Covid Corner

The Paxlovid medication was nearly 90% effective in preventing hospitalisations and deaths, and data suggested it retains its effectiveness against the Omicron variant,

That will be a game changer !!!! very, very sad........With all of the scientific data and help available, that a mature woman should follow this path.

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Clinical trial shows common drug heparin can be used to improve COVID-19 symptoms​

Researchers have determined that a cheap and widely available blood-thinning drug can be used to treat COVID-19 patients by improving their breathing.

Key points:​

  • Researchers say their clinical trial of 98 patients suggests heparin could be used to improve the condition of COVID-19 patients
  • They will now run a larger randomised trial in hospitals around the world
  • Heparin is already used widely to treat heart and lung conditions and blood clots

The research findings, published today in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology and co-authored by scientists from the Australian National University and King's College in London, are based on a clinical trial that used heparin to treat 98 patients diagnosed with COVID-19.

The trial found that breathing and oxygen levels improved in 70 per cent of the patients after they inhaled a course of heparin, and their symptoms improved.

"What we found was that this drug also works against COVID-19 by stopping the virus from entering the cells in the lungs,"
study co-author Professor Frank van Haren from the ANU said.(Australan National University)


Professor Frank Van Haren (Australian National University & ICU Director St.Georges Hospital Sydney), published the new research alongside a team from King's College London.
With all of the scientific data and help available that a mature woman should follow this path.

There should be a whole lot of Darwin Awards given out over the past couple of years.

I have run out of empathy, so I've fun out of sympathy.
Never got covid and never got the vaccine.
WHO's Science in 5 on COVID-19: Why are experts concerned about Omicron? - WHO Youtube Channel

All COVID-19 variants remains dangerous - protect yourself and others - WHO Youtube Channel

Why Getting COVID on Purpose Is a Dangerous Idea
From WebMD [3]:
In a Senate hearing Tuesday, acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock, MD, even told the panel, "most people are going to get COVID."
  • In late December, an epidemiologist told BBC News: "We have to be realistic; we are not going to stop Omicron."
  • Now, posts are popping up on social media resurrecting ideas similar to chickenpox parties, where you intentionally mingle with infected people.
  • So, if it's highly likely everyone will be infected, why not listen to the chatter out there, just get infected on purpose, and get it over with?
Because it’s a really bad idea, public health experts say.
  • "No, it is not inevitable that everybody will get Omicron infection," said Greg Poland, MD, a professor of medicine and infectious diseases at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science in Rochester, MN, and editor-in-chief of the journal Vaccine.
  • "There may well be higher rates of infection and high rates of exposure, but vaccinated, boosted, and mask-wearing individuals have a very high chance of protecting themselves from infections."
  • Becoming infected requires a chain of events that is not inevitable, he says.
  • "I think that it is certainly spreading like crazy," says Aaron Glatt, MD, chief of infectious diseases and hospital epidemiologist at Mount Sinai South Nassau in Oceanside, NY.
  • "It is highly contagious and is going to impact even the vaccinated and boosted."
  • Even so, he says, "There's no way to say, 'Everyone is going to get it.'
With intensive care units packed across the country and tests as hard to find as truffles, "'it certainly isn't the time to throw our hands up in the air and say, 'Everyone is going to get it,' " says Omai B. Garner, PhD, director of clinical microbiology for the UCLA Health System in California.
  • It sends the wrong message, he says.
  • Saying that Omicron will affect us across the board "means we should stop trying to fight it," he says.
  • If that happens, he says, "you will put the immunocompromised and the unvaccinated at risk. This is still a very dangerous disease for people who aren't vaccinated."
  • And the unvaccinated, Garner reminds people, include "an entire population under age 5" for whom no COVID vaccine has yet been authorized.
The Get-It-on-Purpose Narrative
  • The idea to deliberately catch COVID is also faulty reasoning, Poland says.
  • People may assume, mistakenly, that what they call "natural immunity" -- and what he prefers to more accurately term "illness-induced immunity" -- won't have any negative consequences, and that once they are infected, their immunity will be long-lasting.
  • Another issue, Poland says, is misunderstanding what “milder” means when saying Omicron is generally milder than the Delta variant.
  • If you are unvaccinated or insufficiently vaccinated and become infected with the Omicron variant, he said, the prognosis is better than with Delta, but you could still get very sick and die.
  • "I would certainly not recommend that people go out and try to get Omicron," Glatt says.
  • "If someone gets infected and recovers and does well, that would boost immunity, like [from] any infection."
  • But "that means you have to get sick," and that's not a good idea.
  • The other misguided thinking, Poland says, is figuring that experts already know everything there is to know about Omicron.
  • Not true, he says. He cites recent studies, such as newly published research from the CDC that found a higher risk for a diabetes after children were infected with COVID-19.
How To Order Free N95 Masks And COVID-19 Tests From The Government - TODAY Youtube Channel

Today (also called The Today Show or informally, NBC News Today) is an American news and talk morning television show that airs on NBC. The program debuted on January 14, 1952. It was the first of its genre on American television and in the world, and after 70 years of broadcasting it is fifth on the list of longest-running United States television series. - Wikipedia


Explainer: N95? KF94? Which mask is best at protecting against COVID-19
From Reuters [1]:
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has said Americans should wear the most protective mask they can, but stopped short of recommending an N95 or similar face covering. Here are some facts to consider when choosing a mask:

  • These masks and their international counterparts known as KN95s and KF94s are often made of multiple layers of polypropylene, a synthetic fiber.
  • They are designed to achieve a very snug facial fit, with straps that go around the back of the head and edges that form a tight seal around the nose and mouth.
  • N95 respirators worn correctly are designed to filter out at least 95% of particulate matter in the air, preventing anything larger than .3 microns from passing through.
  • KN95s and KF94s are certified in China and South Korea, respectively, and offer similar protection to N95 masks. KF stands for "Korean filter" and indicates 94% filtration.
  • -The best masks are some version of N95," said Eric Toner, senior scientist of environmental health and engineering at Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University. "N95s, KN95s and KF94s are functionally equivalent."
  • Masks with an exhaust valve do not prevent the spread of the virus to other people.
  • The CDC lists manufacturers of authorized N95 masks on its agency website. Masks should have a printed logo of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and an approval number.
  • The CDC has warned that about 60% of KN95 respirators it tested in 2020 and 2021 are below standards.
  • With the Omicron variant driving COVID-19 cases so high, experts said a better mask will help protect against transmission.
  • The CDC said a NIOSH-approved N95 provides the most protection.
  • Well-fitting surgical masks and KN95 masks offer the next best protection, followed by cloth masks with multiple layers.
  • Loosely woven cloth masks are the least effective but can provide an additional layer of protection when worn over a surgical mask.
  • Some cloth masks have built-in pockets for a filter that blocks small particles, but these are not as effective and data on their use is limited.
  • The CDC said masks are meant for single-use but can be used more than once when there is a shortage. The agency says N95s should not be used more than 5 times.
  • Dr. Gregory Poland, infectious disease expert at the Mayo Clinic, said when a mask becomes wet from exhalation or sweat, its efficacy decreases and advised rotating masks by day.
  • The CDC recommends people consider wearing an N95 when caring for someone with COVID-19, if at risk for serious illness or in a high risk job, when riding on public transportation for an extended time, in crowded indoors spaces or outdoors if not up to date on vaccinations.
  • The CDC recommends that a surgical mask under a cloth mask can offer increased protection if using an N95 is not possible.
  • "The best possible protection is being vaccinated and boosted, wearing an N95 or KN95. If that's not possible, double the surgical mask," Poland said.
  • "If that's not possible, a surgical or cloth mask with a face shield. If that's not possible, then as many layers of a cloth mask as you can wear," Poland continued, adding, "If that's not possible, then you're just playing Russian roulette."
From CNET [2]:
Before discussing masks, it's important to underline that the best way to protect yourself against severe COVID-19 disease is to get vaccinated, including getting your booster shot as soon as you're eligible.
  • The omicron variant may be more successful at evading vaccine protection and causing breakthrough COVID-19 infections, but vaccines are still highly effective at preventing hospitalizations and death.
Experts agree that wearing a face mask is an effective way to slow the spread of COVID-19 infection by way of virus particles, regardless of your vaccination status.
  • And because the omicron variant is so contagious, many experts have cautioned that cloth masks don't cut it anymore.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its mask guidance on Jan. 14, clarifying that "loosely woven cloth products provide the least protection."
  • Surgical masks and KN95s provide more protection, while approved and well-fitting respirators such as N95s provide the most protection, the CDC says.
  • We talked to two infectious disease specialists to determine the best face mask and face covering to protect yourself against the coronavirus in 2022, given the rapidly changing landscape. Their advice is below, followed by some updated recommendations based on their expertise.
Disposable N95, KN95, KF94 masks vs. cloth masks
  • According to the CDC's updated guidance, a well-fitting respirator that is approved by the the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health offers the "highest level of protection" out of any face covering.
  • These include N95 respirators, a disposable face covering that filters out at least 95% of airborne particles.
  • "An N95 is the best, if you can get it," said Dr. Bob Lahita, director of the Institute for Autoimmune and Rheumatic Disease at St. Joseph Health and author of Immunity Strong.
  • The CDC recommends N95s labeled "surgical" for health care personnel.
  • One popular alternative to the N95 is the KN95 respirator, which is the Chinese equivalent of the US standard. KN95s are made from the same material as N95s and are also designed to filter at least 95% of airborne particles.
  • Another alternative is the KF94, the South Korean equivalent to an N95, which has a slightly different shape and 94% filtration efficacy. (Neither KN95s are KF94s are NIOSH-approved.)
  • "I would recommend a high-quality KF94 or KN95 for high-risk situations," said Dr. Bob Bollinger, professor of infectious diseases at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and founder of Emocha Health.
  • Whether you're wearing an N95, a KN95 or a KF94, it won't be effective unless the face mask fits your face properly and you can wear it consistently, the CDC says.
  • "Make sure it fits snugly, without gaps around your nose, face and mouth," Bollinger said.
  • This is why these masks typically have an adjustable nose wire for a better fit.
  • Then there are surgical-style masks -- the disposable kind of protective mask that you can find in every convenience store these days.
  • These surgical mask-style coverings offer less protection than respirators, leading some experts to caution against depending on them amid the highly contagious omicron variant.
  • According to the CDC, a respirator such as an N95 "has better filtration, and if worn properly the whole time it is in use, can provide a higher level of protection than a cloth or procedural mask."
  • That said, a well-fitting surgical mask is still effective at filtering respiratory droplets, and it's useful in lower-risk situations or when it's all you can find. Look for a mask with at least three layers of material and a snug fit around the mouth, nose and face.
  • Further, if the elastic ear loops aren't tight enough, try tying a knot or twisting the loop to make the fit tighter.
  • Whatever you do, don't rely on a fabric mask alone any more.
  • They're good at protecting others from your respiratory droplets, but not at protecting you against theirs, even with a filter pocket.
  • "I would say people should choose disposable masks, not cloth," Lahita said.
  • "A cloth face mask is better than no mask if you don't have access to the disposable ones.
  • It helps protect others if you sneeze or cough -- but it's less effective than the disposable version or the N95 face mask, especially because many people don't wash their cloth masks often."
Another way to maximize protection is to double mask with a combination of cloth, surgical masks and respirators.
  • If you can't find an N95, KN95 or KF94, Bollinger said, "a good-quality disposable mask under a cloth mask is a reasonable alternative, as long as the fit on the face, nose and mouth is tight."
  • You can also put an N95, KN95 or KF94 under a regular disposable mask for a tighter seal.
Different masks for different tasks
Different types of face masks offer varying amounts of protection. But not everyone needs the exact same level of protection, and specific situations may call for more or less caution.
  • In the context of the omicron surge, for example, there's a higher risk of transmission, so it's a good idea to upgrade your face covering accordingly.
  • That means wearing a well-fitting N95, KN95 or KF94 if you can, or double masking.
The CDC says that "a respirator may be considered in certain situations and by certain people when greater protection is needed or desired."
Some of the situations that call for a respirator include:
  • Crowded indoor or outdoor public settings
  • Workplaces that involve interacting with the public
  • Caring for someone who has COVID-19
  • If you're not up to date on your COVID vaccinations (including boosters)
  • If you're immunocompromised or have underlying medical conditions
Opting for higher protection is also a good idea whenever you're in a riskier public setting, like traveling on public transportation or visiting a health care facility, no matter your health status.
  • "Certainly, if you're in a nursing home or a hospital, you must wear an N95," Lahita said. "If you're in a classroom with kids, the teacher should be wearing an N95."
  • If you're up to date on your shots, low-risk and in a region with less transmission, a well-fitting surgical mask is fine for regular, daily use.
  • And when you're outdoors, masking is less necessary, Lahita said. That's unless you're in a crowded area, or will be in close contact with unvaccinated people.
How to avoid counterfeit face masks
In the US, N95s must be approved by NIOSH, as well as by the US Food and Drug Administration in order to qualify for medical use.
  • Because the KN95 and KF94 aren't regulated by US authorities, it's a bit trickier to know you're getting the real deal, and counterfeit masks have proliferated throughout the pandemic.
  • The FDA approved certain KN95s under an Emergency Use Authorization in 2020, and while that authorization has expired, the list of FDA-approved face mask manufacturers is still a helpful resource.
  • The CDC also maintains a list of non-NIOSH-approved masks that have gone through filtration testing.
  • When it comes to KF94s, your best bet is to buy from a manufacturer in South Korea, which has its own strict testing associated with the KF94 label.
  • Another important note: Ignore the term "FDA registered" when shopping for masks.
  • As the FDA notes on its website, facilities "involved in the production and distribution of medical devices intended for use in the United States are generally required to register annually with the FDA."
  • But, importantly, the "FDA's registration and listing database does not denote approval, clearance or authorization of that facility or its medical devices."
Our current best face mask suggestions
Below, is a list of N95, KN95, KF94, surgical-style and cloth masks (which, again, are recommended when doubling up). While CNET hasn't expressly "tested" most of these masks, they conform to the expert mask recommendations above.

