COVID Update: IL reports 4,901 new cases, 18 deaths

Moderna announces promising results of its variant-specific vaccine
CHICAGO (WLS) -- Illinois reported 4,901 new COVID cases and 18 new deaths Wednesday.

There have been at least 3,342,542 total COVID cases in the state since the start of the pandemic and, at least 33,904 related deaths.

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As of Tuesday night, 1,201 patients in Illinois were reported to be in the hospital with COVID-19. Of those, 121 patients were in the ICU, and 36 patients with COVID-19 were on ventilators. IDPH reports 20% of ICU beds are available.

IDPH officials reported a seven-day case average of 40.1 per 100,000 people.
A total of 22,457,594 vaccine doses have been administered in Illinois as of Tuesday, and 65.01% of the state's population is fully vaccinated. The seven-day rolling average of vaccines administered daily is 13,066.

Moderna announces promising results of its variant-specific vaccine



As COVID keeps circulating, Anthony Arena feels untouchable. The 41-year-old Chicago resident is extra protected after receiving Moderna's new omicron-specific vaccine as a UIC trial participant.

"I feel superhuman right now," Arena said. "I didn't know if I was superhuman, but I'm gonna hope I'm one of the blood draws that had an eight-fold increase."

On Wednesday, Moderna announced the results of its next-generation COVID vaccine the company claims will produce a big increase of antibodies against omicron and will last several months.

"It has the potential to be a real turning point in this later part, second half of the pandemic," said Dr. Paul Burton, chief medical officer at Moderna.

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The hope is to have the variant-specific shot ready by the fall. Moderna is so confident in its product, it has already started mass producing large quantities of the vaccine.

"It's supposed to create an amount of antibodies to allow it to last longer so we can get one booster a year," said Dr. Max Brito, an infectious disease specialist at UIC.

Pfizer is expected to release results for a variant-specific vaccine soon as well. But Brito said the excitement over the shot should be tempered, since the studies were conducted during the initial omicron surges.

"It's going to be effective against variants we have circulating now," Brito said. "If new omicron sub variants appear, it may not be effective, but we don't know for sure."

As new variants arrive, ABC News data shows more and more Americans are getting reinfected, with some states reporting some people getting the virus two to five times.

Moderna will seek FDA authorization soon for its updated vaccine. The company is confident the shot will provide protection against newer omicron subvariants.
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