Coronavirus Morning News Brief – May 5: Global Death Toll is 15 Million, Says WHO, Secretary of State Blinken Tests Positive

Broadway Attendance Plummets After End of Vaccine Requirements

By Jonathan Spira on 5 May 2022
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Curtain call at “The Little Prince” on Broadway

Good morning. This is Jonathan Spira reporting. Here now the news of the pandemic from across the globe on the 756th day of the pandemic.

The World Health Organization issued startling news Thursday, namely that the global death toll during the pandemic is far in excess of what has been reported.

A total of 14.9 million people died in 2020 and 2021 in excess of what would normally have been expected.  Until now, the death count based on individual reports by countries was 6.9 million.

The WHO said that 20 countries, representing approximately 50% of the global population, accounted for over 80% of the estimated global excess mortality in the course of those two years.  The list of countries includes Brazil, Colombia, Egypt, Germany, India, Indonesia, Iran, Italy, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, the Philippines, Poland, the Russian Federation, South Africa, the United Kingdom, Turkey, Ukraine, and the United States of America.

The excess death toll in many countries was in multiples of official reports.  In Egypt, the WHO figures were eight times as high as the official death toll, while, in Pakistan, it was 12 times.  In Mexico, the excess death toll was double what the government reported.

In other news we cover today, U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken tested positive for the virus after attending the White House Correspondents Dinner, Apple’s iPhone factory in China abruptly stopped ramping up for the iPhone 14 amidst lockdowns, and Broadway attendance plummeted after vaccine restrictions ended.

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

UNITED STATES

The number of reported cases from the White House Correspondents Dinner continued to grow, with the latest being Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, who reportedly exhibited mild symptoms.

In addition to two reporters, staff members from multiple news networks including CBS News, NBC News, CNN, and Politico were among those who apparently contracted the virus there.

Meanwhile, a new subvariant, BA.2.12.1, is spreading rapidly throughout the country.  Figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate that, as of the week ending last Saturday, the new subvariant accounted for 36% of all new cases, up from 26% the prior week.

The new variant descended from BA.2 and is spreading far more rapidly than earlier versions of the omicron variant, which caused a major surge in cases this past winter.

GLOBAL

Health officials in Shanghai reported 13 new Covid-related deaths on Wednesday, down from 16 a day earlier. China’s financial hub also reported 4,390 new local asymptomatic coronavirus cases on Wednesday, down from 4,722 the prior day.

Meanwhile, Beijing, the capital city, now has 518 so-called “outbreak sites” where lockdowns are in force, having added dozens on Wednesday.  Earlier in the week, the city banned indoor dining and shuttered numerous cinemas, malls, and fitness centers.

ENTERTAINMENT

Attendance at Broadway shows plummeted in the first week following the end of a vaccine requirement at most, but not all, Broadway houses.

Broadway grosses fell 15% to $29 million for the week, with attendance only at 75%, compared to the prior week.  In 2019, grosses adjusted for inflation were $38.4 million with 90% of seats filled.

TECH

Apple supplier Foxconn abruptly halted hiring after at its iPhone factory in Zhengzhou after announcing plans to ramp up hiring.  The move follows new lockdown restrictions in Zhengzhou.

TODAY’S STATISTICS

Now here are the daily statistics for Thursday, May 5.

As of Thursday morning, the world has recorded 515.5 million Covid-19 cases, an increase of 0.7 million new cases in the preceding 24 hour period, and almost 6.3 million deaths, according to Worldometer, a service that tracks such information. In addition, 470.2 million people worldwide have recovered from the virus, an increase of 0.7 million.

Worldwide, the number of active coronavirus cases as of Thursday is 38,973,508, a decrease of 23,000 from the prior day. Out of that figure, 99.9%, or 38,933,127, are considered mild, and 0.1%, or 40,381, are listed as critical.  The percentage of cases considered critical is largely unchanged over the past 24 hours.

The United States reported 105,215 new coronavirus infections on Thursday for the previous day, compared to 69,334  on Wednesday, 95,854 on Tuesday, and 15,369  on Monday, according to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  The 7-day incidence rate continues to climb and is now 66,188.  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 65,866, a 54% 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 375, a decrease of 3% over the same period, while the average number of hospitalizations for the period was 17,877, a 19% increase.

In addition, since the start of the pandemic the United States has, as of Thursday, recorded 83.3 million cases, a higher figure than any other country, and a death toll of over 1 million. India has the world’s second highest number of officially recorded cases, 43.1 million, and a reported death toll of 523,975.

New data from Russia’s Rosstat state statistics service showed at the end of April that the number of Covid or Covid-related deaths since the start of the pandemic there in April 2020 is now over 803,000, giving the country the world’s second highest pandemic-related death toll, after the United States.  Rosstat reported that 35,584 people died from the coronavirus or related causes in the month of March, compared to 43,543 in February.

Meanwhile, Brazil now has recorded the third highest number of deaths as a result of the virus, 663,816, and has 30.5 million cases.

France continues to occupy the number four position in total cases with 28.8 million cases, and Germany is in the number five slot with 25.1 million.  The United Kingdom, with 22.1 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, 257.9 million people in the United States – or 77.7% – have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. Of that population, 66.2%, or 219.9 million people, have received two doses of vaccine, and the total number of doses that have been dispensed in the United States is now 577.3 million. Breaking this down further, 89.1% of the population over the age of 18 – or 230.1 million people – has received at least a first inoculation and 76.2% of the same group – or 196.7 million people – is fully vaccinated.  In addition, 49.4% of that population, or 97.2 million people, has already received a third, or booster, dose of vaccine.

Over 65.4% 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, 11.63 billion doses of the vaccine have been administered on a global basis and 9.65 million doses are now administered each day.

Meanwhile, only 15.8% 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.

Only a handful of the world’s poorest countries – Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia and Nepal – have reached the 70% mark in vaccinations. Many countries, however, are under 20% and, in countries such as Haiti, Senegal, and Tanzania, for example, vaccination rates remain in the single digits, if not lower.

In addition, North Korea and Eritrea are now the only two countries in the world that have not administered vaccines.

Anna Breuer contributed to this story.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

Accura News

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