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Dr. Chirico: 'Urgent action is needed now' as Omicron spreads – BayToday.ca

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The North Bay Parry Sound is appealing to the public to take the Omicron variant of COVID-19 seriously as the holidays approach.

“We are yet again at a pivotal point in the COVID-19 pandemic. We need your help to slow the spread of COVID-19 by limiting your contacts and getting a third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine if you are eligible,” states the Health Unit in a release. “Provincially, we are seeing the highest daily case counts since mid-May, and the case rate is rising sharply. It is expected that close to 100 per cent of all cases in Ontario will be Omicron by the end of the month, and case counts will rise even more quickly as Omicron takes over.”

Locally, the district’s case counts are also increasing with some presumed to be the Omicron variant. The rolling seven-day case rate for our Health Unit region has increased by 113 per cent since November 30, including individuals testing positive in connection with Omicron outbreaks in other parts of the province.

See related: Dr. Chirico: ‘We are contemplating potential restrictions’

“Cases are spreading rapidly and, at this time, hospitalizations and ICU admissions are remaining steady, but usually we don’t see increases in hospital admissions for a week or two after cases increase,” explains Dr. Jim Chirico, Medical Officer of Health. “We are at a point where making smart decisions can help decrease the spread; including being fully vaccinated, getting your third dose when you are eligible, limiting the number of people you gather with and staying home if you feel unwell.”

See also: ‘Alarming spread’ of Omicron variant leads Simcoe Muskoka Health Unit to increase vaccination levels, reduce capacity limits

According to Public Health Ontario. “It is estimated that each Omicron case is infecting 7.7 times more individuals than Delta in Ontario during the November 28 to December 9 period.”

“Although vaccines have been found to be less effective in preventing Omicron infections, they are showing strong protection against the severe disease, especially with a third dose,” says Dr. Chirico. “The Health Unit has opened up a number of vaccine appointments over the next two weeks for eligible individuals to receive their third dose to help protect themselves against Omicron.”

The Health Unit will continue to monitor the local situation and will make local decisions as needed. To see up-to-date information on the local COVID-19 situation visit myhealthunit.ca/COVID-19.

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Covid-19: World health officials offer hope that Omicron wave will increase global immunity – Hindustan Times

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  • The encouraging trends after two years of coronavirus misery have brought a noticeably hopeful tone from health experts. Rosy predictions have crumbled before, but this time they are backed by what could be called Omicron’s silver lining. 

Covid-19: World health officials offer hope that Omicron wave will increase global immunity(Bhushan Koyande)
Published on Jan 25, 2022 08:59 AM IST
AP | | Posted by Krishna Priya Pallavi, Delhi

World health officials are offering hope that the ebbing of the omicron wave could give way to a new, more manageable phase of the Covid-19 pandemic, even as they warn of difficult weeks ahead and the possibility of another, more dangerous variant arising.

In the US, cases have crested and are dropping rapidly, following a pattern seen in Britain and South Africa, with researchers projecting a period of low spread in many countries by the end of March. Though US deaths — now at 2,000 each day — are still rising, new hospital admissions have started to fall, and a drop in deaths is expected to follow.

The encouraging trends after two years of coronavirus misery have brought a noticeably hopeful tone from health experts. Rosy predictions have crumbled before, but this time they are backed by what could be called Omicron’s silver lining: The highly contagious variant will leave behind extremely high levels of immunity.

On Sunday, Dr Anthony Fauci talked on ABC This Week about a “best-case scenario” where Covid-19 would fall to manageable levels so the United States could get “back to a degree of normality.”

And on Monday, the World Health Organization issued a statement anticipating an end to the “emergency phase” of the pandemic this year and saying that the omicron variant “offers plausible hope for stabilization and normalization.”

Both Fauci and the WHO’s Europe regional director, Dr Hans Kluge, cautioned that new variants are likely to emerge, but with vaccination, new drug therapies and — during surges — testing and masks, the world could reach a less disruptive level of disease in which the virus is, as Fauci put it, “essentially integrated into the general respiratory infections that we have learned to live with.”

In the US, new cases are averaging a still extraordinarily high 680,000 a day, down from an all-time peak of over 800,000 a little more than a week ago.

The places in the US where omicron struck first are seeing the sharpest declines. New cases in the Northeast are nose-diving, while other states — Arizona, Texas, Oregon, Kansas and North Dakota among them — are still waiting for relief.

Falling, too, are new US hospital admissions of patients with confirmed Covid-19. They are averaging nearly 20,000 per day, down about 7 per cent from the previous week, according to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.

Those numbers include patients who went to the hospital for other reasons and tested positive. But even after accounting for these incidental infections, the trend is hopeful.

One influential model projects that nearly all nations will be past the omicron wave by mid-March, including China and other countries with “zero Covid” policies. The wave will leave behind high levels of immunity — both from infection and vaccination — that could lead to low levels of transmission for many weeks or months.

“What do we end up with at the end of this?” said Dr Christopher Murray of the University of Washington, who developed the closely watched Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation model. “We end up with the highest levels of global immunity that we’ve seen in the pandemic.”

The model estimates that 57% of the world’s population already has been infected with the virus at least once.

Another research group, which combines several models and shares the projections with the White House, predicts a strong decline in US infections by April, unless a new variant emerges that can sidestep the growing levels of immunity.

“It would be dangerous to forget that possibility, as it has caught us before,” said Katriona Shea of Pennsylvania State University, a leader of the team that pulls together the models.

She noted, too, that the projections show 16,000 to 98,000 more Americans dying before the omicron wave is through. The US death toll stands at close to 870,000.

