Tulane Outbreak – November 30, 2021

Featured Headlines

The Omicron variant has a ‘record’ number of mutations that may hinder vaccine effectiveness, NIH director says – Business Insider

NIH Director Francis Collins said Sunday that the Omicron variant could present challenges to existing vaccines. The new variant has a “record” number of mutations to the spike protein, the part of the virus that attaches to human cells, he said Omicron carries about 50 mutations not seen in combination before, including more than 30 mutations on the spike protein that the coronavirus uses to attach to human cells.

Dr. Fauci talks about Omicron Variant – NBC News Video

Omicron variant protection through COVID-19 vaccine boosters, wearing masks and more are discussed by Dr. Anthony Fauci, who also responds to GOP Rep. Ronny Jackson calling Omicron the ‘Midterm Election Variant.’

New Virus Variant Stokes Concern but Vaccines Still Likely to Work – NYT

The Omicron variant carries worrisome mutations that may let it evade antibodies, scientists said. But it will take more research to know how it fares against vaccinated people.

Why some researchers think the omicron variant could be the most infectious one yet – NPR

Last week, scientists in South Africa and Botswana detected a new strain of the coronavirus, one with about 50 mutations across its genome. By contrast, other variants, such as delta, have less than 20 mutations.

Omicron variant was detected in the Netherlands before S. Africa flights – Reuters

“We have found the Omicron coronavirus variant in two test samples that were taken on Nov. 19 and Nov. 23,” the RIVM said. “It is not clear yet whether these people have visited Southern Africa.”

Will omicron – the new coronavirus variant of concern – be more contagious than delta? A virus evolution expert explains what researchers know and what they don’t – The Conversation

The omicron variant has 50 mutations overall, with 32 mutations on the spike protein alone. The spike protein – which forms protruding knobs on the outside of the SARS-CoV-2 virus – helps the virus adhere to cells so that it can gain entry. It is also the protein that all three vaccines currently available in the U.S. use to induce protective antibodies. For comparison, the delta variant has nine mutations. The larger number of mutations in the omicron variant may mean that it could be more transmissible and/or better at evading immune protection – a prospect that is very concerning.

Germany’s new COVID-19 crisis team to be headed by two-star general – DW

With cases of the omicron variant confirmed amid a major fourth wave of the pandemic, Germany is relying increasingly on the military as part of its response.

Why We Shouldn’t Write Off Omicron Cases as ‘Mild’ – Bloomberg

Reports of mostly mild illness from Covid-19 infections caused by omicron need to be interpreted with caution because they may not reflect the new variant’s severity across a broad range of people. Fatigue, head and body aches and occasional sore throats and coughs are among the typical symptoms experienced by omicron patients, according to Angelique Coetzee, the doctor in South Africa whose observations helped scientists identify the worrisome strain. The manifestations contrast with the rapid heartbeat, low blood-oxygen levels and a loss of smell and taste often seen in Covid patients sickened by the delta variant, she said.

What Doctors Need to Know About Omicron – MedPageToday

During a press briefing last week, Tulio de Oliveira, PhD, director of the Centre for Epidemic Response & Innovation in South Africa, said that test positivity rates in the Tshwane region (which is in Gauteng province) jumped from 1% to over 30% in the last 3 weeks alone, and almost all recent samples from the province have been the Omicron variant. Experts cautioned that the spike could be due to the “founder effect,” wherein a single case in an area of low prevalence is responsible for thousands of cases there. It’s not yet clear whether that’s what happened in South Africa, and a better answer is expected in the next few weeks.

A Look At Omicron Variant’s Spread In South Africa – CNBC Video

Gauteng, South Africa’s most populous district, has been hit by several waves of Covid-19. Cases are now rising again as the omicron variant emerges. NBC News’ Richard Engel speaks with Dr. Richard Lessells, one of the first scientists to study the variant’s genetics, about its rapid spread.

Why WHO skipped two letters of the Greek alphabet in naming Omicron – CNN

Since May the World Health Organization has been using letters of the Greek alphabet to name coronavirus variants. Delta was the most dominant one, followed by eight others — including Epsilon, Iota and Lambda — that so far have mostly fizzled out. So after a new variant with the scientific name of B.1.1.529 was discovered last week in South Africa, observers might have expected WHO to name it after the next Greek letter on the list: Nu. But the health agency skipped Nu, along with the letter after that — Xi — and instead went straight to Omicron — the 15th letter in the Greek alphabet.

What Do We Know About Breakthrough Cases, and How Can We Prevent Them? – MedPageToday

While the CDC initially recommended COVID-19 booster shots for a limited swath of Americans, last week they updated their guidance to allow all adults 18 and up to receive a booster.

Vaccine Headlines

China to donate 600 million COVID-19 vaccine doses to Africa – ABC News

China has pledged to donate 600 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccines to Africa as the world grapples with the unequal distribution of the shots between rich and poor countries

Pfizer, Moderna, J&J and AstraZeneca assess omicron’s effect on their COVID-19 vaccines – Fierce Biotech

With the new omicron strain fueling fear around the globe that the coronavirus is regaining momentum, makers of the world’s most successful vaccines are investigating whether they need to tweak their shots. Over the last few days, Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech, Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca revealed plans to address the threat posed by omicron, which emerged in South Africa and recently was detected in Australia, Israel, Hong Kong and parts of Europe. On Friday, the World Health Organization classified omicron as a “variant of concern.”

Clinical Considerations

Study reveals acute effects of severe COVID-19 on the brain – MedNewsToday

Official Reporting for November 30, 2021

World Health Organization

Weekly Epi Update November 23rd (latest release)

New Cases: 373,438

Confirmed Cases: 260,867,011

Deaths: 5,200,267

Johns Hopkins

Confirmed Cases: 262,440,676
Deaths: 5,212,252

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Total cases: 48,160,971 (+31,077 New Cases)
Total deaths: 776,703 (+104 New Deaths)

Science and Tech

New antiviral drugs are coming for COVID. Here’s what you need to know – NPR

An FDA advisory committee is meeting Tuesday to consider whether to recommend a new antiviral pill for the COVID-19 treatment toolkit. Take-at-home pills could be a game changer for keeping COVID-19 in check, and helping people recover from early stages of the disease.

Thermo Fisher, Qiagen and other COVID-19 test makers prepare for oncoming omicron variant – Fierce Biotech

Companies including Thermo Fisher Scientific, Abbott, Qiagen, Cue Health and Co-Diagnostics have stated that their PCR tests currently on the market for COVID-19 are not affected by the new strain. Meanwhile, test maker Eurofins has outlined plans to release new kits that specifically target the omicron variant.

Psychological and Sociological Impact

COVID Parenting Is Reaching a Breaking Point – The Atlantic

Parents know that winter is the season of sickness. Your kid will have approximately infinite colds. You, too, will have approximately infinite colds. Last winter, COVID precautions kept sickness at bay. But this year, school is in session, day-care colds are spreading fast, and the only cohort of people in America not yet eligible for COVID vaccination is our youngest children.

Published Research

Assessment of Cognitive Function in Patients After COVID-19 Infection – JAMA

COVID-19 and diabetes in Africa: a lethal combination – Lancet

Study examines presence of SARS-CoV-2 in tears – Optometry Today

Misinformation, Disinformation, and Conspiracy Theories

New Omicron Variant Fuels Old Misinformation – US News

A new coronavirus variant revived old conspiracy theories this week as widely shared social media posts falsely claimed the omicron variant was nothing but a cover-up for darker agendas.

Coping with COVID

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *