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Covid News Watch

Dec 06, 2021

Mother and 3-Year-Old Daughter Mistakenly Given COVID Vaccines Instead of Flu Shots + More

Mother and Daughter, 3, Mistakenly Given COVID Vaccines Instead of Flu Shots

Newsweek reported:

A Canadian mother has said she and her 3-year-old daughter were mistakenly given adult doses of the COVID-19 vaccine instead of flu shots.

Jenna Bardarson, of Brandon in the Canadian province of Manitoba, had booked her annual flu shot for herself and her daughter, Dali, at the Keystone Centre on November 24, according to reports from CBC and The Canadian Press. But she said instead of getting the expected flu shots, the pair were instead given the adult dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Bardarson told CBC she and her daughter suffered from fevers and headaches while Dali started to vomit in the days after she received the vaccine.

Cruise Ship With 17 Breakthrough COVID Infections Sets Sail Again With New Passengers

Associated Press reported:

A cruise ship that carried at least 17 passengers and crew members with breakthrough COVID-19 infections when it docked in New Orleans has set sail again with new passengers.

Nine crew members and eight passengers were infected when the Norwegian Breakaway arrived on Sunday, a Louisiana Department of Health spokeswoman said Monday.

None had any symptoms and only fully vaccinated people are allowed on board, Norwegian Cruise Line said.

Nearly 70 Vaccinated Hospital Workers Test Positive for COVID After Christmas Meal

Newsweek reported:

More than 50 hospital workers in Spain have tested positive for COVID-19 after attending a Christmas meal, according to local media reports.

More than 170 health workers from the Intensive Care Unit of the Regional University Hospital of Málaga — located in the south of the country — attended the meal, with at least 68 people later testing positive for COVID-19, local media outlet Sur reported Monday, although health authorities had only confirmed 22 of these cases on Sunday.

All of the professionals had been fully vaccinated — including with booster shots. Most of the workers who tested positive are asymptomatic although in a few cases they have reported mild symptoms.

Omicron Variant Found in More Vaccinated People in U.S. as Resistance Concerns Persist

Newsweek reported:

The Omicron variant continues to crop up in vaccinated Americans as concerns about the new strain’s vaccine resistance persist.

More than 20 cases linked to the variant across 11 states have been reported in the U.S. as of Saturday morning. Of these, eight are known to have been found in fully vaccinated individuals. While many of these patients had recently traveled to Africa, others had no recent travel history to speak, indicating that community transmission has begun in the U.S., according to CNBC.

Woman Wins Court Battle Over Treating Her Husband’s COVID With Ivermectin. That Was Just the Beginning.

York Daily Record reported:

A court order that permitted Keith Smith, on a ventilator in a medically induced coma from COVID-19, to be treated with the controversial drug ivermectin, was issued late Friday afternoon.

The order, in response to Darla Smith’s petition to compel the hospital to administer the drug to her husband of 24 years, was, to some, kind of confusing, and that led to two days of lawyers negotiating its implementation, frustrating Darla’s attempts to have her husband receive the drug.

The court order touched off a weekend of back and forth between the lawyers involved, Darla Smith and the hospital’s administration, ending Sunday night when Keith Smith, 52, received his first dose of ivermectin.

Pandemic Stress Weighs Heavily on Gen Z, Survey Says

Associated Press reported:

Isolation. Anxiety. Uncertainty. The stresses of the coronavirus pandemic have taken a toll on Americans of all ages, but a new poll finds that teens and young adults have faced some of the heaviest struggles as they come of age during a time of extreme turmoil.

Overall, more than a third of Americans ages 13 to 56 cite the pandemic as a major source of stress, and many say it has made certain parts of their lives harder.

But when it comes to education, friendships and dating, the disruption has had a pronounced impact among Generation Z, according to a new survey from MTV Entertainment Group and The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

Omicron Detected in 17 U.S. States and More Cases Likely, CDC Says

The Washington Post reported:

The Omicron variant of the coronavirus has been identified in at least 17 U.S. states since California reported its first case on Dec. 1 — and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky said cases are likely to increase as scientists rush to answer whether it is more transmissible or better able to evade the protections of existing vaccines.

Here’s where cases have been detected in the United States. The Delta variant is still the dominant strain in the United States, and almost all coronavirus cases are associated with it, Walensky said.

Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top public health adviser, said Sunday that early reports about Omicron cases being relatively mild are “encouraging.”

