Coronavirus Morning News Brief – April 26: New Cases in U.S. Hit Two-Month High, Shanghai Fences In Some Residents During Lockdown

White House Begins Major Antiviral Treatment Push

By Jonathan Spira on 26 April 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 747th day of the pandemic.

China’s lockdowns are pummeling the economy and Chinese stock markets as they continue in major cities including Shanghai and as the capital city, Beijing, scrambles to avert a similar fate.

On Tuesday, the yuan traded near a 17-month low.  It was at 6.57 to the U.S. dollar in offshore trading, after having plunged to its lowest level against the greenback since November 2020 on Monday.  The current situation is in sharp contrast to the yuan’s performance in 2021.

Meanwhile, the country’s zero-Covid policy continues to cause major supply chain issues.  Shanghai, the country’s financial and manufacturing capital, has now been in lockdown for a month and multiple attempts to restart manufacturing have failed, in part because of supply chain problems caused by lockdowns in other parts of the country.

In other news we cover today, the United States hit a two-month high in new infections, Beijing will begin mass testing, Shanghai is fencing in some streets and apartment buildings, and the White House is undertaking a major Covid treatment push.

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

UNITED STATES

The Biden administration announced a series of programs that are designed to increase the use of antiviral medications to treat coronavirus cases.  The initiatives will focus on increasing the number of locations where Pfizer’s Paxlovid and Merck’s molnupiravir antivirals are available by at least 50%.  This will include pharmacies, community health centers, urgent care centers, and Veterans Affairs clinics.

To that end, the administration said that it had secured the purchase of 20 million treatment courses of Paxlovid on Monday.

Plans call for increasing the number of “test-to-treat” locations, where eligible patients can receive a Covid test, followed immediately by a prescription and antiviral medication.

GLOBAL

Beijing officials are starting a mass testing program in the city of 22 million people, with an eye towards avoiding Shanghai-style lockdowns.  On Monday, the Beijing government ordered residents in the capital to undergo three rounds of testing in a five-day period.

“The current epidemic situation is severe and complex,” said Tian Wei, a spokesman for Beijing’s Communist Party committee, at a news conference on Tuesday announcing the move.

In Shanghai, which has been under lockdown since March, authorities are installing metal barriers to seal off streets and residential buildings in an attempt to stem the spread of Covid.   The barriers, which are reportedly mesh or thin sheets of metal, were erected at the direction of local authorities, Chinese media outlet Caixin reported.

Cases have started to decline in Shanghai over the past ten days.  City officials there reported 2,472 new cases on Monday, while the number of new infections on April 16 was 3,504, a pandemic-era high.

TODAY’S STATISTICS

Now here are the daily statistics for Tuesday, April 26.

As of Tuesday morning, the world has recorded 510.1 million Covid-19 cases, an increase of 0.4 million new cases in the preceding 24 hour period, and over 6.2 million deaths, according to Worldometer, a service that tracks such information. In addition, 463.5 million people worldwide have recovered from the virus, an increase of 0.9 million.

Worldwide, the number of active coronavirus cases as of Tuesday is 40,428,807, a decrease of 436,000 from the prior day. Out of that figure, 99.9%, or 40,386,448, are considered mild, and 0.1%, or 42,359, are listed as critical.  The percentage of cases considered critical is largely unchanged over the past 24 hours.

The United States reported 74,612 new coronavirus infections on Tuesday for the previous day, compared to 12,816 on Monday, 18,917  on Sunday, 69,827 on Saturday, and 59,094 on Friday, according to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  The 7-day incidence rate is 49,752.  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 49,423, a 53% increase, based on data from the Department of Health and Human Services, among other sources.  The average daily death toll over the same period is 363, a decrease of 32% over the same period.

In addition, since the start of the pandemic the United States has, as of Tuesday, recorded over 82.7 million cases, a higher figure than any other country, and a death toll of over 1 million. India has the world’s second highest number of officially recorded cases, just over 43 million, and a reported death toll of 522,223. Meanwhile, Brazil has recorded the second highest number of deaths as a result of the virus, 662,777, and has just under 30.4 million cases.  France continues to occupy the number four position with over 28.3 million cases, and Germany is in the number five slot with 24.2 million.  The United Kingdom, with over 21.9 million cases, is now number six and is the only other country in the world with a total number of cases over the 20 million mark.

VACCINATION SPOTLIGHT

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that, as of Tuesday, over 257.3 million people in the United States – or 77.5% – have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. Of that population, 66.1%, or 219.4 million people, have received two doses of vaccine, and the total number of doses that have been dispensed in the United States is now 572.8 million. Breaking this down further, 88.9% of the population over the age of 18 – or 229.6 million people – has received at least a first inoculation and 76% of the same group – or 196.3 million people – is fully vaccinated.  In addition, 49.1% of that population, or 96.4 million people, has already received a third, or booster, dose of vaccine.

Over 65.1% 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, 11.54 billion doses of the vaccine have been administered on a global basis and 11.36 million doses are now administered each day.

Meanwhile, only 15.2% 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 to this story.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

Accura News

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