Coronavirus Morning News Brief – Oct. 27: Wuhan, Site of First Covid Outbreak, Is in Lockdown, Hospitalizations of Children Surge in New York

Covid Death Toll in U.S. Could Reach 70,000 Without More Vaccination and Booster Shots

By Jonathan Spira on 27 October 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 931st day of the pandemic.

Both I and President Biden may have gotten our bivalent Covid booster shots, but we are in the minority. As a result, the White House is bracing for between 30,000 and 70,000 deaths attributable to the virus come winter.  Nearly all could be preventable by vaccines and other health measures such as improved ventilation, masking, and social distancing, the administration stated.

The low end of the administration’s estimate reflects the current death toll, which is averaging over 350 deaths from Covid per day.  On Wednesday, that figure was 1,125 although the 7-day average is 356.

I try not to be an alarmist but I do take precautions.  Virologists have been riding their virtual horses from Charleston to Lexington, Massachusetts, shouting “the variants are coming, the variants are coming” to no avail.

New immune-evading omicron sublineages, most notably BQ.1.1 and XBB are of the greatest concern even though BA.5 is currently dominant in the United States.  BQ1.1 is likely to overtake BA.5 in the next few weeks and its ability to evade much of the body’s immunity against Covid is likely to cause a new wave of winter cases.

In other news we cover today, Wuhan, the site of the first Covid outbreak, is back under lockdown and hospitalizations of children in New York City are rising dramatically.

UNITED STATES

In New York City, children are visiting hospitals in record numbers presenting respiratory ailments including Covid, RSV, and influenza.  The last time hospitals in the Big Apple saw children in these numbers was at the beginning of the omicron surge around Christmastime last year, a figure confirmed by Dr. Jay Varma, a former city pandemic advisor.

“Last time it was this severe was middle of 1st Omicron surge (Christmas day ’21, in fact),” Varma said on Twitter.

GLOBAL

Chinese officials placed over 800,000 people in Wuhan, the site of the world’s first Covid outbreak in 2019, under lockdown. The move comes as other Chinese cities were sealing up buildings, locking down city districts and throwing millions into lockdown.

Officials in Hong Kong are continuing to ease pandemic-related restrictions and are lifting restrictions on the open hours of restaurants, pubs, and various other similar establishments starting next Thursday.  Meanwhile barbecue sites under government management will also resume operations.

Hong Kong’s financial secretary, Paul Chan, won’t be able to enjoy the extended restaurant hours.  He is stranded in Saudi Arabia after contracting the coronavirus and will remain there for a “short while” to comply with health ordinances.

TRAVEL

Carnival Cruise Line dropped most of its remaining pandemic-induced requirements.  The cruise line no longer requires proof of vaccination or a negative Covid test for sailings of 15 nights or fewer, but all travelers five years of age and older are encouraged to test for Covid three days prior to embarkation.  Passengers on longer sailings must be fully vaccinated or apply for an exemption to the requirement.

Meanwhile, Princess Cruises made similar changes and ended its remaining vaccine and testing requirements for many sailings. The cruise line said in an e-mailed statement that the changes apply “except in destinations where government regulations may vary like Australia and a few enhanced guidelines voyages that have their own vaccination and testing requirements.”

TODAY’S STATISTICS

Now here are the daily statistics for Thursday, October 27.

As of Thursday morning, the world has recorded 634.4 million Covid-19 cases, an increase of 0.9 million cases, and 6.6 million deaths, according to Worldometer, a service that tracks such information. In addition, 613.4 million people worldwide have recovered from the virus, an increase of 0.5 million.

Worldwide, the number of active coronavirus cases as of Thursday at press time is 14,397,043, an increase of 3,000. Out of that figure, 99.7%, or 14,360,789, are considered mild, and 0.3%, or 36,254, are listed as critical.  The percentage of cases considered critical has not changed over the past 24 hours.

The United States reported 80,771 new coronavirus infections on Thursday for the previous day, compared to 25,656 on Wednesday, 38,763 on Tuesday, 6,975 on Monday, according to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  The 7-day incidence rate is now 35,670.  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 37,615, a 4% 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 361, a decrease of 5% over the same period, while the average number of hospitalizations for the period was 26,792, a figure that is unchanged.

In addition, since the start of the pandemic the United States has, as of Thursday, recorded 99.2 million cases, a higher figure than any other country, and a death toll of 1.1 million. India has the world’s second highest number of officially recorded cases, over 44.6 million, and a reported death toll of 528,987.

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 36.7 million, and Germany is in the number four slot, with over 35.4 million total cases.

Brazil, which has recorded the third highest number of deaths as a result of the virus, 687,960, has recorded over 34.8 million cases, placing it in the number five slot.

The other five countries with total case figures over the 20 million mark are South Korea, with 25.4 million cases, the United Kingdom, with 23.9 million cases, placing it in the number seven slot, and Italy, with 23.4 million, as number eight, as well as Japan, with 22.1 million, and Russia, with 21.4 million.

VACCINATION SPOTLIGHT

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that, as of last Thursday, over 265.6 million people in the United States – or 80% – have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. Of that population, 68.2%, or 226.6 million people, have received two doses of vaccine, and the total number of doses that have been dispensed in the United States is now 632.9 million. Breaking this down further, 91% of the population over the age of 18 – or 234.9 million people – has received at least a first inoculation and 78% of the same group – or 201.4 million people – is fully vaccinated.  In addition, 52.3% of that population, or 105.3 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 Thursday by 8 p.m. EDT, a statement on the agency’s website said.

Some 68.4% 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, 12.87 billion doses of the vaccine have been administered on a global basis and 2.21 million doses are now administered each day.

Meanwhile, only 23.5% 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 at or below 10%.

In addition, with the start of vaccinations in North Korea in late September, Eritrea remains the only country in the world that has not administered vaccines.

Anna Breuer contributed reporting to this story.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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