Project N95 - Trusted reseller
  • Project N95 is a nonprofit that vets personal protective equipment to help shoppers make sure they're buying legitimate, tested products.
  • The shop sells N95s, KN95s, surgical masks and other types from a variety of brands.
  • By shopping directly from Project N95, you can be more confident that your face covering is tested and trustworthy.

WWDoll KN95
  • WWDoll's KN95s are manufactured in a factory in China that's on the FDA's EUA list.
  • They have five layers of fabric, a foldable 3D shape, ear loops and an adjustable nose bridge to help you achieve a more secure fit.
  • If white respirators are a bit too clinical-looking for you, these also come in a variety of colors, including black and pink.

Vida KN95
  • A previous favorite in the cloth mask space, Vida now makes disposable KN95s as well, and they're from EUA-approved factories in China.
  • Choose from a range of face mask colors, and regular or kids' sizes.
  • You can buy anywhere from a 10-pack to a 1,000-pack of these KN95s, and send your used ones back to Vida to be recycled.
Powecom KN95
  • Powecom's KN95s are affordable, with a pack of 10 ringing up at around $22.
  • They feature the standard five-layered adjustable design with ear loops and come from an EUA-authorized Chinese manufacturer.
  • Reviewers say they're comfortable and form a nice tight seal around the face, with no gaps around the edges.

Please check the CNET link [2] for links to the sellers' websites and more mask recommendations. I only included trusted sellers here.
U.S. Faces Wave of Omicron Deaths in Coming Weeks, Forecasts Say
From WebMD [4]:
COVID-19 deaths from the Omicron variant are climbing and will likely increase quickly in the upcoming weeks, according to new forecasts.
  • Based on national forecasts, 50,000 to 300,000 more Americans could die by the time the current wave subsides in March.
“A lot of people are still going to die because of how transmissible Omicron has been,” Jason Salemi, PhD, an epidemiologist at the University of South Florida, told The Associated Press.
  • “It, unfortunately, is going to get worse before it gets better,” he said.
  • The 7-day average for daily new COVID-19 deaths has been increasing since mid-November, reaching nearly 1,900 on Tuesday, according to the latest data from Johns Hopkins University.
  • What’s more, COVID-19 deaths began rising among nursing home residents about 2 weeks ago, the AP reported.
  • Although the Omicron variant appears to cause milder disease, the high number of infections has led to more hospitalizations.
  • If the higher end of the national forecast happens, the total number of U.S. COVID-19 deaths could surpass 1 million by early spring.
“Overall, you’re going to see more sick people, even if you as an individual have a lower chance of being sick,” Katriona Shea, PhD, an epidemiologist at Pennsylvania State University, told the AP.
  • Shea co-leads a team that assembles pandemic models through the COVID-19 Scenario Modeling Hub and shares the projections with the White House. The forecast includes models from 11 universities across the country.
  • The upcoming wave of Omicron deaths will peak in early February, she said, and weekly deaths could exceed the peak from the Delta variant and the previous peak seen in January 2021.
  • The combined models project 1.5 million COVID-19 hospitalizations and 191,000 COVID-19 deaths from mid-December through mid-March.
  • But due to uncertainty in the models, the deaths from the Omicron wave could range from 58,000 to 305,000.
WHO warns covid-19 pandemic nowhere near over - WION
Analysis: How Omicron highlights fading hope of herd immunity from COVID
From Reuters [6]:
The Omicron variant, which is spreading far faster than previous versions of the coronavirus, is not likely to help countries achieve so-called herd immunity against COVID-19, in which enough people become immune to the virus that it can no longer spread, leading disease experts say.
  • From the earliest days of the pandemic, public health officials have expressed hope that it was possible to achieve herd immunity against COVID-19, as long as a high enough percentage of the population was vaccinated or infected with the virus.
  • Those hopes dimmed as the coronavirus mutated into new variants in quick succession over the past year, enabling it to reinfect people who were vaccinated or had previously contracted COVID-19.
  • Some health officials have revived the possibility of herd immunity since Omicron emerged late last year.
  • The fact that the variant spreads so quickly and causes milder illness might soon expose enough people, in a less harmful way, to the SARS-COV-2 virus and provide that protection, they argue.
  • Disease experts note, however, that Omicron’s transmissibility is aided by the fact that this variant is even better than its predecessors at infecting people who were vaccinated or had a prior infection.
  • That adds to evidence that the coronavirus will continue to find ways to break through our immune defenses, they said.
“Reaching a theoretical threshold beyond which transmission will cease is probably unrealistic given the experience we have had in the pandemic,” Dr. Olivier le Polain, an epidemiologist with the World Health Organization (WHO), told Reuters.
  • That is not to say that prior immunity offers no benefit.
  • Instead of herd immunity, many experts interviewed by Reuters said there was growing evidence that vaccines and prior infection would help boost population immunity against COVID-19, which makes the disease less serious for those who are infected, or become reinfected.
  • “As long as population immunity holds with this variant and future variants, we'll be fortunate and the disease will be manageable,” said Dr. David Heymann, a professor of infectious disease epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
Current COVID-19 vaccines were primarily designed to prevent severe disease and death rather than infection.
  • But clinical trial results in late 2020 showing that two of the vaccines had more than 90% efficacy against the disease initially sparked hope that the virus could be largely contained by widespread vaccination, similar to the way measles has been curbed by inoculation.
    With SARS-CoV-2, two factors have since undermined that picture, said Marc Lipsitch, an epidemiologist at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
  • "The first is that immunity, especially to infection, which is the important kind of immunity, wanes quite quickly, at least from the vaccines that we have right now," he said.
  • The second is that the virus can quickly mutate in a way that enables it to elude protection from vaccination or prior infection - even when immunity has not waned.
"It changes the game when vaccinated people can still shed virus and infect other people," said Dr. David Wohl, an infectious disease specialist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine.
  • He cautioned against assuming that infection with Omicron would increase protection, especially against the next variant that might arise.
  • "Just because you had Omicron, maybe that protects you from getting Omicron again, maybe," Wohl said.
Vaccines in development that provide immunity against future variants or even multiple types of coronaviruses could change that, said Pasi Penttinen, the top influenza expert at the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, but it will take time.
  • Still, the hope for herd immunity as a ticket back to normal life is hard to shake.
  • "These things were in the media: 'We’ll reach herd immunity when 60% of the population are vaccinated.' It didn't happen.
  • Then for 80%. Again, it didn't happen,” Francois Balloux, professor of computational systems biology at University College London, told Reuters.
  • “As horrible as it sounds, I think we have to prepare ourselves to the fact that the vast majority, essentially everyone, will get exposed to SARS-CoV-2," he said.
Global health experts expect that the coronavirus will ultimately become endemic, circulating persistently in the population and causing sporadic surges.
  • The emergence of Omicron, however, has raised questions about exactly when that might happen.
  • “We will get there," said the WHO's le Polain, "but we are not there at the moment.”

