Good morning. This is Jonathan Spira reporting. Here now the news of the pandemic from across the globe on the 1,125th day of the pandemic
If you think that last week’s ruling by a Texas judge, if upheld, could only impact abortion-related drugs, you’d be sadly mistaken.
On Friday, U.S. District Court Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk revoked the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s approval of the abortion pill mifepristone, which dated back to 2000. It poses a threat to the U.S. government’s regulatory authority over pharmaceuticals that could go well beyond that pill.
Some background: A bill signed into law in 1938, the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act of 1938, gave the FDA overarching authority to determine if a drug is safe and effective. Without such approval, the drug cannot be legally sold in the country. In order to gain such approval, pharmaceutical houses must conduct a series of animal studies as well as human clinical trials that can go on for years and cost millions of dollars with an eye towards proving to the FDA that a new drug can be a safe and effective treatment for a disease or medical condition.
Legal scholars believe that the ruling could spur disputes over multiple pharmaceuticals and could even upend the drug industry’s reliance on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
“If this ruling were to stand, then there will be virtually no prescription, approved by the F.D.A., that would be safe from these kinds of political, ideological attacks,” President Biden said in a statement on Friday night about the Texas decision.
To make matters really interesting – and please keep in mind that none of this is taking place on a reality television program – Judge Thomas O. Rice of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Washington, in a contradictory ruling issued in another case on the very same day one hour after Kacsmaryk’s ruling came out – issued an injunction ordering the FDA not to limit the drug’s availability in a case where attorneys general from 17 states and the District of Columbia had challenged extra restrictions that the FDA imposes on mifepristone.
In what may be one of the greatest understatements ever to appear in this space, this puts the FDA squarely between a rock and a hard place.
In other news we cover today, telecommuting is up in the United States as is maternal mortality, and India is taking steps to help control a potential new wave of cases from the subvariant XBB.1.1.6.
If you began to telecommute at the start of the pandemic in 2020, you were hardly alone and you were among good company. People working from home were younger, better educated, more diverse, and more likely to relocate during the period 2019-2021, the worst part of the pandemic.
The share of workers who were telecommuting rose from 5.7% in 2019 to 17.9% in 2021, according to a report released that was based on American Community survey data.
“The increase in home based workers corresponded with a decline in drivers, carpoolers, transit riders, and most other types of commuters,” the report said.
Meanwhile, the United States, which already has the highest maternal mortality rate of any first-world country, saw an increase in the maternal mortality rate during the first two years of the pandemic. Pregnant women with Covid had much higher odds of severe complications at delivery, a new analysis published in JAMA Network Open found.
IN 2021, 1,205 pregnant women died of maternal causes according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, compared to 861 in 2020 and 754 in 2019, which translates into a 37% increase from prior to the pandemic to year 2 of the pandemic.
Although total case figures are not great, Covid is beginning to surge in India thanks to the new XBB.1.16 sublineage of omicron. The country recorded just under 6,000 new cases on Sunday, according to government-published data and the active case count is currently 35,000.
The country’s health ministry is conducting mock drills within hospitals to check preparedness levels to deal with rising case figures, should the trend continue. The drills are being held on Monday and Tuesday of this week.
Now here are the daily statistics for Monday, April 10.
As of Monday morning, the world has recorded just under 685 million Covid-19 cases, an increase of 0.5 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 657.8 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 Monday at press time is 20,357,016, a decrease of 21,000. Out of that figure, 99.8%, or 20,317,342 are considered mild, and 0.2%, or 39,674, 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 Monday, 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 530,979.
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 just over 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 Monday, 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 192,447 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)