Published on: October 11, 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…
• Here are the updated US Covid-19 coronavirus numbers: 45,204,373 total cases … 733,575 deaths … and 34,664,963 reported recoveries.
The global numbers: 238,724,799 total cases … 4,868,939 fatalities … and 215,893,129 reported recoveries. (Source.)
• The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that 76.4 percent of the US population age 12 and older has received at least one dose of vaccine, with 66 percent of that group being fully vaccinated.
The CDC also says that 10.9 percent of the US population age 65 and older has received a vaccination booster shot.
• The New York Times reports that "Moderna, whose coronavirus vaccine appears to be the world’s best defense against Covid-19, has been supplying its shots almost exclusively to wealthy nations, keeping poorer countries waiting and earning billions in profit … About one million doses of Moderna’s vaccine have gone to countries that the World Bank classifies as low income. By contrast, 8.4 million Pfizer doses and about 25 million single-shot Johnson & Johnson doses have gone to those countries.
"Of the handful of middle-income countries that have reached deals to buy Moderna’s shots, most have not yet received any doses, and at least three have had to pay more than the United States or European Union did, according to government officials in those countries."
The Times goes on: "Unlike Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca, which have diverse rosters of drugs and other products, Moderna sells only the Covid vaccine. The Massachusetts company’s future hinges on the commercial success of its vaccine … Moderna executives have said that they are doing all they can to make as many doses as possible as quickly as possible but that their production capacity remains limited. All of the doses they produce this year are filling existing orders from governments like the European Union."
The Times quotes former CDC head Dr. Tom Frieden as saying, “They are behaving as if they have absolutely no responsibility beyond maximizing the return on investment."
• Bloomberg writes that "Walmart Inc. said 'the overwhelming majority' of employees required to get Covid-19 vaccines have received the shots.
"A 'very small percentage' of the U.S. headquarters and regional staff covered by the company mandate are partially inoculated or haven’t gotten the shots, Walmart said in an email without providing specific numbers. Employees who aren’t fully vaccinated can complete the process this month 'while on a leave of absence,' the retail giant said."
• From the Wall Street Journal:
"People who both had Covid-19 and are vaccinated don’t need to rush to get the boosters now rolling out across the U.S., health experts say.
"Millions of Americans who have received Pfizer Inc. and partner BioNTech SE’s Covid-19 vaccine now qualify for an additional dose, under the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendation of shots for seniors and certain at-risk adults. Some of those who qualify are people who have been infected with the disease, either before they were vaccinated or after.
"Several studies suggest that people who have had Covid-19 and were fully vaccinated have strong protection, including against variants, and probably don’t need the boost, though the research is preliminary and data is incomplete, according to scientists who specialize in vaccines and immunology."
• From the Wall Street Journal:
Merck & Co. and partner Ridgeback Biotherapeutics LP said Monday they have filed an application asking U.S. health regulators to authorize their Covid-19 pill, the next step toward adding a long-sought drug for use at home.
"The filing comes shortly after data from a late-stage study showed that the antiviral drug, molnupiravir, cut the risk of hospitalization or death by about 50% in high-risk people with mild to moderate Covid-19.
"The U.S. Food and Drug Administration could clear the antiviral in the coming weeks and possibly in time for what some public-health experts say could be another virulent winter, especially among people who aren’t vaccinated."
• The Boston Globe reports that "while an estimated 70 million Americans are eligible for COVID vaccines but remain unvaccinated to the dismay of public health officials, many fully vaccinated people, including some in Massachusetts, are flouting guidelines and getting extra shots.
"Their reasons range from fears of getting a second debilitating case of COVID to uncertainty about when they will become eligible for an additional shot, to simply wanting the $100 Walmart gift card one state offered to entice reluctant people to get primary shots."
I know of some folks who have gamed the system and gotten booster shots that either were not recommended or for which they were not eligible. In some ways, I can't blame them - they are worried about getting sick, and getting their family members (especially elderly and vulnerable parents) sick. Personally, I'm waiting until they recommend the Moderna booster for my age group, largely because I've said all along I'm going to trust the public health officials, and this seems like the wrong moment to veer away from that guiding principle. Plus, I don't have any elderly relatives - my kids would say that I am the elderly relative!