Coronavirus Morning News Brief – July 20: Cases in China Hit Two-Month High, CDC Advisors Approve Novavax non-mRNA Vaccine

Woman with Ph.D. Fined for Posing As Doctor to Write Covid Exemption Notes

By Jonathan Spira on 20 July 2022
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A panda at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding

Good morning. This is Jonathan Spira reporting. Here now the news of the pandemic from across the globe on the 832nd day of the pandemic.

In Australia, a woman who has a Ph.D. but claimed to be a medical doctor used her title to write over a thousand exemption letters for 1,000 Australian dollars ($639) each that allowed people to avoid coronavirus tests and vaccine mandates.

Maria Carmela Pau pled guilty to fraudulently posing as a physician and was fined 25,000 Australian dollars on Wednesday.

The scheme allowed her to make over 120,000 dollars by writing 1,200 letters for paying customers.

In court in Queensland, her lawyer argued that Pau held a Ph.D. in professional studies and was entitled to call herself a doctor, but evidence showed that Pau was opposed to coronavirus precautions and had urged people to “end the tyranny” of pandemic restrictions.

The court ruled that Pau “turned a blind eye” to health and safety in her community and “went off on her own crusade.”

In news we cover today, the Novavax coronavirus vaccine moved closer to CDC approval, China is reporting a steep increase in cases, and the BA.5 subvariant is causing significant delays in the movement of raw goods and finished products in China, further exacerbating supply chain woes.

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


The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, which advises the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on vaccine policy, voted on Tuesday to recommend the use of the new Novavax coronavirus vaccine.

Novavax was an early recipient of support by the government’s Operation Warp program.

Unlike the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, which are made with mRNA, the Novavax vaccine has a very different design and contains nanoparticles comprised of proteins from the surface of the coronavirus.


New daily infections in China hit a two-month high.  The majority of new cases were in less-developed areas of the country.

On Tuesday, officials there reported 906 locally-transmitted new cases, the highest daily total since May 20, 2022, and an increase from 643 the prior day.

Gansu, a poor landlocked province in the northwest that borders Inner Mongolia, and Xinjiang recorded 331 cases Tuesday, up from 231 infections logged on Monday.

Meanwhile, hotels in Beijing are temporarily banned from hosting weddings and banquets, even though the nation’s capital has only seen a small number of new cases in recent days.

Finally, the omicron subvariant BA.5 is spreading among Chinese truck drivers responsible for moving both raw materials and finished goods, further exacerbating supply chain woes.

Drivers from numerous cities including Shanghai, Nanjing, and Xiamen, must obtain negative tests for inter-city transportation and the process of obtaining a test and waiting for the result delay the movement of goods by up to seven days.


Now here are the daily statistics for Wednesday, July 20.

As of Wednesday morning, the world has recorded 569.9 million Covid-19 cases, an increase of 1 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, 541.1 million people worldwide have recovered from the virus, an increase of 1 million.

Worldwide, the number of active coronavirus cases as of Wednesday is 22,479,038, a decrease of 11,000. Out of that figure, 99.8%, or 22,438,641, are considered mild, and 0.2%, or 40,397, are listed as critical.  The percentage of cases considered critical is unchanged over the pat 24 hours.

The United States reported 160,871 new coronavirus infections on Wednesday for the previous day, compared to 169,796 on Tuesday, 21,971 on Monday, and 21,041 on Sunday, 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 125,625.  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 124,683, a 24% 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 436, an increase of 33% over the same period, while the average number of hospitalizations for the period was 41,449, a 19% increase.

In addition, since the start of the pandemic the United States has, as of Wednesday, recorded 91.5 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, 43.8 million, and a reported death toll of 525,825.

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, 675,929, and has recorded 33.4 million cases.

France continues to occupy the number four position in total cases with 33.2 million cases, and Germany is in the number five slot with almost 29.9 million.  The United Kingdom, with 23.1 million cases, is now number six and was until Wednesday the only other country in the world with a total number of cases over the 20 million mark, while Italy, on Saturday, crossed that milestone and now has 20.3 million cases.


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that, as of Wednesday, 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 Wednesdays 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 Wednesday, according to Our World in Data, an online scientific publication that tracks such information.  So far, 12.24 billion doses of the vaccine have been administered on a global basis and 4.09 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.

Anna Breuer contributed to this story.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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