News

News

Omicron variant unleashes scramble for boosters

Screen Shot 2021 12 10 at 8.50.32 AM

Chart via VenturaCountyRecovers.org 

An outline of new cases, hospitalizations, and deaths throughout Ventura county attributed to COVID-19. 

 

Grant Phillips, Ojai Valley News reporter

Pfizer and its partner BioNTech announced Dec. 8 that lab tests show a third dose increased 25-fold the level of neutralizing antibodies against the Omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus.

While the studies have not undergone scientific review, the company noted a booster dose of its COVID-19 vaccine may protect against the Omicron variant. 

Executives at Pfizer also announced that a fourth dose could also come earlier than expected. Chief Executive Albert Bourla and Chief Scientific Officer Michael Dolsten of Pfizer both announced this week that “we clearly see the rationale now” for preparing for a fourth dose. 

The news came shortly after a separate study in South Africa reported that the Omicron variant significantly reduces COVID antibodies generated by the Pfizer vaccine.

As of Dec. 4, the World Health Organization noted the Omicron variant was present in more than 38 countries and six continents, but no deaths have been reported from it. 

On Dec. 6, initial studies out of South Africa, where the Omicron variant is already dominant with more than 300 new cases a day, support the possibility that the variant produces less-serious illness. A study by the South African Medical Research Council indicated that most infected patients were admitted for other reasons and have no COVID-19 symptoms, stating their infection “is an incidental finding in these patients and is largely driven by hospital policy requiring the testing of all patients.”

The county of Ventura ranked fourth in the nation for securing Federal Emergency Management Agency funding for their pandemic response, resulting in more than $150 million in local assistance. 

Many of the grants have gone toward rental assistance, farmworkers, restaurants, meals for vulnerable homebound adults, and more than 7,000 small businesses in four rounds of funding. 

“It’s important for the community to know how these public funds were managed,” said County Executive Officer Mike Powers in a written statement. “They went back to the community during a time when it was needed most.”

The county of Ventura’s COVID-19 Response Spending Plan also included $400 million in supportive services and direct grants for the community. The county’s coordinated response allowed for the reallocation of 980 disaster-service workers to help with high-volume testing and vaccine rollout. 

On Dec. 8, Ventura County Public Health reported there had been one new death of a 74-year-old male and 200 new COVID-19 cases since  Dec. 6 in Ventura County. 

Ojai’s 93023 ZIP code has reported 21 new cases over a 14-day period.

 

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