Good morning. This is Jonathan Spira reporting. Here now the news of the pandemic from across the globe on the 1,105th day of the pandemic.
The data that was briefly available via a global database after being uploaded by Chinese scientists before it was quickly deleted offers critical information on the origins of the coronavirus outbreak, including genetic data taken from the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan.
A new study, written by multiple authors including University of Arizona’s Michael Worobey, Kristian Andersen of Scripps Research in La Jolla, California, and Florence Débarre at the Sorbonne University in Paris, France, who accessed the actual data, offers clues to the origins of the virus.
The pre-print report, based on their interpretation of the data, was published on Monday, following the leak of the data, which comprised new sequences of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and additional genomic data based on samples taken from the Wuhan market in 2020, according to the report’s authors.
The data from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention is no longer available on the GISAID database, which is where it was viewed by the scientists.
The sequences showed that raccoon dogs and other animals susceptible to the coronavirus were present in the market and may have been infected, providing a new clue in the chain of transmission that eventually reached humans, they said.
The new data lends credence to the belief that the virus was transmitted zoonotically and not from a laboratory leak.
“This adds to the body of evidence identifying the Huanan market as the spillover location of Sars-CoV-2 and the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic,” the researchers wrote in the report.
In other news we cover today, deadly cases of candida auris are rising in hospitals and Germany plans research on Long Covid and Post-Vac Syndrome.
In Germany, Gesundheitsminister Karl Lauterbach wants to help those who have Long Covid as well as those who suffered serious side-effects from coronavirus vaccines. The Paul-Ehrlich-Institut, the Bundesinstitut für Impfstoffe und Biomedizinische Arzneimittel, has registered 333,492 cases of suspected harmful vaccination side effects and 50,833 suspected cases of serious side effects since the start of the vaccination campaign: a reporting rate of 1.78 per 1,000 vaccine doses. The Bundesministerium für Gesundheit is planning more research on the consequences of both Long Covid and Post-Vac Syndrome.
Drugmaker Moderna said that it expects to price its coronavirus vaccine at about $130 per dose in the United States going forward. The move comes as purchases move to the private sector from the government, the company’s president, Stephen Hoge, said in an interview with Reuters.
In California, Glendale City Council members stand accused of cutting the line for then scarce coronavirus vaccinations when they were first released, a lawsuit, filed by Brian Julian a now former EMS chief who protested the action and was demoted, alleges.
At the time vaccines were released in December 2020, Julian was in charge of the vaccination program in Glendale. The suit charges that Silvio Lanzas, then Glendale’s fire chief, ordered Julian to provide vaccinations to a City Council member and four department heads, all of whom were ineligible.
OTHER HEALTHCARE NEWS
Cases of the drug-resistant fungal infection candida auris are now climbing at an “alarming” rate in health care facilities around the country, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned Monday, after reports of infected patients nearly doubled in 2021.
“We’re continuing to see the number of cases increase,” said CDC epidemiologist Dr. Meghan Lyman, who was the lead author of a report on the subject published in the Annals of Internal Medicine this week. “So what we saw before is continuing. It didn’t stop. The issues that we’ve seen are continuing and it didn’t resolve.”
Now here are the daily statistics for Tuesday, March 21.
As of Tuesday morning, the world has recorded 682.7 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, 655.6 million people worldwide have recovered from the virus, an increase of 0.1 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 Tuesday at press time is 20,227,992, an increase of 31,000. Out of that figure, 99.8%, or 20,187,798, are considered mild, and 0.2%, or 40,194, are listed as critical. The percentage of cases considered critical has not changed over the past five months.
The United States reported 1,424 new coronavirus infections on Monday for the previous day, compared to 1,175 reported on Sunday, 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 22,338. 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 22,591, a figure down 32% 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 290, a decrease of 44% 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 Tuesday, recorded 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 530,808.
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 Tuesday, 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 337,946 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)