Covid Corner

MatsuShimizu

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WHO’s Science in 5 on COVID-19: Omicron variant - WHO Youtube Channel

Dr. Anthony Fauci Discusses Omicron Spread and Holiday Gatherings - NBC News

From NYTimes: Omicron confirmed in 39 US states

Map from NYTimes [3]
omicronus-17dec2021.png


Vaccine and booster updates in the US
From CNET [1]:
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
- "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 said last week. (Comirnaty, the brand name of the Pfizer vaccine, is manufactured by Pfizer and BioNTech.)
- Şahin said more information is needed to confirm the company's initial laboratory findings that indicate a third Pfizer vaccine dose is important to guard against the variant.

Is an omicron-specific vaccine needed?
- Fauci on Wednesday said that there is no need for a variant-specific booster at this point. The current boosters appear to be effective against omicron.
- Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson have all said they are gearing up to create a vaccine specifically designed to combat omicron if it's needed.

COVID PCR tests can identify the omicron variant
- Most PCR tests to identify the presence of COVID-19 in the body are free (COVID-19 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 is so far 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 in a Nov. 29 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-19 tests "free" for everyone.
- Tighter travel restrictions that require a negative COVID-19 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-19 vaccine to international countries in the next 100 days (280 million have already been sent).

COVID-19 booster shots: What we know today about a 4th vaccine dose

From CNet [2]:
Would everyone be eligible for a fourth COVID vaccine dose?
- Right now, scientists are examining early test samples to determine how effective the current vaccines are, whether a variant-specific vaccine is needed to protect against omicron and other future variants and who would qualify for yet another booster shot.
- Preliminary data suggests that the omicron variant may be able to evade immunity caused either by previous infection or through a full vaccine course.
- The omicron variant is changing the definition of full vaccine protection, Ugur Sahin, CEO of BioNTech, which made the vaccine in partnership with Pfizer, said Wednesday.
- "With the data now coming for the omicron variant, it is very clear our vaccine for the omicron variant should be a three-dose vaccine," Sahin said.
- If three doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine are needed to protect against the omicron variant, the timeline for a fourth shot could be pushed up to as early as March, Pfizer executives said.
- "I think it is very likely that we will need a fourth booster, possibly already this spring, particularly if omicron continues to dominate," Mikael Dolsten, Pfizer's chief scientific officer, told CBS News on Wednesday.

Do some people already qualify for a fourth dose of the COVID vaccine?
- Some countries are looking at authorizing a second booster shot for certain individuals.
- Israel, for example, is considering a fourth shot of COVID-19 vaccine for people who are immunocompromised.
- The Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention could authorize a fourth shot in 2022 for a similar group in the US.

Why would I need a fourth vaccine dose? Isn't one booster shot enough?
- By the second week of December, more than 201 million in the US were fully vaccinated for the COVID virus (with either two doses of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine or one dose of Johnson & Johnson's), and nearly 52 million had received a booster shot.
- Even before the omicron variant emerged, disease experts were already considering the need for an annual COVID vaccine booster to top off protection as the effectiveness of the vaccine wanes.
- With omicron, the talk of another COVID booster has been pushed to the front of the line.
- "There are vaccines like polio [where] one dose is enough," Pfizer's Bourla said back in April, as the COVID-19 vaccines were becoming widely available in the US. "And there are vaccines like flu that you need every year. The COVID-19 virus looks more like the influenza virus than the polio virus."

What about those who got the Johnson & Johnson vaccine for their first shot?
- If the definition of fully vaccinated changes to three shots, what about those who got the Johnson & Johnson vaccine for their first shot?
- According to UCSF's Wachter, it's still to be determined how protected those who received the J&J vaccine are. "There's always someone who got J&J and says, 'What about me?' And the answer is, we have no idea. Do they need a third shot? I think that question is going to be important to answer."
So is Pfizer/BioNTech creating a new booster shot for omicron?
- Executives for Pfizer and BioNTech said their companies are gathering data on the effectiveness of its current vaccine against the new variant and in parallel developing an omicron-specific vaccine in case it's needed.
- The variant-based vaccine could be ready by March 2022, pending regulatory approval.
- The vaccine-makers said they are also looking at a multivariate vaccine that could protect against other strains, such alpha (the original COVID-19 strain detected) and delta.

What has Moderna said about another booster shot to protect against the omicron variant?
- Like Pfizer, Moderna said it's testing the effectiveness of its COVID-19 vaccine against omicron, and said it may be weeks before it knows how well its current vaccine protects against the new variant.
- The company has offered little specific information on its own vaccine so far.
- It has set out its approach to the variant, including examining the effectiveness of a 100-microgram dose of its booster against the omicron variant.
- Its current booster is a 50-microgram dose.
- If Moderna needs to develop a new vaccine specifically for the variant, the company said, it could be available early in 2022.

What has Johnson & Johnson said about a second booster shot of its vaccine?
- Johnson & Johnson has also been quieter on the effectiveness of its own vaccine and said it's begun work on a new vaccine designed for omicron and is working with scientists in South Africa and around the world to evaluate the effectiveness of its current COVID-19 vaccine against the omicron variant.
- CNET asked Johnson & Johnson for more on its vaccine development and omicron but didn't immediately get a response.

Omicron R number estimated to be between 3 and 5, says UK health adviser - The Guardian

From BBC [4]:
The R number is a way of rating coronavirus or any disease's ability to spread.
- R is the number of people that one infected person will pass on a virus to, on average.
- Measles has an R number of 15 in populations without immunity.
- That means, on average, one person will spread measles to 15 others.
- Coronavirus - known officially as Sars-CoV-2 - would have a reproduction number of about three if no action was taken to stop it spreading.

Why is a number above one dangerous?
- If the R value is higher than one, then the number of cases keeps increasing.
- But if the R number is lower the disease will eventually stop spreading, because not enough new people are being infected to sustain the outbreak.
rnumberbbc-17dec2021.png

Omicron thrives in airways, not lungs; new data on asymptomatic cases
From Reuters [5]:
Omicron multiplies faster in airways, slower in lungs:
- This is according to a formal report of the findings is under peer review for publication and has not been released by the research team.
- In a news release issued by Hong Kong University, study leader Dr. Michael Chan Chi-wai said, "It is important to note that the severity of disease in humans is not determined only by virus replication" but also by each person's immune response to the infection, which sometimes evolves into life-threatening inflammation.
- Major differences in how efficiently Omicron and other variants of the coronavirus multiply may help predict Omicron's effects, researchers said on Wednesday.
- Compared to the earlier Delta variant, Omicron multiplies itself 70 times more quickly in tissues that line airway passages, which may facilitate person-to-person spread, they said.
- But in lung tissues, Omicron replicates 10 times more slowly than the original version of the coronavirus, which might contribute to less-severe illness.

