Good morning. This is Jonathan Spira reporting. Here now the news of the pandemic from across the globe on the 1,021st day of the pandemic.
If you’re wondering what works and what doesn’t in terms of how to manage a pandemic while flying by the seat of your pants, Bill Gates has an answer.
The Microsoft co-founder, speaking at an event at the Lowry Institute in Sydney, Australia, said that the host country handled the pandemic far better than others.
“I wouldn’t say any country got it totally right,” the programmer turned philanthropist said. “Australia and about seven other countries did population-scale diagnostics early on, and had quarantine policies associated with that that meant that, in that first year when there were no vaccines, hospitals could have gotten overloaded like they did in many countries. You kept the level of infection low.”
His conclusion was telling.
“At the end of the day,” he concluded, “the Australian death rate per capita will be about 12% of most rich countries, including the United States.”
In other news we cover today, a report blasts the NIH for failing to properly oversee U.S.-sponsored lab tests in Wuhan, Apple is changing its Covid test policy, and New York State is expanding wastewater testing.
New research from the Centers from Disease Control and Prevention show that the new bivalent booster shots are cutting the rick of getting sick from SARS-CoV-2 by about half. The updated jabs are also cutting the risk by half against infections caused by the rapidly spreading XBB 1.5 omicron sublineage.
Two new research studies suggest that contracting Covid-19 may increase the risk for high levels of cholesterol for up to a year after being infected with the virus.
One study, led by Dr. Ziyad Al-Aly, a clinical epidemiologist at Washington University and published in the Lancet this month, found that people with a prior Covid infection had a 24% increased risk for high cholesterol levels in a group where the majority were men over 60. Another study, this one published last month in the Lancet, had similar findings for a much younger age group.
Finally, a report by the Office of Inspector General found the National Institute of Health, the country’s medical research agency, did not correctly review whether U.S.-sponsored virus tests in Wuhan were supervised correctly and whether they involved pathogens with pandemic potential.
Apple is changing its policies for employees. They will no longer need to test for the coronavirus before going to the office. The policy change was made with immediate effect. Apple is also changing the number of paid sick days for workers who contract Covid. Instead of unlimited sick days, the company is capping the figure at five.
OTHER HEALTHCARE NEWS
New York State will soon test wastewater to track hepatitis, influenza, norovirus, antimicrobial resistance, and RSV or respiratory syncytial virus the Department of Health announced Wednesday.
Now here are the daily statistics for Thursday, January 26.
As of Thursday morning, the world has recorded 674.1 million Covid-19 cases, an increase of 0.2 million cases, and 6.75 million deaths, according to Worldometer, a service that tracks such information. In addition, 646.1 million people worldwide have recovered from the virus, an increase of 0.2 million.
The reader should note that infrequent reporting from some sources may appear as spikes in new case figures or death tolls.
Worldwide, the number of active coronavirus cases as of Thursday at press time is 21,248,871, an increase of 30,000. Out of that figure, 99.8%, or 21,205,128, are considered mild, and 0.2%, or 43,743, are listed as critical. The percentage of cases considered critical has not changed over the past 24 hours.
The United States reported 113,283 new coronavirus infections on Thursday for the previous day, compared to 31,773 on Wednesday, 32,412 on Tuesday, 4,953 on Monday, and 2,473 on Sunday, according to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The 7-day incidence rate is now 47,951. 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 46,920, a figure down 27% 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 548, a decrease of 1% over the same period, while the average number of hospitalizations for the period was 35,232, a decrease of 25%. In addition, the number of patients in ICUs was 4,512, a decrease of 20% and the test positivity rate is now 12%, a 17% decrease.
In addition, since the start of the pandemic the United States has, as of Thursday, recorded 104 million cases, a higher figure than any other country, and a death toll of 1.13 million. India has the world’s second highest number of officially recorded cases, just under 44.7 million, and a reported death toll of 530,738.
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 39.5 million, and Germany is in the number four slot, with 37.7 million total cases.
Brazil, which has recorded the third highest number of deaths as a result of the virus, 696,645, has recorded almost 36.8 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 32.3 million cases, South Korea, with 30.1 million cases, placing it in the number seven slot, and Italy, with 25.4 million, as number eight, as well as the United Kingdom, with 24.3 million, and Russia, with 21.9 million.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that, as of the past Thursday, 268.8 million people in the United States – or 81% – have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. Of that population, 69.1%, or 229.5 million people, have received two doses of vaccine, and the total number of doses that have been dispensed in the United States is now 667.8 million. Breaking this down further, 91.9% of the population over the age of 18 – or 237.3 million people – has received at least a first inoculation and 78.9% of the same group – or 203.6 million people – is fully vaccinated. In addition, 18.5% of the same population, or over 47.9 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 69.3% 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, 13.23 billion doses of the vaccine have been administered on a global basis and 1.1 million doses are now administered each day.
Meanwhile, only 26% 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)