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 - Sputnik International, 1920
Omicron COVID Strain
The new COVID variant was initially detected in South Africa and Botswana and sparked major concerns due to its high number of mutations (32). The WHO dubbed the strain Omicron and warned it may prove to be more transmissible and dangerous than other coronavirus variants.

Everything You Need to Know About Biden's 9-Step Winter COVID Plan

© REUTERS / EVELYN HOCKSTEINU.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the authorization of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine for kids ages 5 to 11, during a speech in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building’s South Court Auditorium at the White House in Washington, U.S., November 3, 2021.
U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the authorization of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine for kids ages 5 to 11, during a speech in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building’s South Court Auditorium at the White House in Washington, U.S., November 3, 2021. - Sputnik International, 1920, 05.12.2021
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On Thursday, the Biden administration released a nine-step plan to combat the seasonal winter COVID surge. With Americans spending more time inside and the emergence of the Omicron variant, there is a high likelihood that the winter months will see case numbers skyrocket.
The primary objective of US President Joe Biden's plan is to increase Americans' access to vaccines, therapeutics, and testing. What follows are the biggest takeaways from each step in the Biden plan.

1. Boosters for All Adults

"President Biden will announce new steps to ensure that the nearly 100 million eligible Americans who have not yet gotten their booster shot, get one as soon as possible".

The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued updated guidance that suggests every adult receive a booster shot.
All adults are eligible for free booster shots, which are available at over 800,000 locations nationwide.
© US Army/Pfc. Maxwell BassU.S. Army Sgt. Brandy Herrmann, assigned to the 24th Theater Public Affairs Support Element, receives the COVID-19 vaccination at Stayton Theater, at Fort Bliss, Texas, Feb. 5, 2021. Herrmann was instructed to wait 15 minutes before driving or participate in vigorous physical activity after receiving the shot. (U.S. Army photo by Pfc. Maxwell Bass, 24th Theater Public Affairs Support Element)
U.S. Army Sgt. Brandy Herrmann, assigned to the 24th Theater Public Affairs Support Element, receives the COVID-19 vaccination at Stayton Theater, at Fort Bliss, Texas, Feb. 5, 2021. Herrmann was instructed to wait 15 minutes before driving or participate in vigorous physical activity after receiving the shot. (U.S. Army photo by Pfc. Maxwell Bass, 24th Theater Public Affairs Support Element) - Sputnik International, 1920, 04.12.2021
U.S. Army Sgt. Brandy Herrmann, assigned to the 24th Theater Public Affairs Support Element, receives the COVID-19 vaccination at Stayton Theater, at Fort Bliss, Texas, Feb. 5, 2021. Herrmann was instructed to wait 15 minutes before driving or participate in vigorous physical activity after receiving the shot. (U.S. Army photo by Pfc. Maxwell Bass, 24th Theater Public Affairs Support Element)
Pharmacies will be launching outreach campaigns to help individuals get boosters.
The Biden administration is calling on employers to provide paid time off for employees to get a booster shot. All federal employees already receive paid time off to get vaccinated.

2. Vaccinations to Protect Kids and Keep Schools Open

The US is the world leader in vaccinating children and the Biden administration points out that vaccination is the best way to keep schools open amidst the emergence of new variants.
The president will announce a new effort to launch hundreds of family vaccination clinics across the country.
Medicaid will pay healthcare providers to talk to families about getting their kids vaccinated.
© REUTERS / Marco BelloA student wearing a protective masks, walks past a “Welcome back” banner on the first day of school, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, at St. Lawrence Catholic School in North Miami Beach, Florida, U.S. August 18, 2021.
A student wearing a protective masks, walks past a “Welcome back” banner on the first day of school, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, at St. Lawrence Catholic School in North Miami Beach, Florida, U.S. August 18, 2021. - Sputnik International, 1920, 04.12.2021
A student wearing a protective masks, walks past a “Welcome back” banner on the first day of school, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, at St. Lawrence Catholic School in North Miami Beach, Florida, U.S. August 18, 2021.
The administration is focused on making sure schools remain open. The CDC will release findings on quarantine and testing policies in schools to help students and schools.
The FDA will be given the necessary resources to quickly and safely review COVID vaccines in children under the age of five.

