The global tally of new cases of COVID-19 fell 9% in the week through July 31, according to the World Health Organization, but the trend did not hold for the U.S., which saw new cases climb 2%, increasing more sharply than in any country but Japan.
The U.S. added 923,366 cases, according to the agency’s weekly epidemiological update. Cases are thought to be higher than official tallies as so many people are testing at home and data are not being collected. The WHO has warned for some time now that its weekly numbers “should be interpreted with caution,” as several countries have changed COVID testing strategies, meaning fewer tests are being performed and consequently fewer cases are being detected.
The U.S. also saw the highest number of fatalities in the world at 2,626, a 10% decline from the previous week. Globally, the number of deaths was flat compared with the previous week.
The biggest increase in cases was in Japan, at 1.4 million. Japan has been experiencing a surge in cases of late.
The BA.5 omicron subvariant continued to cement its dominance, accounting for 69.6% of cases uploaded to a central sequencing database, up from 63.8% a week ago.
The daily average for new U.S. cases remains close to 130,000, after registering 120,446 on Wednesday, according to a New York Times tracker, down 6% from two weeks ago.
The daily average for hospitalizations rose to 43,597, up 3% in two weeks. The daily average for deaths is up 11% to 475.
posted earnings Thursday showing a 4% decline in revenue that was driven by a drop in sales of its COVID antibody treatment bebtelovimab. Sales of the treatment fell 13% to $129.1 million, even though it has held up against omicron and its highly infectious BA.5 subvariant.
The drug company said it expects the government to purchase a new batch of bebtelovimab worth $275 million this year and expects nongovernment sales to help offset a hit of about $400 million that it’s expecting from foreign-exchange effects.
The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday that Lilly is planning to start commercial sales of bebtelovimab to states, hospitals and healthcare providers later this month as the government’s supply dwindles.
On Thursday, it said it plans to sell through a single distributor starting the week of Aug. 15. That will mark a shift away from how COVID treatments have been handled during the pandemic and test appetite for them in the commercial markets, as the Journal reported.
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Other COVID-19 news you should know about:
• A number of states are ending support programs put in place amid the pandemic to assist people struggling during lockdowns and other restrictions. In Mississippi, Gov. Tate Reeves said Wednesday the state will soon stop accepting applications to a federal rental assistance program that aimed to stave off evictions, the Associated Press reported. The Rental Assistance for Mississippians Program will not accept any applications past Aug. 15, and the state will return to the federal government as much as $130 million for the program.
• The Seattle city council has voted to end COVID-19 hazard pay for grocery-store workers, the AP reported. The council voted 5-2 on Tuesday, with council members Lisa Herbold and Teresa Mosqueda absent, to repeal a policy passed in early 2021 that required grocery stores to pay employees an additional $4 per hour.
• Australia will start offering COVID vaccines to children as young as 6 months who have serious health conditions, the Guardian reported. But health officials have opted not to make them available to all children under 5, as other countries have done. Children 6 months old to under the age of 5 with severe immunocompromised conditions, disability, and complex health conditions such as lung disease or Type 1 diabetes will be able to get a Moderna
shot from Sept. 7, with supplies of the pediatric vaccine arriving in Australia on Wednesday night.
• SeaWorld Entertainment Inc.
posted better-than-expected earnings for the second quarter but said COVID continued to weigh and the numbers do not yet represent a normalized environment. Guest attendance totaled 6.3 million guests in the quarter, up 7.8% from a year ago. “While our second quarter and first half financial results were strong, these results still do not reflect a normalized operating environment and we still have significant scope to improve our execution and our financial results,” CEO Marc Swanson said in a statement. July revenue continued to grow from a record July 2021, however, and was up abut 20% compared with July 2019, and the company is expecting another “solid summer.”
Here’s what the numbers say
The global tally of confirmed cases of COVID-19 topped 580.7 million on Thursday, while the death toll rose above 6.41 million, according to data aggregated by Johns Hopkins University.
The U.S. leads the world with 91.8 million cases and 1,031,102 fatalities.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s tracker shows that 223.2 million people living in the U.S. are fully vaccinated, equal to 67.2% of the total population. But just 107.9 million have had a booster, equal to 48.3% of the vaccinated population, and just 19.9 million of the people 50 years old and over who are eligible for a second booster have had one, equal to 30.9% of those who had a first booster.