Coronavirus Morning Roundup – Oct 19: XBB variant spreading fast in Asia, drug used for opiate addicts may help long-term covid sufferers

London rooftops seen from Jumeirah Carlton tower

Good morning. This is Jonathan Spira’s report. Here now the news of the pandemic from around the world on the 923rd day of the pandemic.

There is some very good news emerging from drugmaker Moderna’s data on its new bivalent vaccine. Data from the UK show that the vaccine elicits a stronger immune response to Omicron’s variant three months after administration than the company’s original vaccine, which did not target any variant.

The bivalent vaccine in the UK targets BA.1, while the bivalent vaccine in the US targets the BA.4 and BA.5 sublineages.

The pharmaceutical company said its findings indicated that the “superior” immune response triggered by the booster was long-lasting and should provide “significant protection” against the coronavirus for months to come.

In other news we cover today, bivalent boosters are now available for children, the XBB variant is rampant in South East Asia, and cases may have peaked in the current UK wave.


White House coronavirus pandemic coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha encourages people over 50 to get the new bivalent booster.

“If you’re over 50, certainly if you’re over 65, you should get vaccinated because, in fact, it could literally save your life,” he said in an interview with CNBC news network.

Novel bivalent coronavirus boosters are now available for children up to five years old. The new formulation attacks both the original virus and the BA.4 and BA.5 sublineages of the omicron variant. Pfizer’s booster is available for kids ages 5 and up, while kids as young as 6 can get Moderna’s.


The new XBB variant is spreading across Southeast Asia where, in some countries, it is causing the number of cases to double in a single day. The subvariant was first detected in August in India. Since then, it has been sequenced in more than 17 countries, including Bangladesh, Japan, and Singapore. In Singapore, “it is now the predominant sub-variant circulating in the community, accounting for 54% of local cases,” the country’s Ministry of Health said in a statement.

In the UK, new Covid infections have fallen for seven days in a row after doubling in seven weeks.

Daily symptomatic cases are down by 21,881, or 9%, from their peak of 237,457 on Sunday, Oct. 9, to 215,576 on Sunday, Oct. 16, according to figures from the Zoe Health Study, which tracks more than 500,000 people in the UK. While the study is not official government data, it has been indicative of trends in the country in the past.

Shanghai officials plan to build a 3,250-bed coronavirus quarantine facility on a small island near the city center, yet another indication that China plans to continue its strict zero-Covid policy rather than relax curbs, as it has. most other countries have done.

Meanwhile, unverified reports that a 16-year-old girl died in a Covid quarantine center after her family’s requests for medical assistance were ignored have caused anger in China. The strict ongoing pandemic controls have started to take their toll on the country’s population, which has been subject to numerous restrictions and lockdowns since the start of the pandemic in early 2020.


A drug used for opioid addiction has shown promise in several small clinical trials for alleviating various symptoms of Long Covid, including severe chronic fatigue and brain fog. Sold under the Vivitrol and Revia brand names, naltrexone is a generic drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat addictions to both alcohol and opiates.


Now here are the daily stats for Wednesday, October 19.

As of Wednesday morning, the world has recorded 631 million cases of Covid-19, an increase of 0.5 million cases and 6.6 million deaths, according to Worldometer, a service that tracks such information. Additionally, 610.1 million people worldwide have recovered from the virus, an increase of 0.5 million.

Worldwide, the number of active coronavirus cases as of Wednesday is 14,327,376, an increase of 90,000. Of that number, 99.7%, or 14,288,813, are considered mild and 0.3%, or 38,563, are classified as critical. The percentage of cases considered critical has not changed in the last 24 hours.

The United States reported 28,124 new coronavirus infections on Wednesday from a day earlier, compared with 46,146 on Tuesday, 7,040 on Monday, 2,776 on Sunday, 29,069 on Saturday and 75,172 on Friday, according to Health Department data. and US Human Resources Services. The 7-day incidence rate is now 37,555. Weekend numbers (reported the next day) are typically 30% to 60% of those posted on weekdays due to less testing being done.

The daily average of new coronavirus cases in the United States over the past 14 days is 37,888, a decrease of 15%, according to data from the Department of Health and Human Services, among other sources. The average number of daily deaths over the same period is 382, ​​a 3% decrease over the same period, while the average number of hospitalizations for the period was 26,307, a 4% decrease.

In addition, since the start of the pandemic, the United States has registered, as of Wednesday, more than 98.9 million cases, a higher figure than any other country, and a death toll of 1.1 million. India has the world’s second-highest number of officially recorded cases, 44.6 million, and a reported death toll of 528,923.

The most recent data from Russia’s state statistics service Rosstat showed that as of the end of July, the number of covid or covid-related deaths since the start of the pandemic there in April 2020 is now 823,623, giving the country the second highest pandemic in the world. number of related deaths, behind the United States. Rosstat reported that 3,284 people died from the coronavirus or related causes in July, up from 5,023 in June, 7,008 in May and 11,583 in April.

For its part, France is the third country with the highest number of cases, with 36.4 million, and Germany ranks number four, with 34.9 million total cases.

Brazil, which has recorded the third highest number of deaths from the virus, 687,376, has registered 34.8 million cases, ranking number five.

The other five countries with total case figures above 20 million are South Korea, with 25.2 million cases, the United Kingdom, with 23.8 million cases, placing it at number seven, and Italy, with 23.2 million, at number eight. as well as Japan, with 21.9 million, and Russia, with 21.3 million.


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that, as of last Thursday, more than 265.1 million people in the United States, or 79.9%, have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. . Of that population, 68.1%, or 226.2 million people, have received two doses of vaccine, and the total number of doses that have been dispensed in the United States is now 627.8 million. Breaking this down further, 90.8% of the population over the age of 18, or 234.5 million people, have received at least one first inoculation and 77.9% of the same group, or 201.1 million people He is fully vaccinated. In addition, 52.1% of that population, or 104.8 million people, have already received a first booster dose of the vaccine.

Beginning June 13, 2022, the CDC began updating vaccine data weekly and posting the updated information on Thursdays at 8 p.m. EDT, according to a statement on the agency’s website.

About 68.3% of the world’s population has received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine as of Wednesday, according to Our World in Data, an online scientific publication that tracks such information. So far, 12.84 billion doses of the vaccine have been administered globally, and 1.76 million doses are now administered per day.

Meanwhile, only 23.3% of people in low-income countries have received a dose, while in countries such as Canada, China, Denmark, France, Italy, the United Kingdom and the United States, at least 75% of the population has received at least one dose of vaccine.

Only a handful of the world’s poorest countries (Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia and Nepal) have reached the 70% vaccination mark. However, many countries are below 20%, and in countries like Haiti, Senegal and Tanzania, for example, vaccination rates remain at or below 10%.

Furthermore, with the start of vaccinations in North Korea at the end of September, Eritrea remains the only country in the world that has not administered vaccinations.

Anna Breuer contributed reporting to this story.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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