3. Expanding Free At-Home Testing

Americans with private insurance will be able to get at-home COVID tests fully reimbursed by their insurance.
The administration wants to increase the ease and quantity of COVID testing throughout the United States.

4. Stronger Public Health Protocols

Early next week, the US will increase pre-departure protocols to require all inbound international travellers to test within one day of their trip. This applies to all individuals regardless of their vaccination status or nationality.
Masks will continue to be required on airplanes, trains, and all forms of public transit.

5. Protections in the Workplace to Keep Economy Open

The Biden administration is calling on businesses to require employees be vaccinated or tested weekly.

6. Rapid Response Teams to Battle Rising Cases

There will be over 60 Winter COVID emergency response teams that can be deployed to states based upon need. At least 20 of these will be Department of Defence Medical Response Teams and another 10 National Disaster Medical System teams to support clinical staffing at strained hospitals.
There will be 20 monoclonal antibody strike teams to provide therapeutic support and at least 15 CDC expert deployments to assist in epidemiological and technical support.
© CDCThis illustration, created at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reveals ultrastructural morphology exhibited by coronaviruses. Note the spikes that adorn the outer surface of the virus, which impart the look of a corona surrounding the virion, when viewed electron microscopically. A novel coronavirus, named Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), was identified as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan, China in 2019. The illness caused by this virus has been named coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
This illustration, created at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reveals ultrastructural morphology exhibited by coronaviruses. Note the spikes that adorn the outer surface of the virus, which impart the look of a corona surrounding the virion, when viewed electron microscopically. A novel coronavirus, named Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), was identified as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan, China in 2019. The illness caused by this virus has been named coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). - Sputnik International, 1920, 04.12.2021
This illustration, created at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reveals ultrastructural morphology exhibited by coronaviruses. Note the spikes that adorn the outer surface of the virus, which impart the look of a corona surrounding the virion, when viewed electron microscopically. A novel coronavirus, named Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), was identified as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan, China in 2019. The illness caused by this virus has been named coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
An additional $20 million in funding will be added to the American Rescue Plan to strengthen the Medical Reserve Corps, which the administration believes will support approximately 300,000 medical and public health professionals.

7. Supplying Treatment Pills to Prevent Hospitalisations and Death

Facing the reality of a seasonal surge of COVID and the emergence of the Omicron variant, the Biden administration says that any new therapeutic treatments will be available to any American regardless of their economic status or zip code.
The administration is taking measures to obtain 13 million doses of antiviral courses, six times the number of COVID hospitalisations over the past year.

8. Continued Commitment to Global Vaccination Efforts

The Biden administration has said that for every shot administered in the US, one will be donated globally. They are also pledging to donate 200 million doses over the next 100 days.
A petrol attendant stands next to a newspaper headline in Pretoria, South Africa, Saturday, Nov. 27, 2021. - Sputnik International, 1920, 04.12.2021
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There are reportedly steps underway to ramp up the production of vaccines in the United States and abroad.

9. Steps to Ensure We Are Prepared for All Scenarios

The Biden administration acknowledges that the Omicron strain could be more resistant to the current vaccines. The federal government and vaccine manufacturers have already begun to develop contingency plans if more boosters are needed.
A healthcare worker collects a swab from a passenger for a PCR test against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) before traveling to Uganda, amidst the spread of the new SARS-CoV-2 variant Omicron, at O.R. Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg - Sputnik International, 1920, 03.12.2021
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The FDA and CDC will be given additional resources to quickly review and approve any new vaccines or treatment needed to limit the spread of Omicron or any other new variant.
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