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COVID-19 omicron FAQ: Cases doubling, NFL postponement, ‘It’s going to take over,’ Fauci says

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The COVID-19 omicron variant is spreading rapidly.


Sarah Tew/CNET

For probably the most up-to-date information and details about the coronavirus pandemic, go to the WHO and CDC web sites.

Now detected in 44 states, circumstances of the quickly spreading omicron variant are doubling each two to a few days, Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical adviser to President Joe Biden, said on CNN Sunday morning. “It’ll take over,” Fauci mentioned.

The COVID virus is touching each nook of US, from New York state, which skilled its highest one-day number of positive cases on Friday and then again on Saturday, to the NFL, which is postponing games due to rising circumstances. On the West Coast, Washington state Sen. Doug Ericksen died after testing constructive.

Scientists are working by means of the rising physique of proof that the virus can simply go from one particular person to a different and evade safety offered by the first vaccine doses of Pfizer, Moderna and Johson & Johnson. The New York Times on Sunday reported that COVID-19 vaccines used elsewhere in world “provide virtually no protection in opposition to changing into contaminated by the extremely contagious Omicron variant.” Solely the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna mRNA vaccines look like efficient in guarding in opposition to omicron. And people vaccinated with the Pfizer and Moderna pictures want a booster to guard in opposition to an infection and severe sickness.

Within the US, Biden and his administration are urgent these eligible to get the COVID vaccine and booster pictures, and Biden is about to address the nation on Tuesday on the surging omicron variant.

To this point, the COVID-19 vaccines licensed within the US — particularly the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines — have confirmed to be highly effective in stopping hospitalization and loss of life, with people who find themselves unvaccinated being over 10 times more likely to be hospitalized if contaminated. A Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention panel on Thursday advisable that these on the lookout for a protected and efficient vaccine ought to select an mRNA choice (Pfizer or Moderna) — and not Johnson and Johnson’s.

Listed below are 9 necessary issues to find out about omicron as we speak. For extra on COVID-19 boosters, this is learn how to get an appointment and a free experience to your shot. Here is how you will quickly get a COVID-19 take a look at equipment free of charge and particulars on mixing and matching vaccines.


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A Pfizer or Moderna vaccine booster is required to protect in opposition to omicron

Stressing the necessity for a booster, Fauci on Sunday mentioned “while you get to omicron, the safety considerably goes down,” with two doses of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines. “However the excellent news is while you increase somebody, it goes proper again up,” Fauci mentioned.

A 3rd booster shot is urged by the CDC, which can ultimately have an effect on the definition of “absolutely vaccinated.” Fauci mentioned on Sunday whether or not the CDC adjustments the definition, the significance of a booster holds: “So far as I am involved — I make it very clear — if you wish to be optimally protected, get boosted.”

Which NFL video games have been postponed due to COVID?

The NFL selected Friday to postpone three video games for Week 15. The sport between the Las Vegas Raiders and Cleveland Browns, initially scheduled for Saturday, was been rescheduled for Monday.

Initially scheduled for Sunday, the Seattle Seahawks-Los Angeles Rams and Washington Soccer Workforce-Philadelphia Eagles video games will now be performed on Tuesday. The Browns, Rams, and Washington all have greater than 20 gamers in COVID protocol due to constructive assessments.

On Friday, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell informed all 32 groups in regards to the league’s shift in coverage. Goodell famous, “The emergence of the Omicron variant is exactly the sort of change that warrants a versatile response. Primarily based on medical recommendation, we now have instituted further protocols in addition to revised testing protocols for reinstating gamers and workers who’ve examined constructive. We’ve additionally thought of whether or not sure video games needs to be rescheduled in mild of present situations.”

The brand new COVID variant might unfold extra simply than delta

A rising assortment of knowledge means that omicron could be more infectious than the delta variant and is now the dominant strain in the UK.

The World Health Organization said the variant has been reported in 89 nations and the variety of circumstances is doubling in 1.5 to three days, together with in nations with excessive ranges of immuniity.

To this point, the omicron virus showing to provide gentle signs

Some hopeful information on omicron got here just lately from South Africa. At a press briefing Thursday, Minister of Well being Dr. Joe Phaahla famous that hospitalizations are “undoubtedly a lot decrease” than through the nation’s third wave, in June 2021. Only one.7% of COVID-19 circumstances on this fourth wave’s second week of infections concerned hospitalization, in contrast with 19% through the second week of the third wave.

Well being officers mentioned the numbers could also be skewed by breakthrough circumstances of those that are vaccined and experincing asymptomatic or gentle sickness. Those that are unvaccinated may have extra extreme sickness.

Why did the CDC panel suggest the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines over the one from Johnson & Johnson?

On Thursday, a CDC advisory panel voted to suggest that these on the lookout for a protected vaccine choose both Moderna’s or Pfizer’s due to the danger of a probably deadly blood clot situation related to the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the CDC, is anticipated to resolve as quickly as as we speak whether or not to simply accept that panel’s vote.

Is an omicron-specific vaccine wanted?

Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson have all mentioned they’re gearing as much as create a vaccine particularly designed to fight omicron if it is wanted.

Fauci on Dec. 15 mentioned that there is no such thing as a want for a variant-specific booster at this level. The present boosters look like efficient in opposition to omicron.

Omicron is analogous to the delta variant’s mutation

COVID latches onto cells utilizing a spike protein in its construction. Omicron has extra mutations than the delta variant, which is taken into account at the least twice as contagious as previous strains. Whereas it is not clear but whether or not omicron is kind of contagious than delta, the presence of these mutations is one explanation for concern. 

Which may be one purpose quite a few have banned journey from some nations in southern Africa and elevated journey restrictions to incorporate a destructive COVID-19 take a look at 24 hours earlier than journey, no matter vaccination standing.

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Drugmakers are exploring if the present vaccines are efficient in opposition to the brand new variant.


Sarah Tew/CNET

COVID PCR assessments can determine the omicron variant

Most PCR assessments to determine the presence of COVID-19 within the physique are free (COVID-19 assessments for worldwide journey are the primary exception). So it is excellent news that the prevailing nasal swab take a look at has been discovered to detect the omicron variant; a blood take a look at or different process is thus far pointless.

“Luckily for us, the PCRs that we principally use would choose up this very uncommon variant that has an actual massive constellation of mutations,” Fauci mentioned in a Nov. 29 press briefing.

Booster pictures and vaccines are urged to assist forestall omicron’s unfold

On Dec. 2, Biden introduced a plan to assist defend the US in opposition to the omicron variant this winter. It contains:

  • Outreach packages to contact individuals eligible to obtain booster pictures.
  • Making at-home COVID-19 assessments “free” for everybody.
  • Tighter journey restrictions that require a destructive COVID-19 take a look at 24 hours earlier than departure.
  • Paid break day for federal employees to get booster pictures.
  • Securing antiviral drugs as a remedy for individuals who turn out to be contaminated with COVID-19 (these are advisable however not but FDA-approved).
  • Sending 200 million extra doses of COVID-19 vaccine to worldwide nations within the subsequent 100 days (280 million have already been despatched).

For added COVID-19 steering, this is what to find out about new journey restrictions, learn how to retailer your vaccine card in your cellphone and what to do in case you lose your vaccine card.

The data contained on this article is for instructional and informational functions solely and isn’t supposed as well being or medical recommendation. At all times seek the advice of a doctor or different certified well being supplier concerning any questions you could have a few medical situation or well being goals.



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