COVID cases in Okanogan County have slowed considerably. In the week ending Nov. 28, the county recorded 28 new cases, compared with 72 in the previous week. There were two new cases in Twisp.
The two-week incidence rate per 100,000 population has decreased from 472 as of Nov. 21 to 271 as of Nov. 28. The percentage of county residents fully vaccinated increased by 2/10 of a percent, to 56.1%.
Public Health officials in Washington, like their counterparts across the country and world, are scrambling to learn more about a new coronavirus variant dubbed “Omicron.”
Since Omicron was identified by researchers in South Africa on Nov. 24, the World Health Organization (WHO) has classified it as a variant of concern, primarily because it has so many mutations. Still, scientists don’t know yet if those mutations make the virus more contagious or resistant to immunity from vaccination or prior infection with COVID. They also don’t know if it causes more severe illness.
Preliminary evidence suggests an increased risk of reinfection with the variant, which has been detected at a faster rate than other variants, WHO said.
The variant has been detected in more than a dozen countries, including Canada, but hasn’t yet been identified in the United States.
WHO pointed to the failure to share vaccines equitably in all countries, which is taking its toll on some of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people – and allowing the virus to mutate and spread. “New variants of concern mean that the risks of infection have increased in all countries for people who are not yet protected by vaccination,” WHO said.
In high-income countries, one in two people had received at least one vaccine dose as of Nov. 23. In low-income countries, the ratio was one in 13, according to WHO.
WHO called on governments and the private sector to donate money and vaccine doses, and to remove barriers to vaccine distribution.
WHO also urged vaccine manufacturers to share the intellectual property behind the vaccines so that production can be accelerated.