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Infection cases jump to 5,742 … Omicron best vaccine?

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KUWAIT CITY, Jan 25, (Agencies): Kuwait on Tuesday said 5,742 more people tested positive for COVID-19 over the past 24 hours, taking the country’s caseload to 508,372, according to health ministry data. Some 4,856 more people recovered from the virus to up the number of those to have overcome the disease to 459,655, according to ministry spokesman Dr. Abdullah Al-Sanad, adding that the recovery to positive case ratio stands at 90.4 percent.

One fatality linked to the virus upped the country’s death toll from the pandemic to 2,488, while 398 people are hospitalized with the virus, 68 of whom need intensive care, he told KUNA. Some 29,164 swab tests were conducted over the last day, out of a total of 6,718,482 so far, added the spokesman. World health officials are offering Hope that the ebbing of the omicron wave could give way to a new, more manageable phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, even as they warn of difficult weeks ahead and the possibility of another, more dangerous variant arising.

In the U.S., cases have crested and are dropping rapidly, following a pattern seen in Britain and South Africa, with researchers projecting a period of low spread in many countries by the end of March. Though U.S. deaths – now at 2,000 each day – are still rising, new hospital admissions have started to fall, and a drop in deaths is expected to follow. The encouraging trends after two years of coronavirus misery have brought a noticeably Hopeful tone from health experts. Rosy predictions have crumbled before, but this time they are backed by what could be called omicron’s silver lining: The highly contagious variant will leave behind extremely high levels of immunity.

On Sunday, Dr. Anthony Fauci talked on ABC “This Week” about a “bestcase scenario” where COVID-19 would fall to manageable levels so the United States could get “back to a degree of normality.” And on Monday, the World Health Organization issued a statement anticipating an end to the “emergency phase” of the pandemic this year and saying that the omicron variant “offers plausible Hope for stabilization and normalization.” Both Fauci and the WHO’s Europe regional director, Dr. Hans Kluge, cautioned that new variants are likely to emerge, but with vaccination, new drug therapies and – during surges – testing and masks, the world could reach a less disruptive level of disease in which the virus is, as Fauci put it, “essentially integrated into the general respiratory infections that we have learned to live with.”

Declines
The places in the U.S. where omicron struck first are seeing the sharpest declines. New cases in the Northeast are nose-diving, while other states – Arizona, Texas, Oregon, Kansas and North Dakota among them – are still waiting for relief. Falling, too, are new U.S. hospital admissions of patients with confirmed COVID-19. They are averaging nearly 20,000 per day, down about 7% from the previous week, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Those numbers include patients who went to the hospital for other reasons and tested positive. But even after accounting for these incidental infections, the trend is hopeful. COVID-19 antibody drugs from Regeneron and Eli Lilly should no longer be used because they don’t work against the omicron variant that now accounts for nearly all U.S. infections, U.S. health regulators said Monday.

The Food and Drug Administration said it was revoking emergency authorization for both drugs, which were purchased by the federal government and have been administered to millions of Americans with COVID-19. If the drugs prove effective against future variants, the FDA said it could reauthorize their use. The regulatory move was expected because both drugmakers had said the infusion drugs are less able to target omicron due to its mutations. Still, the federal action could trigger pushback from some Republican governors who have continued promoting the drugs against the advice of health experts. Omicron’s resistance to the two leading monoclonal antibody medicines has upended the treatment playbook for COVID- 19 in recent weeks. German pharmaceutical company, BioNTech, along with American partner, Pfizer, announced Tuesday they will be initiating clinical trials for vaccine against Omicron variant.

A statement by BioNTech indicated that the trails aim to identify the safety, tolerability and immunogenicity of vaccination countering Omicron variant, which is currently presiding over coronavirus wave in Europe. According to the statement, the study will be examining 1420 participants divided across three cohorts. First cohort will include 600 people who received two doses of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, two or forth months ago. The second cohort will include 600 people who received both doses as well as the booster shot. As for the third cohort, it will include 200 unvaccinated people who were also not infected by covid-19, and they will be receiving three doses of the vaccine designated for the Omicron variant.

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