Four in 10 infected people may unknowingly spread virus:
- Infected people who show no symptoms might be contributing significantly to transmission of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, given that they account for 40.5% of confirmed infections worldwide, according to a study published online Tuesday in the journal JAMA Network Open.
- The researchers pooled data from 77 earlier studies involving a total of 19,884 individuals with confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infections.
- They found that among infected people in the general community, about 40% were asymptomatic, as were 54% of infected pregnant women, 53% of infected air or cruise travelers, 48% of infected nursing home residents or staff and 30% of infected healthcare workers or hospitalized patients.
- The pooled percentage of asymptomatic infections was about 46% in North America, 44% in Europe and 28% in Asia.

News compilation: What you should now about COVID-19 this week

Pfizer Says Covid Pill 89 Percent Effective As Omicron Variant Spreads - NBC News

From DW News [6]:
UK:
- The British government announced on Tuesday that it would lift a ban on non-citizen and legal resident arrivals from Nigeria and 10 southern African countries.
- As of early on Wednesday, all African countries on the UK's "red list" will be removed. Health Minister Sajid Javid said that the travel ban is "now less effective in slowing the incursion of omicron from abroad."

Asia:
- India has said it is struggling to export the surplus of COVID-19 vaccines it has produced as logistical hurdles continue to plague the global supply chain.
- The Serum Institute of India is the world's largest vaccine maker and produces the AstraZeneca and Sputnik COVID vaccines, as well as its own Novavax.

Europe:
- German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach has said that the government is considering nixing testing requirements for those who have recently received their booster vaccine, saying it makes "epidemiological sense."
- The consumption of alcohol in bars and restaurants has been temporarily banned in Norway. The aim of this and other new measures is to reduce social gatherings and ultimately counter the spread of the omicron variant.
- Denmark has recorded another all-time high of coronavirus cases. The SSI national health authority reported another 8,314 cases on Tuesday, beating the previous day's record of 7,799.

Africa:
- A high court judge in Kenya has temporarily suspended a vaccine mandate for citizens to access public services.
- The WHO announced a major uptick in cases across Africa on Tuesday, but said that the death rate has dropped in comparison with previous waves of the virus
- "We are cautiously optimistic that deaths and severe illness will remain low in the current wave," said Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO's Regional Director for Africa.

Global:
  • A separate study released by Pfizer on Tuesday found that a new pill the company has been developing to fight those who already have COVID is highly effective at keeping patients out of the hospital, but less effective at helping ease the symptoms of those with mild or breakthrough infections.
Global daily statistics - Reuters COVID-19 Global Tracker

reuterscovidchart-17dec2021.png

List of sources
[1] https://www.cnet.com/health/omicron...ates-symptoms-vaccine-and-booster-protection/
[2] https://www.cnet.com/health/covid-19-booster-shots-what-we-know-today-about-a-fourth-vaccine-dose/
[3] https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2021/health/coronavirus-variant-tracker.html
[4] https://www.bbc.com/news/health-52473523
[5] https://www.reuters.com/business/he...lungs-new-data-asymptomatic-cases-2021-12-15/
[6] https://www.dw.com/en/coronavirus-digest-uk-to-lift-travel-ban-on-african-countries/a-60119839

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


MatsuShimizu

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Dr Tedros: Let’s learn from 2021’s pain to end the pandemic in 2022 - WHO Youtube Channel

PS: I'm not going to post anything else because I don't want to ruin your Christmas holiday with COVID news. I will post here again in 2 weeks, same time as usual. Happy holiday everyone. Thanks.
 
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wizardfromoz

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And thank YOU for the stellar work you have put into this Thread since it began.

Be safe and happy.

Chris
 

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we all need to take care of our health during these times, id like to share with you some ancient joint mobilization and self thai masage techniques which i personally practice and geet great benefit from. As most of us sit behind computers for hours at a time , i hope you guys get as much from this as i have been. These are accessable for anybody wether your sedentary , old , young or have injuries- it can help injuries. The benefits are numerous, not just physical also mental- really helps with feeling realxed

this is thai traditionsl self massage and joint mobilization. try the joint mobilization as a morning routine an just see how good you and your joints will feel . enojy!




herres a 20 minute short version of "pawanmuktasana" - an ancient yogi form of joint mobilization, enjoy :)


i hope some of you give these practices a go, they are so beneficial for well being :)
 
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Thousands send messages to late Chinese COVID-19 whistleblower doctor two years on​


16x9

A card with a portrait of Li Wenliang outside a hospital in Wuhan in central China's Hubei province, 7 February 2020 Source: EPA


Dr Li's death led to an outpouring of grief on social media at a time when people were on edge about the virus and authorities were under fire over a perceived lack of transparency and a hardline approach taken to whistleblowers.

Thousands of people left messages on the social media account of the late Chinese COVID-19 whistleblower Li Wenliang on the anniversary of the day he learned of possible pneumonia-causing virus cases in Wuhan and shared the information with fellow doctors.
On December 30, 2019, Dr Li, an ophthalmologist at a hospital in Wuhan where the Sars-CoV-2 virus outbreak was first detected, saw a medical report showing potential SARS coronavirus cases were confirmed in the city, he wrote in a post on his Weibo account on 31 January.
In early January, after the information on "SARS cases" was shared in a WeChat group, Dr Li was reprimanded by the local police, according to the same Weibo post.

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On 12 January he went to hospital, infected with the virus that causes the COVID-19 disease and died on 7 February, 2020.
His death led to an outpouring of grief on social media at a time when people were on edge about the virus and authorities were under fire over a perceived lack of transparency and a hardline approach taken to whistleblowers such as Dr Li.


Dr Li initially raised the alarm about the disease when he posted a message on WeChat to communicate with a group of doctors that he had received positive test results for a "SARs-like" coronavirus from a patient.

He posted that seven cases of this virus had been linked to a seafood market in Wuhan.

For that action he was rebuked by the Wuhan police bureau, which sent him a letter on 3 January, accusing him of rumour-mongering.

"[You have] severely disrupted social order," the letter read.

He was asked to sign a letter to stop his actions or face criminal charges.

Hashtags calling for a government apology and freedom of speech trended on Weibo in the wake of news of his death, before being deleted by censors.
 
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wizardfromoz

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I have Brian @Condobloke as the inspiration for the following.

At my Rock Roxx Thread, I posted a Christmas song by Jethro Tull. Brian's followup was to post a link providing information about Jethro Tull.

In amongst the material I found very interesting, was the following video by Ian Anderson, Tull's lead singer, flautist and front man, about acting responsibly for going to Tull's concerts in the UK September just past.



Who says rock stars can't act responsibly? :)
 

KGIII

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I'm a pretty big fan of Anderson, though I prefer his work with Jethro Tull more than I prefer his independent work. According to him, he doesn't do any drugs or even drink. I've seen him in concert and I'm skeptical but he may well be telling the truth.

It's also amazing how quickly he learned to play - anything. It was something like a few months to learn to play the flute.
 
