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Almost Half of Reported NY COVID Hospitalizations Are Not Due to COVID

Fox News reported:

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul released data Friday breaking down COVID-19 hospitalizations by those who were admitted due to the virus and those who were admitted for other reasons but were found to have the illness.

Included in the data was a chart showing “how many hospitalized individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 were admitted for COVID-19/COVID-19 complications and how many were admitted for non-COVID-19 conditions.”

According to the provided statistics, in approximately 43% of hospital admissions “COVID was not included as one of the reasons for admission.” According to the same data set, a staggering 51% of COVID-19 hospitalizations in New York City were not due to COVID-19 or related symptoms.

Common Cold Could Protect Against COVID Infection, Study Suggests

Forbes reported:

The immune response generated by previous exposure to common colds could protect against COVID-19, according to a new peer reviewed study published in Nature Communications Monday, an early but promising finding researchers say could pave the way to more long-lasting vaccines that protect against current and future variants of coronavirus.

People with high levels of T cells — a type of white blood cell that is a key part of the immune system — from other coronavirus infections like the common cold are less likely to contract the virus that causes COVID-19, according to a study by researchers at Imperial College London.

For the study, which took place in September 2020 (before most in the U.K. had been infected or vaccinated against COVID-19), the researchers followed 52 people living with someone who had COVID-19, half of whom went on to contract the disease.

For the half that did not get infected, blood samples taken shortly after exposure revealed higher levels of T cells from previous coronavirus infections, such as colds, that could also recognize proteins in the virus that causes COVID-19, the researchers said.

Fox News Host Confronts CDC Director Over Sotomayor’s Claim About Children With COVID

Newsweek reported:

Fox News anchor Bret Baier confronted Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Rochelle Walensky on Sunday, urging her to counter inaccurate claims about children hospitalized with COVID-19 made by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor during a hearing this week.

Sotomayor faced significant criticism, however, after she incorrectly claimed that “over 100,000 children” were seriously ill with COVID-19, with “many on ventilators.” Government data actually showed as of Jan. 8 that only a few thousand children were hospitalized with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 — as some awaited the results of a laboratory test.

Baier, while hosting Fox News Sunday, confronted Walensky with Sotomayor’s inaccurate statement and urged her to fact-check the misinformation.

“What we can find from Friday suggests there are fewer than 3,500 current pediatric hospitalizations from COVID-19. Is that true?” Baier asked the CDC director. Walensky agreed before quickly shifting the topic to point out that most of the hospitalized children are unvaccinated.

Pfizer CEO Says Omicron Vaccine Will Be Ready in March

CNBC reported:

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla on Monday said a vaccine that targets the Omicron variant of COVID will be ready in March, and the company’s already begun manufacturing the doses.

Bourla said the vaccine will also target the other variants that are circulating. He said it is still not clear whether or not an Omicron vaccine is needed or how it would be used, but Pfizer will have some doses ready since some countries want it ready as soon as possible.

Could This COVID Anti-Viral Pill Fuel the Emergence of New Variants?

Newsweek reported:

Some concerns have been raised about the drug’s safety and the possibility that it might alter human genes. While the risk to adults, according to data from animal studies, is low, the FDA has not authorized the drug for under 18s or pregnant individuals as a result.

In addition, some experts have raised concerns about the possibility that the use of the drug could fuel the emergence of new COVID-19 variants, like Delta or Omicron, that are highly transmissible and/or may evade protection afforded by the vaccines to some extent.

Molnupiravir works by interfering with the replication of the SARS‑CoV‑2 virus — which causes COVID-19 — after it has entered the cells of the body. It does this by introducing errors into the genetic code of the virus. Introducing enough errors eventually prevents the virus from replicating and the patient can clear the pathogen from their body.

But some scientists have warned that during this process of mutations, there is a possibility that new variants could emerge under certain circumstances — although other experts have downplayed such fears.

Moderna Working With World Health Leaders on COVID Booster for This Fall That Targets Omicron, CEO Says

CNBC reported:

Moderna is working on a booster shot that will target the Omicron variant of COVID for this fall as nations around the world prepare to distribute annual vaccinations against the virus.

CEO Stephane Bancel told CNBC’s “Squawk Box” on Monday that the Omicron-specific booster will enter clinical trials soon, and Moderna is discussing whether the shot needs to contain any other components to fight the virus.

Moderna has signed advanced purchase agreements with upfront payments worth $18.5 billion with the United Kingdom, South Korea and Switzerland recently ordering shots for this fall. Bancel said the company can supply 2 billion to 3 billion booster doses this year.

Rising Alcohol Consumption During COVID Pandemic Projected to Cause More Liver Disease, Deaths

Fox News reported:

Increased alcohol consumption during the COVID-19 pandemic is expected to cause 100 additional deaths and 2,800 additional cases of liver failure by 2023, according to a team of researchers led by investigators at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH).

