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5.5 million fatalities attributed to COVID-19; the latest health stories from around the world

Virtually two years since the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared it a pandemic, COVID-19 has already accounted for close on 350 million cases and more than 5.5 million fatalities. The “good” news is that the faster it spreads these days, the lower its deaths. The Omicron variant appears to be a more benevolent avatar though …

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Mass testing for COVID-19 in Tianjin; the latest health stories from around the world

Mass testing of the 14 million residents of Tianjin, a city near China’s capital Beijing, began after a score of COVID-19 cases were discovered. At least two cases of the Omicron variant were found. Lockdowns continue in Xi’an and Yuzhou, two other large cities affected by outbreaks. Cases have also been identified in Hong Kong. …

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Omicron looms over New Year celebrations; the latest health stories from around the world

The Omicron coronavirus variant dampened New Year festivities around much of the world, with Paris cancelling its fireworks show, London relegating its one to television, and New York City scaling down its famous ball drop celebration in Times Square. The illuminated ball made of Waterford crystal panels slids down its pole at the midnight hour …

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Emergency authorisation for new COVID-19 vaccine; the latest health stories from around the world

For COVID-19, small seems to be beautiful. First we had BioNTech, a tiny operation headed by a Turkish immigrant couple in Germany that gave us the Pfizer vaccine. Now along comes a small Maryland biotechnology company, Novavax, finally joining the ranks of high-profile COVID-19 vaccine developers, winning emergency authorisations for its candidate. (www.science.org/content/article/novavax a).  The …

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New COVID-19 variant emerges; the latest health stories from around the world

As we stagger towards 2022, the words of that old Carpenters’ song come back suddenly: “Its yesterday once more!” Unlike that song, this is a nightmare, not nostalgia. COVID-19 devastated the world back in 2020 when vaccines were a faint glimmer at the end of a seemingly endless tunnel. The vaccines arrived at the threshold …

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“COVID-19 Tsunami” on the horizon; the latest health stories from around the world

Two weeks after the Omicron variant was identified, hospitals are bracing for a COVID-19 tsunami, according to a report in economist.com (www.economist.com/graphic-detail/2021/12/11/early-data-on-omicron-show-surging-cases-but-milder-symptoms). In South Africa, where it has displaced Delta, cases are rising faster than in earlier waves. Each person with Omicron may infect 3-3.5 others. Delta’s most recent rate in the country was 0.8. …

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Another COVID-19 mutant arises; the latest health stories from around the world

It’s been just a year since the first anti-COVID-19 vaccine surfaced. And the virus has again turned up as a complicated avatar, its fifth since the original emerged from Wuhan in China two years ago. The World Health Organization (WHO) has christened it Omicron. Since its emergence in South Africa on 24 November, cases have …

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“variant of concern” emerges; the latest health stories from around the world

There is a new version of COVID-19 and the World Health Organisation has labelled it a “variant of concern.” First identified in South Africa on 25 November, preliminary evidence suggests that it carries a greater risk of reinfection than other strains. (www.economist.com/science-and-technology/2021/11/26/a-new-covid-19-variant-has-emerged) Just a day after its emergence, the world turned hyper. The EU imposed …

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Europe COVID-19 cases rising; the latest health stories from around the world

The more things change the more they remain the same or, what you gain in the swing you lose on the roundabout. Despite the vaccine, Europe is back where it started, becoming the focal point of the Covid-19 pandemic just as it was in the spring and summer of 2020. However, thanks to the vaccines, …

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