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Omicron shuts down NFL games and spurs huge COVID spikes in New York and London

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The extra contagious COVID-19 omicron variant is spreading in a short time.


Sarah Tew/CNET

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

The omicron variant has now been detected in a minimum of 39 states, and the brand new pressure has brought about COVID-19 circumstances to rise significantly all through the US and the world. On Friday, the surge in COVID circumstances and outbreaks amongst gamers led the NFL to postpone multiple games for Week 15. 

On Thursday, New York state skilled its highest ever one-day number of positive cases. On Friday, the WHO warned that COVID-19 cases double every 1.5-3 days in areas affected by the omicron variant.

This morning, New York Metropolis Mayor Bill DeBlasio tweeted that town posted a outstanding 5,263 new circumstances, and the mayor of London declared a “main incident” as a consequence of 26,418 new cases being reported in the past 24 hours.

In its press briefing on Friday, the CDC once more confused the need of COVID-19 vaccine boosters. Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical adviser to President Joe Biden, introduced a number of research exhibiting decreased effectiveness of major COVID-19 vaccinations towards Omicron, in addition to proof exhibiting elevated neutralization from booster pictures. A 3rd booster shot is urged by the CDC, and should finally have an effect on the definition of “totally vaccinated.”

Scientists are nonetheless piecing collectively an image of how simply the virus can move from one individual to a different and evade safety offered by the first vaccine doses of Pfizer, Moderna and J&J. Wanting on the newest information, Fauci said on Wednesday that omicron can bypass a lot of the safety given by two pictures of the mRNA Moderna and Pfizer vaccines: “The omicron variant undoubtably compromised the results of a two-dose mRNA vaccine-induced antibodies and reduces the general safety.” Extra promising, Fauci stated, is that boosters seem to revive the extent of safety wanted to protect towards the omicron variant.

Within the US, Biden is doubling down on urging vaccines and booster pictures till extra data on the brand new variant turns into accessible. Because of this, the US administered 12.5 million shots in the first week of December, in line with Jeff Zients, the White Home coronavirus response coordinator. That is the very best variety of weekly pictures since Could. Seven million of these have been booster pictures, Zients stated.

Up to now, the COVID-19 vaccines have confirmed to be highly effective in stopping hospitalization and dying, with people who find themselves unvaccinated being over 10 times more likely to be hospitalized if contaminated. A CDC panel on Thursday beneficial that these on the lookout for a protected and efficient vaccine ought to select an mRNA possibility (Pfizer or Moderna) — and not Johnson and Johnson’s.

Listed here are 11 essential issues to find out about omicron as we speak. For extra on COVID-19 boosters, this is a trick to simply get an appointment and a free experience. This is how you will quickly get a COVID-19 take a look at package without cost and particulars on mixing and matching vaccines.


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Which NFL games have been postponed?

The NFL decided on Friday to postpone three games for Week 15. The game between the Las Vegas Raiders and Cleveland Browns, originally scheduled for Saturday, December 18, has been rescheduled for Monday, December 20.

Originally scheduled for Sunday, December 19, the Seattle Seahawks-Los Angeles Rams and Washington Football Team-Philadelphia Eagles games will now be played on Tuesday, December 21. The Browns, Rams, and Washington all have more than 20 players in COVID protocol because of positive tests.

On Friday, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell communicated with all 32 teams about the league’s shift in policy. Goodell noted, “The emergence of the Omicron variant is precisely the kind of change that warrants a flexible response. Based on medical advice, we have instituted additional protocols as well as revised testing protocols for reinstating players and staff who have tested positive. We have also considered whether certain games should be rescheduled in light of current conditions.”

A COVID vaccine booster is needed to guard against omicron

Early studies indicate a booster can guard against omicron. “Boosters … enhance the vaccine protection against omicron,” Fauci said on Wednesday. “Our booster vaccine regimens work against omicron.”

“Individuals who have received two vaccines will most likely not have significant prevention from infection or any type of disease [from the new variant],” BioNTech CEO Uğur Şahin stated final week. (Comirnaty, the model identify of the Pfizer vaccine, is manufactured by Pfizer and BioNTech.) Şahin stated extra data is required to verify the corporate’s preliminary laboratory findings that point out a 3rd Pfizer vaccine dose is essential to protect towards the variant.

