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It’s been only three weeks since omicron hit the news, but the variant is already the country’s dominant Covid strain, responsible for 73% of U.S. cases — including more than 250,000 cases just over the last day, according to Johns Hopkins University.

But there’s a way to help protect yourself against symptomatic and severe illness: booster shots.

 

Most recently, Moderna announced on Monday that its Covid vaccine boosters showed a significant increase in antibody levels against omicron in preliminary lab trials. Pfizer announced similar results earlier this month, offering additional hope ahead of the winter holidays that the mRNA boosters provide protection against the omicron variant.

For more on this: CNBC

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The rapidly spreading omicron variant is now the dominant Covid strain in the U.S., representing 73% of sequenced cases, according to data published Monday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Omicron has displaced the previously dominant delta variant, which the CDC says is now an estimated 26.6% of sequenced cases for the week ending December 18. Just one week earlier, delta made up 87% of cases to omicron’s 12.6%, the data shows.

 

The CDC had previously published data for the week ending Dec. 11 showing that omicron represented 2.9% of cases, but has revised the estimate for that period upward.

The omicron Covid-19 variant was first detected in southern Africa in late November and labeled a “variant of concern” by the World Health Organization on Nov. 26. It’s not clear when exactly it first arrived in the U.S. Though California was first U.S. state to confirm an omicron case in the country on Dec. 1, the CDC has said a patient developed symptoms earlier on Nov. 15.

While the variant has proven to be extremely transmissible, much remains unknown about the severity of the illness it causes.

In some parts of the country, the share of omicron cases is higher than the nationwide figure of 73%. The CDC estimates it makes up more than 90% of cases in portions of the Northwest, South, Southeast, and Northeast.

By CNBC

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Is it safe to travel now? It depends. The Omicron variant of COVID-19, which has contributed to a “tidal wave” of infections in the United Kingdom, is rattling Europe and fueling dread about the holidays. Countries have responded by returning to 2020-like restrictions with the Netherlands in lockdown until January 14 and France banning tourists from the U.K. for now. 

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By nationalgeographic

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Israel says it plans to become the first country to roll out a fourth dose of the Covid-19 vaccine as the country prepares for a wave of infections driven by the new Omicron variant.

Israel's pandemic experts have recommended a fourth booster for the over-60s and health workers.

PM Naftali Bennett welcomed the plan and told officials to start preparing.

It comes as Israel confirmed the first known death of a patient with the Omicron strain on Tuesday.

The health ministry said there were at least 340 known cases of the variant in Israel.

The decision to roll out a fourth booster is still pending approval by senior health officials, however Mr Bennett's office told the BBC that it was hoping to administer the dose to people at least four months after their third dose.

By BBC

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UK reduces COVID-19 self-isolation to 7 days for most in England

Reuters.pngCoronavirusDec 22, 2021 
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LONDON (Reuters) - The British government said that from Wednesday it was reducing the COVID-19 self-isolation period to seven days from 10 days for people in England who get a negative result on a lateral flow test two days in a row.

With the Omicron variant spreading rapidly in Britain and record levels of cases over the past week many industries are struggling with staff shortages, including hospitals who have warned of the risk of an impact on patient safety.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said its analysis suggested a seven-day isolation period alongside two negative lateral flow test results had nearly the same protective effect as a 10-day isolation period without testing.

"We want to reduce the disruption from COVID-19 to people’s everyday lives," health secretary Sajid Javid said in a statement.

Rapid lateral flow tests, which are provided free by Britain's National Health Service, can be self-administered by people at home and give a result in 15 to 30 minutes.

Those who receive a negative lateral flow result on day six and day seven of their self-isolation period, with tests taken 24 hours apart, will no longer have to isolate for 10 days, the government said.

 

The UKHSA said it "strongly advised" those who leave their self-isolation after seven days to limit contact with others in crowded or poorly ventilated spaces, work from home and minimise contact with those most vulnerable to COVID-19.

"The new approach reflects latest evidence on how long cases transmit the virus for, and supports essential public services and supply chains over the winter, while still limiting the spread of the virus," the UKHSA said.

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AstraZeneca, Oxford aim to produce Omicron-targeted vaccine

Reuters.pngStock Markets Dec 21, 2021 
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(Reuters) -AstraZeneca Plc said on Tuesday it is working with Oxford University to produce a vaccine for the Omicron coronavirus variant, joining other vaccine-makers who are looking to develop the variant-specific vaccine.

