Sunday's health stories

Yacob Reyes
Nov 28, 2021 - Health

WHO: Not yet known whether Omicron leads to more severe disease

Photo illustration: Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The World Health Organization on Sunday said that it is not yet clear whether the newly discovered Omicron variant is more transmissible than other strains of the COVID-19 virus.

Why it matters: The agency's statement comes as the variant, discovered in South Africa, has already been detected in European and Asian countries.

Nov 28, 2021 - Health

Fauci: Republican detractors are "criticizing science"

Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said on Sunday that Republican lawmakers who criticize him are "criticizing science, because I represent science."

Why it matters: Appearing on CBS' "Face the Nation," Fauci added that such attacks are dangerous because "if you damage science, you are doing something very detrimental to society."

Nov 28, 2021 - Health

EU's von der Leyen: Focus on vaccinations as Omicron variant spreads

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. Photo: Yves Herman - WPA Pool/Getty Images

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Sunday said the European Union should focus on pushing for greater vaccination rates to prepare for the spread of the Omicron COVID-19 variant, Reuters reports.

Why it matters: Von der Leyen's remarks come as the world scrambles to respond to concerns over the variant, first discovered in South Africa.

Nov 28, 2021 - Health

Moderna says updated vaccine for Omicron could be ready in early 2022

Syringes and a vial of Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. Photo: Ben Hasty/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images

Moderna's chief medical officer Paul Burton said Sunday that a reformulated vaccine against the newly identified Omicron coronavirus variant could be ready as soon as early 2022 if it's found to be necessary.

Why it matters: Burton's comments on BBC's "Andrew Marr Show" come as companies are testing whether current COVID-19 vaccines will provide adequate protection against the strain.

NIH director: "No reason to panic" yet about Omicron variant

National Institutes of Health director Francis Collins on Sunday said that while much is still unknown about the Omicron coronavirus variant, "there's no reason to panic" yet but more data is needed.

Why it matters: Collins' remarks on CNN's "State of the Union" come amid a broader discussion of how the new strain, first identified in South Africa, will impact the pandemic and how to curb its spread.

Nov 28, 2021 - Health

Fauci: Omicron variant will "inevitably" be found in U.S.

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, cautioned on Sunday that the COVID-19 Omicron variant will "inevitably" be found in the United States.

Driving the news: Fauci, Biden's chief medical adviser, told ABC's George Stephanopoulos on "This Week" that U.S. officials will meet with colleagues from South Africa later on Sunday to try to determine the severity of the cases, as countries scramble to learn more about the variant.

Nov 27, 2021 - Health

Procter & Gamble recalls some Old Spice, Secret products over cancer-causing chemical

Photo: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Procter & Gamble is recalling 18 different Old Spice and Secret aerosol sprays after a cancer-causing chemical was detected in some of the products.

Why it matters: This isn't the first time in 2021 that a benzene-related recall has been issued. Johnson & Johnson recalled spray-on Neutrogena and Aveeno sunscreens in July, and in October, Coppertone recalled five of its aerosol sunscreens.

Updated Nov 27, 2021 - Health

The next big bottleneck in the global vaccination effort

Illustration: Rae Cook/Axios

The world still needs more coronavirus vaccines, but an additional bottleneck has emerged in many low-income countries: They need help getting shots in arms.

Why it matters: Increasing vaccination rates across the world is both a humanitarian necessity and the best way to prevent dangerous new variants from emerging, but it increasingly requires complex problem-solving.

Updated Nov 27, 2021 - Health

COVID-19 Omicron variant cases identified in Europe, U.K.

People wearing masks walk in London on Nov. 25. Photo: Li Ying/Xinhua via Getty Images

Health officials in the United Kingdom, Italy and Germany announced on Saturday that they've detected the first known cases of the new COVID-19 Omicron variant.

Why it matters: The discoveries come as the world scrambles to respond to concerns over the new variant, discovered in South Africa earlier this week.

Nov 27, 2021 - World

South Africa says it's being "punished" for detecting new COVID variant

South African Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor addresses the 76th session of the U.N. General Assembly on Sept. 22 in New York City. Photo: Eduardo Munoz - Pool/Getty Images

South Africa said Saturday it's being "punished" for detecting the new Omicron coronavirus variant as more countries rush to enact travel bans and restrictions.

Driving the news: The U.S. imposed air travel restrictions from eight countries Friday in response to the Omicron variant. Countries in Europe and Asia have also implemented their own travel restrictions in response to Omicron.

NY declares state of emergency amid concerns over Omicron COVID variant

Gov. Kathy Hochul at an event on Nov. 3. Photo: Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul on Friday declared a state of emergency amid rising COVID-19 cases and the newly identified Omicron variant of the virus.

Driving the news: The declaration enables the state to acquire supplies to fight a potential surge in cases, increase hospital capacity and combat potential staff shortages, NBC's local affiliate reports.