Coronavirus Morning News Brief – Sept. 21: Biden Walks Back ‘Pandemic Is Over’ Comment, October is Ideal Month for Covid Boosters

By Jonathan Spira on 21 September 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 895th day of the pandemic.

October appears to be the ideal window for getting a Covid-19 booster shot and that’s because the protection from the new bivalent booster shots from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna will last through the expected wave of new coronavirus cases in the fall and winter.

White House coronavirus coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha told reporters that the best time to get a newly updated booster is “no later than the end of October for maximum protection,” a timeframe that neatly aligns with the best window in which to get a flu shot.

While many experts are recommending that people get a flu shot at the same time, that decision may come down to whether one wants one sore arm or two after the jabs.   Nonetheless, if one only wants to make a single visit to the doctor’s office or pharmacy, it’s generally safe to get both shots at the same time.

For maximum protection against an influenza wave that is expected to be far more severe than in the past few years, getting a flu shot in October and even early November will more than suffice.

Regardless of the timing, it’s important to get a Covid booster and flu shot in order to avoid severe illness.

In other news we cover today, President Biden partially walked back his “the pandemic is over” comment, advocates for Long Covid patients held a protest in front of the White House, and Canada may drop its vaccination requirement for visitor entry.

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

UNITED STATES

Federal prosecutors charged 47 people with the “brazen” theft of $250 million in pandemic aid meant to be used to feed children.

The Justice Department said that the defendants –  a network of individuals and organizations tied to Feeding Our Future, a Minnesota non-profit group – in some cases obtained federal pandemic funds in the names of children who did not exist and then spent that money on luxury cars, homes, and other personal expenses.

The scheme is the largest to date that officials have uncovered relating to pandemic aid programs.

President Joseph Biden partially walked back his “the pandemic is over” comment made Sunday on the CBS news program “60 Minutes.”  On Tuesday, the president said, effectively, that what he meant was that the situation was no longer as dire as it had been.

On Monday, advocates for patients suffering from Long Covid held a protest in front of the White House.  They called for research, medical treatment, and social services for Long Covid patients and criticized Biden’s remarks.

In New York City, Mayor Eric Adams announced plans to end the vaccine mandate for private businesses at the start of November.  Companies in the Big Apple will be free to continue their own mandates if so desired.  Hizzoner also ended the vaccination mandate for student athletes.  The vaccine mandate for municipal workers including teachers and police orders, however, will continue.

San Francisco has lost more than half of its restaurant-based jobs since the pandemic began, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau.  In 2019, the city had 31,501 food service workers, while, in 2021, there were just 14,201, a decline of 55% in the two-year period.

GLOBAL

A doctor in Hong Kong was arrested and charged with selling coronavirus vaccination exemption certificates without a proper medical diagnosis to three undercover police officers.  The Yau Ma Tei clinic was selling such certificates for 4,000 Hong Kong dollars ($510) and reportedly took in 16 million Hong Kong dollars by doing so.

TRAVEL

Officials in Japan are considering allowing hotels to ban guests who refuse to don face masks and follow other infection-control measures during an outbreak.  The news was first by the Fuji News Network.

Meanwhile, Canada may lift its vaccination requirement for people entering the country.  The move could come as soon as the end of September.  Currently, all visitors must have a full course of coronavirus vaccinations, which translates to two doses of vaccine from either Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson Janssen vaccine.

TODAY’S STATISTICS

Now here are the daily statistics for Wednesday, September 21.

As of Wednesday morning, the world has recorded 618.2 million Covid-19 cases, an increase of 0.4 million cases, and over 6.5 million deaths, according to Worldometer, a service that tracks such information. In addition, 598.2 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 13,529,596, a decrease of 94,000. Out of that figure, 99.7%, or 13,489,426, are considered mild, and 0.3%, or 40,170, are listed as critical.  The percentage of cases considered critical has not changed over the past 24 hours.

The United States reported 51,523 new coronavirus infections on Wednesday for the previous day, compared to 67,366 on Tuesday, 5,259 on Monday, 6,723 on Sunday, 58,549 on Saturday, and 94,168 on Friday, according to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  The 7-day incidence rate is now 57,111.  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 57,322, a 24% 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 413, a decrease of 2% over the same period, while the average number of hospitalizations for the period was 30,990, a 13% decrease.

In addition, since the start of the pandemic the United States has, as of Wednesday, recorded 97.6 million cases, a higher figure than any other country, and a death toll of 1.08 million. India has the world’s second highest number of officially recorded cases, 44.5 million, and a reported death toll of 528,403.

The newest data from Russia’s Rosstat state statistics service showed that, at the end of July, the number of Covid or Covid-related deaths since the start of the pandemic there in April 2020 is now 823,623, giving the country the world’s second highest pandemic-related death toll, behind the United States.  Rosstat reported that 3,284 people died from the coronavirus or related causes in July, down from 5,023 in June, 7,008 in May and 11,583 in April.

Meanwhile, France is the country with the third highest number of cases, with over 34.9 million, although Brazil has recorded the third highest number of deaths as a result of the virus, 685,569, and has recorded over 34.6 million cases, placing it in the number four slot.

Germany is in the number five slot with just under 32.8 million cases.

The other five countries with total case figures over the 20 million mark are South Korea, with 24.5 million cases, the United Kingdom, with 23.6 million cases, placing it in the number seven slot, and Italy, with 22.2 million, as number eight, as well as Japan, with just under 20.8 million, and Russia, with just under 20.6 million.

VACCINATION SPOTLIGHT

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that, as of the past Thursday, over 263.4 million people in the United States – or 79.3% – have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. Of that population, 67.6%, or 224.6 million people, have received two doses of vaccine, and the total number of doses that have been dispensed in the United States is now just under 613 million. Breaking this down further, 90.3% of the population over the age of 18 – or 233.1 million people – has received at least a first inoculation and 77.4% of the same group – or 199.9 million people – is fully vaccinated.  In addition, 51.7% of that population, or 103.4 million people, has already received a third, or booster, dose of vaccine.

Starting on June 13, 2022, the CDC began to update vaccine data on a weekly basis and publish the updated information on Thursdays by 8 p.m. EDT, a statement on the agency’s website said.

Some 67.9% 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, 12.69 billion doses of the vaccine have been administered on a global basis and 3.78 million doses are now administered each day.

Meanwhile, only 22.5% 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.

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 reporting to this story.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

Accura News

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