Good morning. This is Jonathan Spira reporting. Here now the news of the pandemic from across the globe on the 1,047th day of the pandemic and Presidents’ Day in the United States.
While SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that’s been plaguing us for the past three odd years, has killed almost 6.8 million people, or eight per thousand members of the population, there are hundreds of coronaviruses out there and several we’ve seen in our recent past have been far deadlier than this.
To wit, the 2002-2004 SARS, or Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, outbreak killed one in ten of those infected and MERS, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, has a 35% case-fatality ratio.
The possibility of another coronavirus-based pandemic is strong but there are things that can be done to preclude such an event.
On Tuesday, scientists unveiled a “roadmap” for developing a new vaccine that would provide broad protection against all coronaviruses, including a number of which that cause the common cold. (It should be noted, however, that the common cold can also be caused by rhinoviruses, enteroviruses, and human metapneumovirus.)
The goal is simple: to create “[A] structured and coordinated plan for broadly protective coronavirus vaccines.”
“The limited durability and immunologic protection of currently available SARS-CoV-2 vaccines further highlight the crucial need for a new, proactive approach to develop coronavirus vaccines that provide better and longer protection against both circulating and future SARS-CoV-2 variants and other coronaviruses that have not yet emerged,” the researchers wrote in the roadmap’s executive summary.
If sufficient numbers of people are inoculated ahead of time, such a vaccine could help the world avoid a future coronavirus pandemic, said Michael Osterholm, the director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota.
In other news we cover today, Idaho wants to ban the use of life-saving mRNA vaccines and a new study shows how long immunity lasts post infection.
A new study from a group of researchers known collectively as the Covid-19 Forecasting Team found that previous infection was highly protective against reinfection with alpha, beta, and delta variants, but less so against omicron BA.1.
The study, Past SARS-CoV-2 Infection Protection Against Re-Infection: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis, found that a previous infection provided moderate protection from reinfection with omicron BA.1, namely 45%, compared with stronger protection against pre-omicron variants, in this case 82%. The figures were similar for symptomatic infection.
Data from long-term studies showed that protection against reinfection for pre-omicron variants dropped to 78.6% over 40 weeks, whereas for omicron BA.1 it fell more rapidly to 36.1%.
The authors collected data from 65 studies across 19 countries, which makes it the largest review on this topic to date. The data covered the period from the start of the pandemic through September 2022.
In California, Governor Gavin Newsom is winding down state assistance for health care services to migrants seeking asylum. The governor said that the state can no longer afford to provide free Covid testing and vaccinations for migrants and wants the federal government to increase such aid along the state’s southern border.
OTHER HEALTHCARE NEWS
It must be in the water. Days after we reported that lawmakers in the Kansas state legislature were attempting to limit the power of state, county, and local health officials in adopting rules and regulations that would attempt to prevent the spread and reporting of contagious or infectious diseases, two Republican lawmakers in Idaho have introduced a bonkers bill that would make mRNA-based vaccination a crime.
The bill, sponsored by Senator Tammy Nichols of Middleton and Representative Judy Boyle of Midvale, would also preemptively ban the use of numerous other mRNA vaccines that are now in development, such as shots for RSV or respiratory syncytial syndrome, a variety of cancers, HIV, the flu, Nipah virus, and cystic fibrosis, among others.
Now here are the daily statistics for Tuesday, February 21.
As of Tuesday morning, the world has recorded 678.9 million Covid-19 cases, an increase of 0.2 million cases, and6.8 million deaths, according to Worldometer, a service that tracks such information. In addition, 651.6 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 Tuesday at press time is 20,460,380 a decrease of 40,000. Out of that figure, 99.8%, or 20,419,673 are considered mild, and 0.2%, or 40,707, are listed as critical. The percentage of cases considered critical has not changed over the past three months.
The United States reported 8,447 new coronavirus infections on Tuesday for the previous day, compared to 2,807 on Monday, 4,071 on Sunday, 46,091 on Saturday, 70, 512 on Friday, and 102,914 on Thursday, according to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The 7-day incidence rate is now 37,481. 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 35,566, a figure down 10% 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 378, a decrease of 17% over the same period, while the average number of hospitalizations for the period was 28,170, a decrease of 7%. In addition, the number of patients in ICUs was 3,698, a decrease of 6% and the test positivity rate is now 10%, a figure that is down by 1% over the same period.
In addition, since the start of the pandemic the United States has, as of Tuesday, 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 530,761.
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 38 million total cases.
Brazil, which has recorded the third highest number of deaths as a result of the virus, 698,047, 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 over 33.1 million cases, South Korea, with over 30.4 million cases, placing it in the number seven slot, and Italy, with over 25.5 million, as number eight, as well as the United Kingdom, with over 24.3 million, and Russia, with just under 22.2 million.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that, as of the past Tuesday, 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 Tuesdays 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 Tuesday, 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 538,537 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)