COVID variants

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Coming Soon to Americans' Arms: a New Bivalent Booster

This one also targets omicron versions BA.4 and BA.5

(Newser) - The US on Wednesday authorized its first update to COVID-19 vaccines, booster doses that target today's most common omicron strain. Shots could begin within days. The move by the FDA tweaks the recipe of shots made by Pfizer and rival Moderna. Until now, COVID-19 vaccines have targeted the original...

Mask Mandate Won't Return Friday to Los Angeles County

Coronavirus cases and hospitalization rates are trending down in the area

(Newser) - Update: An indoor mask mandate scheduled to take effect Friday in Los Angeles County won't, after officials decided the number of new coronavirus cases has dropped enough to make it unnecessary. Hospitalization rates also have improved, the Los Angeles Times reports. Criticism of the reimposition increased as Friday neared....

'Centaurus' Omicron Variant Is Raising Concerns

India experiencing 'exponential increase' with BA.2.75

(Newser) - Another super contagious omicron variant has been detected in the US. Dubbed "Centaurus," the BA.2.75 variant was first detected in India in early May and is now spreading rapidly there. "It's still really early on for us to draw too many conclusions" but "...

Most Contagious Variants Yet Now Dominating US
These 2 New Variants
Are Extra-Contagious

These 2 New Variants Are Extra-Contagious

BA.4 and BA.5 are great at evading protections, including from past omicron infections

(Newser) - Two new extra-contagious variants of omicron with transmissibility similar to measles are together dominating COVID-19 cases in the US, leading to talk of new indoor mask mandates. Here's what you need to know:
  • Background: BA.4 was first detected in South Africa in January, while BA.5 was first

Administration: 100M New Cases Are Possible

Warning of big wave this fall and winter is designed to increase preparation and funding

(Newser) - With a combination of factors making a major wave of coronavirus infections look more likely later this year, the Biden administration has raised the alarm by suggesting a distressing scenario: 100 million new cases over fall and winter. Deaths and hospitalizations would post sharp increases, the Washington Post reports. A...

Extra-Contagious COVID Strain Is Taking Over

BA2 is now dominant in 68 countries, including the US

(Newser) - In the latest battle of the coronavirus mutants, an extra-contagious version of omicron has taken over the world. The coronavirus version known as BA2 is now dominant in at least 68 countries, including the United States.The World Health Organization says it makes up about 94% of sequenced omicron cases...

Yes, Pfizer Recipients Will Need 4th Dose: CEO
Pfizer CEO
Says 4th Dose
'Is Necessary'

Pfizer CEO Says 4th Dose 'Is Necessary'

But he's hoping company will soon have a shot that works against all variants

(Newser) - Update: Pfizer, along with its partner BioNTech, on Tuesday asked US regulators to authorize an additional COVID vaccine booster for seniors. The pharmaceutical company says data from Israel as well as an ongoing study of healthcare workers suggest those 65 and older would benefit from a fourth dose, the AP...

White House Details Plan for Life With COVID

Approach includes familiar preventive tools and efforts to catch new variants quickly

(Newser) - White House officials detailed their approach to the next, less disruptive stage of life with COVID, in which Americans would mostly return to their pre-pandemic routines. But precautions and vigilance still will be required, CNN reports. "Vaccines, treatments, tests, masks—these tools are how we continue to protect people...

Studies Find No Rush for Next Booster Shot

Antibodies produced after third dose appear to do well against variants

(Newser) - It's reasonable to assume health officials will soon recommend a second booster shot of the coronavirus vaccine to maintain protection against COVID-19. Israel has made fourth shots available, per CNN . The UK plans to do so this spring for people over 75. In the US, the FDA said that...

900K Americans Have Died of COVID
US COVID Death Toll
Approaches 1M

US COVID Death Toll Approaches 1M

900,000 people have died, officials say

(Newser) - The US death toll from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is inching closer to 1 million as the Omicron variant rages throughout the world, the AP reports. More than 10% of the 900,000 Americans lost to the virus died after Dec. 12, per Reuters . “If you had told most...