"Together with Oxford University, we have taken preliminary steps in producing an Omicron variant vaccine, in case it is needed and will be informed by emerging data," a spokesperson for the company said in a statement.

Oxford did not immediately respond to a request for comment outside business hours.

The Financial Times first reported the news, citing Sandy Douglas, a research group leader at Oxford.

"Adenovirus-based vaccines (such as that made by Oxford/AstraZeneca) could in principle be used to respond to any new variant more rapidly than some may previously have realised," Douglas told FT.

 

A lab-study last week found that AstraZeneca (NASDAQ:AZN)'s antibody cocktail Evusheld retained neutralising activity against the Omicron variant.

Vaccine makers Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna (NASDAQ:MRNA) also previously said they were working on Omicron- specific COVID-19 vaccines. Moderna said hopes to start clinical trials early next year.

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Musk's SpaceX hit by 132 COVID-19 cases

Reuters.pngCoronavirusDec 21, 2021
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By Hyunjoo Jin

San Francisco (Reuters) - Elon Musk's SpaceX rocket company has reported 132 COVID-19 cases at its California headquarters, a fourth of the total number of cases in non-residential locations in Los Angeles County, according to county data.

The latest cases mark the second time a large number of COVID-19 cases have been reported at a company headed by Musk. Electric car maker Tesla Inc reported 440 cases at its factory in Fremont in Northern California from May to December 2020, according to Alameda County data obtained by legal information site Plainsite.

In an internal email to employees on Monday, SpaceX said the 132 cases had been reported since September, when "several employees who work in the same area contracted COVID outside of work at a non-work-related event."

"Again, it does not mean 132 employees in Hawthorne have COVID today or contracted it in the workplace," it said, referring to the Los Angeles-area city that is home to SpaceX's headquarters.

Asked for comment, SpaceX shared the internal email.

A total of 496 cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in nonresidential locations such as workplaces, food and retail stores, and places of worship, Los Angeles County said, without elaborating on the time frame for those cases. SpaceX posted the highest number of cases in the county, followed by FedEx Corp (NYSE:FDX)'s Los Angeles office with 85 cases.

 

SpaceX is the most well-established player in the burgeoning constellation of commercial rocket ventures. It has already launched numerous cargo payloads and astronauts to the International Space Station for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

In May 2020, Musk sued Alameda County as he reopened the Tesla factory in Fremont, defying that county's lockdown measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

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UK says 14 deaths and 129 hospitalised by Omicron

Reuters.pngCoronavirusDec 22, 2021 
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LONDON (Reuters) - There are currently 129 people in hospital with the Omicron variant of the coronavirus and so far 14 people have died with it, junior health minister Gillian Keegan told Sky News on Wednesday.

 

She also said the UK government would not hesitate to bring in further COVID-19 restrictions if the data showed it was necessary.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Tuesday that he would not introduce new restrictions in England before Christmas, but the situation remained extremely difficult and the government might need to act afterwards.

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 Illustration taken December 11, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

 

COPENHAGEN, Dec 22 (Reuters) - Getting a third dose of either Pfizer-BioNTech's (PFE.N) or Moderna's (MRNA.O) COVID-19 vaccine offers a "significant increase" in protection against the Omicron variant in elderly people, according to a Danish study published on Wednesday.

The study, which is not yet peer-reviewed, investigated the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines that use so-called mRNA technology against the Delta variant and the new, more infectious Omicron variant.

"Our study contributes to emerging evidence that BNT162b2 (Pfizer-BioNTech) or mRNA-1273 (Moderna) primary vaccine protection against Omicron decreases quickly over time, with booster vaccination offering a significant increase in protection," the authors wrote in the study.

The study was conducted by researchers at Denmark's top infectious disease authority, Statens Serum Institut (SSI). It analysed data from three million Danes gathered between Nov. 20 and Dec. 12.

Among those who recently had their second vaccine dose, effectiveness against Omicron was measured at 55.2% for Pfizer-BioNTech and 36.7% for Moderna, compared to unvaccinated people.

But that protection quickly waned over the course of five months, the researchers said.

"We see that the protection is lower and decreases faster against Omicron than against the Delta variant after a primary vaccination course," study author Palle Valentiner-Branth said.

