January 12, 2022 – The CDC is preparing to update its recommendations for COVID-19 masks to highlight the use of N95 and KN95 masks that better filter the virus, said Wednesday director Rochelle Walensky, MD.
“We are preparing to update the information on our mask website to best reflect the options available to people and the different levels of protection that different masks provide, and we want to provide Americans with the best and most up-to-date information to choose which mask will be right for them,” she said. is at a White House briefing.
Although better quality masks provide better protection, they can be uncomfortable to wear, expensive and harder to find. That’s why Walensky added an important caveat.
“Any mask is better than no mask and we encourage all Americans to wear a mask that fits well to protect and prevent the spread COVID-19. That recommendation will not change, “she said.
“Most importantly, the best mask you wear is the one you will wear and the one you can wear all day and tolerate indoors.”
Meanwhile, the World Health Organization has been more focused on vaccines.
WHO officials stressed on Wednesday that global vaccine distribution is the first priority in the fight against highly contagious Omicron variant, as well as other variants that can be developed.
The WHO Technical Advisory Group on the Composition of COVID-19 Vaccines – a group of experts assessing the impact of COVID-19 vaccines against Omicron and other emerging variants – says there is an “urgent need” for wider access to vaccines, including review and updating existing vaccines as needed to ensure protection.
The WHO has also challenged the idea that COVID-19 could become endemic in one largely vaccinated nation, while the rest of the world remains unprotected.
“It is up to us how this pandemic will develop,” said Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO Technical Leader for Response to COVID-19, at a press briefing.
The WHO has a goal vaccination 70% of the population of each country by the middle of the year.
But there are currently 90 countries more reach a vaccination rate of 40%, and 36 of these countries have less than 10% of their population vaccinated, according to WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
A staggering 85% of the African population is not received first dose.
But progress has been made, Ghebreyesus said at a briefing.
The WHO said more than 15 million cases of COVID-19 were reported last week – at most in one week – and that this was likely an understatement.
Returning to the White House in Washington, Walensky said this week’s daily average number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. was 751,000, an increase of 47% from last week. The average daily admission to the hospital this week is 19,800, an increase of 33%. Mortality increased by 40%, reaching 1,600 per day.
But she also reported new data supporting other research showing that Omicron can cause less serious illnesses. Kaiser Permanente Southern California released a study Tuesday showing that compared to Delta infections, Omicron was associated with a 53% reduction in hospitalizations, a 74% reduction in admissions to intensive care units and a 91% lower risk of death.
In the study, no patient with Omicron required mechanical ventilation. The strain now accounts for 98% of cases nationwide.
But Walensky warned that the lower severity of the disease is not enough to make up for the huge number of cases that continue to overwhelm hospital systems.
“Although we see early evidence that Omicron is less serious than Delta and that the infected are less likely to require hospitalization, it is important to note that Omicron is still much more portable than Delta,” she said. “The sharp increase in cases due to Omicron results in an unprecedented daily number of cases, illnesses, absenteeism and burdens on our healthcare system.”