Coronavirus Morning News Brief – July 17: BA.5 Variant ‘Hypercontagious,’ Italy 7th Nation to Have Had 20 Million Cases

Macau Lockdowns to Continue to At Least Friday

By Jonathan Spira on 17 July 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 828th day of the pandemic.

In news we cover today, a new study found that the new BA.5 variant is “hypercontagious” and four times as resistant to current vaccines as prior strains, and Italy became the seventh country to have more than 20 million coronavirus cases since the start of the pandemic mark,

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


The Mayo Clinic’s Vaccine Research Group released a study that shows that the latest omicron variant, BA.5, is considered “hypercontagious” and is four times as resistant to current vaccines as earlier variants.

Still, non-vaccinated individuals have approximately a five times greater chance of contracting the virus than those who are vaccinated and boosted while their chances of hospitalization are 7.5 times higher and chances of death are 14 to 15 times higher, according to Dr. Gregory Poland, the head of the group that conducted the study.

Several casinos in Las Vegas that closed in the spring of 2020 amidst some of the darkest days of the pandemic will not reopen.  Red Rock Resorts, which owns a number of casinos off the Strip, said that the Texas Station, Fiesta Rancho, and Fiesta Henderson will remain shuttered.


Macau’s government said in a statement it would extend the current lockdown of casinos and other businesses to at least Friday, as health and government officials there try to stem the spread of Covid in what is considered the world’s biggest gambling hub.


Now here are the daily statistics for Sunday, July 17.

As of Sunday morning, the world has recorded 567.4 million Covid-19 cases, an increase of 0.7 million new cases in the preceding 24 hour period, and 6.39 million deaths, according to Worldometer, a service that tracks such information. In addition, 538.4 million people worldwide have recovered from the virus, an increase of 0.5 million.

Worldwide, the number of active coronavirus cases as of Sunday is 22,544,290, an increase of 135,000. Out of that figure, 99.8%, or 22,505,235 , are considered mild, and 0.2%, or 39,055, are listed as critical.  The percentage of cases considered critical is unchanged over the pat 24 hours.

The United States reported 21,041 new coronavirus infections on Sunday for the previous day, compared to 166,772  on Saturday, 136,289 on Friday, 191,735 on Thursday, and 183,322 on Wednesday, according to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  The 7-day incidence rate continues to be over 100,000 and is now 128,601.  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 130,073, a 15% 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 420, an increase of 8% over the same period, while the average number of hospitalizations for the period was 40,650, a 20% increase.

In addition, since the start of the pandemic the United States has, as of Sunday, recorded 91.3 million cases, a higher figure than any other country, and a death toll of 1.05 million. India has the world’s second highest number of officially recorded cases, almost 43.8 million, and a reported death toll of 525,709.

New data from Russia’s Rosstat state statistics service showed at the end of May that the number of Covid or Covid-related deaths since the start of the pandemic there in April 2020 is now 812,890, giving the country the world’s second highest pandemic-related death toll, after the United States.  Rosstat reported that 11,583 people died from the coronavirus or related causes in April, down from 35,584 in March and from 43,543 in February.

Meanwhile, Brazil now has recorded the third highest number of deaths as a result of the virus, 675,353, and has recorded 33.3 million cases.

France continues to occupy the number four position in total cases with over 32.9 million cases, and Germany is in the number five slot with 29.7 million.  The United Kingdom, with 23.1 million cases, is now number six and was until Sunday the only other country in the world with a total number of cases over the 20 million mark, while Italyon Saturday crossed that milestone and now has almost 20.1 million cases.


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that, as of Sunday, over 260.7 million people in the United States – or 78.5% – have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. Of that population, 67.1%, or 222.7 million people, have received two doses of vaccine, and the total number of doses that have been dispensed in the United States is now 596.2 million. Breaking this down further, 89.8% of the population over the age of 18 – or 231.8 million people – has received at least a first inoculation and 77% of the same group – or 198.8 million people – is fully vaccinated.  In addition, 51.3% of that population, or 102 million people, has already received a third, or booster, dose of vaccine.

Starting on June 13, 2022, the CDC began to update vaccine data on a weekly basis and publish it on Sundays by 8 p.m. EDT, a statement on the agency’s website said.

Over 66.8% of the world population has received at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine by Sunday, according to Our World in Data, an online scientific publication that tracks such information.  So far, 12.22 billion doses of the vaccine have been administered on a global basis and 5.74 million doses are now administered each day.

Meanwhile, only 19.4% 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.

Paul Riegler contributed to this story.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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