Rob Stein

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For more than a year, Victoria Gray's life had been transformed. Gone were the sudden attacks of horrible pain that had tortured her all her life. Gone was the devastating fatigue that had left her helpless to care for herself or her kids. Gone were the nightmarish nights in the emergency room getting blood transfusions and powerful pain medication.

A new analysis by the University of Washington shows the omicron surge will peak in a massive wave of infections by the end of January but is likely to produce far fewer severe illnesses for most people.

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How bad could an omicron surge get this winter?

Until key questions about the new coronavirus variant are answered, it's impossible to predict its impact with certainty. Still, several teams of scientists are using computer models to project possible scenarios for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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Updated 5:00 p.m. ET

There's more mixed news about the power of vaccines to protect people against the omicron variant — this time about the Moderna vaccine.

A preliminary study made public Wednesday studied blood samples in the lab from 30 people who had gotten two Moderna shots, and it found that the antibodies in their blood are at least about 50 times less effective at neutralizing the omicron variant of the coronavirus.

Previous research had indicated the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is also less protective against omicron.

There's a lot we need to learn — and fast — about the omicron variant. Federal health officials have been scrambling since Thanksgiving to gather critical information to inform the U.S. response.

Key to that is ramping up the country's capacity to detect the variant in the U.S. population. Once it starts to show up around the country — and experts are confident that's a matter of when not if — tracking its spread will be crucial.

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Kelly LaDue thought she was done with COVID-19 in the fall of 2020 after being tormented by the virus for a miserable couple of weeks.

"And then I started with really bad heart-racing with any exertion. It was weird," says LaDue, 54, of Ontario, N.Y. "Walking up the stairs, I'd have to sit down and rest. And I was short of breath. I had to rest after everything I did."