Coronavirus Morning News Brief – Nov. 22: Study Identifies Changes to the Brain in Long Covid Patients, Japan Approves Homegrown Antiviral

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Good morning. This is Jonathan Spira reporting. Here now the news of the pandemic from across the globe on the 957th day of the pandemic.

A new study identified significant changes to the brainstem and frontal lobe in some Long Covid patients.

“Serious long-term complications may be caused by the coronavirus, even months after recovery from the infection,” according to the study, which was released Monday by the Radiological Society of North America.

“Neurological symptoms associated with Long Covid include difficulty thinking or concentrating, headache, sleep problems, lightheadedness, pins-and-needles sensation, change in smell or taste, and depression or anxiety, the society said in a news release announcing the findings.  “However, studies have found that Covid-19 may be associated with changes to the heart, lungs or other organs even in asymptomatic patients.”

The researchers analyzed the data of 46 COVID-recovered patients and 30 healthy control patients and found that patients with long COVID commonly recorded symptoms such as fatigue, sleeplessness, lack of attention, and memory issues.

In other news we cover today, conditions continue to worsen in major Chinese cities, and Japan approved its first homegrown Covid antiviral.

UNITED STATES

Oregon Governor Kate Brown announced that she and her husband have tested positive for the coronavirus after attending the Vietnam-U.S. Trade Forum in Ho Chi Minh City, formerly known as Saigon.

“After returning from Vietnam, Dan and I have tested positive for Covid-19,” she said in a tweet. “We are recuperating at home and, while this changes our Thanksgiving plans, we are grateful for effective vaccines and boosters that are helping ensure our symptoms don’t become serious.”

GLOBAL

The pandemic situation continued to worsen in China.  Beijing officials shuttered parks and museums on Tuesday and more Chinese cities resumed mass Covid testing.

Beijing reported 634 new local coronavirus cases for the 15 hours to 3 p.m. local time on Tuesday, the deputy director of city’s municipal Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Liu Xiaofeng, said at a news briefing.

Meanwhile, in Shanghai, the country’s financial hub, officials said they would tighten pandemic-related rules for people entering the city starting on November 24.

Japan approved the first Covid-19 antiviral pill developed locally.  Shionogi, an Osaka-based drugmaker, is currently seeking U.S. approval for the drug, which is called Xocova.

TODAY’S STATISTICS

Now here are the daily statistics for Tuesday, November 22.

As of Tuesday morning, the world has recorded 643.6 million Covid-19 cases, an increase of 0.4 million cases, and over 6.62 million deaths, according to Worldometer, a service that tracks such information. In addition, 622.7 million people worldwide have recovered from the virus, an increase of 0.3 million.

Worldwide, the number of active coronavirus cases as of Tuesday at press time is 14,223,527, an increase of 72,000. Out of that figure, 99.7%, or 14,187,386, are considered mild, and 0.3%, or 36,141, are listed as critical.  The percentage of cases considered critical has not changed over the past 24 hours.

The United States reported 42,983 new coronavirus infections on Tuesday for the previous day, compared to 3,329 on Monday, 3,497 on Sunday, 52,365 on Saturday, 71,311 on Friday, and 85,283 on Thursday, according to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  The 7-day incidence rate is now 43,290.  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 41,530, an increase of 4% averaged over the past 14 days, based on data from the Department of Health and Human Services, among other sources.  The average daily death toll over the same period is 294, a decrease of 2% over the same period, while the average number of hospitalizations for the period was 27,547, a decrease of 2%. In addition, the number of patients in ICUs was 3,357, an increase of 6%.

In addition, since the start of the pandemic the United States has, as of Tuesday, recorded over 100.2 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, almost 44.7 million, and a reported death toll of 530,591.

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 just under 37.4 million, and Germany is in the number four slot, with 36.2 million total cases.

Brazil, which has recorded the third highest number of deaths as a result of the virus, 689,064, has recorded 35.1 million cases, placing it in the number five slot.

The other five countries with total case figures over the 20 million mark are South Korea, with over 26.6 million cases, Italy with 24 million, placing it in the number seven slot, and the United Kingdom, with 24 million cases, as number eight, as well as Japan, with 23.9 million, and Russia, with over 21.5 million.

VACCINATION SPOTLIGHT

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that, as of last Thursday, 267.5 million people in the United States – or 80.6% – have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. Of that population, 68.7%, or 228.1 million people, have received two doses of vaccine, and the total number of doses that have been dispensed in the United States is now 650.8 million. Breaking this down further, 91.6% of the population over the age of 18 – or 236.4 million people – has received at least a first inoculation and 78.5% of the same group – or 202.7 million people – is fully vaccinated.  In addition, 13.1% of the same population, or 33.8 million people, has already received an updated or bivalent 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 Thursday by 8 p.m. EDT, a statement on the agency’s website said.

Some 68.4% of the world population has received at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine by Tuesday, according to Our World in Data, an online scientific publication that tracks such information.  So far, 12.97 billion doses of the vaccine have been administered on a global basis and 1.92 million doses are now administered each day.

Meanwhile, only 24.5% 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 at or below 10%.

In addition, with the start of vaccinations in North Korea in late September, Eritrea remains the only country in the world that has not administered vaccines.

Anna Breuer contributed reporting to this story.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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