What We’re Reading: Early Omicron Data; Average Young Adult Overweight; Vaccine Discrimination Risks

Early data suggest the Omicron variant may cause less severe cases of COVID-19; a new JAMA study finds the average young adult overweight; spotlighting vaccine discrimination in Africa.

Early Reports Link Omicron Variant With Less Severe Disease

As reported by the Associated Press, early reports from South Africa suggest that the novel Omicron variant may cause less severe cases of COVID-19. Noting that scientists still need more information to definitively assess Omicron’s severity compared with the dominant Delta variant, the chief medical advisor to President Joe Biden, Anthony Fauci, MD, said that the early data have not shown a significant rise in hospitalizations in African countries where Omicron is becoming the dominant strain. Currently, Omicron has spread to approximately a third of US states, but Delta remains the dominant variant nationwide, identified in 99% of cases.

JAMA Study Finds Average Young Adult Overweight

According to findings of a study published in JAMA, the prevalence of obesity among young adults aged 18 to 25 grew significantly in the past 4 decades, with more than half of US young adults (56%) considered overweight or obese. As described by The Washington Post, researchers from John Hopkins assessed data derived from a nationally representative sample of 8015 young adults between 1976 and 2018, in which the average body mass index was indicated to increase by 4.6 points, from 23.1 (normal weight) in 1976-1980 to 27.7 (overweight) in 2017-2018.

Vaccine Discrimination Threatening Africa’s COVID-19 Response

As reported by Reuters, findings of a study published today indicate that Africa has a minimal likelihood of overcoming the COVID-19 pandemic unless 70% of its population is vaccinated by the end of 2022. With disproportionate vaccine distribution continuing to affect vaccine access and uptake in low- and middle-income countries, only 5 of Africa's 54 nations are on track to reach the World Health Organization target of fully vaccinating 40% of the population by this year’s end. Comparably, about 70% of countries in the G7 group have already met the full vaccination target.