Coronavirus News Briefing – Dec. 9: Britain Introduces Tough New Measures to Combat the Current Covid Surge

Coronavirus News Briefing – Dec. 9: Britain Introduces Tough New Measures to Combat the Current Covid Surge

Theatergoers at Wyndham’s Theatre in London’s West End

The United Kingdom introduced significant new restrictions on daily life in an attempt to curb the spread of the coronavirus there. Prime Minister Boris Johnson adopted a contingency plan he had long resisted that includes telling people in England to work from home wherever possible and introducing a vaccine passport.

Starting next week, people will be required to don face masks in theaters, cinemas, and most other indoor venues, and to show a pass demonstrated fully vaccinated status in order to gain entry to nightclubs and other indoor venues without assigned seating as well as large outdoor venues such as sports stadiums.  A recent negative test would be included on the passport as an alternative to proof of vaccinated status.

Officials in Austria announced that fines for non-compliance with the vaccination mandate that goes into effect in February would be as high as €3,600 ($4,064) and that pregnant women and children under the age of 14 would be exempt from the mandate.

Officials at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that over 60% of the entire U.S. population is fully vaccinated against the coronavirus.  That figure rises to 72% when only adults over the age of 18 are considered.

In New York City, outgoing Mayor Bill de Blasio said that 75% of all New Yorkers have received at least one dose of vaccine, while just over 67% are fully vaccinated.  When considering adults over the age of 18, 92% of New Yorkers have received at least one dose, according to CDC figures, and just over 81% are fully vaccinated.

Meanwhile, a study posted online by two Stanford scientists, Dr. Tracey McLaughlin and Dr. Catherine Blish, suggests that the coronavirus targets both fat cells and certain immune cells within body fat, providing an explanation as to why the overweight and obese are more likely to develop severe symptoms or die from Covid.

Finally, another study found that deaths from car crashes have surged during the pandemic and evidence suggests that the pandemic has made drivers in the United States more reckless, meaning they are more likely to speed, drink or use drugs before driving, and not buckle their seatbelts.

The annual number of fatalities on the road fell from approximately 55,000 in 1970 to just over 36,000 in 2019, even as traffic increased and speed limits rose.  Fatalities were up, however, by 7.2% in 2020 and jumped 18% in the first six months of the current year, according to figures from the federal government.

As of Wednesday morning, the world has recorded 268.3 million Covid-19 cases, an increase of 0.7 million new cases, and almost 5.3 million deaths, according to Worldometer, a service that tracks such information. In addition, 241.5 million people worldwide have recovered from the virus, an increase of 0.5 million.

The average daily number of new coronavirus cases in the United States over the past 14 days is 121,311, a 27% increase.  The average daily death toll over the same period is 1,275, an increase of 12% over the same period.

In addition, since the start of the pandemic the United States has, as of Wednesday, recorded 50.4 million cases, a higher figure than any other country, and a death toll of 813,904. India has the world’s second highest number of officially recorded cases, almost 34.7 million, and a reported death toll of 474,111.  Finally, Brazil has recorded the second highest number of deaths as a result of the virus, 616,298, and has almost 22.2 million cases.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that, as of Wednesday, 237 million people in the United States – or 71.4% – have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. Of that population, 60.4%, or 200.4 million people, are now fully vaccinated, and the total number of doses that have been dispensed in the United States is now 475.7 million. Breaking this down further, 83.8% of the population over the age of 18 – or 216.4 million people – has received at least a first inoculation and 71.8% of the same group – or 185.4 million people – is fully vaccinated.

Some 55.4% of the world population has received at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine, a figure that is up 1 percentage point from the prior day, according to Our World in Data, an online scientific publication that tracks such information.  So far, 8.31 billion doses of the vaccine have been administered on a global basis.

Meanwhile, only 6.3% 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.

Jonathan Spira contributed to this story.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)