WHO Tracking 4 Omicron Subvariants As Global Death Rates Fall
The pandemic situation may be improving globally, thanks to treatments and vaccines, and news outlets report the overall effect seems to be falling death rates. Meanwhile, the World Health Organization has said preventing all infections is impossible as it tracks four omicron variants.
Covid Death Rates Are Declining Around The World
The pandemic looks a whole lot different in 2022. Vaccines are working, treatments are advancing and—at least for now—the virus itself seems less intent on killing. The likelihood of surviving Covid-19 is improving around the world. In the U.S., there were nearly four times as many positive cases for each death this year when compared to last winter's peak, according to a new analysis from Bloomberg’s Vaccine Tracker. In the European Union, where more people have been vaccinated, this survival ratio was 11 times higher than last winter. Even in countries with lower vaccination rates, Covid patients were increasingly likely to recover. (Randall, 2/13)
WHO Tracking 4 Omicron Sub-Variants, Says Preventing All COVID Transmissions 'Not The Goal'
World Health Organization (WHO) official Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove said earlier this week that the agency is tracking four omicron sub-variants, including BA.1, BA.1.1, BA.2 and BA.3. The infectious disease epidemiologist explained in a video clip she tweeted on Thursday that the agency is "watching [the] virus evolve in real-time," tracking proportions of the sub-variants. "Now, we already know that omicron has a growth advantage; it's more transmissible compared to other variants of concern and also has properties of immune escape," she said. "But, we know some of the sub-lineages, BA.2, has a growth advantage even over BA.1." (Musto, 2/11)
In other global covid news —
Border Blockade COVID Protest Continues As Trucks Leave
Trucks cleared out of a pandemic restrictions protest on Saturday that for days has disrupted trade between the U.S. and Canada. But protesters on foot are continuing to demonstrate, despite an increased police presence.vDozens of police officers moved into position Saturday morning near protesters on the Canadian side of the crossing. For six days, demonstrators have been blocking the crossing at the Ambassador Bridge, which connects Detroit and Windsor.vPickup trucks and semis rolled out Saturday morning, leaving a crowd of protesters on foot.vBy noon, new protesters began to join. Their numbers grew to several hundred, despite a large police presence pushing them back. (Schnell and Fernando, 2/12)
Paris Police Fire Tear Gas To Disperse Banned Virus Protest
Paris police fired tear gas Saturday against a handful of demonstrators on the Champs-Elysees Avenue who defied a police order by taking part in a vehicle protest against virus restrictions inspired by Canada’s horn-honking truckers. In the Netherlands, dozens of trucks and other vehicles — ranging from tractors to a car towing a camping van — arrived in The Hague for a similar virus-related protest Saturday, blocking an entrance to the historic Dutch parliamentary complex. (Adamson, 2/12)
Many Faith Leaders Wary Of Religious Exemptions For Vaccine
By the thousands, Americans have been seeking religious exemptions in order to circumvent COVID-19 vaccine mandates, but generally they are doing so without the encouragement of major denominations and prominent religious leaders. From the Vatican, Pope Francis has defended the vaccines as “the most reasonable solution to the pandemic.” The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America declared categorically that its followers would not be offered religious exemptions. Robert Jeffress, the conservative pastor of a Baptist megachurch in Dallas, voiced similar sentiments. (Crary and Smith, 2/12)
And other news from around the world —
US Suspends Mexican Avocado Imports On Eve Of Super Bowl
The U.S. government suspended all imports of Mexican avocados “until further notice” after a U.S. plant safety inspector in Mexico received a threatening message, Mexico’s Agriculture Department said in a statement. “U.S. health authorities ... made the decision after one of their officials, who was carrying out inspections in Uruapan, Michoacan, received a threatening message on his official cellphone,” the department wrote. (Stevenson, 2/14)
What Is Lassa Fever And Its Symptoms? Is It Transmissible?
A hospital patient in Bedfordshire has died from a confirmed case of Lassa fever – the third case to be identified in the UK in the last few days. All three cases of the potentially fatal disease are understood to be linked to recent travel to West Africa. Here, the PA news agency looks at where the virus originated from, what its symptoms are and how transmissible it is. ... Lassa fever is an acute viral haemorrhagic illness, belonging to the virus family Arenaviridae, that lasts between two and 21 days, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). (2/12)