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Coronavirus update: Omicron variants are proliferating

Researchers say three shots provide the strongest protection

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

Total‌ ‌U.S.‌ ‌confirmed‌ ‌cases:‌ 84,263,093 (84,022,711)

Total‌ ‌U.S.‌ ‌deaths:‌ 1,007,254 (1,004,770)

Total‌ ‌global‌ ‌cases:‌ 530,311,334 (529,487,333)

Total ‌global‌ ‌deaths:‌ 6,293,630 (6,289,298)‌

Omicron variants are proliferating, report finds

A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows just how fluid the Omicron variants can be. Last week, the BA.2.12.1 Omicron subvariant became the dominant strain infecting Americans.

This week, two newcomers – BA.4 and BA.5 – are emerging as the strains that are spreading the fastest. Researchers say the latest subvariants are not only highly transmissible, but they have a stronger ability to reinfect.

Researchers also say the new Omicron strains are spreading more quickly in some parts of the U.S. than others. The BA.2.12.1 strain hit the Northeast very hard in March. Now, Midwestern states like Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, and Missouri are seeing cases rise from BA.4 and BA.5.

Study promotes three shots for the best protection

For the best protection against the coronavirus, a new study published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) recommends three shots of a COVID-19 vaccine. The study found equal results for three shots of the same vaccine or a mixture.

The study is significant because it is the largest conducted on vaccine combination effectiveness. It analyzed data from more than 100 million people, and scientists say it confirms the number of doses needed to boost immunity.

The researchers found that three doses of any mRNA vaccine appear to provide the highest level of protection against non-severe COVID-19 infections. It was also most effective in reducing COVID-19 hospitalizations.

Poll: Pregnant women likely to believe misinformation

Perhaps because having a baby is often an anxious time under the best of circumstances, a new poll has found that pregnant women are especially vulnerable to incorrect information about COVID-19 vaccines that has spread on social media.

The poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that about one in five adults and about three in ten women who are pregnant or planning to get pregnant believe at least one of three false statements about pregnancy and the vaccines. As a result, many of these women do not believe pregnant women should be vaccinated against COVID-19.

“While most of the public say they are at least somewhat confident in the safety of the COVID-19 vaccines for adults in general, they are less likely to express confidence that the vaccines are safe for those who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant,” the authors write. “Even among Democrats and vaccinated adults – groups that express high levels of confidence in the safety of the vaccines for adults – less than half say they are ‘very confident’ the vaccine is safe for those who are pregnant.”

Around the nation

  • California: California is now in the midst of a surge in COVID-19 cases, but not all areas have been affected equally. San Joaquin County coronavirus cases declined by 14.1% over the past week. At the same time, the San Francisco Bay Area has become the state’s COVID-19 hot spot.

  • Arkansas: State health officials are cautiously optimistic after a surge in new COVID-19 cases leveled off this week and actually declined in some areas. The Arkansas Department of Health's website reported 118 new cases of the coronavirus on Monday, a decrease in the number of new cases reported at the end of last week and over the weekend.

  • New York: A month ago, New York was the epicenter of new cases of the Omicron subvariant. Now it’s not. Data analysis shows that New York's statewide COVID-19 case count fell by 36.5% last week, suggesting that the wave caused by several Omicron subvariants is fading. 

  • Oklahoma: John Rampey of Tulsa is back home after spending 512 days in a hospital and fighting for his life against COVID-19. Rampey was infected just two weeks before he would have been eligible to receive the vaccine in December 2020.

  • Oregon: Health officials report that new cases of COVID-19 are trending lower across the state, with daily cases down more than 200 since peaking a week ago. At the same time, officials point to a decline in testing and say some cases may go unreported.

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