Good morning. This is Jonathan Spira reporting. Here now the news of the pandemic from across the globe on the 975th day of the pandemic.
Satirist Tom Lehrer’s classic, “The New Math,” explains that “you can’t take 3 from 2, 2 is less than 3, so you look at the 4 in the tens place” in trying to explain how children were being taught arithmetic in the 1960s. To make things interesting, in the middle of the song, he switches things up.
“Now, that actually is not the answer that I had in mind, because the book that I got this problem out of wants you to do it in base eight,” Lehrer explains in the middle of the song. “But don’t panic! Base eight is just like base ten really – if you’re missing two fingers.”
Apparently, Lehrer has at least one fan in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration which recently authorized bivalent booster doses for the six-month to five-year-old age group.
Only children in that age group who received Moderna’s two-dose primary series are eligible to get a single bivalent vaccine as a booster dose. That booster dose is to be given at least two months after the completion of the primary series.
For Pfizer’s bivalent vaccine, there is still no booster available for children under the age of 5.
However, the FDA did update Pfizer’s three-dose primary series to include the bivalent vaccine as the third shot in the series.
Come back tomorrow night! We’re going to do… fractions!
In other news we cover today, hospitals in the United States are coming close to being at capacity, Congress released a report on the first two years of the pandemic, and the measles outbreak in Ohio continues to grow.
Once again, even newer and more infectious omicron subvariants are causing the vast majority of cases in the country. The BQ.1 and BQ.1.1 sublineages of omicron are now responsible for 68% of new cases, while the XBB sublineage is causing 4.7% of new infections.
The newer subvariants are better at evading antibodies from current vaccines and prior infection and are also almost fully resistant to key antibody treatments.
The impact of the tripledemic – which appears to now be in full swing with a nascent wave of Covid cases plus flu and RSV, or respiratory syncytial virus – is causing hospital capacity to reach near-record capacity. Over 79% of all hospital beds in the country are full, according to data from the Department of Health and Human Services released Friday.
Meanwhile, the Congressional Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis released its final report Friday. The report maintains that structural weaknesses, leadership failures, and the spread of misinformation contributed to the unnecessary death of over than one million Americans in the course of the pandemic.
The report, the final under Democratic House leadership, details the “pre-existing vulnerabilities, failures in leadership and program implementation, and predatory actions by private actors that contributed to extraordinary loss of life, economic suffering, and waste, fraud, and abuse during the crisis.”
Finally, if you live in certain states, you may be eligible for a $75 gift card or discounts on purchases by getting a new bivalent Covid booster shot. Massachusetts offering its residents who receive their jabs by month’s end at select vaccine clinics a $75 gift card while the state of Washington plans to offer state workers a $100 card, although that offer is pending government approval. In many other states, pharmacies including Rite Aid and CVS are offering $5 discounts on in-store purchases when getting a booster dose and some grocery-store chains including Albertsons Southeastern Grocers have offers with discounts of up to $20 on purchases.
The Chinese government will authorize the use of BioNTech’s mRNA vaccine in the country, but limit its use to German nationals, the Foreign Ministry said on Friday. “China and Germany had reached an agreement on administering the German vaccine to German citizens residing in China,” it said in a statement.
OTHER HEALTHCARE NEWS
The measles outbreak in Ohio is continuing to grow. At the end of the current week, 63 children had contracted the virus to date. This tally now includes at least three children who were partially vaccinated against the virus and 14 who are too young to be vaccinated.
Of the 63 total cases, 49 are between the ages of one year and 17 years, with most – 29 – between the ages of one and two years.
Now here are the daily statistics for Saturday, December 10.
As of Saturday morning, the world has recorded 653.2 million Covid-19 cases, an increase of 0.8 million cases, and 6.66 million deaths, according to Worldometer, a service that tracks such information. In addition, 628.8 million 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 17,747,252, an increase of 265,000. Out of that figure, 99.8%, or 17,709,783, are considered mild, and 0.2%, or 37,469, are listed as critical. The percentage of cases considered critical has not changed over the past 24 hours.
The United States reported 33,559 new coronavirus infections on Saturday for the previous day, compared to 149,322 on Friday, 149,996 on Thursday, 49,408 on Wednesday, and 53,999 on Tuesday, according to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The 7-day incidence rate is now 63,535. 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 65,591, an increase of 53% 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 466, an increase of 38% over the same period, while the average number of hospitalizations for the period was 37,921, an increase of 32%. In addition, the number of patients in ICUs was 4,289, an increase of 23%.
In addition, since the start of the pandemic the United States has, as of Saturday, recorded over 101.2 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, just under 44.7 million, and a reported death toll of 530,654.
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 38.4 million, and Germany is in the number four slot, with over 36.7 million total cases.
Brazil, which has recorded the third highest number of deaths as a result of the virus, 690,837, has recorded just under 35.6 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 27.6 million cases, Japan, with 25.9 million, placing it in the number seven slot, and Italy, with 24.7 million, as number eight, as well as the United Kingdom, with over 24 million, and Russia, with over 21.6 million.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that, as of Thursday, 267.7 million people in the United States – or 80.6% – have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. Of that population, 68.9%, or 228.8 million people, have received two doses of vaccine, and the total number of doses that have been dispensed in the United States is now 657.9 million. Breaking this down further, 91.6% of the population over the age of 18 – or 236.4 million people – has received at least a first inoculation and 78.6% of the same group – or 202.9 million people – is fully vaccinated. In addition, 15.5% of the same population, or 40 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 Saturday, according to Our World in Data, an online scientific publication that tracks such information. So far, 13.04 billion doses of the vaccine have been administered on a global basis and 2.35 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.
Paul Riegler contributed reporting to this story.
(Photo: Accura Media Group)