Good morning. This is Jonathan Spira reporting. Here now the news of the pandemic from across the globe on the 1,270th day of the pandemic.
OP-ED FOR LABOR DAY WEEKEND
Senators With Long Covid Demand Congressional Action
Three current and former U.S. senators who suffer from Long Covid – Tim Kaine, of Virginia, Todd Young of Indiana, and Jim Inhofe, a former senator from Oklahoma, penned an article that appeared today in The Hill that sternly reminds Congress that action needs to be taken to support the millions of Long Covid sufferers.
“After the formal end of the Covid Public Health Emergency in May, attention in Congress has largely been focused on priorities other than the pandemic,” the three wrote.”
The piece notes that many Americans have returned to many pre-pandemic routines, but emphasized that, “for some, normality still feels a long way off.”
“We served in the U.S. Senate during some of the darkest days of the Covid pandemic and, somewhere along the way, caught Covid-19,” the senators said. “Today, we all live with Long Covid of varying severity levels, and we’re openly discussing it because we know there are a lot of people who are having similar experiences.”
The three take pains to emphasize that the disease crosses party and economic lines and remind the reader that “[Y]ou very well may have a friend, neighbor, or family member living with Long Covid.”
A key point is that Congress needs to “tackle Long Covid’s impact on return to work.” They cite the statistic from the Government Accountability Office that estimates that one million Americans might be out of work due to Long Covid.
Another excellent point relates to the plethora of definitions of Long Covid. As I’ve pointed out, put ten physicians in a room and you’ll get 15 definitions of the condition.
It’s heartwarming to see politicians baring their humanity and revealing what is a horrendous diagnosis and how it affects them. Let’s hope that they are able to raise the level of knowledge and understanding in Congress to tackle these points post haste.
In other news we cover today, the number of Covid-related deaths and hospitalizations is surging, the original 2020 wave of cases came far earlier than had been believed, and the number of states reporting cases caused by BA.2.286 is now up to five in the United States.
Researchers at the University of Oxford believe they have uncovered molecular signatures in the blood that are linked symptoms long associated with Long Covid. Long Covid patients with brain fog and other cognitive symptoms appear to be more likely to have raised levels of one of two proteins, namely fibrinogen or D-dimer, both markers of blood clots in the body.
The new findings bolster earlier studies that posited that SARS-CoV-2 leaves patients with tiny blood clots in the lungs and possibly in their brains, which would then lead to a wide range of cognitive issues.
The number of hospitalizations and deaths from SARS-CoV-2 is surging. A late-summer surge cases is raising concerns amongst health officials and a highly contagious new subvariant may be to blame. Hospitalizations have risen 19%, while deaths have increased by 18%.
Meanwhile, health officials in five states have reported cases caused by the new omicron subvariant BA2.286. On Thursday, a genome sequencing team at Houston Methodist Hospital said it had identified the first case in Texas, and similar news flowed out of Ohio. These two states joint New York, Michigan, and Virginia in having reported BA.2.286 cases.
The original 2020 wave of SARS-CoV-2 came much earlier than had originally been believed. New York State’s first death from the then novel coronavirus actually came in the week ending January 25, 2020, in Rockland County, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said this week. At least four Covid-related additional deaths during February 2020 hit in Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester than had previously been believed.
The updated data shows New York’s initial coronavirus wave spiked six times higher than had been shown by the then-available testing data, which was extremely limited.
A former pizzeria owner in Massachusetts will be heading to prison after stealing over $660,000 in coronavirus pandemic relief funds for expenses relating to financing an alpaca farm in Vermont. (And no, the Morning News Brief stuff is not smoking that funny stuff because of the holiday weekend.)
Dana L. McIntyre, of Grafton, Vermont, was sentenced to two years in prison and three years of supervised release according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts.
The 62-year-old man pleaded guilty pleaded guilty to four counts of wire fraud and three counts of money laundering earlier this year on April 13.
McIntyre used the names of his adult children on two fraudulent applications for pandemic relief funds in March 2020 from the U.S. Small Business Administration for Economic Injury Disaster Loans for businesses that did not exist, federal prosecutors said.
A former New Hampshire state senator was accused of lying in order to get a coronavirus pandemic relief loan for his casino. Instead of using the money for its intended purpose, he used it to acquire luxury cars for himself and his wife, a Republican leader in the New Hampshire House.
The allegations against former Senator Andy Sanborn were announced by the state’s attorney general’s office. Sanborn owns the Concord Casino in Concord and was seeking to open a much larger venue nearby, but the state lottery commission is now moving to permanently ban him from operating gambling-related businesses.
The commission gave Sanborn ten days to request a hearing and federal and state authorities are commencing a criminal investigation, Attorney General John Formella said.
OTHER HEALTHCARE NEWS
Surgeons at New York University have reached another milestone in xenotransplantation. The doctors there transplanted a genetically engineered kidney from a pig into a patient who had been declared brain dead but was kept mechanically alive with the permission of family members for scientific research.
The kidney came from pigs that had been genetically modified by the company Revivicor to avoid the problem of rejection by the transplant recipient’s immune system.
The kidney has survived six weeks thus far, the longest period yet for this type of xenotransplant.
Now here are the daily statistics for Saturday, September 2.
As of Saturday morning, the world has recorded 694.7 million Covid-19 cases, an increase of 0.1 million from the previous day, and 6.91 million deaths, according to Worldometer, a service that tracks such information. In addition, 666.52 million people worldwide have recovered from the virus, an increase of 0.08 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 21,241,243, a decrease of 42,000. Out of that figure, 99.8%, or 21,245,346, are considered mild, and 0.2%, or 37,613, are listed as critical. The percentage of cases considered critical has not changed over the past eight months.
The test positivity rate for Covid for the week ending August 19 was 23.13%, up from 21.6% 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 1.05%, down from 1.09%, and, for RSV, that figure was 0.88%, up from 0.81%.
The percentage of deaths due to Covid was 2% in the week ending August 26, 2023, a figure that is up 17.6% over the week.
Finally, the number of hospital admissions from Covid for seven days ending August 19 was 15,067, a figure that is up 18.8% over the preceding week.
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 108.1 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 531,930.
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, 705,313, has recorded 37.78 million cases, placing it in the number five slot.
The other five countries with total case figures over the 20 million mark are South Korea, with 34.44 million cases, as number six; Japan, with 33.8 million cases placing it in the number seven slot; and Italy, with 25.96 million, as number eight, as well as the United Kingdom, with 24.67 million, and Russia, with 22.99 million, as nine and ten respectively.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that, as of August 5, the total number of updated bivalent doses given in the United States was 152.51 million, an increase of 0.1 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 70.5% 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, 13.5 billion doses of the vaccine have been administered on a global basis and 18,118 doses are now administered each day.
Meanwhile, only 32.6% 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 in any significant number.
Anna Breuer contributed reporting to this story.
(Photo: Accura Media Group)