Coronavirus Morning News Brief – Sept. 27: New BA.2.75.2 Variant Can Evade Vaccines, U.K. Sees 30% Increase in Cases in One Week

Japan’s Covid Herd Immunity May Be Close to 90% Says Study

By Jonathan Spira on 27 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 901st day of the pandemic.

In news we cover today, reports indicate that the new BA.2.75.2 sublineage of the omicron variant can evade the protection offered by current vaccines and the United Kingdom is heading towards a fall wave of new cases.

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

UNITED STATES

The latest sublineage of the omicron variant, BA.2.75.2, is raising eyebrows and setting off alarms.  Scientists have found it has the ability to evade the immunity provided by current vaccines and it also can’t be neutralized by many of the antiviral drug treatments available.

So far, the new strain has been reported in 47 countries including the United States, where it can be found in 39 states and accounts for less than 1% of all new cases.

So far, the only antibody treatment that will work against BA.2.75.2 is Eli Lilly and Company’s bebtelovimab. This monoclonal antibody treatment is given as an IV infusion to people with mild-to-moderate Covid-19 symptoms who are at high risk of progressing to more severe disease.

Meanwhile, Pfizer and its vaccine partner BioNTech asked the Food and Drug Administration for clearance for a bivalent children’s coronavirus vaccine.   Doses for children in the age group 5 through 11 years old could become available later this year.

GLOBAL

The United Kingdom appears to be heading into a fall wave of Covid cases.  The Zoe Health Study, which tracks over 500,000 people in the country, reported a 30% increase in new cases over the past week, Tim Spector, professor of genetic epidemiology at Kings College London, said in a statement.

“Our current data is definitely showing this is the beginning of the next wave,” Spector said.

Data from the National Health Service correlates a significant, albeit smaller, increase.  NHS data showed that, afterfalling for close to two months, the seven-day average of new cases in England and Wales was up 13% for the week ending September 17 over the week before.

Meanwhile, Japan’s population level immunity to the coronavirus has reached approximately 90% in major population areas following a recent Omicron wave. The level of protection afforded by such immunity is likely to wane in a matter of months, according to a study from the Tokyo Foundation of Policy Research that was published on Tuesday.

TODAY’S STATISTICS

Now here are the daily statistics for Tuesday, September 27.

As of Tuesday morning, the world has recorded 620.9 million Covid-19 cases, an increase of 0.5 million cases, and over 6.5 million deaths, according to Worldometer, a service that tracks such information. In addition, 601.2 million people worldwide have recovered from the virus, an increase of 0.8 million.

Worldwide, the number of active coronavirus cases as of Tuesday is 13,169,143, a decrease of 78,000. Out of that figure, 99.7%, or 13,129,363, are considered mild, and 0.3%, or 39,780, are listed as critical.  The percentage of cases considered critical has not changed over the past 24 hours.

The United States reported 58,520 new coronavirus infections on Tuesday for the previous day, compared to 5,275 on Monday, 8,091 on Sunday, 44,458 on Saturday, 92,729 on Friday, and 107,066 on Thursday, according to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  The 7-day incidence rate is now 52,826.  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 52,539, an 18% 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 417, an increase of 9% over the same period, while the average number of hospitalizations for the period was 29,443, a 15% decrease.

In addition, since the start of the pandemic the United States has, as of Tuesday, recorded just under 98 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, 44.6 million, and a reported death toll of 528,562.

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 35.1 million, although Brazil has recorded the third highest number of deaths as a result of the virus, 685,881, and has recorded 34.7 million cases, placing it in the number four slot.

Germany is in the number five slot with 33 million cases.

The other five countries with total case figures over the 20 million mark are South Korea, with just under 24.7 million cases, the United Kingdom, with over 23.6 million cases, placing it in the number seven slot, and Italy, with 22.4 million, as number eight, as well as Japan, with 21 million, and Russia, with just under 20.9 million.

VACCINATION SPOTLIGHT

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that, as of the past Thursday, over 263.8 million people in the United States – or 79.5% – have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. Of that population, 67.8%, or 224.9 million people, have received two doses of vaccine, and the total number of doses that have been dispensed in the United States is now 616.2 million. Breaking this down further, 90.4% of the population over the age of 18 – or 233.4 million people – has received at least a first inoculation and 77.5% of the same group – or 200.1 million people – is fully vaccinated.  In addition, 51.8% of that population, or 103.7 million people, has already received a first 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 Tuesday, according to Our World in Data, an online scientific publication that tracks such information.  So far, 12.71 billion doses of the vaccine have been administered on a global basis and 3.5 million doses are now administered each day.

Meanwhile, only 22.3% 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)

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