Good morning. This is Jonathan Spira reporting. Here now the news of the pandemic from across the globe on the 1,104th day of the pandemic.
Three years ago today, the first statewide stay-at-home order in the United States was issued.
On March 19, 2020, Governor Gavin Newsom issued a stay-at-home order for all Californians in an attempt to stem the spread of SARS-CoV-2. Thinking back, I felt it seemed like an extremely drastic – albeit logical – move.
I had just returned from Europe a few days before the World Health Organization declared the then novel coronavirus to be a pandemic, this on March 12, 2020, and watched my beloved Broadway theaters darken amidst a shutdown order in New York State for venues with a capacity of 500 or more people.
We’ve been through mask mandates, mass vaccination campaigns, and the need to learn new terminology including “flatten the curve” and “self-isolating.” Who remembers “covidiot” (someone who flaunts public health measures) or “the rona” as well as “covideo parties.”
Meanwhile, all we wanted was a covexit.
In other news we cover today, Americans took fewer steps during the pandemic and vaccine makers are preparing for the possibility of an avian flu epidemic that could impact humans.
A new study published Monday in JAMA Network Open shows that Americans took fewer steps per day during the pandemic and have continued along this path as the pandemic begins to wane. The study, “Daily Step Counts Before and After the COVID-19 Pandemic Among All of Us Research Participants” and authored by Dr. Evan Brittain, associate professor of cardiovascular medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennesee, found that people in the United States are, on average, taking 600 fewer steps per day than they did prior to January 2020.
The study used data from the All of Us Research Program, run by the National Institutes of Health, which has some 6,000 participants. Many of the participants wore activity trackers for a minimum of ten hours per day over several years and allowed researchers to access their health and activity records.
OTHER HEALTHCARE NEWS
Cue Health announced a new suite of 13 home test kits in addition to its coronavirus test offerings. The new tests encompass a liver panel, kidney panel, food sensitivity, women’s fertility panel, heart health panel, and sexual health panels, in addition to its current coronavirus test offerings.
Vaccine makers are getting ready to make a bird-flu vaccine for humans in case a new strain of avian influenza jumps to humans.
The current outbreak of H5N1 clade 220.127.116.11b has resulted in the death of record numbers of birds and infected mammals, although human cases continue to remain extremely rare. While the risk of transmission to humans is low, the vaccine makers want to be prepared for a potential zoonotic outbreak.
Three vaccine manufacturers – GSK, Moderna, and CSL Seqirus, – told Reuters that they are already developing or about to test sample human vaccines that better match the circulating subtype.
Air travel in the United States continued its recovery in 2022. Last year, 935 million passengers took to the skies, according to data from the Department of Transportation. The rebound hit almost 89% of pre-pandemic levels.
Now here are the daily statistics for Monday, March 20.
As of Monday morning, the world has recorded 682.6 million Covid-19 cases, an increase of 0.1 million from the previous day, and 6.82 million deaths, according to Worldometer, a service that tracks such information. In addition, 655.5 million people worldwide have recovered from the virus, an increase of 0.2 million from the previous day.
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 20,258,695, an increase of 64,000. Out of that figure, 99.8%, or 20,218,527, are considered mild, and 0.2%, or 40,168, are listed as critical. The percentage of cases considered critical has not changed over the past five months.
The United States reported 1,175 new coronavirus infections on Sunday for the previous day, compared to 18,756 reported on Saturday, 54,460 reported on Friday, and 137,629 reported on Thursday, according to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The 7-day incidence rate is now 23,049. 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 22,338, a figure down 34% over the past 15 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 334, a decrease of 38% over the same period, while the average number of hospitalizations for the period was 22,522, a decrease of 14%. In addition, the number of patients in ICUs was 3,013 a decrease of 11% and the test positivity rate is now 7.2%, a figure that is down by 14% over the same period.
In addition, since the start of the pandemic the United States has, as of Sunday, recorded just under 106 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 530,806.
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 39.7 million, and Germany is in the number four slot, with 38.3 million total cases.
Brazil, which has recorded the third highest number of deaths as a result of the virus, 699,634, has recorded 37.1 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 33.4 million cases, South Korea, with 30.7 million cases, placing it in the number seven slot, and Italy, with just under 25.7 million, as number eight, as well as the United Kingdom, with 24.4 million, and Russia, with just over 22.5 million.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that, as of the past Thursday, 269.7 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 230.2 million people, have received two doses of vaccine, and the total number of doses that have been dispensed in the United States is now 673 million. Breaking this down further, 92.2% of the population over the age of 18 – or 237.9 million people – has received at least a first inoculation and 79% of the same group – or 204.1 million people – is fully vaccinated. In addition, 19.8% of the same population, or 51.1 million people, has already received an updated or bivalent booster dose of vaccine, while 22.9 million people over the age of 65, or 41.8% of that population have also received the bivalent booster.
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, 13.33 billion doses of the vaccine have been administered on a global basis and 330,283 doses are now administered each day.
Meanwhile, only 28.2% 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)