Corona worldwide: Omikron is now predominant in the USA

Omikron has developed into the predominant Corona variant in the USA within a short time. According to estimates, around 73 percent of the new corona cases in the past week were due to Omikron, according to data on the website of the US health authority CDC on Monday. With a view to this sudden increase, US President Joe Biden wanted to address the people of the country with a speech on Tuesday and announce new measures. The main focus here is on support for hospitals – a shutdown of public life was not assumed.

Omikron has now displaced Delta, the previously predominant variant, to second place; according to the CDC estimates, it recently made up around a quarter of new infections. In some states, Omikron is responsible for more than 90 percent of the cases.

“The Omikron cases will increase in the coming days – even among fully vaccinated people,” warned President Biden. Anyone who has been fully vaccinated or has already received a booster vaccination could still be infected – but will likely have no or only mild symptoms. “If, as an adult, you choose not to be vaccinated, you will have an extremely difficult winter for your family and community,” warned Biden.

Biden himself was in contact with a White House person on Friday who later tested positive for the virus. At 79, he already belongs to a risk group purely in terms of age. According to his spokeswoman, Biden was last tested negative for the corona virus on Sunday and Monday. A new test is planned for Wednesday. The President will stick to his program for the coming days and not isolate himself as he is fully vaccinated.

The vaccination campaign got off to a good start in the USA, but is now making slow progress. So far, 61.5 percent of the approximately 330 million people in the country have been vaccinated twice. Almost 30 percent of them also received a booster vaccination. So far, the White House has cited the omicron variant as a cause for concern but not a cause for panic. (21.12.2021)

Brazil only allows those who have been vaccinated and those who have recovered into the country

From now on, Brazil will only allow people who have been vaccinated against the coronavirus and who have recovered from an infection into the country. In addition, a negative test must be submitted, as indicated by a government decree. Accordingly, the vaccination certificate must be presented to the responsible airline before boarding. The government, which initially rejected such an entry requirement, is following a decision by the Supreme Court in Brasília. The health surveillance authority Anvisa had also recommended the measure.

In Brazil, which began the vaccination campaign in January, more than 22 million of the country’s 210 million residents have been infected with the corona virus, according to official figures. Around 618,000 patients have died in connection with Covid-19 – only the USA has more deaths. As the vaccination campaign progressed, the number of deaths fell sharply, and more than 66 percent of the population have now been completely vaccinated. (21.12.2021)

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Novavax vaccine is now approved in the EU

Another corona vaccine has now been approved in the European Union, the Navaxovid vaccine from the US manufacturer Novavax. The EU Medicines Agency EMA recommended approval in the morning, and the EU Commission implemented this recommendation a few hours later. The new vaccine is – after those from Biontech / Pfizer, Moderna, Astra Zeneca and Johnson & Johnson – the fifth Covid-19 vaccine approved in the EU.

This could possibly also induce some non-vaccinated people to vaccinate who have doubts about the technologies of the other active substances. In contrast to the previously approved products, the preparation is neither an mRNA vaccine – as is the case with Biontech and Moderna – nor a vector vaccine like the one from Astra Zeneca and Johnson & Johnson. The vaccine contains tiny particles made up of a laboratory-made version of the Sars-CoV-2 spike protein. These particles are killed, so no pathogens capable of multiplying.

The vaccine is therefore often referred to as the dead vaccine. Taken correctly, this is actually just a vaccine that contains inactivated pathogens that are no longer capable of multiplying. In the meantime, vaccines that only contain fragments of a pathogen are often assigned to this category – such as the Novavax vaccine.

As with the other four previously approved preparations, the EMA recommends only a so-called conditional approval. This is valid for one year and is subject to conditions – such as the need to submit additional data that shows that the benefit outweighs the risk. Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) had warned before the decision was made that the new vaccine would be “a game changer”. According to studies, the vaccines from Moderna and Biontech, which have already been administered millions of times, are “a lot safer”.

Around every fourth person in Germany has not yet received a first vaccination against the coronavirus. However, this also includes younger children under five who are not yet allowed to be vaccinated, older children who have only recently started vaccinations, as well as people who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons. (20.12.2021)

Moderna: Booster very effective against Omikron

According to the manufacturer, a booster dose with the vaccine from Moderna significantly increases the body’s immune defense against the new Corona variant. A booster raises the antibody level by about 37 times compared to a double vaccination, according to a press release from the company. That is the result of a laboratory analysis with 20 test persons.

