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Another Coronavirus Variant has Emerged – the R.1

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The Delta variant of the coronavirus has been blamed for a disastrous summer for the United States.

It is however time to shift focus to another newly found variant of the virus – R.1. Experts are of the opinion that the R.1 variant of the coronavirus could be more likely to cause breakthrough infections.

It is however worth mentioning that the delta variant continues to be the most dominant variant of the coronavirus globally by a long way. The variant was found to be the cause of Covid-19 infections for approximately 92% of all the coronavirus sequences that were submitted from the United States to the Global Initiative for Sharing All Influenza Data.

In comparison, according to public health physician Charlene Brown, only 0.5% of the infections in the United States were because of the R.1 variant.

Credit – indiatimes.com

Delta is classified as a “variant of concern” by the CDC, which means there is data that it is more infectious, produces more deadly illnesses, and is less susceptible to immunization. Meanwhile, the FDA has not designated R.1 as a variant of interest or concern, but acknowledges in an April report that it appears to contain “mutations of importance.” According to the research, data shows that one of these changes may render the virus more communicable. According to Newsweek, another alteration might make it more immune to antibodies generated by vaccinated persons and individuals who have recently had Covid-19.

According to experts, the R.1 variant of the coronavirus is not a new phenomenon even though many of us could be hearing of it for the first time. According to Newsweek, this variant was first detected by scientists in Japan in November last year. It has now spread to other regions of the world, including 47 states in the United States.

The fact that R.1 was involved in an epidemic at a nursing facility in Kentucky in March, as detailed in the April CDC report, is perhaps the most alarming. According to Yahoo! News, eighteen of the 26 affected people and four of the twenty healthcare staff were completely vaccinated, suggesting that this variety may be more prone to result in breakthrough infections than its predecessors.

Having said that, the research also discovered that people who were unvaccinated as well as healthcare personnel were three to four times more prone to become infected compared to vaccinated individuals. The majority of hospitalizations and fatalities were among the unvaccinated.

The crux of this news report is to underscore the importance of getting vaccinated against Covid-19. Vaccination is our best defence against R.1, and indeed any other variant, according to Brown. R.1 is the latest variant of the coronavirus but it will also not be the last for certain, he added.

Covid-19

California Officials Urge State Residents To Get Flu Vaccine

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Californian state public health officials have asked residents to get flu vaccine shots, especially those who belong to the high-risk group of 65-year-olds and above.

Flu season, which starts in October and goes on till May, speeds up in November and December, the Department of Public Health, California, said.

Last year, the flu season’s impact was blunted as measures adopted by the state public health department to control the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic like wearing masks, maintaining social distance, and washing hands regularly also stopped its spread.

But this year, the danger of both diseases spreading is very likely, according to Dr. Tomas Aragon, California Department of Public Health Director and Public Health Officer, reported Krone4.

“In the middle of Covid-19 pandemic, a severe flu outbreak could have devastating consequences for California,” Dr. Aragon said.

“Getting vaccinated for flu is simple and safe and it will help in keeping people out of hospitals which will turn reduce strain on the public health care system,” he added.

Everyone from six months old and older is recommended to get a flu vaccine and in particular, it is very important for high-risk groups, including the aged and those who smoke or have some underlying health issues, pregnant women, children aged 5 or younger, residents of the long-term care facility and employees and workers in industries.

Public health officials have said that it is safe to get the COVID-19 vaccine and flu vaccine on the same days.

Flu Vaccine Is Free

Flu vaccines are available free of cost or low cost at almost all retail pharmacies, clinics, healthcare providers, and some health departments.

According to health officials, most insurance, including Medi-Cal, is accepted at Retail Pharmacies.

Flu is an infectious disease caused by influenza viruses. Symptoms include fever, headache, coughing, sore throat, muscle pain, fatigue, and runny nose.

A screenshot of a girl getting her flu vaccine shot.

The symptoms usually appear one to two days after contracting the virus and can last from two to eight days. In children, vomiting and diarrhea can occur, experts say.

