Coronavirus Morning News Brief – June 5: In Japan, Most Continue to Don Masks; Global Aviation Has Recovered 90% Says IATA

The Pandemic Isn’t Giving Up That Easily

By Jonathan Spira on 5 June 2023
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Terminal 5, the home of British Airways at London Heathrow, taken fromn the air

Good morning. This is Jonathan Spira reporting. Here now the news of the pandemic from across the globe on the 1,181st day of the pandemic.


The Pandemic Isn’t Giving Up On Us That Easily

The public health emergency has been declared over and many people are ready to put the coronavirus pandemic in the rear-view mirror, but the pandemic isn’t giving up that easily.

In the first five months of the current year, more than 37,000 people have died from the virus in the United States.  This is the typical death toll we would expect from influenza in the course of an entire year.  Scientists estimate we will continue to see an annual death toll from SARS-CoV-2 of at least 100,000 – without allowing for the intervention of omicron- or delta-variant-like waves.

Furthermore, there’s no possibility at the present time that we can put the brakes on the virus’ continued evolution. Just as we became comfortable with calling the SARS-CoV-2 variants by their Greek letter names such as delta and omicron, the latter began to rapidly mutate into further subvariants such as BA.1, BA.5, and BA.1.1.529, and some of these subvariants mutated further into viruses that render monoclonal antibodies ineffective.  One of those – XBB.1.16 – currently comprises 15% of cases in the United States and it is expected to be the dominant strain by summer (which is a mere weeks away).

As mentioned in these pages in recent days, wastewater surveillance is showing noticeable increases in Covid cases in New York City and elsewhere.

Meanwhile, the elderly, the immunocompromised (a group that includes transplant patients), and those with Long Covid (a category that includes myself) continue to be terrified of contracting the virus because of the havoc it can wreak in our bodies.  Even those not in these categories should continue to maintain a healthy respect for the virus because contracting it could lead to Long Covid whether you want it to or not.

Over the course of the past three years, we’ve developed a remarkable arsenal and toolkit with which to fight the coronavirus.  We can avert serious disease and death thanks to bivalent vaccines (70% effective at preventing hospitalization and death) and Paxlovid or remdesivir (up to 90% effective).

With all this, we should not be expecting 100,000 people to die from SARS-CoV-2 annually, yet somehow there’s a large failure to connect the dots here and ensure everyone’s safety – including the aforementioned groups.

In other news we cover today, most Japanese continue to don face masks even post mandate, the global aviation business has recovered approximately 90% from early pandemic hits and protection from vaccinations against Covid is waning, according to the CDC.


More adults are declining their next coronavirus vaccine booster and may have “relatively little remaining protection,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is warning.  The study looked at some 85,000 hospitalizations of people with “Covid-like illness” in multiple states.

Meanwhile, New York City may be on the brink of a rebound of SARS-CoV-2 cases based on wastewater surveillance data.  All 14 wastewater treatment plants in the Big Apple are currently reporting high concentrations of the virus, according to the NYS Wastewater Surveillance Network’s dashboard.  A “high” ranking translates to 50 or more Covid cases per 100,000 people.

The current increase started at the end of April but has experienced a significant uptick over the past two weeks.


In Japan, while masks are no longer mandatory, just as many Japanese are donning them now as they were two months earlier, 55%, according to a poll by public broadcaster NHK at the end of May.  Only 8% said that they had stopped wearing face masks all together.


The director general of the International Air Transport Association, Willie Walsh, the former head of British Airways’ parent International Airlines Group, said that the recovery of the aviation industry from the initial hits of the pandemic in 2020 and 2021 is at approximately 90%.


Now here are the daily statistics for Monday, June 5.

As of Monday morning, the world has recorded 689.9 million Covid-19 cases, an increase of less than 0.1 million from the previous day, and over 6.88 million deaths, according to Worldometer, a service that tracks such information. In addition, 662.3 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 Monday at press time is 20,687,746, a decrease of 54,000. Out of that figure, 99.8%, or 20,649,978, are considered mild, and 0.2%, or 37,768, are listed as critical. The percentage of cases considered critical has not changed over the past eight months.

The United States reported 72,136 new cases in the period May 4 through May 10, a figure that is down 26% over the same period one week earlier, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The test positivity rate for the week ending May 27 was 6.79%, down from 7.96% in the prior week, according to data from the CDC Respiratory Virus Laboratory Emergency Department Network Surveillance, or RESP-LENS. By comparison, the test positive rate for influenza was 1.77% and, for RSV, that figure was 0.48%.

The death toll from Covid is down 1.3% in week ending May 20, 2023, and the trend in Covid-19 deaths is down 13.3% over the same period.

Finally, the number of hospital admissions from Covid for the week ending May 23 was 8,256, a figure that is down 11% over the preceding 7-day period.

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, starting on May 15, 2023, the Morning News Brief has pressed pause on certain data sets as we assess the update of changes in reporting by U.S. health authorities at the CDC.

Since the start of the pandemic the United States has, as of Monday, recorded over 107.1 million cases, a higher figure than any other country, and a death toll of over 1.16 million. India has the world’s second highest number of officially recorded cases, just under 45 million, and a reported death toll of 531,882.

The newest data from Russia’s Rosstat state statistics service showed that, at the end of July 2022, 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 40.1 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, 702,907, has recorded 37.6 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 33.8 million cases, South Korea, with 31.8 million cases, placing it in the number seven slot, and Italy, with just under 25.9 million, as number eight, as well as the United Kingdom, with 24.6 million, and Russia, with 22.9 million.


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that, as of May 11, over 270.2 million people in the United States – or 81.4% – have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. Of that population, 69.5%, or 230.6 million people, have received two doses of vaccine, and the total number of doses that have been dispensed in the United States is now over 676.7 million. Breaking this down further, 92.23% of the population over the age of 18 – or 238.2 million people – has received at least a first inoculation and 79.1% of the same group – or 204.3 million people – is fully vaccinated.  In addition, 20.5% of the same population, or 53 million people, has already received an updated or bivalent booster dose of vaccine, while 23.7 million people over the age of 65, or 43.3% 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 Thursdays by 8 p.m. EDT, a statement on the agency’s website said.  Starting on May 11, 2023, the CDC pressed pause on reporting new vaccine data, a hiatus it said would end on June 15 of this year.

Some 70.1% 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, 13.41 billion doses of the vaccine have been administered on a global basis and 207,246 doses are now administered each day.

Meanwhile, only 30.1% 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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