However, a third dose of Pfizer-BioNTech's vaccine restored protection to 54.6% in people aged 60 or more who had been inoculated 14 to 44 days earlier, compared to those with only two doses.

The study confirms the findings of a recent British study, which also showed a rapid decline in protection against Omicron over time and an increase following a booster with Pfizer-BioNTech's vaccine.

"In light of the exponential rise in Omicron cases, these findings highlight the need for massive rollout of vaccinations and booster vaccinations," the researchers said.

 

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World Health Organization officials on Wednesday criticized blanket Covid-19 vaccine booster programs as poor countries struggle to obtain initial doses, warning that the unequal access to immunizations could lead to more mutated variants that drag out the crisis.

“Blanket booster programs are likely to prolong the pandemic, rather than ending it, by diverting supply to countries that already have high levels of vaccination coverage, giving the virus more opportunity to spread and mutate,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during a news briefing.

 

The comments from the WHO come as health officials in the U.S. promote vaccine booster shots for all residents over the age of 16 amid a surge in Covid cases driven by the omicron strain. Israel on Tuesday announced it would offer a fourth dose of Covid-19 vaccines to people older than 60. Full article CNBC

Covid-19 boosters will be needed yearly for most at risk, WHO says

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BEIJING — A major city in central China that’s seen a flare-up of Covid-19 cases locked down on Thursday, with local authorities using language similar to that used during the height of the pandemic in the country.

The outbreak in Xi’an city — population 13 million — stems from the delta variant, authorities said. Mainland China has only reported a handful of Omicron cases so far, while the rapidly spreading strain has become the dominant variant in the U.S.

 

Xi’an city’s confirmed coronavirus case count is far lower than what other cities have reported overseas. But the city has also reported an unspecified number of hemorrhagic fever cases, a high mortality disease transmitted by rodents. Local authorities have noted the disease appears seasonally, typically from October to January, and from April to June.

 

Full article by CNBC

 

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U.S. authorizes Merck pill as second at-home COVID-19 treatment

Reuters.pngCoronavirusDec 24, 2021 
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By Manas Mishra and Carl O'Donnell

(Reuters) -The U.S. on Thursday authorized Merck & Co's antiviral pill for COVID-19 for certain high-risk adult patients, a day after giving a broader go-ahead to a similar but more effective treatment https://www.reuters.com/business/healthcare-pharmaceuticals/pfizer-says-covid-19-pill-near-90-effective-final-analysis-2021-12-14 from Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE)

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said Merck's drug could be used when other authorized treatments are not accessible or clinically appropriate.

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Vaccines, pills and data offer some Christmas cheer in face of Omicron advance

Reuters.pngCoronavirusDec 23, 2021 
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By James Macharia Chege and Josephine Mason

JOHANNESBURG/LONDON (Reuters) -Omicron advanced across the world on Thursday, with health experts warning the battle against the COVID-19 variant was far from over despite two drugmakers saying their vaccines protected against it and signs it carries a lower risk of hospitalisation.

Coronavirus infections have soared wherever the highly infectious Omicron variant has spread, triggering new restrictions in many countries and record new cases.

But in another glimmer of hope two days before Christmas, a U.S. Federal Drug Administration (FDA) official said data indicated that both Merck & Co Inc's and Pfizer Inc (NYSE:PFE)'s COVID-19 anti-virals are effective against the variant.

There were encouraging signs too about hospitalisation rates from Britain and South Africa, although the head of a leading African health agency joined the World Health Organization in cautioning that it was too soon to draw broader conclusions.

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South Africa to Stop Quarantines as 80% Have Past Infection

Bloomberg_new.pngStock MarketsDec 24, 2021
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(Bloomberg) -- South Africa will stop contract tracing and won’t quarantine people as it shifts focus on Covid-19 mitigation strategies.

Authorities in Africa’s most-industrialized nation will conduct contract tracing only in case of a cluster outbreak, the nation’s Director General of Health said in a circular dated Thursday, which was confirmed by department spokesman, Foster Mohale. As many as 80% of the nation’s population as past infections providing some immunity, the department said.

“Quarantine has been costly to essential services and society as many people stay away from their work and thus lose their income and children miss on their schooling,” according to the circular. “We never identify most high risk patients.” 

