Coronavirus News Briefing – Nov. 13: Appeals Court Upholds Vaccine Mandate Block, Lockdown in Austria

By Paul Riegler on 13 November 2021
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A three-judge panel on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit kept in place its block for a federal mandate that requires all large employers to require their workers to get inoculated against the  coronavirus, stating that the rule “grossly exceeds” the authority of the occupational safety agency that issued it.  The panel held that the companies challenging the mandate were likely to succeed in their claim that it was unlawful overreach.

Meanwhile, a lockdown of the unvaccinated is just days away in Austria.  “We have to tighten the screws again,” said Bundeskanzler Alexander Schallenberg to reporters on Friday, adding that the government would give the “green light” for such a lockdown over the weekend.  The Bundeskanzler had previously called the country’s vaccination rate “shamefully low.”   The measure will keep non-vaccinated individuals at home except for work and essential errands such as food shopping or medical appointments.

Finally, Cuba will soon reopen its international borders as it tries to entice tourists to return.  The island nation’s economy has suffered greatly both as a result of the pandemic and the absence of tourists.

As of Saturday morning, the world has recorded 253.4 million Covid-19 cases and almost 5.1 million deaths, according to Worldometer, a service that tracks such information. In addition, 229.2 million people worldwide have recovered from the virus.

The average daily number of new coronavirus cases in the United States over the past 14 days is 79,234, an 8% increase.  The average daily death toll over the same period is 1,120, a change of -18% over the same period.

In addition, since the start of the pandemic the United States has, as of Saturday, recorded over 47.8 million cases, a higher figure than any other country, and a death toll of 782,933. India has the world’s second highest number of officially recorded cases, over 34.4 million, and a death toll of 463,265, although experts believe that both numbers are in reality significantly higher.  Finally, Brazil has recorded the second highest number of deaths as a result of the virus, 610,935, and has seen over 21.9 million cases.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that, as of Saturday, 225.6 million people in the United States – or 68% – have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. Of that population, 58.7%, or 194.7 million people, are now fully vaccinated, and the total number of doses that have been dispensed in the United States is now 437.4 million. Breaking this down further, 81.1% of the population over the age of 18 – or 209.5 million people – has received at least a first inoculation and 70.4% of the same group – or 181.8 million people – is fully vaccinated.

Some 51.6% of the world population has received at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine, according to Our World in Data, an online scientific publication that tracks such information.  So far, 7.45 billion doses of the vaccine have been administered on a global basis.

Meanwhile, only 4.5% 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 65% of the population has received at least one dose of vaccine. In countries such as Ethiopia, Haiti, Syria, Senegal, Tanzania, and Uganda, for example, vaccination rates remain in the single digits, if not lower.

Figures from the World Health Organization show that well-off countries are vaccinating people at the rate of one person per second, while the majority of poor countries have yet to give a single dose to its citizens.

It is critical that the world do a better job of sharing vaccines with poorer nations.

Sharing vaccines is not merely a form of charity.  Rather, the equitable distribution of vaccines is in every country’s health and economic interest and no country will be able to move past the pandemic until other countries have recovered as well.

Jonathan Spira contributed to this story.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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