Covid Corner

I had 2nd hand exposure just recently. I'm vaccinated with the booster, so I wasn't too concerned. Sure enough, nothing happened. I was not really all that concerned. The person who exposed me is vaccinated. The person with COVID is actually a minor and I'm unsure of their vaccination status.

How high is the actual coronavirus death toll? - DW News​

The chart below is from The Economist [7]. You can view some of the charts from The Economist at the end of this post. Or you can check out the link [7] at the bottom of this post for more charts and full details.

COVID-19 symptoms are overlapping again with colds, flu, and seasonal allergies. Here's how to tell the difference.
From Business Insider [1]:
Is it COVID-19? Allergies? The common cold?
- COVID-19 rarely follows a neat pattern. The CDC estimates that around 30% of cases are asymptomatic, while the remainder can range from mild to severe. The disease can bring a variety of symptoms, the most common of which include fever, cough, loss of smell or taste, headaches, sore throat, and fatigue.
- But vaccines could be making symptoms milder overall, so it's difficult to tell what an average case looks like now.
- The COVID Symptom Study found that loss of smell was more common among those who were fully vaccinated than those who hadn't been immunized. Meanwhile, fever was more common among unvaccinated than vaccinated people.
- "Our hope is it'll get milder," Tim Spector, an epidemiologist at King's College London, recently told Insider. "So it will just become like a cold."
- Both colds and COVID-19 tend to develop gradually — whereas the flu and allergies have more abrupt symptoms, as the chart below shows.
- On average, people with COVID-19 start to feel sick five days after they were infected, though symptoms can manifest anywhere from two days to two weeks post-infection.
- Similarly, people with a common cold may have a sore throat for eight days, a headache for nine to 10 days, and congestion, a runny nose, or cough for more than two weeks. Cold symptoms usually reach their peak within two to three days of infection.
Infected, Vaccinated, or Both: How Protected Am I From COVID?
From WebMD [2]:
How Strong Is Immunity After a COVID-19 Infection?
- About 90% of people develop some number of protective antibodies after a COVID-19 infection, according to the CDC. But how high those levels climb appears to be all over the map. Studies show peak antibody concentrations can vary as much as 200-fold, or 2,000%.
- Where you fall within that very large range will depend on your age and how sick you became from your COVID-19 infection. It also depends on whether you have an underlying health condition or take a medication that blunts immune function.
- Our immune system slows down with age. This process, called immunosenescence, starts to affect a person’s health around the age of 60. But there’s no bright line for failure. People who exercise and are generally healthy will have better immune function than someone who doesn’t, no matter their age. In general, though, the older you are, the less likely you are to get a robust immune response after an infection or a vaccination. That’s why this group has been prioritized both for first vaccine doses and boosters.
- Beyond age, your protection from future infection seems to depend on how ill you were with the first. Several studies have shown that blood levels of immune defenders called antibodies rise faster and reach a higher peak in people with more severe infections.
- In general, people with cold-like symptoms who tested positive but recovered at home are better protected than people who didn’t get any symptoms. And people who were hospitalized for their infections are better protected over the long term than people with milder infections. Though they may have paid a steep price for that protection: Many hospitalized patients continue to have debilitating symptoms that last for months after they go home.
- On average, though, protection after infection seems to be comparable to vaccination, at least for a while. Six large studies from different countries have looked into this question, and five of them have used the very sensitive real-time polymerase chain reaction test (RT-PCR) -- the one that has to be sent off and processed in a lab, usually after an uncomfortably long swab is inserted deep into your sinuses --to count people as truly being previously infected. These studies found that for 6 to 9 months after recovery, a person was 80% to 93% less likely to get COVID-19 again.
- There are some caveats to mention, though. Early in the pandemic when supplies were scarce, it was hard to get tested unless you were so sick you landed in the hospital. Studies have shown that the concentration of antibodies a person makes after an infection seems to depend on how sick they got in the first place.
How Does Protection After Infection Compare to Vaccination?
- Two weeks after your final vaccine dose, protection against a COVID-19 infection is high -- around 90% for the Pfizer and Moderna mRNA vaccines and 66% for the one-dose Johnson & Johnson shot. Clinical trials conducted by the manufacturer have shown that a second dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine given at least 2 months after vaccination boosts protection against illness in the U.S. to about 94%, which is why another dose has been recommended for all Johnson & Johnson vaccine recipients 2 months after their first shot.
- Vaccination creates a big spike in neutralizing antibodies -- Y-shaped proteins that are custom-made by immune system cells to latch onto specific sites of a virus and neutralize it so it can’t infect cells and make more copies of itself.
- It’s not yet known how long the COVID-19 vaccines remain protective. There’s some evidence that protection against symptomatic infections wanes a bit over time as antibody levels drop. But protection against severe illness, including hospitalization and death, has remained high so far, even without a booster.
Are Antibodies Different After Infection Compared to Vaccination?
- Yes. And researchers don’t yet understand what these differences mean.
- It seems to come down to a question of quality versus quantity. Vaccines seem to produce higher peak antibody levels than natural infections do. But these antibodies are highly specialized, able to recognize only the parts of the virus they were designed to target.
- “The mRNA vaccine directs all the immune responses to the single spike protein,” says Alice Cho, PhD, who is studying the differences in vaccine and infection-created immunity at The Rockefeller University in New York. “There’s a lot more to respond to with a virus than there is in a vaccine.”
What if You Had COVID and Later Got Vaccinated?
- This is called hybrid immunity, and it’s the best of both worlds.
- “You have the benefit of very deep, but narrow, immunity produced by vaccine, and very broad, but not very deep, immunity produced by infection,” Poland says. He says you’ve effectively cross-trained your immune system.
What Antibody Level Is Protective?
- Scientists aren’t exactly sure how high antibody levels need to be for protection, or even which kinds of antibodies or other immune components matter most yet.
- But vaccines appear to generate higher antibody levels than infections do. In a recent study published in the journal Science, Weiskopf and her colleagues at the La Jolla Institute of Immunology detail the findings of a de-escalation study, where they gave people one-quarter of the normal dose of the Moderna mRNA vaccine and then collected blood samples over time to study their immune responses.
- Their immune responses were scaled down with the dose.
Weeks or Months Between Doses? Which Is Best?
- Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines were tested to be given 3 and 4 weeks apart, respectively. But when the vaccines were first rolling out, shortages prompted some countries to stretch the interval between doses to 4 or more months.
- Researchers who have studied the immune responses of people who were inoculated on an extended dosing schedule noticed something interesting: When the interval was stretched, people had better antibody responses. In fact, their antibody responses looked like the sky-high levels people got with hybrid immunity.

