Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Fauci warns that Omicron may NOT be the 'end' of the pandemic and there is a 'high probability' another variant could emerge' that would evade immunity

Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Disease, told the Davos Agenda virtual event Monday that 'natural vaccination' - or immunity via previous infection - might not be as effective as some believe.

Like the emergence of Omicron, there is potential for a new variant to emerge in the future that can bypass the natural immunity provided by infection from the new strain.

He says that even if Omicron - which has caused a massive surge in new cases worldwide but is not as severe or deadly as its predecessors - is the final strain of Covid, it will likely become endemic.

His warning runs counter to the positive predictions coming from some officials in the UK who believe that the virus could have a 'flu-type' relationship with people by the end of the year based on its current spread.

'I would hope that that's the case. But that would only be the case if we don't get another variant that eludes the immune response of the prior variant,' Fauci said.

Fauci has previously made grim projections about new Covid variants, and was even correct about a variant like Omicron emerging.

In August, when the Delta variant was first rising in the U.S., Fauci warned that with transmission of Covid so rampant it was likely that a vaccine resistant variant would eventually emerge.

Months later, than variant did come about, when South African health officials discovered the highly infectious Omicron variant in late November.

He fears that there is a chance another variant emerges that has mutated in a way that allows it to get around protection provided by recovering from Omicron.

Covid becoming endemic as a result of Omicron has become a common theory among health experts and officials, and has served as a beacon of hope for the population suffering through the recent surge.

Omicron is burning through people so quickly, causing daily Covid cases to hit records almost everywhere in the world, that it could soon run out of people to infect.

The U.S.'s daily case average eclipsed 800,000 for the first time over the weekend, with the height of the Omicron surge now reaching four times as many cases as the peak of the Delta wave. Disparities in case figures have not translated into more deaths, though, with the 1,839 deaths being recorded every day in America - the most since early October - is still far below the 3,200 deaths per day being averaged at the peak of the Delta surge in late September.

Cases also seem to be reaching a peak. Week-to-week case growth nationwide is slowing. New daily cases are only up seven percent over the past week, compared to a 75 percent increase the week before. New York and New Jersey were struck hard and fast by the variant last month, but cases in the neighboring states are now decreasing over the past two weeks - down 14 percent and 20 percent respectively.

Dr Vivek Murthy, America's surgeon general, warns that the peak may not be as near as some believe. He told CNN on Sunday that not every state will experience was is currently going on along the east coast.

'There are parts of the country -- New York, in particular, and other parts of the Northeast -- where we are starting to see a plateau, and in some cases, an early decline in cases,' Murthy said.

'The challenge is that the entire country is not moving at the same pace,'

'The Omicron wave started later in other parts of the country, so we shouldn't expect a national peak in the next coming days. The next few weeks will be tough.'

New Jersey, once among the leader in infection rate, is now seeing cases decline - signaling this surge is coming to an end.

Its neighbor, New York, and Maryland - which is experiencing a seven percent decline in daily cases - are also among the only three states in America where cases are going down.

The rate of case growth in state where cases are increasing is starting to slow, though. Last week, almost every state in America was recording a two-week doubling of cases. As of Monday morning, only 35 states have logged an increase of more than 100 percent in the past 14 days.

Some states that were once hotspots look like they could soon join the ranks of states posting decreasing cases. Georgia was once one of the hardest hit states in America by the recent Omicron surge, mainly fueled by an outbreak in the Atlanta area. The Peach state has seen a rapid decline in growth, though, with cases only up 34 percent over the past two weeks.

Neighboring Florida has quickly dropped off the leaderboard of states with the highest case growth, with the Sunshine state logging a 35 percent increase in cases over the past two weeks. Florida numbers can sometimes be misleading, though, due to the inconsistent nature of case reporting in the state.


French parliament approves law that will exclude unvaccinated people from all restaurants, sports areas, tourist sites and even trains

The French parliament has approved a law that will exclude unvaccinated people from all restaurants, sports areas, tourist sites and even trains.

President Emmanuel Macron has faced criticism that the new vaccine pass is overkill and will do little to slow hospitalisations because 91 per cent of the population are already jabbed against Covid-19.

Up until now, a Covid-19 pass has been required in France to go to most public sites throughout the country, but unvaccinated people have been allowed in if they show a recent negative test or proof of recent recovery.

But the new law, which applies to everyone aged 16 and over, requires full vaccination and removes the test option, effectively barring unvaccinated people from such venues.

Some exceptions could be made for those who have recently recovered from Covid-19 but the law, set to come into force by the end of the week, also imposes tougher fines for fake passes and allows ID checks to avoid fraud.

It is the central measure of government efforts to protect hospitals amid record numbers of Covid infections driven by the highly contagious Omicron variant.

The plans have faced fierce resistance from anti-vaccination campaigners and far-right and far-left groups, but was backed by the government which has a majority in parliament.

Macron's government is hoping the new pass will be enough to limit the number of patients filling up strained hospitals nationwide without resorting to a new lockdown.

New confinement measures would strike another blow to the economy, and could also cloud Macron's chances of re-election in the April 10 presidential vote.

More than 76 per cent of French ICU beds are occupied by coronavirus patients, most of them unvaccinated, and some 200 people with the virus are dying every day.

Like many countries, France is in the grip of an Omicron wave, recording more than 2,800 positive cases per 100,000 people over the past week.

The National Assembly adopted the law by a vote of 215-58. Macron, 44, had hoped to push the Bill through faster, but it was slightly delayed due to resistance from politicians both on the right and left and hundreds of proposed amendments.

Far-right leader Marine le Pen wrote on Twitter yesterday that, if elected, she would 'remove this useful and draconian measure', in reference to the new legislation.

Left wing politician François Ruffin said the vaccine pass made unvaccinated people 'second class citizens' and asked 'what have you done with our souls?'

Christophe Castaner, a member of Macron's La Republic en Marche party, rebutted Ruffin, saying 'the fight you are leading is already lost', citing a recent increase in vaccine uptake.

The new law comes after Macron said earlier this month he wanted to 'p*** off' unvaccinated people by making their lives so complicated they would end up getting jabbed.

He made the cutting remark while responding to a nurse during a question and answer session with readers of Le Parisien on how the government will handle non-vaccinated people.

'By – and I’m sorry for putting it this way – by p***ing them off even more,' Macron said.

'I’m generally opposed to the French being p****d off. I complain all the time about administrative blockages. But when it comes to the non-vaccinated, I’m very keen to pi** them off. So we’re going to do it, the end. That’s our strategy.'

The phrase prompted howls of condemnation from rivals and forced parliament to suspend a debate on a Covid bill on January 5 as opposition lawmakers demanded explanations from Macron.

But the government backed Macron. 'Who is pissing off who today?', government spokesperson Gabrial Attal said, quoting health workers struggling to cope or businesses hurt by the pandemic. 'It's those who refuse the vaccine.'

'A president cannot say such things,' Christian Jacob, chair of the conservative Les Republicans party, told parliament on January 5 as it discussed the new legislation.

'I'm in favour of the vaccine pass but I cannot back a text whose objective is to 'p*** off' the French,' Jacob said. 'Is that your objective, yes or no? We cannot keep debating without having a clear answer on that.'

'A president shouldn't say that,' Le Pen responded on Twitter. 'Emmanuel Macron is unworthy of his office.'

In the Le Parisien interview, Macron, who has consistently called on everyone in France to get vaccinated, also called unvaccinated people irresponsible and - in another remark criticised by some voters and the opposition, that 'irresponsible people are no longer citizens'.

He said he aims to irritate the unvaccinated into submission, rather than round them up and prosecute them.




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