South Africa’s recovery from its deepest economic contraction in almost three decades risks stalling due to the fallout from a fourth wave of coronavirus infections driven by the omicron variant. 

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Cases of Covid-19 are likely going to keep surging as the omicron variant rapidly spreads across the globe, U.S. infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci said Sunday.

“Every day it goes up and up. The last weekly average was about 150,000 and it likely will go much higher,” Fauci said on ABC’s “This Week.”

 

As of Thursday, before the holiday weekend disrupted Covid trackers, the U.S. had reported more than 51 million total cases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The U.S. also topped 800,000 total deaths from the disease in mid-December.

Driving the surge is the omicron variant, which took over as the dominant strain a week ago.

While the strain has proven to be highly transmissible, studies are starting to indicate it is less severe in terms of hospitalizations. Still, Fauci stressed now is not the time to “get complacent.”

“If you have many, many, many more people with a less level of severity, that might kind of neutralize the positive effect of having less severity when you have so many more people,” Fauci said. “And we’re particularly worried about those who are in that unvaccinated class. Those are the most vulnerable ones when you have a virus that is extraordinarily effective in getting to people and infecting them the way omicron is.” By CNBC

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For third day, COVID-19 crimps Americans' holiday travels

Reuters.pngCoronavirusDec 27, 2021 
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By Humeyra Pamuk and Gabriella Borter

WASHINGTON/NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. airlines canceled more than 1,300 flights on Sunday as COVID-19 thinned out the number of available crews, while several cruise ships had to cancel stops after outbreaks on board, upending the plans of thousands of Christmas travelers.

Commercial airlines had canceled 1,318 flights within, into or out of the United States by mid-afternoon, according to a tally on flight-tracking website FlightAware.com.

At least three cruise ships were also forced to return to port without making scheduled port calls after COVID-19 cases were detected on board, according to multiple media reports.

It was the third straight day of pain for some Americans traveling over the weekend as the Christmas holidays, typically a peak time for travel, coincided with a rapid spread of the Omicron variant nationwide.

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Australia records first Omicron death, authorities stick to reopening plan

Reuters.pngCoronavirusDec 27, 2021 
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By Byron Kaye

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australia reported its first confirmed death from the new Omicron variant of COVID-19 on Monday amid its biggest daily surge in infections, but the authorities refrained from imposing new restrictions saying hospitalisation rates remained low.

The death, a man in his 80s with underlying health conditions, marked a grim milestone for the country which has had to reverse some parts of a staged reopening after nearly two years of stop-start lockdowns, due to the fresh outbreak.

Omicron, which health experts say appears more contagious but less virulent than previous strains, began to spread in the country just as it lifted restrictions on most domestic borders and allowed Australians to return from overseas without quarantine, driving case numbers to the highest of the pandemic.

The authorities gave no additional details about the Omicron death, except to say that the man caught the virus at an aged care facility and died in a Sydney hospital.

"This was the first known death in New South Wales (state) linked to the Omicron variant of concern," said NSW Health epidemiologist Christine Selvey in a video released by the government.

The man was among seven COVID-19 deaths reported in Australia the previous day. The country clocked 10,186 new cases nationwide, according to a Reuters calculation of state data, its first total over 10,000 since the start of the pandemic. Most new cases were in NSW and Victoria.

"Although we are seeing increased case numbers... we are not seeing the impacts on our hospital system," said Annastacia Palaszczuk, premier of Queensland which reported 784 new cases with four people in hospital.

With reports of six-hour wait times for COVID testing for people hoping to meet requirements for interstate holiday travel, Palaszczuk defended the tourism-friendly state for mandatory testing, saying "everyone knew when they booked a ticket that if they wanted to come here they would have to do a PCR test".

However, she added that Queensland was considering whether to relax testing requirements for domestic visitors. Tasmania, another tourist-popular state, also said it was considering changes to state border testing rules.

Around the country, the surge in infections meanwhile weighed on testing resources. Sydney testing clinic SydPath had confirmed a day earlier that it wrongly told 400 COVID-positive people they were negative in the days before Christmas; on Monday it now realised it sent wrong result messages to another 995 people.

 

Australian authorities have so far resisted a return to lockdown in the face of surging case numbers but have reinstated some restrictions. On Monday, NSW again made it compulsory to check into public venues with QR codes, while many states have brought back mandatory mask-wearing in indoor public places.