At a glance: Covid vaccine mandates around the world
From The Guardian [3]:
United Kingdom:
- The UK became the latest country to introduce vaccine mandates on Tuesday after the government announced all NHS workers would need to be jabbed by next spring.
- Although obligatory shots have been ordered in many other countries, some have balked at the measures and resorted to protests and legal action.
United States:
- In the US, which is struggling with very slow rates of vaccine take-up, the Biden administration’s plans to get US companies with 100 or more workers to vaccinate their staff or bring in regular tests have been opposed by Republicans and trade groups.
- On Saturday, a federal appeals court in Louisiana temporarily halted the vaccine requirement for affected businesses. The administration says it is confident that the requirement will withstand legal challenges in part because its safety rules preempt state laws.
- About 4 million federal workers are to be vaccinated by 22 November under the president’s executive order. Some employees, like those at the White House, are nearly all vaccinated. But the rates are lower at other federal agencies, particularly those related to law enforcement and intelligence, according to the agencies and union leaders.
- Around 9,000 New York City municipal workers were put on unpaid leave last week for refusing to comply with a Covid-19 vaccine, while thousands of firefighters had called in sick in apparent protest at the move.
- Italy was the first country in Europe to make the Covid-19 vaccine mandatory for healthcare workers, but amid rising cases and a slower vaccination uptake, debate is rising over the possibility of extending the obligatory requirement to other groups.
- In September, the prime minister, Mario Draghi, mooted the idea of making the vaccine compulsory for the entire population. On Tuesday, the former prime minister Romano Prodi said: “When there is a plague, vaccines should be mandatory.”
New Zealand:
- Last month, Ardern said the country would require teachers and workers in the health and disability sectors to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19, and has said restrictions will end only after 90% of the eligible population are inoculated.
- Demonstrators gathered outside the New Zealand parliament in Wellington on Tuesday to protest against the government’s vaccine mandates and government lockdowns.
- The Canadian government said it would require all those working in the federal public service and federally regulated transport sectors to get vaccinated.
- Any core federal public servants – including members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police – who are unwilling to disclose their vaccination status or to be fully vaccinated will be placed on administrative leave without pay from 15 November.
- France suspended 3,000 health workers without pay for refusing the Covid vaccine. The health minister, Olivier Véran, said the staff had been notified in writing before the government-imposed deadline to have at least one dose.
- Véran said “several dozen” had resigned rather than have the vaccine, but with an estimated 2.7 million health workers in France, “continued healthcare is assured”, he said.
Indonesia announced mandatory vaccination in February, with heavy fines for those who do not comply.

60% of business closures due to the coronavirus pandemic are now permanent - Yahoo Finance

The above video is from one year ago, but I decided to share it today, because the way I see it, COVID has a huge impact on the economy and businesses. Lots of businesses were closed, many were losing their jobs and now even Mozilla is starting to make money with their products to maintain their business. I wouldn't blame Mozilla for this.

Compilation of news this week:
As Covid recedes in US a new worry emerges: wildlife passing on the virus
From The Guardian [4]:
- New study shows that deer can catch the virus from people and give it to other deer in overwhelming numbers
- As America’s pandemic – for now – seems to be moving into a new phase with national rates in decline from the September peak and vaccines rolling out to children, a new worry has appeared on the horizon: wildlife passing on the virus.
- One-third of Iowa deer sampled over nine months had active infections, with a peak of 80% testing positive between November and January, according to a preprint study that has not yet been peer-reviewed or published.
- The virus very likely spilled over from humans to deer through several different interactions, and then it probably spread to other deer, according to the analysis.
- Around the world, SARS-CoV-2 has been reported in cats, dogs, ferrets, minks, lions, tigers, pumas and gorillas. Hyenas at the Denver zoo recently tested positive, the first confirmed cases in those animals.
- In August 2020, an outbreak at a mink farm in Utah led investigators to sample wild mink nearby – and they found antibodies and active infections in some of the wild animals.
- In November 2020, Denmark killed 17 million mink after the virus jumped from people to farmed mink and back to people again – the only documented case of animals passing the coronavirus back to people. The virus mutated, but none of the changes were dangerous.
- A virus that can circulate among animals as well as people is much harder to eradicate.
Dr. Fauci says U.S. Covid cases need to fall below 10,000 a day to get to a ‘degree of normality’
From CNBC [5]:
- I think if we can get well below 10,000, I think that would be a level that I think would be acceptable to us to get back to a degree of normality,” Fauci said. “But again, I have to warn the listeners, these are not definitive statements — these are just estimates.”
- The U.S. reported an average of nearly 83,500 new Covid cases every day over the last week, a 14% rise from the week before, according to Johns Hopkins University data.
- Daily infections in the U.S. haven’t been below 10,000 since March 2020.

What you need to know about Coronavirus right now:
From Reuters [6]:
- The Delta variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus now accounts for nearly all of the coronavirus infections globally and virus experts are closely watching its evolution, looking for signs of mutation.
- According to the WHO, Delta makes up 99.5% of all genomic sequences reported to public databases and has "outcompeted" other variants in most countries.
- Germany could make COVID test or vaccine mandatory for public transport.
- It is safe to administer COVID-19 vaccines and flu vaccines to patients at the same time, and doing so might increase vaccination rates, according to a report published on Thursday in The Lancet.
- India's Dr. Reddy's open to making Pfizer pill.

Charts: Global estimated excess deaths and official covid-19 deaths
Related to the first video above. Charts from The Economist. For more charts, data, sources and their methodology, please check out the link [7] below.

Global daily statistics - Reuters COVID-19 Global Tracker


The Economist is an international weekly newspaper printed in magazine-format and published digitally that focuses on current affairs, international business, politics, and technology. - Wikipedia
PS: I will post here again next week, same time as usual. Thanks for reading, everyone.
Fauci on who should get Covid-19 booster shots - CNN Youtube Channel

Which booster shot should I get? What to know about COVID vaccine mix and match
From CNET [1]:
What are the benefits of allowing mixing for COVID-19 boosters?
- Individual choice in boosters means health care providers can make recommendations based on patients' circumstances. A member of the CDC's advisory panel, which meets prior to recommending a vaccine or booster, pointed out at a meeting about mixed boosters that allowing it could lead to fewer vaccine doses being wasted, if health care providers only have to open one bottle of vaccine for patients in the waiting room, for example. Hopefully, more flexibility with boosters will lead to an easier vaccination process in places that administer many doses at once, such as nursing homes. People may also opt for a different vaccine if they're at higher risk for a rare side effect from a particular vaccine.
- The bottom line? Mixing vaccines for a COVID-19 booster may be a great benefit to some people, but it ultimately depends on personal circumstances and what's available.

