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Thursday, January 20, 2022

omicron mobilization

President Biden’s COVID-19 response got off to a strong start. In his first few months in office, he and his team eliminated the chaotic, scientifically questionable messages that had come from the Trump administration and rapidly accelerated the pace of vaccination.

In doing so, Biden likened the fight against Covid to wartime mobilization. “It will be the first priority, the second priority and the third priority – to tackle COVID and reduce the spread and reduce the mortality rate,” he told me during a phone call shortly before taking over.

But the Biden administration has lagged behind in recent months – on persuading people to get booster shots, approving life-saving treatments and making Covid tests more readily available. With the Omicron version rapidly spreading, Biden is facing another need to mobilize the federal government. He is set to deliver a speech today, explaining his plans to do so.

According to White House officials, the plans include: sending military troops to help hospitals deal with the COVID outbreak; Deploying ventilators where they are needed; enacting wartime legislation to accelerate production of COVID tests; sending people a free trial next month; Opening more vaccination clinics.

Omicron already accounts for about 75 percent of new cases in the US, the CDC said yesterday, and experts expect cases to spike next month. The vast majority will be mild because most Americans have some degree of immune defense (and because childhood Covid is almost always mild). But Omicron could cause such a huge increase in cases that it would still weigh heavily on hospitals, many of which are already close to capacity.

One potential problem is the hospital staff. One-third of all health care workers may contract COVID and need to miss work, said Michael Osterholm of the University of Minnesota on the podcast “In the Bubble.”

“The good news is it may be over quickly,” Andy Slavitt, a former White House adviser and host of “In the Bubble,” told me, referring to the Omicron boom. “The bad news is that almost everything can be lacking in some way or the other.”

Here are three key areas in which the US has lagged behind:

For months, Americans heard a message – from experts, politicians and journalists – that anyone who had received two COVID shots was “fully vaccinated.” That message is no longer entirely accurate. If you received your second shot more than six months ago (or Johnson & Johnson more than two months ago), your immunity has begun to decline. You are more likely to contract Omicron than someone who gets a booster shot.

Those who follow the COVID news closely are aware of the power of the booster. But millions of other Americans are not. According to the CDC, about 73 percent of Americans have received at least one vaccine shot, and less than 20 percent have received the full initial dose and a booster.

In a notable development, Donald Trump said yesterday that he has received a booster shot and has encouraged his supporters to adopt COVID vaccines. In the past, Trump has been less positive about vaccines, and many conservatives continue to sow vaccine misinformation.

In heavily democratic areas, the problem is different: a lack of shots before holiday gatherings. “My local CVS pharmacist said he was surrounded and no longer walking in,” said Keri Bodenheimer, a California resident. tweeted Yesterday

One thought, in case you’re not boosted yet: Search online for the nearest clinic, which doesn’t require an appointment. It worked for my family.

Public health officials are calling for a great deal of flexibility from Americans during this pandemic, as Substack’s Matthew Yglesias pointed out: keep your kids at home from school. work at home. Cancel family events. Save masks for medical workers – again, start wearing masks now!

But public health agencies such as the FDA and CDC have often failed to show themselves much resilience. Instead of changing their approach during the global emergency, they have been slow to take steps that could have saved lives – such as encouraging the use of masks early, full approval of vaccines sooner or mix-and- Encouraging match booster shots soon.

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“What has kept me creeping,” Yeglesias wrote, “is that America’s public health institutions themselves have shown so little resilience during this crisis, even as they attribute flexibility to everyone else’s behavior. lets see.”

The latest example is the lack of FDA approval for Pfizer treatment for people who have contracted COVID and are at risk of serious illness. Pfizer says the treatment, known as PaxLovid, reduces hospitalizations and deaths by about 90 percent.

Obviously, if the FDA has an unknown reason to believe that the treatment is problematic, then slowing would be justified. But recent history shows that agency often moves slowly and passively out of bureaucratic habit, and not out of genuine concern.

The simultaneous arrival of Omicron and the holiday season has increased the demand for rapid COVID tests. In some places it is almost impossible to find them again. As my colleague Tara Parker-Pope asks, “How do we get through the holidays and the next two months without rapid testing?”

Biden’s announcement today – to ramp up production and distribute free tests next month – is intended to address the shortfall.

Bottom-line: On any individual level, many Americans remain at very low risk of a serious case of COVID. But unaffiliated people face serious risks. Some vaccinated Americans — including the elderly and those receiving cancer treatments — face a significant amount of risk. And there is a danger of getting trapped in the quagmire of the country’s medical system.

Any progress by the Biden administration, governors and other officials over the next few weeks is likely to help save lives.

More on viruses:

Times Opinion Saw 41 of the most important and most absurd debates of the year. (Read more about the project in the Times Opinion newsletter.)

Elijah Wood, best known as the forever hobbit Frodo from “The Lord of the Rings,” has a specific kind of fame. It comes from starring in a franchise that created cultural moments, won multiple Oscars and was backed by a deeply invested fantasy.

The first installment of director Peter Jackson’s “Rings” trilogy — adapted from JRR Tolkien fantasy novels — was released 20 years ago this week. Wood, now 40, spoke to The Times about the filmmaking experience.

Life on set: His favorite moments were the mundane, “like our hobbit legs removed because we had to clear the set as snow” and weekend surf trips with “Other Hobbits and Orlando” Bloom, who played elf Legolas.

On the current film scenario: Referring to the trilogy’s 16 consecutive months of filming in New Zealand, “Peter and the larger team were allowed to make the films the way they wanted them to without any outside perspective,” he added, “I don’t know if he can still make them like this.”

Gift: Wood held a pair of hairy hobbit legs. “I’m sure they will degrade over time, because I don’t think latex lasts forever,” he said. “But the last time I looked they were in good shape.”

Yesterday’s spelling was a pangram of Bee matriarch, Introducing today’s puzzle — or you can play online.

Introducing today’s mini crossword, and a clue: Child of Cooking Fame (five letters).

If you’re in the mood to play more, check out all of our games here.


Thank you for spending part of your morning with The Times. See you tomorrow — David

P.S. Maggie Haberman of The Times asked Trump about his changed message on vaccines. he sent her this response,

World Nation News Deskhttps://www.worldnationnews.com
World Nation News is a digital news portal website. Which provides important and latest breaking news updates to our audience in an effective and efficient ways, like world’s top stories, entertainment, sports, technology and much more news.
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