The country has also narrowed the window for vaccine booster shots from six months to four months, soon to be three months.

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China's local COVID-19 cases edge higher as Xian remains in lockdown

Reuters.pngCoronavirusDec 27, 2021
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BEIJING (Reuters) - The Chinese city of Xian remained under lockdown for a fifth day on Monday as authorities reported 150 new local symptomatic coronavirus cases for Sunday, a slight decrease from the previous day.

Case numbers in Xian, home to 13 million people, remain tiny compared with many clusters overseas, but authorities have imposed tough curbs on travel within and leaving the city under Beijing's drive to immediately contain outbreaks.

Authorities have not announced any infection caused by the Omicron variant in Xian, where there have been 635 confirmed coronavirus cases during the Dec. 9-26 period. The 150 local symptomatic cases on Sunday compared with 155 a day earlier, and accounted for most of the 162 new domestic infections in China.

Chine reported a total of 158 domestically transmitted symptomatic cases for Sunday.

Nationwide, China has detected a handful of Omicron infections among international travellers and in South China.

The new case number for Sunday marks the highest nationwide count of local symptomatic infections since the daily bulletin provided by the National Health Commission started to classify asymptomatic carriers separately from end-March 2020.

In Xian, residents cannot leave the city without approval from employers or local authorities.

Since Dec 23, households have been allowed to send only one person to shop for necessities every two days. Other family members may not leave home unless they have essential jobs or urgent matters to attend to, approved by employers or communities.

On Monday, Xian authorities urged residents to stay home except for having their sample collected in a new round of citywide testing.

Xian has also launched a city-wide disinfection campaign, with workers spraying pathogen-killing solutions onto roads and buildings, and residents were advised not to touch plants or building surfaces.

Dongyan Jin, a virologist at the University of Hong Kong, said the mass disinfection of outdoor air and surfaces seemed unnecessary given the low risk of people catching COVID-19 from outdoor surfaces or air with so few people outside.

 

"This is shooting mosquitoes with cannon," said Jin, although he believes disinfection of indoor surfaces, especially in places visit by infected people, is necessary.

The cities of Xianyang and Weinan, like Xian in Shaanxi province, each reported one local symptomatic case for Sunday. Local infections were also found in the Guangxi region and the provinces of Zhejiang, Guangdong and Sichuan.

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LONDON — U.K. leader Boris Johnson will speak with his top medical advisors on Monday before deciding whether to impose any new Covid-19 restrictions for England this week.

Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have already started new curbs to help stop the spread of the omicron variant, largely focusing on indoor mixing. But England has so far held off on adding to current stay-at-home orders and increased mask-wearing.

 

Johnson will reportedly digest new data on Monday looking at case rates, hospitalizations and ICU figures, as well as deaths. The Christmas holiday meant official figures were paused over the weekend, but on Friday the U.K. reported a record of 122,186 infections over a 24-hour period. By CNBC

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The federal government should consider requiring Covid-19 vaccines for domestic flights, the nation’s top infectious disease expert said Monday.

“When you make vaccinations a requirement, that’s another incentive to get more people vaccinated,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci in an interview on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “If you want to do that with domestic flights, I think that’s something that seriously should be considered.”

 

There is no indication at this point that a vaccine mandate is on its way for U.S. flights. When asked on MSNBC, Fauci, White House chief medical advisor, declined to say whether he has made the recommendation to President Joe Biden.

The White House, when asked for comment, referred CNBC to Biden’s statement to ABC News last week, “It’s been considered,” Biden said, “but the recommendation I’ve gotten, it’s not necessary.”

The travel industry, meanwhile, expressed opposition to a vaccine mandate for domestic travel when Fauci made a similar suggestion in September.

Already, U.S. passengers must wear masks to board planes and keep them on for the duration of the flight except when eating or drinking.

International travelers must also show proof of vaccination and a negative Covid test in order to board a U.S.-bound flight, and also wear a mask.

With the omicron variant of the coronavirus spreading rapidly across the U.S., airlines have canceled more than 2,000 flights since Friday, due partly to outbreaks among staff.

Across the country, omicron accounts for the majority of new infections, at 73% of fresh cases as of last Monday. The highly infectious variant has caused a handful of states, including New Jersey and New York, to report more coronavirus cases than in any other seven-day period since the start of the pandemic.

