U.S. Ready to Expedite Omicron-Specific Vaccine, If Needed

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If new COVID-19 vaccines are developed to fight the Omicron variant, public health regulatory authorities will “move swiftly” to streamline the process, said Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Dr. Rochelle Valensky told abc “This Week with George Stephanopoulos” on Sunday.

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Valensky said omicron infections have been identified in at least dozens of people. 16 states, with the number of cases “likely to rise”, but public health officials are hopeful that existing vaccines can prevent serious illness and prevent hospitalizations. As of Sunday morning, the new variant has been identified in 40 countries.

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“We know it has many mutations, more mutations than the former forms,” ​​Valensky said. “What we don’t know yet is how permeable it will be, how well our vaccines will work, whether it will lead to more severe disease.”

valensky said Currently, 99.9% of the approximately 90,000 to 100,000 cases per day in the US are from the delta version of Kovid-19.

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Stephen Hoge, president of Moderna (ticker: mRNA), has stated that the company is currently working on an Omron-specific booster If there is a need, and it may be ready by early next year.

It appears to have been caused by the Omicron version minor ailments A small study of hospitalized people in South Africa compared the first Covid-19 waves among people, although scientists caution that it is too early to conclude that Omicron is less virulent than other strains.

South Africa reported 16,366 new cases on Saturday, compared to about 100 cases per day in early November. Omicron, with dozens of mutations that involve rapid spread, appears to be more infectious than other COVID variants and can more easily bypass immunity to previous infections.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CNN on Sunday that “as of now, although it is too early to make a definitive statement about it, it does not appear to be very serious. It is.”

According to a study published by the South African Medical Research Council, 70% of 42 people being treated for COVID-19 on Thursday did not need oxygen to breathe normally. Of those who did, nine had COVID-induced pneumonia and the other four required supplemental oxygen for unrelated underlying conditions.

Another study from the same hospital group reported that most of the 166 coronavirus patients admitted between November 14 and November 29 were not vaccinated and were under 50, and most were diagnosed with other conditions other than COVID-19. reasons were admitted.

“Overall the disease looks mild, but these are very early days,” Willem Hannekom, director of the Africa Health Research Institute, told the British Broadcasting Corp. on Sunday.

A separate study says the Omicron variant appears to have picked up a piece of the genetic code. from another virus Which causes the common cold in humans, possibly from someone who was infected with both simultaneously. This increases the likelihood that it is more contagious but less virulent than other coronavirus variants.

As the Washington Post reports, Venky Sundararajan, a biological engineer who co-authored the study, said this has enabled Omicron to be “more accustomed to human hosts” and able to evade certain immune system responses.

The genetic material has not been found in other forms, according to scientists at Neference, a biomedical research firm in Cambridge, Mass. The study is preliminary and has not yet been reviewed.

Surgeon General Dr Vivek Murthy said on Sunday that US travel restrictions against South Africa and seven other neighboring countries were enacted “to buy time” to increase vaccinations and reduce the spread of omicrons, but they were meant as temporary measures. were in

“No one wants them to last longer than they should,” he told CBS “Face the nation.” “That’s why we’re constantly reevaluating them so that we can remove them as quickly as possible.”

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