Good morning. This is Jonathan Spira reporting. Here now the news of the pandemic from across the globe on the 1,003rd day of the pandemic.
It’s recently become clear to me that fewer people in the United States are the new bivalent booster dose of coronavirus vaccine because, quite simply, the word is simply not getting out
Here’s a good example of what I mean.
On Saturday, for the first time since the start of the pandemic, I found myself in a New York City yellow cab.
New York City taxi drivers are often viewed as hard-working immigrants and they are, indeed, a diverse group. In a survey conducted in the 1990s, cab drivers formed a virtual United Nations of countries and languages. Nine in tennew drivers in the survey were immigrants from a total of 84 countries. Some seek the job to better themselves, some do it part time while in school, and some enjoy the people aspect of the job.
My driver, Adam, was a skilled driver and equally skilled conversationalist. We were both masked and somehow our conversation got around to coronavirus booster shots. Adam had already demonstrated that he was quite well informed on world affairs and said he was working on a post-graduate degree. What he didn’t know, however, scared me.
He was completely unaware of the new bivalent booster and, when I told him about it, he commented how he felt the word simply hadn’t gotten out.
Here was a man who was not hiding under a rock. He was more than conversant on the important news of the day and had interesting insights into issues ranging from the invasion of Ukraine and the battle for the Speaker of the House in Congress. The following day was his day off and he told me he was going to get boosted. He also said he was going to spread the word about the booster and encourage others to do the same.
Adam was genuinely shocked by the statistics I cited about the number of new daily cases and the death toll, facts and figures that regular readers of this space are sadly and intimately familiar with.
He vowed to sign up for alerts and keep his ear to the ground about the latest Covid news (he could be reading this now, for all I know). Most importantly, he said he would continue to share whatever he learnt with friends, coworkers, and family.
If someone this well-educated didn’t know, what chance do we stand of getting past the current 18% figure in adult bivalent jabs? Only time will tell but one thing is clear, don’t be shy about telling a friend, family member, or co-worker to get a bivalent booster shot.
In other news we cover today, China reopened its borders to tourists, dropping the quarantine requirement, the new wave of cases in that country threaten to bring about another snag in the U.S. medical supply chain, and cases of the new XBB 1.5 sublineage of the omicron variant continue to rise dramatically.
The New York State Department of Health said that the XBB 1.5 subvariant now comprises over 50% of all cases in the state.
China on Sunday reopened its borders to tourists after three years of pandemic-induced closures. The change comes just ahead of a huge travel surge for the Lunar New Year.
Meanwhile, China’s unprecedented wave of Covid cases is threatening the to bring about another snag in the U.S. medical supply chain. China continues to struggle to keep factories running and goods flowing out of its ports. Meanwhile, the United States, which took steps to lessen its dependence on China for medical goods after the country’s initial wave in 2020, is taking further steps to do so.
Workers at a Chinese coronavirus test kit plant appear to have clashed with riot police over the weekend, according to posts made on Chinese social media. One video showed people throwing traffic cones, boxes, and stools at police carrying riot shields, Reuters reported, while another video showed dozens of protesters chanting “return our money.”
Finally, China reported two new Covid-related deaths for January 7, compared with three deaths the prior day, the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention said on Sunday. The official death toll in the country now stands at 5,269.
Over 25,000 people from Hong Kong were able to reunite with friends and family in mainland China as they crossed the border dividing Hong Kong and mainland China on Sunday, the first day of quarantine-free travel since the coronavirus pandemic began almost three years ago.
Thailand aviation officials said they will require international travelers to show proof they are fully vaccinated for the coronavirus before flying to Thailand, as it prepares for more tourists after China reopened its border on Sunday.
Now here are the daily statistics for Sunday, January 8.
As of Sunday morning, the world has recorded 668.4 million Covid-19 cases, an increase of 0.4 million cases, and 6.71 million deaths, according to Worldometer, a service that tracks such information. In addition, 639.7 million people worldwide have recovered from the virus, an increase of 0.2 million.
Worldwide, the number of active coronavirus cases as of Sunday at press time is 22,147,772, an increase of 178,000. Out of that figure, 99.8%, or 22,102,535, are considered mild, and 0.2%, or 45,237, are listed as critical. The percentage of cases considered critical has not changed over the past 24 hours.
The United States reported 3,607 new coronavirus infections on Sunday for the previous day, compared to 115,075 on Saturday, 115,834 on Friday, 207,391 on Thursday, and 76,222 on Wednesday, according to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The 7-day incidence rate is now 78,496. 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 67,308, a decrease of 5% 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 514, an increase of 20% over the same period, while the average number of hospitalizations for the period was 47,417, an increase of 17%. In addition, the number of patients in ICUs was 5,627, an increase of 16% and the test positivity rate is now 16%, a 23% increase.
In addition, since the start of the pandemic the United States has, as of Sunday, recorded 103.1 million cases, a higher figure than any other country, and a death toll of 1.12 million. India has the world’s second highest number of officially recorded cases, just under 44.7 million, and a reported death toll of 530,720.
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 39.4 million, and Germany is in the number four slot, with 37.5 million total cases.
Brazil, which has recorded the third highest number of deaths as a result of the virus, 694,900, has recorded 36.5 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 30.5 million cases, South Korea, with just over 29.5 million cases, placing it in the number seven slot, and Italy, with 25.3 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 Thursday, 268.5 million people in the United States – or 80.9% – have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. Of that population, 69.1%, or 229.3 million people, have received two doses of vaccine, and the total number of doses that have been dispensed in the United States is now 665.1 million. Breaking this down further, 91.8% of the population over the age of 18 – or 237.1 million people – has received at least a first inoculation and 78.8% of the same group – or 203.4 million people – is fully vaccinated. In addition, 17.7% of the same population, or over 45.7 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 Thursday, according to Our World in Data, an online scientific publication that tracks such information. So far, 13.19 billion doses of the vaccine have been administered on a global basis and 1.64 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.
Paul Riegler contributed reporting to this story.
(Photo: Accura Media Group)