A handful of cities in the U.S., including New York City, require proof of vaccination to attend in-door venues such as Broadway theaters, sports arenas, restaurants and fitness centers. 

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South Africa study suggests Omicron could displace Delta

Reuters.pngCoronavirusDec 28, 2021 
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(Reuters) - Research by South African scientists suggests that Omicron could displace the Delta variant of the coronavirus because infection with the new variant boosts immunity to the older one.

The study only covered a small group of people and has not been peer-reviewed, but it found that people who were infected with Omicron, especially those who were vaccinated, developed enhanced immunity to the Delta variant.

The analysis enrolled 33 vaccinated and unvaccinated people who were infected with the Omicron variant in South Africa.

While the authors found that neutralisation of Omicron increased 14-fold over 14 days after the enrolment, they also found that there was a 4.4-fold increase in neutralisation of the Delta variant.

"The increase in Delta variant neutralization in individuals infected with Omicron may result in decreased ability of Delta to re-infect those individuals," the scientists who conducted the study said.

The results of the study are "consistent with Omicron displacing the Delta variant, since it can elicit immunity which neutralizes Delta making re-infection with Delta less likely," they said.

According to the scientists, implications of this displacement would depend on whether or not Omicron is less pathogenic compared to Delta. "If so, then the incidence of COVID-19 severe disease would be reduced and the infection may shift to become less disruptive to individuals and society."

Alex Sigal, a professor at the Africa Health Research Institute in South Africa, said on Twitter (NYSE:TWTR) on Monday that if Omicron was less pathogenic as it looked to be from the South African experience, "this will help push Delta out".

 

According to an earlier South African study, there is reduced risk of hospitalisation and severe disease in people infected with Omicron compared with the Delta variant, though the authors say some of that is likely due to high population immunity.

The Omicron variant, first detected in southern Africa and Hong Kong in November, has since spread worldwide and threatened to overwhelm hospitals in some countries.

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'Just want to go home': China's Xian in COVID lockdown for 7th day

Reuters.pngCoronavirusDec 29, 2021 
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BEIJING (Reuters) -A lockdown of 13 million people in the Chinese city of Xian entered its seventh day on Wednesday, with many unable to leave their residential compounds and virtually dependent on deliveries of necessities as new COVID-19 infections persisted.

Xian reported 151 domestically transmitted infections with confirmed symptoms for Tuesday, or nearly all of the 152 cases nationwide, bringing the total number of local Xian cases to nearly 1,000 during the Dec. 9-28 period. No cases of the Omicron variant have been announced in the city so far.

While the Xian outbreak is small compared with outbreaks in many other places around the world, officials have imposed tough curbs on travel within and leaving the city from Dec. 23, in line with Beijing's drive to immediately contain outbreaks as they appear.

People in the city have not been allowed to leave town without clearance from their employer or community authorities.

A 32-year-old mechanic went to Xian on a business trip and had planned to leave last week, only to find he had to stay for longer after local community officials refused to grant the certificate to clear his departure.

That means he has missed his wife's birthday and might be forced to spend the New Year in Xian. "I just want to go home," he told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

Since Monday, the Xian government has suspended granting permission to people seeking to leave their homes to buy essentials, as epidemic containment measures rose a notch.

The city said in-person shopping could be resumed for people in less risky areas once mass testing returned negative results, without saying exactly when stay-at-home orders would be lifted.

The measure stirred complaints on social media from some residents about the uncertain access of fresh produce.

Several district-level governments in Xian have started arranging grocery deliveries to peoples' homes, or setting up temporary booths in large residential compounds selling fresh produce, the city government said on Wednesday.

MANUFACTURING HIT

Authorities also started a new round of city-wide testing on Wednesday.

Samsung (LON:0593xq), which operates a sprawling semiconductor base in Xian, said on Wednesday that it has decided to "temporarily adjust operations" at its manufacturing facilities in the city due to the COVID-19 situation there.

Chinese electric vehicle company BYD Co reiterated on Wednesday that the virus had caused some impact, without giving a time line on when operations may normalise.

"Our production has been affected by the epidemic outbreak to some degree," BYD told Reuters. "We are currently actively making adjustments in response."

 

There were no new COVID deaths in mainland China for Tuesday, leaving the death toll at 4,636.

