Syria’s health system, crippled by a decade of war, continues to be ravaged by COVID-19. Hospitals are overwhelmed, and scores of doctors and nurses have either died or fled the country. 

Rising numbers of Omicron cases are overwhelming primary care physicians in Europe and swamping hospitals, as the US struggles with its own Omicron wave.  

Science  

COVID-19 cases in Japan have plunged 99% from their peak in August, and the country has seen less than 1 death per day in recent weeks.  Why? Experts are struggling to find an answer. 80% of Japan’s population is vaccinated, and masking is the norm. But Japan’s neighbor,…

Americans are hearing warnings to get boosted and mask up, as UK data questions whether Omicron infections lead to less severe illness than other variants.

The CDC will now recommend Moderna and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines over Johnson & Johnson’s for all adults—after evidence has mounted about the latter’s links to rare blood clots, NPR reports.

It’s still early days for Omicron, but the facts on the ground are daunting: It’s already spread to 77 countries and is soon to become the dominant variant in Denmark, the UK, and elsewhere.   All signs point to a dangerous several months ahead.   Insights: 

Noncommunicable diseases—including heart disease, respiratory disease, diabetes, and cancer—currently cause 7 out of every 10 deaths globally. And 85% of these premature deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries. But close to 7 million such deaths could be prevented…

First, the good news: A new study of Pfizer’s Paxlovid pill showed it dropped the risk of hospitalization and death by 89%, if taken within 3 days of symptoms onset, The New York Times reports.   The findings, based on a study of 2,246 unvaccinated people, are expected to…

Enough COVID-19 vaccines have been made to inoculate most of the world. But dozens of low-income countries still face shortages because rich nations are stockpiling hundreds of millions more doses than they need, STAT News reports.