A dose of 50 micrograms is approved for booster for most people, which is only half as much as for the first and second vaccination. With a booster vaccination of 100 micrograms, the neutralizing antibody level even increased 83-fold in the same period of time, writes Moderna. The data have not yet been published in a specialist journal.

There are still no research results on how long the effects last after boosting with the Moderna vaccine mRNA-1273. The company is already working on the development of an Omikron-specific booster candidate. (20.12.2021)

High hurdles for traveling to Austria

In order to contain the Omikron variant of the coronavirus, Austria has tightened its entry regulations. Since midnight, the following applies: Without further ado, only those who have been vaccinated three times are allowed into the country. For people who have been vaccinated twice and for those who have recovered, there is an additional obligation to perform a PCR test. Anyone who does not have a negative test result on entry must register and be immediately quarantined. The quarantine can be ended as soon as a negative PCR test is obtained.

Exempt from the regulations are pregnant women and people who cannot be vaccinated for health reasons. This must be proven by a certificate. There are also special rules for children and young people. The usual 3-G rule remains for commuters. Transit traffic is not affected by the regulations.

In Austria with its almost nine million inhabitants, the number of new infections has fallen significantly after a three-week lockdown. The seven-day incidence is now around 230 cases per 100,000 inhabitants – well below the German figure. As the last federal state, Vienna will also open the catering and hotel industry again on Monday. The SPÖ-led metropolis has been on a particularly cautious course in the corona wave for some time. (20.12.2021)

World Economic Forum is postponed

The World Economic Forum in Davos will be postponed from January to early summer due to the spread of the Omikron mutant. The current pandemic conditions make it very difficult to hold a global face-to-face meeting, organizers said. Numerous high-ranking guests from politics, science and business usually come to the event. (20.12.2021)

Israel prohibits travel to Germany because of the Omikron variant

Israel forbids its citizens to travel to the Federal Republic of Germany because of the corona situation in Germany. The government announced that the measure to contain the omicron variant of the coronavirus should come into effect on Wednesday night at midnight (local time). The cabinet confirmed a corresponding recommendation by the Ministry of Health.

In addition, Italy, the USA, Belgium, Hungary, Morocco, Portugal, Canada as well as Turkey and Switzerland will also be considered “red countries” from Wednesday. There is already an entry ban for foreigners in Israel. So far, more than 50 countries – especially in Africa – have been considered “red”, Israelis are only allowed to travel there with special permission. (20.12.2021)

The Netherlands impose a hard lockdown due to the Omikron variant

Shortly before Christmas, the Netherlands imposed a new strict lockdown due to the Omikron variant of the corona virus. From this Sunday on, almost all shops, restaurants, cultural and sports facilities, schools and hairdressers have to close. The only exceptions are shops such as supermarkets and pharmacies, which are important for the supply. The extremely rapid spread of the Omikron variant is forcing these tough measures, said Prime Minister Mark Rutte on Saturday evening in The Hague. “It’s inevitable. We have to step in to prevent worse.”

As a rule, you can only receive two guests at home – only four at Christmas. The lockdown should initially apply until January 14th, i.e. into the new year. There will be no curfew for the time being, said Rutte. So far, an “evening lockdown” has already applied in the neighboring German country with around 17.5 million inhabitants. Most shops, restaurants and cultural and sports facilities had to close at 5 p.m.

The government advisory body had urgently advised the stricter lockdown because of the Omikron variant. Time must be gained to protect as many people as possible from Covid 19 disease with a booster vaccination. The Netherlands is behind with booster vaccinations compared to other countries. The tightening had already become apparent. On Saturday, many people were out and about in the city centers to buy gifts practically at the last minute.

According to the experts, the Omikron variant is spreading much faster than previously expected. In Amsterdam, the number of infections doubles every two to three days. It was said that this variant would be dominant in the capital even before Christmas. The number of new infections is currently falling. However, the hospitals are under great pressure, so experts fear that they will not be able to cope with a further influx of patients. (18.12.2021)

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Corona worldwide: Omikron is now predominant in the USA

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