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k a rl h e nn i ng:
U.S. hits highest seven-day death average since last year

By Lateshia Beachum 4:02 a.m.

The seven-day average for covid deaths in the United States reached 2,230 on Tuesday, its highest point since late February last year, according to Washington Post data.

The highly transmissible omicron variant led to an explosive increase in coronavirus cases nationwide in December and January. Omicron, which has been shown to have less severe symptoms and outcomes than other variants, quickly overtook the delta strain of the virus. It now makes up more than 99 percent of new U.S. cases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Deaths in the nation started climbing before the surge, brought on by the more deadly delta variant, according to data. The deadliest point of the pandemic came in January last year, when the seven-day average of new covid deaths was more than 3,300 per day.

More than 866,670 people in the United States have died of the coronavirus since the pandemic’s onset, Post data shows.

k a rl h e nn i ng:
Mass. reports 18,536 new coronavirus cases among public school students and 3,150 among staff — 5:44 p.m.
By Colleen Cronin and Felicia Gans, Globe Staff

COVID cases in the Massachusetts public schools decreased for a third consecutive week, as state education leaders on Thursday reported 18,536 new cases among students and 3,150 among staff members for the week that ended Wednesday.

The 21,686 total cases were 11,223 fewer, or about 34 percent fewer, than those reported last week. Total cases had started decreasing three weeks ago, during the week that began Jan. 6, but this reporting period only marks the second time since early December that both staff and student cases have decreased.

k a rl h e nn i ng:
Zappa sang: well, ladies you can be an asshole, too:

Sarah Palin dines in NYC restaurant after testing positive for COVID and defying vaccine requirements — 11:43 a.m.
By The Washington Post

Former Alaska governor Sarah Palin, who is unvaccinated and revealed this week that she tested positive for coronavirus, dined again at a New York City restaurant Wednesday night, flouting local health and safety measures calling for positive cases to isolate.

Elio’s, an Italian restaurant on the Upper East Side, has faced blowback after Palin dined indoors at the establishment on Saturday, in violation of the city’s dining mandate for people to show proof of vaccination. The Manhattan judge in Palin’s defamation trial against the New York Times revealed Monday that the proceedings would be delayed because the Republican tested positive for the virus. It’s unclear when Palin first tested positive.

MusicTurner:

--- Quote from: MusicTurner on January 24, 2022, 07:07:15 AM ---Yes, I think the fatalities number is also related to old Delta and then other diseases, cf. the hospitalizations share of 40%. Haven't seen any exact stats though.

--- End quote ---

The DK re-opening has received a lot of attention, debate, critique and appraisal from elsewhere. So now we have the full support of those militant Canadian truckers, for example ... The other Nordic countries are about to do the same re-openings.

Apparently infections are finally going down somewhat, as predicted, but it's still to early to establish for sure. And the numbers of people on ICUs and ventilators are now extremely low. I watched a TV programme with four of the absolutely leading experts here, and they all agreed the worst of the pandemic has been overcome.

But some negative news are: a rise in the number of fatalities (even if only ~60% of them being actually corona-caused). More babies, obviously non-vaccinated, are being hospitalized now, and this might become a trend. But about 30-40% of the generally rising corona-registered hospitalizations are not actually related to corona, and the treatment at hospitals is faster and more efficient.
Finally, there's been a change in the procedures for ICU hospitalizations since December, which might influence the lower ICU numbers. I'm unable to say, but since the  number of people on ventilators has also gone down, I suspect the effect of that change was rather modest.

k a rl h e nn i ng:
Could the new COVID subvariant, BA. 2., slow our exit from the Omicron surge?

By Martin Finucane Globe Staff, Updated January 31, 2022, 4:03 p.m.

While the Omicron surge appears to be waning in some regions of the United States, some experts are cautioning that progress against the coronavirus could be hindered by the arrival of a highly contagious new Omicron subvariant, BA.2.

Dr. Scott Gottlieb, former director of the US Food and Drug Administration, said Sunday that pandemic numbers were “coming down, and coming down quite sharply in parts of the Northeast, Florida, the mid-Atlantic,” but said “you might see, as this new strain starts to pick up, you might see that we start to slow down in that decline.”

Gottlieb said on CBS-TV’s “Face the Nation” that “the decline will happen nonetheless” and he didn’t expect “a huge wave of infection.”

“We have so much Omicron immunity that’s probably going to be a backstop against this really taking off,” said Gottlieb, who is now a board member of Pfizer.

Thomas Peacock, a virologist at Imperial College London, also said in The New York Times this weekend that the arrival of BA. 2 “may mean higher peak infections in places that have yet to peak, and a slowdown in the downward trends in places that have already experienced peak Omicron.”

BA.2, which is a cousin of BA.1, the original version of Omicron, has been found in more than 50 countries, including the United States, where, according to one expert’s estimate last week, it already accounts for 8 percent of cases.

It is now predominant in Denmark - and researchers there have been studying it. In a preprint study released Sunday, researchers said they had found that “BA.2 is inherently substantially more transmissible than BA.1, and that it also possesses immune-evasive properties that further reduce the protective effect of vaccination against infection.”

Previous preliminary research from Denmark has suggested there is no difference in the risk of hospitalization for BA.2 compared with the original Omicron variant, which causes less severe disease than the Delta variant it replaced in December.

“For public health, it is reassuring that BA.2, like BA.1, seems to be associated with favorable outcomes relative to the Delta variant, and that vaccines protect in particular against hospital admissions and severe illness,” the researchers from the Statens Serum Institut (SSI), Copenhagen University, Statistics Denmark, and Technical University of Denmark, wrote in the preprint.

The researchers emphasized that “even with the emergence of BA.2, vaccines have an effect against infection, transmission and severe disease, although reduced compared to the ancestral variants.”

While the spread of less-severe variants has “raised optimism,” the paper said, it is “important to follow the future evolution of the BA.2 subvariant closely, as well as future emergent subvariants.”

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