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wizardfromoz

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I saw them at Brisbane's Festival Hall Saturday 17 September 1977, 10 days before my 20th birthday - still one of my Top 10 fave concerts.

I know we're off topic but ... hey, it's my thread and we're in Off Topic. ;)

Back to Covid, and goodonyer Ian Anderson.
 

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Oh, crap... I meant to post this in the Rock Roxx thread. In fact, after I typed it, I realized it was off-topic and went to post it in the Rock Roxx thread! Somehow, I made some sort of mistake.

I started on the wine pretty early.
 
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IX0LgkU.gif

We all need a good laugh during these trying times. No harm, no foul.
 

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No harm, no foul.

Someone's gotta be me, so I might as well do it.

In my defense, the holidays all run together for me. 'Snot my fault that my birthday is in the middle!

Now... Back to COVID, I suppose.
 

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Laughter is the best medicine !....Maybe even for Covid !
 

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First known case of 'Flurona' detected in the world​

A leading infectious disease expert is reminding Australians to get booster vaccinations after confirmation people can catch both COVID-19 and the flu at the same time.
Health officials said a pregnant woman in Israel is believed to be the world's first instance of someone having both influenza and coronavirus.
Being touted "Flurona", the young woman tested positive for both viruses while a patient at Beilinson Hospital in Petach Tikva city on Thursday.

Australian Former Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Dr Nick Coatsworth, said even in non-pandemic times people can be infected with more than one virus simultaneously.


"So the critically important message from 'Flurona' is that we've got a vaccine for both COVID-19 and influenza and we should be taking them."

"We know from South Africa, the United Kingdom and virtually everywhere around the world that the hospital length of stay, how long you actually have to be in hospital to recover from Omicron, is less," he said.

"Staff are exhausted and it's hard - but there is a law in epidemiology that there will always be a curve and that means there will always be a downslope of the curve and like many other nations around the world, we will get there with Omicron as well."
 

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Global Covid Cases Surpass 300 Million, Current Booster Guidance - NBC News

Omicron may be less severe in young and old, but not 'mild' - WHO
From Reuters [1]:
- "While Omicron does appear to be less severe compared to Delta, especially in those vaccinated, it does not mean it should be categorised as mild," director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at the same briefing in Geneva.
- "Just like previous variants, Omicron is hospitalising people and it is killing people."
- He warned of a "tsunami" of cases as global infections soar to records fuelled by both Omicron and Delta, healthcare systems are overwhelmed, and governments struggle to tame the virus, which has killed more than 5.8 million people.
- In its weekly epidemiological report on Thursday, the WHO said cases increased by 71%, or 9.5 million, in the week to Jan. 2 from a week earlier, while deaths fell by 10%, or 41,000.
- Another variant B.1.640 - first documented in multiple countries in September 2021 - is among those being monitored by the WHO but is not circulating widely, said the WHO's technical lead on COVID-19, Maria van Kerkhove.

Australia provides record boosters as COVID cases rise - Reuters

Sydney Omicron outbreak could peak by late January, modelling shows
From Reuters [7]:
- The Omicron outbreak in Australia's most-populous state could peak by the end of January, official modelling showed on Friday, as authorities reinstated some restrictions in a bid to slow the record spike in infections.
- After containing the virus through lockdowns and tough border rules earlier in the pandemic, Australia is now suffering infection rates far higher than elsewhere in the Asia-Pacific region.
- New South Wales (NSW) state Premier Dominic Perrottet postponed non-urgent surgeries and reinstated a ban on singing and dancing in clubs and pubs including in Sydney, the state capital and home to more than 5 million people.
- "This is a challenging time, not just in New South Wales, but around the world," Perrottet said during a media briefing on Friday, as people admitted to the state's hospitals with COVID-19 nearly doubled to a record 1,738 in just over a week.
- This could rise to around 6,000 by the end of this month under a worst-case scenario, but that would be still below hospital capacity, a modelling by NSW Health department showed. The hospitalisation numbers are expected to fall from February.
- NSW has clocked more than 100,000 cases over the past three days, higher than the total Delta infections reported between mid-June and late November, when the first Omicron case was detected.
- Daily cases in NSW shot up to 38,625 on Friday, exceeding the previous pandemic high of 35,054 on Wednesday, from around 250 a month ago.
- Australia reported record cases for the fifth straight day on Friday, with more than 78,000 infections. Thursday's cases stood at 72,401. Since the pandemic began, Australia has recorded more than 762,000 cases and 2,321 deaths.

Covid-19 Australia data tracker: coronavirus cases today, trend map, hospitalisations and deaths - Chart And Maps From The Guardian. Please check the link number [6] for more charts.
covid-australia.png

8 COVID face mask myths that put you at risk
From CNET [2]:
Myth 1: You don't need a mask if you're fully vaccinated or recovered from COVID
- When the COVID-19 vaccines were first administered, the CDC and WHO changed their guidelines to say those who were fully vaccinated didn't have to wear masks anymore.
- However, those guidelines changed when the highly contagious and deadly delta variant spread caused breakthrough infections among vaccinated individuals.
- Since COVID-19 vaccines are not 100% effective and anyone can carry and spread the coronavirus, both the WHO and CDC recommend that everyone, vaccinated and unvaccinated alike, wear masks while in indoor public places.

Myth 2: Cloth masks are OK to wear alone
- At the beginning of the pandemic, while masks like N95s were in high demand and reserved for frontline healthcare workers, experts did approve of wearing cloth masks.
- While a cloth mask is better than nothing, it's now recommended to wear it over a more protective mask so you're double masking.
- If a cloth mask is all you have, it can still work as a physical barrier by absorbing respiratory droplets that can carry and spread the coronavirus.
- Though a cloth covering alone may not be able to completely prevent someone from acquiring the coronavirus, it still reduces its spread.
- "Are they as effective as an N95? No. They have a degree of effectiveness. And if that's the mask that's available to you, use it," White House chief medical officer Dr. Anthony Fauci said of cotton masks on CNN's State of the Union Sunday.
- The most protective masks, N95 respirators, block 95% of tiny particles, including viruses, and are much easier to find now than they were at the start of the pandemic. Learn which are the best face masks to stop COVID-19 and where to buy them.

Myth 3: Only people sick with COVID need to wear face masks
- If you're not experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, it doesn't necessarily mean you're not infected: The CDC cites more than a dozen studies indicating that asymptomatic or presymptomatic people can still spread the virus.
- If you're going out in public or will be around people who aren't part of your household, wear a face mask to protect them, even if you're vaccinated.
- You could be sick without realizing it, either because you're asymptomatic, presymptomatic or blaming mild symptoms on other causes, such as allergies.
- People who are mildly affected can still spread the virus to others, including those at higher risk of developing severe forms of COVID-19.
- After considerable debate, scientists and medical experts generally agree that COVID-19 is an airborne virus: Wearing a mask forms a barrier that traps virus-containing droplets emitted by the wearer.
- In other words, if you're not wearing a mask and you breathe in the same air as an infected person who also isn't wearing a mask, your risk of acquiring the coronavirus increases dramatically.

