The Omicron variant of COVID-19 was today identified for the first time in the US, according to the CDC. Get a topline look at other recent breaking news in this slide show.
The US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) announced early this afternoon that the first case of infection with the Omicron variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus had been detected in the US. The patient had traveled from South Africa, is quarantining, and has mild symptoms that appear to be resolving.
That is the most recent update as of this writing on the rapidly flowing stream of news on the status of the spread of Omicron across the globe.
Following are topline excerpts from reports posted in the past 3 days by leading news outlets to bring you up to date.
This just in. The CDC announced the first case of infection with the Omicron variant of the coronavirus in US.
Omicron variant in 23 countries. The World Health Organization said Wednesday (12/1) that 23 countries across the world have reported cases of the highly mutated Omicron COVID-19 variant.
Omicron variant detected in Europe first. The Netherlands’ National Institute for Public Health and the Environment said that samples taken on Nov 19 and Nov. 23 — before the Nov 24 announcement of Omicron’s existence — tested positive for the variant. Belgium and Germany made a similar report.
CDC strengthens booster guidance. CDC Director Dr Rochelle Walensky said Monday (11/29) that all US adults aged ≥18 years “should” get a COVID vaccine booster.
WHO warns global risk from Omicron variant is “very high.” The variant has >30 mutations on its spike protein alone, some are associated with higher transmission and reduced antibody protection. WHO stated that these mutations could fuel future surges of infection with “severe consequences.”
Pfizer, Moderna CEOs are cautious. I don’t think that the result will be the vaccines don’t protect. I think the result could be, which we don’t know yet, the vaccines protect less.” Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla to CNBC. “I don’t believe many people would have predicted such a big jump in evolution in one variant.” Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel to CNBC
As vaccine efficacy wanes, boosters will help. A study published in the journal Science found efficacy of the Pfizer vaccine to prevent infection declined from 86% to 43% from February to October. Pfizer then reported that its booster dose provides 95% protection against symptomatic infection in a clinical trial of 10,000 people.
Vaccines do work against Delta. A September CDC study found that when the Delta variant became dominant in the summer, unvaccinated people were 4½x more likely to become infected, 10x more likely to be hospitalized, and 11x more likely to die of COVID-19 vs vaccinated individuals
US improves surveillance, sequencing. “After a slow start, the US has improved its surveillance system for tracking new coronavirus variants..." Associated Press From sequencing <1% of positive specimens early in 2021, tests are now being run on 5% to 10%, bringing the US “more in line with what other nations have sequenced..." Politico
“…We do expect that it is here.” “I am expecting it any day now...Given what we've seen in southern Africa, and certainly in Europe, we do expect that it is here.” Association of Public Health Laboratories CEO Scott Becker to Politico.
WHO: “…blunt, blanket measures will worsen inequities.” To guard against importation of Omicron, 56 countries have reportedly implemented travel measures despite warnings by the WHO that “introducing blunt, blanket measures … will only worsen inequities.”