The executives of the two pharmaceutical giants whose two-shot COVID-19 vaccines dominate the US market are offering different views on the impact of the omicron variant.
Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel said the current vaccine for COVID-19 will likely be less effective than the new omicron variant. Bancel said to Financial Times in an interview published Tuesday that he spoke to scientists who told him omicrons “wouldn’t be good.” He said it could take several months before enough vaccine can be produced to crush omicrons.
However, BioNTech CEO Ugur Sahin told The Wall Street Journal The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is effective against severe illness from COVID-19 and will likely continue to be effective against the omicron variant.
“Our message is: Don’t panic, the plan remains the same. Increases third booster shot execution speed,” says Sahin.
Also in the news:
►Pfizer has filed a request for FDA to expand its emergency use of COVID-19 booster doses for adults to include adolescents 16 and 17 years of age. “We hope to provide strong protection to as many people as possible, especially for the new variant” CEO Albert Bourla said on Twitter.
►226 omicron cases have been confirmed in at least 21 countries, including the UK, 11 European Union countries, Australia, Japan, Brazil, Canada and Israel.
►Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James has placed within the NBA’s COVID-19 health and safety protocol and may miss some games. It is not known whether James tested positive.
📈Today’s Number: The United States has recorded more than 48 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 780,000 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Global total: More than 262.9 million cases and 5.2 million deaths. Nearly 197 million Americans – about 59.4% of the population – are fully immunized, According to CDC.
📘What we are reading: Are travel bans worth it? Experts say they can slow the spread of omicrons but they have an impact.
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Saying it was essential to keep future generations safe, the World Health Assembly on Wednesday pledged to begin work on a “pandemic pact,” an international agreement to prevent and respond to a pandemic. with future pandemics. The Council is the governing body of the World Health Organization. Wednesday’s meeting was only the second special session in its 73-year history.
“The significance of this decision cannot be overstated,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director of the World Health Organization, at the meeting in Geneva. The agreement will “provide a platform to strengthen global health security,” he said. The agreement will be signed in 2024.
“It seems like a long process, and it is, but we shouldn’t be naive in thinking that reaching a global agreement on the pandemic will be easy,” Tedros said.
– Elizabeth Weise
To combat the spread of the new COVID-19 omicron variant, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is tightening testing requirements for international travelers. Currently, customers who have not recently been to the United States who have not recovered from their illness – including US citizens – must test negative for the virus before boarding their flights. Fully vaccinated travelers must undergo tests no more than three days before departure. But the CDC said it was “working to revise” the global test order to give all non-international customers just one day to take the pre-departure test.
“This reinforces already robust protocols for international travel,” the CDC said in a statement. The United States is also working to prevent the spread of the virus with a new travel ban for eight countries effective Monday. The omicron variant remains undetected in the US
As the new omicron coronavirus variant spreads around the world, advocates of more widespread vaccination are “I told you so” moment. In the year since a COVID-19 vaccine first became available, a small but vocal group has warned of the need to protect the most vulnerable around the world. People in richer countries will not be safe, even if fully immunized, until those in poorer countries – which account for more than half of the world’s 8 billion population – also benefit. vaccines, they argued.
“The emergence of the omicron variant, precisely, met the predictions of scientists who warned that the virus’s intense transmission in areas with limited access to vaccines. xin will speed up its evolution,” Dr Richard Hatchett, told a special edition. session of the World Health Assembly this week. Read more here.
– Karen Weintraub
Marcus Lamb, CEO of the Christian-based Daystar Television Network who advocated against vaccines, has died after a struggle with COVID-19.
“We announce with a heavy heart that Marcus Lamb, president and founder of Daystar Television Network, went home to be with God this morning,” the network tweeted Tuesday. “The family asks that their privacy be respected as they grieve this difficult loss. Please continue to lift them up in prayer.”
Lamb’s wife Joni said last week her husband had tried alternative treatments with no success. Lamb’s son, Jonathan, described his father’s illness as a “mental attack from the enemy” because he advocated against vaccines and in favor of alternative treatments.
Officials from Rochester Regional Health and the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York state joined a growing list of hospitals across the United States and around the world warning that Facilities are operating at full capacity and emergency departments are under strain. In the Rochester area, hospital leadership said they were considering whether they could continue to perform elective procedures and surgeries. Michael Apostolakos, Chief Medical Officer of Strong Memorial and Highland Hospitals, said the majority of COVID-19 patients requiring hospitalization were unvaccinated.
“A significant number of people are refusing vaccines and our community is paying the price,” Apostolakos said. “The cases are continuing to increase without end.
– Sean Lahman, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle
Coronavirus variant omicron could have a moderate impact on the US economy Next year, leading economists say, as it hurts consumer spending and exacerbates labor shortages and supply chain bottlenecks, fuels already high inflation.
It is too early to determine how omicrons will affect economic growth because scientists are only just beginning to assess how much of an impact it will have on global health. But under a medium-likelihood scenario put forward by some of the top economists, this strain is likely to be more infectious but not significantly more virulent than the delta variant. And it could lead to fewer government-imposed restrictions on businesses.
If so, the omicron or another similar variant would cut economic growth for the next year by half a percentage point to 4.3% and result in the creation of a few hundred thousand fewer jobs, Mark Zandi, Moody’s Analytics chief economist estimates.
That would be lower than Moody’s projected growth of 5.5% this year – the highest since the early 1980s – but still a strong historic number as the nation continues to exit from the recession caused by the pandemic.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 905 points, or 2.5% on Friday, largely on worries about omicrons, but it closed up 236 points on Monday before sliding again mid-morning Tuesday.
– Paul Davidson, USA TODAY
Contribution: Associated Press