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COVID-19

Israel Shortens Time Between Vax Doses, Adds Fourth Shot for Ages 60 and Over

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The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has made a fourth coronavirus vaccine shot available for immunocompromised people, but Israel is the first to officially suggest that anyone over the age of 60 and medical workers receive the extra dose.

“Help us overcome the Omicron wave that is sweeping the world,” said Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett. The Health Ministry said that the Pandemic Response team ruled Tuesday night that the fourth shot of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine should be utilized, available four months after receiving the third dose.

Bennett applauded Israel for being the first in the world to provide a third shot and is leading the way to administer the fourth. “No need to wait” tweeted Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz. “Go get vaccinated.”

“Another vaccine for people over the age of 60 and for medical staff of all ages” Horowitz suggested. “This is our top priority for Omicron: protecting the adults who are most vulnerable and keeping the medical staff safe.”

Not only is the fourth dose being recommended, but the Pandemic Response Team also says the time between one’s second and third vaccine doses should be decreased from five months to three months.

Additional details and a formal announcement are expected to be made by Health Ministry Director-General Nachman Ash in the next few days.

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COVID-19

Beijing Olympics lowers COVID testing standards, otherwise, there would be no Olympics

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How convenient when a bureaucratic body has the power to switch COVID standards at the drop of a hat in order to allow it to continue moving forward and not shut down as the rest of us have been forced to do. COVID Standards around testing and quarantine rules are going from asinine and impossible to achieve to almost gone in the blink of an eye. Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced last week he was doing away with all COVID precautions from vaccine mandates to mask wearing, and instead, would rely on the judgement of its citizens to protect themselves.

Now, the Beijing Olympics organizers and Chinese authorities are lowering the threshold for athletes to participate in the upcoming games. Likely, they realize that just like all other aspects of the world, the mandates and expectations are shutting down businesses and industries left and right.

Specifically, China has lowered the threshold for producing a negative COVID-19 test for participants as they arrive for the Winter Games which will begin next week on February 4th. In a statement, organizers said:

“In order to adapt to the reality of the current environment and further support of Games participants, Beijing 2022 and the Chinese authorities, in consultation with medical experts and IOC, refined countermeasures with the following changes effective 23 January 2022.”

The concern was that athletes could test negative in their home countries after recovering from COVID-19 but still test positive upon their arrival in China, reported the Wall Street Journal. That’s because their testing standards were “tougher than those used by many sports leagues in the U.S. and Europe.”

The CBC reports the communication was sent out by Beijing 2022 on Sunday explaining it was dropping the cycle threshold (Ct) value from 40 to 35. Anyone with a PCR result of less than 35 will be considered positive. The higher the Ct value, the less infectious a person with COVID-19 is. The CBC also reports:

Further changes include that if a positive participant spends 10 days or more in isolation, then that person will be released to their Games time accommodation if they are not displaying any COVID-19 symptoms and if their PCR results have a Ct value greater than or equal to 35 for the past three consecutive days.

Another change is reducing the time in which a person is deemed a close contact, dropping from two weeks to seven days.

“During that period, testing will be carried out twice daily. The close contact will be able to choose whether their PCR test sample is collected as a nasopharyngeal or oropharyngeal swab,” the communication explained.

All of these changes will be applied immediately and will also apply retrospectively.

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