The latest on the coronavirus pandemic and the Omicron variant

Author : fannimobile
Publish Date : 2021-12-22 00:00:00


The latest on the coronavirus pandemic and the Omicron variant

Israel will begin rolling out a fourth dose of the coronavirus vaccine with immediate effect. The additional dose will be given to people over 60 years-old, medical workers, and people with a suppressed immune system, the prime minister’s office announced, following a recommendation from the country’s panel of coronavirus experts.   

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“Wonderful news, do not waste time – go get vaccinated,” Israel’s Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said in a statement.  

Those eligible for the fourth dose will be given it provided at least four months have passed since their third dose. 

“The State of Israel is continuing to stand at the forefront of the global effort to deal with the pandemic. The citizens of Israel were the first in the world to receive the third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and we are continuing to pioneer with the fourth dose as well,” Bennett said.  
In a related announcement, the recommended gap between a second and third dose is also being shortened from five months to three months. 

One of the members of the expert panel told Israeli radio Tuesday evening that the decision to go for a fourth dose had not been an easy one. 

“We don’t really have data yet on the level of immunity, like we did when we decided on the third dose, but on the other hand, there is really scary data out there in the rest of the world, Professor Galia Rahav said. 

“In a situation like this, if you don’t act immediately, you miss the train,” she added. 

New measures: The government’s ministerial committee tasked with driving policy on the pandemic also met Tuesday, deciding on a number of new measures in the wake of the new wave of infections brought on by the Omicron variant. 

In particular, schoolchildren living in areas of low vaccine up-take among under-18s could find themselves back in online schooling as early as this week. 

In areas with high Covid-19 case numbers, known as red or orange communities, only classes in which at least 70% of children have received at least one dose of the vaccine will be taught at school. Classes with lower vaccination rates will be taught online. The new policy goes into immediate effect for children age 13 and above; for younger children, it will take effect in three weeks’ time. 

There will also be an increased requirement on Israelis to produce a "Green Pass" when out shopping. For instance, it will now be mandatory to show the pass to enter or work at a store larger than 100 square meters. 

Earlier in the evening it was announced that public sector workplaces would reduce the number of staff working onsite by half. The measure will go into effect on Sunday and be in place for at least a month.  

A few days ago, Prime Minister Bennett asked private sector businesses to encourage staff to work from home as much as possible.  

Some context: Latest Omicron data in Israel shows 341 confirmed cases, of which more than two thirds were in people either fully vaccinated or recently recovered from the disease. In addition, there are more than 800 cases in which there is a high suspicion of the Omicron variant. 

The total number of new Covid-19 cases in Israel topped 1,300 on Monday, a figure not reached since the middle of October. 

The R co-efficient – the number of people infected by each Covid-19 positive person – is at 1.28, its highest figure since the height of the fourth wave at the beginning of August. 


3 hr 11 min ago
Delta Air Lines urges CDC to shorten isolation period for vaccinated people
From CNN’s Pete Muntean

Delta Air Lines is urging the CDC to shorten the isolation period for vaccinated people who become infected with coronavirus.

"With the rapid spread of the Omicron variant, the 10-day isolation for those who are fully vaccinated may significantly impact our workforce and operations," Delta CEO Ed Bastian and the company's top health officers wrote in a letter to CDC Director Rochelle Walensky on Tuesday. 
The letter notes that "over 90 percent" of Delta's workforce is vaccinated.

Delta suggests shortening the isolation period to five days "from symptom onset for those who experience a breakthrough infection," the letter said. "Individuals would be able to end isolation with an appropriate testing protocol."

"Our employees represent an essential workforce to enable Americans who need to travel domestically and internationally," the letter said. 


3 hr 35 min ago
Spain records its highest daily number of new Covid-19 cases since start of pandemic 
From CNN’s Al Goodman and Livvy Dohetry

 A health care worker administers the first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine to a girl at a walk in clinic at Sculptor Alberto Sanchez Public School on December 15, in Toledo, Spain. 
 A health care worker administers the first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine to a girl at a walk in clinic at Sculptor Alberto Sanchez Public School on December 15, in Toledo, Spain. (Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images)
Spain registered its highest daily number of new Covid-19 cases since the start of the pandemic, with 49,823 cases recorded in the past day, the country’s health ministry said Tuesday. 

The previous highest figure for Spain was recorded on Jan. 21, 2021, when the country saw a daily increase of 44,357 new coronavirus cases. 

The daily ministry data does not break down cases by variants, but it released a separate report on Tuesday on all variants, saying "at the present time, the data drawn from sequencing of specific PCR indicates that there's a rapid substitution of the Delta variant by the Omicron."

The health ministry also reported Tuesday that 15.77% of all hospital ICU beds are now occupied with coronavirus patients. At the start of the month, a ministry report said the figure was just over 8%.  


3 hr 53 min ago
Here's a snapshot of the current vaccination status in the US
From CNN’s Deidre McPhillips

Registered nurse Allison Anderson, left, gives Chuck Struckness a booster shot at a pop-up Covid-19 vaccination clinic on December 21, in Las Vegas, Nevada. 
Registered nurse Allison Anderson, left, gives Chuck Struckness a booster shot at a pop-up Covid-19 vaccination clinic on December 21, in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Here’s the latest data on vaccination efforts in the United States, published Tuesday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

Fully vaccinated: 61.6% of the total US population (all ages), about 205 million people
Not vaccinated: 22.8% of the eligible population (age 5+) have not received any dose of Covid-19 vaccine, about 72 million people
Current pace of vaccinations (7-day average): 1,542,936 doses are being administered each day 
That’s down about 19% compared with a month ago. 
More than half – about 1 million – are booster doses.
An average of about 225,000 people are initiating vaccination each day.
An average of about 296,000 people are becoming fully vaccinated each day.
About 62.2 million people have received an additional dose, or booster
33.1% of fully vaccinated adults (18+) have received a booster
44.9% of fully vaccinated people 50 and older have received a booster
55.4% of fully vaccinated seniors (65+) have received a booster 



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