Well-Being Georgia

in partnership with

Augusta University of Health

COVID-19 Impact on GeorgiaCOVID-19 News from Around the State

Early data from South Africa hints Omicron variant may cause less severe Covid, but more research is needed

STAT - December 6, 2021

[Early] clinical data emerging from South Africa hint at a virus that may cause less severe cases of Covid-19. The South African Medical Research Council posted a report Saturday of the early experiences at several hospitals in Gauteng Province, where Omicron was first spotted in the country. Strikingly, most hospitalized patients who tested positive for Covid did not need supplemental oxygen. Few developed Covid pneumonia, few required high-level care, and fewer still were admitted to intensive care. Experts caution against reading too much into these early reports, which are based on small numbers of patients.

As omicron is reported now in at least 15 states, officials push again for vaccines, boosters, masks: COVID-19 updates

USA Today - December 6, 2021

Vaccinations and booster shots continue to be the best defense against the coronavirus for the U.S., even with the spread of the new omicron variant, which now has been reported in at least 15 states, health officials said Sunday. Vaccines developed to fight the original COVID-19 strain have offered good protection against the delta variant, the dominant strain in the U.S., said Dr. Anthony Fauci … He believes they will help with omicron, especially for those who also get a booster shot.

Pfizer could have vaccine data for kids under age 5 by year-end, CEO says

NBC News - December 6, 2021

Pfizer could have data on how well its Covid-19 vaccine works in kids under age 5 by the end of the year, according to CEO Albert Bourla. "We have a study in children 6 months to 2 years and then another cohort of children 2 to 5 years," Bourla told NBC News chief White House correspondent Kristen Welker. "So [by] end of the year, beginning of next year, when we see the data, we will know more."

Is It Time to Change the Definition of ‘Fully Vaccinated’?

Kaiser Health News - December 6, 2021

As more indoor venues require proof of vaccination for entrance and with winter — as well as omicron, a new covid variant — looming, scientists and public health officials are debating when it will be time to change the definition of “fully vaccinated” to include a booster shot. It’s been more than six months since many Americans finished their vaccination course against covid; statistically, their immunity is waning.

Pro-Trump counties now have far higher COVID death rates. Misinformation is to blame

NPR - December 6, 2021

Since May 2021, people living in counties that voted heavily for Donald Trump during the last presidential election have been nearly three times as likely to die from COVID-19 as those who live in areas that went for now-President Biden. That's according to a new analysis by NPR that examines how political polarization and misinformation are driving a significant share of the deaths in the pandemic.

US drugstores squeezed by vaccine demand, staff shortages

AP - December 6, 2021

A rush of vaccine-seeking customers and staff shortages are squeezing drugstores around the U.S., leading to frazzled workers and temporary pharmacy closures. Drugstores are normally busy this time of year with flu shots and other vaccines, but now pharmacists are doling out a growing number of COVID-19 shots and giving coronavirus tests. The push for shots is expected to grow more intense…

Omicron COVID-19 variant detected in 5 states, a day after first case was reported in U.S.

CBS News - December 3, 2021

The Omicron variant has now been detected in at least five states, after multiple states announced their first cases of the strain on Thursday night. At least 10 total cases have now been reported in the U.S., as local leaders are warning that the variant is now spreading within some communities. New York, California, Hawaii, Minnesota and Colorado have now reported cases.

Tighter travel rules, free at-home tests and boosters: Biden unveils COVID-19 winter plan

USA Today - December 3, 2021

Requiring travelers entering the country by air to test negative for the coronavirus within a day of departure, regardless of vaccination status or nationality, instead of within three days. … Extending through March 18 the requirement that masks be worn on airplanes, trains and public transportation. … Requiring private health insurance companies to cover 100% of the cost of at-home tests for the coronavirus. … Launching a public education campaign to encourage 100 million adults to get boosters, with a special focus on seniors.

WHO says measures used against delta should work for omicron

AP - December 3, 2021

Measures used to counter the delta variant should remain the foundation for fighting the coronavirus pandemic, even in the face of the new omicron version of the virus, WHO officials said Friday, while acknowledging that the travel restrictions imposed by some countries may buy time. … That means continuing to push for higher vaccination rates, abiding by social-distancing guidelines, and wearing masks, among other measures, said WHO Regional Emergency Director Dr. Babatunde Olowokure.

Covid: Trigger of rare blood clots with AstraZeneca jab found by scientists

BBC - December 3, 2021

Scientists believe they have found "the trigger" that leads to extremely rare blood clots after the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid vaccine. The team - in Cardiff and the US - have shown in exquisite detail how a protein in the blood is attracted to a key component of the vaccine. They think this kicks off a chain reaction, involving the immune system, that can culminate in dangerous clots. The vaccine is thought to have saved about a million lives from Covid.

New Harvard study declares winner between Pfizer and Moderna vaccines

The Hill - December 3, 2021

A new study from researchers at Harvard compared the efficacy of both the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID vaccines. Researchers used the health records of close to 400,000 veterans for the study. While both vaccines are highly effective in offering protection against the virus, the Moderna vaccine is slightly better, the study claims.

Virtual care companies rush to ease access to Covid-19 antivirals

STAT - December 3, 2021

As two new antiviral pills for Covid-19 approach emergency authorization, experts are concerned that a lack of public health infrastructure — especially easy access to fast-turnaround testing and quickly filled prescriptions — will prevent them from making a meaningful dent in the pandemic.

Fauci Says Americans Don’t Need to Change Holiday Plans due to Omicron — If They’re Vaccinated

PEOPLE - December 3, 2021

With the new, potentially highly-transmissible COVID-19 variant omicron now in the U.S. and coinciding with the start of the holiday season, Dr. Anthony Fauci says that families can move forward with their celebrations — as long as they're vaccinated. … "Just as I said and I'll say it again, if you have a vaccinated situation, enjoy the holidays with your family in a family setting," he said.

‘The fire that’s here’: US is still battling delta variant

AP - December 3, 2021

While all eyes are on the new and little-understood omicron variant that has been detected around the U.S., the delta form of the coronavirus isn’t finished wreaking havoc in the U.S., sending record numbers of patients to the hospital in the Midwest and New England. “Omicron is a spark that’s on the horizon. Delta variant is the fire that’s here today,” said Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the state CDC in Maine…

US reports 1st case of omicron variant in returning traveler

AP - December 2, 2021

The U.S. recorded its first confirmed case of the omicron variant Wednesday — in a vaccinated traveler who returned to California after a trip to South Africa — as scientists around the world race to establish whether the new, mutant version of the coronavirus is more dangerous than previous ones. Dr. Anthony Fauci … announced the finding at the White House. … The infected person was identified as a traveler who had returned from South Africa on Nov. 22, developed mild symptoms and tested positive for COVID-19 Monday.

Hospitals refused to prescribe ivermectin. Threats and lockdowns followed.

NBC News - December 2, 2021

One Montana hospital went into lockdown and called police after a woman threatened violence because her relative was denied her request to be treated with ivermectin. … underline the pressure on health care workers to provide unauthorized Covid treatments, particularly in parts of the country where vaccination rates are low, government skepticism is high, and conservative leaders have championed the treatments.