What you need to know about the coronavirus right now




  • In US
  • 2021-12-03 06:16:02Z
  • By Reuters

(Reuters) - Here's what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:

Omicron marches on as Biden prepares U.S. for grim winter

Australia, despite restrictions on international visitors, became the latest country on Friday to report community transmission of Omicron, a day after the coronavirus variant was found locally in five U.S. states.

U.S. President Joe Biden warned on Thursday that infections will rise during the northern-hemisphere winter and the European Union's public health agency said Omicron could account for more than half of all infections in Europe within months.

New U.S. international travel testing rules take effect Monday

New rules requiring international air travellers arriving in the United States to obtain a negative COVID-19 test within one day of travel will take effect Monday at 12:01 a.m. ET (0501 GMT), according to an order issued late Thursday.

The administration is considering whether to grant temporary exemptions for about two dozen countries where access to same-day testing is limited, but the details are still being finalized, the sources added. Those exemptions could last for only about a week and are expected to be detailed on Friday.

Novavax says it could start making Omicron-specific vaccine in January

Novavax Inc said on Thursday it could begin commercial manufacturing of a COVID-19 vaccine tailored for the Omicron coronavirus variant in January next year, while it tests whether or not its current vaccine works against the variant.

Laboratory data expected in the coming weeks will show whether antibodies from individuals who have previously received Novavax's COVID-19 shot can neutralize the variant, according to the company. Novavax also said it has started developing an Omicron-specific spike protein antigen and will begin laboratory tests of a new vaccine to target the variant in a few weeks.

China easing rules for US business travellers, approvals in 10 days

China will cut to no more than 10 days the time required for approval of travel by U.S. business executives, its ambassador to the United States said on Thursday, promising to turn "an attentive ear" to concerns raised by businesses.

Qin Gang, who arrived in the United States in July, told a dinner hosted by the US-China Business Council that Beijing would also work to make COVID-19 testing more convenient and allow executives to work during quarantine. Qin said Beijing would share its specific workplan "very soon" with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

Nightclubs, cafes and casinos reopen in Auckland

Aucklanders returned to nightclubs, cinemas and cafes on Friday as New Zealand's biggest city exited pandemic lockdown after more than 100 days. Retailers threw open their doors to vaccinated customers as the country ended lockdowns and moved into a new 'traffic light system' that rates regions as red, orange or green depending on their level of exposure to COVID-19 and vaccination rates.

Auckland, the epicentre of the country's Delta outbreak, will start at red, making face masks mandatory and putting limits on gatherings in public places. Bars, nightclubs and restaurants can open to guests with vaccine certificates but with a limit of 100 people and 1 metre social distancing. Outdoor events are allowed.

UK study finds mRNA vaccines provide biggest booster impact

COVID-19 vaccines made by Pfizer and Moderna that use mRNA technology provide the biggest boost to antibody levels when given 10-12 weeks after the second dose, a British study published on Thursday has found.

When AstraZeneca, Novavax, Johnson & Johnson and Curevac were given as boosters, they increased antibody levels for either initial vaccine, albeit to a smaller degree. However, while Valneva boosted antibodies in people initially vaccinated with AstraZeneca, it did not provide a boost for Pfizer. The study found that booster shots also helped to generate a broad T-cell response against the Beta and Delta variants, which may play a key role in longer-term protection.

(Compiled by Karishma Singh; Editing by Kim Coghill)

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