Coronavirus Morning News Brief – Dec. 25: Four Vaccine Doses, Travel Chaos, and Today’s Statistics

Coronavirus Morning News Brief – Dec. 25:  Four Vaccine Doses, Travel Chaos, and Today’s Statistics

The statue “Unsolicited Advice” by G. Seward Johnson Jr. on Main Street in Stamford

As the United States hit the 500 million mark in dispensing vaccine doses, daily Covid case rate surges eclipsed those associated with the delta variant, although Covid-related hospitalizations remain lower than peaks earlier in the year.

In Germany, Gesundheitsminister Karl Lauterbach said that a fourth dose of coronavirus vaccine will be needed to maintain protection against the omicron variant, although the country has yet to initiate a round of such doses.

Earlier in the week, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett announced fourth doses for adults over 60 years of age as well as for healthcare workers.

In his traditional Christmas Day address, Urbi et Orbi (To the City and the World), Pope Francis called the pandemic a “complex crisis” and called for vaccine fairness across the globe.

Two of the world’s wealthiest countries, the microstates of Monaco and San Marino, moved directly from “unknown” to Level 4, the highest-risk category on the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s list of high-risk countries.  The CDC also added the world’s second most visited country, Spain, to its highest-risk category as well as Bonaire, Chad, Finland, Gibraltar, and Lebanon.

Airlines across the globe continued to cancel hundreds of flights Saturday as omicron variant-related staffing issues disrupted operations during one of the busiest travel times of the year.

As of 11:45 a.m. EDT on Saturday, airlines across the globe had cancelled 2,543 flights that would have operated on Christmas Day, according to FlightAware, a service that tracks such data.  That figure was 852 in the United States alone.

Health officials in Australia reported a record number of cases on Saturday as the Christmas holiday began. New South Wales recorded its highest ever Covid daily caseload, with 6,288 new infections announced, while Queensland reported a daily record of 765 new cases.  Overwhelmed coronavirus testing clinics were forced to close, and tens of thousands of people had to spend the holiday in isolation.

Two additional Broadway shows, “Thoughts of a Colored Man” and “Waitress,” closed permanently amidst the surge in omicron variant-related cases.  This brings the total number of shuttered Broadway shows due to omicron to three, as “Jagged Little Bill” closed earlier in the month.

Officials in Connecticut unveiled the state’s version of a vaccine passport.  Unlike New York State’s Excelsior Pass, Connecticut’s is not a standalone app.  Instead, the Nutmeg State’s version allows residents to download a digital record of their coronavirus vaccinations and save it to a digital wallet such as Apple Wallet.  The vaccination record includes a QR code based on a standard that has been adopted by many states and countries including New York, California, and Canada.

Finally, a Connecticut man who ordered a passport holder from Amazon received a fake Covid-19 vaccination card in the package as well.  The man reached out to the state attorney general as well as his local congressman. Amazon told the state attorney general’s office that the owner of the listing had manipulated the site’s detection algorithms in order to sell the passport case with the forged vaccine card.

Now here are the daily statistics for Saturday, December 25.

As of Saturday morning, the world has recorded 279.5 million Covid-19 cases, an increase of 0.8 million new cases, and over 5.4 million deaths, according to Worldometer, a service that tracks such information. In addition, 249.9million people worldwide have recovered from the virus, an increase of 0.4 million.

The current number of infections as of Saturday is 24,207,062.  Out of that figure, 99.6%, or 24,118,387, are considered mild, and 0.4%, or 88,675, are listed as critical.

The average daily number of new coronavirus cases in the United States over the past 14 days is 197,358, a 65% increase.  The average daily death toll over the same period is 1,345, an increase of 3% over the same period.

In addition, since the start of the pandemic the United States has, as of Saturday, recorded 52.9 million cases, a higher figure than any other country, and a death toll of 837,671. India has the world’s second highest number of officially recorded cases, just under  34.8 million, and a reported death toll of 479,520.  Finally, Brazil has recorded the second highest number of deaths as a result of the virus, 618,429, and has over 22.2 million cases.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that, as of Saturday, 241.5 million people in the United States – or 72.7% – have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. Of that population, 61.7%, or 204.7 million people, are now fully vaccinated, and the total number of doses that have been dispensed in the United States is now 500.2 million. Breaking this down further, 84.9% of the population over the age of 18 – or 219.2 million people – has received at least a first inoculation and 72.7% of the same group – or 187.7 million people – is fully vaccinated.  In addition, 34.2% of that population, or 64.2 million people, has already received a booster shot.

The CDC adjusted data for initial and second doses downward on Friday, which resulted in slightly lower figures today than were published on Friday, while increasing the number of booster shots given.

The CDC also reported that the omicron variant is now the dominant strain in many parts of the United States, comprising over 73% of recent Covid cases as of Saturday.  In many parts of the country, the new variant makes up 90% of all cases, it said.

Over 57.4% of the world population has received at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine, an increase that is largely unchanged from the prior day, according to Our World in Data, an online scientific publication that tracks such information.  So far, 8.95 billion doses of the vaccine have been administered on a global basis.

Meanwhile, only 8.3% of people in low-income countries have received one dose, while in countries such as Canada, China, Denmark, France, Italy, the United Kingdom, and the United States, at least 65% of the population has received at least one dose of vaccine. In countries such as Ethiopia, Haiti, Syria, Senegal, Tanzania, and Uganda, for example, vaccination rates remain in the single digits, if not lower.

Figures from the World Health Organization show that well-off countries are vaccinating people at the rate of one person per second, while the majority of poor countries have yet to give a single dose to its citizens.

It is critical that the world do a better job of sharing vaccines with poorer nations.

Sharing vaccines is not merely a form of charity.  Rather, the equitable distribution of vaccines is in every country’s health and economic interest and no country will be able to move past the pandemic until other countries have recovered as well.

Anna Breuer and Paul Riegler contributed to this story.


(Photo: Accura Media Group)