Naturally Immune People at Little Risk of Reinfection, Severe Disease From COVID-19: Study

People who recovered from COVID-19 are at little risk of contracting the disease again, according to a study published this week. Researchers in Qatar examined a cohort of over 353,000 people using national databases that contain information about patients with polymerase-chain-reaction-confirmed infections. The studied population contracted COVID-19, the disease caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, between Feb. 28, 2020, and April 28, 2021. Reinfections were counted if a person tested positive at least 90 days after their first infection. After excluding approximately 87,500 people with a vaccination record, researchers found those with immunity from having recovered from COVID-19 had little risk of reinfection and severe cases of the disease. Just 1,304 reinfections were identified. That means 0.4 percent of people with natural immunity and without a vaccination record got COVID-19 a second time. The odds of severe disease were 0.1 percent that at primary infection, according to the study. Just four …

Read More

Cinema Forced to Close by Welsh Government for Defying Vaccine Passport Rules

An independent cinema in Wales has been ordered to close by the government after it refused to ask customers to see their COVID-19 vaccine passports. Last month, the Labour-controlled Welsh government introduced so-called “COVID passes” as proof of full vaccinations or up to 48-hours-old negative lateral flow tests results. From Nov. 15, the requirement for COVID passes was expanded from clubs and events to cover all customers entering cinemas, theatres, and concert halls across Wales. When Cinema & Co, a movie theatre in Swansea, refused to comply, the Swansea city council issued a notice on Nov. 18, ordering it to close. Cinema owner Anna Redfern defied the order. In a Facebook post, she called the new rules “unfair and killing the entertainment industry,” and said she would “take a stand” against the “discriminatory and unlawful” measures. The Welsh government has now backed the city council and issued an order to …

Read More

61 Travelers From South Africa in Netherlands Positive for COVID-19: Authorities

AMSTERDAM—Dutch health authorities said that 61 people who arrived in Amsterdam on two flights from South Africa on Friday tested positive for COVID-19, and they were conducting further testing early Saturday to see if any of the infections are with the recently discovered Omicron coronavirus variant. Around 600 passengers arrived at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport on the two KLM flights on Friday and then faced hours of delays and testing due to concerns over the new virus variant. The Dutch health ministry said early Saturday 61 tests had come back positive. “Travelers with a positive test result will be placed in isolation at a hotel at or near Schiphol,” health authorities said in a statement. “Of the positive test results, we are researching as quickly as possible whether they are the new variant of concern, now named ‘Omicron’.” The Dutch government banned all air travel from southern Africa early on Friday. …

Read More

Travel Bans Over Omicron Variant ‘Unjustified’ South Africa’s Health Minister Says

Travel bans and restrictions imposed on South Africa and other African countries over a new CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus variant aren’t justified, South Africa’s health minister said Friday. The new strain, dubbed Omicron by the World Health Organization, was first reported in South Africa earlier this week. The actions of some countries, including the United Kingdom, are “unjustified,” Joe Phaahla, South Africa’s health minister, told a virtual media briefing. South African scientists made information available on Omicron in the interest of transparency and there are concerns the variant may be more transmissible, officials told reporters. But there is no evidence of that at this time and even if it was more transmissible, that doesn’t mean it will cause more severe cases in people, Phaahla added. Travel bans go against the advice of the World Health Organization (WHO), South African officials noted. Both WHO and South African officials portrayed the bans as punishing the …

Read More

No Cases of Omicron Virus Variant Identified in US Yet: CDC

No cases of the new Omicron virus variant have been identified in the United States as of yet, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The  CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus variant was first seen in South Africa earlier this week and has been designated a variant of concern by the World Health Organization, which says it may be more transmissible than the Delta and Alpha strains. “No cases of this variant have been identified in the U.S. to date,” the CDC said in a statement Friday. “CDC is continuously monitoring variants and the U.S. variant surveillance system has reliably detected new variants in this country. We expect Omicron to be identified quickly, if it emerges in the U.S.,” the agency added. Dr. Anthony Fauci, a top U.S. public health official, said on CNN on Friday that American scientists are studying Omicron. Scientists are unsure at present whether the strain …

Read More

WTO Postpones Major Meeting After New Variant Outbreak

GENEVA—The World Trade Organization (WTO) became the first major diplomatic casualty of the new coronavirus variant on Friday when it postponed its first ministerial meeting in four years due to the deteriorating health situation. Ministers from WTO members were due to have gathered next week for a meeting widely seen as a test of the WTO’s relevance. The WTO said that its members had agreed late on Friday to postpone the ministerial conference after the new variant outbreak led to travel restrictions that would have prevented many ministers from reaching Geneva. No new date has been set for a rescheduled meeting. The World Health Organisation has classified the B.1.1.529 variant detected in South Africa as a “variant of concern,” saying it may spread more quickly than other forms of the virus. Scientists are also seeking to find out if it is vaccine-resistant. Switzerland, home to the WTO, on Friday banned …

Read More

Fed’s Bostic Says He Remains Open to Faster Taper and One or Two Rate Hikes in 2022

Atlanta Federal Reserve President Raphael Bostic said on Friday he is hopeful that the momentum of the U.S. economy will carry it through the next wave of the coronavirus pandemic, and said he remains open to accelerating the pace of the central bank’s bond taper. Earlier on Friday, the World Health Organization said it was designating the new Omicron variant, first identified in South Africa, as being “of concern.” If the new Omicron coronavirus variant follows the pattern seen with previous variants, it should cause less of an economic slowdown than the Delta variant, Bostic said. “We have a lot of momentum in the economy right now,” Bostic said during an interview with Fox News, citing strong jobs growth. “And that momentum, I’m hopeful, will be able to carry us through this next wave, however it turns out.” Bostic reiterated that he is open to speeding up the pace at …

Read More