‘We’d been quite careful for most of the pandemic, wearing masks and avoiding many big events. But I was pretty confident that, if I did get it, I would be fine because I’d had my jabs. But I couldn’t get out of bed for days and it took almost a month for me to fully recover.’
There are signs that the latest wave of Covid infections may have peaked in children and younger adults, according to scientists tracking the outbreak.
But rates in those older groups most vulnerable to severe disease are continuing to increase in England.
Millions of Britons could need Covid boosters every six months for the foreseeable future, a health boss hinted today.
Dr Jenny Harries, chief executive of the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), suggested the most vulnerable ‘relevant groups’ in society will still need regular top-up jabs.
RESULTS Of 1050 eligible HCW, 154 and 120 were enrolled to receive BNT162b2 and mRNA1273, respectively, and compared to 426 age-matched controls. Recipients of both vaccine types had a ∼9-10-fold increase in IgG and neutralizing titers within 2 weeks of vaccination and an 8-fold increase in live Omicron VOC neutralization, restoring titers to those measured after the third vaccine dose. Breakthrough infections were common, mostly very mild, yet, with high viral loads. Vaccine efficacy against infection was 30% (95%CI:-9% to 55%) and 11% (95%CI:-43% to +43%) for BNT162b2 and mRNA1273, respectively. Local and systemic adverse reactions were reported in 80% and 40%, respectively.
CONCLUSIONS The fourth COVID-19 mRNA dose restores antibody titers to peak post-third dose titers. Low efficacy in preventing mild or asymptomatic Omicron infections and the infectious potential of breakthrough cases raise the urgency of next generation vaccine development.
The South African GP who first raised the alarm about Omicron says she was pressured by governments “not to publicly state that it was a mild illness”.
Dr Angelique Coetzee told Germany’s Die Welt newspaper this week that European governments asked her to portray the new strain as just as serious as previous Covid-19 variants, including Delta.
“I was told not to publicly state that it was a mild illness,” she said. “I have been asked to refrain from making such statements and to say that it is a serious illness. I declined.”
Asked what she meant, Coetzee said “based on the clinical picture there are no indications that we are dealing with a very serious disease”.
Welcome to Denmark, where Covid is over – again. Yesterday, the Scandinavian nation became the first country in Europe to put an end to all coronavirus-related laws. In the eyes of the Danish government and, crucially, the vast majority of its 5.8m citizens, the virus is no longer deemed a “critical threat to society”. Cases remain high – very high – but the Danes have moved on. Even if you test positive, there is no longer a legal obligation to self-isolate.
In the capital, Copenhagen, there was an atmosphere of cautious relief on Tuesday morning as people crammed into the Metro, onto commuter trains and buses, and into shops without face masks for the first time since November.
Covid was not the underlying cause of death in nearly a quarter of virus-related fatalities last week, official figures suggest.
The most up-to-date Office for National Statistics figures showed there were 922 deaths registered in England and Wales mentioned coronavirus on the death certificate in the week to January 7. Of them, Covid was not ruled to be the primary reason for the death in 210 cases, or 23 per cent — although it may have been a contributing factor.
For comparison, the share of deaths not primarily due to the virus stood at around 16 per cent when Omicron first arrived in the UK. With the Alpha wave last January, before the country embarked on its historic vaccination drive, the proportion was about 10 per cent.
The rise of the milder strain has led to a similar pattern emerging in hospitals, where nearly half of virus inpatients are not primarily needing treatment for the infection — compared to about 25 per cent with Delta.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday clarified its stance on various kinds of masks, acknowledging that the cloth masks frequently worn by Americans do not offer as much protection as surgical masks or respirators.
While this disparity is widely known to the general public, the update marks the first time the C.D.C. has explicitly addressed the differences. The agency’s website also no longer refers to a shortage of respirators.
The change comes as infections with the highly contagious Omicron variant continue to soar. Some experts have said that cloth masks are inadequate to protect from the variant, and have urged the C.D.C. to recommend respirators for ordinary citizens.
Two doses of Pfizer vaccine offer limited protection, says Albert Bourla, Pfizer CEO.
People with high levels of T cells from common colds are less likely to catch COVID, according to a new peer-reviewed study.
