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Coronavirus Morning News Brief – Nov. 26: Can Paxlovid Treat Long Covid?, More Lockdown

Swans, ducks, and seagulls in Little Neck Bay in New York City

Good morning. This is Jonathan Spira reporting. Here now the news of the pandemic from across the globe on the 961st day of the pandemic.

A new study aims to find out of Paxlovid, one of several antivirals available to treat Covid cases at home, can help those with Long Covid.

“There are people out there who are still suffering,” said Dr. Linda Geng, the co-director of the Stanford Post-Acute Covid-19 Syndrome Clinic in California. “We need to find effective therapies.”

The study is looking at two critical symptoms associated with neurological Long Covid, namely severe chronic fatigue and brain fog.

No one knows what causes some people to contract Long Covid although some speculate that it is due to leftover Covid virus in the body that the body’s immune system doesn’t or cannot address sufficiently.

In other news we cover today, the XBB subvariant is now being tracked by the CDC in the United States and more protests are breaking out in China over severe lockdown measures, including one at the world’s largest iPhone factory.


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it is tracking a new sublineage of the omicron variant.  Known as XBB, the variant now accounts for 3.1% of new coronavirus cases nationwide, the agency said.

Meanwhile, BA.5 has fallen to less than one in five new cases and BA.4 is apparently not in circulation any more.

The CDC also published findings from a new study that indicates that the new bivalent boosters targeted at BA.4 and BA.5 may not prevent mild illness but would curb hospitalization and severe illness.  The study found that the new booster doses are less than 50% effective against mild illness across almost all adult age groups when compared to people who are unvaccinated. Despite this, people who received the new booster had far better outcomes than those who only received the original ones: the bivalent booster increased people’s protection against mild illness by 28% to 56% compared to those who only received the old shots, depending on the age group.


Protests broke out in Urumqi, the capital of China’s Xinjiang region, after a fire in an apartment complex took the lives of ten.  The deadly fire triggered anger over the prolonged Covid lockdown and crowds were seen shouting at hazmat-suited guards and singing the country’s national anthem in videos posted on social media.

In addition, employees in Zhengzhou at the world’s largest iPhone factory again clashed with police over the strict lockdown policies and rising number of Covid cases as well as poor working conditions.

Despite the surge in cases, Chinese leader Xi Jingping met with Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel sans face mask this week.  The country’s severe “zero-Covid” policies have resulted in a situation in which the workers are required to live on-site in a closed bubble, isolated inside dorms where they reportedly face shortages of food and medicine.

In Canada, Prime Minster Justin Trudeau defended his use of emergency powers to end a weekslong protest against Covid mandates by towing large trucks and freezing protestors’ bank accounts.  The so-called “Freedom Convoy” clogged downtown Ottawa streets for several weeks and blocked traffic on the Ambassador Bridge, which links Detroit with Canada and allows for the shipment of auto parts and assembled vehicles between the two countries.  The country’s parliament granted the prime minister such emergency powers in the 1980s and Trudeau was the first holder of the office to invoke them.


The current Avian flu epidemic has killed a record 50.54 million birds in the United States, making it the worst outbreak in history.  It surpasses the last one in 2015, which killed 50.5 million U.S. birds


Now here are the daily statistics for Saturday, November 26.

As of Saturday morning, the world has recorded 645.8 million Covid-19 cases, an increase of 0.7 million cases, and over 6.63 million deaths, according to Worldometer, a service that tracks such information. In addition, 624.4million people worldwide have recovered from the virus, an increase of 0.5 million.

Worldwide, the number of active coronavirus cases as of Saturday at press time is 14,791,967, an increase of 256,000. Out of that figure, 99.7%, or 14,755,535, are considered mild, and 0.3%, or 36,432, are listed as critical.  The percentage of cases considered critical has not changed over the past 24 hours.

The United States reported 25,718 new coronavirus infections on Saturday for the previous day, compared to 36,030  on Friday, 103,540 on Thursday, and 37,077 on Wednesday, according to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  The 7-day incidence rate is now 36,977.  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 42,669, an increase of 7% 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 335, an increase of 6% over the same period, while the average number of hospitalizations for the period was 28,633, an increase of 2%. In addition, the number of patients in ICUs was 3,471, an increase of 8%.

In addition, since the start of the pandemic the United States has, as of Saturday, recorded over 100.4 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 530,608.

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 37.6 million, and Germany is in the number four slot, with just under 36.4 million total cases.

Brazil, which has recorded the third highest number of deaths as a result of the virus, 689,500, has recorded 35.2million 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 26.9 million cases, Japan, with just under 24.4 million, placing it in the number seven slot, and Italy, with just under 24.3 million, as number eight, as well as the United Kingdom, with 24 million, and Russia, with over 21.5 million.


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that, as of Thursday, 267.8 million people in the United States – or 80.7% – have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. Of that population, 68.8%, or 228.4 million people, have received two doses of vaccine, and the total number of doses that have been dispensed in the United States is now 653.5 million. Breaking this down further, 91.7% of the population over the age of 18 – or 236.6 million people – has received at least a first inoculation and 78.6% of the same group – or 202.8 million people – is fully vaccinated.  In addition, 13.9% of the same population, or 36 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 68.5% of the world population has received at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine by Saturday, according to Our World in Data, an online scientific publication that tracks such information.  So far, 12.99 billion doses of the vaccine have been administered on a global basis and 2.2 million doses are now administered each day.

Meanwhile, only 24.6% 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.

Paul Riegler contributed reporting to this story.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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