Mainland China had 101,683 confirmed symptomatic cases as of Tuesday, including both domestic cases and infections brought in from abroad.

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LONDON — Horrific scenes seen in previous Covid-19 waves are “now history,” according to John Bell, a regius professor of medicine at the University of Oxford and the U.K. government’s life sciences advisor.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4 on Tuesday, Bell analyzed data from the U.K., where cases are breaking records and hospital admissions are at their highest since March. He said that the number of people in ICUs who are vaccinated remains “very, very low.”

 

“The incidence of severe disease and death from this disease [Covid] has basically not changed since we all got vaccinated and that’s really important to remember,” he told the BBC. For more on this: CNBC

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UK's Johnson warns of hospital risk for unvaccinated

Reuters.pngEconomyDec 29, 2021 
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LONDON (Reuters) -British Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned on Wednesday that the overwhelming majority of patients ending up in intensive care with COVID-19 had not received their booster vaccine, as he urged people to get their jabs.

Johnson, on a visit to a vaccine centre, said he had been told by some doctors that up to 90% of patients with COVID-19 in intensive care had not received their booster vaccines.

"I'm sorry to say this, but the overwhelming majority of people who are currently ending up in intensive care in our hospitals are people who are not boosted," he said. "I've talked to doctors who say the numbers are running up to 90% of people in intensive care."

Britain is currently reporting record COVID infections, with 129,471 registered on Tuesday, driven by the highly transmissible Omicron variant of the virus. There have also been anecdotal reports of people struggling to get tests.

While daily hospitalisation figures have increased, they are still well below the crisis endured by hospitals earlier this year, with about 1,000 people currently being admitted daily compared to 4,000 in January.

"The Omicron variant continues to cause real problems, you're seeing cases rising in hospitals, but it is obviously milder than the Delta variant," Johnson said.

 

He added that people should celebrate New Year's Eve cautiously after he decided not to bring in tougher restrictions in England to limit the spread of the virus.

"I think everybody should enjoy new year but in a cautious and sensible way. Take a test, (think about) ventilation, think about others but above all, get a booster," he said.

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World nations try to balance Omicron restrictions while keeping economies open

Reuters.pngCoronavirusDec 30, 2021 
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By Crispian Balmer and Alexandra Alper

ROME/WASHINGTON (Reuters) -Global COVID-19 infections hit a record high over the past seven-day period, Reuters data showed on Wednesday, as the Omicron variant raced out of control and governments tried to contain its spread without paralysing fragile economies.

Almost 900,000 cases were detected on average each day worldwide between Dec. 22 and 28. A number of countries posted all-time highs during the previous 24 hours, including Argentina, Australia, Bolivia, the United States and many nations in Europe.

Studies have suggested Omicron is less deadly than some previous variants. But the sheer number of people testing positive could overwhelm hospitals in some countries and leave e businesses struggling to carry on without workers who government officials have ordered to quarantine.

Researchers in South Africa found that a key part of the immune system's second-line defense - its T cells - are highly effective at recognizing and attacking the Omicron variant, preventing most infections from progressing to critical illness.

Political leaders in some nations, fearful of the economic impact of keeping so many workers at home, were considering shortening the period required for isolation after a positive COVID test or exposure.

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    • Hey @pravid17 I hope you're well.  In the leveraged trading industry there are brokers who don't hedge client's exposure and brokers (like ourselves) who do hedge client's exposure.  In a perfect world the exposure of short clients would net off the trades of long clients however this is not always the case. Our hedging model allows us to take an exposure in the underlying market for the remaining exposure which doesn't offset - This way we don't need to hedge every trade, worry about profits of our clients and results in lower costs for hedging in the underlying market (commissions, interest etc.). So say 60% of IG customer exposure in the ASX was long and 40% of exposure on the ASX was short. The 40% would net each other off but there's a remaining 20% of customers who need to be hedged to cover their positions. We go into the market and hedge this.  We make our money primarily through our spreads and overnight funding  with other fees making up a small proportion of our revenue. I would like to remind also that IG is regulated by several bodies globally, including top-tier regulators like the UK's FCA, Germany's BaFIN, Australia's ASIC - This should be quite reassuring from a dealing execution and transparency perspective.  I hope this helps, let me know if you have any other question 
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