COVID-19 hospitalizations up in 29 states

New studies on animals suggest why Omicron is less severe than earlier variants: It seems to cause much less damage to the lungs.

”… the bulk of early Omicron infections were in young people, who are less likely to get seriously ill with all versions of the virus. And many of those early cases were happening in people with some immunity from previous infections or vaccines. It was unclear whether Omicron would also prove less severe in an unvaccinated older person, for example…Coronavirus infections start in the nose or possibly the mouth and spread down the throat. Mild infections don’t get much further than that. But when the coronavirus reaches the lungs, it can do serious damage…Immune cells in the lungs can overreact, killing off not just infected cells but uninfected ones. They can produce runaway inflammation, scarring the lung’s delicate walls. What’s more, the viruses can escape from the damaged lungs into the bloodstream, triggering clots and ravaging other organs…Many cells in the lung carry a protein called TMPRSS2 on their surface that can inadvertently help passing viruses gain entry to the cell. But… this protein doesn’t grab on to Omicron very well. As a result, Omicron does a worse job of infecting cells in this manner than Delta does. A team at the University of Glasgow independently came to the same conclusion…“These studies address the question about what may happen in the lungs but don’t really address the question of transmissibility…It could be as simple as, this is a lot more virus in people’s saliva and nasal passages…But there could be other explanations for its efficient spread: It could be more stable in the air, or better infect new hosts.

J&J’s booster shot provides strong protection against severe disease from Omicron, a study says. (Repeat)

”…Two shots of the vaccine reduced the risk of hospitalization from the fast-spreading variant by 85 percent, a clinical trial found….The study, which compared more than 69,000 boosted health care workers with a corresponding group of unvaccinated South Africans, found that two shots of the vaccine reduced the risk of hospitalization from Omicron by about 85 percent. In comparison, another study in South Africa found that two shots of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine reduced the risk of hospitalization by about 70 percent.(See next article)

Pfizer Vaccine is 70% Effective Against Omicron

”During the proxy omicron period, we found a vaccine effectiveness of 70% (95% confidence interval [CI], 62 to 76), a finding that was supported by the results of all sensitivity tests. This measure of vaccine effectiveness was significantly different from that during the comparator period, when the rate was 93% (95% CI, 90 to 94) against hospitalization for Covid-19…”

Third BNT162b2 Vaccination Neutralization of SARS-CoV-2 Omicron Infection

The third dose of the BNT162b2 vaccine efficiently neutralized infection with the omicron variant (geometric mean titer, 1.11 after the second dose vs. 107.6 after the third dose) (Figure 1A and 1C)…The importance of a third vaccine dose is clear, owing to the higher neutralization efficiency (by a factor of 100) against the omicron variant after the third dose than after the second dose; however, even with three vaccine doses, neutralization against the omicron variant was lower (by a factor of 4) than that against the delta variant. The durability of the effect of the third dose of vaccine against Covid-19 is yet to be determined.


A COVID-19 vaccine created at the Texas Children’s Hospital Center for Vaccine Development could soon be ready for distribution in India.

Corbevax, or BioE COVID-19, is currently being developed in India, with the goal of vaccinating other low- and middle-income nations across the globe.

After nearly 10 years of research and funding obstacles in 2020, it could be ready for distribution later this month, according to Dr. Peter Hotez, co-director of the Texas Children’s Hospital Center for Vaccine Development and dean at Baylor’s National School of Tropical Medicine.

“It’s never a done deal until it’s a done deal,” Hotez said. “But all systems go so far, and I think it could be very soon, and I have some optimism before the end of the year.”

Hotez said the vaccine is cheap and has no patent, making it easier for producers outside of India to mass produce.

Why Covid Death Rates Are Rising for Some Groups

”…Covid accounted for 14 percent of all deaths in the United States from March 2020 until all adults became eligible for the vaccine in April, compared with 11 percent of deaths since then…The change in death rates among groups is starker by race and ethnicity, and the death rate has risen particularly sharply for middle-aged white people. Covid-19 now accounts for a much larger share of all deaths for that group than it did before vaccines were widely available….The higher vaccination rate for older people has helped to protect them. Although more older than younger people still die from Covid-19, the virus is now responsible for a smaller share of all deaths among people 65 and older than it was before vaccines became available to all adults. For those younger than 65, Covid-19 has risen as a cause of death.


• (SARS-CoV-2 reverse transcriptase–polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) testing is highly sensitive (99%) but less specific (approximately 95%) for contagious COVID-19 and may be positive for ≥90 days after infection

• Viral antigen tests have lower analytic sensitivity than RT-PCR but are more specific for contagious disease



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