CDC study highlights how quickly omicron variant infected Americans, WHO warns testing still crucial

A report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention highlights the number of Americans infected with COVID-19 and the significant increase in that number since the arrival of the highly infectious omicron variant at the end of the last year.

The report released on Tuesday found that the number of cases was particularly striking among children, with three out of four being infected, bringing the total to 75% in February from around 45% in December, as the Associated Press reported.

Among Americans of all ages, about 34% had evidence of previous infection in December, rising to 58% in February.

The researchers looked at blood samples from more than 200,000 Americans and looked for antibodies to the virus that resulted from infections, not vaccines.

“I expected it to increase. I didn’t expect it to increase that much,” said Dr Kristie Clarke, co-leader of a CDC team that tracks the extent of infections. to coronavirus.

The older the elderly, the less evidence they had of past infections, the study found. For people aged 65 and over, 19% had signs of previous infection in December and 33% in February. This may be because older people have higher vaccination rates and may be more likely to take other COVID-19 precautions, such as wearing masks and avoiding crowds. said Clarke.

CDC officials stressed that previously infected people should still receive COVID-19 vaccines, as they remain the best protection against serious illness and death.

Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, the scientific understanding of its transmission and prevention has evolved. The WSJ’s Daniela Hernandez explains which strategies have worked to stem the spread of the virus and which are outdated in 2022. Illustration: Adele Morgan

COVID-19 cases are rising again in the United States, driven by the BA.2 variant of omicron, as well as two sub-variants that appear to be even more contagious. The two, named BA.2.12 and BA.2.12.1, were recently highlighted by New York state health officials.

The United States averages 50,791 cases per day, according to a New York Times tracker, up 61% from two weeks ago. Cases are rising in nearly every state and territory, in some cases more than doubling since early April.

The country is recording an average of 15,908 hospitalizations a day, up 6% from two weeks ago, although it remains close to the lowest since the first weeks of the pandemic. The daily death toll fell below 400 to an average of 362.

But the official death toll is expected to hit 1 million within weeks, and experts warn that with many other parts of the world still unvaccinated, new variants could emerge.

See now: Many Americans Think Pandemic Is Over, But New, Highly Transmissible, Immune-Evasive Variants Likely, Says White House COVID Response Coordinator

Vice President Kamala Harris tested positive for COVID-19 on Tuesday on rapid and PCR tests, his publicist, Kirsten Allen, said in a statement.

Harris “has had no symptoms, will self-isolate and continue to work from the Vice President’s residence. She has not been in close contact with the President or the First Lady due to their respective recent travel schedules,” Allen added.

Meanwhile, Pfizer PFE,
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and German partner BioNTech BNTX,
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have asked the Food and Drug Administration to authorize a COVID-19 booster dose for children ages 5 to 11. Abseils are allowed for teenagers and adults.

The companies said data from a Phase 2/3 clinical trial raised no new safety concerns when children in this age group were given a booster six months after completing the first round of vaccines.

Coronavirus update: MarketWatch’s Daily Roundup organizes and reports all the latest developments each day of the week since the start of the coronavirus pandemic

Other COVID-19 news you should know:

• Shanghai city authorities announced on Wednesday that they will begin rounds of COVID-19 tests over the next few days to determine which neighborhoods can safely benefit from limited freedom of movement, reports the AP. Beijing residents are watching the capital’s shutdown carefully. China reported 14,222 new cases, most of which were asymptomatic. The country is battling its biggest outbreak since the first outbreak was reported in Wuhan in late December 2019. The flow of industrial goods has also been disrupted by the suspension of access to Shanghai, home to the world’s busiest port, and other industrial cities including Changchun and Jilin in northeast China. . This phenomenon manifests itself frequently in US corporate earnings during the current first-quarter season.

Beijing is rushing to test more than 20 million people as residents scramble for food supplies. The WSJ’s Jonathan Cheng shows what life is like in the capital and unpacks the likely ripple effects if officials cannot control the fast-spreading virus. Photo: Kevin Frayer/Getty Images

• The European Union is emerging from the emergency phase of the pandemic in which testing should be targeted and surveillance of COVID-19 cases should be similar to sample-based influenza surveillance, Reuters reported. The change comes amid a steady decline in cases and deaths and with more than 70% of the trading bloc’s population vaccinated and boosted.

• The EU decision comes as the World Health Organization warns that a sharp drop in testing around the world blinds it to the continued spread of the virus and potentially dangerous mutations, reports the Guardian. WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters that while the drop in the number of cases and deaths is a welcome trend, it could also be the result of significant reductions in testing. “As many countries reduce testing, the WHO receives less and less information on transmission and sequencing,” he said. “It makes us increasingly blind to patterns of transmission and evolution. When it comes to a deadly virus, ignorance is no bliss.

• Gilead Sciences Inc. GILD,
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has steadily expanded the use of its COVID treatment Veklury while much of the country’s attention has turned to the arrival of new antivirals that can be picked up over the counter of a pharmacy, MarketWatch’s Jaimy Lee reported on Wednesday. So far this year, the Food and Drug Administration has granted Veklury approval as an outpatient treatment for COVID-19 patients who are at high risk of hospitalization or death; regulator upgraded clearance to full approval for use in young children; and the World Health Organization amended its conditional recommendation for Veklury, indicating that it now recommends treatment for patients with mild or moderate COVID-19 who are at high risk for hospitalization. Gilead first received emergency clearance for remdesivir, as it was then called, as a treatment for hospitalized COVID-19 patients on May 1, 2020, making it the first new drug to be shown to have helped hospitalized COVID-19 patients for a of the darkest times of the pandemic. The company will release its first-quarter results on Thursday.

As the fourth doses of Covid vaccines are rolled out, some wonder if the general population needs them. At the center of this debate are mysterious T cells. The WSJ’s Daniela Hernandez explains the role of T cells in Covid immunity and their relationship to antibodies. Illustration: Adele Morgan

Here’s what the numbers say

The global tally of confirmed COVID-19 cases topped 511.3 million on Tuesday, while the death toll topped 6.22 million, according to data aggregated by Johns Hopkins University.

The United States leads the world with 81.1 million cases and more than 992,028 deaths.

the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Tracker shows that 219.4 million people living in the United States are fully immunized, or 66.1% of the total population. But only 100.2 million are boosted, or 45.7% of the vaccinated population.

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