Myth 4: Wearing a mask only protects you from infecting others
- According to the CDC, while the primary function of masks is to block the release of "exhaled respiratory particles into the environment," several studies have illustrated that cloth masks can also reduce the wearer's exposure to infectious droplets through filtration -- including particles less than 10 microns.
- "Multiple layers of cloth with higher thread counts have demonstrated superior performance compared to single layers of cloth with lower thread counts," the agency wrote in a release, "in some cases filtering nearly 50% of fine particles less than 1 micron."
- Some materials, like polypropylene, may enhance filtration by generating static electricity that enhances the capture of charged particles.
- Beyond the material and number of layers of your mask, improving its fit can improve filtration, as well. "Examples include but are not limited to mask fitters, knotting-and-tucking the ear loops of medical procedure masks, using a cloth mask placed over a medical procedure mask, and nylon hosiery sleeves," the CDC stated.
- Dr. Monica Gandhi, an infectious disease physician with the University of California, San Francisco, argued in a 2020 report in the Journal of General Internal Medicine that, even if someone does become infected with COVID-19, wearing a mask can reduce the severity of their illness. The mask "reduces the 'inoculum' or dose of the virus for the mask-wearer, leading to more mild and asymptomatic infection manifestations," Gandhi wrote.

Myth 5: Wearing a mask is dangerous because of carbon dioxide
- When worn properly, masks completely cover your nose and mouth -- from the bridge of the nose (above the nostrils) down below the chin, without gaps on the sides.
- Some people have suggested that surgical masks trap exhaled carbon dioxide and cause the wearer to breathe in more CO2. This myth received much attention after a June 2021 letter in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggested high levels of carbon dioxide in children wearing surgical masks. JAMA retracted the report two weeks later, citing problems with the study's methodology, data and conclusions.
- WHO confirms that the prolonged use of surgical masks doesn't lead to CO2 intoxication or lack of oxygen. And research from the American Thoracic Society demonstrated that face masks do not generate dangerous levels of carbon dioxide, even in patients with severe lung disease.
- As Fast.ai notes, COVID-19 particles are 100 nanometers in diameter while carbon dioxide molecules are just 0.33 nanometers, exponentially smaller and nearly impossible to be blocked by masks.

Myth 6: You don't need to socially distance while wearing a mask
- The WHO says the use of masks alone isn't enough to provide a sufficient amount of protection.
- Unlike N95 masks, which undergo a certification process, there's no regulatory body governing the materials or production of cloth masks.
- Along with wearing a mask properly, you should continue to practice physical distancing, wash your hands frequently and avoid touching your face.
- The CDC still recommends staying at least 6 feet away from people whenever possible, even when masked.

Myth 7: Wearing face masks weakens your immune system
- The weakened immune-system myth stems from the idea that the human immune system is strengthened by exposure to bacteria and other pathogens.
- The American Lung Association says there's no scientific evidence that wearing a mask weakens the immune system.
- However, even young and healthy people, without preexisting conditions, can catch and spread COVID-19.
- As of Dec. 29, 18 to 34-year-olds were the demographic with the highest number of reported cases in California, according to the state Department of Public Health.
- Washing your hands and wearing a mask won't negatively impact your immune system, especially in adults. In fact, researchers at the National Institutes of Health published a study in February suggesting that face masks may actually help your immune system.
- The humidity created by masks hydrates the respiratory tract, creating proteins called interferons that bolster your immune system, adding additional protection against COVID-19.

Myth 8: You don't need to wear a mask outside
- Research has demonstrated that the odds of spreading COVID-19 outdoors are as much as 19 times lower than spreading it indoors, but you should still wear a mask in outside areas where physical distancing isn't possible.
- For example, if you're hiking on a busy trail, going to an outdoor concert or enjoying an amusement park.
- You don't have to wear a mask outdoors if you're running in a secluded area or if you're spending time in your own backyard with the people you live with.
- If you plan on going to a crowded outdoor area, however, you should (and may be required to) mask up.

COVID two years on: 5 big questions about the pandemic we still can't answer
From CNET [3]:
How many COVID booster shots will we need?
- With vaccines appearing to offer waning protection against COVID-19 and the continuing evolution of variants, Moderna President Stephen Hoge said we will most likely need seasonal COVID boosters, much like we do with the flu, at least to protect with the highest risk of infection and serious illness.
- The CDC updated its guidance to indicate that, starting in 2022, some immunocompromised people will be able to get a fourth COVID-19 shot, while Israel, Germany and other nations are researching the efficacy of a fourth shot for the general population.
- White House chief medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci said a fourth jab is "conceivable" in the US, too.
- "It is conceivable that in the future we might need an additional shot, but right now, we are hoping that we will get a greater degree of durability of protection from that booster shot," Fauci said at a White House briefing Dec. 29. "We're going to take one step at a time, get the data from the third boost and then make decisions based on scientific data."

How long does immunity from vaccines last with variants like omicron?
- The first COVID-19 vaccines went into arms a year ago in the US and the two most effective in the US — from Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech — took a unique approach: Using Messenger RNA (mRNA) to teach our cells how to make a protein that will trigger an immune response to the virus.
- While researchers have been studying mRNA vaccines "for decades," according to the CDC, this marks the first time they've been made available to the public.
- Scientists continue to gather information on how effective they are — and how long until their effectiveness begins to decline.
- "We are definitely still figuring that out," Gronvall said. "We're seeing that protection wanes earlier than six months, which is why boosters are being recommended at six months."
- As new variants like the quick-spreading omicron emerge, she added, "whether the booster will be sufficient for a long period of time or not is something we still need to uncover."
- According to the World Health Organization, the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are far less effective in preventing infection by the omicron strain than earlier COVID-19 variants.
- Other vaccines -- including those from Johnson & Johnson, AstraZeneca, and ones manufactured in Russia and China -- do even less to prevent infection by the omicron variant, The New York Times reported.
- Still, fully vaccinated individuals are much less likely to experience severe symptoms, hospitalization and death, according to Harvard Medical School, especially if they receive a booster shot.
- "It's not a worst-case scenario, where the vaccines are ineffective," Gronvall said. "In lab scenarios, we've seen, vaccines provide less protection.
- That seems to be borne out in reality, but we can't project yet into the real world."

