Coronavirus Morning News Brief – June 29: FDA Advisors Recommend Updating Vaccine for Variants, A Surge in Hong Kong

Macau Inches Towards a Lockdown

By Jonathan Spira on 29 June 2022
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A nurse at a N.Y.C. vaccine center waits for a patient

Good morning. This is Jonathan Spira reporting. Here now the news of the pandemic from across the globe on the 811th day of the pandemic.

The next dose of vaccine that you receive may have been reengineered to attack new subvariants of the omicron variant.

A panel of expert advisors recommended on Tuesday that the Food and Drug Administration move to authorize updated coronavirus vaccine booster shots that target some form or forms of the omicron variant that has been dominant in the country over the past few months.

The move came after intense discussion about the future direction of the virus and how to address it.  One top FDA official called it “science at its hardest.”

Two omicron variants, BA.4 and BA.5, viewed together have become dominant in the country.  They were first detected in South Africa six months ago.

In other news we cover, monkeypox is in the headlines, Macau faces a lockdown, and Hong Kong reported a surge in cases.

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

UNITED STATES

In addition to making predictions about the future of the coronavirus vaccines, the Biden administration has had to confront vaccination issues for monkeypox, as cases grow.  The vaccine will be available to individuals who have had multiple recent sexual partners or those in geographic areas where monkeypox is spreading, as opposed to just those with known exposure.

GLOBAL

Macau is inching towards a lockdown after experiencing its worst spike in coronavirus cases.  The news raises the specter that the gambling capital may be once again shuttered in an attempt to contain the spread of the virus.

The special administration region has reported 223 new cases since Sunday, according to government data.  While the figure is small, it represents almost half of the total cases that Macau has detected since the start of the pandemic.

China will end its policy of indicating on digital travel passes whether an individual has recently visited cities with high risk of Covid exposure.  The move is intended to help its ailing travel industry.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong recorded over 2,000 new daily infections for the first time since April. Health officials confirmed 2,004 cases; the last time the figure was over 2,000 was on April 9, when the special administrative region recorded 2,535 new infections.

Former Hong Kong CEO Leung Chun-ying said that the city should negotiate with Beijing to allow an increased number of visitors under a quarantine-free scheme – 40,000 to 50,000, specifically – to cross the border on a daily basis.

TODAY’S STATISTICS

Now here are the daily statistics for Wednesday, June 29.

As of Wednesday morning, the world has recorded 550.9 million Covid-19 cases, an increase of 1.0 million new cases in the preceding 24 hour period, and 6.35 million deaths, according to Worldometer, a service that tracks such information. In addition, 526.5 million people worldwide have recovered from the virus, an increase of 0.7 million.

Worldwide, the number of active coronavirus cases as of Wednesday is 18,056,508, an increase of 234,000. Out of that figure, 99.8%, or 18,019,787, are considered mild, and 0.2%, or 36,721, are listed as critical.  The percentage of cases considered critical is unchanged over the pat 24 hours.

The United States reported 122,495 new coronavirus infections on Wednesday for the previous day, compared to 131,797 on Tuesday, 18,240 on Monday, 46,781 on Sunday, and 118,491 on Saturday, according to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  The 7-day incidence rate continues to be over 100,000 and is now 109,035.  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 108,963, a 3% 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 377, an increase of 17% over the same period, while the average number of hospitalizations for the period was 32,148, a 7% increase.

In addition, since the start of the pandemic the United States has, as of Wednesday, recorded 89 million cases, a higher figure than any other country, and a death toll of 1.04 million. India has the world’s second highest number of officially recorded cases, 43.4 million, and a reported death toll of 525,077.

New data from Russia’s Rosstat state statistics service showed at the end of May that the number of Covid or Covid-related deaths since the start of the pandemic there in April 2020 is now 812,890, giving the country the world’s second highest pandemic-related death toll, after the United States.  Rosstat reported that 11,583 people died from the coronavirus or related causes in April, down from 35,584 in March and from 43,543 in February.

Meanwhile, Brazil now has recorded the third highest number of deaths as a result of the virus, 670,900, and has recorded 32.2 million cases.

France continues to occupy the number four position in total cases with 30.8 million cases, and Germany is in the number five slot with 28 million.  The United Kingdom, with 22.7 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 Wednesday, over 259.4 million people in the United States – or 78.1% – have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. Of that population, 66.9%, or 222.1 million people, have received two doses of vaccine, and the total number of doses that have been dispensed in the United States is now 593.7 million. Breaking this down further, 89.5% of the population over the age of 18 – or 231.2 million people – has received at least a first inoculation and 76.8% of the same group – or 198.4 million people – is fully vaccinated.  In addition, 50.7% of that population, or 100.5 million people, has already received a third, or booster, dose of vaccine.

Starting on June 13, the CDC began to update vaccine data on a weekly basis and publish it on Thursdays by 8 p.m. EDT, a statement on the agency’s website said.

Over 66.9% 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, 12.1 billion doses of the vaccine have been administered on a global basis and 5.09 million doses are now administered each day.

Meanwhile, only 18.6% 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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