Coronavirus Morning News Brief – Sept. 25: More Airlines May Fail in Wake of Pandemic, Bill Gates Wants to Curb Infectious Diseases

Microsoft Windows, first launched by Bill Gates and Microsoft in 1985


Good morning. This is Jonathan Spira reporting. Here now the news of the pandemic from across the globe on the 899th day of the pandemic.


In news we cover today, Bill Gates wants to use his foundation to end infectious disease, the CEO of Pfizer tested positive for Covid, and New York State unveiled a Long Covid website.


Here’s a look at what has taken place over the past 24 hours.


UNITED STATES


The Gates Foundation said it plans to focus on curbing infectious diseases over the next quarter century as it hits the 25-year mark.  Funded by Bill Gates and his ex-wife Melinda French Gates, the foundation will ramp up its spending and keep the foundation running for another 25 years.


“We think spending all the money in that timeframe makes sense,” Gates said in the keynote conversation at the 2022 Forbes 400 Summit on Philanthropy. “So, we’ll be shifting money over more and more, we committed to raise the spend level up.”


Over the coming 25 years, the foundation will „try and bring infectious disease, or all of the diseases that make the world inequitable, to bring those largely to an end, either through eradication or getting them down to very low levels,” Gates said.


Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that it expects to have bivalent coronavirus vaccine boosters targeting circulating variants of the virus available for children aged 5-11 years by mid-October.


Finally, Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said he tested positive for the coronavirus and is “feeling well.”  Bourla said he does not have any symptoms.  “While we’ve made great progress, the virus is still with us,” he said in on Twitter.  Bourla last tested positive in mid-August.  He said he hasn’t yet gotten his company’s bivalent booster because of guidance recommending a three-month wait after a Covid infection before doing so.


LONG COVID


The New York State Department of Health launched a Long Covid website with information about the condition, information about what the Department of Health is doing to help patients with the condition, and a list of external resources.


TRAVEL


The IATA director-general said that he expects more airlines to fall in the pandemic’s wake.  Willie Walsh, the director-general of the International Air Transport Association and former CEO of British Airways’ parent International Airlines Group, in an interview on CNBC, also said that the World Health Organization’s guidance of “don’t close your borders” would have been the correct advice to follow.


“I am surprised at how robust the industry is, having come through the deepest crisis we have ever seen, he added.”


TODAY’S STATISTICS


Now here are the daily statistics for Sunday, September 25.


As of Sunday morning, the world has recorded 620.2 million Covid-19 cases, an increase of 0.4 million cases, and over 6.5 million deaths, according to Worldometer, a service that tracks such information. In addition, 600.2 million people worldwide have recovered from the virus, an increase of 0.4 million.


Worldwide, the number of active coronavirus cases as of Sunday is 13,420,11, a decrease of 192,000. Out of that figure, 99.7%, or 13,380,125, are considered mild, and 0.3%, or 39,986, are listed as critical.  The percentage of cases considered critical has not changed over the past 24 hours.


The United States reported 8,091 new coronavirus infections on Sunday for the previous day, compared to 44,458  on Saturday, 92,729  on Friday, 107,066 on Thursday, and  53,933 on Wednesday, according to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  The 7-day incidence rate is now 53,737.  Figures for the weekend (reported the following day) are typically 30% to 60% of those posted on weekdays due to a lower number of tests being conducted.


The average daily number of new coronavirus cases in the United States over the past 14 days is 54,157, an 18% decrease, based on data from the Department of Health and Human Services, among other sources.  The average daily death toll over the same period is 432, an increase of 12% over the same period, while the average number of hospitalizations for the period was 30,122, a 14% decrease.


In addition, since the start of the pandemic the United States has, as of Sunday, recorded just under 98 million cases, a higher figure than any other country, and a death toll of 1.08 million. India has the world’s second highest number of officially recorded cases, 44.6 million, and a reported death toll of 528,510.


The newest data from Russia’s Rosstat state statistics service showed that, at 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 world’s second highest pandemic-related death toll, behind the United States.  Rosstat reported that 3,284 people died from the coronavirus or related causes in July, down from 5,023 in June, 7,008 in May and 11,583 in April.


Meanwhile, France is the country with the third highest number of cases, with 35.1 million, although Brazil has recorded the third highest number of deaths as a result of the virus, 685,837, and has recorded 34.7 million cases, placing it in the number four slot.


Germany is in the number five slot with over 32.9 million cases.


The other five countries with total case figures over the 20 million mark are South Korea, with 24.6 million cases, the United Kingdom, with 23.6 million cases, placing it in the number seven slot, and Italy, with 22.3 million, as number eight, as well as Japan, with 21 million, and Russia, with 20.8 million.


VACCINATION SPOTLIGHT


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that, as of the past Thursday, over 263.8 million people in the United States – or 79.5% – have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. Of that population, 67.8%, or 224.9 million people, have received two doses of vaccine, and the total number of doses that have been dispensed in the United States is now 616.2 million. Breaking this down further, 90.4% of the population over the age of 18 – or 233.4 million people – has received at least a first inoculation and 77.5% of the same group – or 200.1 million people – is fully vaccinated.  In addition, 51.8% of that population, or 103.7 million people, has already received a first booster dose of vaccine.


Starting on June 13, 2022, the CDC began to update vaccine data on a weekly basis and publish the updated information on Thursdays by 8 p.m. EDT, a statement on the agency’s website said.


Some 67.9% of the world population has received at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine by Sunday, according to Our World in Data, an online scientific publication that tracks such information.  So far, 12.7 billion doses of the vaccine have been administered on a global basis and 4.21 million doses are now administered each day.


Meanwhile, only 22.3% 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 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% mark in vaccinations. Many countries, however, are under 20% and, in countries such as Haiti, Senegal, and Tanzania, for example, vaccination rates remain in the single digits, if not lower.


In addition, North Korea and Eritrea are now the only two countries in the world that have not administered vaccines.


Paul Riegler contributed reporting to this story.


(Photo: Accura Media Group)