Covid UK: coronavirus cases, deaths and vaccinations
The red map to the left is the hotspot, the blue map (middle) is change and the green map is vaccinations. Chart from The Guardian [7]:

Compilation: What you need to know about the coronavirus right now
From Reuters [8]:
COVID disrupts aid flight to tsunami-hit Tonga:
  • As aid trickles into the South Pacific nation of Tonga, devastated by a volcanic eruption and tsunami, an Australian aid flight was forced to return to base due to a positive COVID-19 case onboard, a defence official said on Friday.
  • All crew had returned negative rapid antigen tests before departure, but PCR tests later showed the positive result. The supplies were moved to another flight that took off on Friday.
  • Tonga is COVID-free and has a strict border control policy, and is requiring contactless delivery of aid that began arriving by plane on Thursday.
Hong Kong warns people trying to prevent hamster cull:
  • Hong Kong police will deal with pet lovers who try to stop people giving up their hamsters to be put down, or who offer to care for abandoned hamsters, authorities said, after they ordered a cull of the cuddly rodents to curb the coronavirus.
A divided nation: Western Australia stays shut:
  • Australia will remain a divided nation with the vast mining state of Western Australia cancelling plans to reopen its borders on Feb. 5, citing health risks from a surge in the Omicron COVID-19 variant in eastern states.
  • Instead, reopening will be delayed indefinitely or at least until the percentage of triple dose vaccinations reached 80%. It is currently around 26%.
  • Australia’s most populous state New South Wales (NSW) on Friday reported its deadliest day of the pandemic, with 46 deaths.
Canadian provincial leader wants to pause truckers’ vaccine mandate:
  • The premier of Canada’s Alberta province on Thursday called on the federal government to pause a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for cross-border truckers that companies say will disrupt the supply chain and fuel inflation.
  • The mandate, imposed by Ottawa to help curb the spread of the coronavirus, has cost Canadian trucking companies about 10% of their international drivers, six top executives said this week.
  • They said they are hiking wages to lure new operators during the worst labour shortage they have experienced.
Israel to scrap quarantine for children exposed to COVID carriers:
  • Israel will ditch mandatory quarantine for children exposed to COVID-19 carriers, the government said on Thursday, citing a need to relieve parents and schools as case numbers spiral due to the fast-spreading but low-morbidity Omicron variant.
  • Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said that as of Jan. 27, children will instead be required to take twice-weekly home antigen tests for the virus and, if they prove positive or feel unwell, absent themselves from school until they recover.
  • The home kits will be supplied free of charge, he said.
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.
MatsuShimizu said:
The Paxlovid medication was nearly 90% effective in preventing hospitalisations and deaths, and data suggested it retains its effectiveness against the Omicron variant,

That will be a game changer !!!!

^^^^^ Why would that post be funny ?

It serves to detail one mans experience, when , his health already suffering from underlying conditions, namely heart disease, diabetes & low blood oxygen levels, also contacted covid 19.

This bought about difficulty breathing.

His Doctor prescribed oral antivirals.

A friend picked them up for him from the local pharmacy

He is alive because of the treatment he received.
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As vaccinations have increased, the focus has shifted from case numbers to hospitalisations as a key measure of how countries are coping with the disease.
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COVID-19 future scenarios and what we can all do to turn the tide - WHO Youtube Channel

