Coronavirus Morning News Brief – Aug. 15: Man Who Sold Fake Covid Cures Caught After 3-Year Chase, Healthcare Data Breach

EG.5 is Here: We Can Breathe Easier Now… Or Can We?

By Jonathan Spira on 15 August 2023
  • Share

A sign at the entrace to Los Angeles International Airport

Good morning. This is Jonathan Spira reporting. Here now the news of the pandemic from across the globe on the 1,252nd day of the pandemic.


Hooray! There’s Yet Another New Long Covid Symptom

As many readers of this space know, I don’t just write about Covid and Long Covid. Rather, I am a Long Covid patient, now director of research at the Center for Long Covid Research, and I have been exploring and analyzing my way back to a semblance of health.

It is with mixed emotions that I announce that a new study just revealed a previously unknown symptom of Long Covid.

The study, published in The Lancet, detailed the strange new symptom found on a 33-year-old man.

Alert readers know these common Long Covid symptoms, namely organ damage, severe persistent fatigue, blurry vision, inability to concentrate, brain fog, loss of smell, muscle aches, shortness of breath, pins and needles, and depression and anxiety.

The patient had a six-month history of a “rapid purple discolouration” on his legs. When standing, he told his doctors that his legs would feel progressively heavier and become “tingly, itchy and dusky” in color, adding that a rash would sometimes mysteriously appear on his feet but disappear when he would lie down.

The disorder is known as acrocyanosis, or persistent and extreme blue or cyanotic discoloration. It typically occurs in the hands and feet, but it can also appear across a patient’s nose and ears.

“This was a striking case of acrocyanosis in a patient who had not experienced it before his Covid-19 infection,” said co-author Dr Manoj Sivan, associate clinical professor and honorary consultant in rehabilitation medicine at the University of Leeds, in an interview with Metro, the United Kingdom’s largest freesheet newspaper.

“Patients experiencing this may not be aware that it can be a symptom of Long Covid and dysautonomia, and may feel concerned about what they are seeing,” he told the paper.  “Similarly, clinicians may not be aware of the link between acrocyanosis and Long Covid.”

I’ve had to endure quite a bit but I really don’t wish to join the Blue Man Group at this point in my life.

In other news we cover today, a man who posed as a doctor and sold fake Covid cures was finally caught after a years-long chase, Los Angeles’ school district is telling mildly sick children to come to school, and a data breach by hackers in Colorado is impacting four million people.


In a stunning reversal of what is now the norm in policy since the start of the pandemic, the Los Angeles Unified School District is telling students to come to school even if they have what appears to be a minor cold or sniffles.

Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalhol said that this move is intended to combat high rates of absenteeism which they believe harms a student’s mental health and holds the student back in learning.

A Utah man who reportedly posed as a physician and sold fake cures for SARS-CoV-2 was caught after a three-year hunt.

Gordon Hinter Pedersen sold a “structural alkaline silver” product online, claiming it would prevent Covid-19, in the early days of the pandemic, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Utah said in a statement. Pedersen also claimed in YouTube videos to be a board-certified “Anti-Aging Medical Doctor” with a Ph.D. in immunology and naturopathic medicine, donning a white lab coat and stethoscope in the videos.

An arrest warrant was issued for Pedersen, who is 63 years old, in August 2020 after he failed to appear in federal court on an indictment.  Federal agents caught him “during surveillance,” officials said.

Meanwhile, the healthcare data belonging to millions of Americans was stolen after hackers exploited a zero-day vulnerability in the widely used MOVEit file transfer software operated by IBM.

On Friday, the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing, which administers the state’s Medicaid program, said that it had fallen victim to the MOVEit mass hacks, exposing the data of more than 4 million patients.

Finally, health officials in New York City said that the Big Apple is seeing a spike in new Covid cases and the new sublineage EG.5 continues as the dominant strain in the United States and several other countries.


Plans in England to end rules that allow Pubs to sell takeaway pints have been axed and pubs will continue to be able to sell takeaway pints to customers to help maintain sales in the difficult economy.  Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is said to have been personally involved in making sure the rules allowing takeaway pints stayed in place.

Takeaway pints were first allowed to be sold in the early days of the pandemic when pubs were not allowed to serve guests for on the premises consumption.


Now here are the daily statistics for Tuesday, August 15.

As of Tuesday morning, the world has recorded 693.58 million Covid-19 cases, an increase of 0.02 million from the previous day, and 6.9 million deaths, according to Worldometer, a service that tracks such information. In addition, 665.38 million people worldwide have recovered from the virus, an increase of 0.02 million from the prior 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 Tuesday at press time is 21,297,626, a decrease of 1,900. Out of that figure, 99.8%, or 21,260,267, are considered mild, and 0.2%, or 37,359, are listed as critical. The percentage of cases considered critical has not changed over the past eight months.

The test positivity rate for Covid for the week ending July 29 was 16.66%, up from 13.89% 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 1.26%, down from 1.41%, and, for RSV, that figure was 0.99%, up from 0.66%.

The percentage of deaths due to Covid was 1.1% in the week ending August 5, 2023, a figure that is up 0.1% over the week.

Finally, the number of hospital admissions from Covid for seven days ending July 29 was 9,056, a figure that is up 12.5% over the preceding week.

As of March 25, 2023, the Morning News Brief began to update case data as well as death tolls on a weekly basis.  In addition, as of 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.  Where appropriate, the Morning News Brief has reintroduced data sets are they have become available.

Since the start of the pandemic, the United States has, as of Tuesday, recorded 107.74 million cases, a higher figure than any other country, and a death toll of 1.17 million. India has the world’s second highest number of officially recorded cases, 45 million, and a reported death toll of 531,921.

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 40.14 million, and Germany is in the number four slot, with 38.43 million total cases.

Brazil, which has recorded the third highest number of deaths as a result of the virus, 704,897, has recorded 37.7 million cases, placing it in the number five slot.

The other five countries with total case figures over the 20 million mark are South Korea, with 33.9 million cases, as number six; Japan, with 33.8 million cases placing it in the number seven slot; and Italy, with 25.92 million, as number eight, as well as the United Kingdom, with 24.66 million, and Russia, with 22.98 million, as nine and ten respectively.


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that, as of August 5, the total number of updated bivalent doses given in the United States was 152.5 million, an increase of 8 million doses over the past month.

Older – and no longer updated – data from the CDC shows that over 270.2 million people in the United States – or 81.4% – have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine as of May 11, 2023. 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.

Some 70.5% 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, 13.5 billion doses of the vaccine have been administered on a global basis and 47,617 doses are now administered each day.

Meanwhile, only 32.53% 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 beginning 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)



Accura News