Researchers said the findings could help provide the blueprint for the production of new vaccines which give longer-lasting immunity and would protect against current and future coronavirus variants such as Omicron and Delta.
It is very hard to tell the difference between Covid and a cold without testing
Before the Covid-19 pandemic, if you got a sniffle and a headache, you might dismiss it as an ordinary cold and carry on as normal, even if you felt a little rough around the edges. But during cold and flu season, how can you be sure it’s a cold and not the coronavirus?
The common cold is caused by a different strain of virus to Covid-19. But with the rapidly-spreading Omicron variant often causing mild symptoms, such as stuffy nose, sore head and sore throat, it is very hard to tell the difference without testing.
Britain’s omicron wave may be no worse than a flu pandemic, an expert has said, as the first major study into the new variant suggests it is less severe than delta.
The first real-world study looking at 78,000 omicron cases in South Africa found the risk of hospitalisation is 29 per cent lower compared with the Wuhan strain, and 23 per cent lower than delta, with vaccines holding up well.
Far fewer people have also needed intensive care from omicron, with just five per cent of cases admitted to ICU compared to 22 per cent of delta patients, the study shows.
Dr. Peter A. McCullough, MD, MPH, is a board-certified cardiologist who has testified before committees of the US and Texas Senate regarding the treatment of COVID-19 and management of the ongoing pandemic.
Dec 10 (Reuters) – Most of the 43 COVID-19 cases caused by the Omicron variant identified in the United States so far were in people who were fully vaccinated, and a third of them had received a booster dose, according to a U.S. report published on Friday.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that of the 43 cases attributed to Omicron variant, 34 people had been fully vaccinated. Fourteen of them had also received a booster, although five of those cases occurred less than 14 days after the additional shot before full protection kicks in.
While the numbers are very small, they add to growing concerns that current COVID-19 vaccines may offer less protection against the highly transmissible new variant.
These data suggest that virtually all individuals with existing anti-SARS-CoV-2 CD8+ T-cell responses should recognize the Omicron VOC, and that SARS-CoV-2 has not evolved extensive T-cell escape mutations at this time.
Data on confirmed Covid cases in England show how the Omicron variant is already taking hold in the country
Proportion of confirmed positive tests that didn’t detect the spike protein increased from 0.1% to 0.3%
One scientist said it equates around 60 more cases with hallmark than usual, suggesting Omicron infections
Comes as R rate spirals from less than one to 3.5 in South Africa’s Omicron epicentre Gauteng province
Lead UK epidemiologist says Omicron infections likely appear mild because of immunity from past infections
WHO officials suggested on Thursday that Covid cases were milder in those who caught the Omicron strain
Millions of over-75s in England will miss out on routine health checks until April to free up GPs to help with the UK’s anti-Omicron booster drive.
Campaigners accused the Government of breaking its promises to boost face-to-face appointments and slammed the decision as a ‘self defeating exercise’, as over-75s will flood into A&E with their health problems.
The decision to suspend the health checks came from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) in response to the Government’s mammoth effort to turbocharge the UK’s Covid booster to ward off Omicron.
The boss of the drugmaker Moderna has warned that Covid-19 vaccines are unlikely to be as effective against the Omicron variant in comments that have added to uncertainty about its impact and unsettled financial markets.
“There is no world, I think, where [the effectiveness] is the same level we had with Delta,” Stéphane Bancel told the Financial Times. “I think it’s going to be a material drop. I just don’t know how much because we need to wait for the data. But all the scientists I’ve talked to … are like, ‘this is not going to be good’.”
Dr. Angelique Coetzee, the South African doctor who Omicron variant, says the symptoms are extremely mild.
The South African doctor who discovered the Omicron variant has suggested the UK may be panicking unnecessarily about the new Covid strain.
Dr Angelique Coetzee said that patients had been presenting with ‘extremely mild’ symptoms in her country, though the population there is significantly younger than in the UK.
The chair of the South African Medical Association suspects the variant is already widely in the UK but added she had not seen any confirmed cases admitted to hospital – adding that other colleagues had seen the ‘same picture’.
…She listed symptoms of Omicron as extreme tiredness, headaches and a scratchy cough – but not a loss of smell or taste.