Monday has already been a busy session in terms of new omicron-related news. Not only did the UK report its first death involving the omicron variant (though HMG offered only scant details, refusing to say anything about potential co-morbidities), but now China has confirmed its first case of the variant du jour.
According to Chinese media reports summarized by Reuters, the infection was discovered in the port city of Tianjin in a traveler who had arrived in the city from overseas on Friday.
The patient is presently being treated in a hospital, in isolation, the reports continued. We hope he stays safe and is treated well.
In other news, the WHO announced on Monday that omicron “poses a very high risk”, now that it has spread to more than 60 countries (including China). The statement mostly reiterated the agency’s first assessment in
The WHO said there were early signs that vaccinated and previously infected people would not build enough antibodies to ward off an infection from omicron, resulting in high transmission rates and “severe consequences”. Corroborating this assessment, researchers at the University of Oxford published a lab analysis on Monday that registered a 30-fold drop in neutralizing antibodies against omicron in people who had received two doses of a COVID jab. It’s only the latest research to call into question the vaccine protections to save people from information from omicron.
In terms of omicron cases, the UK has confirmed more than 3K, which is more than the rest of the developed world combined. This is largely a consequence of the difficult of sequencing a virus’s DNA and RNA to get the material and analyze it.
One piece of research released Monday showed that a number of vaccine recipients didn’t produce any antibodies that worked to neutralize omicron.
Meanwhile, a team from Oxford idea that there was no evidence available yet to suggest omicron causes more severe disease than delta.
Omicron has been detected in 30 states and some 60 countries.
Here’s more omicron news from Monday:
- NIH’s Dr. Fauci stated that three shots of the COVID-19 vaccine is optimal care although two doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines and one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine remains the US government’s official definition for fully vaccinated. Fauci also commented on Friday that the US is working to model the impact of lifting the travel ban.
- The UK has raised its alert level to 4 from 3 as PM Boris Johnson warns that a “tidal wave” is coming. He announced plans to accelerate the rollout of boosters for all adults.
- South African President Ramaphosa tested positive for COVID-19 although his symptoms were mild, and he is in isolation with all responsibilities delegated to Deputy President Mabuza in the interim.
- Israel added Britain, Denmark and Belgium to its “red list” of countries which are banned for travel due to concern regarding spread of the Omicron variant.
Circling back to China, a sub-strain of the delta variant is reportedly triggering a new cluster of cases in Eastern China’s industrial powerhouse province on Zhejiang. Another round of lockdowns in Zhejiang could create more problems for the global supply chain. Already, 500K residents in the province are on lockdown and factories have started to shut down. The outbreak is leading to 190 new cases a week.
Several infections diagnosed on Monday were also of the Delta strain sub-lineage AY.4, prompting large-scale travel restrictions in the province, mass nucleic acid tests with more 52K people shipped off to “centralized isolation”. Another 21,835 are under home health observation, and 465,771 are under routine health monitoring,
Stil, there are few signs that omicron is about to start killing patients in large numbers.
But Zhejiang isn’t the only Chinese province struggling with an outbreak. The city of Manzhouli, located at China-Russia border in north China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region has reported 537 local cases during the latest resurgence. The latest outbreak is finally bringing China’s “official” tally of COVID cases close to the 100K point (even though many suspect the true figure is far higher).