COVID-19 live updates: Kamala Harris tests negative after exposure to staffer

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(NEW YORK) — As the COVID-19 pandemic has swept the globe, more than 5.3 million people have died from the disease worldwide, including over 812,000 Americans, according to real-time data compiled by Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Systems Science and Engineering.

About 61.7% of the population in the United States is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Here’s how the news is developing. All times Eastern.

Dec 23, 10:41 am
AstraZeneca monoclonal antibody works against omicron, studies show

New studies are offering additional reassurance that AstraZeneca’s monoclonal antibody drug works against omicron.

The company’s EVUSHELD retains neutralization activity against omicron, according to “live” virus neutralization data from both University College Oxford and Washington University School of Medicine.

AstraZeneca announced last week that its antibody drug would likely retain protection against omicron. These studies add to that growing evidence.

AstraZeneca’s monoclonal antibody was authorized on Dec. 8, but for a narrow group of people. It is authorized as a way to prevent COVID-19 among people who are immune compromised, or people who are allergic to vaccine components. It is not authorized as a way to treat COVID-19 among people who have already tested positive.

There are three monoclonal antibody treatments currently authorized to treat people who already have COVID-19. Two of those treatments — those made by Eli Lilly and Regeneron — appear to have very little activity against omicron. A third treatment, made by Vir and GlaxoSmithKline, appears to work against omicron but is currently in short supply. The companies are working to scale up production.

ABC News’ Sony Salzman

Dec 23, 10:39 am
Cruise ship can’t enter Curacao or Aruba after 55 people test positive for COVID

A Royal Caribbean ship has been blocked from entering Curacao and Aruba after 55 crew members and guests tested positive for COVID-19.

The ship, named Odyssey of the Sea, set sail from Florida on Dec. 18 and had planned to visit the Caribbean  for eight nights.

According to the cruise line, 95% of all people onboard were fully vaccinated. The crew and guests who tested positive were all “fully vaccinated and mildly symptomatic or asymptomatic.”

Close contacts of the positive patients have been placed in quarantine and will be monitored for 24 hours prior to testing.

The ship will remain at sea and is scheduled to return to Florida on Dec. 26.

ABC News’ Mina Kaji

Dec 23, 9:56 am
FDA authorizes Merck pill for some

The Food and Drug Administration authorized Merck’s COVID-19 pill Thursday for certain patients.

The authorization is specifically for adults who are at high-risk for severe illness and don’t have access to other FDA-authorized treatments.

This is the second COVID-19 therapy available in pill form after Pfizer’s pill was authorized in patients aged 12 and older on Wednesday.

Children and teenagers are not eligible for Merck’s pill due to fears that the medication could negatively impact bone and cartilage growth.

COVID-19 patients seeking the pills must obtain a doctor’s prescription first.

ABC News’ Sony Salzman

Dec 23, 5:44 am
Rep. Jan Schakowsky tests positive for COVID

Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., has tested positive for COVID-19.

Schakowsky said her husband, Bob, had tested positive last week. After several negative tests, the lawmaker also tested positive on Tuesday night, she said on Twitter.

Both Schakowskys were vaccinated and received boosters. They’re now quarantining, she said.

“We got tested when we felt something was off, and now we can prevent exposure to our family and loved ones,” Schakowsky said. “I implore you to do the same before holiday gatherings this week and next. Get tested if you feel sick or have been around someone who tests positive.”

ABC News’s Ben Siegel

Dec 22, 10:58 pm
Rep. Jim Clyburn, majority whip, tests positive for COVID

Rep. Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., the No. 3 Democrat in the House, said Wednesday night that he had tested positive for COVID. The 81-year-old lawmaker said he’s vaccinated and currently asymptomatic.

“America is in a new phase of this pandemic. No one is immune,” he wrote. “I urge anyone who has not done so to protect themselves by getting vaccinated and boosted.”

He said he has been in quarantine since Sunday awaiting results and missed his granddaughter’s wedding because of testing positive.

Clyburn played a crucial role in getting President Joe Biden elected last year when he endorsed him ahead of the South Carolina primary. Biden won the contest and carried the momentum through to the presidency.

The congressman appeared on stage with Biden on Dec. 17 at South Carolina State University’s graduation ceremony. Biden gave the commencement address while Clyburn received his diploma after graduating in 1961 but missing the ceremony. Both were wearing masks on stage and Clyburn said he tested negative ahead of the ceremony.

Clyburn was the eighth member of Congress — six representatives and two senators — to publicly disclose they tested positive for COVID this week. Later on Wednesday, Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., became the ninth member to confirm a positive test.

ABC News’ Ben Siegel and Chris Howell

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