Gilead Recalls Vials of Its Remdesivir COVID Drug in U.S. Over Glass Contamination

The Washington Post reported:

The American biopharmaceutical company Gilead Sciences has issued a nationwide recall of two lots of its coronavirus treatment drug remdesivir because of the “presence of glass particulates,” the company said Friday.

Remdesivir, known also by its brand name Veklury, is normally used for adults and children over 12 requiring hospitalization for COVID-19, and it is normally given by intravenous (IV) infusion once daily for up to 10 days.

“An injectable product that contains glass particulates may result in local irritation or swelling in response to the foreign material. If the glass particulate reaches the blood vessels it can travel to various organs and block blood vessels in the heart, lungs or brain which can cause stroke and even lead to death,” the company said in a statement.

In Its War on COVID, China Calls on ‘Little Inoculated Warriors’

The New York Times reported:

As the rest of the world struggles to vaccinate adults in the face of a threat from a new coronavirus variant, China has embarked on an ambitious campaign that it says will give the country better protection against COVID-19: full inoculation of 160 million of its youngest citizens by the end of the year.

The campaign — powered in part with red flower stickers, balloons and boxes of toys for children who step up to become what nurses call “little inoculated warriors” — has gotten off to a fast start.

In the first two weeks of the effort, which began in late October, 84 million boys and girls between the ages of 3 and 11, about half of the eligible population, received the first of two shots, according to the most recent government data.

Omicron Has Not Killed Anyone Says WHO as New Variant Cases Rise in U.S.

Newsweek reported:

The World Health Organization (WHO) has said that as of Friday, there have been no fatalities linked to Omicron but warned it could take several weeks to determine how infectious the new COVID-19 variant is.

The WHO’s assurance comes as the new variant first detected in South Africa last week has now been recorded in 38 countries. In the United States, at least 29 cases of Omicron across 11 states have been reported.

These are California, Nebraska, New York, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, Utah, Pennsylvania and Hawaii, CBS News reported. There was also an infection in New Jersey of a Georgia resident.

Omicron Brings Fresh Concern for U.S. Mental Heath After ‘Grim Two Years’

The Guardian reported:

Sarah Isaacs, a therapist in Raleigh, North Carolina, sees mostly clients between the ages of 22 and 30, many of whom missed out on the usual dating and networking because of the COVID pandemic.

They are just some of the people in the United States whose mental health has suffered during the pandemic. A Gallup poll conducted in November found that, like last year, only 34% of Americans describe their mental health as “excellent”. Those are the lowest levels in two decades.

COVID Is Fueling a Pandemic of Violence Against Women and Girls

STAT News reported:

The emergence of the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 with its many mutations has rightly sparked global concern. Another COVID-related issue that should also spark concern, but continues to fly under the radar, is the endemic violence directed toward women and girls around the world that has been heightened by responses to the pandemic.

On a recent visit to a tribal village in South India, I met with children, elders, and teachers, who told me how their lives have been affected by COVID-19.

The implementation of crucial, but often blunt, public health measures such as stay-at-home policies and the disruption of key services like schools and health facilities have significantly eroded social well-being, isolation, income, and educational attainment. They have also increased violence against many women and girls.

The stories I heard are echoed in towns and villages across the world, and the repercussions will be felt for years to come.

Blood Pressure Rose During the Pandemic, Especially for Women, Study Finds

TODAY reported:

Now here’s one more way the pandemic is taking a toll on our health: higher blood pressure.

When researchers looked at year-over-year changes in blood pressure readings for almost half a million Americans, there were no differences between 2019 and the start of 2020 — the period just before the lockdowns.

But they noticed “significantly higher” blood pressure increases from April to December 2020 — when the country was in the midst of pandemic precautions and closures — compared to the previous year, especially among women.

‘Wall of Secrecy’ in Pfizer Contracts as Company Accused of Profiteering

The Guardian reported:

Ministers have agreed a secrecy clause in any dispute with the drugs manufacturer Pfizer over Britain’s COVID vaccine supply.

Large portions of the government’s contracts with the company over the supply of 189m vaccine doses have been redacted and any arbitration proceedings will be kept secret.

The revelation comes as Pfizer is accused by a former senior U.S. health official of “war profiteering’’ during the pandemic.

Tom Frieden, who was director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention under Barack Obama, said: “If you’re just focusing on maximizing your profits and you’re a vaccine manufacturer … you are war profiteering.”

Zain Rizvi, research director at Public Citizen, a U.S. consumer advocacy organization which has examined Pfizer’s global vaccine contracts, said: “There is a wall of secrecy surrounding these contracts and it’s unacceptable, particularly in a public health crisis.”

Dec 03, 2021

70 Children Given Expired COVID Vaccines in Maryland + More

70 Children Given Expired COVID Vaccines in Prince George’s County

NBC 4 Washington reported:

Medical workers in Prince George’s County, Maryland, gave dozens of children ages 5-11 expired COVID-19 vaccines after they were mistakenly stored in the refrigerator with usable doses, the county health department says.

A provider that wasn’t able to use 300 pediatric Pfizer doses before they expired on Nov. 24 transferred the doses to the clinic at the complex. HealthCare Dynamics International administered all but 70 of the doses before that expiration date, but mistakenly stored the rest in the refrigerator with viable vaccines, the county health department said.

Most Americans Believe COVID Leaked From Wuhan Lab, Support ‘Reparations’ for Cover-Up, Poll Finds

Fox News reported:

A new poll shows that Americans overwhelmingly believed that the coronavirus pandemic stemmed from a lab leak in Wuhan, China, and that the Chinese government subsequently lied about it.

“When asked about the theory that the coronavirus was developed by scientists working at a lab in Wuhan and accidentally leaked, and that the Chinese government then lied about it, nearly three quarters (72%) of Americans believe it is likely, with 42% saying it is very likely,” a report by The Ronald Reagan Institute said, discussing the poll results.

Another pandemic-related question had to do with public trust of health officials. Nearly half did not say they had faith in them.

COVID Hospitalizations Surge Across U.S., Even in Most-Vaccinated States

Newsweek reported:

New COVID hospitalizations are surging across the United States, even in the most-vaccinated states, a day after the president promised that there would be no lockdowns or expanded vaccine mandates planned for the winter break to contain infections.

Vermont, the country’s most-vaccinated state, which is 73% fully vaccinated, has seen its average daily hospitalizations climb by 32% over the last two weeks. That figure is now 75 new hospital admissions a day, the data indicates.

Rhode Island, which is also 73% vaccinated, has seen average daily hospital admissions increase by 55% over the last 14 days. The number now stands at 152.

Omicron Variant of COVID Found in Multiple U.S. States

Fox News reported:

The Omicron variant of COVID-19, which had been undetected in the U.S. before the middle of this week, had been discovered in at least five states by the end of Thursday, showing yet again how mutations of the virus can circumnavigate the globe with speed and ease.

Just a day after the first known U.S. case was found in California, tests showed the Omicron variant had infected at least five people in the New York City metropolitan area, plus a man from Minnesota who had attended an anime convention in Manhattan in late November.

A Colorado woman who had recently traveled to southern Africa, a Hawaii resident with no recent travel history, and another California resident who traveled to South Africa last month also were infected by the variant, officials said.

As New COVID Variants Emerge, How Can We Ever Achieve a ‘New Normal’?

Newsweek reported:

Almost two years into a punishing pandemic, as vaccination rates creep higher and the number of COVID-19 deaths declines in many countries, many people are asking how much longer will it be before we can return to normal.

While there have been causes for optimism, this crisis has seen its share of false dawns, not least is the recent emergence of the new Omicron variant, which has revived fears and increased doubt.

Illinois Releases District-Level Data for School Report Cards Showing Declines Across All Demographics. Many Students Didn’t Take the Test.

Chicago Tribune reported:

Illinois families from low-income communities and those living in some of the wealthiest enclaves in the state found common ground this week, with school district results from the state’s 2021 student assessments showing declines in academic proficiency during the COVID-19 pandemic across all demographics.

The data from roughly 90% of Illinois school districts that delivered the mandated Illinois Assessment of Readiness to students in spring in third through eighth grades and the SAT to high school juniors were unveiled this week, revealing a stark yet not unexpected snapshot of the pandemic’s impact on academic achievement.

Want That Free Coronavirus Test Biden Is Promising? You Gotta Buy It First.

The Washington Post reported:

The Biden administration promises to make rapid, at-home coronavirus tests free for the tens of millions of Americans. But it’s working through the private insurance industry to do so — and that alone presents big challenges.

The way things work right now, Americans buy rapid, at-home tests over-the-counter, meaning insurance doesn’t automatically cover it. But under the administration’s plan, shoppers in most cases would need to seek reimbursement from their insurer or health plan. That may mean sending in their receipts, the administration confirmed.