Which booster shot should I get if I got Pfizer?
- Both mRNA vaccines, Pfizer and Moderna, have proven to be effective and continue to protect against severe disease caused by COVID-19.
- Pfizer's booster is the same dose as its original vaccine (30 micrograms), while Moderna's booster (50 micrograms) is half the size of its original vaccine.
- In a study which examined people's responses to all three vaccines as boosters, people who originally got Pfizer had the strongest antibody response to a Moderna booster.
- However, that study examined a full dose of Moderna (100 micrograms), rather than the authorized half-dose of the company's booster, which likely minimizes Moderna's edge over Pfizer, the Atlantic reported.
- For most adults, sticking with another dose of Pfizer makes the most sense, Dr. Robert Wachter, chair of UC San Francisco's Department of Medicine, told the Los Angeles Times.

What if I got Moderna?
- Most Moderna recipients probably don't have a need to choose a different booster.
- There might be exceptions. If you had an allergic reaction to Moderna's vaccine, for example, you should consult your doctor and choose a different one for future shots.

Do I have to get a booster?
- When the CDC advisory panel voted unanimously to recommend boosters, they also acknowledged that some need them more than others.
- People age 50 and older "should" get a booster (a younger age than the previous guidance for everyone age 65 and older), in addition to other groups who "should" get one because of a clearer benefit, including adults living in long-term care facilities and everyone who received Johnson & Johnson's vaccine.
- For all other adults under 50, the need for a booster is less clear. Your decision whether to get another dose will depend on your own circumstances, choice and benefit-risk assessment.
- Importantly, the definition of fully vaccinated hasn't changed. You're considered fully vaccinated two weeks after your second Pfizer or Moderna shot, or two weeks after your Johnson & Johnson shot.

Is it safe to mix and match COVID-19 shots?
- A study on mixing with different boosters for all three COVID-19 vaccines found no safety concerns and that the mixed boosters elicited a strong antibody response.
- According to booster data on primary series and booster choice the CDC is collecting, over 2 million Americans so far have opted for a different vaccine brand as a booster. (Most have stuck with their original vaccine.)
- There isn't a lot of data on mixing COVID-19 vaccines in the US because it hasn't been allowed until recently.
- Information from outside the US has been promising, though, as other countries have been officially allowing (or even recommending) people receive two different vaccines, including Germany, Canada, Sweden, France, Spain and Italy.
- In a study published in the journal Nature, researchers in Spain found that people who received one dose of AstraZeneca (a similar vaccine to Johnson & Johnson) and then received a dose of Pfizer seem to produce a higher antibody response than people who receive two doses of AstraZeneca.
- It isn't clear whether this group had a higher immune response than people who received two doses of Pfizer.

Can I mix and match the first two shots?
- No, the CDC's statement on mixing COVID-19 vaccines only applies to boosters.
- As of now, the FDA has only authorized a mixed-series booster, meaning the first coronavirus vaccine series must be one dose of Johnson & Johnson or two doses of Moderna or Pfizer.

Explainer: All U.S. adults qualify for COVID-19 boosters; which is best?
From Reuters [2]:
- The new guidance aims to clarify that. It says all adults 18 and older who received their second dose of a Pfizer (PFE.N)/BioNTech or Moderna (MRNA.O) vaccine at least six months ago are eligible for a booster shot.
- Advisers to the CDC also recommended boosters to adults ages 50 and older. Prior guidance recommended boosters for all ages 65 and older.
- For adults who initially received the single-dose Johnson & Johnson (JNJ.N) vaccine, guidance remains unchanged: they should receive any one of the authorized COVID-19 boosters two months later.

Which booster is right?
- "Fundamentally, you can get whatever you want for your booster, except for something very particular: Johnson & Johnson should be followed by an mRNA (from Pfizer or Moderna), period."
- The FDA cleared a second J&J shot based on data showing increased efficacy against COVID-19 to 94%, up from 72% as a single-dose vaccine.
- Vaccines from both Moderna and Pfizer have been linked with a heart inflammation side effect known as myocarditis in younger men, but data presented to CDC advisers on Friday suggests a booster dose does not increase that risk.

Vaccinating your child: What to know about Pfizer's COVID vaccine for kids 5 to 11

From CNET [3] and [4]:
When will kids be able to get a COVID-19 vaccine?
- Now that both the FDA and CDC have signed off on COVID-19 shots for kids ages 5 to 11, children in that age group can get vaccinated.
- It may have taken a few days for your local pharmacy or health clinic to get Pfizer's vaccine for kids in stock, however, because it's different from Pfizer's vaccine for everyone else.
- However, this week was the deadline from the White House to have the program "fully up and running," so the vaccine should be widely available to kids ages 5 to 11 right now.
- Kids age 12 and up have been eligible for Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine for a while. The other mRNA vaccine, Moderna, and the only single-dose vaccine on the US market, Johnson & Johnson, aren't available to kids yet.

Where can I get my child vaccinated for COVID?
- The COVID-19 vaccine for kids under 12 will be free, just like it is for adults, and will be available in pediatricians' offices, doctor's offices, public health clinics and places accessible to children.
- Mass vaccination sites that provided COVID-19 shots to adults will not be used as part of the child vaccine program.
- A good place to start would be calling your pediatrician or local health clinic for a recommendation on where to go.
- Parents may also use this vaccine finder link (check out link number [4]) to find a clinic that has the child vaccine available.

Do I need to give consent in order for my young child to get vaccinated?
- Yes, parents generally need to consent to their children receiving medical care, which will include Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine. This is especially true for younger children.
- However, if you have a teenager or child old enough to express a desire to get a COVID-19 vaccine and you haven't given consent, they may have legal precedent to seek one out, depending on which state you live in.
- In Tennessee, the rights of minors versus their parents when it comes to vaccine decisions came under the spotlight last summer when the state's vaccine director, Michelle Fiscus, was allegedly fired, in part, for sending out a memo explaining Tennessee's "mature minor doctrine," which is the state's writing on how minors may seek medical care without the consent of their parents in some cases.

If my child is immunocompromised or has a health condition, can they get a third shot?
- A third dose of Pfizer's vaccine isn't authorized or recommended for immunocompromised children ages 5 to 11. Additionally, the boosters currently available to some Americans who received Moderna, Pfizer or Johnson & Johnson are only for adults age 18 or older. No minor is eligible for a booster.
- If your child is at least 12 years old, "moderately or severely" immunocompromised and vaccinated with Pfizer, according to the CDC, they should get a third dose of Pfizer.
- Moderna is only authorized for people age 18 and older. Examples of people who are immunocompromised include people receiving treatment for cancers in the blood or tumors, organ transplant recipients, stem cell transplant recipients, people with untreated or advanced HIV infection and people taking drugs that could suppress the immune response, per the CDC.

My child has allergies. Can they get the vaccine?
- "If the child has a history of anaphylaxis or other severe allergies, then the observation time after the injection may be 30 minutes instead of 15," Dr. Anne Liu, an infectious disease specialist with Stanford Hospital and Clinics and the Lucile Packard Children's Hospital, said in August.
- So you might be asked to stick around the waiting room with your child for an extra 15 minutes so health care providers can monitor vaccine recipients for the (extremely rare) allergic reaction that can occur after any vaccination.
- Additionally, Liu said, children who are prescribed an EpiPen for any reason should bring it to their vaccine appointment.
- As for adults, children with an allergy to an ingredient in Pfizer's COVID-19 shouldn't take it. Find a list of ingredients in Pfizer's vaccine for kids ages 5 to 11 on the FDA's fact sheet.

