Week in Review: December 3

The Week in Review provides an overview of the past week’s top health care content, including industry news and trends, Mayo Clinic and Mayo Clinic Laboratories news, and upcoming events.

Industry News

Will the vaccines stop Omicron? Scientists are racing to find out

A “Frankenstein mix” of mutations raises concerns, but the variant may remain vulnerable to current vaccines. If not, revisions will be necessary. Via New York Times

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What are Omicron variant symptoms? Everything to know about the latest COVID-19 strain

While millions of Americans were enjoying Thanksgiving weekend with loved ones, health officials were sounding the alarm on a “heavily mutated” coronavirus variant emerging in South Africa. The World Health Organization announced Friday it had designated the new strain a “variant of concern” and named it omicron. Not much is yet known about new variant but experts say it could take hold, causing infections to surge. Via USA Today

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Once rare, lung transplants for COVID-19 patients are rising quickly

About one in 10 lung transplants in the United States now go to COVID-19 patients, according to data from the United Network for Organ Sharing, or UNOS. The trend is raising questions about the ethics of allocating a scarce resource to people who have chosen not to be vaccinated against the coronavirus. "They are accumulating on a steady basis. So it's very much a real thing," says David Klassen, chief medical officer for UNOS. "If there were more lungs available for transplants, I believe the numbers would be greater than they are," he says. Via NPR

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Mayo Clinic News

Covid-19 antibody tests in demand as people worry about immunity

Antibody tests also don’t account for immune cells known as B-cells, which produce antibodies, or T-cells, which can help identify the virus or kill virus-infected cells. “Antibody testing doesn’t give you a full picture of a person’s immune response to Covid. It just shows you a snapshot of one branch of the immune system,” said Elitza Theel, head of the infectious diseases serology lab at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. Via Wall Street Journal

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Mayo Clinic infectious disease physician: Omicron variant 'concerning' but no reason for panic

Mayo Clinic infectious disease physician Dr. John O'Horo, told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS the COVID-19 omicron variant is "concerning," but also said there is still a lot of testing to be done before a much more detailed assessment can be made. However, there is no reason for people to panic. "So, what we know about omicron at this point is very little, but what is important for us to know here in Minnesota is that there have been no cases in the U.S. yet," O'Horo said. "We can expect to see in the two weeks or so some initial data coming in on the vaccines and how they perform against the omicron variant because that's what the vaccine manufacturers have promised." Via KSTP

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It’s flu season, and here’s why you should get your flu shot this winter

 Influenza is a highly contagious respiratory virus, causing mild to severe illness. People can die from the flu, especially individuals who are older or immunocompromised, said Dr. Priya Sampathkumar, a leading infectious disease specialist at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. Pregnant women are also at an increased risk for developing severe illness, she said. Via MPR News

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Chantell Canfield

Chantell Canfield is a web content coordinator for Mayo Clinic Laboratories. She began working for Mayo Clinic in 2021.