Getting a Glimpse of COVID-19 News

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New Year’s greetings! Given that 2022 is not off to a great start, offering and receiving such upbeat greetings is possibly jarring: as the Omicron strain continues to sweep the globe, many countries are registering record-high daily instances. COVID-19 is present in more of my friends and family today than at any other time during the epidemic, and I’ve learned to expect that anyone who claims to have the sniffles will test positive in the coming days.

This made for an unsociable holiday season, but thankfully, practically everyone I know has only experienced moderate symptoms, which corresponds to officials’ long-term prognosis for this variation.

If you haven’t been watching the news in the last week, these are some of the most important pandemic-related stories you may have missed: 

The virus is spreading at an unprecedented rate. According to the New York Times, global cases are now averaging more than 1 million per day for the first time. The rise is being led by the United States, Canada, and many parts of Western Europe. Last week, the United States began averaging more than 265,000 new cases each day, owing to an increase in the Omicron type. (The previous peak, 250,000, was reached in January.)

And this astonishing increase only scratches the surface. Cases are likely undercounted since so many people utilize at-home tests and do not report positive results to health officials.

Omicron, on the other hand, appears to induce a lesser illness. According to fresh animal research, Omicron may cause less damage to the lungs than older forms like Delta. (The findings have not yet been peer-reviewed or published in a medical publication.) Additionally, despite the number of children admitted to hospitals is increasing, Omicron is not becoming more severe in this age range.

Dr. David Rubin, a researcher at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, told the New York Times, “I believe the essential narrative to communicate here is that severity is way down and the risk for very severe disease looks to be decreased.”

COVID-19 isolation duration has been reduced to five days by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). If people with the virus are no longer suffering symptoms after five days, they can stop isolating, according to the CDC, which has halved its earlier guidance. Why?

During the Omicron surge, many more people will test positive, and shorter isolation periods will allow them to return to work or school sooner, reducing widespread disruptions. The CDC, however, is apparently considering altering the new recommendations after receiving much criticism.

CORONAVIRUS OUTLOOK FOR TODAY 

According to TIME’s vaccine tracker, more than 615 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine had been distributed to various U.S. states as of yesterday afternoon, with more than 507.6 million doses administered. Approximately 62 percent of Americans have received all of their vaccines. 

As of 12 a.m. E.T. today, more than 290.1 million people had been diagnosed with COVID-19 over the world, with more than 5.4 million deaths. On Jan. 2, 832,942 new cases and 2,956 new deaths were confirmed worldwide.

Here’s how the rest of the globe is doing right now: 

Here’s where daily cases have climbed or declined in confirmed cases per 100,000 people over the last 14 days: 

Here’s a list of all the countries that have reported more than 5 million cases: 

As of 12 a.m. E.T. today, the United States had registered more than 55.5 million coronavirus cases. Over 826,000 individuals have died as a result of the disaster. There were 254,091 new cases and 244 new deaths confirmed in the United States on Jan. 2. 

Here’s how the country as a whole is doing in terms of cases right now: 

In terms of deaths, it’s as follows: 

Here’s where daily cases have climbed or declined in confirmed cases per 100,000 people over the last 14 days:

Unless otherwise noted, all figures come from Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Systems Science and Engineering and are current as of Jan. 3, 12 a.m. E.T. 

WHAT ELSE SHOULD YOU KNOW?

The FDA today approved booster doses of Pfizer-coronavirus BioNTech’s vaccine for 12- to 15-year-olds who become eligible for vaccination in May. (Boosters were previously suggested for everyone over the age of 16.) Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, must now decide whether to sign off on the FDA’s recommendation, which is due this week.

Also worth noting is that, instead of waiting six months for a booster, anyone eligible for one can now obtain one five months after their second shot, according to the FDA. 

According to the Washington Post, German health minister Karl Lauterbach’s office was destroyed on New Year’s Eve, and he believes demonstrators unhappy about coronavirus restrictions were to blame.

“These people do not represent society,” he told the German news agency DPA, “where the vast majority is really pulling together and trying to do everything against the pandemic.”

Since late December, social gatherings in Germany have been limited to ten individuals, with nightclubs closed and non-essential stores, restaurants, and pubs open only to those who have been fully vaccinated.

COVID-19 cases have resurfaced in New York City, but newly sworn-in Mayor Eric Adams is sure that schools will remain open.

Today at Concourse Village Elementary School in the Bronx, Adams remarked, “We want to be really explicit.” “A school facility is the safest location for our children, and we will keep our schools open.” On Dec. 31, New York State recorded more than 85,000 new coronavirus cases, the greatest one-day total since the pandemic began.

(TIME)

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