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Another omicron sub-variant, which may be more resistant to antibodies, has spread to 26 countries in the last week, WHO says.

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Another omicron sub-variant has been found to have spread to more countries in the week from the previous week to October 16 and may be more resistant to antibodies than other versions of the virus, according to the World Health Organization.

In its most recent weekly epidemiological update, the agency said that XBB, a recombinant BA.2.10.1 and BA.2.75 with 14 additional mutations in the BA.2 spike protein, has been reported in 26 countries.

“Preliminary laboratory-based evidence available indicates that XBB is the most antibody-escaping variant of SARS-CoV-2 identified to date,” the agency added, adding that for now it does not confer any more serious disease than other variants. WHO will continue to monitor XBB and other sub-variants to determine if they are more contagious or more likely to make people very sick than previous variants.

In the US, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has focused more on the other two omicron sub-variants, which are spreading rapidly, particularly in the New York area. These two, designated BQ.1 and BQ.1.1, accounted for 11.5% and 8%, respectively, of new cases recorded in the week ending October 15.

Combined, they accounted for 11.4% of overall US cases in the same week. 5 was included in the variant data, as the numbers were too small to break through, prior to the release of last Friday’s data. BQ.1 was first identified by researchers in early September and has been found in England and Germany, among other places. The CDC updates the numbers every Friday. Anthony Fauci, chief medical adviser to President Joe Biden, described the two as “troublesome” ahead of the anticipated winter wave.

The WHO update found that the downward trend in global COVID cases and deaths continues, with the global number of cases down 6% from the previous week, while the death toll fell by 17%.

Meanwhile in the US, known cases of COVID continue to decline and currently stand at their lowest level since mid-April, but the actual number is likely higher given the total number of people testing at home, for which data is not collected.

The daily average for new cases stood at 37,999 on Wednesday, down 12% from two weeks ago, according to a New York Times follower. The average for hospitalizations fell by 2% per day to 26,629, while for deaths the mean dropped by 6% per day to 366.

There was dire news on Wednesday, a new government report found that COVID has caused a dramatic increase in the number of women who died in the US from complications of pregnancy or childbirth last year, the Associated Press reported. The report found that the crisis hit Black and Hispanic women particularly hard.

Pregnancy-related deaths have increased nearly 80% since 2018, and COVID was a factor in a quarter of the 1,178 deaths counted last year.

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The percentage of preterm and low birth weight babies also increased in the past year, after being stable for years. And more pregnant or postpartum women are reporting symptoms of depression.

“We were already in the middle of a maternal mortality crisis in our country,” Karen Tabb, a maternal health researcher at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, told Dina AP. “This really shows that COVID-19 is exacerbating this crisis at rates that we as a country cannot cope with.”

Tabb Dina said mental health issues are most likely contributing to the increase in pregnancy-related deaths. Many women who experience depression and anxiety during or after their pregnancy struggle to get the care they need.

Pregnancy-related deaths per 100,000 births among black women rose from 44 in 2019 to 68.9 last year. The death rate for white women rose to 26.1 last year, a jump from 17.9 in 2019.

Mortality rates among Hispanic women were declining, but increased during the pandemic, rising from 12.6 per 100,000 in 2019 to 27.5 last year.

The maternal mortality rate in the US is higher than in many other developed countries and has been on the rise in the years leading up to the pandemic. COVID has made the situation worse.

Coronavirus update: MarketWatch’s daily summary compiles and reports on the latest developments every weekday since the start of the coronavirus pandemic

Other COVID-19 news you should know:

• Abbott Laboratories expects sales of COVID-19 tests to decline amid speculation about when SARS-CoV-2 will become endemic, which means the virus is no longer present in the healthcare system and daily life, Abbott Laboratories said Wednesday. It means it’s not destructive. . The company said Wednesday it expects to bring in $500 million in COVID test sales in the final three months of the year, for a total sales of $7.8 billion in 2022. “We didn’t really plan a big winter wave,” Abbott said. CEO Robert Ford said on an earnings call. “4. It’s more of an endemic forecast for the quarter, and I think that’s the kind of endemic forecast we’ll see going into 2023.”

• Moderna MRNA,
It has been authorized in the European Union for a COVID-19 vaccine for use in children under the age of 6, Dow Jones Newswires reported. Moderna said its preliminary analysis of efficacy on PCR-confirmed cases of COVID-19 during the omicron wave showed that a two-dose series of Spikevax had similar levels of efficacy in adults and children under 5 years old. Pfizer Inc.PFE,
and BioNTech SE BNTX,
He said they have received EU marketing authorization for a COVID-19 vaccine as a three-dose series for children under 5 years old.

According to Anthony Fauci, COVID-19 vaccines are likely to be offered annually, similar to flu vaccines. He said the shots will likely match the circulating strain of a given year. Photograph: Amir Hamja for The Wall Street Journal

• Novavax NVAX,
Tomi Kilgore of MarketWatch said that the protein-based COVID-19 vaccine booster has been granted an emergency use authorization (EUA) for adults in the US. The booster vaccine is approved for people who are at least 18 years old who have completed primary vaccinations. In trials, the median duration of any local and systemic response from the booster was about two days, the company said. The Novavax vaccine is a traditional protein-based vaccine and does not use the mRNA technology used by the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines.

• Employees at the WHO’s Syria office claimed that their bosses mismanaged millions of dollars, dealt with gifts to government officials, including computers, gold coins and cars, and acted senselessly as COVID swept the country, the AP reported. More than 100 classified documents, messages, and other materials obtained by the Associated Press revealed that WHO officials told investigators that the agency’s Syria representative, Akjemal Magtymova, engaged in abusive behavior, pressured WHO staff to sign contracts with high-ranking Syrian government politicians, and repeatedly embezzled. told. WHO and donation funds.

Here’s what the numbers say:

The global count of confirmed COVID-19 cases surpassed 626.4 million on Thursday, while the death toll surpassed 6.57 million, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University.

The US leads the world with 97 million cases and 1,066,600 deaths.

A follower of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that 226.2 million people living in the USA, or 68.1% of the total population, are fully vaccinated, that is, they have had their first vaccination. Only 110.8 million have a booster equal to 49% of the vaccinated population, and 25.6 million of those who qualify for a second booster have a vaccine equal to 39% of those who receive the first booster.

The CDC reports that approximately 14.8 million people have received a dose of the updated bivalent enhancer that targets the original virus as well as its omicron and its subvariants.

Progress has been made this week in convincing Americans to buy the updated vaccine, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters on Thursday.

About 4.5 million people received their updated vaccinations last week, up nearly 40% from the previous week, the biggest weekly increase since the start of vaccination in the fall. That brings the total to about 20 million people, he said, and the numbers haven’t yet been reflected on the CDC website.

“This is a really important development, but it’s not enough. We need everyone to step up and get their current vaccines as soon as possible,” he said.