Omicron Spreads Globally, Expected To Be Dominant In EU In A Month
As omicron covid has spread to at least 77 countries and 35 U.S. states, the European Commission president said it was expected to dominate the area by mid-January. The CDC added Italy to the level 4 travel list, and German officials said the nation was tackling a vaccine supply problem.
EU Official: Omicron To Be Dominant Variant By Mid-January
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said Wednesday that omicron is expected to be the dominant coronavirus variant in the 27-nation bloc by mid-January. The head of the EU’s executive branch said the bloc is well prepared to fight omicron with 66.6% of the European population now fully vaccinated against the virus. Von der Leyen said she is confident the EU has the “strength” and “means” to overcome the disease, although expressing her disappointment that once again year-end celebrations will be disturbed by the pandemic. (Petrequin, 12/15)
The Washington Post:
Omicron Variant Spreads To 77 Countries, 35 U.S. States
The omicron variant of the coronavirus is spreading rapidly across the United States and the globe, reaching at least 35 U.S. states and 77 countries less than a month after being designated as a “variant of concern” by the World Health Organization. U.S. officials said Tuesday that omicron could fuel a new wave of infections as soon as next month. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said Wednesday that omicron is expected to become the dominant variant in the European Union by mid-January. China this week became one of the latest countries to report omicron cases, and WHO officials said the variant was partially responsible for an 83 percent rise in coronavirus cases in Africa over the past week. (Jeong, Timsit and Francis, 12/15)
In other global news about covid and vaccines —
The Washington Post:
CDC Puts Italy On Its Level 4 Travel List
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has warned people not to travel to Italy, placing one of Europe’s top tourist destinations on its highest-risk category for the coronavirus. The agency also added the Danish autonomous territory of Greenland and the small African island of Mauritius to its avoid travel list. (Villegas, 12/14)
Germany Vaccine Shortage: Health Minister Karl Lauterbach 'Surprised'
Germany’s new Health Minister Karl Lauterbach said he’s in direct contact with manufacturers of Covid-19 vaccines to increase deliveries after discovering the country is short supplies for early next year. “We have a shortage of vaccine for the first quarter and I have already been working for several days to correct it,” Lauterbach, who took office last week, said late Tuesday in an interview with ARD television. “I hope I can communicate a positive message about this in the next few days,” he added. “But it’s right that we have too little vaccine and that surprised many when we did the inventory, myself included.” (Rogers, 12/15)
Vaccine Alliance Chief: Omicron Could Trigger 'Inequity 2.0'
The head of vaccine alliance Gavi, which is leading a U.N.-backed push to get COVID-19 vaccines to developing countries, said that he’s seen early signs that rich countries are beginning to withhold donations out of fears about the omicron coronavirus variant — warning any new hoarding could lead to “Inequity 2.0.” Gavi chief executive Dr. Seth Berkley took stock of the nearly two-year fight against the pandemic as the alliance released the latest update to its supply forecast for COVID-19 vaccines that it has repeatedly downscaled, largely because of export bans and vaccine hoarding by some producer countries that critics say it should have foreseen. (Keaten, 12/15)
Pfizer Set To Oust AstraZeneca As Top Supplier Of COVID-19 Shots To Poor Nations
Pfizer and BioNtech are set to displace AstraZeneca as the main suppliers of COVID-19 vaccines to the global COVAX programme at the start of 2022, a shift that shows the increasing importance of their shot for poorer states. The expected change comes with headaches for receiving countries that lack sufficient cold storage capacity to handle the Pfizer vaccine, and amid risks of a shortage of syringes needed to administer that shot. (Guarascio, 12/15)
Sanofi, GSK Delay Data On COVID-19 Vaccine Booster Candidate Til 2022
Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline said on Wednesday they expect data from late-stage clinical trials of its booster dose of their COVID-19 vaccine candidate in the first quarter, instead of this year, another delay for the potential shot. The news came as the French and British partners said preliminary data from trials showed the single-dose booster provided strong immune responses. (Van Overstraeten, 12/15)