This means shoppers would have to pay for the tests — at least at first.

Millions in Personnel Costs, Overtime Pay Top List of COVID Spending in Connecticut

Associated Press reported:

Employee overtime and personnel costs topped the list of COVID-related expenses that cities and towns paid for using a key source of federal pandemic relief funds, according to interim data submitted to the Connecticut Office of Policy and Management.

Of the roughly $41.6 million in total expenditures incurred from July 1, 2020 to Sept. 30, 2021, $10.8 million was spent on “overtime related to response,” and another $10.1 million covered “public safety personnel costs,” while $4.8 million was spent on “public health personnel costs,” as reported by the state’s 169 municipalities.

Key Omicron Findings May Be Known in Days, WHO Scientist Says

Bloomberg reported:

Some 450 researchers around the world have begun work to isolate the highly mutated variant from patient specimens, grow it in the lab, verify its genomic sequence, and establish methods to test it in blood-plasma samples, said Ana-Maria Henao-Restrepo, who co-leads the WHO’s research and development blueprint for vaccines and innovations during outbreaks and pandemics.

The rapid spread in South Africa of the worrisome variant has raised concern that the immune protection generated by vaccination or a previous bout of COVID is insufficient to stop reinfections or stem a fresh wave of cases and hospitalizations.

Roche Develops New Research Test Kits for Omicron Variant

Reuters reported:

Roche’s (ROG.S) newly acquired subsidiary TIB Molbiol has developed three new test kits to help researchers detect mutations in the new Omicron variant of coronavirus, Roche said on Friday.

Governments around the world are urgently scouring databases for recent cases of COVID-19 infections, screening travellers and decoding the viral genomes of the new variant as they try to measure how far it has spread.

National Health Service Forecasts 230,000 Extra Cases of PTSD in England Due to COVID

The Guardian reported:

The NHS is forecasting there will be 230,000 new cases of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in England as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, official figures show.

COVID-19 has increased exposure to events that could cause PTSD, an anxiety disorder triggered by very stressful, frightening or distressing events, according to the Royal College of Psychiatrists. It says the NHS is already facing the biggest backlog of those waiting for mental health help in its history.

WHO Chief Scientist Urges People Not to Panic Over Omicron

Reuters reported:

The World Health Organization’s (WHO) chief scientist told the Reuters Next conference on Friday that people should not panic over the emergence of the Omicron coronavirus variant and said it was too early to say if vaccines would need to be reworked.

WHO’s emergencies director, Mike Ryan, said there was no evidence that existing vaccines needed to be modified to fight Omicron.

However, WHO spokesman Christian Lindmeier told a United Nations briefing in Geneva that vaccine makers should prepare for the likelihood of adjusting their products. read more

Dec 02, 2021

COVID Cases Falling in Five Least Vaccinated States + More

COVID Cases Are Falling in the Five Least Vaccinated States

Newsweek reported:

The five U.S. states that have the lowest percentages of their populations fully vaccinated are seeing a fall in COVID case numbers.

According to data from the New York Times, West Virginia, Idaho, Wyoming, Alabama and Mississippi have all seen their average daily cases fall over the last two weeks.

Wyoming and Alabama, both of which are 46% fully vaccinated, saw their case numbers drop by 48% and 41%, respectively. Wyoming now has a daily case average of 144, while Alabama has 300. Wyoming has seen its hospitalizations fall in that time by 22%, but Alabama’s has risen by 1%.

Scientists Find Clues to What Triggers Rare Blood Clots in AstraZeneca COVID Vaccine

The Washington Post reported:

Scientists say they have identified clues to what triggered blood clots in rare cases of people who took AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine.

The very rare but sometimes deadly clots led to pauses in the vaccine’s rollout last year in Europe, and had public health experts worried it could fuel hesitancy, even as they stressed that the benefits of the vaccine far outweighed any risks.

The blood clot cases reported after some Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine injections have divided regulators over how and whether to administer them, with France, Britain and Canada limiting use of the shot in younger people, while Denmark and Norway stopped administering it altogether.

Second U.S. Omicron COVID Case Reported, in Minnesota Resident Who Had Traveled to New York City

CNBC reported:

Minnesota public health authorities confirmed Thursday what appears to be the second U.S. case of the Omicron COVID variant in a resident who recently returned from New York City, the state’s department of health said.