Will there be more variants like delta and omicron?
- Viruses constantly mutate. Sometimes these mutations result in new disease strains that emerge quickly and disappear, according to the CDC.
- Other times, they persist and create spikes in the rate of infection and disease.
- In two years, COVID has mutated into five "variants of concern," according to WHO, based on the severity of disease, the effectiveness of medical countermeasures and the strain's ability to spread from person to person.
- The alpha, beta and gamma variants were all downgraded to "variants being monitored" in September, with delta and omicron still considered variants of concern.
- This week federal health officials declared the omicron variant the dominant strain in the US, accounting for nearly three-quarters of new infections.
- Preliminary studies indicate illness caused by omicron may be less severe than delta, which doubled the hospitalization rate of the original alpha strain, but is also far more contagious.
- Health officials warn that the longer the pandemic lasts and the longer large groups remain unvaccinated, the more time the virus will have to spread and mutate.
- While researchers can quickly map and identify variants, they need time to see how dangerous a new strain is as they gather data on hospitalizations and deaths.
- "We're still not great at looking at new variants and projecting what that means in the real world," Gronvall said. "We have better tools to read genetic material and determine when variants emerge.
- But we can't read them like a book."

Why does COVID make some people sicker, including with long COVID?
- We know the virus can cause symptoms ranging from headaches, chills and fever to disorientation, nausea and vomiting — and even loss of taste or smell.
- While scientists continue to piece together who is more likely to get hit with these outcomes, they still lack answers about why some experience serious illness and others don't.
- Age is definitely the biggest correlation for severe disease, Gigi Gronvall, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, told CNET.
- "But there have been 29-year-olds who have died, children who have died, when all indications suggest they should have had a mild disease course."
- Scientists are also trying to get their arms around "long COVID" — a range of symptoms that can run on for weeks or even months after a patient is first infected.
- The World Health Organization has issued a definition that includes a variety of lingering symptoms — including fatigue, trouble breathing, sleeplessness, difficulty focusing, anxiety and depression — and the list keeps changing. - Even so, the condition's cause is not clearly known.
- "After two years, we don't understand much about long COVID, and don't know its prevalence with omicron after vaccination," Bob Wachter, the chair of the department of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, tweeted Wednesday.
- "It remains a hardship for millions and a lingering concern for me as I think about the prospect of getting even a 'mild' case of omicron."
- While some general symptoms, like loss of smell and taste, appear less common with omicron, Gronvall said, "we just don't know if people with that variant will suffer long COVID. We just haven't had enough time to tell."

Where did COVID-19 come from?
- Experts are still not certain how COVID-19 emerged. The prevailing theory is that it leaped from an animal to a human.
- The first symptoms of COVID-19 were reported in Wuhan among people who either worked or lived near Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market, an open-air "wet market" that sold fresh beef, poultry, fish and produce.
- According to numerous sources, including a June 2021 study in Scientific Reports, the market also traded in exotic animals as pets and food, including badgers, hedgehogs, civets and porcupines.
- Others, however, claim that SARS-CoV-2 emerged in a lab — with a naturally occurring or human-engineered virus infecting a researcher, who spread it to others.
- While there has been no solid evidence to back the lab-leak theory, former President Donald Trump and his supporters pushed the lab-origin theory through 2020.
- "There's a lot of people using this as a vehicle for other agendas," Gronvall said.
- "And certainly the Chinese have been lying."
- Government officials originally claimed that there were no contraband animals present at the market, she added, but researchers looking for a separate tick-borne disease photographed many illegal animals there, "stuffed together in close quarters, in poor health and stress conditions, in the months before cases were identified."
- "People are looking to blame [someone]," Gronvall said. "They're not looking for an explanation that is very human and plausible. But there's no virus that's been identified in the laboratory that's at all close to what ended up spreading around the world."
- Because the Chinese government shut down the Huanan market and removed all evidence almost as soon as cases of COVID were being associated with it, Gronvall said, researchers are not likely to ever find the exact animal culprit.
- "It wasn't like SARS in 2003, when you had these palm civets there that were all infected and it was a pretty quick thing," she said.
- To uncover more about the emergence of COVID-19, this summer, President Joe Biden directed the federal intelligence community to "redouble their efforts" to investigate the virus' origins.
- What we do know, heading into the third year of the disease, is we have a medicine cabinet of tools — including vaccines and antiviral pills — we didn't have when we first learned of COVID-19.

1 million daily cases: Why does the US fail to curb omicron? - DW News

Compilation: What you need to know about the coronavirus pandemic this week
From World Economic Forum [4]:
- China: More cities in central China have imposed new restrictions as new coronavirus infections in Henan province rose sharply, with authorities taking urgent action to contain clusters ahead of the Winter Olympics and Lunar New Year peak travel season.
- Thailand has raised its COVID-19 alert level as a result of rising cases, driven by the Omicron variant.
- The Indian cities of Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata are all experiencing a surge in COVID-19 cases - although without a corresponding rise in hospitalizations. New COVID-19 cases across India are up nearly four-fold since the start of 2022.
- Panama has moved to require all public officials to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or undergo weekly testing for the virus, its health minister said yesterday.
- Top US infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci has warned against complacency against the Omicron COVID-19 variant, warning that the sheer number of cases could strain hospitals, despite lower signs of severity.
- Bulgaria has tightened travel restrictions, with almost all travellers from the European Union now required to have a negative PCR test prior to entry alongside a valid COVID certificate.
- Cuba has also tightened its border controls in response to rising cases. Visitors will now be required to show both a negative PCR test and proof of vaccination. Previously, only vaccination cards were required for most travellers.
- A new COVID-19 variant in France is being monitored by the WHO, but is not currently of concern, according to the New York Times. The B.1.640.2 variant was first identified in October, but has not spread widely.

Record confirmed COVID-19 cases reported around the world
- France has reported a record of more than 332,000 new COVID-19 cases in the previous 24 hours. The number of deaths as a result of the virus also rose. The number of COVID patients in hospital intensive care units (ICUs) stood at 3,695 and there were over 20,000 COVID patients in hospital in total, the highest number since late May.
- In Italy, a daily record 189,109 new COVID-19 cases were reported on Wednesday. It comes as the country made COVID-19 vaccination mandatory for people from the age of 50.
- The UK has also reported a record COVID-19 prevalence. In the last week of 2021, one-in-15 people in England were infected with the virus. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said cases were increasing at the fastest rate ever.
- And in the United States, the rolling seven-day average number of new COVID-19 cases hit 540,000 on Tuesday - a new high for the eighth consecutive day.

CDC recommends Pfizer's COVID-19 booster for 12 to 15-year-olds
- The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced yesterday that it had expanded the eligibility of Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine booster shots to those aged 12 to 15 years.
- The move came after a panel of outside experts advising the CDC voted earlier to recommend booster shots of the COVID-19 vaccine be made available for ages 12 to 15.
- The panel also said the CDC should strengthen its recommendation for boosters for ages 16 and 17. The agency had previously made the shots available to those teenagers, but had stopped short of suggesting that all of them should receive the additional jab.
- The CDC said in a statement it now recommended that adolescents age 12 to 17 years old should receive a booster shot 5 months after their initial Pfizer/BioNTech vaccination series.

