Coronavirus Morning News Brief – Jan. 17: Covid During Pregnancy Increases Risk of Maternal Grave Illness and Death, Chinese Economy and Birthrate Stumble

Chinese Doctors Discouraged from Citing Covid on Death Certificates, Says Report

By Jonathan Spira on 17 January 2023
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Pondering the future

Good morning. This is Jonathan Spira reporting. Here now the news of the pandemic from across the globe on the 1,012th day of the pandemic.

In news we cover today, Chinese doctors are being asked not to cite Covid on death certificates according to one report, China’s economy and birthrate both stumbled in 2022, and a new study shows that having Covid during pregnancy increases the risk of grave illness and death to the mother.


A new study shows that pregnant women and their developing babies are at higher risk for severe outcomes if they contract SARS-CoV-2.  The work draws from 12 separate studies in as many countries including the United States and included over 13,000 pregnant women.  Some 2,000 of them had a confirmed or probable case of Covid and their health outcomes were compared to the approximately 11,000 mothers who tested negative.

When compared to pregnant women who did not test positive for Covid, those with an infection were four times more likely to be admitted to an intensive care unit, 15 times more likely to be placed on a ventilator, and seven times more likely to die.  The pregnant women with Covid also were at higher risk for pre-eclampsia, blood clots, and problems from high blood pressure.

In addition, the babies were at far higher risk for preterm birth and low birth weights.

Meanwhile, former President Donald Trump dismissed claims that coronavirus vaccines are unsafe while touting his own role in the development of the vaccines, saying they may have saved 100 million lives. The comments were made during an interview on Monday on the conservative podcast the Water Cooler.


China’s strict “zero-Covid” policies and their abrupt discontinuation resulted in the country’s economy having one of its worst performances in decades.  The economy grew 3% for the year, based on figures released Tuesday, far less than in 2021 and short of the Beijing government’s target of 5.5%.  Other than in 2020, the first year of the pandemic, it was the most disappointing report since 1976, the year in which Mao Zedong died, when the economy declined 1.6%.

Moreover, the population in China decreased as the death toll last year was higher than births.  The government said on Tuesday that 9.56 million people were boron in 2022 while 10.41 died.  It was the first time that deaths outpaced births since the Great Leap Forward, Mao Zedong’s failed economic and social campaign that was also known as the Second Five Year Plan.  The plan was in place from 1958 to 1962 and resulted in widespread famine and death at the time.

Finally, Reuters reported that doctors in China are saying that they are being discouraged from writing Covid-19 on death certificates.  The story quotes a physician at a private hospital who saw a printed notice in the emergency department that said that doctors should “try not to” write Covid-induced respiratory failure on death records.


Now here are the daily statistics for Tuesday, January 17.

As of Tuesday morning, the world has recorded 671.8 million Covid-19 cases, an increase of 0.3 million cases, and 6.73 million deaths, according to Worldometer, a service that tracks such information. In addition, 643.1 million people worldwide have recovered from the virus, an increase of 0.3 million.

The reader should note that infrequent reporting from some sources may appear as spikes in new case figures or death tolls.

Worldwide, the number of active coronavirus cases as of Tuesday at press time is 21,896,321, a decrease of 43,000. Out of that figure, 99.8%, or 21,850,831, are considered mild, and 0.2%, or 45,490, are listed as critical. The percentage of cases considered critical has not changed over the past 24 hours.

The United States reported 8,408 new coronavirus infections on Tuesday for the previous day, compared to 3,735  on Monday, 3,904 on Sunday, 30,115  on Saturday, and 97,230  on Friday, according to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The 7-day incidence rate is now 49,248.  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 59,121, a figure that is flat over the past 14 days, based on data from the Department of Health and Human Services, among other sources.  The average daily death toll over the same period is 562, an increase of 78% over the same period, while the average number of hospitalizations for the period was 42,052, a decrease of 8%. In addition, the number of patients in ICUs was 5,209, a decrease of 4% and the test positivity rate is now 13%, a 17% decrease.

In addition, since the start of the pandemic the United States has, as of Tuesday, recorded 103.6 million cases, a higher figure than any other country, and a death toll of just over 1.12 million. India has the world’s second highest number of officially recorded cases, just under 44.7 million, and a reported death toll of 530,726.

The newest data from Russia’s Rosstat state statistics service showed that, at the end of July, the number of Covid or Covid-related deaths since the start of the pandemic there in April 2020 is now 823,623, giving the country the world’s second highest pandemic-related death toll, behind the United States.  Rosstat reported that 3,284 people died from the coronavirus or related causes in July, down from 5,023 in June, 7,008 in May and 11,583 in April.

Meanwhile, France is the country with the third highest number of cases, with just over 39.4 million, and Germany is in the number four slot, with just under 37.6 million total cases.

Brazil, which has recorded the third highest number of deaths as a result of the virus, 695,461, has recorded just over 36.6 million cases, placing it in the number five slot.

The other five countries with total case figures over the 20 million mark are Japan, with 31.6 million cases, South Korea, with 29.9 million cases, placing it in the number seven slot, and Italy, with 25.4 million, as number eight, as well as the United Kingdom, with 24.2 million, and Russia, with 21.9 million.


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that, as of Thursday, 268.6 million people in the United States – or 80.9% – have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. Of that population, 69.1%, or 229.4 million people, have received two doses of vaccine, and the total number of doses that have been dispensed in the United States is now 666.5 million. Breaking this down further, 91.8% of the population over the age of 18 – or 237.1 million people – has received at least a first inoculation and 78.8% of the same group – or 203.5 million people – is fully vaccinated.  In addition, 18.2% of the same population, or over 46.9 million people, has already received an updated or bivalent 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 69.2% 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, 13.21 billion doses of the vaccine have been administered on a global basis and 1.94 million doses are now administered each day.

Meanwhile, only 25.9% 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 at or below 10%.

In addition, with the start of vaccinations in North Korea in late September, Eritrea remains the only country in the world that has not administered vaccines.

Anna Breuer contributed reporting to this story.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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