Coronavirus Morning News Brief – March 30: FDA Authorizes Second Booster for Some People, Poll Finds Americans Are Less Worried About Covid

Chinese City Apologizes to Residents for Covid Shutdown-Induced Food Shortages

By Jonathan Spira on 30 March 2022
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At at-home coronavirus test

Good morning. This is Jonathan Spira reporting. Here now the news of the pandemic from across the globe on the 750th day of the pandemic.

Just as the omicron subvariant BA.2 has become the dominant strain in the United States (it’s already been the dominant strain across the globe), a new poll shows that fewer Americans are following procedures and recommendations that could reduce the spread of the virus.

The poll, conducted by the Associated Press and the National Opinion Research Center, or NORC, found that 44% of those polled reported that they usually don a face mask in public, down from approximately 66% during the peak of the omicron surge in January.

“Just 25% of Americans are extremely or very worried about themselves or a family member being infected with Covid-19,” the poll’s organizers said in a statement, “while 43% are not at all or not too worried.”

The 25% figure is similar to what was found one month earlier but down from 36% in January during the spike in cases.

The poll also found that, while non-vaccinated Americans are less worried about an infection than those who are vaccinated, they are more concerned than they were a month ago.

In other news we cover today, Hong Kong is running short on coffins as its death toll spirals, the omicron subvariant BA.2 now comprises over 55% of new cases in the United States, and the Food and Drug Administration there authorized second booster doses of vaccine for individuals over the age of 50.

Here’s a look at what has taken place over the past 24 hours

UNITED STATES

The omicron subvariant BA.2 now accounts for more than half of all new cases in the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Tuesday. The appearance of the subvariant in Europe led to a major surge in new cases there and the World Health Organization said last week that BA.2 was the dominant version of omicron across the globe.  As recently as one week ago, the CDC had reported that BA.2 only accounted for one-third of new cases.

The subvariant is even more transmissible that the extremely contagious omicron variant but it has not been shown to cause more severe disease or hospitalizations and existing vaccines have been shown to protect against hospitalization, severe illness, and death.

The Food and Drug Administration gave the green light to second booster shots of Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines Tuesday for everyone 50 years of age and older as well as for people 12 years of age and older with certain immune deficiencies.  The second booster is available to these groups at least four months after the first booster.

A new study published in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly shows that individuals who received a single dose of the Johnson & Johnson Jannsen vaccine and then received a follow-up dose of either the Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech mRNA vaccine were better protected from severe illness and hospitalization during the omicron surge than those who had received an additional dose of the J&J vaccine.

The White House launched a new resource for the pandemic, the website covid.gov.   Covid.gov is a portal that directs individuals to resources for booster shots, free Covid tests, locations to get tested and, if positive, immediately be treated with medication.

GLOBAL

The death toll in Hong Kong has climbed to such a point that the special administrative region is experiencing a shortage of coffins. While the surge of cases has receded since March 3, when over 76,000 new infections were reported, the death toll hit a pandemic high of 266 on March 16 and the 7-day average is currently at 172.   Over 90% of all Covid-related deaths took place in the past 30 days, which is causing a strain on mortuaries, funeral homes, and local government resources.  The total death toll stands at 7,571, according to data from local health officials.

Meanwhile, over 70% of teachers in Hong Kong said they oppose resuming in-person classes starting in mid-April over fears of infection and contagion, a new survey found.  The study, by the Hong Kong Federation of Education Workers, a pro-establishment educators group, polled 1,348 teachers.  Some 85% said that the resumption of classes should be based on the number of new daily cases, which continues to be high following a surge earlier in the month.

Finally, officials in Changchun, the capital of the Covid-hit province of Jilin, apologized to its 8.5 million residents for the food shortages currently taking place due to pandemic-induced shutdowns and virus containment measures.

TODAY’S STATISTICS

Now here are the daily statistics for Wednesday, March 30.

As of Wednesday morning, the world has recorded 486 million Covid-19 cases, an increase of 2.1 million new cases in the preceding 24 hour period, and almost 6.2 million deaths, according to Worldometer, a service that tracks such information. In addition, 421.3 million people worldwide have recovered from the virus, an increase of 3.1 million.

Worldwide, the number of active coronavirus cases as of Wednesday is 58,604,103, a decrease of 996,000 from the prior day. Out of that figure, 99.9%, or 58,545,571 are considered mild, and 0.1%, or 58,532 are listed as critical.  The percentage of cases considered critical is largely unchanged over the past 24 hours.

The United States reported 25,528 new coronavirus infections on Wednesday for the previous day, compared to 42,000 on Tuesday, 7,498 on Monday, 12,023 on Sunday, 33,477 on Saturday, according to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.   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 29,253, a 9% decrease, based on data from the Department of Health and Human Services, among other sources.  The average daily death toll over the same period is 718, a decrease of 42% over the same period.

In addition, since the start of the pandemic the United States has, as of Wednesday, recorded almost 81.7 million cases, a higher figure than any other country, and a death toll of 1 million. India has the world’s second highest number of officially recorded cases, just over 43 million, and a reported death toll of 521,131. Finally, Brazil has recorded the second highest number of deaths as a result of the virus, 659,021, and has seen 29.9 million cases.  France continues to occupy the number four position with 25.3 million cases, and the United Kingdom is in the number five slot with over 20.9 million.  Germany, with 20.9 million total cases, is the only other country in the world with cases over the 20 million mark.

VACCINATION SPOTLIGHT

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that, as of Wednesday, over 255.4 million people in the United States – or 76.9% – have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. Of that population, 65.5%, or 217.4 million people, have received two doses of vaccine, and the total number of doses that have been dispensed in the United States is now over 559.9 million. Breaking this down further, 88.3% of the population over the age of 18 – or 228.1 million people – has received at least a first inoculation and 75.4% of the same group – or 194.8 million people – is fully vaccinated.  In addition, 48.2% of that population, or 93.9 million people, has already received a third, or booster, dose of vaccine.

Over 64.4% of the world population has received at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine by Wednesday, according to Our World in Data, an online scientific publication that tracks such information.  So far, 11.24 billion doses of the vaccine have been administered on a global basis.

Meanwhile, only 14.5% 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 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.

Anna Breuer contributed to this story.

 

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

Accura News

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