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1. The Omicron variant caused more than 70% of recent Covid-19 cases in the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Monday, highlighting its substantial increase in infectiousness compared with earlier versions of the virus. The CDC said Monday that Omicron had overtaken the Delta variant of the coronavirus in the U.S. and accounted for an estimated 73% of infections for the week ending Dec. 18. In many parts of the U.S., Omicron now makes up more than 90% of cases, the CDC said. Infectious-disease experts have said they believe the true share is likely even higher than that. (via wsj.com)
2. Moderna said a third dose of its Covid-19 vaccine increased immune responses against the Omicron coronavirus variant compared with two doses in lab tests, signaling the shot could still offer protection despite the variant’s mutations. The findings, reported by Moderna yesterday, were the latest positive—though preliminary—results from lab tests suggesting boosters can protect against the worrisome new strain. The new data may reinforce calls by public-health officials for vaccinated people to get booster shots. In the U.S., only about 29.5% of fully vaccinated people have received booster doses, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (via wsj.com)
3. A preliminary effectiveness study in Britain: Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine showed no ability to stop Omicron infection 6 months after vaccination. 90% of vaccinated people in India received this shot, under the brand name Covishield. The Chinese vaccines Sinopharm and Sinovac — which make up almost 50% of all shots delivered globally — offer almost zero protection from Omicron infection. The great majority of people in China have received these, they're widely used in Mexico and Brazil. Researchers predict that Russia’s Sputnik vaccine, which is also being used in Africa and Latin America, will show similarly dismal rates of protection against Omicron. (via twitter.com, nytimes.com)
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