Rapid home tests have low sensitivity for Omicron, study finds

The new BN.1 omicron offshoot, which the CDC last weekend flagged as a subvariant of concern, has already started in the western region of the US, including California, and recorded 6.2% new cases last week — significantly more than the national one Average. According to Moderna, its bivalent booster shot offers “significantly higher” protection against the omicron BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants compared to its original formula. Still, demand for updated bivalent booster shots in the US is down 17% on Nov. 2 compared to the previous week, according to data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Rapid home tests have low sensitivity for Omicron, study finds

Commonly used rapid home antigen tests cannot reliably detect Omicron COVID-19 infection in asymptomatic individuals, according to a study published Monday in the journal Clinical Microbiology and Infection. Dutch researchers tested 3,600 asymptomatic people suspected of having COVID-19 with self-administered rapid antigen tests and PCR tests between January and March, when omicron accounted for up to 99.5% of cases in the Netherlands. The overall sensitivity for the three tapes used – sold under the retail names Flowflex, MPBio and Clinitest – was 27.5%. A quarter of participants who were retested within 10 days of receiving a negative rapid test result were positive. “Self-testing in asymptomatic individuals can detect only the minority of infections,” the authors write. “In the event of a negative self-test, repeat self-testing is recommended to improve diagnostic yield, and individuals should be advised to re-test if symptoms develop.”

The White House wants billions in additional funding to respond to COVID-19

The Biden administration plans to request billions of dollars in additional funding for the US coronavirus response before the end of the year, The Washington Post reports. Officials will reportedly request $8.25 billion for national COVID-19 response efforts, including developing future vaccines and treatments for virus variants and research into long-standing COVID. The application is expected to be rejected by GOP members who are opposed to further funding of the COVID-19 response and question the use of some previous funds, according to the Post. The move would come amid concerns about a winter surge in cases powered in part by new Omicron subvariants. Case and hospitalization rates remain relatively low nationwide compared to earlier in the year, but have risen over the past two weeks, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which reports that 10.1% of eligible individuals age 5 and older are dying received their bivalent booster.

Biden advertises vaccines with the promise “once a year”.

President Biden reiterated Monday’s pledge that most Americans only need to get an annual booster shot against COVID-19, despite widespread skepticism from infectious disease experts who believe the vaccine’s waning effectiveness will require more than one dose every 12 months . Biden is promoting the updated bivalent booster as part of the federal government’s “Countdown to Thanksgiving Vax Up America Tour,” encouraging people to schedule their vaccination appointments today. “Omicron didn’t even exist when the first vaccines against COVID were developed,” she said President tweeted. “Now we have an updated vaccine that is highly effective against Omicron that most people only need to get once a year.” Kevin Munoz, The White House deputy press secretary said federal officials want people to have maximum protection from an expected winter flood. “Ahead of Thanksgiving, we’re making a new push to get Americans their updated vaccines so we can all gather safely this holiday season,” he said.