Coronavirus News Update – Feb. 5: Pandemic in Retreat?

By Anna Breuer on 5 February 2021
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The Western Wall, or Kotel, the only remains of the Second Temple of Jerusalem,

The number of new coronavirus cases, hospitalizations, and deaths in the United States all decreased this week.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease specialist and a top member of the Biden administration, said that the coronavirus variant known as B.1.1.7. that was first discovered in the United Kingdom may be on its way to becoming dominant in the United States.

The United Kingdom may have inoculated its entire population with the first dose of a two-dose coronavirus vaccine by the end of June, health officials said this week.  The country is on track to vaccinate all of its population above the age of 50 by May. The action would bring the country close to herd immunity.  The Covid-19 reproduction number or R is now between 0.7 and 1.0, the Department of Health and Social Care said Friday. R is the number of people that one infected person will pass on a virus to, on average.

Researchers at the University of Oxford said that the Covid-19 vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford protected people against the new, more contagious coronavirus variant first found in the United Kingdom at similar levels to the protection it offered against other lineages of the virus.

In Israel, which has vaccinated a greater percentage of its population than any other country, the number of new Covid-19 cases has fallen significantly among people who were vaccinated in recent weeks. An analysis of data of people 60 years or older who received the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine showed that the number of new coronavirus cases was down 41% compared to three weeks earlier, despite the presence of the new B.1.1.7 variant.

Johnson & Johnson said it had submitted an application for emergency authorization for its new one-dose coronavirus vaccine to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.  The company hopes to begin shipments of it in early March.

Meanwhile, the Food and Drug Administration said it will use the current process for updating flu vaccines as a template for authorizing any changes to coronavirus shots.  “Influenza vaccines and diagnostics are often modified each year to address the predicted predominant strains circulating globally,” acting FDA commissioner Dr. Janet Woodcock said in a statement. “We will utilize our experience with influenza to help inform a path forward if SARS-CoV-2 variants emerge against which currently authorized vaccines are not sufficiently effective.”

Officials in Hong Kong announced that air and sea crewmembers, previously exempt from quarantine measures, will now be subject to a 14-day quarantine at a quarantine hotel.  The government asked in a news release for the airline industry’s “understanding” as it rolled out the new procedures.

Investigators from the World Health Organization visited the laboratory in Wuhan that has been at the center of speculation about the origin of the novel coronavirus.  The lab, run by the Wuhan Institute of Virology, is the only one in the country with Biosafety Level 4 biocontainment, the highest level.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

Accura News

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