Coronavirus Morning News Brief – July 5: The Problem With Home Testing, ‘Extraordinary’ Number of Cases in England

By Jonathan Spira on 5 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 817th day of the pandemic.

When first introduced, home testing for Covid seemed to be a panacea.  Patients could find out instantly if they were positive for the virus, although negative test resultss may not be quite as accurate.  The problem is that the overwhelming majority of positive home test results are not included in official data. This adds to a problem that existed since the start of the pandemic, namely that not everyone who is positive knows this (given the high number of asymptomatic cases) and not everyone who has symptoms gets tested.

Health officials at the CDC and elsewhere know this is an issue.

“You don’t need to count the raindrops to know how hard it’s raining.”

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the agency’s director, related that she had been told last month by a CDC colleague, when she spoke at a conference in Aspen late last month.

“So we can tell by the half a million to a million PCRs we’re doing every day how we’re doing in areas around the country.”

In essence, experts believe that the official test count could be 10% to 12% of the number of daily cases.  With a 14-day average of over 106,000 new cases, the actual figure would be more like one million new cases per day.  This makes the current surge the second largest since the start of the pandemic, albeit without the high death count that accompanied previous waves.

Despite the foggy count, the two new omicron subvariants, BA.4 and BA.5, have together become the dominant strains in the United States and, in areas outside the Northeast, where they have somewhat subsided, they are spreading like wildfire.

In other news we cover, England is seeing an “extraordinary” number of new cases currently, two vaccines developed in Seattle gained regulatory approval abroad, and many Muslims are nervous about the expected crowds in Mecca for the annual Hajj.

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

UNITED STATES

Two coronavirus vaccines that were developed by drugmakers in Seattle gained approval from regulatory agencies outside the United States last week.

A vaccine developed by the University of Washington will be rolled out in South Korea, while a vaccine linked to HDT Bio won emergency use approval in India.

The UW shot is the first approved medicine that is based on computational protein design.

GLOBAL

In England, the chairman of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, Andrew Pollard, has called for mandatory masking in hospitals.  Over 1,000 people are being admitted to hospital there on a daily basis amidst the sharp rise in Covid cases.

Dr. Pollard, who is also head of the Oxford Vaccine Group, which developed the AstraZeneca jab, said there is an “extraordinary” number of cases at the current time.

“I certainly know more people now who have had Covid than at any time in the past,” he said on the BBC Radio 4’s “Today” program.

With restrictions ended, over one million people are expected to arrive in the city of Mecca for the annual Hajj pilgrimage.  Still, many Muslims across the globe are worried about attending a mass gathering of people while the pandemic continues to rage, and infections continue to rise in many lands.

In Macau, the outbreak of cases hit over 900 as infections continue to spread, leading to the largest outbreak there since the start of the pandemic.  The world’s biggest gambling hub reported 89 new Covid cases on Tuesday and the total of active infections is the highest since mid-June

Just days after Chinese authorities relaxed Covid restrictions in several major cities including Beijing and Shanghai, cases elsewhere are spiking, leading to movement restrictions in 11 cities.   Many of the new cases are in the region around Shanghai including the city of Wuxi in the Jiangsu province, which banned in-restaurant dining and shuttered fitness centers and bars.

In addition, Suzhou municipal officials reported more than 200 new cases on Monday. Since the outbreak was detected on June 26, the Anhui province, where Suzhou is located, has reported more than 1,000 cases.

TODAY’S STATISTICS

Now here are the daily statistics for Tuesday, July 5.

As of Tuesday morning, the world has recorded 555.4 million Covid-19 cases, an increase of 0.9 million new cases in the preceding 24 hour period, and 6.36 million deaths, according to Worldometer, a service that tracks such information. In addition, 530.1 million people worldwide have recovered from the virus, an increase of 0.7 million.

Worldwide, the number of active coronavirus cases as of Tuesday is 18,919,300, an increase of 447,000. Out of that figure, 99.8%, or 18,880,764, are considered mild, and 0.2%, or 38,536, are listed as critical.  The percentage of cases considered critical is unchanged over the pat 24 hours.

The United States reported 35,662 new coronavirus infections on Tuesday for the previous day, compared to 10,402 on Monday, 8,516 on Sunday, 151,929 on Saturday, and 123,718 on Friday, according to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  The 7-day incidence rate is now 92,710.  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 105,754, a 10% 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 389, an increase of 25% over the same period, while the average number of hospitalizations for the period was 33,953, a 12% increase.

In addition, since the start of the pandemic the United States has, as of Tuesday, recorded 89.6 million cases, a higher figure than any other country, and a death toll of 1.04 million. India has the world’s second highest number of officially recorded cases, 43.5 million, and a reported death toll of 525,242.

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, 672,101, and has recorded over 32.5 million cases.

France continues to occupy the number four position in total cases with 31.5 million cases, and Germany is in the number five slot with 28.5 million.  The United Kingdom, with 22.7 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 259.9 million people in the United States – or 78.3% – have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. Of that population, 66.9%, or 222.9million 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, 89.6% of the population over the age of 18 – or 231.5 million people – has received at least a first inoculation and 76.8% of the same group – or 198.5 million people – is fully vaccinated.  In addition, 51.1% of that population, or 101.5 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 Tuesdays by 8 p.m. EDT, a statement on the agency’s website said.

Over 66.7% 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, 12.12 billion doses of the vaccine have been administered on a global basis and 6.08 million doses are now administered each day.

Meanwhile, only 20.2% 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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