Global COVID-19 cases fell again last week as the burden of the BA.5-fueled disease shifted to some Asian nations, including Japan and South Korea, the World Health Organization (WHO) said in its latest weekly update.
In US developments, the Biden administration today released two new reports on long-term COVID, one on research action plans and another on services and support for people experiencing the long-term effects of the disease.
Cases are still higher as subvariants increase
After a rise in global cases in June, Covid activity appears to be slowing, falling by 9% last week compared to the previous week, the WHO said. However, two regions reported increases, the Western Pacific, where cases rose by 20%, and Africa, where cases rose by 5%.
The WHO has urged caution in interpreting trends based on cases because of a lack of testing and surveillance.
In the Western Pacific, the biggest jumps were in Japan, which reported a 42% increase, and South Korea, which reported a 25% increase from the previous week.
With Japan’s cases averaging more than 200,000 per day, health care systems are feeling the pressure in some areas, partly due to COVID-19 illnesses among staff. The Japan Times. South Korea is reporting more than 100,000 cases a day, the most since mid-April, according to Korea Herald.
In Africa, the largest proportional increases were reported from Liberia, Seychelles and Rwanda.
Of the more than 6.5 million cases reported to the WHO last week, the five countries with the most cases were Japan, the United States, South Korea, Germany and Italy.
Deaths were steady last week after rising the previous week, at 14,000 reported to the WHO, with the United States reporting the most.
The proportion of more transmissible BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron subvariants is increasing. BA.5 prevalence increased from 63.8% to 69.6%, and BA.4 levels increased slightly, from 10.9% to 11.8%.
Biden administration unveils long-awaited COVID reports
In April, President Joe Biden issued a memorandum calling for two reports in 120 days, both addressing the challenge of prolonged COVID, in which patients infected with SARS-CoV-2 experience symptoms — some severe — for months or years.
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released two reports today, one on the Research Action Plan and the other on federal services and supports for people with chronic COVID. HHS Secretary Javier Becerra, JD, said, “As our nation continues to make progress in the fight against COVID-19, these reports are important to shed light on the impact of chronic COVID-19 and how to match people with resources.”
HHS estimates that 7.7 million to 23 million Americans are experiencing long-term COVID, and about 1 million are out of the workforce at any given time, amounting to $50 billion in lost earnings each year.
In other covid developments:
- President Biden, who is experiencing a rebound after paxlovide treatment, tested positive for Covid again today for the fifth day in a row, according to a statement from his physician, Kevin O’Connor, DO. He said the President has a slight cough but ended up doing light exercise today. Biden will continue to work and step away from the executive residence.
- The European Medicines Agency has today recommended that pericarditis and myocarditis be listed as new side effects in the product information of the Novavax COVID-19 vaccine, due to the small number of reported cases.
- Cattle can sometimes be infected with SARS-CoV-2, although it is unclear whether the animals can transmit the virus, German researchers reported in a research paper. Emerging infectious Diseases. They based their findings on serology tests from German cattle samples in late 2021.