Good morning. This is Jonathan Spira reporting. Here now the news of the pandemic from across the globe on the 1,345th day of the pandemic and the International Day for Tolerance and at no point in recent history do we believe that such a day was more necessary than in 2023 with multiple wars and conflicts across the globe.
The International Day for Tolerance was adopted by the United Nations in 1995 and falls on the 16th of November each year. It is based on a Declaration of Principles of Tolerance adopted by the member states of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization,
Among other things, the declaration affirms that tolerance is neither indulgence nor indifference, it is respect and appreciation of the rich variety of our world’s cultures, our forms of expression, and ways of being human. Tolerance recognizes the universal human rights and fundamental freedoms of others and that people are naturally diverse. Only tolerance can ensure the survival of mixed communities in every region of the globe.
In news we report today, a fourth dose of mRNA vaccine is tied to better outcomes for rheumatic disease patients, Covid notification apps didn’t do very much despite all the hubbub, and New Zealand is experiencing a fifth wave of SARS-CoV-2 cases.
A new study found that people with rheumatic disease who received a fourth mRNA coronavirus vaccine dose had a 41% lower risk of infection and a 65% lower risk of hospitalization or death than those who received only three doses. The study, which was published Wednesday in the journal The Lancet Rheumatology, looked at observational data to determine the risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection, hospital admission, and death among 4,305 patients with systemic autoimmune rheumatic disease.
A team led by researchers at Mass General Brigham concluded that such patients should be encouraged to stay up-to-date with coronavirus mRNA vaccines, including boosters after the primary vaccination series.
Meanwhile, researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention worked with Pennsylvania health officials to determine how effective, if at all, exposure notification apps were during the early days of the pandemic.
The scientists found that, from the end of 2020 to the start of 2021, approximately 5% of the people they surveyed had downloaded a notification app. Of the people who tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 in their survey, only 0.2% of people had installed the app. As a result, the researchers concluded that limited distribution of the apps also limited their usefulness although they concluded that they would be more useful in a tightly knit community such as a college campus.
A new study that looked at two groups of healthcare workers in Massachusetts shows higher levels of antibodies in the group who received both shots at once.
The study, Concurrent Administration of Covid-19 and Influenza Vaccines Enhances Spike-Specific Antibody Responses, which was presented this week at an annual Vaccines Summit in Boston, involved two groups of Massachusetts healthcare workers. One group was comprised of 12 people who received the 2022 bivalent Covid booster and the seasonal influenza shot together, and a second comprised of 30 people who received the two vaccines on different days within the same month.
More people are rolling up their sleeves to get the 2023 coronavirus vaccine. As of Thursday, 39.3 million people – including 3.5 million children – had received the jab, this according to the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control.
New Zealand is currently experiencing a fifth wave of SARS-CoV-2 infections. Case numbers are rising once again as the country heads into summer. Hospitalizations are on the rise as is the death toll.
“The wastewater testing…doesn’t depend on human behaviour, and this is showing a really big uptick in detections of the virus across the country at the moment,” Michael Baker, a Professor in the Department of Public Health, University of Otago, Wellington, told Radio New Zealand earlier in the week.
Now here are the daily statistics for Thursday, November 16.
As of Thursday morning, the world has recorded 697.93 million Covid-19 cases, an increase of .06 million from the previous day, and 6.94 million deaths, according to Worldometer, a service that tracks such information. In addition, just over 669.52 million people worldwide have recovered from the virus, an increase of 0.05 million.
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 Thursday at press time is 21,473,185, an increase of 25,000. Out of that figure, 99.8%, or 21,435,286, are considered mild, and 0.2%, or 37,899, are listed as critical. The percentage of cases considered critical has not changed over the past 12 months.
Since the start of the pandemic, the United States has, as of Thursday, recorded 109.35 million cases, a higher figure than any other country, and a death toll of 1.18 million. India has the world’s second highest number of officially recorded cases, 45 million, and a reported death toll of 533,295.
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 38.6 million total cases.
Brazil, which has recorded the third highest number of deaths as a result of the virus, 706,986, has recorded 38.02 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 34.57 million cases, as number six; Japan, with 33.8 million cases placing it in the number seven slot; and Italy, with 26.28 million, as number eight, as well as the United Kingdom, with just under 24.81 million, and Russia, with 23.2 million, as nine and ten respectively.
CURRENT U.S. COVID STATISTICS AT A GLANCE
In the United States, in the week ending November 4, 2023, the test positivity rate was, based on data released on November 16 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – 8.5%, a figure that is down 0.5 percentage points from the previous 7-day period, while the percentage of emergency department visits that were diagnosed as SARS-CoV-2 was 1.2%, a figure that is down 8.1%.
The number of people admitted to hospital in the United States due to SARS-CoV-2 in the same 7-day period was 14,728, a figure that is down 8% over the past 7-day period. Meanwhile, the percentage of deaths due to SARS-CoV-2 was 2.3%, a figure that was largely unchanged over the same period.
Some 70.6% of the world population has received at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine by Thursday, according to Our World in Data, an online scientific publication that tracks such information. So far, 13.53 billion doses of the vaccine have been administered on a global basis and 8,416 doses are now administered each day.
Meanwhile, only 32.8% 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)