South African scientists detect new variants in spikes: COVID update.

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Thousands of people traveling on this week’s vacation will first test for COVID-19 without a doctor, lab, or medical supervision.

Rapid home inspections are welcomed as the primary convenience and smart way to protect loved ones, but they are also a major challenge for public health authorities. If many consumers do not report test results at home, how can an agency track cases and trends comprehensively?

Federal and state health authorities have been working since March 2020 to build the ability to test, report, and monitor cases of COVID-19. Public health officials say case reporting is important for finding trends and detecting spikes so that the hotspot community can mitigate risk and prepare hospitals for a flood of care seekers.

However, it is unclear how often customers report the results of 12 licensed home coronavirus tests that typically produce results in 15 minutes outside the lab or clinic. And the blind spots in public health data are ready to grow.

Private testing manufacturers are already testing more home antigens than standard clinical tests. With new home inspections flooding the market, the gap could almost double next month.

— Ken Alltucker, USA TODAY

Even in the news:

► From Monday, Massachusetts hospitals need to reduce non-urgent scheduled procedures due to staff shortages and long-term patient stays, according to state health officials.

► This week’s number of air travelers is expected to approach or exceed pre-pandemic levels, and Auto Club AAA predicts that 48.3 million people will travel at least 50 miles away from home during the holidays. doing.

► According to a hospital statement, more than 100 children were vaccinated with the wrong dose of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination event in Iowa on Saturday. A MercyOne spokeswoman said there were no significant health risks associated with high doses and children could have more serious versions of the side effects of common vaccines.

► France launched a plan to give COVID-19 booster shots to all adults on Thursday. This is because they opposed further blockades or curfew to combat the growing concern about infectious diseases in the country.

📈Today’s numbers: According to data from Johns Hopkins University, more than 48 million COVID-19 infections have been identified in the United States, killing more than 775,000 people. Global total: more than 259 million cases and 5.1 million deaths. According to the CDC, more than 196 million Americans (59.1% of the population) are fully vaccinated.

📘What we are reading: During COVID-19, they believed that homes were safer than schools. Currently, some NYC parents have been accused of negligence.

Keep updating this page for the latest news. Want more? Sign up for USA TODAY’s free Coronavirus Watch newsletter to receive the latest information in your inbox directly and join our Facebook group.

South African scientists detect new viral variants in spikes

A new coronavirus variant has been detected in South Africa. Scientists say there are concerns in Gauteng, the country’s most populous state, due to the high number of mutations and the rapid spread among young people.

Coronaviruses evolve as they spread, and many new variants, including worrying mutations, often only die. Scientists monitor changes that can be more contagious or fatal, but it can take time to classify whether a new variant impacts public health.

In South Africa, new infections are on the rise dramatically, Fara said in an online press conference.

“We’ve seen an exponential rise over the last four to five days,” he added, adding that the new variant seems to be driving a surge in cases. South African scientists are working to determine what percentage of new cases are caused by new variants.

He said the new variant, now identified as B.1.1.529, has also been found in South African travelers Botswana and Hong Kong.

The WHO Technical Working Group may meet on Friday to evaluate new variants and decide whether to name them from Greek letters.

-The Associated Press

White House: Most federal workers comply with vaccine obligations

Just over nine out of ten federal officials have been vaccinated at least once by the required deadline, and the Biden administration announced Wednesday that it announced per-institutional vaccination rates.

These rates were as high as 97.8% at the United States Agency for International Development. Department of Agriculture workers had the lowest rate: 86.1%.

Federal employees had to be vaccinated or demand medical or religious exemptions until the end of Monday. Unlike the rules that the Biden administration wants to impose on private employers, federal workers cannot opt ​​out of vaccine requirements if they agree to weekly inspections.

According to the White House, workers who are not vaccinated or seeking tax exemptions “start a period of education and counseling, followed by additional enforcement measures.”

–Maureen Groppe and Michael Collins, USA TODAY

European Union drug regulator approves Pfizer vaccine for infants

Drug regulators in the European Union paved the way for children aged 5 to 11 years to begin vaccination with the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine on Thursday as a wave of new infections rushes across the continent.

The Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use, the European Medicines Agency, the EU agency responsible for drug evaluation and supervision, has concluded that the benefits of vaccination of children outweigh the risks. The Commission then sends its recommendations to the Commission, which makes the final decision.

According to the World Health Organization, Germany has faced the worst surge in COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic, reporting more than 333,000 cases during the week of November 15. This is almost double the weekly rate reported during the last surge in December 2020.

–Celina Tebor, USA TODAY

Chancellor Merkel: Germany’s “sad day” killing 100,000 people at COVID

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has labeled Thursday as a “very sad day” and has called for further restrictions as her country has become the latest death toll from COVID-19, exceeding 100,000, since the pandemic began. Supported.

The national disease control agency said it has recorded 351 deaths associated with the coronavirus in the last 24 hours, with total casualties reaching 100,119. In Europe, Germany is the fifth country to pass the mark after Russia, Great Britain, Italy and France.

A long-time German leader, who is currently in office as a caretaker until her successor swears, warned that hundreds more were already imminent.

“(Death) correlates very clearly with the number of infections that are occurring,” she said. “We know, on average, how many people do not survive the disease.”

The Robert Koch Institute, a federal agency that collects data from about 400 community health departments, said Germany has set a record of daily confirmed cases (75,961) over the last 24 hours. Since the onset of the outbreak, there have been more than 5.57 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Germany.

-The Associated Press

“Another Holiday Season for COVID”: Experts Concerned about Increasing Cases

Cases of COVID-19 are increasing again, despite early signs suggesting that the United States may have avoided another winter surge.

According to a USA TODAY analysis of Johns Hopkins data, the country reported 665,420 cases in the week ending Monday, an increase of more than 30% from the pace of cases reported about a month ago.

As the number of cases increases in 39 states, data from US health services show that hospitals in 32 states have admitted more patients in the most recent week than in the previous week.

“Frankly, I’m really worried,” said Daniel Onpad, associate professor of epidemiology at the Faculty of Global Public Health at New York University. “I think it’s better than last year, but the number of cases is starting to increase, which is something we really need to pay attention to.”

Almost two years after the fight against COVID-19, health experts thought the United States would have been in a better position to control the pandemic. Instead, many are unvaccinated, ignoring mitigation measures, slowing progress, and burning up medical professionals.

–Adrianna Rodriguez, USA TODAY

Contribution: Associated Press

South African scientists detect new variants in spikes: COVID update

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