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Omicron variant ‘not a cause for panic’ Joe Biden says



Biden last week moved to restrict travel from South Africa and seven other countries in southern Africa, effective on Monday, in a bid to give scientists time to learn more about the new variant, and for more Americans to get vaccinated before it hits the US.


Some other nations are reinstating severe travel and business lockdowns to prevent the Omicron variant from spreading, but Biden indicated the US was not following suit.

“If people are vaccinated and wear their mask, there’s no need for lockdowns,” he said.

The move to limit most travel from the countries where Omicron was first identified was meant to provide time for the US to learn more about the variant and to “intensify” the domestic vaccination campaign, Fauci said earlier on Monday.

“It buys you a couple of weeks because if you can keep things out in force for a couple of weeks you can do a lot of things,” he told CBS Mornings.

Pharmaceutical companies are already adjusting their existing COVID-19 vaccines to better attack the Omicron variant, but Fauci said Americans should make it a priority to get either their first shots or a booster dose now, rather than waiting for a new formulation.

“I would strongly suggest you get boosted now,” he said.

He added that depending on what scientists learn about the Omicron variant in the coming weeks “we may not need” targeted boosters to contain that strain of the virus.

Biden said his administration was “sparing no effort at removing all roadblocks to keep the American people safe”, including working with drug manufacturers on potential new boosters and testing targeted specifically at the new variant.

Any Omicron-specific vaccine probably could not begin to be produced for another two or three months, so getting boosters now is a “very important initial line of defence,” Dr Paul Burton, chief medical officer for the vaccine-maker Moderna, said on Monday.

Burton said Moderna and other vaccine companies are testing existing COVID-19 vaccines to determine how effective they are against the Omicron variant.

“If we need to manufacture an Omicron-specific variant, it’s going to take some weeks, two to three months is probably what we’re looking at to be able to really begin to manufacture,” Burton told ABC.

Noting that the new variant, like earlier ones, sprang up overseas in areas with lower vaccination rates, Biden said it was both a moral imperative and in America’s self-interest to speed up global vaccinations.

He noted that the US had already donated more than 275 million doses — more than the rest of the world combined — and was on pace to deliver more than 1.1 billion doses globally by September 2022.

“Now we need the rest of the world to step up as well,” Biden said. “We can’t let up until the world is vaccinated.”


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Karnataka resident doctors go on strike over Covid allowance payment | Latest News India



Bengaluru: The Karnataka Association of Resident Doctors (KARD) on Monday went on an indefinite strike demanding payment of Covid-19 risk allowance. As part of the strike, the resident doctors across the state have decided to withdraw from all the elective services, including outpatient department (OPD) and elective operation theatre, in all medical colleges affiliated with the KARD. They, however, added that emergency services will not be part of the strike.

“We have worked hard to manage the Covid-19 pandemic, even by compromising all our academics and against the risk of being infected under adverse conditions. As a result, postgraduates have lost half of their course duration without learning the bare minimum of clinical and other skills,” said KARD’s president In-charge Dr Tejas J.

KARD is an association of house surgeons, postgraduates, and super speciality residents of government medical and dental colleges in Karnataka.

In May, the Karnataka government announced a Covid allowance of 10,000 per month from April 2021 for all resident doctors. The association said that the funds have not been released by the government even after six months, terming it a “blatant disregard” towards the doctors serving on the frontlines.

Highlighting an almost 400% hike in academic fees, the association stated that the matter was made even worse by forcing them to pay up the entire sum upfront without any concession during “these troubling times”. It added that innumerable symbolic protests, letters to concerned authorities and a pan-state protest bore no fruitful result. “It is unfortunate to note that the assurance given by the minister of medical education has not been fulfilled. The intent to address the issue is not visible as resident doctors were excluded from the package of Covid-risk allowance announced recently by the Government of Karnataka,” read a statement from the association.

“We are left with no option but to display our dissent in this regard with a Pan-Karnataka indefinite strike from November 29, 2021, comprising of withdrawal of all the elective services including OPDs and elective OTs (Excluding emergency services) in all the medical colleges affiliated with KARD,” it added.

Meanwhile, housekeeping staff, ward attendees, lift operators, data entry operators and security personnel employed in Bangalore Medical College and Research Institute (BMCRI), staged a protest on Monday, demanding timely payment of wages.

The workers claimed that they have not been paid the October salary. Maitreyi from Karnataka General Labour Union, affiliated with the All India Central Council of Trade Unions (AICCTU), said workers are unable to pay their house rent and do not have money to purchase food for their families.

“The workers have not been paid the salary for October 2021. As per labour laws, the workers are to be paid their monthly salary on the 7th of every month. However, as BMRCI has failed to ensure payment of salary for October, the workers are struggling to make ends meet. Without the monthly salary, they are unable to pay school fees of their children or attend to medical emergencies,” she said.

Ramesh Krishna K, Medical Superintendent of Victoria hospital, however, claimed that the payment of salaries was delayed as the outsourced agency had not paid the workers. “I have informed the dean and director about this, and we are in the process of resolving the issue,” he said.

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‘Gravesend’ cast members among heroes honored for saving teen’s life in Brooklyn



The heroes who helped save the life of a teen pinned under a car earlier this month were honored Monday with a City Council citation.

Some of the heroes included the cast and crew of a Brooklyn-based TV show called “Gravesend.”

Three weeks ago, the cast was shooting a scene near the corner of Avenue X and West 2nd Street when an out-of-control car jumped the curb and slammed into a teenage boy, pinning him underneath.

The heroes worked together to lift the car and get the boy out. They also stayed with him until the ambulance arrived.

Council Member Mark Treyger and Council Member-elect Ari Kagan met the heroes in the heart of Gravesend to present them with the award.

Officials say the teen is still in the hospital recovering from serious injuries but is expected to be OK. His mother sent her gratitude for everyone’s actions.

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