J. Harris: To me, the recent data above probably reflects increased Covid infections as well as increased testing. Since the numbers of hospitalized Covid patients remains low, likely the new infections reflect Omicron? It may be a little late for some of us, but masks and crowd avoidance are indicated again, especially for the elderly and frail. 


1. Middlebury College moves to remote instruction amid an outbreak.

(J. Harris: Vermont has the highest vaccination rates in the US. I’d like to know how many of these students have been vaccinated before becoming ill. Watch.)

2. Protection from mRNA vaccines wanes for some older adults, a C.D.C. study finds.

(J. Harris: So, be sure you have had your 3rd jab. Call Health Dept. at 903 938 8338 to get local vaccination schedule. Boosters available for older teenagers as well.)

Omicron SARS-CoV-2 variant: a new chapter in the COVID-19 pandemic

(J. Harris: Current, brief summary and update of what we know about Omicron.)

”…In terms of diagnostics, the omicron variant is detectable on widely used PCR platforms in South Africa…There is no reason to believe that current COVID-19 treatment protocols and therapeutics would no longer be effective, with the possible exception of monoclonal antibodies, for which data on the omicron variant’s susceptibility are not yet available. Importantly, existing public health prevention measures (mask wearing, physical distancing, avoidance of enclosed spaces, outdoor preference, and hand hygiene) that have remained effective against past variants should be just as effective against the omicron variant.

Extrapolations based on known mutations and preliminary observations, which should be interpreted with caution, indicate that omicron might spread faster and might escape antibodies more readily than previous variants, thereby increasing cases of reinfection and cases of mild breakthrough infections in people who are vaccinated. On the basis of data from previous VoCs, people who are vaccinated are likely to have a much lower risk of severe disease from omicron infection. A combination prevention approach of vaccination and public health measures is expected to remain an effective strategy.

9 Reasons Why I Still Mask Up

(J. Harris: I have no idea who this “civilian” [non medical] writer is, but this short message makes several good points and has a couple of good analogies. My Internist friend in Houston maintains that masks are as important as vaccination — and he treats many Covid patients.)

From Hopkins:

Two Years Into This Pandemic, The World is Dangerously Unprepared for the Next One, Report Says (Washington Post) Nearly two years into a coronavirus pandemic that has killed more than 5 million people, every country, including the United States, remains dangerously unprepared to respond to future epidemic and pandemic threats, according to a report released Wednesday assessing the efforts of 195 countries. Researchers compiling the Global Health Security Index — a project of the Nuclear Threat Initiative, a D.C.-based nonprofit global security group, and the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security at the Bloomberg School of Public Health — found insufficient capacity in every country, which they said left the world vulnerable to future health emergencies, including some that might be more devastating than COVID-19. The assessment of each country’s ability to prevent, detect and respond to health emergencies in 2021 was based on public information. Researchers also weighed other factors, such as public confidence in government. The average country score for 2021 was 38.9 out of a possible 100 points, essentially unchanged from 2019. No country scored above 75.9.



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