Coronavirus weekly need-to-know: Omicron variant, boosters, breakthrough cases & more

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Each week, we offer you a roundup of our noteworthy coronavirus coverage.

More than 48.8 million people in the United States have tested positive for the coronavirus as of Friday morning, Dec. 3, according to Johns Hopkins University. That includes more than 785,000 people who have died nationwide.

Globally, there have been more than 264.3 million confirmed cases of the highly infectious virus, with more than 5.2 million reported deaths.

More than 197.8 million people in the U.S. are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as of Dec. 2 — about 59% of the total population, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tracker shows. More than 42.9 million people have received a booster dose.

Here’s what happened between Nov. 26 to Dec. 2.

First US case of omicron variant detected in California

Federal officials confirmed the first detected case of the omicron coronavirus variant in the United States in California.

The individual recently traveled to South Africa and returned to California on Nov. 22. The person is fully vaccinated and has mild symptoms that are improving, the CDC said.

All close contacts have been contacted and have tested negative, the agency added.

California confirms first US case of omicron COVID-19 variant, health officials say

Omicron coronavirus variant is mysterious — but there’s some good news

A new coronavirus variant has inconveniently emerged in time for the holiday and flu seasons, complicating the world’s nearly two-year long attempt to quash the COVID-19 pandemic.

Early evidence suggests there’s an increased risk of reinfection with omicron, despite vaccination or previous infection, and that this version spreads more rapidly than others. But there’s no guarantee this is true — yet.

Experts are working quickly to understand if the omicron variant can cause more severe disease or evade vaccines or immunity from infection. Among the mysteries, however, there are signs of hope, experts say.

Continue reading to learn more.

Omicron coronavirus variant is mysterious — but there’s some good news. What to know

When are you fully protected by your COVID-19 booster shot?

All adults in the U.S. are eligible for a COVID-19 booster shot of any of the three available coronavirus vaccines.

But when can you officially benefit from the protection the extra dose offers?

As is the case with your initial COVID-19 shots, it will take two weeks after receiving your booster for your body to produce as much coronavirus antibodies as the extra jab allows, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention spokesperson told McClatchy News.

Learn more here.

When are you fully protected by your COVID booster shot? What to know

Moderna COVID-19 vaccine may be less effective against omicron

There’s a chance the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine may lose some of its effectiveness when put up against the omicron coronavirus variant that has a weary world on high alert, according to the company‘s chief executive officer.

Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel told the Financial Times that the company’s vaccine may eventually need a makeover, citing the large number of mutations on omicron’s spike protein — which the coronavirus uses to enter human cells — and early evidence indicating rapid spread of the variant in South Africa, where it was first detected.

Other experts are looking at the future with a brighter point of view.

Moderna COVID vaccine may be less effective against omicron, chief says. What to know

Will children need COVID-19 boosters? Fauci says it’s ‘less likely’

COVID-19 booster shots are now available for all adults across the U.S., offering an additional layer of protection against coronavirus variants and severe illness.

Children are not eligible to receive booster doses as of Nov. 26, and it’s unclear when or if federal health officials will expand eligibility for those younger than 18 years old.

But experts say the extra shot is unlikely to accomplish much, at least at this time.

Here’s why.

Will children need COVID boosters? Fauci says it’s ‘less likely.’ Here’s why

COVID-19 breakthrough cases 3 times higher in immunocompromised people

Coronavirus infection after complete vaccination is possible but rare.

Now, new research shows breakthrough cases are not only more common but also more severe in people with weakened immune systems.

The study, led by researchers from Pfizer who helped developed one of the three available COVID-19 vaccines, found breakthrough cases — infections that occur two or more weeks after complete vaccination — were three times higher in immunocompromised people, including those with cancer, HIV, kidney disease and organ transplants, compared to people without medical conditions.

COVID breakthrough cases 3 times higher in immunocompromised people, Pfizer study says

Another study finds protection wanes after 2nd Pfizer shot

COVID-19 vaccines offer strong protection against severe disease and death, but breakthrough infections — cases that occur two or more weeks after complete vaccination — are possible.

Now, a new study adds to a growing body of evidence that shows the risk of infection gradually increases after your second shot of a two-dose COVID-19 vaccine, suggesting booster shots may play a critical role in the ongoing pandemic.

An analysis of more than 80,000 electronic health records of adults who took a PCR coronavirus test at least three weeks after receiving their second dose of the Pfizer vaccine found the rate of positive results increased as more time passed since a second shot.

Are COVID boosters needed? Another study finds protection wanes after 2nd Pfizer shot

Mask making your glasses fog up in winter cold? These tips can help

As the weather gets colder and mask wearing continues as new coronavirus variants emerge, those who wear glasses may face an unwelcome challenge.

We’re talking about your eyeglasses fogging up. It’s a pesky problem many people face as they wear glasses and a mask, but there are ways to prevent it.

Here’s what to do to help you see clearly this pandemic winter.

Mask making your glasses fog up in winter cold? These tips can help you see clearly

COVID, Fauci and Zoom: Here are the most popular dog names of 2021

Dog parks this year may be filled with more pups named COVID, Fauci and Zoom.

Rover.com, the app and website that connects owners with pet-care services, looked at its database of more than one million pet parents to unveil its most popular dog names of 2021.

“The pandemic unfortunately did not end with 2020 and neither did the trend of COVID-inspired dog names,” Rover said in its annual report.

COVID, Fauci and Zoom: Here are the most popular dog names of 2021, report finds

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