Jan. 12, 2022 — The CDC is making 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 making ready an replace to the data on our masks web site to greatest mirror the choices which might be accessible to folks and the completely different ranges of safety completely different masks present, and we wish to present Individuals the very best 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 necessary 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 suggestion just isn’t going to vary,” she mentioned.

 “Most significantly, the very best 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 towards Omicron and different rising variants — says there’s 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 COVID-19 may turn out to be 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 objective of vaccinating 70% of the inhabitants of each nation by the center of the 12 months. 

However proper now, 90 nations have yet to succeed in 40% vaccination charges, and 36 of these nations have lower than 10% of their populations vaccinated, in response to WHO Director Common 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 — probably the most ever in a single week — and that is probably 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 nations,” 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 common 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 information that helps different analysis exhibiting Omicron might produce much less extreme illness. Kaiser Permanente Southern California launched a research Tuesday exhibiting that compared with Delta infections, Omicron was related to a 53% discount in hospitalizations, a 74% discount in intensive care unit admissions, and a 91% decrease danger of dying.

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 just isn’t sufficient to make up for the sheer variety of circumstances that proceed to overwhelm hospital methods.

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