Flu can turn into pneumonia and other complications can occur which include acute respiratory distress syndrome, encephalitis, and meningitis. Existing conditions like asthma and cardiovascular disease can get aggravated.

For more information on annual flu, click the following link: https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CID/DCDC/Pages/Immunization/Influenza.aspx.

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San Francisco, Marin County Relax Indoor Mask Rule

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As most of the Bay Area counties continue to enforce mask wearing to keep COVID-19 at bay, from Friday onwards vaccinated people in San Francisco and Marin County need not wear masks in some indoor settings with Contra Costa County slated to join on Nov. 1.

The rule applies to a gathering of not more than 100 people, who all have received certified vaccinations, and is valid for offices, college classes, religious gatherings, fitness centers, gyms, and employee commuter vehicles. This means that kids under 12 who haven’t got their shots, will have to wear masks.

MX3 Fitness Glenn Shope welcomed the new mask rule.

“It is beneficial as doing high-intensity workout without wearing a mask will become a lot less straining. It also makes task of gym owners and trainers easier who now don’t have to keep asking people to follow mask rule and put masks properly. The new rule also sends out the signal that it is safe to return to gym,” Shope said while talking to The Mercury News.

Masking To Remain In Most Counties

The change comes even as most Bay Area counties haven’t reached the thresholds they laid out last week for people to start discarding their masks in most indoor settings.

Under the criteria, which was agreed to by eight out of the nine county health officers, indoor mask requirement for the vaccinated can only be dropped after a county’s three-week COVID-19 transmission rate reaches the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s yellow “moderate” tier and at least 80% of the population is fully vaccinated. Hospitalization rates must also be low.

Only Marin County is close to meeting the criteria. On Wednesday, it achieved CDC’s moderate transmission rate criteria allowing it to drop the full mask rule in November if the transmission rate remains steady. About 77.4% of the population is fully vaccinated and hospitalizations are low, according to CDC.

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Supply Chain Jams: Avoid California, Bring Your Ships Here, Florida Tells Shipping Companies

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The Florida Ports Council is asking shipping companies to bring their ships to the state via the Panama Canal as ships pile up in California awaiting their turn to unload containers.

To untangle the snarl in California, President Joe Biden on Wednesday announced that Los Angeles port will work 24/7 along with Long Beach port and that UPS and FedEx also increasing their overnight operations. The president had earlier this year formed a Supply Chains Task Force and appointed a Port Envoy to find remedies for the disruption.

Cmdr. Stephen Bor of the U.S. Coast Guard said cargo ships are backed up all along the shore of California waiting for their turn to dock. “There are more ships there than there are parking slots,” Bor was quoted as saying by Local10.com.

Florida Ports Council’s president and chief executive officer, Mike Rubin, said the 7-day voyage through Panama Canal will benefit shipping companies as they wouldn’t have to pay a moorage fee.

The idea is supported by Jonathan Daniels, chief executive, and director of Port Everglades.

Pandemic To Blame

Megan Greene, global chief economist and senior fellow at the Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government at Harvard Kennedy School, told Local10.com that the supply problem started with factory shutdowns in China during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“In U.S. the issue is more to do with labor. There are shortage (sic) of longshore workers and truck drivers who take goods out of containers and transport them into stores and onto shelves,” Greene said.

As COVID-19 eases up, countries have started to reopen their economies which has again kickstarted demand, but companies haven’t been able to keep up. This has also resulted in shipping costs going up and coupled with a shortage of drivers, prices are also skyrocketing, said Greene.

All issues have their roots in the pandemic. When COVID-19 hit, everything was shut down and demand also went down. So, people like workers and drivers lost their jobs. Now, as things are opening up and demand surges, it has become difficult for everyone to cope.

According to Mark Zandi, Moody’s Analytics chief economist. “It is all because of the pandemic. It has disrupted all markets.”

According to a BBC report, the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, known to be the main seaborne gateway to the United States, have been hit hard.

The report said that Los Angeles had to move 30% more shipping containers than usual in August. On the other hand, Long Beach moved an extra 23%.

Citing one instance in September, the report said a record number of 73 ships were forced to queue outside for a berth.

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