A third dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine may protect against omicron, the newest variant of the coronavirus labeled a “variant of concern” by the World Health Organization after it was reported by South African health officials.

Preliminary lab data suggests that the two doses of vaccine provided by these companies may offer protection from serious disease but might not provide sufficient immunity to prevent infection with Omicron. A third dose offers more robust protection, providing a level of neutralizing antibodies against omicron similar to the level observed after two doses against the original coronavirus and other variants.

Antibody levels predict how well a vaccine may prevent infection with the coronavirus but they are just one layer of the immune system’s defenses. They are working to develop an omicron specific vaccine.

Omicron is still being studied by scientists and public health officials. At least one third of the U.S. states have already reported cases. Early information suggests that it may be contagious but less deadly than delta.

“Although two doses of the vaccine may still offer protection against severe disease caused by the Omicron strain, it’s clear from these preliminary data that protection is maximized with a third dose of our vaccine,” Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said in a statement.

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📈Today’s numbers: The U.S. has recorded more than 49 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 790,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. Global totals: More than 266.8 million cases and 5.2 million deaths. More than 199 million Americans — 60% of the population — are fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.

📘We’re looking at: The flu? Or is it the flu? Oder COVID. Breakthrough infections of COVID-19 in vaccinated people typically result in mild symptoms that are easy to confuse. 

For the most recent news, keep checking this page. Want more? Sign up for USA TODAY’s Coronavirus Watch free newsletter to receive updates directly to your inbox and join our Facebook group.

According to Poll, most Americans don’t worry too much about the omicron. However they will not cancel holidays.

Two weeks have passed since news about the omicron version of coronavirus was spread throughout the globe. The majority of Americans are aware of it. Although most Americans are concerned, not all will be affected by the virus.

An Axios-Ipsos poll conducted Dec. 3 through Dec. 6 found that 94% of Americans have heard of omicron. A total of 47 percent said they had heard of it and knew very little about it. 

Nearly three quarters (71%) of Americans expressed concern about the new variant. The Axios/Ipsos survey revealed that only 23% of Americans would cancel their holiday travel plans, while 28% would cease gathering with friends and family.

A judge invalidates Biden’s mandate to administer vaccines for federal employees

Seven states and many contractors won the case against federal contractor enforcement of COVID-19 vaccine mandate. A federal judge ruled in their favor.

In a 28-page order released Tuesday, U.S. District Court Judge R. Stan Baker granted the states a preliminary injunction that halts enforcement of President Joe Biden’s executive order that required all federal contractors to have their employees vaccinated.

Baker said, “This case does not concern whether vaccines work.” Baker cited a Kentucky federal court judge who issued an injunction stopping the enforcement mandates for vaccines. They are. Baker recognized the devastating effects of COVID on Americans and other countries.

Baker said, “However in times of crises, this court should preserve the rule and law, and ensure all branches government act within their constitutionally-granted authority.”

— Sandy Hodson, The Augusta Chronicle

A GOP-instigated pressure forces Tennessee’s medical board to remove anti-misinformation policies

Tennessee’s medical licensing board voted Tuesday to delete a policy opposing coronavirus misinformation from its website due to fears a powerful conservative lawmaker would otherwise dissolve the board and replace its members.

The policy, unanimously adopted by the Board of Medical Examiners in September, establishes that doctors who spread demonstrably untrue information about COVID-19 vaccines could have their licenses suspended or potentially revoked. Members voted 7 to 3 to delete — but not rescind — the policy.

Rep. John Ragan (R-Oak Ridge), a cochair of the Joint Government Operations Committee, was instrumental in pushing for this deletion. Over the past two months, Ragan sent letters pressuring the board to delete the policy or appear before the committee to explain itself.

Ragan later made a “threat” to dissolve the board in behind-the-scenes discussions with the Department of Health, according to a letter from a department attorney obtained by The Tennessean, part of the USA TODAY Network.

Although Ragan requested that the board remove the policy from its purpose, members of it said they wouldn’t change their original intent.

— Brett Kelman, The Nashville Tennessean

Contributing to The Associated Press

Source: USAToday.com

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