Coronavirus Morning News Brief – March 31: Ivermectin Does Not Reduce Risk of Hospitalization Says Study, Biden Calls for More Covid Funding

CDC Ends Pandemic Risk Rating System for Cruise Ships

By Jonathan Spira on 31 March 2022
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Good morning. This is Jonathan Spira reporting. Here now the news of the pandemic from across the globe on the 751st day of the pandemic.

Ivermectin has been touted by multiple celebrities including Joe Rogan and Donald Trump as a remedy for Covid, despite a lack of clinical evidence that it had any effect  There had, however, been no large-scale study that specifically disproved that ivermectin worked against the virus, that is until now.

A large clinical study published in the New England Journal of Medicine made it clear that ivermectin, which has been promoted as an alternative treatment for Covid-19 despite any legitimate research to back it up, shows no signs of alleviating the disease.

The study, entitled “Effect of Early Treatment with Ivermectin among Patients with Covid-19,”  compared over1,300 people who were infected with the coronavirus in Brazil who received either ivermectin or a placebo.  The findings effectively ruled out the drug as a treatment for Covid, the study’s authors said, namely that the administration of ivermectin did not reduce a patient’s risk of hospitalization.

In addition, taking large doses of the drug is dangerous for humans, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The news of the study follows similar results published earlier in the month by researchers at Canada’s McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, who conducted a smaller study.

In other news we cover today, President Biden called for additional funding for the nation’s Covid response, the CDC ended its cruise travel warning system, and Shanghai officials apologized to the city’s residents for not having been “sufficiently prepared” for the surge in cases.

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

UNITED STATES

In a speech from the White House on Wednesday, President Joe Biden urged lawmakers to pass legislation to provide more funding for a Covid-19 response, warning of severe consequences for the nation otherwise because current funding will not be able to support necessary testing beyond June.  He also said that the country will not have sufficient supplies of coronavirus vaccine by the fall to provide boosters to all who are eligible.

“This isn’t partisan, it’s medicine,” Biden said, while urging Congress to act “immediately.”

After his speech, the president received his second booster dose of coronavirus vaccine, after having received his first booster last September.

GLOBAL

A top official in Shanghai said that the city had not been “sufficiently prepared” for the deluge of cases from the omicron subvariant BA.2, terming the response the city’s “toughest challenge.”

“We sincerely accept everyone’s criticism and are working hard to improve,” said Ma Chunlei, the deputy secretary of Shanghai’s government.

Health officials paid compensation to the relatives of an individual who died after taking the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine.  The payment, in the amount of $209,000, was announced Tuesday.  A spokesman for the country’s Centers for Disease Control said that said it was the first time that experts on the island had been able to identify a direct link between the death of a Covid patient and a Covid vaccine.

Millions of people across the globe have received the AstraZeneca vaccine and it is considered to be safe although no medication comes without the possibility of side-effects.

TRAVEL

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ended on Wednesday the tiered system introduced two years ago that publicly rated the risk of taking a cruise relative to the coronavirus pandemic.

“While cruising will always pose some risk of Covid-19 transmission, travelers will make their own risk assessment when choosing to travel on a cruise ship, much like they do in all other travel settings,” a CDCspokesman said in a statement.

The agency’s final rating under the system came on Tuesday, when it rated cruise travel in the Level 2 orange or moderate-risk category.  Moderate risk means that cruise travel was relatively safe for most people except for non-vaccinated travelers, who are at increased risk for severe illness.

The scale ranged from Level 1, which was low, to Level 4, which was very high.

TODAY’S STATISTICS

Now here are the daily statistics for Thursday, March 31.

As of Thursday morning, the world has recorded 487.5 million Covid-19 cases, an increase of 1.5 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, 422.6 million people worldwide have recovered from the virus, an increase of 1.3million.

Worldwide, the number of active coronavirus cases as of Thursday is 58,784,618, an increase of 180,000 from the prior day. Out of that figure, 99.9%, or 58,726,195 are considered mild, and 0.1%, or 58,423 are listed as critical.  The percentage of cases considered critical is largely unchanged over the past 24 hours.

The United States reported 49,503 new coronavirus infections on Thursday for the previous day, compared to 25,528  on Wednesday, 42,000 on Tuesday, 7,498 on Monday, and 12,023 on Sunday, 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 27,621, a 12% 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 702, a decrease of 44% over the same period.

In addition, since the start of the pandemic the United States has, as of Thursday, recorded 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 521,159. Finally, Brazil has recorded the second highest number of deaths as a result of the virus, 659,570, and has seen over 29.9 million cases.  France continues to occupy the number four position with 25.4 million cases, and Germany is in the number five slot with 21.2 million, moving up on Thursday from the number six position.  The United Kingdom, with almost 21.1 million cases, is now number six and is the only other country in the world with a total number of cases over the 20 million mark.

VACCINATION SPOTLIGHT

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that, as of Thursday, over 255.4 million people in the United States – or 76.9% – have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine, a figure that is largely unchanged over the past 24 hours. Of that population, 65.5%, or 217.6 million people, have received two doses of vaccine, and the total number of doses that have been dispensed in the United States is now over 560.4 million. Breaking this down further, 88.3% of the population over the age of 18 – or 228.2 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, 48.3% of that population, or 94 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 Thursday, according to Our World in Data, an online scientific publication that tracks such information.  So far, 11.26 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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