The Omicron variant: sorting fact from myth
From WHO.INT [1]:
Since the B.1.1.529 variant was declared a Variant of Concern and assigned the name Omicron on 26 November 2021, our understanding of this variant has increased considerably, thanks to collaborative global research and the passing of time, allowing us to observe its behaviour and how it affects individuals and communities over a number of weeks.
  • Unfortunately, as there are knowledge gaps around Omicron, we have seen a great deal of speculation, assumptions and misinformation being communicated about the variant, making it difficult for individuals and authorities to take informed decisions for health protection.
  • The latest epidemiological data shows that we are now seeing a rapid increase in the rate of infection of COVID-19 in the WHO European Region, largely as a result of the spread of the new Omicron variant. To put this into scale, in September 2021, we were experiencing over 1 million new COVID-19 cases a week, but by the first week of January 2022 this had increased to more than 7 million reported cases in a single week.
  • Through monitoring the media, social media and common search engine search terms, and working with fact checkers, we are able to address some of the myths surrounding Omicron, and to give more explanation about the actual facts.
Fact: Omicron appears to be less severe than the Delta variant, but it should not be seen as mild.
Myth: Omicron only causes mild disease.
  • It’s important that we don’t get ahead of ourselves in terms of judging the severity and potential impact of Omicron.
  • A number of countries have shown that infection-severity from Omicron in their populations has been lower compared to Delta.
  • However, these Omicron impacts have been mostly observed in countries with high vaccination rates in the Region: the comparatively lower rate of hospitalizations and deaths so far is in large part thanks to vaccination, particularly of vulnerable groups.
  • Without the vaccines many more people would likely be in hospital. It is too early to say what impact Omicron will have on the countries with lower vaccination uptake and on the most vulnerable groups.
Fact: Omicron still presents a high risk to our health systems.
Myth: As Omicron is less severe, we will see fewer hospitalizations and our health systems will be able to cope.
  • The overall risk related to Omicron remains very high for a number of reasons.
  • Current data indicates that Omicron has an even higher growth advantage compared to Delta.
  • Even if an Omicron infection was less severe compared to Delta, the rapid increase in cases will result in an increase in hospitalizations, putting pressures on health care systems for treating patients with both COVID-19 and other types of disease.
Fact: Vaccines offer the best available protection against Omicron.
Myth: Vaccines don’t work against Omicron.
  • Vaccination is expected to provide important protection against severe disease and death caused by Omicron, as it does with the other variants still in circulation.
  • Up to this point, the comparatively lower rate of hospitalizations and deaths from Omicron is in large part thanks to so many people in our Region already being vaccinated.
  • Vaccination prompts the body’s immune response to the virus, which not only protects us from the variants currently in circulation – including Omicron – but is also likely to give protection from severe disease due to future mutations of COVID-19.
Fact: Unvaccinated people are at most risk from Omicron.
Myth: Unvaccinated people will not become severely ill from Omicron.
  • It’s really not wise to cross your fingers and hope for the best with Omicron, because the variant will find those people who remain unvaccinated.
  • The sheer volume of new COVID-19 infections is already leading to more hospitalizations in countries where Omicron has become the dominant variant, with most of those who require hospital treatment being unvaccinated people.
  • Where measures to interrupt COVID-19 transmission are absent, the Omicron variant will spread with unprecedented speed, and just like in the Delta wave, the unvaccinated will be hit hardest.
  • Our top recommendation continues to be: Take the vaccination when it’s your turn, including a booster dose if offered.
Fact: Omicron is much more dangerous than a common cold.
Myth: Omicron is just like a common cold.
  • Omicron is not like a common cold because it is more likely than a cold to land you in hospital.
  • We have seen that people infected with the Omicron variant are being hospitalized and some people have already died as a result of it.
  • It is also expected that people who have been infected from Omicron and recover are also at risk of developing so-called Long COVID conditions.
Fact: Omicron can reinfect people that have previously had COVID-19.
Myth: Previous infection provides immunity from Omicron.
  • If you have had COVID-19 previously, you should still get vaccinated, as reinfection from Omicron is still possible, with the risk that you could become seriously ill, pass on the virus to others or develop Long COVID.
  • Getting fully vaccinated, whether you have had COVID-19 or not, is the best way to protect yourself and others from severe disease, being hospitalized and potentially dying from the virus.
Fact: Booster jabs are effective at increasing protection against severe disease from Omicron and all other COVID-19 variants.
Myth: Boosters are ineffective against severe disease from Omicron.
  • The effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines, as with many other vaccines, such as the one for flu, wanes over time, so if you are offered a booster jab, take it.
  • This will literally boost your protection against severe disease from Omicron and other variants of COVID-19.
  • This advice is especially important for people in at-risk groups, such as those over 60 years of age and people with underlying health conditions, who are at most risk from becoming seriously ill from infection.
  • Health care workers should also get a booster jab due to their high risk of exposure to the virus and the danger of spreading it to the vulnerable people they care for.
Fact: Wearing masks is an effective protective measure to help reduce the infection and spread of Omicron.
Myth: Face masks are useless against Omicron as the gaps in them are larger than the virus.
  • Based on the evidence that we have so far, all preventive measures that work against the Delta variant continue to be effective against Omicron – and this includes mask wearing.
  • Omicron is moving so quickly that, in addition to vaccination, all other preventive measures – wearing a mask; cleaning hands; physical distancing; avoiding closed, confined or crowded spaces; coughing or sneezing into a bent elbow or tissue; and ensuring good ventilation – are needed to stem the wave of infection and protect health workers and systems.
Fact: The end of the pandemic is not yet in sight.
Myth: With Omicron being less severe, we are nearing the end of the pandemic.
  • It is important to recognize that we still have some way to go to ending the pandemic.
  • Although we are currently reporting fewer hospitalizations and deaths across the Region as a whole, we are, however, dealing with a huge surge in COVID-19 cases.
  • And even though Omicron is quickly gaining ground in the Region, the majority of current COVID-19 cases is still being caused by the Delta variant, which is known to cause severe disease and death.
In those countries where Omicron is becoming or has become the dominant variant, we are also seeing COVID-19 cases doubling every 1.5 to 3 days – with hospitalizations rapidly rising as a result.
  • We therefore cannot afford to drop our guard. Regardless of where you live, or your age, you still need to get vaccinated when it’s your turn, with a complete course and booster dose if offered, and continue to take all the other preventive measures, both to protect yourself and others.
  • Ending the pandemic requires us to get to much higher levels of vaccination in key target groups in the Region and beyond.
  • This is as much about vaccine equity between countries as within countries, and it must include getting all vulnerable individuals and health care workers vaccinated as a priority.
  • Additionally, misinformation and disinformation fuel mistrust.
  • This puts health and lives at risk; undermines trust in science, institutions and health systems; and hinders the response to the pandemic.
  • Whenever misinformation and disinformation clash with evidence-based science, another person is impeded from making the right decisions to protect their health.
Based on my research, unvaccinated people are at most risk from Omicron, like being stated above. WHO has the most data, so do not trust unofficial sources like social media. The first Omicron death is from the UK. Below are two pieces of news from Independent UK and WebMD from a few weeks ago.
Post-Truth Era’ Hurts COVID-19 Response, Trust in Science
From WebMD [2]:
Can you tell which of the following statements are true and which are false?
  • COVID-19 is not a threat to younger people, and only those who have other medical conditions are dying from it.
  • The mRNA vaccines developed to prevent the coronavirus alter your genes, can make your body “magnetic,” and are killing more people than the virus itself.
  • If you guessed that all of these claims are false, you’re right take a bow.
Not a single one of these statements has any factual support, according to scientific research, legal rulings, and legitimate government authorities.
  • And yet public opinion surveys show millions of Americans, and others around the world, believe some of these falsehoods are true and can’t be convinced otherwise.
  • Social media and partisan websites, TV programs, and commentators have widely circulated these and other unfounded claims so frequently that many people say they simply can’t tell what’s objectively true and not anymore.
  • So much so, the authors of a fascinating new research study have concluded we are living in a “post-truth era,” with baseless beliefs and subjective opinions given a higher priority than verifiable facts.
The new study The Rise and Fall of Rationality in Language, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that facts have become less important in public discourse.
  • As a result, unsupported beliefs have taken precedent over readily identifiable truths in discussions of health, science.
  • The trend did not begin with the rise of the COVID-19 pandemic, or the advent of social media.
  • In fact, it has been growing for much longer than you might think.
“While the current ‘post-truth era’ has taken many by surprise, the study shows that over the past 40 years, public interest has undergone an accelerating shift from the collective to the individual, and from rationality towards emotion,” concluded the researchers from Indiana University and Wageningen University & Research (WUR) in the Netherlands.
  • “Our work suggests that the societal balance between emotion and reason has shifted back to what it used to be around 150 years ago,” says lead researcher Marten Scheffer, PhD, a professor in the Department of Environmental Sciences at WUR.
  • “This implies that scientists, experts, and policymakers will have to think about the best way to respond to that social change.”
Researchers Surprised by Findings
  • The findings are based on a very detailed analysis of language from millions of books, newspaper articles, Google searches, TV reports, social media posts, and other sources dating back to 1850.
  • The researchers analyzed how often the 5,000 most used words appeared over the past 170 years and found that the use of those having to do with facts and reasoning, such as “determine” and “conclusion,” has fallen dramatically since 1980.
  • Meanwhile, the use of words related to human emotion, such as “feel” and “believe,” have skyrocketed.
  • Scheffer notes rapid developments in science and technology from 1850 to 1980 had profound social and economic benefits that helped boost the status of the scientific approach.
  • That shift in public attitudes had ripple effects on culture, society, education and “the role of spiritualism dwindled” in the modern world, he says.
But since 1980, that trend has seen a major reversal, with beliefs becoming more important than facts to many people, he says. At the same time, trust in science and scientists has fallen.
  • “The shift in interest from rational to intuitive/emotional is pretty obvious now in the post-truth social media discussion,” he says.
  • “However, our work shows that it already started in the 1980s. For me personally, that went under the radar, except perhaps for the rise of alternative (to religion) forms of spirituality.
  • “We were especially struck by how strong the patterns are and how universal they appear across languages, nonfiction and fiction, and even in The New York Times.”
For health and science, the spread of misinformation and falsehoods can be matters of life or death.
  • “Our public debate seems increasingly driven by what people want to be true rather than what is actually true. As a scientist, that worries me,” says study co-author Johan Bollen, PhD, a professor of informatics at Indiana University.
  • “As a society, we are now faced with major collective problems that we need to approach from a pragmatic, rational, and objective perspective to be successful,” he says.
  • “After all, global warming doesn't care about whether you believe in it or not … but we will all suffer as a society if we fail to take adequate measures.”
  • “I do speak to people that, for instance, think the vaccines are poison,” she says. “I’m also on Twitter, and there, I’m every day surprised about how easily many people form their opinions, based on feelings, on what others say, or on some unfounded source.”
  • Public health experts say the embrace of personal beliefs over facts is one reason only 63% of Americans have been vaccinated against COVID-19.
  • The result: millions of preventable infections among those who downplay the risks of the virus and reject the strong scientific evidence of vaccine safety and effectiveness.
“None of this really surprises me,” Johns Hopkins University social and behavioral scientist Rupali Limaye, PhD, says of the new study findings.
  • Limaye co-authored a paper in 2016 in JAMA Pediatrics about how to talk to parents about vaccine hesitancy and the fact that we’re living in what they called “this post-truth era.”
  • Limaye says the trend has made it difficult for doctors, scientists, and health authorities to make fact-based arguments for COVID-19 vaccination, mask-wearing, social distancing, and other measures to control the virus.
  • “It’s been really hard being a scientist to hear people say, ‘Well, that’s not true’ when we say something very basic that I think all of us can agree on like the grass is green,” she says.
  • “To be honest, I worry that a lot of scientists are going to quit being in science because they’re exhausted.”
What’s Driving the Trend?
Scheffer and colleagues identified a handful of things that have encouraged the embrace of falsehoods over facts in recent years.
  • The internet: Its rise in the late 1980s, and its growing role as a primary source of news and information, has allowed more belief-based misinformation to flourish and spread like wildfire.
  • Social media: The new study found the use of sentiment- and intuition-related words accelerated around 2007, along with a global surge in social media that catapulted Facebook, Twitter, and others into the mainstream, replacing more traditional fact-based media (i.e., newspapers and magazines).
  • The 2007 financial crisis: The downturn in the global economy meant more people were dealing with job stress, investment losses, and other problems that fed the interest in belief-based, anti-establishment social media posts.
  • Conspiracy theories: Falsehoods involving hidden agendas, shadow “elites,” and wealthy people with dark motives tend to thrive during times of crisis and societal anxiety.
  • “Conspiracy theories originate particularly in times of uncertainty and crisis and generally depict established institutions as hiding the truth and sustaining an unfair situation,” the researchers noted.
  • “As a result, they may find fertile grounds on social media platforms promulgating a sense of unfairness, subsequently feeding anti-system sentiments.”
Ed Berliner, an Emmy Award-winning broadcast journalist and media consultant, suggests something else is driving the spread of misinformation: the pursuit of ratings by cable TV and media companies to boost ad and subscriber revenues.
  • As a former executive producer and syndicated cable TV show host, he says he has seen firsthand how facts are often lost in opinion-driven news programs, even on network programs claiming to offer “fair and balanced” journalism.
  • “Propaganda is the new currency in America, and those who do not fight back against it are doomed to be overrun by the misinformation,” says Berliner, host of The Man in the Arena and CEO of Entourage Media LLC.
  • “The broadcast news media has to stop this incessant ‘infotainment’ prattle, stop trying to nuzzle up to a soft side, and bear down on hard facts, exposing the lies and refusing to back down.”
Public Health Implications
  • Public health and media experts alike say the PNAS study findings are disheartening but underscore the need for doctors and scientists to do a better job of communicating about COVID-19 and other pressing issues.
  • Limaye, from Johns Hopkins, is particularly concerned about the rise in conspiracy theories that has led to COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy.
  • “When we speak to individuals about getting the COVID vaccine … the types of concerns that come up now are very different than they were 8 years ago,” she says.
  • “The comments we used to hear were much more related to vaccine safety. [People] would say, ‘I’m worried about an ingredient in the vaccine’ or ‘I’m worried that my kiddo has to get three different shots within 6 months to have a series dose completed.’”
But now, a lot of comments they receive are about government and pharma conspiracies.
  • What that means is doctors and scientists must do more than simply say “here are the facts” and “trust me, I’m a doctor or a scientist,” she says. And these approaches don’t only apply to public health.
  • “It’s funny, because when we talk to climate change scientists, as vaccine [specialists], we’ll say we can’t believe that people think COVID is a hoax,” she says.
  • “And they’re like, ‘Hold my beer, we’ve been dealing with this for 20 years. Hello, it’s just your guys’ turn to deal with this public denial of science.’”
Limaye is also concerned about the impacts on funding for scientific research.
  • “There’s always been a really strong bipartisan effort with regards to funding for science, when you look at Congress and when you look at appropriations,” she says.
So, what’s the big take-home message?
Limaye believes doctors and public health experts must show more empathy -- and not be combative or arrogant -- in communicating science in one-on-one conversations.
  • This month, she’s launching a new course for parents, school administrators, and nurses on how to do precisely that.
  • “It’s really all about how to have hard conversations with people who might be anti-science,” she says.
  • “It’s being empathetic and not being dismissive. But it’s hard work, and I think a lot of people are just not cut out for it and just don’t have the time for it. … You can’t just say,
  • ‘Well, this is science, and I’m a doctor’ -- that doesn’t work anymore.”
Brendan Nyhan, PhD, echoes those sentiments in a separate paper recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
  • In fact, he suggests that providing accurate, fact-based information to counter false claims may actually backfire and reinforce some people’s unfounded beliefs.
  • “One response to the prevalence of mistaken beliefs is to try to set the record straight by providing accurate information for instance, by providing evidence of the scientific consensus on climate change,” he writes.
  • “The failures of this approach, which is sometimes referred to as the ‘deficit model’ in science communication, are well-known.”
  • Nyhan argues two things make some people more prone to believe falsehoods:
  • What scientists call “ingrouping,” a kind of tribal mentality that makes some people choose social identity over truth-seeking and demonize others who don’t agree with their views
Scheffer, from Wageningen University & Research, says the most important thing for doctors, health experts, and scientists to recognize is that it’s crucial to gain the trust of someone who may believe fictions over facts to make any persuasive argument on COVID-19 or any other issue.
  • He also has a standard response to those who present falsehoods to him as facts that he suggests anyone can use: “That is interesting. Would you mind helping me understand how you came to that opinion?”
Is reinfection easier with some variants? - WION Youtube Channel

