Good morning. This is Jonathan Spira reporting. Here now the news of the pandemic from across the globe on the 1,175th day of the pandemic as well as International Hug Your Cat Day. Your cat may not like it, but do it anyway.
OP-ED ON TUESDAY
Clothing Entrepreneur is Making a Better Mousetrap for Covid
Clothing entrepreneur Juliana Lam thinks she may have a better mousetrap for stopping SARS-CoV-2 infections.
Lam, the chairman of Julius Industries, a Hong Kong-based manufacturer of gloves and fashion accessories that counts Gap and Walmart among its clients and has no medical background.
Three years ago, she began thinking of a possible solution to the masking problem when she – at the very start of the pandemic – read news reports about how elderly people were having difficulty 9obtaining face masks and therefore had to wear a one-time-use disposable face mask for several days, the China South Morning Post reported.
The news – and her background in fabric – made her determined to find a workable solution.
Her search for a solution led her to found Innotier, where her researchers – brought in from the United Kingdom – developed a face mask that, she says, can contain 99% of airborne coronavirus aerosols and last for up to 200 washes. The company didn’t stop at masks. All of its products, which include bed sheets and clothing, can inhibit and eliminate 99% of the Covid-19 virus immediately upon contact, she said.
The technology behind Innotier’s product involves the release of silver ions from the fibers. The positively charged ions are released in the presence of respiratory moisture and act to eliminate viruses and bacteria on the surface of the fabric, Lam said.
Lam told the newspaper that the mask can be worn for several days in between washing and that it should last for as long as four years.
The new tech may not overcome some people’s objections to donning a face mask but it does make the face mask far more effective for those who are willing to wear one.
In other news we cover today, the Connecticut senate is seeing a wave of new Covid infections, cases of HPMV are exploding, the CDC warns, and a Chinese government scientist said he would not rule out the possibility of a lab leak having occurred in Wuhan.
In the Nutmeg State, a new round of SARS-CoV02 infections in the state Senate has leaders there calling for mandatory masking for staff, elected officials, and the public on the third floor of the State Capitol building as well as the fourth floor Senate galleries.
Senate President Pro Tempore Martin Looney announced the changes Monday night in an email to reporters. The e-mail cited “a number of positive Covid tests” in the Senate. Daily rapid coronavirus tests will be performed on senators and staff, and senators who test negative will be allowed to take off masks on the Senate floor.
The CDC is warning that cases of human metapneumovirus, or HMPV, are exploding, according its respiratory virus surveillance systems.
Patients with HMPV filled hospital intensive care units with young children as well as senior citizens – those two groups are the most vulnerable to HMPV infections.
At its peak eight weeks ago, nearly 11% of tested specimens were positive for HMPV, a figure that’s 36% higher than the average, pre-pandemic seasonal peak of 7% test positivity.
HMPV causes patients as much misery as influenza and RSV, or respiratory syncytial virus, but there is no vaccine and no miracle cure. Physicians can only treat HMPV patients’ symptomatically. The symptoms, incidentally, are similar to the flu and RSV, namely a lower lung infection, hacking cough, runny nose, sore throat, and fever.
In addition, far fewer people get tested for HMPV unless they present at a hospital or emergency room (A&E for our British readers).
In the United Kingdom, the inquiry board chaired by former judge Heather Hallett that is investigating the government’s handling of the coronavirus crisis has given ministers two additional days to hand over former Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s WhatsApp messages and diaries.
The Cabinet Office, the entity responsible for overseeing the operation of government, is refusing to hand over some of the messages and records on the grounds that they are not related to the pandemic.
Last week, Hallett said that some areas of correspondence which the Cabinet Office had said were irrelevant were in her opinion relevant to her inquiry.
The stand-off could lead to criminal sanctions.
Meanwhile, Professor George Gao, head of China’s Centre for Disease Control, told the BBC on Monday that he does not rule out the possibility the Covid virus leaked from a laboratory.
The Chinese government is dismissive of any suggestion that the disease may have originated in a Wuhan laboratory.
Now here are the daily statistics for Tuesday, May 29.
As of Tuesday morning, the world has recorded 689.5 million Covid-19 cases, an increase of less than 0.1 million from the previous day, and 6.88 million deaths, according to Worldometer, a service that tracks such information. In addition, 661.9 million people worldwide have recovered from the virus, an increase of less than 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 20,670,220, an increase of just under 10,000. Out of that figure, 99.8%, or 20,632,081, are considered mild, and 0.2%, or 38,139, are listed as critical. The percentage of cases considered critical has not changed over the past eight months.
The United States reported 72,136 new cases in the period May 4 through May 10, 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 test positivity rate for the week ending May 20 was 7.77%, down from 7.96% in the prior week, according to data from the CDC Respiratory Virus Laboratory Emergency Department Network Surveillance, or RESP-LENS. By comparison, the test positive rate for influenza was 1.95% and, for RSV, that figure was 0.34%.
The death toll from Covid is down 1.3% in week ending May 20, 2023, and the trend in Covid-19 deaths is down 13.3% over the same period.
Finally, the number of hospital admissions from over the past week Covid was 8,256 as of May 23, a figure that is down 11% over the preceding 7-day period.
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, starting on May 15, 2023, the Morning News Brief has pressed pause on certain data sets as we assess the update of changes in reporting by U.S. health authorities at the CDC.
Since the start of the pandemic the United States has, as of Tuesday, recorded 107.1 million cases, a higher figure than any other country, and a death toll of over 1.16 million. India has the world’s second highest number of officially recorded cases, just under 45 million, and a reported death toll of 531,867.
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 under 40.1 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, 702,664, has recorded 37.6 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 33.8 million cases, South Korea, with just under 31.7 million cases, placing it in the number seven slot, and Italy, with just under 25.9 million, as number eight, as well as the United Kingdom, with 24.6 million, and Russia, with 22.9 million.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that, as of May 11, over 270.2 million people in the United States – or 81.4% – have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. Of that population, 69.5%, or 230.6 million people, have received two doses of vaccine, and the total number of doses that have been dispensed in the United States is now over 676.7 million. Breaking this down further, 92.23% 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 204.3 million people – is fully vaccinated. In addition, 20.5% of the same population, or 53 million people, has already received an updated or bivalent booster dose of vaccine, while 23.7 million people over the age of 65, or 43.3% 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. Starting on May 11, 2023, the CDC pressed pause on reporting new vaccine data, a hiatus it said would end on June 15 of this year.
Some 70% 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, 13.39 billion doses of the vaccine have been administered on a global basis and 72,737 doses are now administered each day.
Meanwhile, only 30% 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.
Paul Riegler contributed reporting to this story.
(Photo: Accura Media Group)