Coronavirus Morning News Brief – Jan. 30: WHO Continues Public Health Emergency, 25 People Prison Over Fake Nursing School Diplomas

China Approves Two Domestically Developed Antivirals for Covid

By Jonathan Spira on 30 January 2023
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Park Avenue in the 40s in New York City

Good morning. This is Jonathan Spira reporting. Here now the news of the pandemic from across the globe on the 1,025th day of the pandemic.

The World Health Organization said on Monday that the coronavirus pandemic continues to constitute a public health emergency of international concern, its highest form of alert.

The organization added that the pandemic was likely in a “transition point” that continues to need careful management to “mitigate the potential negative consequences.”

The WHO declared the existence of a global pandemic on March 11, 2020, and the virus has left no nation or territory untouched.  Just under 6.8 million people have died from SARS-CoV-2, and some researchers believe this to be a gross undercount due to questionable reporting from Russia, China, and India among other nations.

Still, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus remains optimistic about what direction the pandemic will take in 2023.

“We remain hopeful that in the coming year, the world will transition to a new phase in which we reduce [Covid-related] hospitalizations and deaths to their lowest possible level,” he said at a separate WHO meeting on Monday.

In other news we cover today, office occupancy in New York City remains far below pre-pandemic levels, China approved two homegrown antivirals for Covid, and 25 people in Florida face 20 years in prison each for handing out 7,500 fake nursing school diplomas.


New York City, the nation’s financial capital, is far from returning to pre-pandemic office occupancy.  In Manhattan, office occupancy moved upward to between 53% to 55% on an average weekday, according to the Partnership for New York City. In November, that figure was at 49%, but the Big Apple is far from achieving pre-pandemic occupancy rates.

Meanwhile, non-vaccinated healthcare workers in New York State will not be allowed to return to their roles prior their dismissal for violating the vaccine mandate.  Governor Kathy Hochul said last week that the overturning of the state’s vaccination mandate did not mean that the fired workers would be allowed back.


The National Medical Products Association, the drug regulatory agency in China, approved two more domestically developed antiviral drugs. The move comes just as the country braces for a possible wave of post-Lunar New Year Covid-19 infections. The oral pills SIM0417, known as Xiannuoxin, and VV116, both target mild-to-moderate symptoms of SARS-CoV-2.

Scientific journal publisher Springer Nature said it launched an investigation to determine how an anti-vax economics professor was able to publish a study in BMC Infectious Diseases, one of its journals.  Economist Mark Skidmore’s study that claimed a potential 280,000 people died after receiving a coronavirus vaccine was based solely on an online study in December 2021 that asked people whether they knew of anyone who had an adverse reaction to a Covid vaccine. Of the 612 people who said they did (out of 2,840 participants), 57 people claimed they knew of someone who died from the jab, which Skidmore then extrapolated to the entire U.S. population, reaching the 280,000 figure.  Springer said it might take “editorial action” after it completes its investigation.

Finally, the Russian embassy in Pyongyang said that the city’s unofficial lockdown is over.  The embassy shared a notice from North Korea’s Foreign Ministry sent to foreign diplomats that said that the “intensified anti-epidemic period”  imposed last Wednesday had ended as of Monday.

Last week, a five-day order of new restrictions was announced to curb a surge in “respiratory viruses.”  The North Korean government, which had declared a dubious victory over the pandemic last year, never officially acknowledged the lockdown.


Three nursing schools in Florida lost their accreditation after it was revealed that they handed out 7,600 fake diplomas.  Siena College, the Palm Beach School of Nursing, and Sacred Heart International Institute reportedly sold over 7,600 fake diplomas in the period 2016 through 2021.  Federal prosecutors have charged 25 people with wire fraud.  Each faces 20 years in prison.


Now here are the daily statistics for Monday, January 30.

As of Monday morning, the world has recorded 674.9 million Covid-19 cases, an increase of 0.1 million cases, and 6.76 million deaths, according to Worldometer, a service that tracks such information. In addition, 647.2 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 Monday at press time is 20,965,810, a decrease of 144,000. Out of that figure, 99.8%, or 20,923,623, are considered mild, and 0.2%, or 42,187, are listed as critical. The percentage of cases considered critical has not changed over the past 24 hours.

The United States reported 4,424 new coronavirus infections on Monday for the previous day, compared to 2,200 on Sunday, 14,171 on Saturday, 31,731 on Friday, and 113,283 on Thursday, according to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The 7-day incidence rate is now 39,588.  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 46,021, a figure down 25% 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 521, a decrease of 8% over the same period, while the average number of hospitalizations for the period was 33,106, a decrease of 23%. In addition, the number of patients in ICUs was 4,205, a decrease of 22% and the test positivity rate is now 11%, an 11% decrease.

In addition, since the start of the pandemic the United States has, as of Monday, recorded over 104.1 million cases, a higher figure than any other country, and a death toll of 1.13 million. India has the world’s second highest number of officially recorded cases, just under 44.7 million, and a reported death toll of 530,740.

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 39.5 million, and Germany is in the number four slot, with 37.7 million total cases.

Brazil, which has recorded the third highest number of deaths as a result of the virus, 696,809, has recorded 36.8 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 32.5 million cases, South Korea, with over 30.1 million cases, placing it in the number seven slot, and Italy, with over 25.4 million, as number eight, as well as the United Kingdom, with 24.3 million, and Russia, with 21.9 million.


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that, as of last Thursday, 268.9 million people in the United States – or 81% – have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. Of that population, 69.2%, or 229.6 million people, have received two doses of vaccine, and the total number of doses that have been dispensed in the United States is now 668.8 million. Breaking this down further, 91.9% of the population over the age of 18 – or 237.4 million people – has received at least a first inoculation and 78.9% of the same group – or 203.7 million people – is fully vaccinated.  In addition, 18.8% of the same population, or over 48.6 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 69.4% of the world population has received at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine by Monday, according to Our World in Data, an online scientific publication that tracks such information.  So far, 13.25 billion doses of the vaccine have been administered on a global basis and 762,248 doses are now administered each day.

Meanwhile, only 26.4% 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 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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