Coronavirus Morning News Brief – Jan. 21: Booster Shots Effective in Fighting Omicron CDC Finds, Mandatory Vaccinations in Austria

France Moves to Lift Some Restrictions, Study Finds Masks Does Reudce Covid Transmission on Flights

By Jonathan Spira on 21 January 2022
  • Share

In breaking news, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that third, or booster, doses of the vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech are 90% effective in preventing individuals infected with the omicron variant of the coronavirus from being hospitalized.

In other news, we cover the mounting death toll from Covid, a law making Covid vaccinations mandatory in Austria, and a plea for people to vaccinate from the son of the Czech singer who died after deliberately exposing herself to the virus.

UNITED STATES

As the death toll from Covid surges in New York City, hospitals and even the medical examiner’s office are scrambling to store the bodies.  Hospitals, the New York Post reported, are shifting the dead between different facilities and there is once again a wait time for cremations and funerals.

Apparel maker Carhartt is facing calls for a boycott after it kept a vaccine mandate for all employees in place following a Supreme Court ruling blocking the Biden administration’s requirement for such action.  The brand is popular with outdoor enthusiasts and in conservative circles, and the boycott is coming from the latter group.  “We put workplace safety at the very top of our priority list and the Supreme Court’s recent ruling doesn’t impact that core value,” the company said in a statement.

GLOBAL

In Austria, the Nationalrat, the country’s lower house of parliament, voted to approve a new measure making vaccinations mandatory for virtually everyone over 18 years of age.  The bill must still pass in the Bundesrat, the upper house, and be signed into law by Bundespräsident Alexander van der Bellen.  It is expected to go into effect on February 1, 2022.

French Premierminister Jean Castex announced that some Covid-related restrictions would be eased starting next month amidst the “clear ebbing” of cases due to the delta variant and a slowing of the omicron variant-fueled surge of cases.  The outdoor mask mandate, capacity restrictions in public venues, and a telecommuting mandate for some will be the first to be eliminated, and Castex said he expects that, by mid-February, when the Omicron-related cases are expected to have peaked, night clubs will be able to reopen and patrons will once again be able to eat and drink in movie theaters and stadiums.

TRAVEL

Starting Saturday, the United States will require essential travelers coming into the United States by land or water to be fully vaccinated and to provide proof of such vaccination, the Department of Homeland Security said.

A study by researchers at Shanghai Jiao Tong University claims that wearing face masks throughout an airplane flight reduces the risk of contracting Covid-19.   The study used simulation to predict how far virus-laden droplets and aerosols could travel on an aircraft and then compared it to actual flights where passengers had caught the coronavirus.  Their model predicted who would and who would not contract the virus in 80% of the cases.

In one flight, the research team found that wearing masks would reduce the number of Covid infections from 12 to one.

SPORTS AND ENTERTAINMENT

The National Broadcasting Company, which owns the U.S. rights to televise the 2022 Winter Olympic Games, will call the action from network studios in Stamford, Connecticut instead of placing the reporters on site in Beijing.  The move came about amidst concerns over the continued spread of the omicron variant of the coronavirus as well as restrictions in place in China for those covering the event.

Jak Rek, the son of Hana Horká, the folk singer who recently died after deliberately contracting the virus, said her death should be a warning for those who resist getting the vaccine.  Horká had exposed herself to family members including her son in order to gain proof of a recent infection in order to then regain access to venues, such as the theater and saunas, closed to the non-vaccinated.

Finally, Covid-19 claimed the life of another celebrity.  Marvin Lee Aday, the pop singer better known as Meat Loaf, succumbed, at the age of 74, to the virus, according to several reports.  “If I die, I die, but I’m not going to be controlled.” Meat Loaf said in an interview with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette last August.  The rocker said that he was “scared to death” of Covid but nevertheless railed against masks and vaccine mandates in the interview.

TODAY’S STATISTICS

Now here are the daily statistics for Friday, January 21.

As of Friday morning, the world has recorded 343.9 million Covid-19 cases, an increase of 3.8 million new cases in the preceding 24 hour period, and just under 5.6 million deaths, according to Worldometer, a service that tracks such information. In addition, 275.2 million people worldwide have recovered from the virus, an increase of 1.8 million.

Worldwide, the number of active cases as of Friday is 61,166,519.  Out of that figure, 99.8%, or 62,982,523, are considered mild, and 0.2%, or 96,004, are listed as critical.  The percentage of cases considered critical was largely unchanged over the past 24 hours.

The United States reported 748,484 new cases on Friday for the previous day, compared with 851,781 on Thursday, 1,178,403 that were on Wednesday, and 712, 051 on Tuesday, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The average daily number of new coronavirus cases in the United States over the past 14 days is 735,652, a 21% increase, based on data from the Department of Health and Human Services, among other sources.  The average daily death toll over the same period is 2,029, an increase of 45% over the same period.

In addition, since the start of the pandemic the United States has, as of Friday, recorded 70.5 million cases, a higher figure than any other country, and a death toll of 883,903. India has the world’s second highest number of officially recorded cases, almost 38.6 million, and a reported death toll of 488,422.  Finally, Brazil has recorded the second highest number of deaths as a result of the virus, 622,251, and has seen almost 23.6 million cases.

VACCINATION SPOTLIGHT

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that, as of Friday, 250 million people in the United States – or 75.3% – have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. Of that population, 63.2%, or 209.8 million people, have received two doses of vaccine, and the total number of doses that have been dispensed in the United States is now 531.9 million. Breaking this down further, 87.2% of the population over the age of 18 – or 225.2 million people – has received at least a first inoculation and 73.7% of the same group – or 190.4 million people – is fully vaccinated.  In addition, 42.4% of that population, or 80,7 million people, has already received a third, or booster, dose of vaccine.

Over 60.3% of the world population has received at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine by Friday, a figure that is up 0.1 percentage point in the past 24 hours, according to Our World in Data, an online scientific publication that tracks such information.  So far, 9.82 billion doses of the vaccine have been administered on a global basis.

Meanwhile, only 9.4% 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. 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.

Anna Breuer contributed to this story.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

Accura News

Read previous post:
American Airlines Records $931 Million Q4 Loss

American Airlines announced financial results for fourth quarter of 2021. The Fort Worth-based carrier reported a $931 million loss for...

Close