COVID Omicron News: FDA authorizes new monoclonal antibody treatment to fight omicron

COVID-19 Live Updates, News and Information
NEW YORK (WABC) -- The FDA authorized a new monoclonal antibody treatment from Eli Lilly that shows promising results in fighting the omicron COVID-19 variant.

The therapy will be given to COVID patients early on in their infection.

The Biden Administration said it was planning on buying 600,000 doses.

RELATED: What are the symptoms of the COVID omicron variant?

Here are more of today's COVID-19 headlines:



Booster impact wanes but remains strong, study finds
An early look at the performance of COVID-19 booster shots during the recent omicron wave in the U.S. hinted at a decline in effectiveness, though the shots still offered strong protection against severe illness. The report, published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday, is considered an early and limited look at the durability of booster protection during the omicron surge that exploded in December and January but has been fading in recent weeks. "COVID-19 vaccine boosters remain safe and continue to be highly effective against severe disease over time," said Kristen Nordlund, a CDC spokesperson. The researchers looked at patient visits to hospitals and urgent care centers in 10 states. They estimated how well Pfizer or Moderna booster shots prevented COVID-related visits to emergency departments and urgent care centers, and how well the vaccines prevented hospitalizations. About 10% of people in the study were boosted. Vaccine effectiveness was higher in people who had received boosters than in people who had received only the original series of shots.

SCOTUS declines to hear another challenge to NYC mandate
The Supreme Court has once again declined to hear a case challenging a city vaccine mandate. Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who handles appeals from this region, denied the request for an emergency injunction brought by city public school teachers seeking a religious exemption.

Sotomayor previously rejected an earlier challenge to the city vaccine mandate in October. She did so again Friday with no explanation, which is normal court procedure.

One of the teachers, Michael Kane, called the decision "a big disappointment for me and hundreds and hundreds of teachers we work with." He said they will continue to challenge city dismissals with lawsuits. "We are not going to stop the fight."

FDA delays meeting on Pfizer vaccine for younger kids
Federal health regulators on Friday delayed next week's public meeting to review Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine for children under 5, saying they want to see more data. The surprise announcement by the Food and Drug Administration raises questions about how soon youngsters could get the shots. The FDA's outside experts were set to evaluate the first data on COVID-19 vaccinations in toddlers and babies.
The FDA said Pfizer has new data available from its ongoing vaccine study - and the agency needs more time to evaluate it. The expert panel had been scheduled to meet Tuesday to determine if children under 5 should start getting extra-low doses of Pfizer's vaccine before it's clear if they'll need two shots or three. The nation's 18 million children under 5 are the only age group not yet eligible for vaccination. The FDA had pushed Pfizer and its partner BioNTech to apply for authorization of its extra-low doses for tots before final study data was in, as the hugely contagious omicron variant took a toll on children.

Employees protest New York City's vaccine mandate terminations

About 3,000 municipal workers -- less than 1% of New York City's workforce -- face termination Friday after refusing to abide by a vaccine requirement. A demonstration against the terminations, called The Ferry to Freedom Rally, with city workers gathering in all five boroughs and marching on City Hall, took place on Friday morning. The mandate, established under the de Blasio administration, applies to employees hired after August 2, 2021, who were told to be vaccinated as a condition of employment and to unvaccinated police officers, correction officers, firefighters and others who opted to forego city health benefits and are currently on leave because they're unvaccinated. The mandate achieved a vaccination rate among municipal workers of more than 95%. A number of exceptions were approved in recent months.

NYC to distribute testing kits at cultural institutions
Mayor Eric Adams announced the opening of the city's third coronavirus site targeting specific communities hit hardest by the pandemic. They are called COVID-19 Centers of Excellence, and Test and Trace Executive Director Dr. Ted Long announced the city will be distributing hundreds of thousands of at home tests at cultural institutions. The test kits will be distributed free of charge at 14 cultural sites and 27 branches of The New York Public Library, Queens Public Library, and Brooklyn Public Library. Weekly walk-up distributions will begin next week, and a list of locations and hours will be available and updated daily on Test & Trace's testing page.

Ontario declares an emergency over truck blockades in Canada
Ontario's premier declared a state of emergency Friday in reaction to the truck blockades in Ottawa and at the U.S. border and threatened heavy penalties against those who interfere with the free flow of goods and people. Since Monday, scores of drivers protesting Canada's COVID-19 restrictions and venting their rage against liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau have bottled up the Ambassador Bridge connecting Windsor, Ontario, to Detroit, disrupting the auto industry on both sides of the border. Hundreds more truckers have paralyzed downtown Ottawa over the past two weeks. Premier Doug Ford said he will convene the provincial cabinet on Saturday to urgently enact measures that make it "crystal clear" it is illegal to block critical infrastructure. Violators will face up to a year in prison and a maximum fine of $100,000, he said.
"Let me be as clear as I can: There will be consequences for these actions, and they will be severe," Ford said. "This is a pivotal, pivotal moment for our nation."

French convoys protesting virus rules move toward Paris
Protesters angry over pandemic restrictions are driving toward Paris in scattered convoys of camper vans, cars and trucks to blockade the French capital despite a police ban. The protesters organized online, galvanized in part by truckers who have blockaded Canada's capital. Paris region authorities deployed more than 7,000 police officers to tollbooths and other key sites to try to prevent a blockade. Some of the French groups are threatening to continue their journey to Brussels, the capital of the European Union, and to meet up there with drivers from other countries on Monday. Belgian authorities banned the threatened blockade there. A similar convoy planned for Friday in Vienna was canceled.

How many times can I reuse my N95 mask?
How many times can I reuse my N95 mask? It depends, but you should be able to use N95s and KN95s a few times. The U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention says health care workers can wear an N95 mask up to five times. But experts say how often the average person can safely wear one will vary depending on how it's used. Using the same mask to run to the grocery store, for example, is very different than wearing it all day at work.

When am I contagious if infected with omicron?
When am I contagious if infected with omicron? It's not yet clear, but some early data suggests people might become contagious sooner than with earlier variants - possibly within a day after infection. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says people with the coronavirus are most infectious in the few days before and after symptoms develop. But that window of time might happen earlier with omicron, according to some outside experts. That's because omicron appears to cause symptoms faster than previous variants - about three days after infection, on average, according to preliminary studies. Based on previous data, that means people with omicron could start becoming contagious as soon as a day after infection.

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