Good morning. This is Jonathan Spira reporting. Here now the news of the pandemic from across the globe on the 999th day of the pandemic.
If you’ve noticed headlines in the tech sector concerning mass layoffs of employees by companies such as Amazon, Facebook, and Twitter, you may have wondered whether this was somehow related to the ongoing pandemic.
Tech layoffs are proceeding at a greater pace than at any earlier time in the pandemic and areas that were spared cuts in 2020 and 2021 are now among those with the largest numbers of redundancies.
Layoffs, however, are sometimes bandaids that belie a greater problem. They often do not cut costs, as there are many instances of laid-off employees being hired back as contractors, with companies paying the contracting firm a higher rate. Layoffs often do not increase stock prices, in part because layoffs can signal that a company hitting headwinds.
Furthermore, layoffs do not increase productivity, they leave a vacuum where the laid-off workers once were.
Finally, layoffs do not solve what is often the underlying problem, namely an ineffective strategy, a loss of market share, or too little revenue.
In other news we cover today, a German doctor will serve almost three years in prison for issuing fake mask exemption certificates and Novak Djokovic will continue to be barred from the United States and will miss Indian Wells and the Miami Open due to his refusal to get vaccinated against the coronavirus.
A German doctor who illegally issued mask exemption letters and certificates was sentenced on Monday to two years and nine months in prison for her actions. She received the equivalent of approximately €28,000 ($29,700) for issuing more than 4,000 such exemptions during the first two years of the pandemic.
The Amtsgericht, or District Court, Weinheim issued a statement Tuesday saying that the doctor was convicted of “issuing incorrect health certificates.”
Liu Guozhong, a new member of the Chinese Politburo, called for stronger medical support for coronavirus cases at the community and rural level while on a three-day trip to Sichuan.
SPORTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
Tennis player Novak Djokovic remains barred from entering the United States because of his refusal to get vaccinated against Covid and will therefore miss Indian Wells and the Miami open. Djokovic had his visa revoked and was infamously deported from Australia after arriving to play in the Australian Open in 2022.
Meanwhile, the Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, a union representing some 160,000 film and television actors, journalists, and radio hosts, and the advertising industry’s Joint Policy Committee have agreed to extend their coronavirus testing and safety protocols until March 31. First adopted on April 16, 2021, the protocols had been set to expire on December 31, 2022.
“Since the protocols were implemented, they have proven extremely effective in protecting cast and crew from undue Covid risk in the workplace,” the union and the committee said in a joint statement.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced plans to ask arriving passengers from overseas at Los Angeles International Airport to swab their noses to help the agency detect new variants. “Make a global impact on public health” is the message the CDC is telling passengers. Those who test will also receive a free at-home coronavirus test kit for later use.
OTHER HEALTHCARE NEWS
Moderna, the Massachusetts-based pharmaceutical house that developed one of the world’s first messenger RNA coronavirus vaccines, said on Wednesday it would acquire Japan-based OriCiro Genomics for $85 million to boost mRNA manufacturing capabilities.
Now here are the daily statistics for Wednesday, January 4.
As of Wednesday morning, the world has recorded 666.2 million Covid-19 cases, an increase of 0.7 million cases, and 6.7 million deaths, according to Worldometer, a service that tracks such information. In addition, 638.2 million people worldwide have recovered from the virus, an increase of 0.4 million.
Worldwide, the number of active coronavirus cases as of Wednesday at press time is 21,354,327, a decrease of 85,000. Out of that figure, 99.8%, or 21,312,140, are considered mild, and 0.2%, or 42,187, are listed as critical. The percentage of cases considered critical has not changed over the past 24 hours.
The United States reported 76,128 new coronavirus infections on Wednesday for the previous day, compared to 10,893 on Tuesday, 4,000 on Monday, 5,522 on Sunday, 33,191 on Saturday, and 115,787 on Friday, according to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The 7-day incidence rate is now 53,138. 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 60,417, a decrease of 10% 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 310, a decrease of -24% over the same period, while the average number of hospitalizations for the period was 44,504, an increase of 8%. In addition, the number of patients in ICUs was 5,322, an increase of 9% and the test positivity rate is now 16%, a 24% increase.
In addition, since the start of the pandemic the United States has, as of Wednesday, recorded over 102.7 million cases, a higher figure than any other country, and a death toll of 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 530,707.
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 39.3 million, and Germany is in the number four slot, with over 37.4 million total cases.
Brazil, which has recorded the third highest number of deaths as a result of the virus, 694,235, has recorded 36.4 million cases, placing it in the number five slot.
The other five countries with total case figures over the 20 million mark are Japan, with over 29.5 million cases, South Korea, with 29.3 million cases, placing it in the number seven slot, and Italy, with 25.1 million, as number eight, as well as the United Kingdom, with 24.1 million, and Russia, with just over 21.8 million.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that, as of the past Thursday, 268.4 million people in the United States – or 80.8% – have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. Of that population, 69%, or 229.9 million people, have received two doses of vaccine, and the total number of doses that have been dispensed in the United States is now 663.8 million. Breaking this down further, 91.8% of the population over the age of 18 – or 236.9 million people – has received at least a first inoculation and 78.7% of the same group – or 203.3 million people – is fully vaccinated. In addition, 17.3% of the same population, or over 44.7 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 69.1% 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, 13.18 billion doses of the vaccine have been administered on a global basis and 2.35 million doses are now administered each day.
Meanwhile, only 25.9% 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)