The new strain of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 dubbed omicron and classified as a ‘variant of concern’ by the World Health Organization dominated the headlines of the pandemic on Monday, although experts stressed it should at least a few weeks before it can be determined whether it is more transmissible or more fatal than the earlier variants.
The session was convened to allow WHO Member States to create a plan to tackle the next pandemic and avoid some of the gaps that have hampered the response to the current one.
“Indeed, Omicron demonstrates why the world needs a new pandemic deal: Our current system deters countries from alerting others to the threats that will inevitably land on their shores,” Tedros said.
Separately, G-7 health ministers are meeting on Monday to discuss measures to tackle omicron.
Already, a multitude of countries have announced bans or restrictions on travel from South Africa and neighboring countries, including the United States, United Kingdom, Japan, Australia, Poland, Norway and the EU.
Omicron has been detected in at least a dozen countries, including Canada, which means it has reached North America. The other countries include France, UK, Germany, Portugal, Denmark, Israel, Hong Kong, Australia, and South Africa. At this time, it is not clear whether it will prove resistant to current vaccines. Moderna mRNA,
said over the weekend that he would know “within the next two weeks” if the current vaccine can offer protection against omicron, and that he could have a new omicron vaccine ready by early 2022, if necessary.
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A report: More cases of omicron appear as the world scrambles to learn more about the latest COVID strain
Dr Anthony Facui, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and chief medical officer to President Joe Biden, urged Americans to take the variant seriously, but said there was no reason to panic.
“We really have to, as I’ve said so often, prepare for the worst,” Fauci told ABC News “This Week”. “We may not have to go the way people say. We don’t know much about this virus. So, we want to prepare as best we can, but it may be that this preparation, while important, does not necessarily push us to the next level. “
Fauci said getting the shot and receiving boosters was always the best defense.
“I don’t think there is the slightest possibility that it could completely escape all vaccine protection. It may decrease it a bit, but that’s the reason you increase it, ”he told ABC News. “If there was ever a reason for people vaccinated to be stimulated, and for those who weren’t vaccinated to get the vaccine, it’s now,” Fauci said in a separate interview with NBC News.
Biden echoed the comments on Monday, as he pledged Americans would not have to deal with the types of lockdowns some Europeans face.
“On Thursday, I will come up with a detailed strategy outlining how we will tackle COVID this winter – not with closures or lockdowns, but with more widespread vaccinations, boosters, testing and more,” the president said in his speech. memory. speech at the White House.
For more information, see: Biden says fight against omicron variant of coronavirus will not involve ‘shutdowns or lockouts’
The United States averages over 960 COVID deaths per day, according to a New York Times tracker, although the number may be underreported given staff shortages at health centers over the weekend holiday.
But cases and hospitalizations are starting to rise again, and there are concerns that travel during the Thanksgiving holiday will lead to a new wave of cases. Michigan continues to lead the country in new cases measured per capita, with an average of more than 8,000 new cases per day.
But other hot spots are emerging, including Massachusetts, where cases have increased by more than 80% in the past two weeks, and Illinois, where they have increased by more than 70%, according to the New York tracker. Times.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s vaccine tracking, meanwhile, shows that 196 million people living in the United States are fully vaccinated, or 59.1% of the total population. That number has barely budged in weeks.
In other news, Dutch police have arrested a married couple who fled a quarantine hotel after one tested positive for COVID on arrival on a flight from South Africa to catch a flight out of the country, the Guardian reported. The Portuguese and the Spaniard were arrested while sitting on a plane bound for Spain.
With a definition broadened to reflect the times, Merriam-Webster declared one ubiquitous truth as his Word of the Year 2021: vaccine.
“It was a word that was extremely high in our data every day in 2021,” Peter Sokolowski, editor-in-chief of Merriam-Webster, told The Associated Press ahead of Monday’s announcement.
The global coronavirus-borne disease tally topped 261.7 million on Monday, while the death toll topped 5.20 million, according to data aggregated by Johns Hopkins University.
The United States continues to dominate the world with a total of 48.2 million cases and 776,713 deaths.
See: Moderna stock rises again in hopes of ‘brand new’ omicron vaccine by early next year
India is second by cases after the United States with 34.6 million and has suffered 468,790 deaths. Brazil has the second highest death toll with 614,278 and 22 million cases.
In Europe, Russia has the most deaths with 268,705 deaths, followed by the United Kingdom with 145,218.
China, where the virus was first discovered in late 2019, has recorded 111,188 confirmed cases and 4,809 deaths, according to its official figures, which are widely considered massively underestimated.