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.
At the time of this post, the world has reported more than 252.8 million coronavirus cases and nearly 5.1 million deaths. Europe has returned to the epicenter of the pandemic. Earlier this month, Europe had more than half of the world’s pandemic deaths reported at that time. During the first week of November, coronavirus deaths in Europe rose 10%. At the same time, Europe also accounted for two-thirds of the world’s new cases.
Russia, Ukraine, and Germany led the world in the most new cases reported over the last 24 hours. Russia, Ukraine, and Romania led the world with the most coronavirus deaths in that same period.
In Russia, 83% of COVID hospital beds are filled. The daily reports of new cases in Russia remain at an all-time high as vaccine resistance continues to present an obstacle to fighting the pandemic. Around 40,000 cases and over 1,100 deaths have been registered every day since late October. Less than 40% of Russia’s 146 million people have been vaccinated.
The Netherlands will begin a three-week partial lockdown, regardless of vaccination status, beginning Saturday. The Netherlands is the first west European country to return to lockdown since the summer months. Denmark reintroduced the covid pass this week. Citizens must show proof of vaccination or a negative test from the last 72 hours. Leaders in Austria say the country is facing a pandemic of the unvaccinated and considering a unique lockdown of the unvaccinated.
France’s health minister said the country is experiencing the beginning of a fifth wave of the pandemic. New cases in France have seen double-digit percentage increases week on week since mid-October.
The Czech Republic plans to test all children in the country to combat the surge there. On November 22 and 29, all the country’s schools will test students. The country’s infection rate rose to 614 new cases per 100,000 residents over the past seven days on Thursday, up from 558 two days earlier. The Czech Republic is among the hardest hit in the European Union, where almost 20% of the country has tested positive.
Germany stopped free vaccine testing for unvaccinated citizens a couple of months ago, hoping the added expense for testing would incentivize people to vaccinate. Now, as new cases surge again, the country is reimplementing free vaccine tests for all. Germany is facing a fourth wave in the pandemic as a new surge hits the unvaccinated population. The country broke single-day newly reported case records three times this week. The national disease control center, the Robert Koch Institute, said the country saw 201.1 new cases per 100,000 residents over the past seven days. That surpassed the previous record of 197.6 from Dec. 22 last year.
Twenty-three states have seen slight increases in newly reported cases over the last two weeks. In the last 48 hours, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, and Ohio recorded the most new cases in the US. New cases in New Mexico are rising faster than any other state despite a high vaccination rate.
The US is averaging 300,000 coronavirus shots per day, its highest weekly average in a month.
Booster shots in the US are proving most popular in states where the overall vaccination rates are low.
In Texas, a judge blocked the state’s mask mandate man saying it violated the rights of high-risk students. In Pennsylvania, a judge struck down that state’s mask mandate saying the acting health secretary did not have the authority to implement it. The two contradictory moves in the judiciary signaled a continued lack of coherent national strategy for confronting the pandemic even as political posturing hinders common sense approaches. Ten states have sued the US federal government over President Biden’s vaccine mandate among private businesses.
India’s homegrown vaccine Covaxin has entered its stage three testing and is showing 78% efficacy. Norway is now offering boosters to all citizens over age 18. Canada approved the Pfizer BioNTech booster for all adults. President Emmanuel Macron of France announced that people over 65 will have to get a booster shot to keep their vaccine “passports.”England will require frontline healthcare workers to vaccinate by April 2022.
The world faces a looming shortage of syringes used to administer vaccines for coronavirus and a host of other diseases. A senior WHO official told the United Nations this week that a shortage of 1 billion syringes could hit the globe by 2022.
Pandemic Headlines from Around the World This Week
- China remains the last holdout among the world’s nations pursuing a policy of zero covid within its borders. A leading virologist said that strategy could lead to economic collapse in China.
- Israel conducted a unique drill testing the country’s ability to respond to a hypothetical new COVID strain.
- The US State Department says the United States has brokered a deal between Johnson & Johnson and Covax, a World Health Organization initiative aiming to deliver coronavirus vaccine doses to lower-income countries, that will seek to provide shots to people living in conflict zones.
- Approximately 3,000 protesters gathered in New Zealand’s capital on Tuesday to protest vaccine mandates and pandemic restrictions.
- On Sunday, Japan recorded no COVID deaths in a 24 hour period for the first time in 15 months.