Good morning. This is Jonathan Spira reporting. Here now the news of the pandemic from across the globe on the 991st day of the pandemic. This is the special Boxing Day Edition of the Morning News Brief.
Is it perhaps possible that the extreme weather the United States experienced over the past four days was Mother Nature’s way of telling us something?
As the number of cases of Covid, influenza, and RSV rose, it occurred to me that the “once-in-a-generation” winter storm was indeed her way of saying, “stay home to protect yourself from the trifecta of respiratory viruses.”
Mother Nature is the personification of nature in the form of a mother and, as a concept, it is seated between the properly divine and the human.
Does Mother Nature really exist? The jury is out on that but, if she does, it’s quite clear she’s quite angry about what mankind has done to her planet.
As the 1970s commercial tagline went, “It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature.”
In other news we cover today, China’s hospitals are under severe strain from Covid cases for the first time since the start of the pandemic in Wuhan, Chinese shoppers are flocking to Japan to purchase cold medicines due to a shortage at home,
The surge of SARS-CoV-2 cases in China raises the odds of new variants and mutations developing. Every new infection offers a chance for the coronavirus to mutate, and the virus is spreading rapidly there.
Reports from medical staff on the frontline of China’s fight against the current surge in cases indicate that hospitals are “overwhelmed” by patients.
Meanwhile, the surge of cases is putting China’s economy under severe strain and it is impacting factories as well as the consumer goods market.
Finally, shops in Tokyo – including pharmacies – are imposing limits on what cold medicines customers can purchase as shoppers from China panic buy supplies amidst a shortage of drugs in their home country.
China said it will reopen its borders and abandon quarantine requirements after it downgrades its treatment of Covid-19 on January 8. The decision is the country’s last step in shedding three years of its draconian “zero-Covid” policies as it pivots to living with the virus.
The New York State Department of Health, in its Weekly Influenza Surveillance Report, said that there had been a slight decline in the number of new influenza cases for the first time in weeks, although pediatric deaths rose.
Health authorities there confirmed another pediatric death linked to the influenza virus in the current flu season, making the total so far five. The state accounts for 13% of all pediatric flu deaths. Meanwhile, the number of hospitalizations for influenza was down 3% last week.
Now here are the daily statistics for Monday, December 26.
As of Monday morning, the world has recorded 661.9 million Covid-19 cases, an increase of 0.2 million cases, and 6.69 million deaths, according to Worldometer, a service that tracks such information. In addition, 634.4 million people worldwide have recovered from the virus, an increase of 0.2 million.
Worldwide, the number of active coronavirus cases as of Monday at press time is 20,775,665, a decrease of 109,000. Out of that figure, 99.8%, or 20,736,965, are considered mild, and 0.2%, or 38,700, are listed as critical. The percentage of cases considered critical has not changed over the past 24 hours.
The United States reported 3,449 new coronavirus infections on Monday for the previous day, compared to 4,923 on Sunday, 31,370 on Saturday, 157,552 on Friday, and 186,957 on Thursday, according to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The 7-day incidence rate is now 69,933. Figures for the weekend (reported the following day) are typically 30% to 60% of those posted on weekdays due to a lower number of tests being conducted.
The average daily number of new coronavirus cases in the United States over the past 14 days is 67,804, an increase of 3% averaged over the past 14 days, based on data from the Department of Health and Human Services, among other sources. The average daily death toll over the same period is 428, a decrease of -8% over the same period, while the average number of hospitalizations for the period was 40,909, an increase of 12%. In addition, the number of patients in ICUs was 4,920, an increase of 13%.
In addition, since the start of the pandemic the United States has, as of Monday, recorded over 102.2 million cases, a higher figure than any other country, and a death toll of just over 1.1 million. India has the world’s second highest number of officially recorded cases, just under 44.7 million, and a reported death toll of 530,695.
The newest data from Russia’s Rosstat state statistics service showed that, at the end of July, 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 reported that 3,284 people died from the coronavirus or related causes in July, 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 39.2 million, and Germany is in the number four slot, with over 37.2 million total cases.
Brazil, which has recorded the third highest number of deaths as a result of the virus, 692,934, has recorded 36.2million 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 28.7 million cases, Japan, with 28.3 million, placing it in the number seven slot, and Italy, with 25 million, as number eight, as well as the United Kingdom, with 24.1 million, and Russia, with just under 21.8 million.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that, as of Thursday, 268.1 million people in the United States – or 80.8% – have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. Of that population, 69%, or 228.9 million people, have received two doses of vaccine, and the total number of doses that have been dispensed in the United States is now 660.4 million. Breaking this down further, 91.7% of the population over the age of 18 – or 236.8 million people – has received at least a first inoculation and 78.7% of the same group – or 203.2 million people – is fully vaccinated. In addition, 16.8% of the same population, or over 43.4 million people, has already received an updated or bivalent booster dose of vaccine.
Starting on June 13, 2022, the CDC began to update vaccine data on a weekly basis and publish the updated information on Thursdays by 8 p.m. EDT, a statement on the agency’s website said.
Some 68.7% of the world population has received at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine by Monday, according to Our World in Data, an online scientific publication that tracks such information. So far, 13.09 billion doses of the vaccine have been administered on a global basis and 3.06 million doses are now administered each day.
Meanwhile, only 25.1% 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)