Coronavirus Morning News Brief – April 5: CDC Flip-Flops on Additional Covid Boosters, Bosnian Regional PM Jailed for Embezzlement

Hongkongers Crowd Cemeteries for Ching Ming Tomb Sweeping Festival for First Time Since Start of Pandemic

By Jonathan Spira on 5 April 2023
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A dose of the original Moderna vaccine

Good morning. This is Jonathan Spira reporting. Here now the news of the pandemic from across the globe on the 1,120th day of the pandemic.

In news we cover today, the U.S. flip-flops on a second bivalent booster for older adults and people who are immunocompromised, a new antiviral was authorized for hospitalized SARS-CoV-2 patients receiving artificial respiration, and a Bosnian prime minister is going to jail after embezzling funds related to the purchase of ventilators in the early days of the pandemic.


A hospital patient with Long Covid was able to regain at least one olfactory sense after receiving a pain management injection, according to a CBS News report.  The woman, who was not identified, said on camera “I can smell it” and the ability to do so brought tears to her eyes.  “I just feel like I’m getting my life back,” she added.


Federal regulators will soon approve a second bivalent coronavirus vaccine booster dose tailored for two sublineages of the omicron variant for people over the age of 65 or those with weakened immune systems.  The move will offer extra protection to higher-risk individuals.  The Food and Drug Administration is expected to make an announcement to this effect in the coming weeks, according to several people briefed on the plan.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is also expected to endorse the additional dose, officials told the Washington Post.

The news comes on the heels of an announcement from the CDC that one does is sufficient for the time being for everyone, including those who are at a higher risk of infection.

Meanwhile, the Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday granted emergency-use authorization to Inflarx NV’s monoclonal antibody for the treatment of hospitalized SARS-CoV-2 patients.  The antiviral must be initiated within 48 hours of the patient receiving either invasive mechanical ventilation or extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, known as ECMO..  The antiviral is the first-in-class monoclonal anti-human complement factor C5a antibody vilobelimab


In Hong Kong, thousands of people visited the graves of their ancestors and loved ones on Wednesday to mark the Ching Ming Festival.  This year is the first time the festival was allowed to be observed, due to pandemic restrictions that were in place from 2020 through 2022.

The Ching Ming Festival occurs on the fifteenth day after the spring equinox and honors the dead through tomb sweeping and the burning of paper offerings.

In Bosnia, Fadil Novalić, the prime minister of Bosnia’s autonomous Bosniak-Croat Federation, was sentenced to four years for abuse of office and multiple violations of a law on public tenders.  Two other men were sentenced to up to six years in prison in the case on Wednesday.

The case involves embezzlement in the course of the purchase of what turned out to be defective ventilators for SARS-CoV-2 patients in 2020, via a raspberry processing company.


Now here are the daily statistics for Wednesday, April 5.

As of Wednesday morning, the world has recorded 684.3 million Covid-19 cases, an increase of 0.1 million from the previous day, and 6.83 million deaths, according to Worldometer, a service that tracks such information. In addition, just over 657.3 million people worldwide have recovered from the virus, an increase of 0.1 million from the previous day.

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 Wednesday at press time is 20,205,730, an increase of 40,000. Out of that figure, 99.8%, or 20,165,907 are considered mild, and 0.2%, or 39,823, are listed as critical. The percentage of cases considered critical has not changed over the past five months.

The United States reported 138,481 new cases in the period March 23 through March 29, a figure that is down 16% over the same period one week earlier, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  The death toll for the same period is 1,596, a figure that is down 12%.  The average number of hospital admissions from Covid was 5,673 on April 3, a figure that is down 6% over the preceding 14 days.  Finally, the test positivity rate is6.8%, up 2% over the 14 days preceding March 31

Starting on March 25, 2023, the Morning News Brief began to update case data as well as death tolls on a weekly basis.

In addition, since the start of the pandemic the United States has, as of Wednesday, recorded just under 106.3 million cases, a higher figure than any other country, and a death toll of over 1.15 million. India has the world’s second highest number of officially recorded cases, 44.7 million, and a reported death toll of 530,881.

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 39.8 million, and Germany is in the number four slot, with 38.4 million total cases.

Brazil, which has recorded the third highest number of deaths as a result of the virus, 700,556, has recorded 37.3 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 33.5 million cases, South Korea, with 30.9 million cases, placing it in the number seven slot, and Italy, with 25.7 million, as number eight, as well as the United Kingdom, with 24.4 million, and Russia, with 22.7 million.


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that, as of last Thursday, over 269.9 million people in the United States – or 81.3% – have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. Of that population, 69.4%, or 230.4 million people, have received two doses of vaccine, and the total number of doses that have been dispensed in the United States is now 674 million. Breaking this down further, 92.2% of the population over the age of 18 – or 238.1 million people – has received at least a first inoculation and 79% of the same group – or 204.2 million people – is fully vaccinated.  In addition, 20% of the same population, or 51.6 million people, has already received an updated or bivalent booster dose of vaccine, while 23.1 million people over the age of 65, or 42.1% of that population have also received the bivalent booster.

Starting on June 13, 2022, the CDC began to update vaccine data on a weekly basis and publish the updated information on Wednesdays by 8 p.m. EDT, a statement on the agency’s website said.

Some 69.9% of the world population has received at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine by Wednesday, according to Our World in Data, an online scientific publication that tracks such information.  So far, 13.37 billion doses of the vaccine have been administered on a global basis and 595,139 doses are now administered each day.

Meanwhile, only 29% 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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