Coronavirus News Briefing – Nov. 15: Surgeon General Issues Warning, N.Y.C. Workers Use Fake Vaccine Cards

By Anna Breuer on 15 November 2021
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A Cathay Pacific aircraft landing at JFK

The U.S. surgeon general said Monday that, if courts continue to block the Biden Administration’s vaccination mandates, it would be “a setback for public health.” The Occupational Health and Safety Administration issued a rule requiring private companies with 100 or more employees to mandate coronavirus vaccinations by January 4, or put weekly testing and mask requirements into place for the non-vaccinated.

In New York, several dozen employees of the Department of Sanitation were suspended for using fake Covid-19 vaccination cards, the New York Times reported.  A spokesman for the department told the paper that the allegations were being taken very seriously.

The Indian government said Monday it would open its borders to fully vaccinated foreigners.  The move, which comes as the number of new Covid cases continues to fall, would allow quarantine-free entry to visitors for the first time in 20 months.  The policy will be in effect for the 99 countries that allow vaccinated Indian travelers.

A Cathay Pacific cargo pilot tested positive for the coronavirus after arriving in Hong Kong from Frankfurt, triggering a lockdown at his place of residence.  The airline will change hotels for its crewmembers and tighten other measures during layovers.  Cargo pilots have been exempt from hotel quarantines upon arrival in Hong Kong but some feel that continuing this policy could derail the city’s efforts to hit mainland China’s zero-Covid target.

As of Monday morning, the world has recorded 254.2 million Covid-19 cases and  5.1 million deaths, according to Worldometer, a service that tracks such information. In addition, 229.8 million people worldwide have recovered from the virus.

The average daily number of new coronavirus cases in the United States over the past 14 days is 80,885, an 11% increase.  The average daily death toll over the same period is 1,133, a change of -16% over the same period.

In addition, since the start of the pandemic the United States has, as of Monday, recorded over 47.9 million cases, a higher figure than any other country, and a death toll of 783,565. India has the world’s second highest number of officially recorded cases, over 34.4 million, and a death toll of 463,655, although experts believe that both numbers are in reality significantly higher.  Finally, Brazil has recorded the second highest number of deaths as a result of the virus, 611,318, and has seen over 21.9 million cases.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that, as of Monday, 226.6 million people in the United States – or 68.3% – have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. Of that population, 58.8%, or 195.1 million people, are now fully vaccinated, and the total number of doses that have been dispensed in the United States is now 440.6 million. Breaking this down further, 81.3% of the population over the age of 18 – or 210 million people – has received at least a first inoculation and 70.5% of the same group – or 182.2 million people – is fully vaccinated.

Some 52.1% of the world population has received at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine, according to Our World in Data, an online scientific publication that tracks such information.  So far, 7.51 billion doses of the vaccine have been administered on a global basis.

Meanwhile, only 4.5% 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 65% of the population has received at least one dose of vaccine. In countries such as Ethiopia, Haiti, Syria, Senegal, Tanzania, and Uganda, for example, vaccination rates remain in the single digits, if not lower.

Figures from the World Health Organization show that well-off countries are vaccinating people at the rate of one person per second, while the majority of poor countries have yet to give a single dose to its citizens.

It is critical that the world do a better job of sharing vaccines with poorer nations.

Sharing vaccines is not merely a form of charity.  Rather, the equitable distribution of vaccines is in every country’s health and economic interest and no country will be able to move past the pandemic until other countries have recovered as well.

Jonathan Spira contributed to this story.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

Accura News

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