Can my child get the COVID-19 shot at the same time as other vaccines?
- Yes, according to the CDC, your child may get other vaccines when they go in for their coronavirus shot without waiting 14 days between appointments.
- Flu shots can be given to children age 6 months and older.

Does Pfizer's full FDA approval extend to kids?
- The FDA's approval of the vaccine by Pfizer and its partner, BioNTech, only applies to people as young as 16 years old.
- While Pfizer remains the only vaccine authorized for use in kids as young as 5 years old, vaccinating that age group is still under emergency use authorization rather than total approval. This is because, along with other factors, full FDA approval requires data on how the vaccine fares six months out, per NPR. Pfizer's vaccine was only authorized for kids age 12 to 15 in May.
- This means that a vaccine mandate that hinges on full approval of a coronavirus vaccine, such as the one announced for school kids in California, won't apply to kids younger than 16 for a while.

COVID-19 News This Week: Video from 9 News Australia

From the video above:
- WHO predicts 500,000 more COVID-19 deaths in Europe by March 2022.
- Anti-Covid-19 lockdown protests throughout Europe amid rising cases and increased measures

Scientists warn of new Covid variant with high number of mutations:
From The Guardian [5]:
- The B.1.1.529 variant was first spotted in Botswana and six cases have been found in South Africa.
- Scientists have said a new Covid variant that carries an “extremely high number” of mutations may drive further waves of disease by evading the body’s defences.
- Only 10 cases in three countries have been confirmed by genomic sequencing, but the variant has sparked serious concern among some researchers because a number of the mutations may help the virus evade immunity.
- The B.1.1.529 variant has 32 mutations in the spike protein, the part of the virus that most vaccines use to prime the immune system against Covid. Mutations in the spike protein can affect the virus’s ability to infect cells and spread, but also make it harder for immune cells to attack the pathogen.
- Scientists will be watching the new variant for any sign that it is gaining momentum and spreading more widely. Some virologists in South Africa are already concerned, particularly given the recent rise in cases in Gauteng, an urban area containing Pretoria and Johannesburg, where B.1.1.529 cases have been detected.

About 60% of the US population has reduced protection against COVID-19, CDC data shows:
From Business Insider [6]:
- An analysis of data from the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) suggests that around 60% of the US population could be entering the winter season with reduced protection against COVID-19.
- NBC News carried out the analysis using CDC data from November 17.
- It showed that a booster was recommended for 97,875,391 people. This number consisted of Americans who were fully vaccinated with Pfizer and Moderna more than six months ago and Johnson & Johnson more than two months ago.
- The recipients are now are within the boundary of those at risk for reduced vaccine efficacy, the outlet reported.
- The figure also included people who were only partially vaccinated.
- Those with reduced or no protection, including more than 100 million Americans who have not received the vaccine, make up nearly 60% of the US population, according to NBC News.
- Americans who are over 65 or in higher-risk categories were already eligible for the booster.
- Similar reports came from the White House COVID-19 briefing on Wednesday. Elderly people and residents of long-term care facilities were among the first to be vaccinated last January, said Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the CDC director.
- The highest risk remains among the unvaccinated, who are still 11 times more likely to die from COVID-19 than those who are fully vaccinated.
- Walensky said US hospitals are experiencing an "increase in emergency department visits among adults 65 and older, which are now again higher than they are for younger age groups."

Compilation. Other news worldwide:
From DW News [7]:
- Austria has struggled with rising COVID infections, with average daily deaths tripling in recent weeks. Hospital care units also warned they were reaching maximum capacity. Around 66% of Austria's population has been vaccinated so far. The government had earlier imposed a lockdown for the unvaccinated only, but cases continued to rise
- Germany reported 30,643 new infections and 62 deaths on Monday. Although there isn't a nationwide lockdown in place, most states have imposed some restrictions, such as stopping unvaccinated people or those who cannot prove they have instead recovered from COVID from attending public events and some stores.
- In the Netherlands, Prime Minister Mark Rutte condemned anti-government protesters railing against coronavirus safety measures as "idiots" engaged in "pure violence" during three days of violent clashes with police this weekend.
- In Neighboring Belgium, Prime Minister Alexander de Croo condemned violence at a large anti-corona measure protest in Brussels this weekend as "absolutely unacceptable."
- Australia announced on Monday it was reopening borders for students and some visa holders, as well as Japanese and Korean citizens, from December 1.
- Singapore's relaxation of some COVID rules went into force Monday. Vaccinated people, for example, can meet in larger groups of five, up from two at a time. However, other protocols like requiring people to wear masks in public spaces remain.

Global daily statistics - Reuters COVID-19 Global Tracker

List of sources

PS: I will post here again next week, same time as usual. Thanks for reading, everyone.
Omicron : The Latest Variant

These are the latest restrictions for entry to AUSTRALIA

They have been put in place to deal with the ever evolving situation in South Africa

""This is an evolving situation. Travel rules and restrictions in other destinations are changing at short notice. It's your responsibility to learn about all the destinations you're visiting and to plan for your safety. This includes entry requirements and understanding any risks. It's also your responsibility to stay informed, in case things change.""

This is the UK response to the new variant

What are the new rules? Is it Plan B?​

Masks will once again become mandatory for people to wear in shops and whilst on public transport. However, this measure does not extend to restaurants or bars.
On Thursday the UK announced that travellers from South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho and Eswatini would not be able to enter the country unless they are UK or Irish nationals, or UK residents.
As of 4am on Sunday, Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia and Angola will also be added to that list.
The PM has also revealed tonight that anyone returning to the UK from anywhere abroad will now have to self-isolate until they have produced a negative PCR test result.
Lateral flow tests will no longer be accepted and have been dropped for international arrivals.
Here we go again !


First Australian cases of Omicron COVID-19 strain confirmed in Sydney travellers from southern Africa, NSW Health says​

NSW Health has confirmed two returned travellers have tested positive for the new Omicron COVID-19 variant in Sydney, making them the first known cases of the strain in Australia.

Key points:​

  • The two positive cases are in isolation in the state's Special Health Accommodation
  • About 260 passengers and air crew on the flight are considered close contacts
  • NSW's Premier says we need to learn to live alongside the various strains

The two positive cases are in isolation in the state's Special Health Accommodation.

Both people, who are fully vaccinated and were asymptomatic, arrived in Sydney from southern Africa on Saturday, November 27.

They are among 14 people who arrived on Qatar Airways QR908, Doha to Sydney, about 7pm.

