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US Coronavirus: Fauci warns that it is still too early to say whether we are approaching the endemic phase of Covid-19

"When you talk about whether or not Omicron - because it's a highly transmissible but apparently not as pathogenic one, for example as Delta - I would hope that is the case," said the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. said Monday.

"But that would only be the case if we did not get another variant that evades the immune response to the previous variant," Fauci told Davos Agenda, a virtual event being held this week by the World Economic Forum.

A disease that is endemic has a constant presence in a population but does not affect an alarmingly large number of people, as is typically seen in a pandemic.

"We were lucky" that Omicron did not share some of the same characteristics as Delta, "but the large amount of people getting infected overrides the somewhat lower level of pathogenicity," Fauci said.

"It's an open question as to whether Omicron will be the live virus vaccination that everyone is hoping for because you have so much variety with new variants popping up," he said.

It is an 'open question' as to whether Omicron means we are approaching the endemic phase of Covid-19, Drs.  Anthony Fauci for the World Economic Forum event on Monday.
Cases of Covid-19 continue to increase due to the high transferability of Omicron. The daily average of recorded infections was just over 680,000 on Monday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University, which is significantly higher than the peaks of last winter's rise.
Health systems, some of which face critical staff shortages, treat more patients than ever before. At least 156,676 people in the United States were hospitalized Monday, according to data from the Department of Health and Human Services.

Schools struggling with the Omicron rise

As cases and hospitalizations increase, measures to reduce the spread of Covid-19, such as vaccination and wearing masks, are still needed. Yet mandates to wear masks in schools - where struggles have arisen with their own lack of educators and staff - are under fire in one new state.
Referring to "individual freedom" and the availability of vaccines to K-12 students, newly inaugurated Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin issued a decree that parents will have the opportunity to decide whether their child should wear a mask in class. , a departure from his predecessor. health preparedness in August that masks should be worn in schools.

Several districts in Northern Virginia and the Metro Richmond area have announced they will reject the latest order, which is set to begin on January 24th.

Virginia's new GOP governor faces opposition from some school districts planning to maintain mask requirements

"Our layered prevention strategies have proven effective in keeping transmission rates low in our schools," Fairfax County Public Schools Superintendent Scott Brabrand said in a letter to the school community.

"Universal masking has been shown to be effective in keeping Covid-19 transmission rates low in our schools and ensuring that schools remain safe and open," a statement from Arlington Public Schools said of its decision.

And an email from Henrico County Public Schools to parents and guardians reads: "Mask use is a vital component of the division's stratified prevention measures," noting that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends masks in schools and that federal law requires masks on school buses.
The recent rise in the case of Covid-19 also prompted school districts in some places - from Paterson, New Jersey, to Mobile, Alabama - to move to virtual learning this week.

In Texas, all schools and offices in the Houston Independent School District will be closed Tuesday due to rising community cases, the school district announced on its website. Teaching is expected to resume on Wednesday.

The school district urged students and staff to take "this extra day to mitigate potential exposure."

Progress with future vaccines is moving forward

To further advance variants, new vaccines are under development.

Moderna should have data available on its Omicron-specific Covid-19 vaccine in March, the company's CEO Stephane Bancel said on Monday.

"It should be in the clinic in the coming weeks. And we hope in the March timeframe that we should be able to have data to share with regulators to figure out the next step forward," he said in a panel discussion in Davos.

A combined Covid-19 and flu booster shot from Moderna may also be available in some countries in the fall of 2023, Bancel said, but warned that the date was a "best case scenario."

Vaccine doses remain the most effective way to avert serious complications, which remain a factor in the nation's recovery as Americans continue to die from Covid-19. The average number of deaths has exceeded 1,600 daily over the past week, according to JHU data.

Booster doses have successfully demonstrated the ability to raise an individual's antibody levels months after initial inoculations, helping to keep them at higher risk out of the hospital.

As the Omicron rise continues, parents of young children are hunking down ... again
Early data from Israel suggest that a fourth dose of either the Pfizer / BioNTech or Moderna vaccines may cause an increase in antibodies - more than what has been seen after a third dose - but it may still not be enough to protect against Possibly. breakthrough infections caused by Omicron.

In December, Israel began testing a fourth dose of coronavirus vaccines for healthy participants ahead of a rollout of the extra booster shot for at-risk populations - marking the first study of its kind among healthy people receiving a fourth dose.

"I think the decision to allow the fourth vaccine to vulnerable populations is probably the right one," said Dr. Gili-Regev Yochay, director of the Infection Prevention Control Unit at Sheba Medical Center, on Monday about the data. "It may provide a little bit of benefit, but probably not enough to support the decision to give it to the entire population, I would say."

CNN's Jacqueline Howard, John Bonifield, Virginia Langmaid, Dan Merica, Eva McKend, Ryan Nobles, Livvy Doherty, Carma Hassan, and Alex Medeiros contributed to this report.

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