(Reuters) - Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:
Fourth shot raises resistance to serious illness for over-60s: Israel
A fourth dose of COVID-19 vaccine given to people over 60 in Israel made them three times more resistant to serious illness than thrice-vaccinated people in the same age group, Israel’s Health Ministry said.
The ministry also said the fourth dose, or second booster, made people over 60 twice as resistant to infection than those in the age group who received three shots of the vaccine. As elsewhere, Israel has seen COVID-19 cases spiral due to Omicron. But it has logged no deaths from the variant.
Pfizer CEO sees annual vaccine rather than frequent boosters
Pfizer Inc Chief Executive Albert Bourla said an annual COVID-19 vaccine would be preferable to more frequent booster shots in fighting the coronavirus pandemic.
“”Once a year - it is easier to convince people to do it. It is easier for people to remember,” Bourla said in an interview with Israel’s N12 News. Bourla has said Pfizer could be ready to file for approval for a redesigned vaccine to fight Omicron, and mass produce it, as soon as March.
One surrendered Hong Kong hamster tests COVID positive
Hong Kong authorities said one hamster surrendered to authorities by pet owners had tested positive for COVID-19 and that over 2,200 hamsters had been culled as the city struggled to contain an outbreak. While a handful of hamsters had already tested positive for the virus, this latest case is the first involving a hamster in the care of a pet-owner that had tested positive.
Meanwhile, officials have warned COVID-19 infections could be growing exponentially in the congested residential area of Kwai Chung on the Kowloon peninsula, as a second building in the district with 2,000 residents was locked down on Saturday for five days.
Olympics had 72 cases, none athletes, among early arrivals
Beijing Olympics organisers said they had confirmed 72 cases of COVID-19 among 2,586 Games-related personnel entering China from Jan. 4 to Jan. 22, with no cases among 171 athletes and team officials arriving in that period.
Of the confirmed cases, 39 were found in testing at the airport and 33 inside the loop, organisers said. Participants in the bubble are subject to daily testing, with 336,421 PCR tests administered from Jan. 4 to Jan. 22.
Return to school in Australia threatened
Australia recorded another surge of COVID-19 deaths on Monday and authorities warned numbers could rise further when schools return from end-of-year holidays next week.
Students in NSW and Victoria will have to wear masks and receive regular rapid antigen tests when they return to in-person classes next week. Queensland, however, postponed the return to school to Feb. 7 to avoid a spike in transmission.
Compiled by Karishma Singh; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips
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