Has the resurging COVID-19 virus, driven now by a new variant called far more contagious than previous strains but, so far, less deadly, also infected Christmas plans for many? Some indicators yes.
As the holidays near in many parts of the world, countries are putting in place new restrictions to stem the tide; after two omicron cases were identified in China, millions of people face the prospect of a Lunar New Year without family. In the United States, where the overall death toll from the pandemic surpassed 800,000 on Tuesday, federal health officials warned there could be a massive wave of infections by January. Still, experts are hopeful that a full course of vaccination plus a booster should provide some protection from the variant, especially against severe disease.
Some other news:
- President Biden and Vice President Harris will meet with the White House covid-19 response team at 3 p.m. Eastern for a briefing about omicron.
- Advisers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention meet Thursday to consider possible limits onthe use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine because of continued blood clot concerns, according to clinicians familiar with the agenda.
- A federal appeals court panel ruled Wednesday that the Biden administration’s vaccine mandate for health-care workers can be enforced in some states but not in others, lifting an earlier nationwide ban.
In Floyd County, numbers continue to climb as vaccinations lag behind the Virginia-wide average and too many people appear in public locations without masks.
A study released Wednesday by the University of Hong Kong found the Omicron variant of COVID-19 “multiplies 70 times faster in human bronchus than prior variants.”
High school sports in Floyd and other communities have canceled or postponed events because of the increase of infections. Floyd cases went up by more than 20 cases over last weekend and often see double-digit increases, along with new hospitalizations.
The Roanoke Valley reported seven deaths from the virus Wednesday, and Virginia’s infections have topped more than one million cases. “When Omicron enters a community, the increase in case numbers looks like a vertical line,” Dr. Paul Sax of Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston tells the media.
Argues Dr. Muge Cevik, a noted infectious disease expert at the University of St. Andrews, on Twitter:
The only thing I am sure of is that Omicron will spread so quickly through the population, making it likely impossible to contain even with the most stringent measures and giving us very little time over the next few weeks. So get your vaccines and boosters!
Those at most risk are those who have avoided getting the full, recommended round of vaccine shots. That, sadly, represents a large number in Floyd County, where the anti-vaccine and anti-mask proponents refuse to get protection and threaten others around them.
“I have been telling my unvaccinated patients that it is extremely urgent for them to start a vaccine series as soon as possible,” says Dr. Aaron Richterman of the University of Pennsylvania.
To make matters worse, the Centers for Disease Control report “a concerning increase” in serious blood clots affecting those who opted for the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The Federal Drug Administration says the highest rate of infections is among women aged 30-49.
America’s 800,00 deaths are the highest number of any nation in the world, and the last 100,000 came in less than 11 weeks. Older persons remain the most vulnerable. At least 75 percent of the 800,00 deaths have been those 65 or older.