The global death toll during the pandemic far exceeds what countries have reported, the W.H.O. says.
“In Mexico, the excess death toll during the first two years of the pandemic was twice as high as the government’s official tally of Covid deaths.
In Egypt, excess deaths were roughly 12 times as great as the official Covid toll.
In Pakistan, the figure was eight times as high.
Those estimates, along with others for nearly every nation, were calculated by a global panel of experts assembled by the World Health Organization and published on Thursday. Together they offered a startling glimpse of how drastically the death counts reported by many governments have understated the true toll of the pandemic.
Overall, roughly 14.9 million more people worldwide died in 2020 and 2021 than would have been expected to in normal times, the experts estimated. Most were victims of Covid itself, they said, but some died because the pandemic made it more difficult to get medical care for ailments such as heart attacks. The previous toll, based solely on death counts reported by countries, was six million.
WASHINGTON — On Saturday, the comedian Trevor Noah stood before a ballroom of 2,600 journalists, celebrities and political elites at the White House Correspondents Dinner, and asked: What are we doing here?
“Did none of you learn anything from the Gridiron Dinner? Nothing,” Mr. Noah said, referring to another elite Washington gathering in April, after which dozens of attendees tested positive for the coronavirus. “Do you read any of your own newspapers?”
By Wednesday, Mr. Noah’s chiding remarks at what he called “the nation’s most distinguished superspreader event” were beginning to appear prophetic as a growing number of attendees, including a string of journalists and Antony J. Blinken, the secretary of state, said they had tested positive for the virus.
Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said on Wednesday that President Biden had tested negative on Tuesday after attending the dinner unmasked. Ms. Psaki added that Mr. Blinken was not considered a close contact to Mr. Biden and “has not seen the president in several days.”
The growing number of cases presented another sign of an official Washington that has largely returned to prepandemic routines, even as officials still urge Americans to take precautions, and has decided to live with the result.
First came Omicron, then came its highly contagious subvariant, BA.2. That subvariant gave rise to its own subvariants, whose share of new coronavirus cases in the United States is growing.
The coronavirus is constantly mutating. While some variants seem to vanish, causing little ripples of surges in their wake, others have kept driving large outbreaks. Experts say a new form, BA.2.12.1, is spreading rapidly and will likely in the next weeks become the dominant form of the virus in the United States. There’s no indication yet that it causes more severe disease.
In the week ending Saturday, BA.2.12.1 made up about 36 percent of all new cases in the United States, according to estimates by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s up from 26 percent of cases the week prior, and 16 percent of infections during the second week in April.
(The latest figures are rough estimates, subject to revision as more data come in. Genetic sequencing of the virus is performed on just a portion of samples across the country.)
First detected in the United States by New York State health officials in April,BA.2.12.1 is spreading more rapidly than the first versions of the Omicron variant, which caused a huge surge in cases over the winter. This version descends from BA.2 and appears to have spread even more quickly, although the reasons are still under investigation.
Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken has tested positive for the coronavirus, the State Department announced on Wednesday, nearly a week before he was scheduled to travel to diplomatic meetings in Europe and Morocco.
A spokesman, Ned Price, said Mr. Blinken, 60, had mild symptoms, and had not seen President Biden in several days.
Mr. Blinken, who is fully vaccinated and boosted, will work at home and “looks forward to returning to the department and resuming his full duties and travels as soon as possible,” Mr. Price said in the statement.
Mr. Blinken joins a handful of other prominent figures who have tested positive after attending the White House Correspondents’ Dinner on April 30. Among them are Steve Herman of Voice of America and, according to a person familiar with the matter, Jonathan Karl of ABC News.
Many people wondered whether it was advisable to gather a crowd of 2,600 into the packed hotel ballroom of the Washington Hilton hotel. Proof of vaccination and a same-day negative test were required; boosters were strongly encouraged; and masks were optional.
After over a month in lockdown, Zeng Jialin could finally return to the Shanghai auto parts factory where he had worked. He was about to be released from a quarantine facility, having recovered from Covid, and was desperate to make up for the many days of wages he had missed.
But on Tuesday, the day he was supposed to be released, someone in the crowded isolation facility tested positive again. Mr. Zeng, 48, was ordered to wait 14 more days.
“I have three kids, in college, middle school and elementary school. The pressure is huge,” he said in a phone interview from the facility. Much of his $30 daily wage had supported them. “I also owe money to the bank, so I’m very anxious.”
As China battles its worst coronavirus outbreaks, its uncompromising determination to eliminate infections has left millions unable to work. Stringent lockdowns, hitting city after city, have forced factories and businesses to shut, sometimes for weeks, including in some of the country’s most important economic centers.
Two groups have been especially hard-hit: migrant workers — the roughly 280 million laborers who travel from rural areas to cities to work in sectors such as manufacturing and construction — and recent college graduates. Nearly 11 million college students, a record, are expected to graduate this year.
