Coronavirus Morning News Brief – Aug. 28: Theft of Covid Relief Funds Greatest Fraud in U.S. History, Germany Expects ‘Epidemic Conditions’

FDA to Approve New Bivalent Coronavirus Vaccines This Week

By Jonathan Spira on 28 August 2022
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Schloß Nymphenburg in Munich

Good morning. This is Jonathan Spira reporting. Here now the news of the pandemic from across the globe on the 871st day of the pandemic.

In news we cover today, the misuse of Covid relief funds may turn out to be the one of the largest fraud cases in U.S. history, Germany expects “epidemic conditions” this winter, and Washington, D.C. will require all pupils 12 and older to be vaccinated against the virus.

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

UNITED STATES

The Food and Drug Administration is expected to give the green light to new bivalent coronavirus booster shots this week, making the decision to do so in a manner similar to how it authorizes annual flu shots.  Absent the time to conduct studies on humans, the agency will assess data from other closely related data, such as the performance of earlier iterations of booster shots that targeted older forms of the omicron variant, research in mice, and the profiles of the original coronavirus vaccines.

The misuse of coronavirus pandemic relief funds such as those from the Payroll Protection Program is being called one of the greatest fraud cases in U.S. history and the total sum received by fraudsters could run into the hundreds of billions of dollars. The inspector general of the Small Business Administration said that there have been over 280,000 complaints to the government hotline established for this purpose and some 40,000 are actionable, “which means we have 100 years of work” ahead of us.

On Friday, the U.S. Secret Service seized $286 million in fraudulently obtained pandemic relief funds, it said.

The District of Columbia said it will not allow unvaccinated students to attend school.  Schools will offer no alternative learning options, Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said.  The mandate requires pupils ages 12 and older to be vaccinated against the coronavirus in order to attend school and allows for some religious exemptions upon application.

Meanwhile, a Superior Court judge said that the vaccination mandate the city of Washington, D.C. had imposed on municipal workers earlier in the year was unlawful. The ruling comes after a lawsuit filed by the D.C. Police Union and other police groups in February.  The city said it is reviewing the court’s ruling.

GLOBAL

Germany is preparing for possible “epidemic conditions” this winter amidst signs that the number of new cases will dramatically rise as temperatures outdoors fall, Bundesgesundheitsminister Karl Lauterbach said over the weekend.

Lauterbach told the Welt am Sonntag newspaper that the country is currently seeing between 100 and 150 coronavirus-related deaths per day. “My concern is that this number could go up,” the minister said.

TODAY’S STATISTICS

Now here are the daily statistics for Sunday, August 28.

As of Sunday morning, the world has recorded 605.7 million Covid-19 cases, an increase of 0.5 million cases, and close to 6.49 million deaths, according to Worldometer, a service that tracks such information. In addition, 580.9 million people worldwide have recovered from the virus, an increase of 0.8 million.

Worldwide, the number of active coronavirus cases as of Sunday is 18,325,352, a decrease of 158,000. Out of that figure, 99.8%, or 18,281,919, are considered mild, and 0.2%, or 43,433, are listed as critical.  The percentage of cases considered critical is unchanged over the pat 24 hours.

The United States reported 8,821 new coronavirus infections on Sunday for the previous day, compared to 100,346 on Saturday,  111,303  on Friday, and 174,362 on Thursday, according to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  The 7-day incidence rate is now 89,886.  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 91,485, a 13% 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 481, a decrease of 2% over the same period, while the average number of hospitalizations for the4period was 38,630, a 9% decrease.

In addition, since the start of the pandemic the United States has, as of Sunday, recorded 96 million cases, a higher figure than any other country, and a death toll of 1.09 million. India has the world’s second highest number of officially recorded cases, 44.4 million, and a reported death toll of 527,754.

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 820,307, giving the country the world’s second highest pandemic-related death toll, behind the United States.  Rosstat reported that 4,991 people died from the coronavirus or related causes in June, down from 7,008 in May and from 11,583 in April.

Meanwhile, France is the country with the third highest number of cases, 34.46 million, although Brazil has recorded the third highest number of deaths as a result of the virus, 683,528, and has recorded 34.38 million cases, placing it in the number four slot.

Germany is in the number five slot with over 32 million cases.

The other three countries with total case figures over the 20 million mark are the United Kingdom, with 23.5 million cases, in sixth position, South Korea, with over 22.9 million cases, placing it in the number seven slot, and Italy, with over 21.8 million, as number eight.

Meanwhile, Russia, with 19.4 million recorded cases, will likely cross the 20 million mark within under two weeks.

VACCINATION SPOTLIGHT

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that, as of Sunday, over 262.3 million people in the United States – or 79.1% – have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. Of that population, 67.4%, or 223.9 million people, have received two doses of vaccine, and the total number of doses that have been dispensed in the United States is now 608.9 million. Breaking this down further, 90.1% of the population over the age of 18 – or 232.7 million people – has received at least a first inoculation and 77.3% of the same group – or 199.6 million people – is fully vaccinated.  In addition, 51.6% of that population, or 102.9 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 Thursdays by 8 p.m. EDT, a statement on the agency’s website said.

Some 67.6% 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, 12.56 billion doses of the vaccine have been administered on a global basis and 5.54 million doses are now administered each day.

Meanwhile, only 20.9% 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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