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Omicron update today: Variant in 36 states, symptoms, CDC recommendation for J&J booster


The omicron variant is elevating world concern.

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.

It accounts for 3% of the COVID-19 circumstances within the US, however the omicron variant has now been detected in a minimum of 36 states, and the brand new pressure is more and more the main focus of the Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention. A CDC panel on Thursday beneficial that these searching for a secure and efficient vaccine ought to select an mRNA possibility (Pfizer or Moderna) — and not Johnson and Johnson’s.

Scientists are piecing collectively an image of how simply the virus can move from one particular person to a different and evade safety offered by the first vaccine doses of Pfizer, Moderna and J&J. Trying on the newest knowledge, Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical adviser to President Joe Biden, 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 info on the brand new variant turns into out there. Because of this, the US administered 12.5 million shots in the first week of December, in accordance with Jeff Zients, the White Home coronavirus response coordinator. That is the very best variety of weekly pictures since Could. Seven million of these had been booster pictures, Zients stated.

Up to now, the COVID-19 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. Vaccine makers are optimistic the present vaccines approved to be used within the US will present a level of safety towards omicron, too.

Listed here are eight essential issues to learn about omicron right now. For extra on COVID-19 boosters, here is a trick to simply get an appointment and a free trip. Here is how you will quickly get a COVID-19 take a look at equipment at no cost and particulars on mixing and matching vaccines.

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What to do if you lose your vaccination card, and how…


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

On Thursday, a CDC advisory panel voted to recommend that those looking for a safe vaccine pick either Moderna’s or Pfizer’s because of the risk of a potentially fatal blood clot issue associated with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the CDC, is expected to decide as soon as today whether to accept that panel’s vote.

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 title of the Pfizer vaccine, is manufactured by Pfizer and BioNTech.) Şahin stated extra info 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.

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 is no such thing as 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 accordance with Fauci, preliminary info appears to point omicron could produce much less critical signs than initially feared: “We’re getting anecdotal info … that the extent of severity seems to be perhaps a bit lower than within the delta,” he stated Sunday.

The brand new COVID variant could unfold extra simply than delta

It may nonetheless be two or three weeks until we all know extra about how simply omicron could 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 knowledge 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 36 US states

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

The variant has been detected in 36 states throughout the nation, from Washington to Mississippi and Texas to Utah. The US and different nations had 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 part of considerations about omicron’s unfold.

Add an increasing number of flflu infections, and specialists fear a couple of “twindemic” of the 2 diseases.

Omicron may develop into the dominant COVID variant in Europe inside months

In Europe, omicron may develop into the most typical COVID-19 variant in months, in accordance with the European Centre for Illness Prevention and Management.

“Mathematical modeling signifies that the Omicron VOC is anticipated to trigger over half of all SARS-CoV-2 infections within the EU/EEA throughout 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 learning 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 accordance with reporting from the New York Instances. However what is not but identified 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 revealed 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 explanation for 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 unfavourable COVID-19 take a look at 24 hours earlier than journey, no matter vaccination standing.


Drugmakers are exploring if the present vaccines are efficient towards the brand new variant.

Sarah Tew/CNET

COVID PCR assessments can establish the omicron variant

Most PCR assessments to establish 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 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 up to now pointless.

“Fortuitously for us, the PCRs that we principally use would choose 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 shield the US towards the omicron variant this winter. It contains:

  • Outreach packages to contact folks eligible to obtain booster pictures.
  • Making at-home COVID-19 assessments “free” for everybody.
  • Tighter journey restrictions that require a unfavourable COVID-19 take a look at 24 hours earlier than departure.
  • Paid break day for federal staff to get booster pictures.
  • Securing antiviral drugs as a therapy for individuals who develop 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 steering, here is what to learn about new journey restrictions, how you can retailer your vaccine card in your cellphone and what to do for those who lose your vaccine card.

The data 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 concerning any questions you could have a couple of medical situation or well being aims.

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