China, whereis thought to have originated, is reporting its first deaths related to the coronavirus since January last year.
Authorities reported two COVID deaths there on Saturday — both elderly patients with underlying conditions, an official with the National Health Commission said, The Associated Press reports. One of them was not vaccinated against the virus.
The deaths come as China is fighting its worst outbreak of the virus in two years. They also come as sharp contrasts emerge in the global battle with the virus, as another new variant — BA.2 — develops.
The number of new cases globally has climbed by 8% within the last week, while the number of new COVID cases in the United States has dropped dramatically over the past month. The nation’s second-largest school district, Los Angeles, is now preparing to drop its mask mandate.
Both Pfizer and Moderna are asking the FDA to approve a fourth dose of their COVID vaccines, Michael George reports for “CBS Saturday Morning.” Fourth vaccine doses are already recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for some sick people.
“The CDC does recommend fourth doses for the immunocompromised, while it hasn’t been … approved for others,” said White House press secretary Jen Psaki.
Pfizer wants its boosters to be available for people 65 and older, while Moderna wants to give its fourth shot to all adults.
Even with nearly 65% of the U.S. population fully vaccinated, millions are still not vaccinated at all.
“We have reached a pivot point. How well we pivot is on us. All of us,” said U.S. Health Secretary Xavier Becerra. “And so, if you ask me, will things go well, I’ll return the answer by saying: Will everyone do their part?”
Talking with The Associated Press on Friday, Becerra again urged vaccinations for more people before the highly contagious BA.2 variant hits hard.
“If everyone does their part, then yes, if not, get ready because this thing is taking us on a wild ride,” he said. “COVID is hard to tame, and we’ve learned COVID can throw any number of things at us, so get ready.”
We’re still in the early stages with the BA.2 variant, but so far it does not appear to be more severe than Omicron, and research shows the current vaccines offer good protection against it.