Good morning. This is Jonathan Spira reporting. Here now the news of the pandemic from across the globe on the 1,043rd day of the pandemic.
If you get the uneasy feeling that more people you know are contracting SARS-CoV-2, your instincts due you credit. In several parts of the United States including the Bay Area, there are growing signs of a new wave of Covid as wastewater counts rise dramatically. In the case of the Bay Area, this is a marked reversal from a downward trend that had begun in early December.
Still, any wave we see might be less severe than prior ones.
“The numbers were much, much lower than in prior surges as far as hospitalizations, ICU admissions and deaths,” said Dr. Erica Pan, the state epidemiologist, in the course of a webinar on Tuesday. “We have gotten to a point in this last winter where the hospital burden was much lower than prior surges.”
In other news we cover today, xxxx
The Australian federal government is developing a national Long Covid strategy and a parliamentary inquiry is hearing testimony concerning the condition that has resulted in job losses and homelessness among some sufferers. The country’s chief medical officer, Paul Kelly, says that the Long Covid strategy is “well under way” but will not be finalized until after the completion of the inquiry.
A new study found that having a prior Covid infection will offer good protection against reinfection. The study, from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation Covid-19 Forecasting Team and published this week in the Lancet, found that the body’s immune system will offer good protection against symptomatic illness for ten months in the event of reinfection. It also found that the risk of severe illness is dramatically lower.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Navy said it will roll back requirements for coronavirus vaccines. It is also ending the consideration of vaccination status when making decisions about the deployment of sailors.
Without a sense of irony, Chinese leaders declared a “decisive victory” over the coronavirus, claiming to have the world’s lowest fatality rate, even though epidemiologists have questioned Beijing’s data since the start of the pandemic. The virus tore through the country after the government suddenly ended its draconian “zero-Covid” policies without putting any guardrails in place.
Meanwhile, Siyuan Zhujim, an artist who used art to expose what he termed the “absurdity” of zero Covid, has gone missing. Referring to his photographs, he said “I will keep shooting until I die,” in one of his last published interviews.
Finally, authorities in Hong Kong said they will end the requirement for anyone going to hospitals and care homes to present a negative PCR test in favor of presenting a negative rapid test. The change will go into effect in March.
Countries in the European Union announced plans to phase out pandemic-related restrictions on travelers from China in the coming weeks. The move follows a joint decision by health experts from the bloc’s 27 member states. The curbs were imposed on January 4 of this year, after cases in China dramatically rose following the end of zero Covid.
Now here are the daily statistics for Friday, February 17.
As of Friday morning, the world has recorded 678.3 million Covid-19 cases, an increase of 0.1 million cases, and just under 6.79 million deaths, according to Worldometer, a service that tracks such information. In addition, 650.9million 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 Friday at press time is 20,650,772, a decrease of 12,000. Out of that figure, 99.8%, or 20,609,827, are considered mild, and 0.2%, or 40,945, are listed as critical. The percentage of cases considered critical has not changed over the past three months.
The United States reported 70, 512 new coronavirus infections on Friday for the previous day, compared to 102,914 on Thursday, and 27,454 on Wednesday, according to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The 7-day incidence rate is now 34,942. 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 37,775, a figure down 9% 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 398, a decrease of 14% over the same period, while the average number of hospitalizations for the period was 28,795, a decrease of 8%. In addition, the number of patients in ICUs was 3,726, a decrease of 9% and the test positivity rate is now 10%, a figure that is up by 2% over the same period.
In addition, since the start of the pandemic the United States has, as of Friday, recorded just under 105 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 530,757.
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 last reported that 3,284 people died from the coronavirus or related causes in July 2022, 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 39.6 million, and Germany is in the number four slot, with just under 38 million total cases.
Brazil, which has recorded the third highest number of deaths as a result of the virus, 698,014, has recorded just under 37 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 just under 33.1 million cases, South Korea, with 30.4 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 just over 22.1 million.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that, as of the past Friday, 269.3 million people in the United States – or 81.1% – have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. Of that population, 69.2%, or 229.9million people, have received two doses of vaccine, and the total number of doses that have been dispensed in the United States is now 670.9 million. Breaking this down further, 92% of the population over the age of 18 – or 237.7million people – has received at least a first inoculation and 79% of the same group – or 203.9 million people – is fully vaccinated. In addition, 19.3% of the same population, or over 49.9 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 Fridays by 8 p.m. EDT, a statement on the agency’s website said.
Some 69.5% of the world population has received at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine by Friday, according to Our World in Data, an online scientific publication that tracks such information. So far, 13.29 billion doses of the vaccine have been administered on a global basis and 591,976 doses are now administered each day.
Meanwhile, only 26.9% 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)