For details about COVID reinfection, please refer to The Guardian link [4]. I cannot write them here due to forum character limits.
Most COVID ICU Survivors Show Adverse Effects 1 Year Later
From WebMD [3]:
Most patients with COVID-19 who were treated in an intensive care unit show physical, mental, and cognitive effects a year later, new data found.
  • Additionally, nearly 60% who had jobs before entering the hospital reported problems at work a year later, such as needing to work fewer hours or still taking sick leave.
The study included 246 patients 1 year after ICU treatment for COVID-19 in 11 hospitals in the Netherlands. Researchers found:
  • 74.3% reported physical symptoms
  • 26.2% reported mental health symptoms
  • 16.2% reported cognitive symptoms.
Findings of the study, led by Hidde Heesakkers, MD, Radboud University Medical Center in the Netherlands, and colleagues were published online Monday in JAMA.
  • Two-thirds of study participants reported new physical problems as a result of ICU treatment for COVID.
  • Among those reporting mental effects, 17.9% reported anxiety and 18.3% reported depression a year later; 9.8% of survivors reported symptoms of posttraumatic stress.
"This study shows what an incredible impact an ICU admission has on the lives of former COVID-19 patients.
  • Even after 1 year, half [are] tired or experience lack of the energy to fully resume their work," coauthor Marieke Zegers, PhD, also from Radboud University Medical Center, said in a press release.
  • In an interview, Zegers says, "Based on our findings, patients at high risk for long-term problems should start with rehabilitation while still in the ICU and shortly after to mitigate or even prevent these problems.
  • These is no standard care post-ICU for ICU survivors."
Zegers says they are doing more research tinto why one-fourth of the patients had no symptoms.
  • She also points out that their study shows length of ICU stays for COVID-19 patients is longer compared with other ICU patient groups.
  • According to the study, the number of patients having problems when they return to work was higher among ICU survivors with COVID-19 (58%) compared with 43% among ICU survivors without COVID-19.
  • Zegers said the patients will be followed and asked to fill in questionnaires at 24, 36, 48, and 60 months after ICU admission.
2 charts show how Omicron symptoms differ from Delta and past coronavirus variants

A chart from Business Insider [5]:
What you need to know about the coronavirus right now

Hard to detect omicron offshoot BA.2 spreads rapidly in Europe - DW News

From Reuters [6]:
China struggles to find exit from zero-COVID
China’s “zero-COVID” stance has put it at odds with the rest of the world and is exacting a mounting economic toll, but an exit strategy remains elusive as authorities worry about the ability of the healthcare system to cope and adapt to new strains.
  • China is also wary of the risk of new variants, especially as it refuses to import foreign vaccines. Studies suggest China’s vaccines are less effective against Omicron and it has not yet rolled out its own mRNA version.
  • Beijing city limits movement in more areas
  • Beijing has limited the movement of people in more parts of the Chinese capital, even as it reported fewer COVID-19 cases on Thursday, in a bid to lower virus risk less than 10 days before its hosting of the Winter Olympics Games.
  • Beijing has not locked down any districts, but several now have mobility restrictions in place in certain areas. Beijing reported five locally transmitted infections with confirmed symptoms for Wednesday, down from 14 a day earlier, according to data from the National Health Commission (NHC) on Thursday.
COVID-19 cases at highest ever in Americas, says regional health agency
  • New cases of COVID-19 in the Americas in the past week have been the highest since the pandemic began in 2020 and the very contagious Omicron variant has clearly become the predominant strain, the Pan American Health Organization said on Wednesday.
  • The United States continues to have the highest number of new infections, although cases decreased by nearly one million over the last week, the regional health agency said.
Mexico’s southern states have seen new infections triple and Brazil has seen new cases surge 193% over the last seven days, PAHO said.

New PCR test can identify variants
  • A new type of PCR test can quickly tell which variant of the coronavirus is causing infection, helping doctors choose the most effective antibody treatments, researchers said.
  • The new test uses special “probes” - fluorescently labeled molecules - called “sloppy molecular beacons” that glow in different colours when they attach themselves to DNA or RNA in the virus.
  • When the sample from the patient is heated, the probes fall off their DNA or RNA targets and their colour disappears.
  • They fall off at different temperatures depending on the DNA or RNA sequence they were bound to.
  • Because the variants each have some unique sequences, they can be identified based on the pattern of color changes at each temperature, explained Dr. David Alland of Rutgers New Jersey Medical School whose team reported their findings on Friday on medRxiv ahead of peer review.
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.
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so if you are offered a booster jab, take it.

I've had my 3rd shot since as soon as it was available. There has been some talk of suggesting another booster. I'll definitely take my booster as soon as it becomes available.

We're going to be years dealing with this, 'cause... Well... Y'all know why...
I'll be fine, I have a high pain tolerance.
How A Virus Like Coronavirus Jumps From Animals To People - Science Insider
Insider Inc., originally called Business Insider Inc., is an American online media company known for publishing the financial news website Business Insider and other news and media websites. It is a subsidiary of Axel Springer SE. - Wikipedia

Why tigers get coronavirus but your dog will be fine - VOX
Vox is an American news and opinion website owned by Vox Media. - Wikipedia.

The above videos explain why most animals don't get sick after getting COVID, but humans do get sick. For humans, vaccines still work.

Vaccines work many times in the past when WHO and CDC stopped the Ebola outbreak. The reason I mentioned Ebola is that the origin of the Ebola virus is unknown, just like COVID-19. This is from what I read on the CDC website [2] and search engine.

Here's a quote from the CDC website [2]:
  • Ebola virus was first discovered in 1976 near the Ebola River in what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo.
  • Since then, the virus has been infecting people from time to time, leading to outbreaks in several African countries.
  • Scientists do not know where Ebola virus comes from.
  • Based on similar viruses, they believe EVD is animal-borne, with bats or nonhuman primates being the most likely source.
  • Infected animals carrying the virus can transmit it to other animals, like apes, monkeys, duikers and humans.
From BBC [1]: Ebola: How a killer disease was stopped in its tracks
  • In the three months since the outbreak began, more than 3,000 people in the region have been vaccinated.
  • As a result of its use - and the other precautionary measures - the epidemic is likely to end quicker than might have been expected.
  • But unfortunately this isn't the end of the road for Ebola, as we know it is a disease that will continue to appear in future.
  • Two years after it was first tested, the vaccine still works, but we don't yet know how long-lasting the protection will be.
  • More than one Ebola vaccine is needed, so we're not reliant on just one manufacturer.
  • It would also be helpful to have options for different situations - such as a single shot vaccine for quick protection and booster vaccines when there isn't an outbreak.
From what I've read on Wikipedia [3], Ebola outbreaks happened time and time again in the past since 1976, so expect it will happen again in the future. The last time it happened was in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in October 2021.

