Published on: October 7, 2021
Random and illustrative stories about the global pandemic and how businesses and various business sectors are trying to recover from it, with brief, occasional, italicized and sometimes gratuitous commentary…
• In the US, there now have been 44,918,565 total Covid-19 coronavirus cases, resulting in 727,710 deaths and 34,392,326 reported recoveries.
Globally, there have been 237,189,242 total cases, with 4,842,913 resultant fatalities and 214,330,355 reported recoveries. (Source.)
• The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (*CDC) says that 76.1 percent of the US population age 12 and older has received at least one dose of vaccine, with 65.7 percent being fully vaccinated.
The CDC says that 8.9 percent of the US population age 65 and older has received a vaccine booster shot.
• From Axios:
"COVID-19 cases have been falling across the U.S. for weeks — and now deaths are finally on the decline, too … The Delta wave may truly be behind us, and though unvaccinated people in heavily unvaccinated areas will always remain at risk, getting the virus under control would allow the country as a whole to breathe a little easier this fall."
The story notes that the daily new case rate has dropped by 22 percent in the last two weeks, and "deaths are also falling, by a nationwide average of about 13%. The virus is now killing roughly 1,800 Americans per day.
"Deaths had been rising for the past few weeks even as infections declined. That’s to be expected — deaths are the last number to go up when a new wave sets in, and the last to go down when that wave ebbs."
To put that in context, Axios writes, "A year ago, when no one was vaccinated and the worst wave of the pandemic was just getting started, experts were sounding the alarm because cases had crept up above 50,000.
"To be sitting above 100,000 daily cases now, even after millions of Americans have been vaccinated or have some level of immunity from a previous infection, is a sign of just how transmissible the Delta variant is and how poorly the U.S. has contained it."
• The Washington Post reports that "the White House announced Wednesday that it will buy $1 billion worth of rapid, at-home coronavirus tests to address ongoing shortages, a plan hailed by public health experts who called the move long overdue.
"The actions will quadruple the number of tests available to Americans by December, according to Jeff Zients, the White House coronavirus response coordinator. The news follows Monday’s decision by the Food and Drug Administration to allow the sale of an antigen test from U.S.-based Acon Laboratories.
"The White House expects that decision and the purchase of the additional tests will increase the number of at-home tests to 200 million per month by December."
• Bloomberg reports that Justin Trudeau unveiled a vaccine mandate for federally regulated industries in Canada, following through on an election pledge he made during his successful bid for a third term.
"The prime minister and his deputy, Chrystia Freeland, announced new rules Wednesday requiring passengers age 12 or older on planes, trains and cruise ships within the country to be fully vaccinated as of Oct. 30. Individuals who are in the process of being inoculated will be able to provide proof of a negative Covid-19 test to travel during a transition period, which will end of Nov. 30."
• And, in something of a change of pace, there's a vaccine story that has nothing to do with Covid-19.
The New York Times reports that the World Health Organization (WHO) has approved a malaria vaccine which it says could save tens of thousands of lives in Africa each year.
Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO’s director general, said that it is "recommending the broad use of the world’s first malaria vaccine. This recommendation is based on results from an ongoing pilot program in Ghana, Kenya and Malawi that has reached more than 800,000 children since 2019. This long-awaited malaria vaccine is a breakthrough for science, child health and malaria control. Using this vaccine, in addition to existing tools to prevent malaria, could save tens of thousands of young lives each year."
According to the story, "Malaria is rare in the developed world. There are just 2,000 cases in the United States each year, mostly among travelers returning from countries in which the disease is endemic … In clinical trials, the vaccine had an efficacy of about 50 percent against severe malaria in the first year, but the figure dropped close to zero by the fourth year."
Based on the Covid experience, I think we're pretty lucky that we don't have a lot of malaria in the US, and so don't really have a need for this vaccine. Because even if we did, there no doubt would be people questioning whether malaria is even a thing, whether the media is hyping the mortality rates, and whether vaccine mandates to keep people from dying of malaria and promote broad public health is an abridgment of their individual rights.