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in 192 countries and regions
have been reported worldwide
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have been reported in the U.S.
Into the Third Year of the Global Pandemic
It has been a long two years and more, and we have not reached the end. More than one million people have died in the U.S. alone and many more millions around the world. The losses are almost incalculable and sadly, many could have been avoided. One thing we have learned in all that time is the value and importance of good information that we can trust. And all that information can be daunting, especially as science learns more about the virus and the virus also “learns more” about changing. This page is offered as a way to get access to facts about COVID-19. Please take the time to consider and learn more about the current state and history of this often deadly disease. It will be time well spent. Knowledge and trust are two of the most powerful tools we have in fighting the Pandemic. You check the weather forecast regularly, and maybe in the third year of a global pandemic it is worth your time to check in on the latest Pandemic report as well. We update this page regularly as new information becomes available. Please share it.
The Pandemic is Not Over Yet
The Global Pandemic is not over as infections and deaths continue with the BA.2 and other subvariants emerging and new outbreaks reported. Suspension of pandemic precautions and misinformation about the pandemic imply that COVID-19 is “near the end.” On the contrary, the WHO warned that these factors, combined with a more transmissible Omicron BA.2 variant, are causing an increase in COVID-19 cases globally. The virus has not ‘settled down’ into a purely seasonal or predictable pattern yet.
Read more about the cautionary view from WHO.
Even as nearly 259 million people have received a first shot of vaccine in the U.S. and as states and countries loosen and remove restrictions and re-open, the Pandemic persists in the face of conflict in Ukraine and the threats posed by more extreme weather events – in much the same way that the deadly 1918 influenza raged while the world was at war. Such crises actually increase the threat of a resurgence of COVID in the affected regions. Although more than 78% of the total U.S. population has received at least the first dose of vaccine, the rate of vaccine hesitancy in some areas severely hampered prevention efforts. In a world weary of the Pandemic, the reimplementation of safety measures met significant resistance. The restrictions have ended in most areas, and while the Pandemic shows signs of winding down in the U.S. it is still very much with us.
Vaccines, however, offer the most hopeful view of the Pandemic.
“From the start of the US vaccination campaign through the end of November 2021, Covid-19 vaccines prevented about 1.1 million deaths and 10.3 million hospitalizations in the United States, according to estimates by the health care foundation The Commonwealth Fund. Even without counting the continued impact of the omicron variant in 2022, it’s a stunning effect that presents a different side to the story of the pandemic.” Read more about lives saved in this Vox report.
Masking, handwashing and avoiding large gatherings continue to be important in combating COVID-19. And while the CDC relaxed and removed mask-wearing requirements indoors by those who are fully vaccinated (currently 66% of the U.S. population – only 47% of eligible population are vaccinated with one booster), it is more important then ever for those who are not yet vaccinated to stay vigilant, continue to observe basic safety measures and get vaccinated. Authorities recommend that higher quality masks (N95 or KN95) or double masking are more effective against Omicron and the BA.2 subvariant. Simple cloth masks alone are not sufficient.
Global COVID Snapshot
World deaths from COVID have reached more than 6 million (with experts including W.H.O estimating a much higher toll). Resistance to vaccine and mask mandates continues to challenge progress in defeating this highly contagious virus.
U.S. COVID Status as Deaths Surpass 1 Million
The U.S. has averaged more than 109,000 new infections every day in the past week, according to the CDC COVID data tracker. The numbers had dropped significantly for weeks but have risen again in recent days. The Omicron variant and the latest subvariants are highly transmissible but less severe. As infection rates in many states rise, the mortality rate has declined, still recording nearly 320 deaths per day, but more than one million people in the United States have died from COVID-19 (the near equivalent of the entire population of such cities as San Jose, California: Jacksonville, Florida; Ft. Worth, Texas). On September 20, 2021, the US marked earlier grim milestone in the fight against COVID-19 recording more American deaths from COVID-19 than the Spanish flu in 1918 – making COVID-19 the most deadly pandemic in American History.
Although three successfully tested, safe and free vaccines are in widespread use in the United States, the rate of vaccination has slowed considerably. Seventeen states still report that less than 60% of their population are fully vaccinated. Health authorities are addressing vaccine hesitancy as a significant barrier to community immunization. They are hopeful that the possible approval of a fourth more conventional vaccine will encourage those people who are hesitant to get vaccinated. The wearing of masks and proper hand washing remain critical weapons against infection for those who have not received the vaccine and mask wearing is still important for those who have received the vaccine as well. The science is clear. They work. Continuing the key steps of prevention and getting vaccinated at the earliest opportunity are both necessary to stop COVID-19. In addition, the booster shot is another important level of protection. To learn more about the global story of the pandemic, open the ” Trusted Resources” below and view COVID-19 Updates.
Unequal access to COVID-19 treatments threatens the global recovery. Read this account in The Conversation.
