Good morning. This is Jonathan Spira reporting. Here now the news of the pandemic from across the globe on the 972nd day of the pandemic.
The latest trend these days is for everyone to be sick, albeit with good reason.
For the past almost three years, social distancing and masking kept seasonal viruses such as the flu and RSV, or respiratory syncytial virus, at bay. Now they’re roaring back with renewed fervor.
The answer is simple: It’s the tripledemic that infectious disease doctors and epidemiologists warned about for months.
The positivity rate for flu tests in the United States was at 25% in late November, according the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2019, at the same time of the year, that rate was 8%. Regular readers already know that RSV hospitalizations have pushed many children’s hospitals and their emergency rooms to capacity, and particularly alert readers have noticed that the Covid hospitalization rate has been increasing dramatically for weeks.
Other than staying home, the answer is simple: mask up and keep your distance. No need to thank me.
In other news we cover today, China could see one million deaths if it rushes to end “zero Covid,” Dr. Anthony Fauci criticized the ideological divide that kept some people from getting vaccinated, and Shanghai Disneyland is reopening.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the president’s outgoing chief medical advisor said in an interview with NBC News that it was “unconscionable” that some people did not get inoculated against the coronavirus “based on political ideology.”
China continued to announce sweeping changes to its pandemic response on Wednesday. The changes are the clearest sign yet that the central government is moving away from its strict “zero-Covid” approach that had prompted protests across the country.
The country’s State Council unveiled ten new guidelines that loosen some restrictions, namely and most notably, allowing home quarantine and largely ending the use of the health QR code that has been mandatory for entering most public places.
Chinese authorities are loosening pandemic controls in response to the protests that have broken out in recent weeks but a new study shows the high price the country will pay if it tries to reopen too fast. Asian macroeconomic advisory firm Wigram Capital Advisors warned of a “winter wave” of Covid infections that could swamp the healthcare system and result in over a million deaths, according to a review of the report by the Financial Times.
In New Zealand, the four-month-old child of parents who had refused what would be life-saving heart surgery for the baby if a donor’s blood is “tainted by vaccination” was placed under temporary guardianship by health authorities. 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.
Shanghai Disneyland will reopen its gates to visitors on Thursday, according to a statement issued by the Shanghai Disney Resort on Wednesday. The theme park has been closed for several weeks amidst rising numbers of coronavirus cases in the city.
Now here are the daily statistics for Wednesday, December 7.
As of Wednesday morning, the world has recorded 651.2 million Covid-19 cases, an increase of 0.6 million cases, and 6.65 million deaths, according to Worldometer, a service that tracks such information. In addition, 627.7 million people worldwide have recovered from the virus, an increase of 0.3 million.
Worldwide, the number of active coronavirus cases as of Wednesday at press time is 16,819,885, an increase of 326,000. Out of that figure, 99.8%, or 16,782,792, are considered mild, and 0.2%, or 37,093, are listed as critical. The percentage of cases considered critical has not changed over the past 24 hours.
The United States reported 49,408 new coronavirus infections on Wednesday for the previous day, compared to 53,999 on Tuesday, 4,606 on Monday, 4,861 on Sunday, 73,431 on Saturday, and 98,558 on Friday, according to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The 7-day incidence rate is now 56,539. 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 54,369, an increase of 28% 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 287, a decrease of 10% over the same period, while the average number of hospitalizations for the period was 36,433, an increase of 29%. In addition, the number of patients in ICUs was 4,146, an increase of 21%.
In addition, since the start of the pandemic the United States has, as of Wednesday, recorded over 100.9 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 530,638.
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 38.2 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, 690,465, has recorded just under 35.5 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 27.5 million cases, Japan, with over 25.5 million, placing it in the number seven slot, and Italy, with 24.5 million, as number eight, as well as the United Kingdom, with 24 million, and Russia, with over 21.6 million.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that, as of last 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 68.6% of the world population has received at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine by Wednesday, according to Our World in Data, an online scientific publication that tracks such information. So far, 13.03 billion doses of the vaccine have been administered on a global basis and 2.56 million doses are now administered each day.
Meanwhile, only 24.9% 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)