Coronavirus Morning News Brief – Feb. 25: Senator Retired Due to Long Covid, CDC Advisors Recommend One Booster Per Year for the Elderly

At Least 5 or 6 Members of Congress Have Long Covid, Says Senator

By Jonathan Spira on 25 February 2023
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The Old Senate Chamber in the Capitol

Good morning. This is Jonathan Spira reporting. Here now the news of the pandemic from across the globe on the 1,051st day of the pandemic.

In news we cover today, Senator Jim Inofe said he retired because he had contracted Long Covid, the FDA authorized the country’s first at-home test kit for flu and the coronavirus, and the CDC’s outside advisory panel is recommending just one booster shot per year for older and more vulnerable people.


Jim Inofe, who served in the United States Senate from 1994 to 2023, said his decision to retire was due to his having contracted Long Covid.

Inhofe told the newspaper Tulsa World that some Long Covid symptoms continue to affect him on a daily basis.

During this final term in office, Inofe voted against multiple coronavirus aid packages including the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which received overwhelming approval in the Senate with 90 votes out of 100 in favor.  He also voted against the American Rescue Plan in March 2021.

The 88-year-old former senator did not specify which symptoms he has but he indicated that other senators and congressmen currently in office are also struggling with the symptoms of Long Covid.

“Five or six others have [Long Covid], but I’m the only one who admits it,” he told the Tulsa World.


The Food and Drug Administration authorized the first at-home test kit that can detect both influenza and SARS-CoV-2.  The test kit will eliminate the need for those with a fever and a cough to go to the doctor to find out if it’s one or the other.  Such test kits, including at least one that tests for the flu, Covid, and RSV, or respiratory syncytial virus, are common in Europe, however.

Meanwhile, New York City‘s Department of Citywide Services said earlier this week that $14.1 million worth of pandemic-related supplies from a larger tranche valued at $58.8 million had already been disposed of after they passed their expiration date, and that  an additional $13.7 million in expiring goods were set to be thrown out as well.  This is in addition to the $225 million in gear – including ventilators – that the city sold at a surplus auction for pennies on the dollar.

The New York Times reported that drugmaker Moderna paid $400 million to the National Institutes of Health as a “catch-up payment” for using a molecular stabilizing technique borrowed from government and academic researchers in its mRNA-based coronavirus vaccine. The company has made approximately $36 billion in selling the vaccine since the start of the deadly pandemic.

Finally, an expert advisory panel to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will report that there is not sufficient evidence to recommend more than one coronavirus booster shot per year for older people and those with weakened immune systems, the CDC said Friday.

The Covid-19 working group of the CDC’s Advisory Committee For Immunization Practices lent its support to an annual booster campaign, likely in the fall, and possibly targeted to populations considered at high risk, Dr. Sara Oliver, a CDC official who heads the group, said during a meeting of the agency’s outside advisers.


Officials in Hong Kong said that Hongkongers will still be required to don face masks at hospitals and nursing homes even after the mandate for their use is lifted. Secretary for Health Lo Chung-man made the announcement on Saturday.


Now here are the daily statistics for Saturday, February 25.

As of Saturday morning, the world has recorded 679.5 million Covid-19 cases, an increase of 0.1 million cases, and 6.8 million deaths, according to Worldometer, a service that tracks such information. In addition, 652.3 million people worldwide have recovered from the virus, an increase of 0.1 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 Saturday at press time is 20,402,400, adecrease of 31,000. Out of that figure, 99.8%, or 20,361,852, are considered mild, and 0.2%, or 40,548, are listed as critical. The percentage of cases considered critical has not changed over the past three months.

The United States reported 11,171 new coronavirus infections on Saturday for the previous day, compared to 64,478  on Friday, 127,499 on Thursday, 29,117 on Wednesday, and 8,447 on Tuesday, according to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The 7-day incidence rate is now 35,370.  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 34,518, a figure down 14% 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 328, a decrease of 28% over the same period, while the average number of hospitalizations for the period was 27,951, a decrease of 5%. In addition, the number of patients in ICUs was 3,612, a decrease of 5% and the test positivity rate is now 10%, a figure that is up by 1% over the same period.

In addition, since the start of the pandemic the United States has, as of Saturday, recorded just under 105.2 million cases, a higher figure than any other country, and a death toll of 1.14 million. India has the world’s second highest number of officially recorded cases, 44.7 million, and a reported death toll of 530,764.

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 last reported that 3,284 people died from the coronavirus or related causes in July 2022, 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 39.6 million, and Germany is in the number four slot, with 38.1 million total cases.

Brazil, which has recorded the third highest number of deaths as a result of the virus, 698,928, has recorded 37 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 just under 33.2 million cases, South Korea, with 30.5 million cases, placing it in the number seven slot, and Italy, with just under 25.6million, as number eight, as well as the United Kingdom, with over 24.3 million, and Russia, with 22.2 million.


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that, as of the past Thursday, 269.5 million people in the United States – or 81.2% – have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. Of that population, 69.3%, or just under 230 million people, have received two doses of vaccine, and the total number of doses that have been dispensed in the United States is now 671.6 million. Breaking this down further, 92.1% of the population over the age of 18 – or 237.8 million people – has received at least a first inoculation and 79% of the same group – or 203.9 million people – is fully vaccinated.  In addition, 19.5% of the same population, or 50.3 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 69.7% of the world population has received at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine by Saturday, according to Our World in Data, an online scientific publication that tracks such information.  So far, 13.31 billion doses of the vaccine have been administered on a global basis and 1.05 million doses are now administered each day.

Meanwhile, only 27.7% 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 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.

Paul Riegler contributed reporting to this story.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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