SARS-CoV-2 Pandemic - Ongoing Milestones; COVID-19 Becoming a Part of Everyday
In late December, the U.S. officially recorded its 100 Millionth confirmed COVID-19 case, with actual # of cases being at least 2X higher
400 U.S. people per day continue to die from the virus; 5,000 people admitted daily to hospitals
Meanwhile, the U.S. flu outbreak has also put 150K people in the hospital
From early October to early December (9 weeks), the flu killed 12,000 people, whereas COVID-19 took 27,000+ lives → Officials still consider COVID-19 a Pandemic event/threat
COVID-19 + Flu + RSV Infections have been collectively labeled a ‘Tripledemic’ in the U.S.
U.S. Government extended distribution of @ Home COVID-19 antigen tests; however, testing levels and reporting activities have softened considerably and world-wide daily vaccinations rates are now running at < 7.5% of all-time max of 43+ Million doses/day in June 2021
With 69% of the world population receiving at least one dose of vaccine, Our World in Data estimates still imply that 2.5 Billion people have not been vaccinated at ALL against COVID-19
Breakthrough infections are now common, irrespective of prior vaccination. However, those fully-vaccinated and updated with boosters have the least severe cases; 95% of people dying are not up-to-date on their shots.
China’s COVID-19 Pandemic - A Whiplash Surge
After large demonstrations in China at FOXCONN/other plants, and with protests in Guangzhou and Shanghai in October-November, followed by the Urumqi fire in late-November, in early December, the CCP decided to rapidly relax it’s 3-year long strict Zero-COVID-19 Policy
Followed by a late December announcement to scrap international traveler quarantine rules
China’s GDP was constrained by the Zero-COVID-19 Policy, driven by the closing of many factories, and with people essentially locked-into their homes/apartments
The re-opening activities have unfortunately quickly led to a major surge in COVID-19 infections across China. Data is still not transparent, but strong evidence supports this surge:
Beijing reported a 50X+ increase in infections from < 1,500 to 73,000 per day in 2 ½ weeks after relaxing the Zero-COVID–19 Policy, with the share of hospital visits of elderly patients rising from <20% to >50% of admissions, given lower vaccination levels
Zhejiang Province - bordering Shanghai - reported 1+ Million cases by mid-December, and expect this to go up beyond 2 Million cases by the New Year
Reports of overwhelmed hospitals and a lack of beds echoes these problems experienced world-wide during the COVID-19 Pandemic’s prior waves and peak(s) of infection
Estimates suggest as many as 5,000 deaths in China daily, even though the CCP is not reporting anything close to these numbers. The Economist’s model predicts that 1.5 Million people will die from COVID-19 in China in the coming months
Japan, Italy, Malaysia, the U.S. and India have already imposed mandatory COVID-19 testing on incoming Chinese travelers - other countries are expected to join this action
Italy reported a flight coming in from China to Milan with 50% of the passengers testing positive for COVID-19
Concerns are that the usual large volume of domestic travel during the late January Chinese Lunar New Year could further spread the COVID-19 virus into rural areas across the country
Another fear is that this Chinese COVID-19 surge might spur the development of further COVID-19 variants and potentially lead to the emergence of more severe forms of the virus.
Emerging Longer Term Pandemic Health and Economic Impacts
Refana’s Q3 Update documented the not well-understood ‘Long COVID-19’ phenomena, which incorporates a broad ranges of symptoms/severities;
Most common symptoms: Shortness of breath, cognitive dysfunction (‘brain fog’), fatigue
200+ additional symptoms have been reported, including chest pain, difficulty with speech, anxiety, depression, muscle aches, fever, ongoing loss of smell or taste, and the list goes on
In the U.S., the estimated health and economic impacts of Long COVID-19 are severe:
Long COVID-19 has affected as many as 23 Million Americans - up to a 30% hit rate on patients infected by COVID-19
Health effects morph into labor gaps, disability benefits, life insurance payouts, household debt, forfeited retirement savings and financial ruin
Estimates suggest that these effects could cost the U.S. Economy $3.7 Trillion in economic impact; this would be 17% of the U.S.’s Pre-Pandemic economy, the equivalent of a Great Recession; this estimate is up 3X+ times over an initial 2020 estimate of these impacts
In the UK, 2.5 Million people have reported long-term sickness as a main reason for economic inactivity during the Summer of 2022, with Long COVID-19 being an important contributing factor - this figure has increased by 600,000+ since the Pandemic hit the UK
With funding for Covid vaccines less available, Refana has put its multi-valent WIV vaccine development, modular production system technology and next generation vaccine development for Pan-Coronavirus/Universal Vaccine development on hold. FYI, our funding application for a Universal Vaccine approach with CEPI (Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations) passed the initial selection process and was forwarded for detailed review. However ultimately and unfortunately it was not one of the small number of projects to be offered funding.
This is the last of the COVID Industry Updates. Refana's blogs going forward will focus on Artificial Intelligence in Medicine/Medtech.