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posted by martyb on Thursday December 02, @09:21AM   Printer-friendly
from the ten-percent-of-the-US-population-lives-in-California dept.

Omicron is now in the U.S., with first case found in California:

The first U.S. case of the omicron variant has been identified in California in a traveler who returned from South Africa on Nov. 22, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday.

The patient had mild symptoms that were improving and was in isolation, officials said.

Much remains unknown about the highly mutated variant, which scientists fear could be more transmissible and more resistant to vaccines. The new variant has been identified in more than 20 countries since it was first identified in southern Africa last week.

[...] Federal health officials are expanding a program that offers free coronavirus testing at key U.S. airports, part of strengthened efforts to monitor international arrivals amid growing concerns about the omicron variant.

Under the program, visitors from eight African nations, including those connecting through Europe, who arrive at New York’s John F. Kennedy International, Newark Liberty International, San Francisco International and Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International airports, will be given the option of taking a test when they arrive. Those who volunteer also will be given the option of an at-home test to take three to five days after arrival.

International arrivals already are required to show proof of a negative virus test before boarding U.S.-bound flights, but Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky said during a White House briefing this week that the screening program at four of the nation’s busiest airports will provide additional data that can aid in the agency’s monitoring efforts.

First case of omicron COVID variant identified in the US:

The first confirmed US case of the omicron variant of COVID-19 has been identified in California, Dr. Anthony Fauci said in a White House briefing Wednesday. The infected person arrived in the US from South Africa on Nov. 22 and tested positive on Nov. 29, Fauci said.

"Genomic sequencing was conducted at the University of California at San Francisco, and the sequence was confirmed at the CDC as being consistent with the omicron variant," said Fauci, the chief medical adviser to President Joe Biden.

[...] The person was fully vaccinated with the Moderna vaccine -- but had not had a booster shot -- and experienced only mild symptoms that are now improving. They are quarantining, and all close contacts have so far tested negative, Fauci said. The person is a resident of San Francisco between the ages of 18 and 49, and was not hospitalized, California Governor Gavin Newsom said during a press conference Wednesday.

"We knew that it was just a matter of time before the first case of omicron would be detected in the United States," Fauci said.

Fauci reiterated that within the next three weeks, there will be a lot more information about the transmissibility and severity of this strain of the disease, as well as the effectiveness of vaccinations and booster shots against the omicron variant. The new variant was first identified in South Africa in late November.

Also at Ars Technica and www.aljazeera.com


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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 02, @07:34PM (2 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 02, @07:34PM (#1201606)

    The assumption seems to be that you get one strain or the other. And with previous variants, which all had more or less the same biology, that was roughly true, because immunity to one, whether from vaccine or infection, provided at least partial immunity to the others.

    But this one has changed enough that it's evading immunity from the existing vaccines. So it's probably evading natural immunity from infection too. You could get both, possibly at the same time. That could kill or hospitalize people who would have had only mild effects from just one.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 02, @09:35PM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 02, @09:35PM (#1201648)
    People are recovering from this one too, which means the immune system works against it. Considering how it's been around for 2 months without getting noticed because it DOES NOT kill people, and it's already sisplaced delta as the #1 covid virus in South Africa, looks luke the version that will take us out of the pandemic and into the endemic state. Any virus that now wants to compete will have to be even more innocuous.
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 03, @01:05AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 03, @01:05AM (#1201699)

      I mean pre-existing immunity from previous infection - not that it's completely evading the immune system, which obviously it isn't, since it seems to be no more dangerous.