Omicron update today: Variant now in 36 states, symptoms, vaccine and booster protection

by in Uncategorized on December 17, 2021

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The omicron variant is raising global concern.

Sarah Tew/CNET

For the most up-to-date news and information about the coronavirus pandemic, visit the WHO and CDC websites.

Now in at least 36 states, the omicron variant makes up 3% percent of cases in the US, Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said during a White House briefing on Wednesday. (The delta variant acounts for 96% of COVID nfections.)

Scientists are piecing together a picture of how easily the virus can pass from one person to another and evade protection provided by the primary vaccine doses of Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson. Looking at the latest data, Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical adviser to President Joe Biden, said on Wednesday omicron can bypass much of the protection given by two shots of the mRNA Moderna and Pfizer vaccines. “The omicron variant undoubtably compromised the effects of a two-dose mRNA vaccine-induced antibodies and reduces the overall protection.” More promising, Fauci sad,boosters appear to restore protections levels needed to guard against the new variant.

In the US, President Joe Biden is doubling down on urging vaccines and booster shots until more information on the new variant becomes available. As a result, the US administered 12.5 million shots in the last week, according to Jeff Zients, the White House coronavirus response coordinator. That’s the highest number of weekly shots since May. Seven million of those were booster shots, Zients said.

So far, the COVID-19 vaccines have proven to be highly effective in preventing hospitalization and death, with people who are unvaccinated being more than 10 times more likely to be hospitalized if infected. Vaccine makers are optimistic the current vaccines authorized for use in the US will provide a degree of protection against omicron, too.

Here are eight important things to know about omicron today. For more on COVID-19 boosters, here’s a trick to easily get an appointment and a free ride. Here’s how you’ll soon get a COVID-19 test kit for free and details on mixing and matching vaccines.

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.