Coronavirus update: Moderna reports positive results against Omicron variant

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A study suggests that there’s a huge number of cases that have no symptoms

Coronavirus (COVID-19) ‌tally‌ ‌as‌ ‌‌compiled‌‌ ‌by‌ ‌Johns‌ ‌Hopkins‌ ‌University.‌ ‌(Previous‌ ‌numbers‌ ‌in‌ ‌parentheses.)‌

Total‌ ‌U.S.‌ ‌confirmed‌ ‌cases:‌ 50,896,569 (50,777,087)‌

Total‌ ‌U.S.‌ ‌deaths:‌ 806,635 (806,302)

Total‌ ‌global‌ ‌cases:‌ 275,036,978 (274,343,184)

Total‌ ‌global‌ ‌deaths:‌ 5,357,666 (5,352,372)‌

Moderna says booster is effective at blocking Omicron variant

Moderna has announced preliminary data about the effectiveness of its booster against the Omicron variant. The company says the shot gives recipients a high level of protection against the new COVID-19 threat.

The currently authorized booster shot increased neutralizing antibody levels against the Omicron variant by approximately 37-fold compared to pre-boost levels. A 100 µg dose of the vaccine booster increased neutralizing antibody levels approximately 83-fold compared to pre-boost levels.

“To respond to this highly transmissible variant, Moderna will continue to rapidly advance an Omicron-specific booster candidate into clinical testing in case it becomes necessary in the future,” said Stéphane Bancel, Moderna’s CEO.

Huge number of cases have no symptoms, study finds

The world is in the grips of a surge in COVID-19 cases. Could an increase in testing have something to do with it?

Researchers in China have completed a study that suggests 40% of people who test positive for the virus have no symptoms. That’s many more than previously believed. Health experts say people who don’t know they have COVID-19 may unknowingly be spreading it to more vulnerable populations.

“This finding of a high percentage of asymptomatic infections among air or cruise travelers suggests that screening and quarantine on airport arrival is important for reducing community transmissions, especially in countries without local transmission,” the authors write.

Three Democratic lawmakers test positive

Three members of Congress – all Democrats – took to Twitter over the weekend to report that they have tested positive for COVID-19. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), and Rep. Jason Crow (D-Colo.) all said they are experiencing mild symptoms. All had been vaccinated.

"I regularly test for COVID & while I tested negative earlier this week, today I tested positive with a breakthrough case,” Warren wrote in a tweet. “Thankfully, I am only experiencing mild symptoms & am grateful for the protection provided against serious illness that comes from being vaccinated & boosted."

In his announcement, Crow said he "just returned from an official congressional delegation visit to Ukraine and tested positive for a breakthrough COVID infection."

Around the nation

  • Indiana: Indiana ranks last in the nation on WalletHub’s list of the safest states to avoid COVID-19. The state achieved the dubious distinction by having a low rate of vaccinations and a high rate of deaths, hospitalizations, and positive test results.

  • Colorado: More than a quarter of the state’s residents who died of COVID-19 lost their battle after vaccines were widely available and pandemic restrictions were lifted. Colorado’s death toll from the virus rose past 10,000 last week – more than 2,900 of those have come since the start of July

  • Nebraska: COVID-19 hospitalizations hit a 2021 high last year, and Dr. Angela Hewlett, the chair of Nebraska Medicine's health security, says the surge is displacing patients with other conditions. “We are in the process of converting an entire hospital tower over to COVID, and I think it’s important for people to remember that these beds were not unoccupied,” she told reporters.

  • New Jersey: The state is partnering with Vault Medical Services to provide free in-home COVID-19 tests to state residents. “This new program increases the availability and accessibility of testing, particularly for those who may not be able to get to a testing site,” said Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli.

  • Connecticut: The COVID-19 positivity rate is sharply higher in Connecticut, hitting 6.78% at the start of the weekend. Today, two new saliva-testing facilities are scheduled to open in Long Wharf and on New Haven Green.

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