Anyone arriving in the state from the nine impacted southern African countries — South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia, Eswatini, Malawi, and the Seychelles — is now required to go into hotel quarantine for 14 days.
That is irrespective of their vaccine status

Netherlands confirms 13 cases of new Omicron COVID variant among travellers from South Africa​

Dutch health authorities have confirmed that 13 cases of the new Omicron coronavirus variant have been found in the Netherlands among passengers that were on flights from South Africa.

Key points:​

  • The confirmed Omicron cases are among 61 passengers who tested positive for COVID on flights from South Africa
  • Several other European countries, including Italy, Germany and Belgium have also reported cases of the new variant
  • Omicron was first detected in South Africa and has been labelled a "variant of concern" by the WHO

Testing was being carried out on 61 people who tested positive for COVID-19 after arriving on the last two flights to Amsterdam's Schiphol airport before a flight ban was put in place.

The two flights were carrying about 600 passengers and those who tested positive were immediately put into isolation.

Worries over the variant come as many European countries are already grappling with a surge in coronavirus cases.

"It is not unlikely more [Omicron] cases will appear in the Netherlands," Dutch Health Minister Hugo de Jonge said at a press conference.

"This could possibly be the tip of the iceberg."

China faces 'colossal' COVID outbreak if it opens up, and following US travel controls could lead to more than 630,000 daily cases, study says​

China could face more than 630,000 COVID-19 infections a day if it dropped its zero-tolerance policies by lifting travel controls, according to a study by Peking University mathematicians.

Key points:​

  • China reported 23 new coronavirus cases on Saturday, down from 25 a day earlier
  • Using the same approach as the US could cause cases to rise to 637,155, while copying Britain would lead to 275,793 daily new cases
  • China says the importance of containing local cases outweighs the disruptions caused by efforts to trace, isolate and treat the infected

In the report published in China CDC Weekly by the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, the mathematicians said China could not afford to lift travel restrictions without more efficient vaccinations or specific treatments.

Using data for August from the United States, Britain, Spain, France and Israel, the mathematicians assessed the potential results if China adopted the same pandemic control tactics as those countries.

China's daily new cases would reach at least 637,155 if it adopted the United States' pandemic strategy, the report said.

Daily cases would hit 275,793 if China took the same approach as Britain and 454,198 if it imitated France, it said.

"The estimates revealed the real possibility of a colossal outbreak which would almost certainly induce an unaffordable burden on the medical system," the report said.
and in a terrible twist bought about by Covid19, this father cannot access treatment/medication for his 2 year old son

His son suffers from Menkes Syndrome

Treatment is not available to him in China

Closed borders due to Covid 19 means he cannot travel for treatment.

I'd be happy if these stupid Government apps...Medicare and Services NSW would work...what a nightmare...especially when you buy a new phone.
Android phone ?
Yes...Samsung Galaxy A52s 5G.

I had to watch Youtube videos to find to turn the phone off and how to answer it
but that's nothing compared to these Gov apps.

Use the 'Check In Qld', app​

A. you would download that through Google Play on your phone

B. You would also need to access your 'mygov' account on the phone.......also download via Google Play.

C. Those are the only two government apps you need to access

D. You access medicare via the mygov will need to 'link' the medicare service to your my gov account.
On the mygov services up will display all the various services....medicare, ato, etc to LINK medicare.
E. You will need to jump through a few hoops to prove oyu have the authority to do the linking....probably your medicare number etc etc...position on the card.....etc

Once you have it will permanently appear on your mygov page.

Then you can follow the 5 steps below and "add certificate" to your 'Check in Qld" app on your phone

Take your time doing it...don't rush.

Check In Qld app​

If you're using the Check In Qld mobile app:

  1. Make sure you've updated the Check In Qld app.
  2. Open the app and open the menu from the top left hand side.
  3. Select 'COVID-19 digital certificate' and tap 'add certificate' via myGov.
  4. Log-in to your myGov account, scroll to 'Proof of COVID-19 vaccination' and then select 'Go to Medicare'.
  5. Tap 'View history' and choose 'Share with check in app' and choose to share with Check In Qld.
  6. Tap 'Accept and share', then 'Accept'.

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Why would I use the QLD app when I'm in NSW ? I have the Medicare app and my vaccine certificate on my phone...that was the easy part.

The hard part is trying to put the vaccine certificate on the service NSW app, it just doesn't work.
I can't log into the service app because it tells me my email address is being used...yes by bloody me.

I don't know anyone that's got it to work, there are youtube videos showing people how to do it but they don't work...if the NSW Government would employ people who know what whey are doing, we wouldn't have this problem.
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I thought you were in are a mexican, same as me !

It does work, I can assure you. It is on my phone, and works like a charm.
I can't log into the service app because it tells me my email address is being used.
You must have two active accounts. Somehow or other you have doubled up.

On on Manage account

Check that the email address is correct.....

If you can't make any headway.....down the bottom of that page is a "Contact Form" you can click on....follow the prompts etc and explain what is happening. Hopefully they will fix it pronto.

Just a thought....did you change passwords or anything like that...??...maybe just changed it on one of the services, but not on the other ??///.......

Omicron variant, how it works and why it is a variant of concern - Wall Street Journal Youtube Channel

Dr. Anthony Fauci: First case of omicron variant identified in California - CNBC Television

Q&A about Omicron variant: Media briefing on COVID-19 - WHO Youtube Channel

Omicron map: Tracking the new Covid-19 variant around the world
Chart from NBC News [1]. For the latest update, please check out link number [1]:

What you need to know about Omicron Covid variant
How effective are vaccines against omicron?
From DW News [6]:
  • Scientists say they need more data before they are in a position to publish any conclusions.
  • The chief executive officer at vaccine manufacturer Moderna has also warned there may be a "material drop" in the efficacy of existing COVID vaccines against omicron. But Stephane Bancel could not say by how much.
  • "We need to wait for the data," Bancel said in an interview with the Financial Times on Tuesday. "But all the scientists I've talked to say, 'This is not going to be good'."
  • Pfizer's chief scientific officer, Mikael Dolsten, meanwhile, said in an interview in STAT, a science and health publication, on Tuesday that his company hoped that booster shots would give sufficient protection against the omicron variant.
  • BioNTech-Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson are among the vaccine producers trying to develop a vaccine tailored to the omicron variants.
  • At a press conference on Monday, South Africa's top infectious diseases expert said that existing vaccines were probably effective against omicron.
  • "The vaccine should hold well in terms of preventing hospitalizations," said Professor Salim Abdool Karim. But that was just a "likely" scenario, he added, based on how effective vaccines had been against other variants in the past and on the information we have about omicron so far.
  • In a report published on November 28 the WHO wrote: "Despite uncertainties, it is reasonable to assume that currently available vaccines offer some protection against severe disease and death" that may be caused by the omicron variant.

