A succinct summation of the good, the bad, and the ugly in the global pandemic news this week. This brief pandemic update is featured every week at the End of History. Click on the links for deeper dives into the stories that tell what happened this week in the historic global pandemic of our generation.
China announced it had fully vaccinated 1 billion people within its borders, bringing it closer to the goal of vaccinating 80% of its population by the end of the year. The US vaccination program now ranks last among the world’s wealthy democracies. Even as the Centers for Disease Control & Prevents (CDC) reported that unvaccinated Americans are 11 times more likely to die when infected with the virus than vaccinated Americans
At the time of this post, the world has reported more than 228 million coronavirus cases over 4.6 million deaths.
The number of new cases in the US appears to be declining in many parts of the country, suggesting the recent surge is coming to an end. Deaths and hospitalizations continue to rise. New coronavirus deaths in the US increased by 30% over the last two weeks. One in four US hospitals this week said their ICU beds were at 95% capacity. The New York Times released a statistic this week that said one in every 500 Americans has now died from the disease.
In Alaska, 20% of the state’s hospitalizations are for COVID19 as hospitals in that state have reached their limit. Idaho allowed hospitals to ration health care as the state’s hospitals were pushed to the limit by the pandemic. Mississippi has now surpassed New Jersey as the state with the higher coronavirus deaths per capita. California is experiencing a significant decrease in newly reported cases. Experts suggest the successful vaccination rates in that state while other parts of the country experienced a new surge account for that achievement.
There are increasing reports of packed hospitals unable to attend to patients arriving at the emergency rooms for non-covid-related issues. In some instances, while coronavirus patients packed the hospitals, untreated patients died from issues easily treated at other times. Researchers say unvaccinated patients have cost hospitals $5.7 billion in three months.
Several European nations announced that unvaccinated Americans are no longer allowed entry at their borders, and vaccinated Americans must undergo quarantine upon their arrival in places like Sweden and the Netherlands. The move is seen as partially political as the US, a country with much higher reports of new cases and hospitalizations has maintained a travel ban on most Europeans entering the US since March 2020.
The US Army announced that soldiers refusing vaccinations would face discipline and possibly dismissal from the military. The US ordered vaccines for new immigrants mandatory. In Los Angeles, a CBS Report found more than 20% of the police force planned to use medical or religious exemptions in the face of the city’s vaccine mandate.
The Oregon Medical Board fined a doctor $10,000 and revoked his license after he told patients facemasks were dangerous.
A study of American nursing homes found that aids who presented care to elderly residents were the least likely to be vaccinated.
More countries announced plans to begin vaccinating children this week. Sweden said the country would start vaccinating 12-15-year-olds. Cambodia began vaccinating children 6-11 years old so they could return to school. Cuba began vaccinating children as young as two. Australia and the UK also started vaccinating children as young as 12. Pfizer said it plans to seek US authorization to give vaccines to children age five and up in October.
The politicization of the vaccine continued to confuse efforts in the US. Florida said the state would fine municipalities that mandate vaccines for their employees. New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority said unvaccinated employees who die from the coronavirus would not be eligible for a $500,000 death benefit for their families.
Moderna and Pfizer BioNTech both presented studies that showed their vaccine’s effectiveness fades over time. The Food and Drug administration will meet today to vote on whether the US should approve a third booster vaccine.
Pandemic Headlines from Around the World This Week
- The CDC added Afghanistan, Albania, Serbia, Belize, Lithuania, Grenada, St. Kitts and Nevis, Slovenia, and Mauritius to the public health organization’s Level 4 list of countries and territories with “very high” covid risk.
- China logged its highest number of new coronavirus cases in a month as the Delta variant was identified in the Fujian province.
- Denmark declared the coronavirus is no longer a significant threat to the country and lifted all restrictions.
- Bangladesh reopened the country’s schools after an 18-month shutdown.
- France suspended 3,000 healthcare workers who refused vaccinations.
- Italy announced its green pass initiative. Beginning October 15th, all workers must show proof of vaccine or negative testing or face suspension from work without pay.
- New Zealand and Australia suspended their quarantine free travel bubble over concerns of the Delta variant.
- Slovenia announced it would begin compulsory vaccines for all government employees.
- Indonesia’s new case numbers have improved, and the government said it would slowly reopen once 70% of the country’s population has been vaccinated.