The pandemic has proven especially lethal in predominantly Black and other neighborhoods of color that face systemic inequality including lack of access to quality health care combined with a shrinking safety net for critical public services. According to the COVID Racial Data Tracker, COVID has had a deadly impact on Black, Indigenous, Latinx and other people of color with Black people dying at twice the rate of white people. Authorities also saw significant disparities in vaccination rates from zip code to zip code within communities, often reflecting economic and social inequities in those same populations. As it attacked poor communities in the U.S. and globally, it also exhibited catastrophic growth in countries with large concentrations of urban poverty or with the most fragile health systems. In both rich and poor countries, the virus exposes and exploits every weak point in the health infrastructure. Where you live may determine whether you live or die. Fortunately the disparity in black and neighborhoods of color in the U.S. for the COVID response has diminished considerably due to significant health system efforts to address the issue, but many of the basic causes of health inequity remain.
Health inequity retains its deadly potential in communities of color with poor health care access as vaccine distribution lagged dangerously behind better-resourced neighbors. And that was why the COVAX pillar of access was considered so critical at the beginning as the only global effort to ensure that people in all corners of the world got access to COVID-19 vaccines when they were available, regardless of their wealth. The COVAX initiative, however, faced serious challenges of supply, logistics, and bureaucracies, as many under-resourced countries initially made little progress with vaccinations because the manufacture and distribution of vaccines still had not met their growing need. As an example, 80% of people in high-income countries have been vaccinated, but just 16% of people in low-income countries are. Vaccine hesitancy is also playing a significant role in countries and in communities in the U.S. where in the past the public health system has failed the people, leading to a historic mistrust of authorities. This lack of trust also highlights the importance of robust information and public education campaigns to promote vaccination. The COVID-19 Pandemic has brought new attention to the health equity crisis on a national and global scale and the complexity of building solutions.
CDC and Other Updates – Unmask the Facts
Pandemic Death Toll Far Exceeds Reported Totals, W.H.O. Says
Nearly 15 million more people died during the first two years of the Pandemic than has been reported, the W.H.O. found. READ MORE about this new report on the COVID death toll in this CNN story.
New COVID-19 Cases Increase in U.S. as the BA.2 Subvariant Spreads
New Omicron subvariants are creating more concern in the U.S. The members of the Omicron family are the BA.2.12.1, BA.4, and BA.5. Within the BA.2 family, many different variants have been identified, including some that fuel more infections than others. For example, the BA.2.12.1 variant is raising COVID-19 Community Levels to medium or high status in the Northeast U.S. The BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants are gaining attention from the World Health Organization. READ MORE about the subvariant increase.
Vaccinations Could have Prevented 300,000 COVID Deaths
A group of scientists suggest that nearly a third of the million COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. could have been prevented if more people had chosen to get vaccinated. Even though the unvaccinated continue to make up a majority of COVID-19 cases and related hospitalizations, the number of Americans who say they won’t get a COVID-19 vaccine has remained steady for almost a year. One in three states have fully vaccinated less than 60% of their eligible populations. READ MORE about lives saved.
Pregnancy-related misinformation about the vaccines persists
Misinformation has hindered vaccine uptake among pregnant women. A recent poll found that one in seven adults (14%) have heard that pregnant women should not get the COVID-19 vaccine and believe it to be true, rising to nearly one in four (24%) among women who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant. Though the CDC recommends COVID-19 vaccines for pregnant people, about 30% of pregnant women in the United States remain unvaccinated. READ MORE about this lingering misinformation.
CDC Drops Remaining Countries from its ‘Do Not Travel’ List
The CDC updated its international COVID-19 travel advisory system, dropping all countries from their highest-risk category. The CDC removed all destinations from under its “Level 4: Special Circumstances/Do Not Travel” designation, which warns travelers to avoid nonessential travel due to very high levels of coronavirus cases. Over 100 countries are now in the Level 3 category known as “High Risk.” The CDC urges people who are not up to date on their vaccines to avoid travel to these countries. READ MORE about the change in travel advisory.
All adults 50 and older and all immunocompromised people 12 and older should get a second booster shot 4 months after their first booster shot. People who received the J&J (Janssen) vaccine as their primary series and first booster shot may get a second booster shot of an mRNA vaccine 4 months after their first. Only these three populations are currently eligible to receive a second booster shot. READ MORE about the latest booster recommendation.
Power of the Booster
Three studies published by the CDC show that a COVID-19 booster shot provides the best protection against the Omicron variant and the new subvariant. One of the studies found that the booster shot was 90% effective at preventing COVID-19-associated emergency department or urgent care visits and hospitalizations during both the Delta and Omicron surges. All three studies found that unvaccinated people faced the highest risks of becoming sick with COVID-19. These findings highlight the importance of staying up to date on COVID-19 vaccination. READ MORE about the power of the booster…
Urging Vaccinations for Children
The CDC now recommends that all children 6 months through 5 years of age should receive a COVID-19 vaccine. This expands eligibility for vaccination to nearly 20 million additional children and means that all Americans ages 6 months and older are now eligible for vaccination. Parents and caregivers can now get their children 6 months through 5 years of age vaccinated with the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines to better protect them from COVID-19. READ MORE about the recommendation.
