Omicron Spreading in U.S.; Gilead Recalls Vials: Virus Update

The omicron variant is now in at least 10 U.S. states, and White House chief medical adviser Anthony Fauci said there is “absolutely” community spread. Gilead Sciences Inc. recalled two lots of its Covid-19 drug remdesivir in the U.S. after a complaint about glass particles in the vials.

The states of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Missouri, Maryland and Nebraska reported omicron infections on Friday, and cases are guaranteed to keep on rising in the coming days, according to Fauci. Covid-19 infections in the U.S. have reached the highest level in two months.

China reported 75 new infections of Covid-19 Friday, as an outbreak in a border town continued to expand. Inner Mongolia, where the latest flare up is concentrated, added 61 cases, and a further three people without symptoms also tested positive in the region, the National Health Commission said in a statement, without saying whether any of the infections were due to omicron.

Key Developments:

Where the Omicron Variant Has Been Detected 

The new strain has reached more than 35 places

Sources: Government statements, Bloomberg reporting, local media reports

Note: Data for distinct areas as of Dec. 3, 2021

South Korea Reports Three More Omicron Cases (10:15 am HK)


South Korea reported three additional infections of the omicron strain on Saturday, bringing total cases of new variant to nine, according to health authorities. The country also set new daily records for virus cases, Covid-19 deaths and the number of critical Covid patients on Saturday. The country is awaiting test results to see whether there is community transmission.

Australian State Doubles Quarantine on Omicron (10:04 am HK)

International travelers into Australia’s South Australia state will have to quarantine for 14 days on arrival, up from the current 7 days, due to concerns over the omicron variant, Premier Steven Marshall told reporters Saturday. Travelers arriving from Australia’s south-eastern states will need to test on arrival and isolate until a negative result is received, he said.

South Australian authorities are “extraordinarily concerned” about the omicron outbreak in Sydney and a case in the Australian Capital Territory, but will keep its border open at this stage, Marshall said. “We don’t know enough about the omicron variant at this stage,” he said after a meeting with officials to discuss closing the border.

Gilead Recalls 55,000 Vials of Covid Drug (9:50 am HK) 

Gilead Sciences Inc. said it was recalling two lots of its Covid-19 drug remdesivir in the U.S. after receiving a complaint about glass particles in the vials that was confirmed by a company investigation.

The recall involves 55,000 vials of the drug, or enough to treat 11,000 hospitalized patients, company spokesman Chris Ridley said in an interview. He said the recall wouldn’t impact supply of the drug in the U.S. or the rest of the world, as the company has plenty of supply on hand.

Inside A Covid-19 Unit At Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital
A vial of Veklury brand remdesivir anti-viral medication at Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital in Salinas, California, U.S., on Thursday, Sept. 2, 2021. On Monday, 2,128 Covid-19 patients were in ICUs statewide, a number not seen since mid-February, reported the Los Angeles Times.Source: Bloomberg

In a statement, Gilead said that it had received no reports of adverse events linked to the recall, which has only affected the U.S. market.

Omicron Detected in at Least 10 U.S. States (7:56 a.m. HK)

Omicron spread to at least 10 U.S. states after New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Missouri, Maryland and Nebraska reported infections on Friday.null

New Jersey identified an infection in a traveler to the state, an adult female from Georgia who is fully vaccinated and had recently traveled to South Africa, according to Governor Phil Murphy. Pennsylvania reported one case, a man in his 30s from Philadelphia, city health officials announced. Missouri reported one infection, a St. Louis resident who recently traveled domestically.

Maryland had three cases, all from the Baltimore area, according to Governor Larry Hogan. Two were in the same household, including a vaccinated person who had traveled to South Africa and an unvaccinated close contact. A third case involved a vaccinated person with no recent travel.

The first case in Nebraska came from an individual who is suspected to have been exposed on a flight from Nigeria on Nov. 23, health officials said. Five more cases were likely exposed through household contact.

The new variant has also been found in New York, California, Colorado, Hawaii and Minnesota, which said that a resident who had traveled to an anime convention at Manhattan’s Javits Center tested positive. 

Covid Tests May Detect Variant: FDA (7:20 a.m. HK)

Molecular Covid-19 tests developed by Thermo Fisher Scientific, Alphabet Inc.’s Verily Life Sciences, and nearly two dozen other companies may be able to detect the omicron variant, the Food and Drug Administration announced Friday.

Omicron, which is spreading across the U.S., reduces the sensitivity of one genetic target in several molecular tests, the FDA said in an update on its website. That target, which covers a portion of a spike gene, wouldn’t pick up the virus—signaling the presence of the new strain.

England’s Omicron Cases Triple (5:48 p.m. NY)

England has identified 75 more infections caused by the omicron variant, tripling the total caseload to 104, the U.K. Health Security Agency reported. Cases have been reported across the country. 

Fauci Says More Omicron Cases Certain in U.S. (4:18 p.m. NY)

Rising U.S. omicron cases are guaranteed in the coming days as the highly mutated variant has begun spreading in the community, according to Anthony Fauci, President Joe Biden’s top medical adviser.