Jan. 12, 2022 — The CDC is getting ready to replace its COVID-19 masks suggestions to emphasise the usage of N95 and KN95 masks that higher filter the virus, Director Rochelle Walensky, MD, mentioned Wednesday.

“We’re getting ready an replace to the data on our masks web site to finest replicate the choices which might be out there to folks and the totally different ranges of safety totally different masks present, and we need to present Individuals the perfect and most up to date data to decide on what masks goes to be proper for them,” she mentioned at a White Home information briefing.

Whereas the higher-quality masks present higher safety, they are often uncomfortable to put on, costly, and more durable to seek out. That’s why Walensky added an vital caveat.

“Any masks is healthier than no masks, and we do encourage all Individuals to put on a well-fitting masks to guard themselves and stop the unfold of COVID-19. That advice shouldn’t be going to vary,” she mentioned.

 “Most significantly, the perfect masks that you simply put on is the one you’ll put on and the one you possibly can carry on all day lengthy and tolerate in public indoor settings.”

In the meantime, the World Well being Group was extra centered on vaccines.

WHO officers careworn Wednesday that international vaccine distribution is first precedence in defeating the extremely contagious Omicron variant, in addition to different variants which will evolve. 

The WHO’s Technical Advisory Group on COVID-19 Vaccine Composition — a gaggle of specialists assessing how COVID-19 vaccines carry out in opposition to Omicron and different rising variants — says there may be an “pressing want” for broader entry to vaccines, together with reviewing and updating present vaccines as wanted to make sure safety. 

The WHO additionally disputed the concept that COVID-19 might develop into endemic in a single largely vaccinated nation, whereas the remainder of the world stays unprotected. 

“It’s as much as us how this pandemic unfolds,” Maria Van Kerkhove, PhD, the WHO’s technical lead on COVID-19 response, mentioned at a information briefing. 

The WHO has a purpose of vaccinating 70% of the inhabitants of each nation by the center of the 12 months. 

However proper now, 90 international locations have yet to succeed in 40% vaccination charges, and 36 of these international locations have lower than 10% of their populations vaccinated, in line with WHO Director Normal Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, PhD.

A staggering 85% of the African inhabitants has not received a primary dose.

However progress is being made, Ghebreyesus mentioned on the briefing. 

The WHO mentioned there have been over 15 million COVID-19 circumstances reported final week — essentially the most ever in a single week — and that is doubtless an underestimate. 

The Omicron variant, first identified in South Africa 2 months in the past and now found on all seven continents, is “quickly changing Delta in nearly all international locations,” Ghebreyesus mentioned.

Again on the White Home in Washington, Walensky mentioned this week’s U.S. every day common COVID-19 case depend was 751,000, a rise of 47% from final week. The typical every day hospital admissions this week is nineteen,800, a rise of 33%. Deaths are up 40%, reaching 1,600 per day.

However she additionally reported new knowledge that helps different analysis displaying Omicron could produce much less extreme illness. Kaiser Permanente Southern California launched a research Tuesday displaying that in comparison with Delta infections, Omicron was related to a 53% discount in hospitalizations, a 74% discount in intensive care unit admissions, and a 91% decrease threat of demise.

Within the research, no sufferers with Omicron required mechanical air flow. The pressure now accounts for 98% of circumstances nationwide.

However Walensky warned the decrease illness severity shouldn’t be sufficient to make up for the sheer variety of circumstances that proceed to overwhelm hospital programs.

“Whereas we’re seeing early proof that Omicron is much less extreme than Delta and that these contaminated are much less more likely to require hospitalization, it’s vital to notice that Omicron continues to be far more transmissible than Delta,” she mentioned. “The sudden rise in circumstances attributable to Omicron is leading to unprecedented every day case counts, illness, absenteeism, and strains on our well being care system.”