Good morning. This is Jonathan Spira reporting. Here now the news of the pandemic from across the globe on the 1,227th day of the pandemic as well as Spoonerism Day, so let’s celebrate all the little slips we make, as well as those of others, such as when ABC reporter Joe Daly said that “[T]he rumor that the president would veto the bill is reported to have come from a high white horse souce.”
OP-ED ON SATURDAY
The U.K.: A Nation Caught Off Guard by Covid
After six weeks of hearings at the UK Covid-19 public inquiry, the evidence about the United Kingdom’s preparedness for the Covid pandemic is in. What it shows is a nation that was clearly caught off guard.
Indeed, by March 2021, there had been 180 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants, versus the figure for South Korea, which was 3 per 100,000 inhabitants.
There was much evidence the country had been made more vulnerable by the twin storms of austerity and Brexit, but one more important fact became clear to me (and likely to other observers): The country had planned for the wrong pandemic, just as the United States had.
The United Kingdom had a plan in place for pandemic flu because it was on the very top of the national risk register. The plan, however, wasn’t transferable to a virus such as SARS (which struck east Asia starting in 2002) and SARS-CoV-2, with a high number of asymptomatic infections. With the flu, you know you have it because of how miserable you feel. With Covid, it’s hit or miss. Here, mass testing was vital to stopping the pandemic, something that wasn’t part of the playbook in any recorded prior global pandemic.
In 2019, the UK’s national risk assessment had identified a “moderate” risk of a “catastrophic” but containable outbreak of an emerging respiratory coronavirus infection in the UK, but thought it would only kill 2,000 people.
These numbers were nothing if not optimistic. The coronavirus pandemic has resulted in over 228,000 deaths in the United Kingdom and just under seven million worldwide.
Perhaps, just as with the Spanish Flu, it was not possible to plan for such an occurrence. The Spanish Flu resulted in the death of between 17 and 100 million people from February 1918 through April 2020, and an estimated 500 million people – one third of the global population at the time – had been infected in the course of four successive waves.
Nonetheless, the quick development of vaccines and antivirals kept the death toll from SARS-CoV-2 from reaching those heights.
In other news we cover today, the U.S. CDC is preparing for a “winter tripledemic,” scammers are billing European scientists for appearing at Covid webinars, and members of a Florida family (but where else?) were found guilty of selling a bleach-based product as a Covid “cure-all.”
The new director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Mandy Cohen, said that the agency is preparing for a “winter tripledemic,” and it wants vaccine-weary Americans to get separate inoculations for each.
“We’re going to have three bugs out there, three viruses: Covid, of course, flu and RSV,” Cohen said in an interviewwith NBC news. “We need to make sure the American people understand all three and what they can do to protect themselves.”
In other news, a Florida family was found guilty of selling a bleach product as a Covid-19 “cure-all.”
A federal jury in Miami on Wednesday found four members of the Grenon family guilty of defrauding the United States by distributing a toxic bleaching agent as a Covid-19 cure, according to court records.
Mark Grenon and his three sons, Jonathan, Jordan, and Joseph Grenon, were convicted of promoting and selling “Miracle Mineral Solution,” which “when mixed, develops into a dangerous bleach which has caused serious and potentially life-threatening side effects,” according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
We reported in March of this year that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has been warning consumers about MMS since 2010, yet more and more Americans – tens of thousands of people who have no health insurance, were turning to MMS as a “trusted health solution.”
Scientists and researchers are fighting back against a shadowy conference organizer and an arbitration court that may not exist. Three years after a conference on Covid took place, many regret their participation.
Villa Europa, a Polish company that ran the event, claims speakers owes them fees for taking part. In the case of one scientist, Björn Johannsson, the company is seeking payment through a Swedish court and, with interest costs and legal fees, demanding €80,000 ($89,000).
At least 32 scholars have received demand letters signed by Krzysztof Sienicki, CEO of Villa Europa. Each later received a letter from a local court informing them that Villa Europa has asked for the enforcement of a Polish arbitration decision that found in favor of the company, although the arbitration organization, Pan-Europejski-Sąd-Arbitrażowy, appears to be a prop set up by Villa Europa.
Now here are the daily statistics for Saturday, July 22.
As of Saturday morning, the world has recorded over 691.79 million Covid-19 cases, an increase of 0. 01 million from the previous day, and 6.9 million deaths, according to Worldometer, a service that tracks such information. In addition, 664.23 million people worldwide have recovered from the virus, an increase of 0.05 million from the prior 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 Saturday at press time is 20,662,873, a derease of 35,000. Out of that figure, 99.8%, or 20,625,740, are considered mild, and 0.2%, or 37,133, are listed as critical. The percentage of cases considered critical has not changed over the past eight months.
The United States no longer reports daily or weekly new Covid cases. It last 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 U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The test positivity rate for Covid for the week ending July 15 was 9.71, down from 9.8% 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 2.26%, up from 2.145% and, for RSV, that figure was 0.25%, down from 0.55%.
The percentage of deaths due to Covid was 0.9% in the week ending July 15, 2023, a figure that is down 0.1% over the week.
Finally, the number of hospital admissions from Covid for seven days ending June 24 was 6,228, a figure that is down 8% over the preceding 30-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 Saturday, recorded 107.44 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 531,915.
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 40.14 million, and Germany is in the number four slot, with 38.43 million total cases.
Brazil, which has recorded the third highest number of deaths as a result of the virus, 704,448, 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 33.8 million cases, South Korea, with 32.6 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 22.97 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 144.2 million, an increase of 4 million doses over the past month.
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 Saturday, according to Our World in Data, an online scientific publication that tracks such information. So far, 13.48 billion doses of the vaccine have been administered on a global basis and 157,885 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.
Paul Riegler contributed reporting to this story.
(Photo: Accura Media Group)