Good morning. This is Jonathan Spira reporting. Here now the news of the pandemic from across the globe on the 1,053rd day of the pandemic.
It’s axiomatic that we are done with Covid but Covid isn’t done with us. And just where is Rosie the Riveter when we need her?
The latest report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that the XBB 1.5 omicron sublineage now accounts for some 80% of all new cases. XBB 1.5 is highly contagious, perhaps more so than its predecessors, and hospitalizations remain as high as they were in the original omicron wave just 11 months ago.
It’s also likely that a new wave is heading in our direction as wastewater tests reveal soaring viral levels are present.
If you are reading this, you probably already have your bi-valent booster, but you probably know many people who aren’t boosted. Companies and municipalities large and small are dropping their vaccine mandates but they aren’t replacing them with any incentives – monetary or peer pressure-wise – to get boosted.
This needs to change. Just under 20% of adults over the age of 18 have received the bivalent booster in the United States and in Western European countries. This pales in comparison to the number of people who got earlier boosters, when booster rates were at least above 60%.
I would suggest vaccination campaigns in the workplace and that managers set an example by being the first to roll up their sleeves and get the jab.
During the Second World War, a woman named Rosie rolled up her sleeves, and flexed her arm muscles … and became known as Rosie the Riveter in one of the most successful recruiting campaigns ever. Why can’t we roll up our sleeves for a much simpler assignment?
In other news we cover today, Chinese officials issued a strong rejection of the U.S. Department of Energy’s lab leak theory of the coronavirus’ origin, Japan and South Korea ended restrictions on visitors from Hong Kong, and Sir Rod Stewart is paying for patient MRI scans at a hospital near him in Essex.
Debate over the origins of SARS-CoV-2 is resurging after a new report on the topic by the Department of Energy became public. As reported over the weekend in these pages, the department said that the coronavirus likely resulted from a leak at a Chinese laboratory. While the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s report said essentially the same thing, four other top-level government agencies along with a national intelligence panel, believe it was the result of a natural transmission, and two other agencies remain undecided. The news from the Department of Energy was provided in a classified intelligence report submitted to the White House and certain members of Congress and is a revised assessment that the agency said was based on new intelligence it had obtained.
Officials in China strongly rejected the U.S. Department of Energy’s assessment that the coronavirus pandemic likely had its origins with a lab leak. The government accused the agency of engaging in a political smear
“The origin of the novel coronavirus is a scientific issue and should not be politicized,” said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning at a news conference on Monday.
On Monday, Japan and South Korea lifted restrictions on flights arriving from Hong Kong. “The [Hong Kong government] has been liaising with the Japanese and Korean authorities, and seriously requesting them to rescind all unreasonable restrictions targeting Hong Kong flights,” the government said in a statement.
Japan also said that would ease restrictions on passengers arriving from mainland China but they will still need to present a negative coronavirus test result prior to departure.
OTHER HEALTHCARE NEWS
Sir Rod Steward recently paid for a day’s worth of MRI scans for patients at his local NHS hospital, Princess Alexandra Hospital in Harlow, in an effort to help shorten the wait list for such tests. Last month, the singer told Sky News of his idea, after having undergone an MRI scan himself. Sir Rod said that he wanted to “prove I’m not all mouth and trousers.”
Meanwhile, a pandemic-driven drop in cancer screenings did not result in more new cases of breast, cervical, and colon cancer cases or how advanced such cases were, according to a study by Epic Research. The researchers conducted a review of some 375,000 diagnoses in electronic health records in the United States in making these determinations, although the outcome of the drop could take years to fully assess.
Research conducted separately and also in the United States found that the decline in primary care visits and routine tests early in the pandemic resulted in 94% decreases in both breast cancer and cervical cancer screenings and an 86% decrease in colon cancer screenings. These figures began to rebound in 2021.
Now here are the daily statistics for Monday, February 27.
As of Monday morning, the world has recorded 679.8 million Covid-19 cases, an increase of 0.1 million cases, and 6.8 million deaths, according to Worldometer, a service that tracks such information. In addition, 652.6 million people worldwide have recovered from the virus, an increase of 0.1 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 Monday at press time is 20,375,873, a decrease of 29,000. Out of that figure, 99.8%, or 20,335,358, are considered mild, and 0.2%, or 40,515, are listed as critical. The percentage of cases considered critical has not changed over the past three months.
The United States reported 2,318 new coronavirus infections on Monday for the previous day, compared to 1,527 on Sunday, 11,171 on Saturday, 64,478 on Friday, and 127,499 on Thursday, according to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The 7-day incidence rate is now 34,937. 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 34,036, 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 327, a decrease of 26% over the same period, while the average number of hospitalizations for the period was 27,597, a decrease of 9%. In addition, the number of patients in ICUs was 3,595, a decrease of 5% and the test positivity rate is now 9.3%, a figure that is down by 3% over the same period.
In addition, since the start of the pandemic the United States has, as of Monday, recorded over 105.2 million cases, a higher figure than any other country, and a death toll of 1.15 million. India has the world’s second highest number of officially recorded cases, 44.7 million, and a reported death toll of 530,770.
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 38.1 million total cases.
Brazil, which has recorded the third highest number of deaths as a result of the virus, 698,934, has recorded 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 33.2 million cases, South Korea, with 30.5 million cases, placing it in the number seven slot, and Italy, with 25.6 million, as number eight, as well as the United Kingdom, with over 24.3 million, and Russia, with just under 22.3 million.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that, as of the past Thursday, 269.5 million people in the United States – or 81.2% – have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. Of that population, 69.3%, or just under 230 million people, have received two doses of vaccine, and the total number of doses that have been dispensed in the United States is now 671.6 million. Breaking this down further, 92.1% of the population over the age of 18 – or 237.8 million people – has received at least a first inoculation and 79% of the same group – or 203.9 million people – is fully vaccinated. In addition, 19.5% of the same population, or 50.3 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 69.7% of the world population has received at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine by Monday, according to Our World in Data, an online scientific publication that tracks such information. So far, 13.31 billion doses of the vaccine have been administered on a global basis and 628,762 doses are now administered each day.
Meanwhile, only 27.7% 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)