Global COVID-19 cases fell again last week as the disease burden caused by BA.5 shifts to some Asian countries, including Japan and South Korea, the World Health Organization (WHO) said in its latest weekly update.
Regarding developments in the US, the Biden administration today released two new reports on Long COVID, one on a research action plan and the other on services and support for people suffering the long-term effects of the disease.
Still falls high as subvariants increase
After the number of cases rose worldwide through June, COVID activity appears to be declining, with a 9% drop over the past week compared to the previous week, the WHO said. However, two regions reported increases, the Western Pacific, where cases increased by 20%, and Africa, where the number of cases increased by 5%.
WHO has called for caution in interpreting trends based on cases due to the drop in testing and surveillance.
In the Western Pacific region, the biggest jumps were in Japan, up 42%, and South Korea, up 25% compared to the previous week.
Japan’s cases average more than 200,000 a day, with health systems under strain in some areas, in part due to COVID-19 illnesses among staff, the authorities said Japan Times. South Korea is reporting more than 100,000 cases a day, the highest since mid-April Korea Herald.
In Africa, the largest proportional increases were reported from Liberia, Seychelles and Rwanda.
Out of 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 stable last week after rising the previous week. About 14,000 were reported to the WHO, with the United States reporting the most.
The proportions of more easily transmissible BA.4 and BA.5 omicron subvariants continue to increase. 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 lengthy COVID reports
In April, President Joe Biden released a memorandum calling for two reports within 120 days, both addressing the challenge of a long COVID that has seen patients infected with SARS-CoV-2 for months or even years Have symptoms, some serious.
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) today released the two reports, one on a research action plan and the other on federal services and support for people living with long COVID. HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra, JD, said, “As our nation continues to make strides in the fight against COVID-19, these reports are critical in shedding light on the impact of Long COVID and how to bring people together with resources.”
HHS estimates that 7.7 to 23 million Americans have long-term illness from COVID and that at any given time about 1 million are unemployed, totaling $50 billion in lost earnings each year.
In other COVID developments:
- President Biden, who is experiencing a rebound after being treated with Paxlovid, tested positive for COVID again today for the fifth straight day, according to a statement from his doctor, Kevin O’Connor, DO. He noted that the President has a slight cough but finished a light workout today. Biden will continue to isolate and work from executive residence.
- The European Medicines Agency today recommended listing pericarditis and myocarditis as new adverse reactions in the Novavax COVID-19 vaccine product information, as only a few cases have been reported.
- Cattle can occasionally be infected with SARS-CoV-2, although it is not clear whether the animals can transmit the virus, German researchers reported in a research letter in Emerging contagious Diseases. They based their findings on serological testing of samples from German cattle in late 2021.