The Best Covid-19 Home Test: PCR-Like Gadgets vs. Rapid Antigen Kits - WSJ

Merck's COVID-19 pill active against Omicron in lab studies
From Reuters [4]:
Merck & Co Inc (MRK.N) and partner Ridgeback Biotherapeutics said on Friday six lab studies showed their experimental oral COVID-19 drug molnupiravir was active against the fast-spreading Omicron variant.
  • The data evaluated the antiviral activity of molnupiravir and other COVID-19 antiviral agents against COVID-19 variants of concern.
  • Molnupiravir is yet to be studied against Omicron in human studies, the companies said.
  • Molnupiravir and a rival oral pill from Pfizer Inc (PFE.N) were authorized in the United States in December and are considered as important tools against Omicron.
  • Pfizer said in December lab data suggested its drug Paxlovid retained its effectiveness against Omicron.
  • Merck said earlier this month its pill has a mechanism that can work against Omicron and any other variant.
  • Molnupiravir has been authorized for use in more than 10 countries, including the United States, United Kingdom and Japan.
Omicron sub-variant BA.2 harder to identify, found in 5 African nations -WHO
From Reuters [5]: February 3, 2022
  • The BA.2 sub-variant of Omicron has been found in five African countries, a World Health Organization scientist said on Thursday, adding she was concerned about the development because samples of BA.2 may not be spotted as a form of Omicron.
  • The BA.2 sub-variant has begun to replace Omicron's more common "original" BA.1 variant in countries such as Denmark.
  • Data from there suggests no difference in disease severity, according to another WHO official.
  • "BA.2 ... has been reported in five countries, that is Botswana, Kenya, Malawi, Senegal as well as South Africa," Dr Nicksy Gumede-Moeletsi told an online media briefing.
  • "We are very concerned," she said, adding that BA.2 was proving hard to identify because it was not always picked up by the S-Gene Target Failure criterion, which is used to distinguish the original Omicron from other variants.
  • Gumede-Moeletsi said the WHO was working very closely with laboratories, asking them to forward samples that had come back without being flagged as Omicron for further analysis, in order to gain a more precise picture of the spread of BA.2.
  • The BA.1 version of Omicron has been somewhat easier to track than prior variants. That is because BA.1 is missing one of three target genes used in a common PCR test. Cases showing this pattern were assumed by default to be caused by BA.1.
  • BA.2, sometimes known as a "stealth" sub-variant, does not have the same missing target gene as the original Omicron variant.
  • Instead, scientists are monitoring it the same way they have prior variants, including Delta, by tracking the number of virus genomes submitted to public databases such as GISAID.
  • As with other variants, an infection with BA.2 can be detected by coronavirus home tests kits, though they cannot indicate which variant is responsible, experts said.
The latest Omicron sub-variant BA.2 is 1.5 times more contagious than Omicron and already circulating in almost half of U.S. states
From CNBC [9]: Jan 28 2022
There are already dozens of cases across almost half of the U.S. of a new Covid subvariant that’s even more contagious than the already highly transmissible omicron variant.
  • Nearly half of U.S. states have confirmed the presence of BA.2 with at least 127 known cases nationwide as of Friday, according to a global data base that tracks Covid variants.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in a statement Friday, said although BA.2 has increased in proportion to the original omicron strain in some countries, it is currently circulating at a low level in the U.S.
  • The subvariant is 1.5 times more transmissible than the original omicron strain, referred to by scientists as BA.1, according to Statens Serum Institut, which conducts infectious disease surveillance for Denmark.
The new sublineage doesn’t appear to further reduce the effectiveness of vaccines against symptomatic infection, according to the U.K. Health Security Agency.
  • “Currently there is no evidence that the BA.2 lineage is more severe than the BA.1 lineage,” CDC spokesperson Kristen Nordlund said.
  • BA.2 overtook the original omicron as the dominant variant in Denmark over the course of a few weeks, said Troels Lillebaek, the chairman of the Scandinavian nation’s committee that conducts surveillance of Covid variants.
  • BA.1 and BA.2 have many differences in their mutations in the most important areas.
  • In fact, the difference between BA.1 and BA.2 is greater than the difference between the original “wild strain” and the Alpha variant, which was the first major mutation to take root across the world.
  • The BA.2 variant has five unique mutations on a key part of the spike protein the virus uses to attach to human cells and invade them, Lillebaek told CNBC.
  • Mutations on this part of the spike, known as the receptor binding domain, are often associated with higher transmissibility.
The U.K. Health Security Agency on Friday said BA.2 has a “substantial” growth advantage over the original omicron.
  • The sister variant spread faster than the original omicron in all regions of England where there were enough cases to conduct an analysis, according to the agency.
  • However, a preliminary assessment found that BA.2 doesn’t appear to reduce the effectiveness of vaccines any more than the original omicron.
  • A booster dose was 70% effective at preventing symptomatic illness from BA.2 two weeks after receiving the shot, compared with 63% effectiveness for the original omicron strain.
The World Health Organization has not labeled BA.2 a separate variant of concern from omicron.
  • However, WHO officials have repeatedly warned that new variants will arise as omicron spreads across the world at an unprecedented rate.
  • Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO’s Covid-19 technical lead, warned on Tuesday that the next Covid will variant be more transmissible.
  • “The next variant of concern will be more fit, and what we mean by that is it will be more transmissible because it will have to overtake what is currently circulating,” Van Kerkhove said.
  • “The big question is whether or not future variants will be more or less severe.”
Lillebaek said there is not enough data yet to determine whether BA.2 is able to reinfect people who caught the original omicron. However, prior infection would likely provide some crossover immunity to BA.2.
  • Pfizer and Moderna started clinical trials this week on omicron-specific shots amid growing concern that new variants will emerge as immunity induced by the original vaccines wanes.
  • New Covid cases are increasing in Denmark, with more than 50,000 new infections reported on Friday in a country of 5.8 million people, according to the country’s health ministry.
  • Lillebaek said it’s safe to assume that BA.2 is driving the increase of new infections in Denmark right now.
  • New hospital admissions in Denmark rose by 12 for a total of 967 patients who are Covid positive.
  • Lillebaek said this increase is likely within the limits of what the health system can manage. However, he noted that 80% of Danes are fully vaccinated and 60% have received booster shots.
  • “If you are in a community or living in a country where you have a low vaccination rate, then you will have for sure more admissions to hospital and more severe cases and then more going to ICU,” he said.
  • In the U.S., about 67% of those eligible are fully vaccinated, according to data from the CDC.
CDC charts show how much 2 and 3 doses of COVID vaccine protect from hospitalization
From Business Insider [7]:
  • As Omicron spread in the US, hospitalization rates in December were much lower for the vaccinated.
  • Data among adults over 50 showed that a booster shot gave even stronger protection.
  • 50 to 64 fully vaccinated: hospitalization rates were 18 times lower compared to unvaccinated in December overall. On the week of December 25, the rate of COVID-19-associated hospitalizations per 100,000 among unvaccinated was 72 versus 8.8 per 100,000 among the fully vaccinated.
  • 50 to 64, boosted: 46 times lower among those who got a booster in December overall, with a rate of 2.2 per 100,000 among boosted on the week of December 25.
  • 65 and over, fully vaccinated: 18 times lower than unvaccinated in December overall. On the week of December 25, the rate was 238.7 per 100,000 among the unvaccinated, versus 26.8 per 100,000 among the fully vaccinated.
  • 65 and over, boosted: 52 times lower than unvaccinated in December overall, with a rate of 4.8 per 100,000 on the week of December 25.
Charts from Business Insider. For the direct link to the CDC website, please check out the Business Insider link [7]
Deaths Due to Omicron Higher Than From Delta
From WebMD [6]: Jan. 27, 2022
  • With the Omicron variant accounting for 99.9% of all COVID-19 cases in the United States, it’s proving even deadlier than the Delta variant.
  • This week the nation recorded a seven-day average of 2,200 daily coronavirus-related deaths, higher than the daily death count recorded two months ago during the Delta variant surge, The Wall Street Journal reported.
  • That’s also the highest number of deaths since February 2021, when the U.S. was coming out of a winter wave of cases, and the vaccination drive was only a few months old, The Wall Street Journal said.
  • Health experts say that Omicron generally causes milder symptom than previous variants.
  • But the death count is high because Omicron spreads quickly and is infecting a large number of people.
  • “You can have a disease that is for any particular person less deadly than another, like Omicron, but if it is more infectious and reaches more people, then you’re more likely to have a lot of deaths,” Robert Anderson, chief of the mortality-statistics branch at the National Center for Health Statistics, told The Wall Street Journal.
  • A CDC study released on Tuesday showed nine deaths per 1,000 cases during the Omicron surge, compared to 13 deaths per 1,000 cases during the Delta surge and 16 deaths per 1,000 cases during last winter’s deadly surge.
  • The current seven-day average of cases is 692,400 per day, a 6% slight dip from the previous week, while deaths went up 21% from the previous week, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, MD, said Wednesday at a White House news briefing.
  • During the briefing, Walensky again urged more people to get vaccinated. Many of the deaths and hospitalizations are occurring among unvaccinated people, health experts said.
  • “It’s vital that we all remain vigilant in the face of this virus,” she said. “I know many people are tired, but many of our hospitals are still struggling beyond capacity.
  • It’s been a long two years. However, please now do your part to lean into this current moment. Now is the time to do what we know works: Wear a mask, get vaccinated, and get boosted.”
What you need to know about the coronavirus right now
From Reuters [8]:
  • India reports more than 500,000 COVID deaths, experts count millions more
  • India's death toll from COVID-19 rose past 500,000 on Friday, a level many health experts say was breached last year but obscured by inaccurate surveys and uncounted dead in the hinterlands, where millions remain vulnerable to the disease.
  • Last month, the government eased testing norms and told states to drop mandatory testing for contacts of confirmed cases unless they were old or battling other conditions. But, with the number of tests falling, the government issued a revised circular warning states that they would miss the spread of the virus.
Australia may use defence forces to help COVID-hit aged-care sector
  • Australia could use its defence forces to help manage a COVID-19 outbreak in the aged-care sector that has stretched staffing and forced many homes into lockdowns, the prime minister said on Friday as national infection numbers remained on a downtrend.
  • Prime Minister Scott Morrison said about 560 aged-care residents had died since Omicron hit in late 2021.
  • The government has come under pressure over the spread of the Omicron variant in aged-care homes, with Richard Colbeck, minister for senior Australians and aged care services, drawing criticism after he attended a cricket match instead of appearing before a parliamentary committee looking into the outbreaks.
Germany's health experts divided over COVID curbs
  • Health experts in Germany are divided over whether it is ready to ease COVID-19 restrictions as its neighbours start dialling back curbs.
  • Germany on Thursday reported a record of 236,120 new daily cases thanks to the more-infectious Omicron variant of the coronavirus, but some health experts say it is time for a "freedom plan" on how restrictions will be eased gradually.
  • Andreas Gassen, the head of the KBV family doctors' association, said Germany should accept living with COVID-19 as it does with influenza which has always new variants and causes tens of thousands of deaths annually.
In world first, S.Africa's Afrigen makes mRNA COVID vaccine
  • South Africa's Afrigen Biologics has used the publicly available sequence of Moderna Inc's mRNA COVID-19 vaccine to make its own version of the shot, which could be tested in humans before the end of this year, Afrigen's top executive said on Thursday.
  • The vaccine candidate would be the first to be made based on a widely used vaccine without the assistance and approval of the developer.
  • It is also the first mRNA vaccine designed, developed and produced at lab scale on the African continent.
U.S. to cover cost of over-the-counter COVID tests through Medicare
  • People enrolled in the U.S. government's Medicare program can get over-the-counter COVID-19 tests for free starting in the early spring, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services said on Thursday.
  • The announcement is a "positive" for those enrolled in Medicare plans, with the federal government covering costs directly, Evercore ISI analyst Michael Newshel said.
  • The program is also a potential small positive for pharmacies to sell the tests to Medicare beneficiaries, though supply is limited and the window may be short depending when the public health emergency ends.
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.
I don't want to say that it's always a pleasure to see your weekly digests.