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

On Thursday, a CDC advisory panel voted to advocate that these on the lookout for a protected vaccine decide both Moderna’s or Pfizer’s due to the chance of a doubtlessly deadly blood clot concern related to the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the CDC, is predicted to determine as quickly as as we speak whether or not to just accept that panel’s vote.

Is an omicron-specific vaccine wanted?

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

Fauci on Wednesday stated that there isn’t a want for a variant-specific booster at this level. The present boosters look like efficient towards omicron.

Up to now, the omicron virus is producing delicate signs

In line with Fauci, preliminary data appears to point omicron might produce much less critical signs than initially feared: “We’re getting anecdotal data … that the extent of severity seems to be possibly a bit lower than within the delta,” he stated Sunday.

Some hopeful information on omicron got here lately from South Africa. At a press briefing on Thursday, Minister of Well being Dr. Joe Phaahla famous that hospitalizations are “undoubtedly a lot decrease” than throughout their third wave in June 2021. Just one.7% of COVID-19 circumstances have been hospitalized within the second week of infections on this fourth wave, in contrast with 19% in the course of the second week of the third wave.

The brand new COVID variant might unfold extra simply than delta

It might nonetheless be two or three weeks until we all know extra about how simply omicron might be handed between folks and the way resistant the mutated virus is towards the present crop of vaccines, however Fauci on Tuesday at a White Home briefing stated that early information additionally suggests omicron could be more infectious than the delta variant and is changing delta because the dominant COVID-19 pressure in South Africa.

Omicron confirmed in 39 US states

It makes up 3% of the circumstances within the US. In New York and New Jersey, nonetheless, it might make up 13% of recent infections.

The variant has been detected in 39 states throughout the nation, from Washington to Mississippi and Texas to Utah. The US and different nations have been already bracing for an elevated caseload as colder climate and vacation gatherings introduced extra folks indoors collectively. Now, projections of a winter surge of the dominant delta variant be a part of issues about omicron’s unfold.

Add an increasing number of flu infections, and consultants fear a couple of “twindemic” of the 2 sicknesses.

Omicron might turn into the dominant COVID variant in Europe inside months

In Europe, omicron might turn into the most typical COVID-19 variant in months, in line with the European Centre for Illness Prevention and Management.

“Mathematical modeling signifies that the Omicron VOC is predicted to trigger over half of all SARS-CoV-2 infections within the EU/EEA inside the subsequent few months” as a consequence of early understandings of the omicron variant’s excessive transmissibility between folks, the physique stated in a Dec. 2 briefing (PDF). 

Scientists finding out the omicron variant in South Africa, the place it was first reported to the World Well being Group, have stated it is spreading more than twice as fast as the delta variant, in line with reporting from the New York Instances. However what is not but recognized is whether or not the unfold is hastened as a result of the mutations make it simpler to unfold amongst folks, if vaccines are much less efficient towards this pressure or for another motive. The study cited by NYT has not but been printed or peer-reviewed.

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 a minimum of 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 reason behind concern. 

That could be one motive quite a few have banned journey from some nations in southern Africa and elevated journey restrictions to incorporate a adverse 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 towards the brand new variant.


Sarah Tew/CNET

COVID PCR exams can establish the omicron variant

Most PCR exams to establish the presence of COVID-19 within the physique are free (COVID-19 exams for worldwide journey are the primary exception). So it is excellent news that the present 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.

“Fortuitously for us, the PCRs that we largely use would decide up this very uncommon variant that has an actual massive constellation of mutations,” Fauci stated 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 towards the omicron variant this winter. It consists of:

  • Outreach packages to contact folks eligible to obtain booster pictures.
  • Making at-home COVID-19 exams “free” for everybody.
  • Tighter journey restrictions that require a adverse COVID-19 take a look at 24 hours earlier than departure.
  • Paid day off for federal employees to get booster pictures.
  • Securing antiviral capsules as a remedy for individuals who turn into contaminated with COVID-19 (these are beneficial 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 extra COVID-19 steerage, this is what to find out about new journey restrictions, methods to retailer your vaccine card in your telephone and what to do should you lose your vaccine card.

The knowledge contained on this article is for academic and informational functions solely and isn’t meant as well being or medical recommendation. All the time seek the advice of a doctor or different certified well being supplier relating to any questions you could have a couple of medical situation or well being aims.



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