• Ana-Maria Henao-Restrepo, who co-leads the WHO research and development blueprint for vaccines and innovations during outbreaks and pandemics, says that 450 researchers around the world have been working to assess whether existing coronavirus vaccines need to be altered to be effective against Omicron. She said “They hope that this will happen within days, but I think we should not put pressure that it should happen within three days – we should say it will happen within the next two weeks.” Source

• Auckland, New Zealand ends a 107-day lockdown, although people who have not been fully vaccinated are barred from entering restaurants, bars, nightclubs, gyms and mixing with vaccinated people in almost any setting, including houses of worship. Source https://www.nytimes.com/live/2021/12/03/world/omicron-variant-covid/new-zealand-auckland-lockdown

• After South Korea reports its largest-ever number of daily cases and confirms its first Omicron cluster,which was associated with a church, the government imposes limits on private gatherings, and requires proof of full vaccination for entry to restaurants, cafes, cram schools, movie theaters, sports stadiums, museums and libraries. Source

• Omicron continues to spread in the US, with new cases – including among people with no history of travel to southern Africa- reported in Maryland, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. Source

• Regulators in the UK fully approve sotrovimab, a monoclonal antibody from Vir/GlaxoSmithKline for use in mild-to-moderate COVID-19 in patients at risk for severe illness. Source

• The US FDA authorizes bamlanivimab and etesevimab, a combination monoclonal antibody, for infants and children under age 12 with COVID-19 who are at high risk of severe illness – the first approved treatment for children in this age group, although it is currently not known how effective it is against the Omicron variant. Source

• Scientists report that Omicron is spreading over twice as quickly as the Delta variant in South Africa, because it is more contagious and better able to evade immunity from a previous infection, raising the possibility that Omicron may also be able to evade vaccine-induced immunity. Source

• The CDC publishes a detailed description of probable transmission of Omicron between two fully vaccinated people rooming across the hall from each other in a Hong Kong quarantine hotel. Both had a negative PCR test result 72 hours before their travel; one arrived from South Africa on 11 November 2021; the other arrived from Canada on 10 November 2021. The traveler from South Africa had no symptoms, but tested positive on 13 November, and was hospitalized the next day. The traveler from Canada developed mild symptoms on 17 November 2021, and tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 on 18 November 2021 and was admitted to the hospital on the same day. The viral genomes from the two travelers differed only by a single nucleotide. An investigation of possible contact between the two, which included footage from the hotel’s closed-circuit television, confirmed that neither guest left their hotel room during quarantine. The only time they opened the door was for picking up meals, which were placed directly outside of each door.

None of the hotel staff or the 12 other guests on the same floor tested positive after repeated testing.

Researchers concluded that airborne transmission across the corridor was the most likely mode of transmission. Source

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