Coronavirus Morning News Brief – Feb. 12: Cases Surge in Russia and Brazil, U.S. Omicron Wave is Waning

FDA Delays Decision on Vaccinations for Children Under the Age of 5

By Jonathan Spira on 12 February 2022
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A hall in the Grand Kremlin Palace

The birthday of Abraham Lincoln, one of the most influential presidents in the history of the United States, is today, Saturday, but the coronavirus pandemic doesn’t observe holidays.  Lincoln was born on February 12, 1809 in a one-room log cabin in LaRue County, Kentucky.  His family later moved to the state of Illinois.

Covid cases in the United States are approximately one-sixth of what they were at the peak of the omicron surge a little over three weeks ago on January 18.  Hospitalizations are down as well and the death rate, always a lagging indicator, is first starting to decline.

Meanwhile, the attention of the world may be focused on Russia’s military buildup alone Ukraine’s borders but, at home, the country is facing a record surge in new Covid cases.

In other news we cover,  New York City is firing several thousand municipal employees for refusing to get inoculated against the coronavirus, new infections in Russia are surging thanks to omicron, and intensive care units at hospitals in Brazil are once again overwhelmed.

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

UNITED STATES

The Food and Drug Administration said it was delaying a decision on whether to authorize vaccines from Pfizer and its partner BioNTech for children under the age of 5.  The move came after the two drug companies notified the agency of additional data from an ongoing study.  The FDA said it made the move so it could consider data on a third dose of vaccine, not just the initial two.

“The data that we saw made us realize that we needed to see data from a third dose in the ongoing trial in order to make a determination that we could proceed with doing an authorization,” said Peter Marks, the head of the FDA’s vaccines division.

The Supreme Court rejected an appeal by 15 non-vaccinated New York City municipal employees to stay their dismissal based on religious discrimination.  The city’s vaccine policy does allow for an exemption based on their religious beliefs when an official of a religious has lent support to such beliefs.  Employees who don’t belong to a specific religious group are hence out of luck as are Catholics, given the pope’s endorsement of inoculation against the virus.

Some 3,000 current city employees will be terminated on Monday, which is also Valentine’s Day, unless they get vaccinated over the weekend.

Two new reports showed that non-vaccinated women face additional difficulties and risks during pregnancy and childbirth.  One, published in the Archives of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, found that the coronavirus can invade and destroy the placenta, which is how the mother passes along nutrients to the fetus.  Another, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found that women infected with Covid are 40% more likely to develop serious complications during pregnancy than those who are vaccinated, and observed a higher risk of delivering stillborn babies.

GLOBAL

French President Emmanuel Macron refused a request by the Kremlin in advance of his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin to take a Russian coronavirus test.   The French government declined the test to prevent Russia from getting hold of Macron’s DNA, Reuters reported. An Élysée Palace spokesman refused to comment on this report.

French officials, a spokesman said Friday,  “judged that the conditions that allowed for a shorter distance [between the Macron and Putin during their talks] were not acceptable to us and we chose the other option proposed by the Russian [Covid-19] protocol. That is all.”

The “other option” was greater social distance, namely that of 6 m (almost 20’).  As a result, the two world leaders spent over five hours in one-on-one talks across a table of approximately that length.

Health officials in Russia reported 202,211 new daily coronavirus cases, a pandemic high, on Saturday, a concern in a country where only 54% of the population has received at least one dose of vaccine and only 49% is fully vaccinated.  Only 7.3% of the population has received a booster dose.

Meanwhile, Brazil’s intensive care units are once again overwhelmed by Covid patients as the omicron variant of Covid surges throughout the country.  The number of cases hit a pandemic high on February 3 – over 287,000 – and, although cases have fallen since then, the new daily infection count is still significantly higher than the previous pandemic high in June of 95,000.

TODAY’S STATISTICS

Now here are the daily statistics for Saturday, February 12.

As of Saturday morning, the world has recorded 409.6 million Covid-19 cases, an increase of 2.5 million new cases in the preceding 24 hour period, and 5.82 million deaths, according to Worldometer, a service that tracks such information. In addition, 329.9 million people worldwide have recovered from the virus, an increase of 2.5 million.

Worldwide, the number of active coronavirus cases as of Saturday is 73,946,295.  Out of that figure, 99.9%, or 73,857,967, are considered mild, and 0.1%, or 88,328, are listed as critical.  The percentage of cases considered critical fell is largely unchanged over the past 24 hours.

The United States reported 169,790 new coronavirus infections on Saturday for the previous day, compared to 169,502  on Friday, 228,782 on Thursday, and 194,021  on Wednesday, according to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The average daily number of new coronavirus cases in the United States over the past 14 days is 187,325, a 66% 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 2,474, an decrease of 2% over the same period.

In addition, since the start of the pandemic the United States has, as of Saturday, recorded 79.2 million cases, a higher figure than any other country, and a death toll of 942,006. India has the world’s second highest number of officially recorded cases, 42.6 million, and a reported death toll of 508,012. Finally, Brazil has recorded the second highest number of deaths as a result of the virus, 637,232, and has seen 27.3 million cases.  France now occupies the number four position, with 21.5 million cases, and the United Kingdom is in the number five slot with over 18.2million.

VACCINATION SPOTLIGHT

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that, as of Saturday, 251.8 million people in the United States – or 75.8% – have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. Of that population, 64.3%, or 213.6 million people, have received two doses of vaccine, and the total number of doses that have been dispensed in the United States is now 545.9 million. Breaking this down further, 87.4% of the population over the age of 18 – or 225.7million people – has received at least a first inoculation and 74.5% of the same group – or 192.4 million people – is fully vaccinated.  In addition, 45.9% of that population, or 88.4 million people, has already received a third, or booster, dose of vaccine.

Over 61.7% of the world population has received at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine by Saturday, a figure that is largely unchanged in the past 24 hours, according to Our World in Data, an online scientific publication that tracks such information.  So far, 10.34 billion doses of the vaccine have been administered on a global basis.

Meanwhile, only 10.6% 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. In countries such as Ethiopia, Haiti, Syria, Senegal, Tanzania, and Uganda, for example, vaccination rates remain in the single digits, if not lower.

Anna Breuer contributed to this story.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

Accura News

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