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Coronavirus update: Omicron variant may resist vaccines, researchers say

The CDC recommends vaccines other than Johnson & Johnson’s

COVID-19 Omicron variant concept
Photo (c) Gusztav Hegyi - Getty Images
Coronavirus (COVID-19) ‌tally‌ ‌as‌ ‌‌compiled‌‌ ‌by‌ ‌Johns‌ ‌Hopkins‌ ‌University.‌ ‌(Previous‌ ‌numbers‌ ‌in‌ ‌parentheses.)‌

Total‌ ‌U.S.‌ ‌confirmed‌ ‌cases:‌ 50,523,620 (50,381,441)‌

Total‌ ‌U.S.‌ ‌deaths:‌ 803,769 (802,542)

Total‌ ‌global‌ ‌cases:‌ 273,130,047 (272,382,144)

Total‌ ‌global‌ ‌deaths:‌ 5,340,643 (5,333,237)‌

Omicron may resist vaccines, researchers say

Researchers at Columbia University have published a study that suggests the Omicron variant is “markedly resistant” to vaccines – even booster shots. They suggest it may be hard to check the spread of the mutation as it works its way around the world.

“A striking feature of this variant is the large number of spike mutations that pose a threat to the efficacy of current COVID-19 vaccines and antibody therapies,” the authors write.

The scientists point out that the variant’s “extensive” mutations can “greatly compromise” the vaccine, robbing it of its protective powers. The study said a booster shot may provide limited protection against the new variant.

CDC advisers find issues with Johnson & Johnson vaccine

An advisory committee to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reviewed data and presentations on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and is recommending that people choose either the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine instead.

The committee members were troubled by the possibility of rare but serious blood clotting that has been linked to the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The CDC immediately adopted the recommendations.

“Today’s updated recommendation emphasizes CDC’s commitment to provide real-time scientific information to the American public,” said CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky. “I continue to encourage all Americans to get vaccinated and boosted.”

Vaccination plus infection equals ‘super immunity,’ researchers say

There’s some good news for fully vaccinated people who have recovered from a “breakthrough” case of COVID-19. Researchers at Oregon Health and Science University say you may achieve “super immunity” against reinfection.

Their study found that people who had been vaccinated and then suffered a mild case of the virus had a lot more antibodies in their blood than those who had not been infected but were vaccinated.

The scientists say their finding is good news because it means the population will build up a strong immunity to future COVID-19 infection as more people get vaccinated and exposed to the virus.

Around the nation

  • Maryland: Hospitals across the state are reaching capacity with what health officials say are mostly unvaccinated patients. “What I am concerned about is that we’re already having a surge before the holiday and then you’re having another one right afterward there’s going be limited capacity in the entire healthcare system,” said Dr. Kinjal Sheth, chief of Critical Care at Northwest Hospital.

  • Missouri: Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) Director Don Kauerauf is urging state residents to get tested before holiday travel. “Maybe this is a time that we need to kind of need to reset as a state and as a nation,” Kauerauf said. “Maybe we got a little comfortable with COVID.”

  • Florida: Federal health officials say new cases of the virus have risen sharply in the last seven days. They’re reporting 117 more deaths and 6,381 additional COVID-19 cases, according to Miami Herald calculations of CDC data. This is the largest jump in newly reported cases since September. 

  • Kansas: Mask mandates are being reimposed in some parts of the nation, but Johnson County officials will decide on Jan. 6 whether to end their school mask mandate. That raised a few eyebrows, as cases of the virus continue to rise ahead of the busy holiday travel season.

  • Illinois: Illinois is continuing to impose strict virus control measures, but cases of COVID-19 are spreading quickly anyway. According to the latest figures from the Illinois Department of Public Health, the state recorded 11,858 new confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, the most of 2021.

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