“The COVID-19 pandemic has had many unintended consequences with unknown long-term impact,” a co-author of the study, Dr. Turgay Ayer, said in a news release.

According to research published in the journal Hepatology, the researchers also projected that a one-year increase in alcohol consumption during the pandemic will result in 8,000 additional deaths from alcohol-related liver disease. The investigators also projected 18,700 cases of liver failure and 1,000 cases of liver cancer by 2040.

Pope on COVID Vaccines Says Healthcare a ‘Moral Obligation’

Associated Press reported:

Pope Francis suggested Monday that getting vaccinated against the coronavirus was a “moral obligation” and denounced how people had been swayed by “baseless information” to refuse one of the most effective measures to save lives during the pandemic.

Some Catholics, including some conservative U.S. bishops and cardinals, have claimed that vaccines based on research that used cells derived from aborted fetuses were immoral, and have refused to get the jabs.

The Vatican’s doctrine office, however, has said it is “morally acceptable” for Catholics to receive COVID-19 vaccines based on research that used cells derived from aborted fetuses.

Nurses Union Slams ‘Return-to-Work’ COVID Guidelines in California

Newsweek reported:

California healthcare workers are hitting out at new “Return-to-Work” COVID-19 guidelines in the state, with some saying the guidance is “dangerous” and will ultimately drive up transmission in hospitals.

Under the latest guidance issued by the California Department of Public Health on Saturday, healthcare workers who test positive for COVID-19 or were exposed to a COVID-19-positive contact, but are asymptomatic, are allowed to return to work without isolating or testing negative for the virus.

The California Nurses Association, an affiliate of National Nurses United, and a trade union labor union with some 100,000 members, said the guidance will “put our nurses and healthcare workers at risk.”

‘We Will Weather This Storm’: Omicron Wreaks Havoc on Broadway

The Guardian reported:

Last month, shows including Aladdin, Freestyle Love Supreme, Hamilton, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, The Lion King and Tina were forced to cancel performances. The musicals Ain’t Too Proud, Diana, Jagged Little Pill, Trevor and Waitress, and the play Thoughts of a Colored Man, decided to shut down earlier than planned because of infections and weak ticket sales.

The fresh surge is cruel timing for Broadway, which reopened with fanfare — and vaccine mandates for cast, crew and audiences — in September after a record 18-month closure because of the pandemic. For a while it seemed the triumph-over-adversity, the show-must-go-on spirit was unstoppable. Then Omicron came like a kick in the teeth.

Chicago Schools Closed for Fourth Consecutive Day

The Hill reported:

Chicago Public Schools closed for a fourth consecutive day on Monday as negotiations continue between the district and teachers union regarding COVID-19 safety protocols.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot (D) announced on Sunday evening that classes would be canceled again on Monday “Out of fairness and consideration for parents who need to prepare.”

The standoff between Chicago Public Schools and the Chicago Teachers Union began on Wednesday, when the union told teachers not to report to work in person as part of a push to transition instruction to remote learning due to a surge in COVID-19 cases. The district, however, opted to cancel classes instead of moving to virtual instruction.

Classrooms were shuttered on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of last week, affecting roughly 350,000 students.

Novartis to Seek FDA Approval for COVID Treatment After Positive Data

MarketWatch reported:

Novartis AG and Molecular Partners AG on Monday reported positive topline data from their antiviral COVID-19 treatment ensovibep, and will seek expedited regulatory authorizations globally.

The results from a Phase 2 study of 407 patients receiving a single intravenous dose of ensovibep showed a 78% reduction in hospitalization or emergency-room visits related to COVID-19 compared with a placebo, and a improvement in time to a clinical recovery, Novartis said.

The ensovibep treatment continues to maintain protection against variants of concern identified so far, including Omicron, the Basel-based drugmaker said.

It also plans to seek expedited regulatory authorizations globally, first via the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s emergency-use authorization. If approved, ensovibep will be the first multispecific antiviral molecule for the treatment of COVID-19, Novartis said.

Omicron Spikes, Mexican President Calls It ‘a Little COVID’

Associated Press reported:

As coronavirus cases spike in Mexico and tests become scarce, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador told Mexicans Monday to just assume they had COVID-19 if they had symptoms.

López Obrador claimed the Omicron variant is “a little COVID,” noting hospitalizations and deaths had not increased at the same rate. Reading advice posted on Twitter, the president said Mexicans with symptoms should just stay at home, take paracetamol and isolate, rather than going out and trying to find tests.

López Obrador’s administration has long refused to implement mass testing, calling it a waste of money. He called on companies not to require COVID tests for employees.