WHO warns new Covid variants could emerge that are fully resistant to vaccines as pandemic drags on
From CNBC [5]:
- “As this pandemic drags on, it’s possible that new variants could evade our countermeasures and become fully resistant to current vaccines or past infection, necessitating vaccine adaptations,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a press conference in Geneva.
- Tedros reiterated his frequent calls for nations to work together to improve global supplies and access to Covid vaccines and other crucial health equipment.
- “Misinformation and disinformation, often spread by a small number of people, have been a constant distraction undermining science and trust in lifesaving health tools,” the world health leader said.
- Covid vaccines such as Pfizer and BioNTech’s shots are still effective at preventing severe disease from omicron, experts say, but they are much less effective at preventing infection from omicron.
- Booster shots, on the other hand, significantly increase protection from symptomatic disease caused by omicron.
- If a vaccine-resistant strain of the virus emerges, manufacturers will have to tweak their shots, which “would potentially mean a new supply shortage,” Tedros warned Wednesday.
- It is important for nations to build up their local manufacturing supply of vaccines before that happens, he said.
- “This virus will continue to evolve and threaten our health system if we don’t improve the collective response,” Tedros said. “I’m highly concerned that omicron, being more transmissible, circulating at the same time as delta, is leading to a tsunami of cases.”
- Vaccine supplies are currently improving, he said, while repeating his criticism that rich countries’ booster-shot programs are making it harder for poor nations to obtain any vaccines. That growing inequity could prolong the pandemic.
- Despite the ongoing public-health threat and the possibility of future challenges, Tedros said he is “optimistic” the acute stage of the pandemic can end in 2022.

Global daily statistics - Reuters COVID-19 Global Tracker
reuterschart-7jan2022.png
List of sources
[1] https://www.reuters.com/world/omicron-may-be-less-severe-not-mild-who-chief-2022-01-06/
[2] https://www.cnet.com/health/8-covid-face-mask-myths-risk/
[3] https://www.cnet.com/health/covid-t...ions-about-the-pandemic-we-still-cant-answer/
[4] https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2022/01/covid19-top-stories-omicron-coronavirus-6-january-2022/
[5] https://www.cnbc.com/2021/12/29/who...ovid-variants-could-emerge-amid-pandemic.html
[6] https://www.theguardian.com/austral...ive-case-numbers-statistics-deaths-death-toll
[7] https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-...nstate-some-covid-19-curbs-report-2022-01-06/

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

KGIII

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@MatsuShimizu Always a pleasure (for lack of a better word) to read your weekly recaps. Thanks for the work you've consistently put into this. (I was one that didn't mind the daily updates.)
 

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Daily updates were just fine by me too.
 

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Explainer: Why you should still try to avoid catching Omicron
From Reuters [1]:
Here is why experts say it is not time to be complacent about Omicron:
You could still become very ill:
  • Research has indicated that Omicron may be more likely to lead to an asymptomatic case of COVID-19 than prior variants.
  • For those who do have symptoms, a higher proportion experience very mild illness, such as sore throat or runny nose, without the breathing difficulties typical of earlier infections.
  • But the extraordinary spread of Omicron in many countries means that in absolute numbers, more people will experience severe disease.
  • In particular, recent data from Italy and Germany show that people who are not vaccinated are far more vulnerable when it comes to hospitalization, intensive care and death.
  • "I agree that sooner or later everyone will be exposed, but later is better," said virus expert Michel Nussenzweig of Rockefeller University. "Why? Because later we will have better and more available medicines and better vaccines."
You could infect others:
  • You might become only mildly ill, but you could pass the virus to someone else at risk for critical illness, even if you have antibodies from a prior infection or from vaccination, said Akiko Iwasaki, who studies viral immunology at Yale University.
Omicron's long-term effects are unknown
  • Infections with earlier variants of the coronavirus, including mild infections and "breakthrough" cases after vaccination, sometimes caused the lingering, debilitating long-haul COVID syndrome.
  • "We have no data yet on what proportion of infections with Omicron... end up with Long COVID," Iwasaki said.
  • "People who underestimate Omicron as 'mild' are putting themselves at risk of debilitating disease that can linger for months or years."
  • Also unclear is whether Omicron will have any of the "silent" effects seen with earlier variants, such as self-attacking antibodies, sperm impairments and changes in insulin-producing cells.
Medications are in short supply:
  • Omicron treatments are so limited that doctors must ration them.
  • Two of the three antibody drugs used during past COVID-19 waves are ineffective against this variant.
  • The third, sotrovimab, from GlaxoSmithKline (GSK.L), is in short supply, as is a new oral antiviral treatment called Paxlovid, from Pfizer Inc (PFE.N), that appears effective against Omicron.
  • If you get sick, you might not have access to treatments.
Hospitals are filling up:
  • In fully vaccinated and boosted individuals without underlying medical conditions, Omicron "will not do too much damage," said David Ho, professor of microbiology and immunology at Columbia University.
  • Still, the fewer infections, the better, especially now, "when the hospitals are already overwhelmed, and the peak of Omicron wave is yet to come" for most of the United States, Ho said.
  • Due to record numbers of infected patients, hospitals have had to postpone elective surgeries and cancer treatments. And during past surges, overwhelmed hospitals have been unable to properly treat other emergencies, such as heart attacks.
More infections mean more new variants:
  • Omicron is the fifth highly significant variant of the original SARS-COV-2, and it remains to be seen if the ability of the virus to mutate further will slow down.
  • High infection rates also give the virus more opportunities to mutate, and there's no guarantee that a new version of coronavirus would be more benign than its predecessors.
  • "SARS-CoV-2 has surprised us in many different ways over the past two years, and we have no way of predicting the evolutionary trajectory of this virus," Ho said.

Omicron Is Here: How Parents Can Help Their Kids
Amid Omicron, some parents opt for home schooling - Reuters

