Good morning. This is Jonathan Spira reporting. Here now the news of the pandemic from across the globe on the 1,030th day of the pandemic.
The latest case figures indicate that this winter’s surge of new cases of SARS-CoV-2 is starting to fade, although – as is always the case with Covid – there’s no certainty that the curve won’t rise again.
It may turn out that the United States has done a better job of vaccinating the populace than we thought and that enough people have acquired immunity from prior infections to ward off new infections.
A look at the figures we’ve published over the past 45 days indicate that the number of new infections, hospitalizations, ICU admissions, and deaths rose sharply as the New Year approached and continued to rise in January. Now, however, it’s been a bit more of an ebb and flow situation.
Meanwhile, the extreme winter weather in much of the country has forced millions to remain indoors even more than usual and result in yet another surge.
The virus has never ceased to surprise us so all I can say for now is “stay tuned to this channel for more news on the coronavirus pandemic.”
Meanwhile, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, which recently announced a settlement with GoodRX, a telemedicine company that offers an app to track medications as well as coupons for discounts on drugs, that will prohibit the company from sharing details about the various medications people take with companies that include Facebook, Google, and other targeted advertising companies. The FTC contends that any sharing of health data that isn’t explicit authorized by the patient or user or customer is illegal, thereby firing a warning shot over the bow of thousands of other companies that are conceivably engaged in similar and now illegal activities if a judge gives the green light to the settlement, which is fairly likely to be the case.
In other news we cover today, seasonal flu activity is down in the United States, China is repurposing coronavirus testing booths as food stalls, and school children in California won’t be required to get Covid vaccinations.
Officials in California said they won’t make children get the coronavirus vaccine in order to attend school. The California Department of Public Health said Friday it is not exploring emergency rules to add the coronavirus vaccine to the list of required school vaccinations. That’s a reversal from Governor Gavin Newsom’s 2021 announcement that the state would add the vaccine to its list of mandated vaccinations.
In post “zero-Covid” China, local governments are repurposing thousands of coronavirus testing booths into food stalls and libraries.
The South China Post is reporting that many Hong Kong restaurants, cinemas, karaoke lounges, and other public venues do not plan to reject patrons who are positive for Covid, but some have vowed to tell people who have SARS-CoV-2 to stay home.
OTHER HEALTHCARE NEWS
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that seasonal flu activity continues to decline in much of the country. Most states were experiencing “minimal” or “low” flu activity in the past week, the CDC said on Friday. Only two states – New Mexico and Oklahoma – reported “high” or “very high” levels of influenza.
Now here are the daily statistics for Saturday, February 4.
As of Saturday morning, the world has recorded 676.1 million Covid-19 cases, an increase of 0.2 million cases, and 6.77 million deaths, according to Worldometer, a service that tracks such information. In addition, 648.4 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 Saturday at press time is 20,901,997, a decrease of 26,000. Out of that figure, 99.8%, or 20,860,299, are considered mild, and 0.2%, or 41,698, are listed as critical. The percentage of cases considered critical has not changed over the past 24 hours.
The United States reported 64,375 new coronavirus infections on Saturday for the previous day, compared to 67,603 on Friday, 109,666 on Thursday, 31,067 on Wednesday, and 30,449 on Tuesday, according to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The 7-day incidence rate is now 44,255. 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 40,685, a figure down 14% 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 459, a decrease of 8% over the same period, while the average number of hospitalizations for the period was 31,104 , a decrease of 20%. In addition, the number of patients in ICUs was 3,916, a decrease of 21% and the test positivity rate is now 11%, a 1% decrease and a figure that has remained constant for the past 7 days..
In addition, since the start of the pandemic the United States has, as of Saturday, recorded 104.5 million cases, a higher figure than any other country, and a death toll of 1.14 million. India has the world’s second highest number of officially recorded cases, 44.7 million, and a reported death toll of 530,745.
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 37.8 million total cases.
Brazil, which has recorded the third highest number of deaths as a result of the virus, 697,345, has recorded just under 36.9 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 32.7 million cases, South Korea, with 30.2 million cases, placing it in the number seven slot, and Italy, with 25.5 million, as number eight, as well as the United Kingdom, with 24.3 million, and Russia, with over 21.9 million.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that, as of Thursday, 268.9 million people in the United States – or 81% – have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. Of that population, 69.2%, or 229.6 million people, have received two doses of vaccine, and the total number of doses that have been dispensed in the United States is now 668.8 million. Breaking this down further, 91.9% of the population over the age of 18 – or 237.4 million people – has received at least a first inoculation and 78.9% of the same group – or 203.7 million people – is fully vaccinated. In addition, 18.8% of the same population, or over 48.6 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 69.4% 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, 13.26 billion doses of the vaccine have been administered on a global basis and 1.22 million doses are now administered each day.
Meanwhile, only 26.4% 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)