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As the omicron coronavirus variant spreads in southern Africa and pops up in countries all around the world, scientists are anxiously watching a battle play out that could determine the future of the pandemic. Can the latest competitor to the world-dominating delta overthrow it?

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WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden pledged Monday that his social agenda legislation would deliver tangible savings on prescription drugs for all Americans. Relief that consumers have clamored for is now in sight, he asserted.

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LONDON (AP) — One of the scientists behind the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is warning that the next pandemic may be more contagious and more lethal unless more money is devoted to research and preparations to fight emerging viral threats.

DIAMNIADIO, Senegal (AP) — Travel restrictions imposed on South Africa and other African nations for telling the world about the omicron variant are hypocritical, harsh and not supported by science, South Africa's president said Monday, recalling the phrase used by the U.N. chief, who called…

LAGOS, Nigeria (AP) — A Nigerian official on Monday criticized a travel ban imposed on the West African nation by the British government amid fears about the new omicron coronavirus variant as “punitive, indefensible and discriminatory.”

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MILAN (AP) — Italy is making life more uncomfortable for unvaccinated people this holiday season, excluding them from indoor restaurants, theaters and museums starting Monday to reduce the spread of coronavirus and encourage vaccine skeptics to get their shots.

HANOI, Vietnam (AP) — High school seniors returned to their classrooms in Hanoi, Vietnam's capital, on Monday for the first time in more than six months as the city eases coronavirus restrictions.

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A Norwegian Cruise Line ship with at least 10 passengers and crew members infected with COVID-19 docked Sunday in New Orleans, where health officials said they were trying to disembark people without worsening the spread of the coronavirus illness.

DAKAR, Senegal (AP) — Senegal has recorded its first cases of the omicron variant, becoming the third West African nation to detect the new coronavirus variant after Nigeria and Ghana.

BRUSSELS (AP) — Belgian police used water cannon and tear gas Sunday to disperse some rowdy protesters in Brussels after most demonstrators marched peacefully to protest tightened COVID-19 restrictions that aim to counter a surge of coronavirus infections.

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The arrival of the omicron variant of the coronavirus in the U.S. has health officials in some communities reviving contact tracing operations in an attempt to slow and better understand its spread as scientists study how contagious it is and whether it can thwart vaccines.

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SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea again broke its daily records for coronavirus infections and deaths and confirmed three more cases of the new omicron variant as officials scramble to tighten social distancing and border controls.

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BRASILIA, Brazil (AP) — A justice of Brazil’s top court ordered on Friday that President Jair Bolsonaro be investigated for comments linking COVID-19 vaccines to AIDS — an assertion rejected by doctors and scientists.

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MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin's Democratic Gov. Tony Evers vetoed five Republican-authored anti-abortion bills on Friday, two days after the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in a case that could curtail if not end a woman’s right to abortion.

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MOSCOW (AP) — Russia’s state statistics agency says that 74,893 people with COVID-19 died in October — the highest monthly tally in the pandemic that comes as the country grappling with a major surge of coronavirus infections and deaths.

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A judge Friday refused to dismiss the 25-count murder indictment against an Ohio doctor accused of ordering excessive painkillers for hospital patients, meaning one of the biggest cases of its kind ever brought against a U.S. health care professional will proceed toward trial.

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THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — South African scientists are warning that reinfections among people who’ve already battled COVID-19 appear to be more likely with the new omicron variant than with earlier coronavirus mutants.

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LONDON (AP) — Almost two years into the pandemic, Black people and members of other racial and ethnic minorities in Britain are still dying with the coronavirus at higher rates than white residents, likely because of lower vaccination rates, a government-commissioned report said Friday.

BRUSSELS (AP) — Belgium must tighten its coronavirus restrictions another notch as the latest surge in cases weighs heavily on health services and deprives people with other life-threatening diseases like cancer of necessary treatment, Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said Friday.

BERLIN (AP) — Germany's health minister said Friday that more than 1% of the population — almost a million people — are currently infected with the coronavirus, and called on citizens to get vaccinated if they haven’t done so yet.

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (AP) — The newly installed mayor of Rochester, New York, who is serving for a month following former mayor Lovely Warren's resignation, is in quarantine after testing positive for the coronavirus last month.

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MANILA, Philippines (AP) — World Health Organization officials in the Western Pacific say border closures adopted by some countries may buy time to deal with the omicron coronavirus variant, but measures put in place and experience gained in dealing with the delta variant should remain the f…

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NEW YORK (AP) — The omicron variant of COVID-19, which had been undetected in the U.S. before the middle of this week, had been discovered in at least five states by the end of Thursday, showing yet again how mutations of the virus can circumnavigate the globe with speed and ease.