business news in context, analysis with attitude

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 United States, there now have been 49,428,913 total Covid-19 coronavirus cases, resulting in 803,045 deaths and 39,205,902 reported recoveries.

Globally, there have been 263,248,745 total cases, with 5,237,114 resultant fatalities, and 237,742,998 reported recoveries.   (Source.)

•  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that 70.2 percent of the total US population, and 74.7 percent of the five-and-over population, has received at least one dose of vaccine, while 59.4 percent of the total US population and 63.1 percent of the five-and-over population has been fully vaccinated.

The CDC also says that 20.9 percent of the total US population and 22.4 percent of the 18-and-over population has received a vaccine booster shot.

•  From the Wall Street Journal:

"The Omicron variant of the coronavirus could lead to more infections among vaccinated people but they will most likely remain protected from a severe course of illness, according to the inventor of one of the first Covid-19 vaccines.

"While the new variant might evade the antibodies generated in reaction to the vaccine, the virus will likely remain vulnerable to immune cells that destroy it once it enters the body, BioNTech SE co-founder Ugur Sahin said.

"'Our message is: Don’t freak out, the plan remains the same: Speed up the administration of a third booster shot,' Dr. Sahin said in an interview Tuesday."

From the New York Times this morning:

"A federal advisory committee on Tuesday voted to recommend that the government for the first time authorize the use of an antiviral pill to combat the worst effects of Covid-19.

"The advisory committee, in a surprisingly narrow 13-to-10 vote, endorsed the pill from Merck, while public health officials worldwide raced to buttress their defenses against the newly emerging Omicron variant of the coronavirus.

"The Merck treatment, known as molnupiravir, has been shown to modestly reduce the risk of hospitalization and death from Covid. The pill could be authorized for use in the United States within days and available to patients within weeks.

"In the coming weeks, the F.D.A. may also authorize a similar pill from Pfizer that appears to be significantly more effective than Merck’s. Together, the arrival of the two easy-to-use treatments could provide a cushion against a resurgent virus.

"The F.D.A. advisory panel, a group of experts on antimicrobial drugs, recommended that Merck’s treatment be authorized for people with Covid who are at high risk of becoming severely ill. That would most likely cover tens of millions of Americans who are older or have medical conditions such as obesity, diabetes or heart disease.  But the committee’s close vote reflected doubts about the pill’s effectiveness and concerns that it could cause reproductive harm."

•  Also from the New York Times:

"The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention plans to toughen coronavirus testing and screening of international fliers to the United States by requiring them to provide a negative result from a test taken within 24 hours of departure, a spokesman for the agency said Tuesday night.

"The move to strengthen the testing regime reflects growing concern about the Omicron variant, a highly mutated form of the virus that was first documented by researchers in South Africa and detected in more than a dozen countries around the world."