The man, who was fully vaccinated and has since recovered, traveled to New York City to attend the Anime NYC 2021 convention at the Javits Center from Nov. 19-21, the department said in a statement.

The first Omicron case was confirmed in California by U.S. officials Wednesday in a person who recently returned to San Francisco from a trip to South Africa.

Moderna Says Omicron Booster Could Be Ready by March, But Fauci Says Not to Wait

Forbes reported:

Moderna President Stephen Hoge said Wednesday COVID-19 booster shots targeting the Omicron variant could be ready to present for U.S. authorization by March, though both he and federal infectious disease point man Dr. Anthony Fauci said they believe current vaccines will be effective against the new strain, with Fauci advising the public to get a booster now.

Fauci said Wednesday it is too early to tell whether the Omicron variant is more deadly than the Delta variant.

South Africa Sees Rise in COVID Reinfections From Omicron, Mild Symptoms — Scientist

Reuters reported:

South Africa is seeing an increase in COVID-19 reinfections due to the Omicron variant but symptoms for reinfected patients and those infected after vaccination appear to be mild, a scientist studying the outbreak of the new strain said.

“Previous infection used to protect against Delta but now with Omicron that doesn’t seem to be the case,” said Anne von Gottberg, microbiologist at South Africa’s National Institute for Communicable Diseases.

Von Gottberg said the travel bans imposed by many countries on passengers from South Africa were having a negative impact on the logistics of scientific research into Omicron.

President Biden to Make At-Home Rapid Tests Free in New COVID Plan

ABC News reported:

President Joe Biden announced a plan Thursday for a winter coronavirus strategy that includes making at-home rapid tests free, extending the mask requirement on public transit and requiring more stringent testing protocols for all international travelers.

The latest plan does not include more aggressive measures like requiring testing for domestic flights or mandating testing for passengers after their arrival in the U.S.

The Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Labor and Treasury Department will put out guidance by Jan. 15 to determine exactly how many tests will be covered and at what frequency, the plan said, and it will not retroactively cover tests already purchased.

COVID: FDA Expert Panel Recommends Authorizing Molnupiravir But Also Voices Concerns

The BMJ reported:

An advisory panel of experts has voted by 13 to 10 to recommend that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration should grant an emergency authorisation to Merck’s molnupiravir (Lagevrio), an antiviral for the outpatient treatment of COVID-19. If the regulator follows the recommendation molnupiravir could be authorised within days.

The FDA has generally followed its panels’ recommendations in the past, but the vote on molnupiravir was unusual for its narrow margin and the many reservations expressed by panellists who voted to recommend the drug. The nine hour meeting was broadcast live on YouTube.

GlaxoSmithKline Says Tests Indicate Antibody Drug Works Against Omicron

Reuters reported:

Laboratory analysis of the antibody-based COVID-19 therapy GlaxoSmithKline (GSK.L) (GSK) is developing with U.S. partner Vir (VIR.O) has indicated the drug is effective against the new Omicron variant, the British drugmaker said on Thursday.

A GSK statement said that lab tests and a study on hamsters have demonstrated the sotrovimab antibody cocktail works against viruses that were bio-engineered to carry a number of hallmark mutations of the Omicron variant.

The two companies have been engineering so-called pseudoviruses that feature major coronavirus mutations across all suspicious variants that have emerged so far, and have run lab tests on their vulnerability to sotrovimab treatment.

Moderna Could Be Sued Over Vaccines as Court Upholds Arbutus Patents

Reuters reported:

Moderna Inc (MRNA.O) could face a patent infringement lawsuit over its COVID-19 vaccine after a federal appeals court on Wednesday rejected its challenge to patents belonging to Arbutus Biopharma Corp (ABUS.O).

Arbutus shares nearly doubled following the ruling, up 95% at $6.25. Moderna shares were off more than 10% at $316.43.

Dutch Say 14 Air Passengers From South Africa With Omicron Were Vaccinated

Reuters reported:

Dutch health authorities on Thursday said most of the 62 people who tested positive for COVID-19 after arriving on two flights from South Africa last week had been vaccinated, lending weight to a call for pre-flight testing regardless of vaccination status.

In addition, all 14 passengers who were later found to have been infected with the Omicron variant were vaccinated, health officials said on Thursday.

EU Drug Regulator Starts Reviewing New Coronavirus Vaccine

Associated Press reported:

The European Union drug regulator said Thursday it has started a rolling review of a new coronavirus vaccine made by French startup Valneva, the first step toward giving the vaccine the green light to be used in the 27-nation EU.

