the United States has, as of Saturday, recorded 100.8 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 530,627.
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 37.9 million, and Germany is in the number four slot, with 36.6 million total cases.
Brazil, which has recorded the third highest number of deaths as a result of the virus, 690,129, has recorded just under 35.4 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 27.3 million cases, Japan, with 25.1 million, placing it in the number seven slot, and Italy, with just under 24.5 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 Thursday, 267.3 million people in the United States – or 80.5% – 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 653.3 million. Breaking this down further, 91.2% of the population over the age of 18 – or 236.2 million people – has received at least a first inoculation and 78.5% of the same group – or 202.8 million people – is fully vaccinated. In addition, 14.7% of the same population, or 37.9 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 Thursdays 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 Saturday, according to Our World in Data, an online scientific publication that tracks such information. So far, 13.01 billion doses of the vaccine have been administered on a global basis and 2.37 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.
Paul Riegler contributed reporting to this story.
(Photo: Accura Media Group)