Friday, January 21, 2022

Live: Daily Coronavirus News Updates, Dec 1: What You Need To Know Today About COVID-19 In The Seattle Area, Washington State And Around The World

While the severity of the omicron is still unknown, the CEO of Moderna predicted that existing COVID-19 vaccines would be less effective at fighting the omicron variant than other variants of the virus. While country leaders are taking precautions and exploring this option, it may take months for vaccine developers to create doses specifically targeted to the omicron.

New reports indicate that the mutated virus was already in Europe about a week before South African health officials reported their first case of omicron. Brazil and Japan reported their first cases this week, highlighting the difficulty of containing this option in an era of easy travel.

Greek officials have passed a measure requiring people over 60 to be fully vaccinated or to incur a monthly fine of € 100, the equivalent of $ 114. The measure takes effect early next year and was taken in an attempt to stem the country’s current spike in cases and concerns over the omicron.

We are updating this page with the latest news on the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on Seattle, the United States and the world. Click here to see real-time updates from previous days and all other news on the coronavirus, and here to see how we track the daily spread of the virus in Washington DC.

7:13 am

How two flights to Europe could stimulate the spread of the omicron variant

For hundreds of passengers flying from South Africa to Amsterdam on Friday, flight KL592 had all the trappings of international travel in the COVID era.

They arrived with paperwork proving their eligibility to fly, and check-in agents checked a dizzying array of requirements specific to their final destination. Some countries, such as the United States, required vaccinated travelers to test negative. During the long flight, only a few were wearing masks, passengers said, as flight attendants often let the masks slide.

But while the flight was on the way, everything changed on the ground.

Panic over a new version of the omicron found in southern Africa prompted countries to close their borders. The arrivals plunged into a new post-micron reality, and it was a hellish reality: they breathed musty air for hours as their planes stood on the runway, then battled exhaustion in crowded waiting rooms, awaiting smear results in close contact with fellow travelers who turned out to be infected with the new and perhaps a more dangerous option.

“We were in the same place, in the same room,” said one passenger, 39-year-old Jan Mesek, a laboratory technician whose company operates the smear machines, who was returning from a two-week business trip to his home in Prague. “I felt like a pig in a pen,” he said, adding that “they completely spread the virus around us.”

Read the story here

– Jason Horowitz, The New York Times

7:07 am

The Omicron variant spread to at least 20 countries before it was known

Health officials said on Tuesday that the highly mutated new variant of the coronavirus was in Europe a few days earlier than was previously known, and the number of countries in which it was detected has increased to at least 20, raising questions about whether a pandemic is about to intensify again.

The Netherlands’ National Institute for Public Health and the Environment said samples taken on November 19 and 23 – before the omicron was announced on November 24 – tested positive for the variant. Health officials have notified two infected people and are tracing contacts to try to limit the spread.

According to scientists, mutations in the omicron variant strongly suggest that it is more infectious than previous forms of the virus. They warn that they can’t be sure without more research and data, but the evidence is sobering so far.

On Tuesday, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said they plan to tighten coronavirus testing and screening for people flying to the United States, requiring all international passengers to submit a negative test result within 24 hours of departure.

Read the story here

—Richard Perez-Pena, The New York Times

6:35 am

Markus Lamb, head of Daystar, a Christian anti-vaccination network, dies after contracting COVID-19

 Markus D. Lamb, president and founder of the Daystar Television Network and a vocal opponent of the COVID-19 vaccine, passed away on November 30 after contracting COVID.  Daystar is headquartered in Texas.  (Daystar)

Markus Lamb, founder of major Christian network Daystar, passed away on Tuesday after contracting the coronavirus. Lamb’s network drew attention to the virus during the pandemic, calling it a satanic attack that should not be treated with vaccines.

Daystar is the second largest Christian network in the world according to competitor CBN News, reaching 2 billion people worldwide. His brand is a fluid, modern, charismatic faith, more about a general relationship of good and evil, miraculous healings and religious freedom than any particular denominational theology.

But during the pandemic, Lamb and his network erupted in anti-vaccination plots, conducting daily interviews with skeptics who spoke of dangerous, hidden forces pushing vaccines and stealing freedom from Christians.

Lamb’s son, Jonathan, said the disease was “a spiritual attack from an enemy” who “did everything in his power to defeat my father.”

White evangelical Christians are more resistant to coronavirus vaccines than other religious groups in the United States, which experts say is due to politics, skepticism towards the government and their consumption of alternative media, and unsubstantiated conspiracy theories about the dangers of vaccines.

Read the story here

—Michelle Burstein, The Washington Post

6:18 am

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—Chris Higginson

Nation World News Desk
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