Coronavirus News Briefing – Nov. 27: The World Sounds the Alarm as Omicron Variant Is Detected in Germany, U.K.

By Paul Riegler on 27 November 2021
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Frankfurt, the capital of Hesse

A growing number of countries moved to halt air traffic from South Africa and neighboring countries after the discovery of the new Omicron variant that appears to have originated there.

The World Health Organization skipped two Greek letters, Nu and Xi, and bestowed the new variant with the name Omicron, to avoid confusion with the English word “new” that is pronounced similarly to the letter Nu and with the name of  China’s leader, Xi Jinping.

The United Kingdom said that it had detected two such cases and confirmed that the infected individuals were isolated and that contract tracing was taking place.

Health officials in Hesse, a state in west-central Germany, said at least one person who recently returned from South Africa appeared to have the Omicron variant.

“The Omicron variant is with very high probability already in Germany,” said Staatsminister Kai Klose, who is head of the Hessian Ministry for Social Affairs and Integration, who also said that the individual in question was isolating at home.

Officials in Belgium also reported a case with the new variant and there was a suspected case in the Czech Republic as well.

As of Saturday morning, the world has recorded 261.1 million Covid-19 cases, an increase of 0.5 million new cases, and 5.2 million deaths, according to Worldometer, a service that tracks such information. In addition, 235.9 million people worldwide have recovered from the virus.

The average daily number of new coronavirus cases in the United States over the past 14 days is 87,195, a 10% increase.  The average daily death toll over the same period is 1,013, a decrease of 9% over the same period.

In addition, since the start of the pandemic the United States has, as of Saturday, recorded 49.1 million cases, a higher figure than any other country, and a death toll of 799,138. India has the world’s second highest number of officially recorded cases, almost 34.6 million, and a death toll of 467,933, although experts believe that both numbers are in reality significantly higher.  Finally, Brazil has recorded the second highest number of deaths as a result of the virus, 614,000, and has seen just 22.1 million cases.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that, as of Saturday, 231.4 million people in the United States – or 69.7% – have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. Of that population, 59.1%, or 196.2 million people, are now fully vaccinated, and the total number of doses that have been dispensed in the United States is now 454.4 million. Breaking this down further, 82.2% of the population over the age of 18 – or 212.3 million people – has received at least a first inoculation and 70.1% of the same group – or 183.1 million people – is fully vaccinated.

Some 54% of the world population has received at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine, according to Our World in Data, an online scientific publication that tracks such information.  So far, 7.88 billion doses of the vaccine have been administered on a global basis.

Meanwhile, only 5.7% of people in low-income countries have received one dose, while in countries such as Canada, China, Denmark, France, Italy, the United Kingdom, and the United States, at least 65% of the population has received at least one dose of vaccine. In countries such as Ethiopia, Haiti, Syria, Senegal, Tanzania, and Uganda, for example, vaccination rates remain in the single digits, if not lower.

Figures from the World Health Organization show that well-off countries are vaccinating people at the rate of one person per second, while the majority of poor countries have yet to give a single dose to its citizens.

It is critical that the world do a better job of sharing vaccines with poorer nations.

Sharing vaccines is not merely a form of charity.  Rather, the equitable distribution of vaccines is in every country’s health and economic interest and no country will be able to move past the pandemic until other countries have recovered as well.

Jonathan Spira contributed to this story.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

Accura News

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