Development of a COVID-19 vaccine specifically designed to target the omicron variant is “the most likely scenario,” Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said as new coronavirus cases explode to more than 700,000 per day in the United States on average.
Bourla told the JP Morgan healthcare conference on Monday that Pfizer is developing a vaccine targeted at omicron, in addition to an injection that includes both the previous vaccine as well as the omicron-specific vaccine, or a “hybrid,” as he described it.
“Not only will we have data, but I think we’ll be almost ready to go drop and launch if that is successful and if we need the demand,” he said. “And in fact, I want to tell you that we have already started to produce all the preparation at risk.”
Bourla said the pharmaceutical company will have the quantities needed to launch the vaccine in March. And although he said “no one has a crystal ball,” the CEO said he believes the general population will need to be given an annual reminder to keep COVID-19 at bay.
“We will always be ahead of the virus with the right vaccine update that hopefully we could give each year, and maybe for some groups they are at high risk more often,” he said. he declared.
The omicron variant appears to cause milder disease than the delta variant. But COVID-19 remains a much more dangerous disease for the unvaccinated. An unvaccinated person is 10 times more likely to test positive, eight times more likely to be hospitalized and 20 times more likely to die than a fully vaccinated and stimulated person, according to the CDC.
Also in the news:
►10 days in the month, January 2022 is already the highest month for COVID-19 cases of the entire pandemic. As of Monday, the country had reported more than 6.81 million cases, surpassing the previous December 2020 record of around 6.48 million cases, according to USA TODAY analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University.
►Dr. Anthony Fauci, Dr. Rochelle Walensky and others will testify Tuesday morning before a U.S. Senate committee on COVID-19 variants and the federal response to variants.
►WHO Europe director Dr Hans Kluge told reporters on Tuesday that half of Western Europe could be infected with COVID-19 in six to eight weeks, and that there is a “window of opportunity that closes “to prevent health systems from being overwhelmed.
►The CDC and the State Department advised Americans not to travel to Canada on Monday due to high levels of COVID-19.
► The CDC is considering updating its mask guidelines to recommend that people wear N95 or KN95 masks worn by medical professionals, The Washington Post reported.
?? The numbers of the day: The United States has recorded more than 61.5 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 and more than 839,000 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Global totals: Over 310 million cases and 5.4 million deaths. More than 207 million Americans – 62.6% – are fully immunized, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
??What we read: As Americans nationwide continue to scramble to access rapid and reliable COVID-19 tests amid a nationwide shortage, state and local authorities are warning residents to be on the lookout for pop sites -up scammer trying to scam people with money and personal information.
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Breakthrough infections in New York eclipsed by unvaccinated cases
The daily rate of COVID-19 infections among New Yorkers more than sevenfold in December, but was still eclipsed by new infections among new unvaccinated data released.
The number of new COVID-19 infections per 100,000 vaccinated residents rose from 29.8 in the first week of the month to 222.3 last week, according to data from the New York State Department of Health. During the same period, the rate of new cases among unvaccinated adults increased almost as sharply to 1,583.1 per 100,000.
The data also showed that the vaccine’s efficacy against serious infections remained high, with just 4.59 out of 100,000 fully vaccinated adults hospitalized with COVID-19 during the week of December 27. Although that number increased during the month of December, the hospitalization rate for unvaccinated New Yorkers is still nearly 13 times higher.
Due to the rise in breakthrough infections caused by the omicron variant, Governor Kathy Hochul has announced a COVID-19 recall warrant for healthcare workers in New York City.
The warrant, which is awaiting approval by a state health department panel on Tuesday, would require workers in hospitals, nursing homes and other health care facilities to receive the recall within two weeks after their eligibility, Hochul said.
– N’dea Yancey-Bragg, USA TODAY and David Robinson, New York State Team
Chicago to resume in-person classes after city union comes to deal
Chicago teachers and students were due to return to class this week after city leaders reached an agreement with the Chicago Teachers Union on COVID-19 safety protocols amid a nationwide wave of cases fueled by the variant omicron from the coronavirus.
Teachers were due to return to work on Tuesday and students were due to return on Wednesday for the first time in a week, city officials said. The Chicago Teachers Union voted Monday night to suspend union action after the city and the union reached a tentative deal, but the union’s 25,000 members have yet to vote on the deal.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said the city and the union had compromised a measure that would automatically switch a school to distance learning if a certain number of students and staff tested positive. She said she hoped teachers would ratify the deal.
Classes were halted last week after 73% of union members voted to temporarily switch to distance learning, and the district responded by canceling classes altogether. The city and the union have both filed complaints with a state labor board, and a group of school families have filed a complaint in Cook County.
– Grace Hauck and Erin Richards, USA TODAY
Kentucky mobilizes more National Guard members to help hospitals with omicron
Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear said Monday he would send more National Guard members to help hospitals, which “fill up” as the omicron coronavirus variant “continues to burn across the Commonwealth”.
With 26% of people tested for COVID-19 now testing positive, hospitals have seen an increase “quite significantly,” Beshear said, and “if we continue (our) trajectory, all of our beds will be filled very soon.”
With the new deployment, Kentucky will have 445 active guards assisting hospitals statewide. They will be spread across 27 hospitals and 10 other facilities, such as nursing homes.
“Even though omicron remains a milder disease,” Public Health Commissioner Dr Steven Stack said on Monday, “with our hospitals already struggling now, the next few weeks could be much worse.”
– Sarah Ladd and Olivia Krauth, Louisville Courier-Journal
Contribution: The Associated Press