I think a more apt expression might be that it's always informative to see your weekly digests.

And, as always, thanks.
Why Bats Can Fight Off So Many Viruses - Science Insider

About Coronavirus:
From Wikipedia [1]:
  • Coronaviruses are a group of related RNA viruses that cause diseases in mammals and birds.
  • In humans and birds, they cause respiratory tract infections that can range from mild to lethal.
  • Mild illnesses in humans include some cases of the common cold (which is also caused by other viruses, predominantly rhinoviruses), while more lethal varieties can cause SARS, MERS and COVID-19, which is causing an ongoing pandemic.
  • In cows and pigs they cause diarrhea, while in mice they cause hepatitis and encephalomyelitis.
Origin of Coronavirus:
From Wikipedia [1] > Origin:
  • The most recent common ancestor (MRCA) of all coronaviruses is estimated to have existed as recently as 8000 BCE, although some models place the common ancestor as far back as 55 million years or more, implying long term coevolution with bat and avian species.
  • Many human coronaviruses have their origin in bats.
Coronavirus disease - WHO Youtube Channel​

The above video is more than 1 year old. But it will explain the basics of Coronavirus, how Coronavirus gets its name, and its history. COVID-19 is a part of the Coronavirus family.

Coronavirus infection in humans:
From Wikipedia [1] > Infection in humans:
Coronaviruses vary significantly in risk factor.
  • Some can kill more than 30% of those infected, such as MERS-CoV, and some are relatively harmless, such as the common cold.
  • Coronaviruses can cause colds with major symptoms, such as fever, and a sore throat from swollen adenoids.[90] Coronaviruses can cause pneumonia (either direct viral pneumonia or secondary bacterial pneumonia) and bronchitis (either direct viral bronchitis or secondary bacterial bronchitis).
  • The human coronavirus discovered in 2003, SARS-CoV, which causes severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), has a unique pathogenesis because it causes both upper and lower respiratory tract infections.
  • Six species of human coronaviruses are known, with one species subdivided into two different strains, making seven strains of human coronaviruses altogether.
  • Seasonal distribution of HCoV-NL63 in Germany shows a preferential detection from November to March
Three human coronaviruses produce potentially severe symptoms:
  • Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) (identified in 2003)
  • Middle East respiratory syndrome-related coronavirus (MERS-CoV) (identified in 2012)
  • Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) (identified in 2019)
These cause the diseases commonly called SARS, MERS, and COVID-19 respectively.

Difference between SARS-COV1, MERS and COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2)​
Chart from Wikipedia [1]. MERS has the highest fatality rate at 37%, but COVID has the highest transmission rate causing the most deaths so far. MERS, SARS and COVID-19 are all in the Coronavirus family.​


Why the original SARS 2002/2004 disappeared:
From The Conversation [2]:
  • SARS-CoV-1 did not burn itself out. Rather, the outbreak was largely brought under control by simple public health measures.
  • Testing people with symptoms (fever and respiratory problems), isolating and quarantining suspected cases, and restricting travel all had an effect.
  • SARS-CoV-1 was most transmissible when patients were sick, and so by isolating those with symptoms, you could effectively prevent onward spread.
  • Nearly everybody on the planet would remain susceptible to Sars in the decades following its disappearance.
Why it is not that easy to eradicate COVID-19, unlike its cousin, SARS-CoV1:
From The Conversation [2]: June 5, 2020
  • In a similar timeframe to the original Sars, SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) has proved to be more contagious but seemingly less deadly than its cousin was nearly 20 years ago.
  • SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) is efficiently spread before people get sick.
  • This makes traditional symptomatic-based public health restrictions, which worked well for Sars, largely incapable of containing COVID-19.
  • In essence, this ease of transmission means that SARS-CoV-2 is infinitely more challenging to control.
  • We also have a poor understanding of whether catching and recovering from COVID-19 completely prevents you from catching the virus again and passing it on to others.
  • Together, these factors mean that SARS-CoV-2 will most likely settle into the human population, becoming an endemic virus like its coronavirus cousins that are major causes of colds every winter.
  • While we haven’t been able to watch this “post-pandemic” scenario unfold for other human coronaviruses (although we strongly suspect this to have occurred in the not too distant past), we have ample evidence that this occurs with other viral infections.
  • Over the last 100 years or so we have had five influenza pandemics, and descendants of the most recent pandemic influenza virus (H1N1 from 2009) continue to circulate in the population more than a decade later.
  • Given that we do not know how long natural immunity to COVID-19 lasts, nor whether it is capable of blocking infection completely or only symptoms, it’s not clear that SARS-CoV-2 could ever burn itself out.
  • Therefore, our only option remains to suppress COVID-19 as much as possible until we have a safe and effective vaccine available to the masses.
Double Masking: How to do it Safely and Properly
From Very Well Health [3]:
With Omicron still surging, it’s important to double down on COVID-19 protection methods. In certain scenarios, this may involve double masking: wearing one mask on top of another.
  • According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), you should only double mask by wearing a cloth mask over a surgical mask.
  • The best types to use include a three-ply cloth mask and a three-ply disposable surgical mask.
  • In addition to providing multiple layers of protection, the cloth mask covers the gaps around the mouth and nose not covered snugly by a surgical mask, where respiratory droplets could escape.
  • To prevent COVID-19 transmission, your masks should fit snugly against your skin or facial hair.1
Wearing two masks allows for both higher filtration and better fit, Robert L. Quigley, MD, DPhil, senior vice president and global medical director of International SOS, told Verywell.
  • “Adding more layers reduces your exposure to respiratory droplets, containing the virus, released from an infected individual who coughs in your space,” he said.
  • A study published by the CDC in February 2021 found that when worn on their own, cloth masks blocked 51% of cough particles and disposable masks block 56%. When worn together, the masks blocked over 85% of cough particles.2
What Not to Do
  • The CDC advises against double masking with two disposable surgical masks. They are not designed to fit snugly against your face, and combining two wouldn’t help cover any gaps.
  • The CDC adds that you never wear another mask over a N95. This can block the respirator and make it difficult to breathe. An N95 is enough to protect you by itself.
  • Respirators like KN95s and N95 might also not be the right choice if you have a medical condition that makes breathing difficult.
  • “If you are someone who experiences trouble breathing, double masking may be a better alternative option,” Quigley said.
Testing the Fit of Your Masks
  • It’s a good idea to test your double masking method at home to ensure that the fit is right and that your breathing and vision aren’t affected.
  • Jyotsna Shah, PhD, president and laboratory director of testing company IGeneX, recommends a simple method of cupping your hands around your mouth and breathing with your masks on.
  • “If you feel any air escaping, tighten your nose bridge and ear loops, or find a better-fitting cloth mask,” Shah told Verywell.
Quigley similarly suggests a breathing test.
  • “If the mask pulls toward your face when taking a deep inhale, it is a proper fit,” he said. “Making sure that you can breathe clearly with a mask on can also help to ensure that your mask is fitting right.
  • Difficulty breathing in a mask could cause movement, leaving gaps.”
How Many Times Can You Reuse Your N95 Mask?
From Very Well Health [4]:
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has not yet officially advised the general public to wear N95 respirators to protect themselves against the Omicron variant of COVID-19.
  • But research indicates that N95 respirators are far better at protecting you from COVID than cloth masks and surgical masks.
  • One reason N95s are so effective is that the respirators must pass tests that show they can trap at least 95% of particles in the air. Other types of face coverings capture less than that, which means they offer less protection.
  • Buying disposable N95 respirators and discarding them after each use is costly.
  • If you have a few N95s on hand, you might be wondering if they need to be thrown out or cleaned regularly.
Here’s what experts say about how long you can safely reuse your N95 respirator, how to extend the life of an N95, the evidence-based methods for decontaminating your mask, and signs that it’s time to replace your mask.

