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What you need to know about coronavirus on Thursday, January 7

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It was the deadliest day of the pandemic, not just in the US but likely in any country in the world.

Hospitals across the country continued to fill up — the number of people of hospitalized with Covid-19 reached 132,476 yesterday, yet another record.

It’s likely many of the hospitalised will not survive. A new forecast from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention projects up to 76,700 more coronavirus deaths in the US by the end of January.

Just 5.3 million of the 17.3 million doses distributed have been administered in the US. That doesn’t come close to the target the Trump administration set in the fall.

State health officials have repeatedly complained they do not have the funds they need to vaccinate, test and contact trace, so the federal government said yesterday it would allocate further $22 billion to fight the pandemic.

US Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams said Wednesday that vaccine administration is “quickly ramping up” and he urged states to move to the next priority groups so supply “can match up with demand.”

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Disease, said he hoped that the US can ramp up vaccinations before the month is over.

“We should have done better, but I think we should wait until we get into maybe the second, or the third week in January, to see if we can now catch up with the original pace that was set,” he said.

YOU ASKED. WE ANSWERED

Q: How common are allergic reactions to Covid-19 vaccines?

A: Very rare. Only 29 people in the US have experienced severe allergic reactions, known as anaphylaxis, to the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, the CDC said yesterday.

With 1.9 million doses administered, this adds up to a rate of 11.1 cases of anaphylaxis out of 1 million doses administered, the CDC said. By comparison, the rate of severe allergic reaction for the flu vaccine is 1.3 per 1 million doses. “The anaphylaxis rate for Covid-19 vaccines may seem high compared to flu vaccines. But I want to reassure you that this is still a rare outcome,” Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, told a news conference.

Send your questions here. Are you a health care worker fighting Covid-19? Message us on WhatsApp about the challenges you’re facing: +1 347-322-0415.

WHAT’S IMPORTANT TODAY

The world is playing “a very dangerous game,” WHO says

The world is playing a “very dangerous game” with the coronavirus, giving it many chances to mutate as the virus spreads at unprecedented rates, a World Health Organization official said yesterday.

“We’re playing a very dangerous game with this virus right now,” Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO’s technical lead for the coronavirus response, told CNN. “What worries us is that the longer this spreads, the more opportunities it has to change.” The virus has more chances to mutate in countries like the United States, which is seeing unprecedented and uncontrolled spread.

Here’s how mutations could help the coronavirus evade vaccines

New variants of the coronavirus that have emerged in the UK and in South Africa seem to make the virus more easily transmitted. The evidence suggests the British variant has not changed enough to evade the protection offered by vaccines.

But the South African variant has mutations in one particular place on the spike protein that affect whether the immune system can neutralize the virus, Maggie Fox writes.

All the current vaccines target the spike protein. Mutations that change the way that spike protein looks can also help it hide from both arms of the immune system — the antibodies that attach to a virus and stop it from latching onto cells, as well as the T cells that attack the virus.

But the complex human immune system response might still allow the body to block the virus from a variety of other directions, and there is evidence this is the case.

Loss of smell in mild Covid-19 cases occurs 86% of the time

Some 86% of people with mild cases of Covid-19 lose their sense of smell and taste but recover it within six months, according to a new study of over 2,500 patients from 18 European hospitals.

The sense of smell reappeared after an average of 18 to 21 days, the study found, but about 5% of people had not recovered olfactory function at six months.

ON OUR RADAR

Baseball Hall of Famer Hank Aaron prepares to receive his COVID-19 vaccination on January 5, 2021 in Atlanta.

TOP TIP

There is no denying that 2020 has hampered activity levels. Between the Zoom meetings, Netflix binges and virtual cocktail hours, increased sitting is a pandemic-driven reality for many.

But there is good news: Despite all that sedentary time, with as little as 11 minutes of movement a day, you can increase your lifespan, a recent study has found. So here are some great ideas for your new 11 minute workouts.

TODAY’S PODCAST

“Given that it’s been detected in multiple states and people with no history of international travel, I would guess that it’s very prevalent in some communities around the US.” — Angela Rasmussen, a virologist

New variants of the coronavirus are circulating around the globe and causing some concern among experts. To understand how this will affect the course of the pandemic, CNN’s Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta speaks with virologist Angela Rasmussen. Listen now.

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