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COVID Vaccine for Babies to Roll out by April in Israel

International Business Times reported:

Babies and toddlers in Israel will be eligible to receive their COVID-19 vaccines in a few months, according to the country’s health officials.

“In Israel, vaccines are available now for everybody aged 5 and over. I believe by April this will be expanded for any age above 6 months,” Dr. Asher Shalmon, the Israeli Health Ministry’s director of international relations, said during a press briefing to foreign policymakers and journalists this week, The Times of Israel reported.

Shalmon did not reveal which vaccine brands would be available to children in the age bracket should they become eligible for the jabs.

Pfizer, which co-developed the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, is currently in the process of conducting clinical trials to lower the approved age for its vaccine from 5 years to 6 months.

DOH: Breakthrough COVID Cases on the Rise During Omicron Surge

KIRO 7 News reported:

Breakthrough COVID-19 cases are on the rise during the latest surge in Washington state, the Department of Health said Thursday.

The DOH says current reporting shows a 43% increase in the number of breakthrough cases. While the majority experienced mild or no symptoms, at least 3% were hospitalized, a press release said.

Which Way to Go? Coping With Whiplash From CDC Guidelines

The Hill reported:

Part of the COVID-19 “new normal” is looking to public health officials for guidance on how to safely navigate the ever-changing pandemic landscape. With the rapid spread of the Omicron variant, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has adapted and re-adapted guidelines, leaving the public and healthcare professionals alike confused and questioning their intent.

To be sure, COVID-19 is evolving quickly and most everyone is trying to keep up, including leading healthcare professionals who look to the CDC for guidance. Yet the CDC has faced repeated backlash for unclear guidelines.

18-Year-Old Brazilian Model Valentina Boscardin Dies of COVID

Newsweek reported:

Valentina Boscardin, a Brazilian model, died due to COVID complications last week aged just 18. She had been fully vaccinated against COVID and was also healthy before falling ill with the virus, according to various Spanish-language news outlets. She reportedly passed away on Sunday.

CNN Portugal, as well as Brazilian journalist Felipeh Campos, via his Instagram account, reported that Boscardin had suffered a blood clot during her COVID infection. Newsweek has been unable to verify this.

Anthony Fauci Has Had Enough

Newsweek reported:

Dr. Anthony Fauci appears to have lost patience with his critics in recent weeks, reacting angrily to criticism of his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and suggestions that he has not been honest in his dealings with Congress.

Fauci, who is director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), had angry exchanges with senators Rand Paul (R-KY) and Roger Marshall (R-KS) at a hearing of the Senate Health Committee on Tuesday and was heard on a hot mic calling Marshall a “moron.”

Fauci’s willingness to clash openly with critics contrasts with the avuncular image he enjoyed toward the beginning of the pandemic.

Biden to Send More Military Medics to U.S. Hospitals in COVID Hotspots

Reuters reported:

President Joe Biden on Thursday said he was deploying more military health workers to hospitals in six U.S. states, and would give Americans free masks and more free tests to tackle the fast-spreading Omicron variant around the country.

The phased dispatch of 1,000 military health personnel beginning next week comes as U.S. COVID-19 hospitalizations hit a record high with Omicron overtaking Delta as the dominant variant of the coronavirus and health facilities facing a staffing crunch.

In the first wave of the deployment, teams of military doctors, nurses and other personnel will head to Michigan, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio and Rhode Island to support at-capacity emergency rooms and free up overwhelmed hospital staff for non-COVID cases, the White House said.

NY Positivity Dips Again, Severe Case Growth Slows; 99% of U.S. High Transmission

NBC New York reported:

Cautious optimism that New York has passed the peak of this furious Omicron wave strengthened a bit more Wednesday, with Gov. Kathy Hochul reporting declines in daily positivity and slowing growth in hospitalization rates for a third straight day.

The rolling positivity rate has declined in eight of New York’s 10 regions for the last three days, while the two reporting increases have seen just mild infection growth.

Cannabis Compounds Prevented COVID Infection in Laboratory Study

Bloomberg reported:

Cannabis compounds prevented the virus that causes COVID-19 from penetrating healthy human cells, according to a laboratory study published in the Journal of Nature Products.

The two compounds commonly found in hemp — called cannabigerolic acid, or CBGA, and cannabidiolic acid, or CBDA — were identified during a chemical screening effort as having potential to combat coronavirus, researchers from Oregon State University said. In the study, they bound to spike proteins found on the virus and blocked a step the pathogen uses to infect people.

Germany Among First to Recommend COVID Booster for 12- to 17-Year-Olds

Reuters reported:

Germany’s vaccine committee recommended on Thursday that all children between the ages of 12 and 17 receive a COVID-19 booster shot as the country reported a new daily record of more than 81,000 coronavirus infections.

The move on booster shots makes Germany among the first countries in the world to make such a recommendation, following the United States, Israel and Hungary.

AstraZeneca Says Early Trial Data Indicates Third Dose Helps Against Omicron

Reuters reported:

AstraZeneca (AZN.L) said on Thursday that preliminary data from a trial showed that its COVID-19 shot, Vaxzevria, generated an increase in antibodies against the Omicron and other variants when given as a third booster dose.

The increased response, also against the Delta variant, was seen in a blood analysis of people who were previously vaccinated with either Vaxzevria or an mRNA vaccine, the drugmaker said, adding that it would submit this data to regulators worldwide given the urgent need for boosters.

Biden Administration Announces Additional Purchase of 500,000 AstraZeneca COVID Treatment Courses

CNN Politics reported:

The White House is “in the process of ordering another half-million courses of AstraZeneca‘s preventive therapy for immunocompromised individuals,” COVID-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients said at Wednesday’s COVID-19 briefing.

The US Food and Drug Administration authorized AstraZeneca’s Evusheld, a drug aimed at helping immune-compromised people from getting infected with the coronavirus, in December.

Evusheld is a monoclonal antibody, and doctors hoped to give it to their immune-compromised patients because it works in a different way than the vaccines.

Cutting the COVID Isolation Period to Five Days Is Foolhardy and Dangerous

The Guardian reported:

There have been many changes to isolation rules in England but the science of how COVID-19 spreads has remained the same. During the first waves of the pandemic, people were required to isolate for 10 days after testing positive.

This was subsequently changed to seven days, so long as the person had a negative lateral flow test on days six and seven. Although data is still being collected on the impact of this change, the isolation period has been cut again: today, the health secretary, Sajid Javid, announced that people with COVID will only need to isolate for five days, so long as they show two negative lateral flow tests by day six.

Denmark to Offer 4th COVID Vaccine Shots to Special Groups

Associated Press reported:

Denmark will offer fourth coronavirus vaccination shots to risk groups and vulnerable citizens as the pandemic situation in the country has worsened due to the rapid spread of the Omicron variant.

Danish Health Minister Magnus Heunicke said Wednesday that health authorities would offer fourth vaccine jabs to the “most vulnerable groups” such as those with weakened immune systems.

Effective Jan. 16, Denmark will ease some of its coronavirus restrictions as lawmakers agreed to reopen cinemas, entertainment parks, museums and theaters among other venues. Also, limited numbers of spectators will be allowed at indoor and outdoor sports events.