Good morning. This is Jonathan Spira reporting. Here now the news of the pandemic from across the globe on the 1,192nd day of the pandemic.
OP-ED ON FRIDAY
There Still Was Time. We Just Didn’t Know It
Months after the onset of the Covid pandemic, State Department officials concluded that the coronavirus outbreak could have been contained had Chinese Communist Party officials not spent their energies on solely trying to sweep it under the rug, but instead had taken action to contain it, according to newly released cables.
Although heavily redacted, the cables, which were obtained by U.S. Right to Know, a public-health transparency group, covered the period July 2020 though January 2021 and include one cable with the heading, “Initial COVID Outbreak Could Have Been Contained in China if Beijing Had Not Covered It Up.”
The cables are likely to have come via the American Institute in Taiwan, and they also confirm previous reports by the Associated Press, which noted that Chinese officials waited six full days to warn the public. by confirming that a highly contagious and potentially lethal coronavirus had originated in the country.
Instead, Nero’s Chinese cousin fiddled while Wuhan held a massive, six-day-lone festival where likely thousands were infected.
Lest one think that this was just a case of not wanting to cry fire, it’s important to note that Beijing ordered local party officials to obfuscate when it came to naming the source of the virus.
In news we cover today, smoke from wildfires is set to continue into the start of the coming week and the United States is going with an KBB-targeted variant for better protection come fall.
The fall booster for the coronavirus vaccine should solely target an XBB subvariant, an external panel of 21 advisors to the Food and Drug Administration said Thursday. The panel voted 21-0 to make this recommendation. The new formulation is expected to be able tackle other forms of the virus as well.
OTHER HEALTHCARE NEWS
The effect that ongoing Canadian wildfires will have on U.S. air quality is predicted to worsen into the coming week. Smoke was at unhealthy levels in the Midwest and the deadly smoke could also seep into the Northeast.
Now here are the daily statistics for Friday, June 16.
As of Friday morning, the world has recorded 690.4 million Covid-19 cases, an increase of under 0.1 million from the previous day, and 6.89 million deaths, according to Worldometer, a service that tracks such information. In addition, just over 662.8 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 Friday at press time is 20,643,308, an increase of 18,000. Out of that figure, 99.8%, or 20,605,786, are considered mild, and 0.2%, or 37,522, 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 June 3 was 8.7%, up from 6.79%, 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 2.06% and, for RSV, that figure was 0.39%.
The death toll from Covid was 1.5% in the week ending May 27, 2023, and the trend in Covid-19 deaths is up 7.1% over the same period.
Finally, the number of hospital admissions from Covid for the week ending May 30 was 7,643, a figure that is down 8.4% 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 Friday, recorded 107.2 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 531,893.
The newest data from Russia’s Rosstat state statistics service showed that, at the end of July 2022, 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 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, 703,399, 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 31.9 million cases, placing it in the number seven slot, and Italy, with 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 Friday 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 70.1% of the world population has received at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine by Friday, according to Our World in Data, an online scientific publication that tracks such information. So far, 13.42 billion doses of the vaccine have been administered on a global basis and 234,268 doses are now administered each day.
Meanwhile, only 30.2% 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)