“Even if we project a more optimistic future, right now we still have a lot of Covid spreading, a lot of strain in our hospital systems, and our deaths have not yet peaked,” said Lauren Ancel Meyers, director of the University of Texas Covid-19 Modeling Consortium.

“There’s still a lot of pain before omicron has run its course,” she said, but added: “It’s very plausible that omicron will be a turning point in terms of our relationship with this virus.”

This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.

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Factbox-Latest on the worldwide spread of the coronavirus

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Britain said on Tuesday it needed to recruit 6,000 more people onto a trial of Merck‘s COVID-19 antiviral pill molnupiravir to inform how the drug can be rolled out more widely.

DEATHS AND INFECTIONS

* Eikon users, see COVID-19: MacroVitals https://apac1.apps.cp.thomsonreuters.com/cms/?navid=1592404098 for a case tracker and summary of news.

AMERICAS

* The U.S. health regulator revised the emergency use authorisations for COVID-19 antibody treatments from Regeneron and Eli Lilly to limit their use, as the drugs are unlikely to work against the Omicron variant.

* Brazil had 83,340 new cases of the novel coronavirus reported in the past 24 hours, and 259 deaths from COVID-19, the Health Ministry said on Monday.

* Chile, which already boasts one of the world’s highest COVID-19 vaccination rates, has agreed to purchase 2 million vaccine doses from Moderna, Chilean interim health minister Maria Teresa Valenzuela said.

* A New York judge struck down the state’s mask mandate, one week before it was due to expire, ruling the governor overstepped her authority in imposing a rule that needed to have been passed by the state legislature.

EUROPE

* The head of the World Health Organization warned that it was dangerous to assume the Omicron variant would herald the end of COVID-19’s acutest phase, exhorting nations to stay focused to beat the pandemic.

* Germany extended its current pandemic measures as the experts panel appointed by the government has warned the Omicron variant could bring critical infrastructure in Europe’s biggest economy to a breaking point.

ASIA-PACIFIC

* South Korea’s daily count of new coronavirus cases topped 8,000 for the first time, as the Omicron variant spreads rapidly despite the recent extension of strict social-distancing rules to slow infection.

* Japan is set to more than double the number of regions under enhanced coronavirus curbs on Tuesday, even as it sought to modify strategies to contend with the infectious Omicron variant that has fuelled record numbers of cases.

* About two dozen cases of COVID-19 have been recorded among the crew of an Australian warship expected to arrive in coronavirus-free Tonga on Wednesday to deliver humanitarian aid, Australian authorities said.

AFRICA AND MIDDLE EAST

* Israel’s health minister said he did not think Israel will offer a fourth COVID-19 vaccine dose to most people after the government made it available to over 60s and other high-risk groups.

MEDICAL DEVELOPMENTS

* Omicron can survive longer than earlier versions of the coronavirus on plastic surfaces and human skin, Japanese researchers found in laboratory tests.

* A third booster dose of a COVID-19 vaccine made by AstraZeneca, Pfizer-BioNTech or Johnson & Johnson increases antibody levels significantly in those who have previously received two doses of Sinovac’s CoronaVac shot, a study has found.

ECONOMIC IMPACT

* Australia’s core inflation flew to its fastest annual pace since 2014 in the December quarter as fuel and housing costs led broad-based price pressures, a shock that will stoke market speculation of an early hike in interest rates.

* South Korea’s economy expanded at the fastest pace in 11 years in 2021, helped by a jump in exports and construction activity, tempering declines in capital investment and a slow recovery in the coronavirus-hit service sectors.

* A measure of Australian business confidence has swung into the red as a surge in coronavirus cases hit consumer spending and played havoc with staffing, though sales overall were proving resilient so far.

 

(Compiled by Sherry Jacob-Phillips; Edited by Shounak Dasgupta)

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Sinovac regimen gets strong boost from Pfizer, AstraZeneca or J&J COVID shots – study

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A third booster dose of a COVID-19 vaccine made by AstraZeneca, Pfizer-BioNTech or Johnson & Johnson increases antibody levels significantly in those who have previously received two doses of Sinovac’s CoronaVac shot, a study has found.

The study found that CoronaVac received the strongest boost from a viral vector or RNA shot, including against the Delta and Omicron coronavirus variants, researchers from Brazil and Oxford University said on Monday.

China-based Sinovac’s vaccine uses an inactivated version of a coronavirus strain that was isolated from a patient in China. It is currently approved in more than 50 countries including Brazil, China, Argentina, South Africa, Oman, Malaysia, Indonesia and Turkey.

“This study provides important options for policymakers in the many countries where inactivated vaccines … have been used,” said Andrew Pollard, director of the Oxford Vaccine Group and study lead.

However, another study in December found that Sinovac’s two-dose shot followed by a booster dose of Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine showed a lower immune response against the Omicron variant compared with other strains.

Viral vector vaccines such as the ones developed by AstraZeneca-Oxford and J&J use a weakened version of another virus to deliver genetic instructions for making proteins from the virus against which protection is sought. Pfizer and BioNTech’s mRNA vaccines deliver a genetic transcript with instructions for making viral proteins to teach the body how to defend against infections.

A third dose of CoronaVac also increased antibodies, but the results were better when a different vaccine was used, according to the latest study that included 1,240 volunteers from the Brazilian cities of Sao Paulo and Salvador.

Antibody levels were low before the booster doses, with only 20.4% of adults aged 18-60 and 8.9% of adults aged over 60 having detectable levels of neutralising antibodies. These were seen to significantly increase across every booster vaccine regimen, according to the study, which was published in the Lancet medical journal on Friday.

 

(Reporting by Aby Jose Koilparambil and Pushkala Aripaka in Bengaluru; Editing by Ramakrishnan M.)

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