Free N95 Masks
  • The U.S. Strategic National Stockpile is distributing N95 masks to the public for free. You can get free N95s at most large pharmacy chain stores.
How Long Can I Wear My N95?
  • The amount of time you can use an N95 respirator depends on several factors, including the manufacturer specifications and how much time you spend wearing the mask.
  • Devabhaktuni Srikrishna, an air quality engineer and the founder of Patient Knowhow, told Verywell that when it comes to replacing an N95 respirator, “loss of seal is the most important factor," because “the seal is going to go out sooner than the filter, and once you lose the seal, air goes in and out.”
  • Signs of a poorly-fitting mask include straps that do not stay securely in place or air leaking from around the respirator.
  • Over time, the electrostatic charge that traps particles can also weaken.
  • As you continue to wear the mask, the N95 filter will trap more and more particles from the air. The longer you wear it, the harder breathing through the respirator becomes.
  • This is another sign it’s time to replace your respirator.
A January study conducted by Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center found that N95s could be used as many as 25 times before they were no longer functional.
  • However, this number likely skews high for the average consumer.
  • Researchers were able to decontaminate the masks with vaporized hydrogen peroxide between uses—something you can’t do at home.1
  • Some N95 respirators are made to be used longer than others. They have filters that the wearer can replace from time to time.
  • However, these masks are not always a cost-effective option for people who do not need to wear an N95 continuously.
3M N95 Guidance
3M, a manufacturer of N95s, recently released guidance on reusing its masks:
  • N95 respirators can be reused until they are dirty, damaged, or difficult to breathe through. You should inspect your respirator before each use.
  • If a strap or nose clip is broken, they should be torn, dirty, or otherwise damaged, then you should dispose of them.
  • Always wash your hands before and after handling your respirator.
How Can I Decontaminate My N95 Mask?
  • The easiest way to decontaminate your mask is to place it in a dark, dry place between uses.
  • To preserve the filter, Srikrishna said, “It’s better to keep your respirator in the dark (such as a brown paper bag) than out in the sun,” as bright sunlight can break down filter particles.
  • Srikrishna recommended having several masks that you can switch out.
  • That way, you do not have to wear one mask on consecutive days.
  • According to Srikrishna, “the rotation lets the mask dry out and lets the bacteria and viruses die off.”
  • Evidence does not support washing an N95 respirator, spraying it with disinfectant, or tossing it in the dryer.
  • Likewise, putting an N95 in the microwave is not effective. It’s also dangerous if the mask has a metal nose bridge or staples.
What This Means For You
  • N95 masks can be used more than once as long as you understand the best practices for reusing them.
  • To learn more about the latest research on reusing N95 respirators, visit the N95Decon public resources page.
Pfizer CEO: It will soon be easier for people to access Pfizer's Covid antiviral pill - CNBC​

Merck to Deliver 3.1 Million Treatment Courses of COVID Antiviral
From WebMD [5]: Feb 3 2022.
A little more than a month after receiving FDA authorization, Merck has delivered 1.4 million courses of its COVID-19 antiviral pill in the United States and expects to deliver its total commitment of 3.1 million treatment courses soon, company CEO Rob Davis said on CNBC.
  • Merck has also shipped 4 million courses of the pill, molnupiravir, to 25 nations across the world, he said.
  • “We’ve shown that molnupiravir works against Omicron, which is important against that variant,” Davis said Thursday morning.
  • “And obviously we’ll have to see how this plays out and what is the initial uptake, but right now we feel we’re off to a good start.”
In June the U.S. government agreed to buy 1.7 million courses of molnupiravir for $1.2 billion and in November agreed to buy an additional 1.4 billion courses for $1 billion.
  • The FDA granted emergency use authorization in late December to two antivirals for people who contract COVID: Merck’s molnupiravir and Paxlovid, which is produced by Pfizer.
  • The drugs are designed for people with mild or moderate COVID who are more likely to become seriously ill mainly people 65 and older or people who have chronic illnesses such as heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, obesity, or compromised immune systems.
Both antivirals require a five-day course of treatment.
  • Merck’s is for adults ages 18 and older, and Pfizer’s for anyone age 12 and up.
  • In clinical trials, molnupiravir reduced the risk of hospitalization or death in Covid patients by 30% but slashed the risk of dying by 90%, Davis said.
  • “The fact that molnupiravir does reduce the risk of death by 90%, we could have a meaningful impact in helping patients,” he said.
  • Davis told CNBC that Merck sold $952 million in molnupiravir pills in the fourth quarter and is on track to rack up an extra $5 billion to $6 billion in sales in 2022.
  • Last week, Merck said laboratory studies showed molnupiravir was active against the Omicron variant. In December, Pfizer said preliminary lab studies also suggest the pill will hold up against the Omicron variant.
Scientists research link between Covid variants and untreated HIV - BBC News​

WHO says new omicron BA.2 subvariant will rise globally, but scientists don’t know if it can reinfect people
From CNBC [6]: Feb 9 2022
The World Health Organization expects a more transmissible version of omicron to increase in circulation around the world, though it’s not yet clear if the Covid subvariant can reinfect people who caught an earlier version of the omicron strain.

Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO’s Covid-19 technical lead, said Tuesday the global health agency is tracking four different versions of omicron.
  • Van Kerkhove said the BA.2 subvariant, which is more contagious than the currently dominant BA.1 version, will likely become more common.
  • “BA.2 is more transmissible than BA.1 so we expect to see BA.2 increasing in detection around the world,” Van Kerkhove said during a question-and-answer session livestreamed on the WHO’s social media platforms Tuesday.
  • The WHO is monitoring BA.2 to see if the subvariant causes an increase of new infections in countries that saw a rapid rise and then a sharp decline in omicron cases, she said.
Van Kerkhove emphasized that there’s no indication of a difference in the severity of infections caused by either subvariant, though she noted that research is ongoing.
  • Omicron generally doesn’t make people as sick as the alpha and delta variants, though it does spread faster.
  • Researchers in Denmark have found found that BA.2 is about 1.5 times more transmissible than BA.1 and it is more adept at infecting people who are vaccinated and even boosted.
  • However, people who are fully vaccinated are less likely to spread it than the unvaccinated.
  • Van Kerkhove said the shots remain highly effective at preventing severe disease and death, though they don’t prevent all infections.
  • She called on people to get vaccinated and wear masks indoors.
Dr. Abdi Mahamud, the WHO’s Covid incident manager, said it’s unclear whether BA.2 can reinfect people who previously had BA.1.
  • That could have a significant impact on how much the virus is able to spread. A study in the U.K. found that two-thirds of people who caught omicron said they had Covid before.
  • Most states in the U.S. have confirmed the presence of BA.2, though it’s circulating at a low level with 460 total cases confirmed so far, according to an international data base that tracks Covid variants.
What you need to know about the coronavirus pandemic
From World Economic Forum [7]:
Discovery of Omicron in New York deer raises concerns
  • The discovery of the Omicron COVID-19 variant in white-tailed deer in New York has raised concerns that the species, numbering 30 million in the United States, could become hosts of a new coronavirus strain, a lead researcher said on Tuesday.
  • Blood and some nasal swab samples from 131 deer captured on New York's Staten Island revealed that nearly 15% had virus antibodies.
  • The finding suggested that the animals had previous coronavirus infections and were vulnerable to repeated reinfections with new variants, researchers led by Pennsylvania State University scientists said.
  • “Circulation of the virus in an animal population always raises the possibility of getting back to humans, but more importantly it provides more opportunities for the virus to evolve into novel variants,” said Suresh Kuchipudi, a Penn State veterinary microbiologist.
  • There's no evidence though that animals are transmitting the virus to humans.

How COVID-19 is affecting the globe
Confirmed cases of COVID-19 have passed 400.9 million globally, according to Johns Hopkins University.
  • The number of confirmed deaths has now passed 5.76 million.
  • More than 10.24 billion vaccination doses have been administered globally, according to Our World in Data.
  • Hong Kong, SAR, has seen daily COVID-19 infections nearly double to a record 1,161 cases on Wednesday, authorities said.
  • The EU's drugs regulator has launched a review to evaluate whether the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine could be used as a third booster dose in adolescents aged 12 to 15.
  • Uganda is preparing legislation that would make COVID-19 vaccines mandatory. Only around 12.7 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered in the country of 45 million people.
  • Turkey has recorded 111,096 new confirmed COVID-19 infections in the space of 24 hours, just below the record daily high from the previous week, as well as its highest daily death toll in months, health ministry data showed on Tuesday.
  • Malaysia's coronavirus recovery council has recommended a full reopening of borders as early as 1 March without mandatory quarantine for travellers, as part of plans to accelerate its economic recovery.
  • Australia's COVID-19 hospital cases and people admitted to intensive care continued to trend lower on Tuesday. Authorities are continuing to urge people get COVID-19 vaccine boosters.
  • A quarter of British employers have cited long COVID as a main cause of long-term sickness absences, a survey by a professional body found on Tuesday.
ACT-Accelerator facing funding gap
A global initiative to get COVID-19 tests, treatments and vaccines to poorer nations has only received 5% of the donations sought to deliver on its aims this year, according to the World Health Organization (WHO) and other aid groups.
  • The Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator budgeted $23.4 billion for its efforts from October 2021 to September 2022, of which it hoped $16.8 billion would come in the form of grants from richer countries.
  • However, so far it has had just $814 million pledged, leaders of the initiative told a media briefing on Tuesday.
  • "That's just a minuscule 5% of what we require. It is time to awaken the conscience of the world,” said the WHO's Global Ambassador for Health Financing, Gordon Brown, a former British prime minister.
  • Bruce Aylward, a senior WHO official who acts as coordinator for the initiative, said it was stuttering due to a lack of funds. "The global response is running on fumes," he said.
Global daily statistics - Reuters COVID-19 Global Tracker

List of sources

The Conversation is a network of not-for-profit media outlets publishing news stories and research reports online, with accompanying expert opinion and analysis. Articles are written by academics and researchers under a free Creative Commons license, allowing reuse without modification. - Wikipedia.

Verywell is a website providing health and wellness information by health professionals. It was launched on 26 April 2016 as a media property of (now Dotdash) and its first standalone brand. - Wikipedia

PS: I will post here again next week, same time as usual. Thanks for reading, everyone.
The article above really does require a couple of different emoticons

It very definitely deservers the "heart' emoticon which i gave it......but it also deserves a "wow" emoticon as well.

There is some well ordered information in there that deserves a slow careful reading....perhaps even a second reading.

Thanks for going to the trouble, which you have obviously gone to, @MatsuShimizu

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