An Omicron Offshoot Reaches 40 Countries
'Stealth Omicron' Has
Arrived in the US

'Stealth Omicron' Has Arrived in the US

BA.2, now in 40 nations, may be more contagious than original omicron, though data is limited

(Newser) - Cases of an omicron subvariant have popped up in at least 40 countries, including the US. Health officials in California's Santa Clara County confirmed two cases of "stealth omicron," or BA.2, on Tuesday, adding to 11 existing cases in the state as of Monday, reports the...

'Lot of Infections' From Omicron After 4th Dose: Trial

In preliminary study from Israel, the first of its kind, antibodies rise after 2nd booster, infections persist

(Newser) - Preliminary results are in on a clinical trial testing the efficacy of a fourth COVID shot, the world's first, and when it comes to omicron, that booster isn't doing the job researchers had hoped for. The Times of Israel reports that, in a study that began last month...

Congress Hit by 'Unprecedented' Surge in Cases

Lawmakers urged to meet virtually amid wave of COVID-19 cases

(Newser) - The Capitol physician is warning lawmakers of an "unprecedented" number of cases hitting members of Congress and their staffers. At the on-site testing center, the 7-day positivity rate is higher than 13%, compared to less than 1% before the rise of the omicron variant, Politico reports. Omicron accounts for...

Just Don't Take a Cruise, CDC Advises

Warning applies regardless of the traveler's vaccination status

(Newser) - In response to a series of onboard outbreaks , the CDC on Thursday advised all Americans—vaccinated or not—to stay off cruise ships. The agency cited a rise in coronavirus infections and the quick-spreading omicron variant, per NBC News . COVID-19 "spreads easily between people in close quarters on board...

British DJ 'Devastated' for Bringing Omicron to NZ

Nation's health officials say Robert Etheridge left required self-isolation before getting test result

(Newser) - New Zealand health officials are reeling after a British DJ set to play a New Year's Eve music fest left his required self-isolation before getting the results of a final COVID test back. He subsequently tested positive for omicron, the country's first community case of the variant. The...

In the Long Term, Rise of Omicron Could Be a Good Thing

And more on the surging COVID-19 variant

(Newser) - Omicron woes seem to have taken over the country, with flights being canceled left and right , the sports and showbiz worlds continuing to be impacted, and the US on Tuesday hitting a record high seven-day average of 254,496 new cases per day. A CNN medical analyst speculates that number...

Thanks, Omicron: Hundreds of Christmas Eve Flights Canceled

United, Delta, and Alaska are canceling flights

(Newser) - Not exactly what holiday travelers want to hear the day before Christmas Eve: Three airlines announced Thursday they were canceling flights for the following day due to the omicron variant of COVID-19. United Airlines canceled more than 150 flights, saying "the nationwide spike in omicron cases this week has...

Out of South Africa, a 'Tantalizing Hint' on Omicron

Case count is dropping, at least in recent days

(Newser) - A new study out of South Africa offers some positive news on the omicron variant, but with an asterisk. The study, which appeared Tuesday in the preprint medical publication MedRxiv , found that South Africans who came down with the omicron variant were 80% less likely to be hospitalized compared to...

Scientists Playing 'Long Game' Have Big Vaccine News

US Army researchers say they have a COVID vaccine that fights all variants, even future ones

(Newser) - With the chaotic entry of omicron onto the pandemic stage, there's concern that current vaccines may not be as effective against this variant as they were against others. Which is why news out of the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research is especially noteworthy: Defense One reports that scientists...

Antibody Treatments Aren't Working Against Omicron

Antiviral drugs appear to still be effective

(Newser) - In yet more bad news about the omicron variant of COVID-19, hospitals have found that two of the three monoclonal antibody treatments that have been keeping serious disease at bay for many coronavirus patients do not appear to work against this variant. The one that still does is, not surprisingly,...

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