Good morning. This is Jonathan Spira reporting. Here now the news of the pandemic from across the globe on the 1,122nd day of the pandemic.
While regular readers of this space are more than aware of the severity of the coronavirus pandemic, we continue to uncover new aspects of the pandemic’s impact as more data from the past three years comes to light.
The coronavirus pandemic caused the death rate in New York City in calendar year 2020 to climb approximately50% over the previous year, according to new data released by the city’s Department of Health.
This phenomenon was something that had not been observed in almost 200 years.
Indeed, one has to go back to 1834, when cholera struck and smallpox was resurgent to find an earlier instance of when the death rate over the prior year climbed roughly 50%.
To make matters worse, the health department data shows that , life expectancy fell across the Big Apple from 82.6 years in 2019 to 78 years in 2020, a year-over-year decline of 4.6 years.
There is a wonderful if not somewhat frightening chart produced by the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene entitled “The Conquest of Pestilence in New York City” (reproduced above) that shows the death rate per thousand members of the population from the year 1800 through 2017. Along the timeline, it not only notes the various outbreaks of disease – including yellow fever, smallpox, cholera, and influenza, but cross-references such achievements as the establishment of the Croton Aqueduct which brought fresh water to the city, the control of typhoid carriers, and the pasteurization of milk.
Unfortunately, the chart has not as of yet been updated for the coronavirus pandemic era but I can well imagine how it will appear when that happens.
In other news we cover today, Florida officials withheld key data from vaccine study and churches expect more Easter Sunday worshipers to attend virtually this year.
Cities across the country are preparing for a second round of bivalent Covid booster shots specifically intended for an older and more vulnerable population. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration have yet to announce plans for a spring booster but planning is nonetheless afoot.
“Lots of people at higher risk are asking whether or not they need another dose. And we’re waiting for guidance on that,” Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said to reporters.
Meanwhile, as Easter Sunday approaches, churches expect to see a diminished flock as people have grown accustomed to staying home and watching services online. While worshipers found the virtual experience almost surreal in 2020, they have since grown accustomed to it over the course of the past three years.
Finally, an analysis that was the basis of a highly criticized recommendation from Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo that cautioned young men against getting a coronavirus inoculation omitted information that showed catching the virus could increase the risk of a cardiac-related death far more than getting the mRNA shot, according to drafts of the analysis obtained by the Tampa Bay Times.
The nonbinding recommendation made by the Florida surgeon general last fall was the polar opposite of guidanceprovided by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Ladapo, who was appointed by Governor Ron DeSantis in 2021 to head the Florida Department of Health, has drawn criticism and intense scrutiny over his resistance to Covid mask and vaccine mandates endorsed by the federal government.
Health officials in Britain approved a spring Covid booster shot, but only for nursing home residents, people 75 years of age or older, or those who are immunosuppressed and at least 5 years old.
“This year’s spring program will bridge the gap to the planned booster program in the autumn, enabling those who are most vulnerable to be well-protected throughout the summer,” said Dr. Wei Shen Lim, chairman of Britain’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization, in a statement.
In Canada, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization is taking a similar approach, planning a booster campaign for those 65 years of age or older, those in nursing homes, and people who are immunocompromised.
Japan will end all pandemic-induced vaccination and testing requirements to enter the country next month.
“All border measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 will be lifted on May 8, 2023,” the Japan National Tourism Organization announced.
Now here are the daily statistics for Saturday, April 8.
As of Saturday morning, the world has recorded 684.9 million Covid-19 cases, an increase of 0.3 million from the previous day, and just under 6.84 million deaths, according to Worldometer, a service that tracks such information. In addition, just over 657.6 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 Saturday at press time is 20,433,359, an increase of 157,000. Out of that figure, 99.8%, or 20,393,656 are considered mild, and 0.2%, or 39,703, are listed as critical. The percentage of cases considered critical has not changed over the past five months.
The United States reported 138,481 new cases in the period March 23 through March 29, a figure that is down 16% over the same period one week earlier, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The death toll for the same period is 1,596, a figure that is down 12%. The average number of hospital admissions from Covid was 5,673 on April 3, a figure that is down 6% over the preceding 14 days. Finally, the test positivity rate is 6.8%, up 2% over the 14 days preceding March 31
Starting on March 25, 2023, the Morning News Brief began to update case data as well as death tolls on a weekly basis.
In addition, since the start of the pandemic the United States has, as of Saturday, recorded just under 106.4 million cases, a higher figure than any other country, and a death toll of just over 1.15 million. India has the world’s second highest number of officially recorded cases, 44.7 million, and a reported death toll of 530,943.
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 39.8 million, and Germany is in the number four slot, with 38.4 million total cases.
Brazil, which has recorded the third highest number of deaths as a result of the virus, 700,556, has recorded 37.3 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 33.5 million cases, South Korea, with 30.9 million cases, placing it in the number seven slot, and Italy, with 25.7 million, as number eight, as well as the United Kingdom, with 24.4 million, and Russia, with 22.7 million.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that, as of the past Thursday, over 270 million people in the United States – or 81.3% – have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. Of that population, 69.4%, or 230.4 million people, have received two doses of vaccine, and the total number of doses that have been dispensed in the United States is now 674.4 million. Breaking this down further, 92.2% of the population over the age of 18 – or 238.2 million people – has received at least a first inoculation and 79.1% of the same group – or 204.2 million people – is fully vaccinated. In addition, 20.1 of the same population, or 52 million people, has already received an updated or bivalent booster dose of vaccine, while 23.3 million people over the age of 65, or 42.4% 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 69.9% of the world population has received at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine by Saturday, according to Our World in Data, an online scientific publication that tracks such information. So far, 13.38 billion doses of the vaccine have been administered on a global basis and 865,317 doses are now administered each day.
Meanwhile, only 29.2% 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)