Coronavirus Daily News Brief – May 13: A FLiRT variant is now dominant in the United States, New Site Aggregates Long Covid Studies

By Jonathan Spira on 13 May 2024
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Good afternoon. This is Jonathan Spira, director of research at the Center for Long Covid Research, reporting. Here now the news of the pandemic from across the globe on its 1,524th day .

In news we cover today,  one of the FLiRT variants is now the dominant variant in the United States, a new study suggests that heart failure patients who are vaccinated against SARS-CoV-2 have a greater chance of living longer than those who are not, and the man who received a genetically modified pig kidney transplant in March died this past weekend.


On May 13, 2020, an official of the World Health Organization said that the then new coronavirus might never go away and could just join the mix of viruses that kill people around the world every year.

Tourists who considered travel in Europe in the summer of 2020 did so at their own risk, the European Commissioner for Transport Adina-Ioana Valean told reporters.

Hyatt Hotels said it would have to lay off 1,300 workers at the corporate level after the hotelier’s profit plummeted 263% as a result of the first few months of the pandemic.

The British economy contracted by 2% in the first quarter of 2020, according to UK GDP figures. After the figures came out, the country’s finance minister said that a recession was now likely.

Finally, Russia reported more than 10,000 new infections for 11th day running: The country had  the second-highest number of infections in the world as of today’s date four years ago and with a total of 242,271 cases.


The new Long Covid Studies project makes it easy for patients to find such clinical studies that are taking place near their homes. This in turn will make such studies more accessible to those who want to participate in research.

The website is the work of Ezra Spier, a Long Covid patient who also does research on the topic. The new site contains information about at least 500 studies at the present time.


The FLiRT variant KP.2, an offshoot of the omicron variant, is now the dominant variant in the United States with an estimated 28.2% of SARS-CoV-2 cases. In March 2024, it comprised just 1.4% of all cases.

Heart failure patients who are vaccinated against SARS-CoV-2 have an 82% greater likelihood of living longer than those who are not vaccinated, according to research presented today at Heart Failure 2024, a scientific congress of the European Society of Cardiology.

“In this large study of patients with heart failure, Covid-19 vaccination was associated with a lower likelihood of contracting the infection, being admitted to hospital because of heart failure, or dying from any cause during a six-month period compared with remaining unvaccinated,” said Dr. Kyeong-Hyeon Chun, the study’s author who is affiliated with the National Health Insurance Service in Korea.


Richard Slayman, the recipient of the world’s first pig kidney transplant died over the weekend. Slayman underwent the four-hour procedure in March at Massachusetts General Hospital and was discharged from the hospital two weeks later on April 2.

His doctors said that there was no indication that his death was due to the transplant.  At the time of his transplant he had numerous comorbidities, including Type 2 diabetes and heart disease.



In the United States, in the week ending May 4, 2024, the test positivity rate was, based on data released on May 10 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was 3.1%, a figure is up 0.1 percentage points from the previous 7-day period, and the trend in test positivity is +0.1% in the most recent week. Meanwhile, the percentage of emergency department visits that were diagnosed as SARS-CoV-2 was 0.3%, and the trend in emergency department visits is -7.6%.

The number of people admitted to hospital in the United States due to SARS-CoV-2 is no longer being reported as of the end of May. Meanwhile, the percentage of deaths due to SARS-CoV-2 was 0.7%, a figure that is virtually unchanged from the previous period.


Some 70.6% of the world population has received at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine at press time, according to Our World in Data, an online scientific publication that tracks such information.  So far, 13.57 billion doses of the vaccine have been administered on a global basis and 2,691 doses are now administered each day.

Meanwhile, only 32.7% 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 beginning of vaccinations in North Korea in late September, 2023, Eritrea remains the only country in the world that has not administered vaccines in any significant number

Finally, as of April 14, 2024, only Turkmenistan in Central Asia is only state that has not reported any cases of SARS-CoV-2 infections whatsoever, although it is strongly suspected that the virus is present there. Meanwhile, the last territory in the world to have its first ever SARS-CoV-2 infection was Tokelau, a dependency of New Zealand that reported its first five cases on December 21, 2022.

Where Has All the Data Gone?

We regret to inform that, as of April 15, 2024, the Global Daily Statistics data in the Coronavirus Daily News Brief are no longer being updated. Over the past 15 months, as more politicians and governments sought to place SARS-CoV-2 in the rear-view mirror, pandemic data reporting sputtered out and we are now at the point where it is simply not feasible to provide statistically valid case data on a global scale.

We are developing potential new and authoritative sources that we will present once they have been properly vetted, so stay tuned to this space. In the meantime, our Long Covid and pandemic coverage will remain much the same.


Anna Breuer contributed reporting to this issue.

The Coronavirus Daily News Brief is a publication of the Center for Long Covid Research.

If you have Long Covid and need to talk to someone, call the Long Covid Patient Peer Counseling Phone Line, or HOPELINE.  The HOPELINE is our free, confidential support and information service.

☏ 844 LONGCOV (844 566-4268) 

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