A COVID-19 variant first detected in South Africa has been referred to as “omicron” and classified as a “worrisome variant” by the World Health Organization, the most worrisome and one of the most worrisome. among the first signs that it deserves to be considered an increased threat.
World Health Organization experts met on Friday to assess a South African variant of COVID-19 that is spreading rapidly among young people and has spawned multiple mutations.
Meanwhile, Dr Anthony Fauci, President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser, said US officials will be on a call with South African officials on Friday to learn more about the variant. He added that there is no indication that the variant has reached the US.
It is too early to say whether the new variant has the potential to have the effect of the troublesome delta variation.
Coronaviruses evolve as it spreads, and many new variants, including those with worrying mutations, often die off. Scientists watch for possible changes that could be more contagious or deadly, but sorting out whether new variants have a public health impact could take a long time. .
According to Joe Phaahla, the national health minister, the new variant has also been found in Botswana and Hong Kong for travelers from South Africa. Phaahla said this variant has seen rapid spread in Gauteng, the country’s most populous province.
Several countries, including Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic and Japan, responded to news of the variation by moving Friday to restrict air travel from several South African countries. The European Union, which includes 27 countries, is also recommending a ban on flights from South African countries, despite WHO officials warning of hasty decisions.
“It’s really important not to have a knee-jerk reaction,” said Dr Michael Ryan, head of emergencies at WHO. And the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a statement that it “actually discourages” such travel bans. yielded significant results. “
More information about the newly discovered variant:What to know about the new COVID-19 variant in South Africa
Also in the news:
► Israel announced Friday that it has detected the country’s first case of the newly discovered variant in a traveler returning from Malawi. The traveler and two others suspected of being infected with the variant have been placed in quarantine.
► Omicron variant news, S&P futures down 1.67% and Dow futures down 2.2%, predicting a bad day before the US financial markets open on Friday .
► Officials in the UK have announced that six African countries will be added to the UK’s tourism “red list”. Meanwhile, on Friday, several European Union countries halted air travel from southern Africa to combat the spread of the new COVID-19 variant.
► Czech President Milos Zeman is hospitalize late Thursday after testing positive for COVID-19.
► Starting Monday, Massachusetts hospitals will have to cut back on scheduled non-urgent procedures due to staff shortages and longer hospital stays, according to the state’s health agency.
►The number of air travelers this week is expected to approach or even exceed pre-pandemic levels, and auto club AAA predicts 48.3 million will travel at least 50 miles from home during the holidays.
📈Today’s Number: The United States has recorded more than 48 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 775,000 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Global total: Nearly 260 million cases and over 5.1 million deaths. More than 196 million Americans – about 59.1% of the population – are fully immunized, According to CDC.
Federal health regulators say an experimental Merck COVID-19 pill is effective against the virus, but they will seek opinions from outside experts on the risk of birth defects and other potential problems during pregnancy.
The Food and Drug Administration has posted its analysis of the pill ahead of a public meeting next week where academic and other experts will weigh in on safety and effectiveness. its. The agency is not required to follow the group’s advice.
FDA scientists say their review identified several potential risks, including potential toxicity and birth defects. Given those risks, the FDA will ask its advisors whether this drug should never be used during pregnancy or if it can be offered under certain circumstances. Under that scenario, the FDA said the drug would issue warnings about the risks of pregnancy, but doctors would still have the option of prescribing it in certain circumstances when its benefits could be significant. greater risk to the patient.
In response to safety concerns, the FDA said Merck had agreed the drug would not be used in children.
In addition, the FDA flagged concern that Merck’s drug had led to small changes in the coronavirus-specific mutant protein, the protein it uses to enter human cells. In theory, the FDA warned, those changes could lead to dangerous new variants. Regulators also note that Merck collects far less overall safety data on its drugs than it collects for other COVID-19 therapies.
The FDA will ask its independent advisers to discuss all of those issues and then vote on whether the drug’s overall benefits outweigh its risks.
– Relevant press
Despite early signs that the US may have avoided another winter spike, COVID-19 cases in progress.
The country reported 665,420 cases for the week ending Monday, up more than 30% from the rate of cases reported about a month ago, according to a USA TODAY analysis of Johns Hopkins data .
As the number of cases increased in 39 states, US Health and Human Services data showed that hospitals in 32 states admitted more patients in the latest week than the week before.
“Honestly, I’m really concerned,” said Danielle Ompad, an associate professor of epidemiology at New York University’s School of Global Public Health. “I would say we’re better than last year, but cases are starting to increase and that’s something we really need to monitor.” Read more here.
– Adrianna Rodriguez
Driven by solid hiring, steady pay increases and substantial savings, shoppers are returning to stores and shopping for all sorts of items.
But the big question is: How much will the lack of supply, higher prices and staffing issues dampen their mood this holiday season?
Americans, already tired of the social distancing policies caused by the pandemic, can become upset if they can’t check off items on their holiday wishlists or they have You may feel disappointed by the lack of holiday sales. Exacerbating their bad moods is the practice that many frustrated workers call pre-holiday layoffs, which puts businesses down during their busiest time of the year.
According to Aurelien Duthoit, senior adviser at Allianz Research, shoppers are expected to pay 5% to 17% more on toys, clothing, home appliances, TVs and more on Black Friday this year. compared to last year. TVs will see the biggest spike in prices, according to the research firm, up 17% from a year ago. That’s because any discounts available will be applied to goods that are already expensive.
Such disappointments could dent sales for the supposedly record-breaking holiday season.
– Relevant press
Contribution: Associated Press