With the Delta variant continuing to spread – and travel is expected to increase this month – vaccinations are essential to safely enjoying the year-end festivities.
“As I said and I will say it again, if you have a vaccinated situation, enjoy the holidays with your family in a family setting,” said the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr Anthony. Fauci, during a CNN Global Town. Room on Wednesday.
The results of ongoing studies on Omicron to determine its severity and transmissibility are expected in the coming weeks.
But it’s clear that vaccinations have been effective against other variants of the coronavirus, including the Delta variant which is still raging in hotspots across the United States. And Fauci said their success against Delta can also be seen with Omicron.
Some Americans may wonder if they should wait to get a Covid-19 booster based on what scientists are learning about the Omicron variant, but Fauci has said not to wait.
“Get that extra boost now,” Fauci said. “The level of antibody that rises and rises after a booster is much, much higher than the peak level you get after your second dose of a two-dose vaccine. “
The first confirmed U.S. case of the Omicron variant was identified in California on Wednesday. Fauci said the person was fully vaccinated and had “mild symptoms, which are improving at this point.”
Yet the Delta variant is still high on the minds of health officials as it represents virtually all new infections. Nearly 58,000 Americans are hospitalized with Covid-19, according to data from US Health and Human Services.
Dr Richard Besser, former acting director of the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told CNN’s Anderson Cooper on Wednesday that he hoped the so-called “Covid-19 fatigue” would not stop them. people to get vaccinated.
“Even though the Omicron strain doesn’t turn out to be any worse, we’re losing almost a thousand people every day from the Delta variant, and that’s in itself a reason people are boosted,” Besser said.
Travel problems remain
With Omicron detected in at least 25 countries and territories, authorities are working to find those infected and are warning those most at risk of severe symptoms to avoid travel.
In the United States, the Biden administration last week announced restrictions preventing travelers, except U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents, from entering the United States from eight southern African countries. The Omicron variant was first identified by South African scientists.
Following an earlier CDC order that airlines must collect contact details of passengers prior to arrival to notify possible Covid-19 exposures, the agency plans to provide the names of people on arriving flights. from southern Africa to state and local public health departments, a health official confirms. Delta Air Lines, United Airlines and American Airlines have told CNN they are complying with the directive.
Fauci told a White House press briefing on Wednesday that the travel bans were meant to be “temporary” and were necessary to slow the arrival of the variant, rather than the highly unlikely task of stopping it altogether.
“No one thinks – I certainly don’t think – that a travel ban will prevent infected people from coming to the United States,” Fauci said. “But we needed to buy time to be able to prepare, understand what is going on. “
The World Health Organization said on Tuesday that those who are not fully vaccinated or have no evidence of a previous infection, as well as those over the age of 60 or with co-morbidities such as heart disease, cancer or diabetes should “postpone their trip to areas with community transmission” thanks to the Omicron variant.
Discovery of prolonged pandemic effects
With more than 785,000 Americans dead from Covid-19 and hospitals still at full capacity in parts of the country, two recent studies further demonstrate how damaging the virus has been to those who have survived as well.
People who experienced a severe case of Covid-19 – those requiring hospitalization – were about 2.5 times more likely to die within a year of diagnosis than those who did not have Covid-19, study finds published Wednesday in the Frontiers in Medicine journal, and were nearly twice as likely to die as those with mild or moderate cases.
The study by researchers at the University of Florida found no significant difference in the risk of death between patients with mild or moderate Covid-19 and those without Covid-19, suggesting that prevention serious Covid-19 infections is the most effective way to prevent deaths.
Only about 20% of “downstream deaths” among Covid-19 patients were from respiratory or cardiovascular causes, the study found.
“Since these deaths were not for a direct cause of death from Covid-19 among those patients who recovered from the initial episode of Covid-19, these data suggest that the biological insult of Covid-19 and physiological stress from Covid-19 are significant, ”the researchers wrote. The anonymized medical records of nearly 14,000 patients in 2020 were used in their study.
Another analysis, from the United Network for Organ Sharing, found that one in 10 lung transplants in the United States in 2021 were performed in a patient with lung lesions linked to Covid-19.
In the last five months of 2020, only about 2% – one in 50 – of lung transplants were performed in Covid-19 patients, the data shows.
CNN’s Jen Christensen, Maggie Fox, Deidre McPhillips, Jacqueline Howard, Virginia Langmaid, Kaitlan Collins, Pete Muntean and Greg Wallace contributed to this report.