Good morning. This is Jonathan Spira reporting. Here now the news of the pandemic from across the globe on the 1,213rd day of the pandemic.
OP-ED ON FRIDAY
My Family’s Battle With Alzheimer’s Disease
The big news in healthcare as the week comes to a close is that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted full approval to Leqembi, a medication that has shown to clearly, albeit modestly, slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.
The big news in healthcare as the week comes to a close is that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted full approval to Leqembi, a medication that has shown to clearly, albeit modestly, slow the progression of Alzheimer’s.
My father, S.F. (Fred) Spira, suffered from Alzheimer’s for almost ten years before his death and it was an awful journey both for him and his family. In my book “Meditations and Reflections on the Loss of a Sibling” I called Alzheimer’s “the great unwinding,” attempting to create an image of life being a spring you wind until the end, unless Alzheimer’s causes it all to unwind.
Leqembi slowed decline in patients by 27% over 18 months compared with a placebo, but it comes at a price, with some severe side effects. Administered intravenously every other week, the drug will get a “boxed warning” because it can cause brain bleeding and swelling.
In the early years of my father’s journey with Alzheimer’s, I regularly flew to Munich and Frankfurt to purchase Memantine, a well-tolerated medication designed to slow the progress of moderate-to-severe Alzheimer’s disease manufactured by Merz that was then not available in the United States. The first time he took the medication the change was almost immediate, and like night and day. He was rather downtrodden and not engaging with people just a day before and he practically became a social butterfly after a few days on the drug.
Lecanemabi, which is being sold as Leqembi, is a monoclonal antibody medication used for Alzheimer’s. It is an amyloid beta-directed antibody and the most common side-effects are headache, infusion-related reactions and amyloid-related imaging abnormalities, a side effect known to occur with the class of antibodies targeting amyloid.
Based on my own experience with a family member with the disease, I truly hope it turns out to do what it promises to do.
In other news we cover today, a court ruled that workers cannot sue if they bring SARS-CoV-2 home to family members and infect them and Floridians are facing the state’s first native malaria transmission in decades without key health officials in place.
The California Supreme Court ruled that workers cannot sue their employers and hold them liable when they contract SARS-CoV-2 at the workplace and then spread it to members of their household. The seven member court ruled that allowing so-called “take home Covid” claims could encourage companies to adopt precautions that slow the delivery of services to the public, or to close their doors completely during a pandemic.
Meanwhile, state health departments are facing federal budget cuts to programs that support childhood vaccination, according to an e-mail addressed to state immunization managers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The news comes at a time when immunization rates among children are falling and under threat from anti-vaccine rhetoric.
OTHER HEALTHCARE NEWS
Floridians are suffering the consequences of the presence of a state surgeon general who is known for spreading misinformation about SARS-CoV-2 and promoting vaccine hesitancy. Two key state health officials resigned out of frustration and have yet to be replaced as the state faces its first instances of native malaria transmission in decades.
Now here are the daily statistics for Friday, July 7.
As of Friday morning, the world has recorded 691.2 million Covid-19 cases, an increase of 0.01 million from the previous day, and 6.89 million deaths, according to Worldometer, a service that tracks such information. In addition, 663.76 million people worldwide have recovered from the virus, an increase of 0.03 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 20,552,838, a decrease of 13,000. Out of that figure, 99.8%, or 20,515,572, are considered mild, and 0.2%, or 37,266, 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 the most recent data available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The test positivity rate for Covid for the week ending July 1 was 8.22%, up from 8.2% 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 1.77% and, for RSV, that figure was 0.51%.
The death toll from Covid was 1% in the week ending July 1, 2023, a figure that is down 9.1% over the past week.
Finally, the number of hospital admissions from Covid for seven days ending June 24 was 6,198, a figure that is down 5.9% over the preceding 7-day period.
As of March 25, 2023, the Morning News Brief began to update case data as well as death tolls on a weekly basis. In addition, as of 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. Where appropriate, the Morning News Brief has reintroduced data sets are they have become available.
Since the start of the pandemic, the United States has, as of Friday, recorded over 107.3 million cases, a higher figure than any other country, and a death toll of 1.17 million. India has the world’s second highest number of officially recorded cases, 45 million, and a reported death toll of 531,903.
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, 703,964, has recorded 37.7 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 over 33.8 million cases, South Korea, with 32.3 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 June 15, the total number of updated bivalent doses given in the United States was 139.9 million.
Older – and no longer updated – data from the CDC shows that over 270.2 million people in the United States – or 81.4% – have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine as of May 11, 2023. 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.
Some 70.3% 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, 13.47 billion doses of the vaccine have been administered on a global basis and 35,035 doses are now administered each day.
Meanwhile, only 32.2% 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 beginning 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)