Approval by the European Medicines Agency would add another vaccine to the EU’s armory against COVID-19 as the bloc ramps up administering booster shots and some countries are preparing to deliver shots of Pfizer’s vaccine to children ages 5 to 11.

Last month, the EU’s executive commission approved a contract with Valneva for member nations to buy almost 27 million doses in 2022. The contract also included the possibility to adapt the vaccine to new variants of the coronavirus and to purchase up to 33 million more doses in 2023.

Dec 01, 2021

New Data on the Link Between COVID Vaccines and Myopericarditis + More

New Data on the Link Between COVID Vaccines and Myopericarditis

Cardiovascular Business reported:

COVID-19 vaccines may be associated with a heightened risk of myopericarditis among men, according to a new analysis published in the American Journal of Cardiology.

“A number of case reports and series have recently been published describing patients who experienced myocarditis after receiving the COVID-19 vaccination,” wrote first author Rosemary Farahmand, MD, of Harvard Medical School, and colleagues.

Hoping to gain a better understanding of these relationships, Farahmand et al. tracked data from more than 268,000 adults who received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine in the state of Massachusetts from August 2020 to May 2021. The study’s control group was made up of 235,000 of the same patients — from 2018 and 2019, well before they had received any doses of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Omicron Variant Identified in U.S.: First Case of COVID Linked to New Variant Found in California

The Washington Post reported:

The first U.S. case of COVID-19 linked to the new Omicron variant has been identified in California in a traveler who returned from South Africa on Nov. 22, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday.

The patient, who was fully vaccinated, tested positive on Nov. 29, officials said. The individual has mild symptoms that are improving and is in self-quarantine. Genetic sequencing was performed by the University of California at San Francisco and confirmed by the CDC.

One of the Biggest Questions About Omicron Was Just Answered. It’s Bad News for Stocks.

Barrons’s reported:

One of investors’ most pressing questions on Omicron, the new COVID-19 variant, got a preliminary answer on Tuesday. It’s a scary development for stocks. The emergence of Omicron, a heavily mutated version of the virus that is expected to be more contagious than other variants, has roiled the stock market.

The S&P 500 has fallen more than 2% from the record high it hit in late November, just before Friday’s news that the variant was found in South Africa. This could be just the beginning of the selling, as investors now have key information they were hungry for.

An RBC survey published Monday found that investors were most concerned about how severe, or mild, infections caused by the Omicron variant might be. That isn’t known yet, but data on the question that ranks second — how effective vaccines and antiviral drugs will be against the variant — has begun to emerge.

Massachusetts Coronavirus Breakthrough Cases Spike 6,610 During Thanksgiving Week

Boston Herald reported:

More than 6,600 fully vaccinated people in the Bay State tested positive for coronavirus during the week of Thanksgiving, a daily average of about 944 people as breakthrough infections continue to surge.

The count of 6,610 breakthrough cases last week was a bit down from the tally of 6,917 breakthrough infections in the prior week. Testing during Thanksgiving week was significantly lower.

Young Americans Are Really Down on Democracy and Reeling From the Pandemic

The Washington Post reported:

Young Americans are down on democracy, reeling from the impact of the pandemic and not particularly happy with President Biden.

Those are the takeaways from a new Harvard Institute of Politics poll released this morning. The Early 202 has a sneak peek at the fresh numbers, which reveal some startling data about the mental health of young Americans as COVID-19 threatens to upend our winter once again.

Fifty percent of young Americans say the coronavirus has changed them, with 61% of women saying they have changed versus 40% of men. Overall, 51% say the pandemic has negatively impacted their lives.

Southern Africa Is Not a Hotbed of Variants — It’s Just Very Good at Sequencing and Spotting Them

Business Insider reported:

Last week, scientists in South Africa put the world on notice. Omicron is here.

The variant, B.1.1.529, was identified first on Nov. 11, among foreign diplomats who had traveled to Botswana. Then, it was found again by a team of scientists in South Africa on Nov. 14, and they alerted world health leaders.

The reality is that southern Africa is a top international powerhouse of COVID-19 surveillance in large part because the continent stood up innovative systems for tracking viral diseases and genetic mutations well before the coronavirus hit, tracing and surveilling diseases including HIV, Ebola, and tuberculosis.

