Coronavirus Morning Information Transient – Oct. 9: BA.2.75 Variant Detected in Los Angeles, Germany to Burn Expired Face Masks
Good Morning. This is Jonathan Spira reporting. Here now the news of the pandemic from across the globe on the 913th day of the pandemic.
Observant readers of the Morning News Brief are aware that the number of new coronavirus cases in the United States has been in decline, and it’s a trend one hopes will continue
However, the virus has proven itself to be unpredictable and that prompted Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease specialist, to issue a rather sober warning for us, namely to be prepared and not be surprised if a new and more highly transmissible variant emerges this winter.
“We should anticipate that we very well may get another variant that would emerge, that would elude the immune response that we’ve gotten from infection and/or from vaccination,” the good doctor said at an event with the USC Annenberg Center for Health Journalism last week.
After all, it’s happened several times before and the pandemic is only 913 days old.
Winter always brings a “risk of uptick” as we’ve seen, even though “[I]t looks like we’re [currently] going in the right direction,” he said, ad
“However, I think it would be a bit cavalier to all of a sudden say, ‘We’re completely through with [SARS-Cov-2].’”
Hence, “[W]e shouldn’t be surprised” if this happens.
Part of the message here is to get vaccinated with the new bivalent Covid booster that targets certain omicron variants. It can’t necessarily target ones that haven’t emerged yet, of course, but the mRNA vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech have been shown to provide protection against severe illness and death for other unanticipated sublineages of the virus.
In other news we cover today, new cases in Austria are climbing, Germany will burn 800 million expired face masks, and the BA.2.75 subvariant has landed in Los Angeles.
Health officials in Los Angeles reported the omicron sublineage BA.2.75 has arrived in the region. The strain has been spreading elsewhere in the world, especially in Europe and Asia and now, three specimens have been detected in Los Angeles County.
Scientists believe that the BA.2.75 subvariant evades natural immunity from prior infections as well as the protection afforded by current vaccines. More importantly, it doesn’t respond to some current treatments used for SARS-CoV-2.
The case against a nurse practitioner in Long Island who appears to have issued fake vaccine cards to numerous individuals including 82 educators employed by the New York City Board of Education is growing. Two employees of the nurse, Julie DeVuono, who were arrested with here, have now become witnesses for the prosecution.
The Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office charged DeVuono with providing fake vaccine cards to hundreds of customers, charging adults $220 for each dose marked on the card, as well as $85 for kids. DeVuono is also charged with entering her customers’ names into the New York State Immunization Information system, a felony.
In Brooklyn, a street was renamed after the first New York City teacher died from the coronavirus. Sandra Santos-Vizcaino was a beloved teacher who taught third grade at PS 9 there. At the unveiling of the street sign, City Councilwoman Alexa Aviles said that “[A]ll of Brooklyn will know who she was and the legacy she left behind.”
Austria has seen a significant rise in Covid cases and increases in hospitalizations. Currently, 1,905 people are in hospital with the disease, compared to 826 three weeks ago, a 130% jump, according to data from the Federal Ministry of Health shows.
The Austrian Covid-19 Forecast Consortium is calling for a return to mandatory masking to prevent a significant increase in new cases.
Virologist Dorothee von Laer from the Medical University of Innsbruck criticized the government, saying authorities were once again “too late” to take measures.
“We are now at the last push to reintroduce compulsory masks indoors so that the omicron wave from spring is not repeated,” she told the daily newspaper Kurier.
Meanwhile, in Germany, the Federal Ministry of Health is planning to burn some 800 million face masks purchased in the very early days of the pandemic. The government must dispose of 730 million surgical and 60 million FFP-2 masks that have passed their expiration dates. According to a report in Der Spiegel, Germany spent €6 billion ($5.85 billion) on face covers at the start of the pandemic.
Now here are the daily statistics for Sunday, October 9.
As of Sunday morning, the world has recorded 626.3 million Covid-19 cases, an increase of 0.3 million cases, and 6.6 million deaths, according to Worldometer, a service that tracks such information. In addition, 606.1 million people worldwide have recovered from the virus, an increase of 0.4 million.
Worldwide, the number of active coronavirus cases as of Sunday is 13,854,069 13,935,005, a decrease of 81,000. Out of that figure, 99.7%, or 13,815,384, are considered mild, and 0.3%, or 38,685, are listed as critical. The percentage of cases considered critical has not changed over the past 24 hours.
The United States reported 4,247 new coronavirus infections on Sunday for the previous day, compared to 34,654 on Saturday, 73,751 on Friday, and 80,585 on Thursday, according to data from the US Department of Health and Human Services. The 7-day incidence rate is now 40,436. 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 40,150, a 26% decrease, based on data from the Department of Health and Human Services, among other sources. The average daily death toll over the same period is 382, a decrease of 11% over the same period, while the average number of hospitalizations for the period was 26,858, a 10% decrease.
In addition, since the start of the pandemic the United States has, as of Sunday, recorded 98.5 million cases, a figure higher than any other country, and a death toll of just under 1.09 million. India has the world’s second highest number of officially recorded cases, 44.6 million, and a reported death toll of 528,799.
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 reported that 3,284 people died from the coronavirus or related causes in July, 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 35.8 million, although Brazil has recorded the third highest number of deaths as a result of the virus, 686,895, and has recorded just under 34.8million cases, placing it in the number four slot.
Germany is in the number five slot with over 33.9 million cases.
The other five countries with total case figures over the 20 million mark are South Korea, with just under 25million cases, the United Kingdom, with 23.7 million cases, placing it in the number seven slot, and Italy, with 22.8million, as number eight , as well as Japan, with 21.5 million, and Russia, with 21.2 million.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that, as of the Thursday, over 264.6 million people in the United States – or 79.7% – have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. Of that population, 68%, or 225.9 million people, have received two doses of vaccine, and the total number of doses that have been dispensed in the United States is now 624.2 million. Breaking this down further, 90.6% of the population over the age of 18 – or 234 million people – has received at least a first inoculation and 77.9% of the same group – or 200.9 million people – is fully vaccinated. In addition, 52.1% of that population, or 104.7 million people, has already received a first 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 pm EDT, a statement on the agency’s website said.
Some 68.2% of the world population has received at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine by Sunday, according to Our World in Data, an online scientific publication that tracks such information. So far, 12.79 billion doses of the vaccine have been administered on a global basis and 4.55 million doses are now administered each day.
Meanwhile, only 22.9% 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)