Coronavirus Morning News Brief – Aug. 14: Explaining the FDA’s New Covid Testing Guidance, North Korea Ends Masking

By Jonathan Spira on 14 August 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 856th day of the pandemic.

The new guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Prevention and Control on how to handle exposure to the coronavirus are causing confusion in some circles.  Earlier this week, the CDC said that an individual who was exposed to Covid does not have to quarantine if asymptomatic.  Instead, he should don a “high quality mask” for ten days and get tested on day 5.  If that test comes up negative, it’s highly probable there’s no infection.

However, if you are sick with Covid-like symptoms, it’s important to “isolate” and get tested.

The CDC says that, “[I]f your results are negative, you can end your isolation,” but it isn’t quite that simple. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, in a “safety communication” released last week as well, said the following:

“If you have symptoms, you should take another test 48 hours later. If you don’t have symptoms, you should take three tests, each 48 hours apart. Only if all those tests are negative should you consider yourself to be Covid-free.”

Clear?  To paraphrase the words of Tom Lehrer in the song and skit “The New Math,” “Whoever got 1 can stay after the show and clean the erasers.”

The reason for repeated testing is that at-home tests aren’t particularly sensitive to Covid at the beginning of an infection, while a medically-supervised PCR test would test Covid early on.

Hence, the FDA, as well as almost every infectious disease doctor in the land, believe that repeat testing is necessary to clear someone of a possible coronavirus infection.

In other news we cover today, some of the migrants Texas is bussing to New York are testing positive for the coronavirus and South Korea ended its mask mandate.

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

UNITED STATES

A number of the migrants who arrived on Friday in New York City after having been bussed to the Big Apple by Texas Governor Greg Abbott tested positive for Covid upon arrival.  One individual, the city’s immigrant affairs commissioner, Manuel Castro, said, was “very, very sick” and was believed to have been sent to hospital.

GLOBAL

North Korea ended its first-ever face mask mandate as well as other social distancing rules after leader Kim Jong-un declared victory over coronavirus earlier this week, the Korean Central News Agency, the country’s state news agency said on Saturday.  The move comes three months after the hermit nation first acknowledged the outbreak of what it termed “fever cases.”

TODAY’S STATISTICS

Now here are the daily statistics for Sunday, August 14.

As of Sunday morning, the world has recorded 594.9 million Covid-19 cases, an increase of 0.7 million cases, and 6.45 million deaths, according to Worldometer, a service that tracks such information. In addition, 568 million people worldwide have recovered from the virus, an increase of 1.2 million.

Worldwide, the number of active coronavirus cases as of Sunday is 20,467,775, a decrease of 859,000. Out of that figure, 99.8%, or 20,422,164, are considered mild, and 0.2%, or 45,611, are listed as critical.  The percentage of cases considered critical is unchanged over the pat 24 hours.

The United States reported 6,854 new coronavirus infections on Sunday for the previous day, compared to 121,768  on Saturday, 137,589  on Friday, and 175,162 on Thursday, 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 103,649.  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 105,543, a 15% 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 491, an increase of 12% over the same period, while the average number of hospitalizations for the period was 42,555, a 3% decrease.

In addition, since the start of the pandemic the United States has, as of Sunday, recorded 94.7 million cases, a higher figure than any other country, and a death toll of over 1.06 million. India has the world’s second highest number of officially recorded cases, close to 44.3 million, and a reported death toll of 527,037.

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, France is the country with the third highest number of cases, 34.21 million, although Brazil has recorded the third highest number of deaths as a result of the virus, 681,480, and has recorded 34.16 million cases, placing it in the number four slot.

Germany is in the number five slot with 31.5 million cases.

The other three countries with total case figures over the 20,000 mark are the United Kingdom, with over 23.4 million cases, in sixth position, Italy, with almost 21.5 million, in the number seven slot, and South Korea, with over 21.3 million cases, as number eight.

VACCINATION SPOTLIGHT

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that, as of Sunday, over 261.9 million people in the United States – or 78.9% – have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. Of that population, 67.3%, or 223.5 million people, have received two doses of vaccine, and the total number of doses that have been dispensed in the United States is now 606.2 million. Breaking this down further, 90% of the population over the age of 18 – or 232.2 million people – has received at least a first inoculation and 77.2% of the same group – or 199.3 million people – is fully vaccinated.  In addition, 51.4% of that population, or 102.5 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 the updated information on Sundays by 8 p.m. EDT, a statement on the agency’s website said.

Some 67.4% 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, 12.45 billion doses of the vaccine have been administered on a global basis and 6.26 million doses are now administered each day.

Meanwhile, only 20.7% 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 reporting to this story.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

Accura News

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