By Vincenzo Claudio Piscopo
Omicron Gives No Respite, New restrictions and Canceled Flights
Close to the Christmas vacations, the Omicron variant forced United to cancel more than 100 flights. The airline itself said that many of its employees were infected due to the new variant of COVID-19. The cancellation is sure to have a major impact, given that it is Christmas Eve and many travelers will not be able to reach their chosen destination without having some discomfort. United, however, is committed to notifying passengers in time and rescheduling their flight.
Yesterday, Paul Burton, medical director of Moderna, said that the pharmaceutical company is working on the variant-specific booster effective against Omicron. Trials will begin in early 2022 and it will take at least 2 months to get initial results. However, the belief remains that at the moment it is not rushing to make the fourth dose, but rather waiting since still the predominant variant remains Delta. Even the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci himself said that it is still early to talk about a fourth dose and there is no need to rush.
Leading members of the US airline industry including Nick Calio, president and CEO of Airlines for America and Delta CEO Ed Bastian require that the isolation period for workers in the sector be reduced from 10 to 5 days following the onset of symptoms, to reduce the logistical impact. The 10-day absence of an employee could significantly reduce the workforce and lead to a slowdown in operations and activities across the industry.
These requests also reflect the CDC statement that yesterday published the new guidelines for health professionals who test positive for COVID-19. They will be able to return to work after seven days if asymptomatic or test negative.
According to a report published yesterday by the UK Health Safety Agency (UKHSA), the risk of being hospitalized for Covid-19 due to the Omicron variant appears to be lower than the risk due to Delta. This finding could be related to the high transmissibility of the new variant that would nevertheless cause a large number of hospital admissions.
Another report yesterday from the Italian Istituto Superiore di Sanità shows that the Omicron variant probably accounts for about a third of new cases. Following this release, the Italian government has also decided to introduce new restrictions valid until January 31, 2022, and an FFP2 mask will be mandatory to travel on public transport. From February 1, the period of validity of vaccination certificates will also be reduced, from nine to six months.
To combat the infection and new hospitalizations, on Tuesday, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett announced that the country would introduce a fourth dose for all healthcare workers, over-60s and frail people.