FDA Moves to Harmonize Vaccines, Pharmacies Cut Hours Amidst Druggist ShortageFrequent Business Traveler

January 28, 2023

The restaurant Apotek in a hotel situated in a former pharmacy in downtown Reykjavik

Good morning. This is Jonathan Spira reporting. Here now the news of the pandemic from across the globe on the 1,022nd day of the pandemic.

In news we cover today, stigma over the pandemic cost Asian restaurants billions, the FDA moved to harmonize Covid vaccines, and pharmacies are cutting their hours amidst a shortage of druggists.


The Food and Drug Administration moved to harmonize coronavirus vaccines in the country.  A panel of independent experts that advises FDA on its vaccine decisions voted unanimously Thursday to update all Covid-19 vaccines so they contain the same ingredients as the bivalent shots that are now used as booster doses.

Meanwhile, the federal judge who blocked a California law subjecting doctors to disciplinary action for giving patients information about SARS-CoV-2 that the state considers false said there was no established “scientific consensus” about prevention or treatment of the disease, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

The coronavirus is “a disease that scientists have only been studying for a few years, and about which scientific conclusions have been hotly contested,” U.S. District Judge William Shubb of Sacramento wrote Wednesday in a ruling that halted enforcement of the law.

Finally, a study shows that the early pandemic stigma caused by the virus’ origin in Wuhan, China, cost Asian restaurants in the country $7.4 billion in lost revenue.  The study, published last week in the journal Nature Human Behaviour, found that anti-China discrimination in 2020 spilled over to non-Chinese Asian establishments as well.


Some of the biggest pharmacy chains in the United States including CVS and Walmart are cutting pharmacy hours amidst a pharmacist shortage that has plagued large and small drug stores across the country since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.


Donald Trump’s Truth Social social network is struggling to attract large brands and features adverts from Covid miracle cures, alternative medicine, unapproved diet pills, gun accessories, and fake merchandise, as well as those from outright scammers, a study by the New York Times reports.  The posts from members trend towards conspiracy theories, fake cures, and general right-wing grievances.


Now here are the daily statistics for Friday, January 27.

As of Friday morning, the world has recorded 674.4 million Covid-19 cases, an increase of 0.3 million cases, and over 6.75 million deaths, according to Worldometer, a service that tracks such information. In addition, 646.4 million people worldwide have recovered from the virus, an increase of 0.2 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 Friday at press time is 21,242,128, a decrease of 7,000. Out of that figure, 99.8%, or 21,199,589, are considered mild, and 0.2%, or 42,539, are listed as critical. The percentage of cases considered critical has not changed over the past 24 hours.

The United States reported 31,773 new coronavirus infections on Friday for the previous day, compared to 113,283 on Thursday, 31,773 on Wednesday, 32,412 on Tuesday, and 4,953 on Monday, according to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The 7-day incidence rate is now 49,245.  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 46,300, a figure down 24% 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 549, a decrease of 3% over the same period, while the average number of hospitalizations for the period was 34,423, a decrease of 25%. In addition, the number of patients in ICUs was 4,445, a decrease of 20% and the test positivity rate is now 11%, a 15% decrease.

In addition, since the start of the pandemic the United States has, as of Friday, recorded 104.1 million cases, a higher figure than any other country, and a death toll of 1.13 million. India has the world’s second highest number of officially recorded cases, just under 44.7 million, and a reported death toll of 530,739.

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 39.5 million, and Germany is in the number four slot, with 37.7 million total cases.

Brazil, which has recorded the third highest number of deaths as a result of the virus, 696,731, has recorded almost 36.8 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 32.4 million cases, South Korea, with over 30.1 million cases, placing it in the number seven slot, and Italy, with 25.4 million, as number eight, as well as the United Kingdom, with 24.3 million, and Russia, with 21.9 million.


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that, as of Thursday, 268.9 million people in the United States – or 81% – have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. Of that population, 69.2%, or 229.6 million people, have received two doses of vaccine, and the total number of doses that have been dispensed in the United States is now 668.8 million. Breaking this down further, 91.9% of the population over the age of 18 – or 237.4 million people – has received at least a first inoculation and 78.9% of the same group – or 203.7 million people – is fully vaccinated.  In addition, 18.8% of the same population, or over 48.6 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 69.4% 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, 13.25 billion doses of the vaccine have been administered on a global basis and 1.44 million doses are now administered each day.

Meanwhile, only 26.4% 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)

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