From WebMD [2]:
To help parents help their kids weather today and the days ahead, WebMD asked Steven Meyers, PhD, a professor and chair of psychology at Roosevelt University in Chicago, for the five things parents need to do -- now:
1: Give kids the right information
  • Depending on how old you child is, tailor a message about the Omicron surge that’s understandable.
  • “Given the uncertainty and misinformation out there, it’s hard for parents to navigate this terrain, so just think about how hard it is on your kids,” Meyers says.
  • Keep the message clear about how the whole family can stay safe and define what acceptable risk means.
  • “For example,” he says, “if you have a family member who is immunocompromised, that risk will look different than if your family is young and healthy.
  • The threat level will vary, and this is important to keep in mind because being COVID-positive will have different impacts on people’s lives, depending on everyone’s overall health.”
2: Lean into the unknowable
  • Instead of acting like you know it all, explain to your kids that the facts about the Omicron variant are developing as we learn more and more about it.
  • “Parents should explain that science is always changing, and as we learn more, the recommendations and decisions will change, too,” Meyers says.
  • “When we’re stressed, we tend to rely on safe versus unsafe, right versus wrong.
  • But we have to get used to the idea that where we are right now with this pandemic, the guidance is going to keep changing just as the spread and the risk will keep changing.”
3: Discuss what safety means to everyone
  • If you child says they don’t want to go to school due to the risk of catching COVID, listen to their concerns.
  • “Then calmly explain that you’ve followed vaccine guidelines and that it’s important to be as safe as possible, depending on his or her age and when he or she got their vaccine and booster,” Meyers says.
  • “Remember that each person in your family will have a very individual reaction to a situation like this and will have different worries and concerns.”
4: Watch for anxiety warning signs
  • As parents know, kids right now are facing considerable stress and anxiety about the pandemic and are fatigued from 2 years of this.
  • “Especially among teens, some will keep their fears to themselves, while others will let them leak out through less productive channels, such as erroneous social media postings, headaches, stomachaches, or an inability to sleep,” Meyers says.
  • “It’s key for parents to play close attention to these signs of anxiety and keep the lines of communication open.”
5: Help your teen rethink FOMO
  • When teens see Instagram stories featuring their friends partying and gathering in large groups right now, the fear of missing out -- or FOMO -- is real.
  • As a parent, you can turn FOMO into something pretty amazing, Meyers says.
  • “Emphasize the virtue in being safe,” he says. “Try to help your teen find a way to transfer this from a feeling of loss to a feeling of what we can gain.”
  • An example, he says, is that following safety protocols means not only that we stay healthy, but we protect those we care about.
  • “We are collectively contributing to health of our community,” he says. “That might not sound fun, but it’s very important. Parents need to frame being considerate to others as a genuine strength, not a weak consolation prize.”

COVID-19 deaths rise 40%, likely from Delta says CDC Director - Reuters

Biden: More Masks, COVID Tests, and Troops to Battle Omicron - WebMD
WebMD [3], Jan. 13, 2022:
These actions are part of a “whole-of-government” response to the surge in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations associated with the Omicron variant.
Upgraded Masks
  • Biden's plan aims to make getting upgraded masks easier for Americans.
  • "I've taken every action I can as president to require people to wear masks in federal buildings and on airplanes and trains," the president said. However, "I know that for some Americans, a mask is not always affordable or convenient to get."
  • With that in mind, next week, the White House will announce how people can order high-quality masks, including N95s, online, for free, on a new website.
  • Biden estimated that about one-third of Americans say they never wear a mask, a statistic he's hoping to change.
  • The president also acknowledged the pandemic fatigue many people have.
  • "We all wish that we could finally be done with wearing masks, I get it,” he said. "But they are a really important tool to stop the spread, especially [of] the highly transmittable Omicron variant."
One Billion Tests
  • In the 10-minute address, Biden also announced plans to order 500 million more at-home rapid COVID-19 tests to meet demand. The order comes on top of the 500 million tests the government already ordered.
  • Doing the math, the president noted the current and future supply means there will be a billion tests "being acquired to ship to your homes for free."
  • Biden also pointed out that rapid at-home tests were not available when he took office. In contrast, "we'll have over 375 million at-home rapid tests in January alone. That's a huge leap," he said.
  • In the meantime, his administration will work with online retailers to make more tests available.
  • Also, for any American who wants a test right away, the Federal Emergency Management Agency is adding more free, in-person testing sites nationwide.
More Military Backup
  • "I'm announcing our next deployment of six additional federal medical teams," Biden said.
  • These reinforcements include more than 120 military medical personnel being sent to hard-hit states, including Michigan, New York, New Jersey, Ohio, and Rhode Island.
  • These military personnel will join other teams already in action.
  • Since Thanksgiving, over 800 military and other federal emergency personnel have been deployed to 24 states, tribes, and territories, Biden noted.
  • The numbers included more than 350 military doctors, nurses, and medics to help overwhelmed hospital staff.
  • In addition, more than 14,000 National Guard members are already deployed to help health care workers are in 49 states.
Vaccination Remains Top Priority
  • Getting more Americans vaccinated and boosted remains a priority, particularly during the Omicron surge.
  • "Right now, both vaccinated and unvaccinated people are testing positive. But what happens after that could not be more different," Biden said.
  • "If vaccinated people test positive, they're overwhelmingly have either no symptoms at all or they have mild symptoms."
  • In contrast, when an unvaccinated person tests positive, they are more than 17 times more likely to get hospitalized, he said.
  • "As long as we have tens of millions of people who will not get vaccinated, we're going to have full hospitals and needless deaths.
  • They're crowding the hospitals, leaving little room for anyone else who might have a heart attack, car accident, or any injury at all," Biden said.
  • One bright spot so far with the Omicron surge is, despite the jump in case and hospitalization numbers, he said, "deaths are down dramatically from last winter."
Uniting Against a Common Enemy
  • Biden said America will "get through this when everybody does their part, no matter where you live, no matter your political party."
  • Further acknowledging the political divide influencing COVID-19 response and numbers, he said: "We've got a fight this together. We've got to work together. Not against each other."

