Expert: Against Omicron, most cloth masks are just “fashion accessories”

It’s time to upgrade your mask if you’re only using a fabric cover, as they don’t have to meet any health standards, says Trish Greenhalgh, professor of primary health care services at the University of Oxford. “They can be really good or really terrible,” depending on the fabric used.

NPR: To block the Omicron, wear an N95 mask or other high filtration mask

With another variant of the coronavirus racing across the United States, health officials are once again urging people to hide inside. Yes, you’ve heard it all before. But given how contagious omicron is, experts say it is seriously time to switch to an N95 or similar high-filtration respirator when you’re in public indoor spaces. “Cloth masks aren’t going to cut it with omicron,” says Linsey Marr, a researcher at Virginia Tech who studies how viruses are transmitted through the air. (Godoy, 12/23/3)

Bloomberg: the best masks for the Covid? Cloth masks could be bad against Omicron, expert says

Omicron once again makes people think twice about buying their colorful, reusable sheet masks. “They can be really good or really terrible,” depending on the fabric used, said Trish Greenhalgh, professor of primary health care services at the University of Oxford. Double- or triple-layered masks made from a mixture of materials may be more effective, but most fabric coverings are just “fashion accessories,” according to Greenhalgh. (Angel, 12/22/2)

In more news on the omicron variant –

CNN: How long do you have to isolate yourself if you have Covid-19 but are vaccinated? There is a debate

As the highly transmissible variants of the Omicron and Delta coronaviruses continue to surge in the United States, health officials warn that more people are expected to be infected – even those who are fully vaccinated – and that they must stay home and isolate yourself so as not to transmit the virus to others. Anyone with Covid-19 must self-isolate for 10 full days, according to current guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But this holiday season, there has been growing debate around the number of days to isolate if you test positive for Covid-19 but have no symptoms and are fully vaccinated – or, better yet, have received a dose. reminder. (Howard, 12/22/2)

Bloomberg: Omicron puts unvaccinated pregnant women at risk against Covid

The omicron variant increases the risk for this little-talked-about demographic group: pregnant women. Left out of early vaccine trials and faced with confusing messages and misinformation about the dangers to their unborn children, a disproportionate number of pregnant women have avoided Covid injections. Around 75% of pregnant women in the UK and around 65% in the US are still not vaccinated, making them one of the groups most at risk of getting infected and exposed to severe forms of disease as the rapidly spreading omicron strain spreads across the world. . (Ring, 12/23)

Stat: Regulatory: The need for an Omicron vaccine depends on the resistance capacity of the variant

Whether Americans need additional vaccines specifically tailored to the rapidly spreading Omicron variant of the coronavirus may depend on how long it has been circulating in the United States, a senior regulator told STAT on Wednesday in an interview. “If it turns out that Omicron is the new variant that things are settling into, then of course we’ll probably need a vaccine specific to Omicron,” said Peter Marks, senior vaccine regulator. the Food and Drug Administration. “On the other hand, if it’s just a variant that passes and we get [a new variant] in a month or two we won’t need it anymore. (Florko, 12/22/2)

Bangor Daily News: Omicron further worsens shortage of key COVID-19 treatment in Maine

Maine currently does not have enough sotrovimab to treat dozens of new omicron patients, Nirav Shah, director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said Wednesday. In response, providers will likely limit treatments to patients most at risk, according to hospitals and epidemiologists. “I wish we as a country had more sotrovimab because if the country had it then Maine would,” Shah said. The omicron variant was first detected in Maine last week as hospitals across the state continued to grapple with the effects of a spike in the number of delta variant cases that has hit hospitals and put to straining health resources. The US CDC has previously declared omicron the nationally dominant strain and health officials in Maine expect it to overtake the delta variant here within weeks. (Russell and Marino Jr., 12/23)

In related news –

The Texas Tribune: Omicron could hit low-income, uninsured Texans harder

Much of the past two years has seemed surreal to the staff at Centro De Salud Familiar La Fe, a federally licensed health center in El Paso. Apparently overnight, the women’s health center turned into a coronavirus unit. They started offering COVID-19 testing and then, whenever they could, vaccine pop-ups. They made public service announcements and went door to door, encouraging people to get vaccinated. But despite the unprecedented nature of the pandemic, some things came as no surprise, like how hard it hit their low-income and uninsured clients. (Klibanoff, 12/22/2)

Stat: Biologist Examines Omicron, Vaccines, and CDC Variant Predictions

What does the data tell us so far about Omicron and whether it causes milder disease than previous variants of Covid-19? What can we expect as Omicron infections crash into the nation’s healthcare system? Why do Omicron waves seem to decline so quickly after reaching such heights? We do not know. So we asked Trevor Bedford, a computer biologist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, what he thought. (Branswell, 12/22/2)

The New York Times: Influenza makes an unfortunate comeback as Omicron explodes

The influenza virus, which practically disappeared in early 2020, is once again circulating in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported about 2,500 clinical trial cases nationwide for the week that ended December 11. That number is typical for this time of year, but it also represents a level of cases that has not been seen since before the Coronavirus pandemic. (12/22)

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of coverage of health policies by major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.

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