FDA Panel Narrowly Backs Merck’s COVID Pill — Questions About Efficacy, Safety Were Chief Among Concerns, Regardless of How Members Voted

MedPage Today reported:

A divided FDA advisory panel voted 13-10 to recommend the oral antiviral molnupiravir for emergency use authorization (EUA) for adults at high risk of progressing to severe COVID-19 on Tuesday.

While votes at the Antimicrobial Drugs Advisory Committee (AMDAC) were largely split, similar questions were raised on both sides of the vote about modest efficacy, especially in light of other available treatments.

Very few committee members offered strong “yes” or “no” votes, as most were in the middle. Ultimately, the positive votes felt that despite a number of questions, the benefits of the drug outweighed the risk.

How HIV Research Paved the Way for the COVID mRNA Vaccines

CNBC reported:

Every Dec. 1, the world commemorates those who have died from an AIDS-related illness. Known as World AIDS Day, it serves as a reminder that there has been an ongoing pandemic for the past 40 years, pre-dating COVID.

The COVID vaccines were sequenced, developed and approved in the U.S. in record time, but that would not have been possible without decades of work by HIV researchers.

Massachusetts Deploying COVID Antibody Treatment Units

Associated Press reported:

Massachusetts is deploying three mobile units to administer monoclonal antibody treatment to high-risk individuals who have been exposed to or have COVID-19, Gov. Charlie Baker said Tuesday.

The clinics have the capacity to treat up to 500 patients per week with therapies that can help reduce the severity of the disease and keep COVID-19-positive individuals from being hospitalized.

1,500 Unhoused LA Residents Died on the Streets During Pandemic, Report Reveals

The Guardian reported:

Nearly 1,500 unhoused people are estimated to have died on the streets of Los Angeles during the pandemic, according to a new report that raises alarms about authorities’ handling of a worsening humanitarian crisis.

Ananya Roy, director of the UCLA Luskin Institute on Inequality and Democracy, which produced the report, said the young age of death was particularly disturbing.

“When people are passing away outdoors and on the sidewalks, that is a failure of the state,” said Chloe Rosenstock, co-author of the report and an organizer with Street Watch LA, an advocacy group for the unhoused.

From Books to Boots, Supply Chain Issues Are Hitting Local Retailers This Holiday Season

The Ticker reported:

What’s on your shopping list this holiday season? If it’s a pair of winter boots, the latest bestselling book, or a bottle of expensive champagne, you might be out of luck.

Global supply chain issues have officially hit home here in Traverse City. Here’s what The Ticker is hearing from four local retailers about how they’re navigating it all, their hardest-to-get products right now, and what advice they have for shoppers.

COVID Has ‘Radically Altered’ Mobility

Associated Press reported:

The U.N. migration agency says the coronavirus pandemic appears to have accelerated “hostile rhetoric” against migrants in the world and “radically altered” mobility, projecting in a new report that travel and other COVID-19-fighting restrictions could dampen migration worldwide as long as they remain.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has triggered immobility worldwide to an extent unseen in recent history, slowing the pace of human mobility and migration,” said Ugochi Daniels, the International Organization for Migration’s (IOM) deputy director-general for operations, at a meeting of its member states.

“The pandemic is estimated to have negatively impacted the total growth of international migrants by 2 million.”

World Agrees to Negotiate a Global ‘Pandemic Treaty’ to Fight the Next Outbreak

The Washington Post reported:

Less than a week after the new Omicron variant of the coronavirus was reported to the World Health Organization, global leaders on Wednesday agreed to start negotiations to create an international agreement to prevent and deal with future pandemics — which some have dubbed a “pandemic treaty.”

“I welcome the decision you have adopted today, to establish an intergovernmental negotiating body to draft and negotiate a WHO convention, agreement or other international instrument on pandemic prevention, preparedness and response,” WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.

Mexico to Reverse Course, Give COVID Booster Shots

Associated Press reported:

Mexican officials have reversed their previous position against giving coronavirus booster shots and said Tuesday they are studying a plan to administer third doses to people over 60.

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s administration has long resisted adopting measures like mandatory face masks, mass testing and travel restrictions that have been used in many other countries.

Assistant Health Secretary Hugo López-Gatell had said as recently as August that there was no scientific evidence to justify giving booster shots, and suggested they were part of a campaign by vaccine manufacturers to increase sales. The government also long resisted vaccinating minors, but recently relented and began administering shots to youths between 15 and 17 years of age.