Omicron COVID-19 variant cases in the UK; travel restrictions: update
Within days of its discovery, fear of the COVID-19 omicron variant had spread across the globe, send messy stock, travel restriction reminder and drew international attention to the rise in cases in South Africa.
This reaction is many weeks faster than the world’s slow response to delta variation. By the time delta was called a “variant of concern” by the World Health Organization in May 2021, it had been spreading in India for months and had been cultivated globally.
In contrast, omicrons were first reported to WHO on Tuesday as COVID-19 cases in South Africa spiked to thousands per day. By Friday, it had been named and labeled a “worrying variant,” the most severe of its kind.
Experts have applauded the WHO for moving quickly to sound the alarm on the omicron and South Africa for its prompt, transparent reporting on this variation.
That should begin studies in the next few weeks into its transmissibility, virulence and “immune escape capacity,” i.e. its ability to fend off an immune response from previous infections or from vaccines. -Please, emergency physician and professor of public health at George Washington University, Dr. Leana On.
“The alarm level at this point is completely appropriate,” Wen told USA TODAY. “I wanted us to take action and then find out that, actually, this variant responds very well to the vaccines that we have.”
Experts say that the initial data is difficult but incomplete.
According to Dr. Eric Topol, vice president of research at Scripps Research in La Jolla, California, the outbreak of the omicron variant was in South Africa, where scientists first raised the alarm about the spread of the virus. variation, like a “vertical line”.
“We haven’t seen anything like it,” he told USA TODAY. “The line of the slope is much higher than the original plain.”
Topol said the number of mutations associated with the virus could make it more contagious than previous variants, and it is likely that it developed in an immunocompromised person.
Also in the news:
► The CDC this week reduced the proportion of adults vaccinated in Pennsylvania by nearly 5 percentage points, from 73.7% to 68.9%, in what is apparently a data adjustment to eliminate cases duplicate.
►The World Trade Organization is postponing the government ministerial conference scheduled to open on Tuesday after Switzerland began new travel restrictions following the arrival of the omicron.
►Stocks fell on Friday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average briefly falling more than 1,000 points, as investors reacted to the omicron news.
📈Today’s Number: The United States has recorded more than 48.1 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 776,000 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Global total: Over 260.5 million cases and over 5.1 million deaths. More than 196.1 millionAmericans – about 59% of the population – are fully immunized, According to CDC.
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Omicron cases found in UK, other countries; experts say it can stay in the US undetected
Even with the rapid response to news about omicrons, cases have been reported among travelers in Belgium, Israel, Hong Kong and the UK.
UK Health Secretary Sajid Javid on Saturday confirmed that two people tested positive for the omicron variant in Nottingham and Chelmsford, a southeastern English town. He added the cases involved travel from southern Africa.
Germany says it has a possible case and authorities in the Netherlands are working to see if 61 people have tested positive for COVID-19 after arriving on flights from South Africa possibly there is omicron variation or not. The Czech Republic also detected a suspected case of omicrons in a person living in Namibia, The Guardian reported.
Dr. Eric Topol told USA TODAY, a concern echoed by the president’s medical adviser, Dr. Anthony Fauci. in a Saturday NBC interview.
“We haven’t detected it yet, but when you have a virus that’s showing this level of spread and you’re having the travel-related cases they’ve documented elsewhere, when you get a virus like this, it’s pretty much invariable, Fauci said.
Fauci called Biden’s decision to restrict travel from South Africa and other countries in the region “cautious” and told Americans not to panic but to take this variant seriously as health experts Learn more about omicrons. He also called for vaccination, adding that booster shots offer a “very, very important advantage” in stopping the virus, including potentially dangerous variants.
With omicron determination, are there more travel restrictions ahead?
Just when things were looking up for airlines and the rest of the travel industry, another COVID-19 variant emerged. Initial reports of the omicron variation immediately sparked travel restrictions.
The United States, which lifted a pandemic-spanning travel ban on dozens of international countries including South Africa on November 8, will on Monday replace the ban on foreign nationals from eight African country.
“We will be cautious, ensuring that there is no travel to and from South Africa and the six other countries in that region. Except for those US citizens who can return,” President Joe Biden said Friday.
Read more about what travelers need to know about the new restrictions and the potential impact on travel in the coming months if the omicron variant spreads rapidly globally.
– Dawn Gilbertson, USA TODAY
Omicron’s impact on vaccines is unclear, but contingency plans are in place
Health experts say it may be weeks before the world has good data on how omicrons can reduce the effectiveness of current vaccines, but Moderna has announced a three-point strategy to combat new variant.
According to Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of Brown University’s Department of Public Health, Omicron’s mutations may reduce the effectiveness of current vaccines, but are unlikely to eliminate their benefits.
“There are a bunch of mutations in key regions that could affect the effectiveness of our vaccine,” Jha tweeted on Friday. “Making vaccines useless? No. Super unlikely.”
Moderna’s strategy involves three options for boosting COVID-19 vaccination, if omicrons prove to be problematic for current vaccines.
Three options, according to a Friday release from the company: Higher-dose, injections are currently being studied that are designed to “predict mutations, such as those already present in variable omicron bodies” and a specific omicron enhancer – already in the works.
Andy Slavitt, who previously served as a senior adviser to President Joe Biden on the COVID response, said in a tweet that both Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech have estimated a vaccine to fight a new variant. can be developed in about 3 months, with some regulations and logistics to follow.
“If we start in early December, the new vaccine could be available by summer in most of the world,” Slavitt tweeted.
Multiple media organizations on Friday reported that Pfizer-BioNTech is working on a new variant and expects to have data within a few weeks. Reports say that, if warranted, a targeted vaccine could be developed within six weeks and shipped within 100 days.
Johnson & Johnson is also testing an existing vaccine against omicrons, according to CNBC.
– Joel Shannon, USA TODAY
Contribution: Associated Press