Coronavirus News Briefing – Nov. 30: Omicron Variant Was Already in Europe a Week Ago, Dutch Officials Say

U.S. Death Toll from Covid Hits 800,000 Mark

By Anna Breuer on 30 November 2021
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The Odeon of Herodes Atticus in Athens

Officials in the Netherlands reported that the omicron variant of the coronavirus was in the country more than a week ago. It was found in two individuals who had tested positive for Covid but it was not known if either had been to South Africa.

In the United States, President Joseph Biden addressed the nation Monday evening concerning the new omicron variant.  “This variant is a cause for concern, not a cause for panic,” he said.

New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio announced that the Big Apple had reinstituted an indoor mask advisory for all residents, adding that the city had not yet identified any cases of the omicron variant.

In Washington, D.C., Justice Stephen Breyer rejected a request that the Supreme Court block the vaccine mandate currently being implemented by the Massachusetts hospital system, Mass General Brigham.

Meanwhile, the Greek government became the second in Europe to make coronavirus vaccinations mandatory, albeit only for people over 60.  The move, announced by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, calls for fines for individuals who do not have a vaccination appointment by January 16, 2022.

Finally, Switzerland said it was imposing a ten-day quarantine period on all arrivals from the United Kingdom. The move is likely going to interfere with holiday plans as well as affect the Swiss hotel industry.  A quarantine is also in place for individuals arriving from the Czech Republic, Egypt, Malawi, and the Netherlands.

As of Tuesday morning, the world has recorded 262.6 million Covid-19 cases, an increase of 0.7 million new cases, and over 5.2 million deaths, according to Worldometer, a service that tracks such information. In addition, 236.7 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 80,682, a 4% decrease.  The average daily death toll over the same period is 884, a decrease of 18% over the same period.

In addition, since the start of the pandemic the United States has, as of Tuesday, recorded 49.3 million cases, a higher figure than any other country, and a death toll of 801,326. India has the world’s second highest number of officially recorded cases, almost 34.6 million, and a death toll of 468,980, 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, 614,428, and has just under 22.1 million cases.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that, as of Tuesday, 232.8 million people in the United States – or 70.1% – have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. Of that population, 59.3%, or 196.8 million people, are now fully vaccinated, and the total number of doses that have been dispensed in the United States is now 459.2 million. Breaking this down further, 82.6% of the population over the age of 18 – or 213.2 million people – has received at least a first inoculation and 71.1% of the same group – or 183.3 million people – is fully vaccinated.

Some 54.4% 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, 7.98 billion doses of the vaccine have been administered on a global basis.

Meanwhile, only 5.9% 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)

Accura News

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