The CDC recommends that all children between the ages of 5 and 11 years old receive a booster shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine at least 5 months after they’ve completed their primary series. All Americans over the age of 5 are now recommended to receive their first booster shot after a certain amount of time has passed (2 months for J&J recipients, 3 months for immunocompromised people 5 years old and older, and 5 months for everyone else). READ MORE about the booster recommendation for children.
As of February 2022, about 75% of children in the U.S. had antibodies showing that they were previously infected with COVID-19, with 33% of new infections occurring since December 2021. Most COVID-19 infections analyzed in this study between September 2021 and February 2022 were in age groups with the lowest vaccination coverage. These findings illustrate a high infection rate for the Omicron variant, especially among children, and the benefits of vaccination. READ MORE about COVID and children at risk.
The Latest on Long COVID-19 and its Treatments
The post-acute complications of coronavirus disease 2019 or “long COVID-19” are anticipated to substantially alter the lives of millions of people globally. COVID-19 is predicted to alter the long-term trajectory of many chronic cardiac diseases which are abundant in those at risk of severe disease. A new study proposes a possible model for referral of post-COVID-19 patients to cardiac services and discusses future directions for research. READ MORE about long COVID…
Reminder on Mask Quality
CDC has clarified that some types of masks and respirators provide more protection to the wearer against COVID-19 than others. Loosely woven cloth products provide the least protection, layered finely woven products offer more protection, well-fitting disposable surgical masks and KN95s offer even more protection, and well-fitting NIOSH approved respirators (including N95s) offer the highest level of protection. Overall, CDC recommends wearing the most protective mask that you can, ensuring that the mask fits well, and finding one that can be worn consistently. READ MORE about the most effective masks…
An FDA review found that the Novavax COVID-19 vaccine is 90.4% effective overall against mild, moderate, and severe COVID-19. The Novavax vaccine is different from others authorized in the U.S. It works by delivering an exact replica of the spike protein into the bloodstream so the immune system can scope out its enemy in advance. It’s the same approach used to immunize people against shingles and the flu. The FDA and CDC still need to greenlight the vaccine
before it can be rolled out. READ MORE about Novavax.
The J&J COVID-19 vaccine is now only available to individuals 18 years of age and older who cannot receive an mRNA vaccine because mRNA vaccines are not accessible or clinically appropriate. Those with personal concerns about the mRNA vaccines can also still choose to get the J&J vaccine instead. The FDA has made this decision based on the risk of thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS), which they outline in their updated fact sheet. READ MORE about the FDA placing further limits on the use of the Janssen (J&J) COVID-19 vaccine.
The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine booster has been approved for 16-17 year-olds.
Both the Pfizer-BioNTech and the Moderna vaccines have received full F.D.A. approval for adults. The Moderna vaccine was the most recent to receive full approval. READ MORE on the latest vaccine approvals…
In addition, new CDC guidelines allow people to “mix and match” which COVID-19 vaccine they take as a booster. A booster for Pfizer and Moderna recipients is now recommended 5 months after the second dose for people 65 and up and some younger adults. A booster for the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine is recommended for people 18 and older at least two months after their initial dose. READ MORE about mixing vaccines….
FDA regulators have authorized two antiviral medications to treat covid-19, one from Pfizer and a second from Merck. Both the Paxlovid pill from Pfizer and Merck’s Molnupiravir are considered useful tools in the fight against the coronavirus. In order to be effective, however, they must be given very early in an infection.
The use of Pfizer’s Paxlovid, authorized to treat newly infected, at-risk people to prevent severe illness from COVID-19, has soared as infections have risen. More than 162,000 courses were dispensed in the last week of May, compared to an average of 33,000 courses per week since
the drug launched late last year. Despite this spike, some physicians hesitate to prescribe Paxlovid for lower-risk patients, and many people are still uncertain as to how, when, and where they can access this medication. READ MORE about Paxlovid.
Reports of Rebound Effect
Reports of a rebound effect from some people who have used an antiviral medication have generated a closer look at the specifics of its use, according to a story from NPR. READ MORE about the rebound effect.
Disclaimer: This project was funded in part by a cooperative agreement with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention grant number 1 NU50CK000588-01-00. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is an agency within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The contents of this resource center do not necessarily represent the policy of CDC or HHS and should not be considered an endorsement by the Federal Government.
Video of one of our health workers in Colombia teaching a very young fellow proper hand-washing skills