A business group warned on Thursday that China’s “dynamic zero Covid” policies have left European companies considerably less willing to continue investing in the country.
A survey by the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China found that the tone among European businesses in the country had soured since January, when a survey found broad optimism and plans for further investment.
“We had a double whammy in February and March with the Ukraine invasion and the Covid lockdowns, and it had an incredible impact,” said Joerg Wuttke, the chamber’s president.
The survey, conducted from April 20 to 26, provides new data on how the increasingly visible supply chain problems from China’s Covid-19 lockdowns, including interruptions in trucking services and factory shutdowns, are hurting the country’s competitiveness as a global manufacturing center and a magnet for Western investment and technology transfers.
Premier Li Keqiang has said that cities and provinces should try to minimize local economic disruption from their Covid measures. Mr. Wuttke, the most visible leader of China’s foreign business community, has been a critic in recent weeks of the economic disruption.
Covid-19 was a leading cause of maternal deaths in parts of Latin America last year, a regional official of the World Health Organization said on Wednesday.
“Pregnant women have a higher risk to develop severe cases of Covid-19,” said the official, Dr. Jarbas Barbosa. “For this reason, they should be vaccinated.”
Dr. Barbosa, the assistant director of the Pan American Health Organization, the W.H.O.’s regional arm for the Western Hemisphere, said national governments and health care workers should redouble vaccination efforts for pregnant women, who have often had limited access to prenatal care or to hospitals during the pandemic.
He said it was very important that doctors and nurses who come into contact with pregnant women “provide all the information to support the decision of these women to get vaccinated and to save their lives.”
The findings on causes of maternal death are somewhat preliminary, he explained, because of lags and gaps in data reporting. “We are now working with the data provided by the countries for the year 2021, but we have some information from Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico and Peru, confirming that Covid-19 was one of the most important causes of maternal deaths in 2021,” Dr. Barbosa said. “And we don’t expect to have different data from the other countries in Latin America.”
Moderna reported on Wednesday that sales for its Covid-19 vaccine more than tripled in the first three months of 2022 compared to the same period a year ago.
The vaccine brought in $5.9 billion in revenue in the first three months of this year and was the company’s biggest source of revenue, which totaled $6.1 billion, Moderna said. Profits rose to $3.7 billion for the quarter compared with $1.2 billion for the same period last year.
Moderna said it plans to sell its vaccine to private companies as the Biden administration seeks congressional approval of $22.5 billion in Covid relief money to pay for treatments, tests, vaccines and research. On a call with investors on Wednesday, Stéphane Bancel, chief executive officer of Moderna, highlighted the company’s optimistic outlook for global sales, and said it has $21 billion worth of advance purchase agreements for the vaccine.
Shares of Moderna rose 5.8 percent on Wednesday.
In June, Moderna plans to publish data on new versions of its vaccines to handle virus variants. In late April, it became the first manufacturer to request authorization for a vaccine for children under 6, and said the vaccine will also be ready for review by a Food and Drug Administration panel in June.
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As coronavirus travel restrictions ease across many parts of the world and countries report cases of less severe illness, international trips are top of mind for U.S. travelers, many of whom have started to book overseas journeys for the spring and summer.
But the requirement for air travelers — vaccinated or not — to present a negative coronavirus test for entry into the United States has many people concerned about the prospect of testing positive and finding themselves stuck in a foreign country, unable to return home.
Deborah Haines, 47, a chiropractor from Seattle, was forced to extend her vacation in the Netherlands by 22 days last month because she kept testing positive even after her coronavirus symptoms had subsided. The stress of determining the appropriate documentation for re-entry, and having to cancel work appointments back home, made her feel sicker than the coronavirus itself, she said.
“When I thought about the possibility of getting stuck with Covid in Amsterdam, I thought it would mean a few extra days and then I could get a negative test and go home,” she said. “Boy, was that a miscalculation. I kept testing positive and it was so hard to get any clear guidance for what I should do.”
In early 2021, scientists in Colombia discovered a worrisome new coronavirus variant. This variant, eventually known as Mu, had several troubling mutations that experts believed could help it evade the immune system’s defenses.
Over the following months, Mu spread swiftly in Colombia, fueling a new surge of Covid-19 cases. By the end of August, it had been detected in dozens of countries, and the World Health Organization had designated it a “variant of interest.”
“Mu was starting to make some noise globally,” said Joseph Fauver, a genomic epidemiologist at the University of Nebraska Medical Center and an author of a recent study on the variant.
And then it fizzled. Today, the variant has all but vanished.
For every Delta or Omicron there is a Gamma, Iota or Mu, variants that drove local surges but never swept to global dominance. And while understanding Omicron remains a critical public health priority, there are lessons to be learned from these lesser lineages, experts s”