“The Omicron variant was in Europe before it was detected in South Africa…“–per CBS News. South Africa raised the alarm for the globe. There’s already evidence that Omicron has hit community spread in the US. The first US case was detected in California. Multiple states are reporting Omicron cases now, and some do not have travel links to South Africa. Here’s the BNO Omicron tracker again for those who are interested. This tracker is more up to date than others I have seen on the internet.
Natural gas prices are high for Americans, yet we’re letting natural gas companies export tons of it—literally:
Energy companies are exporting record amounts of natural gas while earning record profits and jacking up prices for home heating and energy. I want an explanation for this price gouging and corporate greed. https://t.co/gIh3d7o9ti
— Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) November 30, 2021
Belarus is throwing its weight behind Russia as tensions and military assets amass at the Ukraine/Russia border. Russia’s Lavrov warns of conflict:
"The longtime president of Belarus said Tuesday that his country would be ready to host Russian nuclear weapons if NATO moves U.S. atomic bombs from Germany to Eastern Europe."
— Evergreen Intel (@vcdgf555) December 1, 2021
Canada is getting a supply chain double-whammy after all the recent flooding:
Ongoing supply chain issues throughout the COVID-19 pandemic have been made worse by the flooding in B.C. The delivery of goods and food has been stalled and orders have been cancelled. @anitabathe spoke with the president of the B.C. Trucking Association about the situation. pic.twitter.com/LvE2HjRqqQ
— CBC British Columbia (@cbcnewsbc) December 1, 2021
Water austerity is coming to California as soon as 2022. Water will be withheld for certain types of irrigation and for landscaping and watering lawns. A number of California farmers will be impacted, and so will people with a lot of grass to drench. It would be a good idea for folks to switch to drought-tolerant plants and succulents now.
In good news, there are “Giving Machine” vending machines in 10 cities that allow people to make donations to others through organizations. When folks use their credit card to donate they get a post card showing what item they have donated.
The world has 264.4 million COVID cases. The world has gained 3.7 million cases in the last week. There have been over 5.24 million deaths in total. The US has had a cumulative 49.7 million cases—over 700,000 cases were added in the last week. Nearly 806,000 Americans have died—over 7,000 in the last week. The US added 120,000 new cases Wednesday, and over 116,000 by late afternoon Thursday. The US is still leading global daily case gain followed by India, Brazil, the UK, and Russia.
Biden laid out a plan today to help with the anticipated winter COVID season. Free at-home tests are a very nice and much needed prospect:
Pres. Biden lays out his plan to fight COVID-19 this winter:
— Expand booster access
— Expand vaccine access for kids
— Free at-home rapid tests
— Extend public transit mask requirement
— Testing for international travelers https://t.co/TmGP3GpWto pic.twitter.com/Yo7F7LdS3u
— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) December 2, 2021
The FDA has endorsed the Merck COVID antiviral pill. Authorization for its use should be forthcoming:
BREAKING: FDA health panel endorses Merck COVID-19 pill, paving way for U.S. authorization of the first at-home drug for virus – AP
— Breaking911 (@Breaking911) November 30, 2021
As Omicron spreads I’m left to wonder why the US was so slow to pick up the cases that were already here. Why aren’t we sequencing like crazy? I’m not the only one wondering this:
It boggles the mind. We allegedly set aside $1.15b for sequencing efforts on SARS2. Why did CDC or NIAID not fund a dozen regional sequencing centers nationwide? Or did they? Where's their output?
— Brian Hjelle, virologist (@hjelle_brian) November 30, 2021
We still don’t know everything we need to know about Omicron. We do know that it is infecting people who are already vaccinated, but they seem to be protected from severe disease. Previous infection with other variants does not look as protective as vaccination. We also know that Omicron cases are exploding in South Africa.
China has pledged to get 1 billion COVID vaccines to Africa. The article in the link also mentions that more countries are enacting travel bans. Stocks are starting to rebound after they dropped on Omicron news.
Novovax says it hopes to start making an Omicron-specific vaccine in January. Moderna and Pfizer are also hoping to make Omicron-specific doses as well. The Moderna CEO says current vaccines are probably not as protective against Omicron as they are against the other variants. Companies that make vaccines and therapeutics are still working out how well (or not well) their products do against the new variant.