Nov 23 (Reuters) – Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:
U.S. not heading towards COVID-19 lockdown, White House says
The United States does not need to impose a lockdown or shut down its economy to curb the spread of COVID-19 and will rely on other tools, White House COVID-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients said on Monday. “We have the tools to accelerate the path out of this pandemic; widely available vaccinations, booster shots, kid shots, therapeutics,” Zients told reporters at a White House briefing.
The current seven-day average of COVID-19 cases in the United States rose 18% from last week’s average to 92,800 per day, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky said at the briefing. U.S. hospitalizations rose 6% to an average of 5,600 per day and average daily deaths are about 1,000 per day, she said. read more
U.S. issues ‘Do Not Travel’ warning for Germany, Denmark
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the State Department on Monday advised against travel to Germany and Denmark because of a rising number of COVID-19 cases in those countries. The CDC elevated its travel recommendation to “Level Four: Very High” for the two European countries.
Case numbers in Germany have been soaring, especially among the elderly whose first two shots of COVID-19 vaccine were at the start of the year, and among children who are not eligible for inoculation. Current transmission rates in 53 European countries are of “grave concern”, the World Health Organization’s Hans Kluge warned earlier this month. “We must change our tactics, from reacting to surges of COVID-19, to preventing them from happening in the first place,” he said. read more
COVID-19 unrest has created ‘explosive’ situation in Guadeloupe, says Macron
French President Emmanuel Macron said violence in Guadeloupe over COVID-19 restrictions had created a “very explosive” situation, as a general strike entered a second week on Monday and many stores remained shuttered after nighttime looting. France has deployed 200 extra police officers, including elite police commandos, to Guadeloupe to quell the unrest.
Compulsory vaccination has touched a nerve in a population that is descended from slaves who worked on French sugar plantations and that during the 20th century was systematically exposed to toxic pesticides used in banana plantations. read more
Blood test detects virus exposure without antibodies
Because not everyone produces measurable amounts of COVID-19 antibodies after infection or vaccination, UK researchers have developed a single blood test that not only detects antibodies but also measures other signs of an immune system response to the virus. Specifically, it measures T cells, powerful immune cells that learn to recognise the virus either after encountering it during infection or through vaccination.
“The test is very sensitive and seems to be accurate,” said Martin Scurr of Cardiff University School of Medicine, coauthor of a report published in Immunology. This was true even in patients with cancer, many of whom do not produce antibodies in response to vaccination. “The test is easy to employ and should play a very useful role” in monitoring antibody and T cell responses to the virus, Scurr said. “However, it remains to be determined what level of antibody and T cell response against the virus might protect from future infection and COVID-19.” read more
Kenya COVID-19 vaccine mandate draws praise and criticism
A Kenyan government directive that residents must show proof of COVID-19 vaccination by Dec. 21 to access services was welcomed by some businesses on Monday but criticised by others, who said low vaccination rates made it unrealistic. Only 8.8% of people are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in Kenya so far.
The government will start a 10-day mass vaccination campaign on Friday, Health Minister Mutahi Kagwe said. Irungu Houghton, executive director of Amnesty International’s Kenya office, called on the government to work harder to address vaccine hesitancy. read moreCompiled by Karishma Singh; editing by Uttaresh.V
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This article was originally published by Reuters.