'Flurona' - COVID and flu at the same time -- cases are rising. Here's what you need to know
From CNET [6]:
A less effective flu vaccine and the surging omicron COVID variant have led to a nasty combination of viruses this season.
What to know about the flu vaccine's effectiveness this year
  • Vaccine-makers monitor which flu strains are currently circulating and forecast which are most likely to become the dominant ones during the upcoming flu season. They then produce a vaccine -- your flu shot -- using three or sometimes four of the likeliest contenders.
  • The effectiveness of the flu vaccine can fluctuate greatly -- from 19% efficacy in the 2014-2015 season to 60% in 2010-2011.
  • Last year, when about half of US adults and children got a flu shot, the vaccine was 39% effective in preventing infection, according to the CDC.
  • Coupled with the steps the US took to check the spread of COVID-19, the number of reported flu cases during the 2020-2021 season was so low it almost seems like a typo: Just 2,038, compared to 38 million cases reported in the 2019-2020 season.
  • This year, because of that unbelievably mild season, vaccine-makers had less information to work with. So they created a vaccine containing four likely variants, known as a quadrivalent flu vaccine, to increase the chances of nailing the dominant strain this year.
  • "There was enough data to make a good educated guess," L.J. Tan, chief strategy officer for the Immunization Action Coalition, said in October. Back then, Tan said experts were confident "we got it right."
  • But more recent research suggests they were off the mark, as a mutated form of the Influenza A H3N2 variant, called 2a2, has become the dominant strain.
  • According to the CDC, the majority of influenza strains detected this season so far are A(H3N2), mostly occurring in children and young adults ages 5 to 24 years old, however, the proportion of infections among adults 25 older has been increasing.
  • In November, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services reported a rapid increase in the mutated H3N2 strain at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, with 745 laboratory-confirmed cases between Oct. 6 and Nov 19.
If it's a bad match, should I bother getting a flu shot this year?
  • Absolutely. Experts recommend the flu vaccine for anyone six months or older and even a poorly matched vaccine can greatly reduce the severity of the flu in those who are infected: According to the CDC, getting vaccinated for flu can reduce the risk of having to go to the doctor 40 to 60%.
  • Studies have clearly shown that seasonal influenza vaccines consistently prevent hospitalizations and deaths even in years where there are large antigenic mismatches," the authors wrote in the preprint report.
When should I get a flu shot?
  • The short answer is: Now. In the Northern Hemisphere, flu season usually runs from October to May. But the influenza virus is less concerned with the calendar and more with spreading as widely as possible.
  • The timing this year could be less predictable, experts warn, given last year's mild flu season and our changing behaviors around the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Don't try to time your flu shot for when the flu will hit. To be ready, experts recommend, get your shot as soon as you can.
  • "We have a normal time when we expect the flu," Peter Chin-Hong, a medical doctor and professor in the Health Division of Infectious Diseases at the University of California, San Francisco, told CNET.
  • "But this year, it could be atypical or drag on longer, so that's what people need to be prepared for."
  • A similar shift in the timing of a seasonal virus infection happened this summer, when the US and Japan saw a spike in respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, infections in schoolchildren, Chin-Hong said.
  • That's because students were being educated remotely the winter before -- when RSV infections normally occur -- and didn't get exposed to the virus and build up immunity.
  • That allowed the virus to spread in the summer, instead.
Plan on making an appointment to get your flu shot
  • If you're used to walking up to your local pharmacy, hospital or doctor's offcie to get a flu shot whenever it's most convenient, you may find this year that you have to schedule an appointment, as providers struggle to treat COVID patients, maintain social distancing protocols and meet the demand for COVID testing and vaccinations.
  • Walgreens' chief medical officer, Kevin Ban, recommends scheduling COVID-19 and flu vaccinations online.
  • We are doing as much as possible to make it easy for people to schedule their appointments and get seamlessly vaccinated," Ban said, adding that you can also call Walgreens' toll-free number to make an appointment.
It's safe to get your COVID and flu shots simultaneously.
  • The CDC has confirmed it's safe to get a flu shot and COVID vaccination in the same sitting. (Vaccine-maker Moderna is actually working on a combination COVID-19/flu vaccine, but that combo won't be available this year.)
  • And don't worry about more serious side effects with a four-part flu vaccine: Whether the shot uses three components or four, the typical side effects should be the same, Chin-Hong, the UCSF doctor, said.
  • Those include redness or swelling at the injection site, muscle ache, mild fever, headache and nausea, all of which should clear up after a few days.

What you need to know about the coronavirus right now
Amid Omicron surge, Deltacron discovered in Cyprus - WION

The World is One News (WION) is an Indian multinational English language news channel headquartered in New Delhi. It is owned by the Essel Group and is part of the Zee Media network of channels. - Wikipedia

From Reuters [4]:
Germany’s COVID-19 cases hit new record

  • Germany on Thursday reported a record of more than 81,000 COVID-19 infections in a day as the government’s coronavirus crisis manager warned of possible bottlenecks in testing.
  • The previous daily record, on Wednesday, was 80,430 new cases. Thursday’s death toll rose by 316 to reach 115,051.
  • Germany’s STIKO vaccine committee recommended that all children between the ages of 12 and 17 receive a COVID-19 booster shot.
China’s Tianjin outbreak grows
  • China’s northern port city of Tianjin reported an increase in COVID-19 infections on Thursday as it stepped up efforts to rein in an outbreak that has spread the Omicron variant to another city.
  • Omicron has brought new challenges for China’s strategy to quickly stamp out outbreaks, which has taken on urgency ahead of the Winter Olympics from Feb. 4, while the busy Lunar New Year travel season begins this month.
Tokyo’s new cases jump to 4-month high
  • Tokyo recorded a new four-month high in COVID-19 infections on Thursday, and experts forecast the spread of the Omicron variant will cause the daily count to triple by month’s end.
  • Japan’s capital had 3,124 new coronavirus cases, the most since Sept. 1. The daily tally will likely exceed 10,000 by the end of January, according to projections announced at a municipal government meeting.
India’s big cities could see cases peak next week
  • New COVID-19 infections in Indian cities such as the capital New Delhi and Mumbai could peak next week after rising rapidly, experts said on Thursday, as the country reported the highest number of daily cases since late May.
  • The 247,417 new infections were more than 30 times higher daily cases from a month ago, rising as the Omicron variant replaced Delta across the country. Total infections reached 36.32 million, behind only the United States.
AstraZeneca says trial data indicates third dose helps against Omicron
  • AstraZeneca said on Thursday that preliminary data from a trial showed that its COVID-19 shot, Vaxzevria, generated an increase in antibodies against the Omicron and other variants when given as a third booster dose.
  • The increased response, also against the Delta variant, was seen in a blood analysis of people who were previously vaccinated with either Vaxzevria or an mRNA vaccine, the drugmaker said, adding that it would submit this data to regulators worldwide given the urgent need for boosters.
Scientists find gene that doubles risk of serious COVID
  • Polish scientists have found a gene that they say more than doubles the risk of becoming severely ill with COVID-19, a discovery they hope could help doctors identify people who are most at risk from the disease.
  • With vaccine hesitancy a major factor behind high coronavirus death rates in central and eastern Europe, researchers hope that identifying those at greatest risk will encourage them to get a shot and give them access to more intensive treatment options in case of an infection.
Africa joins race to acquire Pfizer’s Paxlovid pills
  • Africa’s top public health body said it was in talks with Pfizer about securing supplies of its antiviral COVID-19 pills for the continent, the latest to join the race for a drug seen as a potential game changer in fighting the virus.
  • The Paxlovid medication was nearly 90% effective in preventing hospitalisations and deaths, and data suggested it retains its effectiveness against the Omicron variant, Pfizer has said.
South Korea will begin treating coronavirus patients with Pfizer’s antiviral pills on Friday, the first Asian country to do so.

Global daily statistics - Reuters COVID-19 Global Tracker

reuterschart-14jan2022.png


Covid-19 vaccine Australia rollout tracker: per cent of population vaccinated and vaccination rate by state
Chart from The Guardian [5]
vaccineaustraliatop.png

List of sources
[1] https://www.reuters.com/business/he...-still-try-avoid-catching-omicron-2022-01-12/
[2] https://www.webmd.com/lung/news/20220106/omicron-parents-help-kids
[3] https://www.webmd.com/lung/news/20220113/biden-battle-against-omicron
[4] https://www.reuters.com/article/uk-...s-right-now-idUKKCN24U0JD?edition-redirect=uk
[5] https://www.theguardian.com/austral...ule-tracking-chart-percentage-new-cases-today
[6] https://www.cnet.com/health/flurona...cases-are-rising-heres-what-you-need-to-know/

@MatsuShimizu Always a pleasure (for lack of a better word) to read your weekly recaps. Thanks for the work you've consistently put into this. (I was one that didn't mind the daily updates.)
Daily updates were just fine by me too.
You're welcome. I'm touched.

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