Demand for vaccines is increasing in the United States, as are wait times. – .

Demand for vaccines is increasing in the United States, as are wait times. – .

About 15 people who attended an anime convention in New York last month with a man from Minnesota who was later found to have the Omicron variant also tested positive for the coronavirus, the man told officials. from the health of his condition. It is not certain that any of these cases involved the Omicron variant.

The man said his friends – a group of around 30 – had come from across the country for the event, which took place from November 19 to 21. About half of them also tested positive for the virus afterwards, he told officials.

A sign that the convention could have infected more than the Minnesota group, Gov. Ned Lamont reported on Saturday evening that Connecticut’s first case, a man in his sixties, appeared to be from a relative of the infected man who had recently attended at the anime convention. . Other family members were tested, and the man and his relative were fully immunized with only mild symptoms.

The Minnesota man, officials said, was fully immunized and received a booster just weeks before the convention. He recovered from mild symptoms that began shortly after the convention ended and provided the names and contact details of several members of his group to health officials. Since the friends live in other states, their names have been forwarded to health departments in those states. Details of their cases are not known.

The Minnesota man’s case was among Omicron’s first reports in the United States, and it presented a worrying possibility for health officials: the anime convention, which drew tens of thousands of people to the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center for three days, has been a vector for the spread of the new variant, which scientists fear may spread faster than any other variant?

After learning that the man had attended a major convention in New York, Kathy Como-Sabetti, head of Covid’s epidemiology section for the Minnesota Department of Public Health, said: ” »

At the Anime NYC conference, which focused on a popular animation style that originated in Japan, attendees were quite accommodating about wearing masks, the man told officials. But some venues were very crowded, at full capacity, with crowds standing side by side, he said.

Convention attendees were required to provide proof that they had received at least one vaccine and that they were required to wear masks, according to the convention’s website. The rules allowed entry “immediately after” a first dose. People are considered to have full vaccine protection two weeks after a second dose of a two-dose vaccine.

“Time will tell how big it gets,” Como-Sabetti said. “It’s hard to say he’s a great spreader.” We are certainly concerned about that.

Officials warned that much remains unknown: The man and his friends could have been infected in other places – in restaurants, hotels or other places during their travels, or at some other time.

Still, the prospect of a cluster of cases has raised new questions about the country’s virus detection capabilities and the limits of its contact tracing efforts, which have been patchy and limited since the start of the pandemic.

Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, said he was concerned about the contact tracing capacity of health services across the country, given their limited resources and the general lack of public cooperation with investigators. The small number of cases tested for the Omicron variant is also concerning, he said.

“Very quickly, we’re going to see a number of Omicron cases across the country in a lot of places, just like we’ve seen in Minnesota,” he said.

After officials in Minnesota learned that the convention attendee had the Omicron variant, they notified the New York City Department of Health. City health officials said they had started texting and emailing tens of thousands of anime convention attendees, urging them to get tested.

Dr Ted Long, who oversees the city’s contact tracing program, said he was aware of five positive cases so far among New York residents who attended the anime convention. But he said it was not yet clear whether these people had been infected with Omicron or Delta, and the convention was not known to be the site where they fell ill.

“We found no evidence of widespread transmission at the convention,” Adam Shrier, spokesperson for New York City’s contact tracing program, Test and Trace Corps, wrote in an email. .

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is helping health departments in Minnesota and New York to track all cases, a spokeswoman said.

Infectious disease specialists said the first Omicron case to be linked to the anime convention was likely identified in Minnesota because that state’s health department has a robust genomic sequencing system, and not necessarily because that the patient was the original index case.

Convention organizers stressed it was not certain where the man contracted the virus.

“It was just one person who was at our event,” said Kelly Comboni, president of LeftField Media, which hosted the convention. “No other mass cases were reported at our event, and we now have well over two weeks” since the end of the convention.


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