Have there been any deaths?
  • As of November 28, the WHO said there had been no reported deaths due to the omicron variant. The variant was first detected in the second week of November.
  • When DW asked on November 30 whether any deaths had been reported in the intervening days, the WHO did not give specific numbers but wrote in its statement that "all variants of COVID-19, including the delta variant that is dominant worldwide, can cause severe disease or death, in particular for the most vulnerable people, and thus prevention is always key."

From The Guardian [2]:
What is it called?
  • The variant was initially referred to as B.1.1.529, but on Friday was designated as a variant of concern (VOC) by the World Health Organization because of its “concerning” mutations and because “preliminary evidence suggests an increased risk of reinfection with this variant”.
  • The WHO system assigns such variants a Greek letter, to provide a non-stigmatising label that does not associate new variants with the location where they were first detected. The new variant has been called Omicron.
List of the variant of concern. A chart from the WHO website [7]
When was the Omicron variant first detected?
- The B.1.1.529 variant was identified on Tuesday and highlighted as a concern due to its high number of mutations, which could lead it to evade immunity.
- It was also linked to a surge in case numbers in the Gauteng province of South Africa, an urban area containing Pretoria and Johannesburg, in the past two weeks.
- These two factors put it quickly on the radar of international monitors, with the chief medical adviser to the UK Health and Security Agency describing the variant as the “most worrying we’ve seen”.

Where did it come from?
- Although initially linked to Gauteng, the variant did not necessarily originate there.
- The earliest sample showing the variant was collected in Botswana on 11 November.
- Scientists say that the unusual constellation of mutations suggests it may have emerged during a chronic infection of an immunocompromised person, such as an untreated HIV/Aids patient.

Why are scientists worried about it?
- The variant has more than 30 mutations on its spike protein – the key used by the virus to unlock our body’s cells – more than double the number carried by Delta.
- Such a dramatic change has raised concerns that the antibodies from previous infections or vaccination may no longer be well matched.
- Purely based on knowing the list of mutations, scientists anticipate that the virus will be more likely to infect – or reinfect – people who have immunity to earlier variants.

Is it more transmissible?
- This is not yet clearcut but the emerging picture is worrying. There has been a surge of cases in South Africa from 273 cases on 16 November to more than 1,200 by the start of this week.
- More than 80% of these were from Gauteng province and preliminary analysis suggests the variant has rapidly become the dominant strain.
- The R value, which indicates how fast an epidemic is growing, is estimated to be 1.47 for South Africa as a whole, but 1.93 in Gauteng.
- There is a chance this is a statistical blip linked to a super-spreader event but the data has triggered enough concern for precautionary measures.

What about existing drugs?
- Scientists expect that recently approved antiviral drugs, such as Merck’s pill, will work as effectively against the new variant because these drugs do not target the spike protein – they work by stopping the virus from replicating.
- However, there is a bigger risk that monoclonal antibodies, such as Regeneron’s treatment, could fail or partially fail because they target parts of the virus that will have mutated.

Will the variant cause more severe Covid?
- There is no information yet on whether the variant leads to a change in Covid symptoms or severity – this is something South African scientists will be closely monitoring.
- Since there is a lag between infections and more serious illness, it will take several weeks before any clear data is available.
- At this stage, scientists say there is no strong reason to suspect that the latest variant will be either worse or milder.

Omicron: How do you detect it?
From BBC [2]:
What tests are used to detect Omicron?
- Swabs from polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests, which are sent to labs for analysis, can show if the variant causing the infection looks like Omicron, Delta or something else.
- Between a third and a half of UK labs - but not all - have the required technology to detect suspected Omicron cases. That means some parts of the country may identify more Omicron cases more quickly.
- Confirming that a suspected case is Omicron requires a full genetic analysis, which can take up to a couple of weeks.
- PCR tests are the ones you can order free from the government website if you have symptoms, or buy from a private company if you need one for travel purposes. There are many different makes.

Do lateral flow tests detect Omicron?
- Rapid or lateral flow tests (LFTs), which can be used at home, can't tell you which variant you're infected with - but they are still thought to be able to tell you if you're negative or positive, even with Omicron.
- If you get a positive LFT result, you have a legal obligation to self-isolate immediately and must get a PCR test as soon as possible to confirm the result.

From CNET [5]:
How do you test for omicron?
- A COVID-19 test won't tell you which variant you have. In order for scientists to determine whether it's omicron or another coronavirus variant, the CDC uses genomic sequencing. According to CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the US is now testing 80,000 positive COVID-19 samples per week (about one in seven positive tests), up from 8,000 per week earlier this year.
- Fortunately, the omicron variant is easily detected through PCR tests, according to Fauci, which can then be confirmed through labs that use genomic sequencing.

What is a mutation or variant?
- The coronavirus enters our cells using its "corona," or layer of protein spikes, then makes copies of itself in our bodies, where inevitably there are some errors or mutations, as explained by Yale Medicine.
- Sometimes those mutations in the virus are harmless, but other times – like in the case of the delta and omicron variants – they make it much easier for the virus to spread from person to person and infect more people.
- The more people who are unvaccinated or without immunity from COVID-19, the more opportunities there are for the coronavirus to spread and form concerning variants.
- Apart from vaccine hesitancy, many people in countries outside the US don't have access to a COVID-19 vaccine. According to Our World in Data, 6% of people in low-income countries have received a dose of coronavirus vaccine.

What you need to know about the coronavirus right now
From Reuters [4]:
- The United States and Germany joined countries around the globe planning stricter COVID-19 restrictions on Thursday as the new Omicron variant rattled markets, fearful it could choke a tentative economic recovery from the pandemic.
- The European Union’s public health agency said on Thursday that the Omicron variant could be responsible for more than half of all COVID-19 infections in Europe within a few months.
- France on Thursday reported its first two cases of the new variant.
- Dutch health authorities called for pre-flight COVID-19 tests regardless of vaccination status for travel from outside the European Union, revealing that about 90% of the 62 people who tested positive on two flights from South Africa on Nov. 26 had been vaccinated.
- India reported its first two cases of Omicron on Thursday but the government said it had no immediate plan to authorise booster vaccine shots despite demands from lawmakers in parliament.
- Laboratory analysis of the antibody-based COVID-19 therapy GlaxoSmithKline is developing with U.S. partner Vir has indicated the drug is effective against Omicron, the British drugmaker said on Thursday.
- South Korea hits new COVID-19 record.
- The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency reported 5,266 cases for Wednesday, a day after the daily tally rose above 5,000 for the first time amid concerns over a sharp rise in patients with severe symptoms.
- EU regulator begins real-time review of Valneva’s shot.
- The European Union’s drug regulator said on Thursday it had started a rolling review of the protein-based COVID-19 vaccine from French biotech firm Valneva, weeks after the EU signed a deal with the company for supplies of the shot.
- Hong Kong authorities will launch a new “health code” mobile phone application next week that travellers to mainland China would be required to use as the city prepares for a partial reopening of the border with the rest of the country.
- New Zealand’s re-opening plans leave Maori feeling exposed. As New Zealand prepares to ease its pandemic controls and global isolation after nearly two years, the health risks for its under-vaccinated indigenous Maori are posing a challenge for Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.
- Maori, who make up around 15% of New Zealand’s 5 million population, account for the highest proportion of new COVID-19 cases, averaging around 200 a day.
Global daily statistics - Reuters COVID-19 Global Tracker

