Coronavirus vaccine and COVID variant updates for 02-01-2022

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The FDA granted full approval to Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine, a shot that's already been given to tens of millions of Americans since its emergency authorization over a year ago. This means the FDA has completed the same rigorous, time-consuming review as dozens of other long-established vaccines. Theoretically, this means those who aren’t taking the vaccine because it’s too early and hasn’t been properly vetted, have one less argument to make.

Tokyo has launched a mass booster shot drive at a temporary center run by the military to counter surging infections. Japan had only provided boosters to 2.7% of the population even though demand is intense. Reservation slots were filled within 9 minutes. The center will boost about 720 people a day.

So far, the BA.2 subvariant of Omicron is nothing to panic about. But it does look like it’s substantially more transmissible than the first Omicron, and we’ve already seen how transmissible that has been. In South Africa, which first reported the original, BA.2 levels are increasing but overall infections are decreasing. What experts do say is BA.2 might prolong the Omicron wave in some places.

New Orleans is set to become the nation's first major school district to mandate COVID vaccinations for kids 5 and up. But it’s not much of a mandate. State regulations will allow parents to easily opt out. No student is going to get kicked out and waivers are easy to get.

If Omicron is so much less severe, why are so many people still dying? This week, Australia suffered its deadliest day of the pandemic so far, nearly 100 dead. In the US, Omicron is claiming around 2,200 lives a day – higher than the Delta variant. The reason is deaths lag behind surges in case numbers. And since Omicron is spreading faster and infecting far more people, more of the unvaccinated and at risk have been infected, and the outcome for them is not always so good.

In the United States, cases were down 35%, deaths are up 28%, and hospitalizations are down 8% over 14 days. The 7-day average of new cases has been trending down since January 14.

The five states that had the most daily deaths per 100,000 are Ohio, Connecticut, Indiana, Arizona, and Pennsylvania.

There are now over 29 million active cases in the United States, at 29,069,889.

The five areas with the greatest increase in hospitalizations per capita: Alaska 69%. Wyoming 66%. Idaho 55%. Montana 52%. And Arkansas 39%.

The top 10 areas with the highest number of recent cases per capita according to The New York Times: Nome Census Area, AK. Whitman, WA. Franklin, WA. Pontotoc, OK. Crawford, IL. Murray, OK. Randolph, IL. Hopkins, KY. Kings, CA. And Morgan, KY.

There have been at least 886,668 deaths in the U.S. recorded as Covid-related.

The top 3 vaccinating states by percentage of population that’s been fully vaccinated: Vermont at 79.4%, Rhode Island at 78.9%, and Maine at 77.5%. The bottom 3 vaccinating states are Alabama at 49.4%, Wyoming at 49.8%, and Mississippi at 50%. The percentage of the U.S. that’s been fully vaccinated is 63.8%.

Globally, cases were up 12% and deaths up 30% over 14 days, with the 7-day average trending down since January 25.

There are now 73,158,005 active cases around the world.

The five countries with the most new cases: The United States 274,266. India 164,271. Russia 124,070. Germany 119,696. And Brazil 102,616.

There have been 5,672,129 deaths reported as Covid-related worldwide.

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