Good morning. This is Jonathan Spira reporting. Here now the news of the pandemic from across the globe on the 1,133rd day of the pandemic, tax day in the United States, and National Columnists’ Day. The observance is “dedicated to increasing awareness of the importance and contributions made by columnists and journalists” and don’t you forget it!
Covid continues to be the third leading cause of death in the United States, despite cries that the pandemic is over. While the average daily death toll has fallen from approximately 450 to 250, the virus’ retreat may not be evident to the families who lost a loved one.
Few Americans are treating SARS-CoV-2 as a leading killer, however, and this is worrisome. As regular readers of this space know, I have Long Covid with multiple neurological symptoms including organ damage and severe chronic fatigue. In the coming weeks, I’ll go into detail about how I’ve researched my way to controlling these conditions but I am likely the exception to the rule.
People put their heads in the sand in part because they are not hearing about these figures, they don’t trust them, or don’t see them as relevant to their own lives.
What a shame this all is.
Meanwhile, London-based disease forecasting company Airfinity’s latest risk modeling suggests that there is a 27.5% chance that a pandemic as deadly as the current one could take place by the year 2033. Chew on that for a moment will you?
In other news we cover today, the FDA authorized a second bivalent booster dose for some, nursing schools in Florida sold thousands of fake diplomas, and a new report released by Senate Republicans in the United States about the origins of the pandemic is inconclusive at best.
The Food and Drug Administration authorized on Tuesday a second dose of the updated bivalent coronavirus booster for people 65 years of age and older and those who are immunocompromised, terming it a “spring” booster. The move had been expected for weeks, even though the agency initially said it would not authorize a second such booster dose.
If you’re being seen by a nurse in hospital or a physician’s office, you might want to ask if he or she studied in Florida. On Monday, two Florida educators confessed to selling thousands of fake nursing diplomas and degrees in a multi-million dollar scheme. Charles Etienne, president of Sacred Heart International Institute in Fort Lauderdale, and Eunide Sanon, owner of Siena College of Health in Lauderhill, both admitted selling phony nursing degrees.
The two, separately, pled guilty in federal court in recent days to conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud. Both face up to 20 years in prison As part of their sentencing, Sanon must turn over $1.3 million and Etienne approximately $150,000 to the U.S. government.
Meanwhile, a bill moving through the Texas legislature could limit schools and local health departments from being able to require or recommend immunizations. Public health experts say it could have severe implications for any kind of vaccine.
Finally, after 18 months of research, released Monday by a Republican member of the Senate Health Committee acknowledged that the team researching the matter was unable to definitively pinpoint the source of the coronavirus outbreak. The report did point to the publicly available estimates that the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes Covid, first emerged in the period between October 28 and November 10, 2019, several weeks earlier than the Chinese government’s timeline and much closer to that of an earlier assessment from Avril Haines, the U.S. intelligence chief.
The report shows that the Wuhan Institute of Virology, a laboratory that was conducting advanced coronavirus research, faced a series of biosafety problems in November 2019 that drew the attention of top Beijing officials and coincided with the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
Now here are the daily statistics for Tuesday, April 18.
As of Tuesday morning, the world has recorded 685.8 million Covid-19 cases, an increase of just under 0.1 million from the previous day, and 6.84 million deaths, according to Worldometer, a service that tracks such information. In addition, 658.5 million people worldwide have recovered from the virus, an increase of under 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 20,416,987, a decrease of 15,000. Out of that figure, 99.8%, or 20,377,416, are considered mild, and 0.2%, or 39,571, are listed as critical. The percentage of cases considered critical has not changed over the past five months.
The United States reported 101,445 new cases in the period March 30 through April 12, a figure that is down 26% 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 1,773, a figure that is down 22%. The average number of hospital admissions from Covid was 5,144 on April 13, a figure that is down 8% over the preceding 14 days. Finally, the test positivity rate is 6.2%, down 6% over the 14 days preceding April 14.
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 Tuesday, recorded just under 106.5 million cases, a higher figure than any other country, and a death toll of just under 1.16 million. India has the world’s second highest number of officially recorded cases, 44.8 million, and a reported death toll of 531,152.
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 39.9 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, 700,811, has recorded just under 37.4 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 just under 33.6 million cases, South Korea, with just under 31 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 just under 22.8 million.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that, as of the past Thursday, 270.1 million people in the United States – or 81.4% – have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. Of that population, 69.4%, or 230.5 million people, have received two doses of vaccine, and the total number of doses that have been dispensed in the United States is now 674.7 million. Breaking this down further, 92.3% 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, 20.2% of the same population, or 52.2 million people, has already received an updated or bivalent booster dose of vaccine, while 23.3 million people over the age of 65, or 42.6% 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 Tuesdays 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 Tuesday, according to Our World in Data, an online scientific publication that tracks such information. So far, 13.37 billion doses of the vaccine have been administered on a global basis and 105,980 doses are now administered each day.
Meanwhile, only 29.3% 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)