List of sources

PS: I will post here again next week, same time as usual. Thanks for reading, everyone.
Scientists expect that recently approved antiviral drugs, such as Merck’s pill, will work as effectively against the new variant because these drugs do not target the spike protein – they work by stopping the virus from replicating.
Now that is a ray of sunshine.
Maria Van Kerkhove: How to end the pandemic and prepare for the next - TED Youtube Channel

Maria DeJoseph Van Kerkhove (born February 20, 1977) is an American infectious disease epidemiologist. With a background in high-threat pathogens, Van Kerkhove specializes in emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases and is based in the Health Emergencies Program at the World Health Organization (WHO). She is the technical lead of COVID-19 response and the head of emerging diseases and zoonosis unit at WHO. - Wikipedia​

Omicron drives 255% COVID-19 surge in S. Africa - Reuters

'This pandemic is not done with us' says Oxford jab creator - The Guardian

Omicron FAQ: Things to know today about the new COVID variant and symptoms
From The Guardian [2]:
How fast is the variant spreading?

- Tom Wenseleers, an evolutionary biologist at the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium, estimates that Omicron can infect three to six times as many people as Delta, over the same time period. “That’s a huge advantage for the virus — but not for us,” he told the journal Nature.
- Omicron has spread rapidly in South Africa, to the alarm of researchers worldwide.
- On 1 December, the country recorded 8,561 cases compared with a total of 3,402 reported on 26 November.
- In mid-November, only a few hundred cases were noted. South Africa’s National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) in Johannesburg confirmed that Omicron is spreading quickly.

How easily does the variant evade the body’s anti-virus defences?
- Evidence indicates that Omicron has an advantage over other variants in bypassing the immune system.
- “From what we have learned so far, we can be fairly confident that – compared with other variants – Omicron tends to be better able to reinfect people who have been previously infected and received some protection against Covid-19,” said Prof Francois Balloux, director of the Genetics Institute at University College London.
- “That is pretty clear and was anticipated from the mutational changes we have pinpointed in its protein structure. These make it more difficult for antibodies to neutralise the virus.”
- This point was backed by Simon Clarke of Reading University.
- “There is no indication as to how this immune evasion happens, although it can be presumed to be because of decreased antibody binding to Omicron’s mutated spike protein. But decreased T-cell immunity cannot be excluded as a possible contributory factor.”

If the power of previous infection to protect people is reduced, how might vaccines fare against the variant?
- If previous questions raised fairly worrying responses from scientists, most are more optimistic about the power of jabs to safeguard people from Omicron.
- “It is extremely unlikely this variant will evade vaccines completely,” said Prof Peter Openshaw of Imperial College London.
- “The vaccines we have are remarkably effective against a range of other variants but we need more lab and real world data to determine the degree of protection in those vaccinated.”

How likely is infection with Omicron to lead to hospitalisation or death?
- Early evidence does give some grounds for optimism.
- “The number of cases of Omicron infections does not seem to translate at this stage into the hospitalisation rates we would have expected with similar numbers of cases of Alpha or other variants,” said Balloux.

How might people in high-risk groups be affected by Omicron?

- It is too early to be sure how the variant might affect the elderly or other members of high-risk groups.
- However, some scientists have voiced concerns. “The big issue is the elderly population,” said Kao.

Omicron has similarities to the delta variant's mutation
From CNET [1]:

- COVID latches onto cells using a spike protein in its structure. Omicron has more mutations than the delta variant, which is considered at least twice as contagious as previous strains.
- While it isn't clear yet if omicron is more or less contagious than delta, the presence of those mutations is one cause of concern.
- That may be one reason countries around the world have banned travel from some countries in southern Africa and increased travel restrictions that include a negative COVID test 24 hours before travel, regardless of vaccination status.

Omicron confirmed in 20 US states
- It surfaced last week in California and Minnesota. Now the variant has been detected in 20 states across the country, from Washington to Mississippi and Texas to Utah.
- The US and other countries were already bracing for an increased caseload as colder weather and holiday gatherings brought more people indoors together.
- Now, projections of a winter surge of the dominant delta variant join concerns about omicron's spread.
- Add to that increasing flu infections, and experts worry about a "twindemic," of the two illnesses.

A Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine booster may be needed to guard against omicron
- On Wednesday, BioNTech scientists said two doses of the vaccine it developed with Pfizer may not be enough to defend against the omicron variant and three doses the first two shots and a booster may be needed to restore protection.
- "Individuals who have received two vaccines will most likely not have significant prevention from infection or any type of disease [from the new variant]," said Ugur Sahin, BioNTech's chief executive officer during the Wednesday briefing.
- Sahin said more information is needed to confirm its initial laboratory findings that indicate a third Pfizer vaccine dose is important to guard against the variant.
- Last week, Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel said all COVID vaccines may have decreased protection against the variant. CNET reached out to Moderna for an update but didn't immediately get a response.

Drug-makers could create an omicron-specific vaccine if needed
- It could take weeks to know for certain how effective the current vaccines are against the omicron variant.
- But Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson say they are already gearing up to create a vaccine designed to combat omicron if needed.
- Moderna said it could have vaccine candidates ready for trial in 60 to 90 days. Pfizer said it could have a new vaccine ready by March, pending regulator authorization.
- Johnson & Johnson said it's working with scientists in South Africa and around the world to evaluate the effectiveness of its COVID-19 vaccine against the omicron variant and has begun work on a new vaccine designed for omicron.

COVID PCR tests can identify the omicron variant
- Most PCR tests to identify the presence of COVID-19 in the body are free (COVID tests for international travel are the main exception).
- So it's good news that the existing nasal swab test has been found to detect the omicron variant -- a blood test or other procedure so far is unnecessary.
- "Fortunately for us, the PCRs that we mostly use would pick up this very unusual variant that has a real large constellation of mutations," Fauci said Nov. 29 in a press briefing.

Booster shots and vaccines are urged to help prevent omicron's spread
On Dec. 2, Biden announced a plan to help protect the US against the omicron variant this winter. It includes:
- Outreach programs to contact people eligible to receive booster shots.
- Making at-home COVID tests "free" for everyone.
- Tighter travel restrictions that require a negative COVID test 24 hours before departure.
- Paid time off for federal workers to get booster shots.
- Securing antiviral pills as a treatment for people who become infected with COVID-19 (these are recommended but not yet FDA approved).
- Sending 200 million more doses of COVID vaccine to international countries in the next 100 days (280 million have already been sent).
For details, refer to the CNET link [1].

Omicron could become the dominant COVID variant in Europe in months
- In Europe, omicron could become the most common COVID variant in months, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.
- "Mathematical modelling indicates that the Omicron VOC is expected to cause over half of all SARS-CoV-2 infections in the EU/EEA within the next few months" due to early understandings of the omicron variant's high transmissibility between people, the body said in a Dec. 2 briefing.

Covid cases in the US on the rise again, but it’s still delta, not omicron, driving the surge
From CNBC [5]:
- Even as more and more states report their first cases of the omicron variant, it’s still the super contagious delta variant that’s driving nearly all new Covid-19 cases in the United States.
- What’s more, it appears cases are once again rising after Thanksgiving.
- Dr. Michael Saag, an associate dean for global health at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, has seen a “notable increase” of Covid patients in need of monoclonal antibody treatments over the past 24 hours.
- “Think about it,” Saag said. “Somebody gets exposed and infected on Thursday or Friday of last week. Then it takes two or three days for incubation.”
- By all accounts, the driver of current Covid cases across the United States remains the delta variant of the coronavirus, not omicron.
- Walensky reported that the current seven-day average of new Covid cases is about 86,400 per day. On this day one month ago, according to CDC data, the seven-day average was 70,000 cases per day.
- “It’s going to take a while for us to know what the impact is going to be globally for people who are infected with omicron,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical adviser to the Biden administration, said during Friday’s briefing.
- Dr. Mary Bassett, health commissioner for the New York State Department of Health, said her team has ramped up genetic sequencing to detect and study the omicron variant.

South Africa’s coronavirus cases just rocketed past the peak of the first wave
From Business Insider Africa [3]:
- Reported new cases of coronavirus infection in South Africa are now higher than they were at the peak of the first wave.
- SA recorded 19,842 new cases on Wednesday, compared to 13,944 on 24 July last year, when the initial wave of infections peaked.
- The more reliable 7-day moving average of cases – now at 13,493 – is also higher than in July last year, when it never breached 13,000.
- Though hospital admissions are climbing, the number of patients on ventilation and in intensive care remains low.
- The Omicron wave had so far brought relatively mild symptoms, doctors have reported, albeit with heavy warnings that it was too early to tell for sure. Hospital group Netcare this week described a majority of Covid-19 patients as presenting with mild to moderate flu-like symptoms, including headaches, sore throats, and noses either runny or blocked.
- But the fear is still that Omicron's apparently wildly infectious nature could see health systems in many countries overwhelmed by sheer weight of numbers, even if a small percentage of those infected are at risk of death.

Having severe COVID-19 doubled the chance of dying within a year in a new study — the risk was even higher for young people
From Business Insider [4]:
- Nearly 180 people left the University of Florida health system alive after being hospitalized with severe COVID-19 during the US's first wave of coronavirus infections.
- But within a year, more than half of those recovered patients had died, according to a study from University of Florida researchers published Wednesday.
- The researchers examined more than 13,000 patient records from January to June of last year, before vaccines were available.
- They identified 93 patients hospitalized with severe COVID-19 who died between one and 12 months after they were discharged from the hospital — a sign that long-term complications from the disease continued to jeopardize their health.
- The study found that adults who recovered from severe COVID-19 were twice as likely as uninfected people to die within a year of contracting the disease.
- Younger adults faced a particularly high risk of long-term health problems: COVID-19 patients under 65 who were initially discharged from the hospital were three times as likely as uninfected people to die within a year.
- Adults older than 65 are more likely to succumb to COVID-19 quickly, so many won't ever reach the recovery stage, Mainous said.
- Younger adults, on the other hand, are more likely to survive an initial infection, then suffer from lingering symptoms for months, or perhaps years, to come.
- Researchers aren't sure why COVID-19 patients are dying of long-term complications, but Mainous has a theory. COVID-19 may ignite a persistent inflammatory response, which wreaks havoc on a person's organs even after they've cleared the virus, increasing their risk of heart attack, pneumonia, kidney failure, or stroke.

What you need to know about the coronavirus right now
From DW News [6]:
From WHO:

- Omicron reported in 57 countries, WHO reports.
- The new coronavirus variant omicron has so far been found in 57 countries, the World Health Organization said, warning that the rate of hospitalization resulting from infection is likely to rise.
- The WHO said it needed more data to evaluate the severity of the disease caused by the new variant.
- "Even if the severity is equal or potentially even lower than for delta variant, it is expected that hospitalizations will increase if more people become infected and that there will be a time lag between an increase in the incidence of cases and an increase in the incidence of deaths," it said.

In Africa:
- Botswana is one of the countries that has not seen a rise in COVID-19 hospitalizations despite being among the first countries to detect the omicron variant of the coronavirus.
- South Africa's health regulator SAHPRA on Wednesday approved a third booster shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. The country recorded 20,000 new COVID-19 cases on the same day, a record since the omicron variant was first detected there. It is not clear how many of the infections were caused by omicron.

In Nigeria:
- Nigeria's health minister said some COVID-19 vaccines donated by Western countries only had a two-week shelf life.
- "Some manufacturers offered to extend the vaccine shelf life after the fact, by three months, a practice that, though accepted by experts, is declined by the Federal Ministry of Health because it is not accommodated in our standards," Osagie Ehanire said.

In Asia:
- South Korea reported more than 7,000 daily COVID-19 cases for the first time since the pandemic began, Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum said on Wednesday.
- The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency said the country registered 7,175 new cases and 63 deaths Tuesday.
- Cases have skyrocketed in South Korea after the country lifted most restrictions and adopted a "living with COVID-19" strategy in early November.

In Europe and UK:
- The Norwegian government announced tighter coronavirus rules on Tuesday, citing rising cases of the omicron variant. Norway has detected 29 cases of the variant so far.
- The United Kingdom reported 131 new cases of omicron compared with 180 a day earlier.
- On Wednesday, Germany reported 69,601 new COVID-19 cases and 527 deaths, according to data from the Robert Koch Institute, the country's public health authority. With that, the country recorded its highest level of COVID deaths since February.
- The city of Munich has imposed an alcohol ban in pedestrian zones and at a popular central food market to curb the spread of coronavirus.
- Austria's Chancellor Karl Nehammer announced the country's fourth lockdown will end on Sunday but only for people who are vaccinated or have recovered from COVID-19. Restrictions will remain for unvaccinated people.
- Italy's Teatro alla Scala, among the famous opera houses in the world, opened its new season with the gala premiere of Verdi's 'Macbeth' to a fully seated house on Tuesday.

Global daily statistics - Reuters COVID-19 Global Tracker


List of sources:

PS: I will post here again next week, same time as usual. Thanks for reading, everyone.
Thanks for reading, everyone.

I'm going with, "No, thank you for all the effort you've constantly put into this. It's a valuable thing you're doing."