Dog vaccine

Your Tuesday briefing – The New York Times

The Omicron variant spreads quickly, but the resulting infection may be less severe than other forms of the coronavirus. Researchers in South Africa have said their Covid-19 services were almost unrecognizable from previous phases of the pandemic, with few patients on oxygen machines.

A report from doctors at a large hospital complex in Pretoria, the administrative capital of South Africa, said coronavirus patients with the variant were less sick than those they had treated before. Most of their infected patients were admitted for other reasons and had no symptoms of Covid. The results, however, are preliminary and have not been peer reviewed.

Scientists have cautioned against placing too much stock either in less serious potential good news or in bad news as the first evidence that a previous infection offers little immunity to Omicron. The variant was only discovered last month, and hospitalizations and deaths often lag significantly behind outbreaks. Yet Covid deaths have yet to increase in South Africa despite the increase in the number of cases.

In numbers : Of the 166 coronavirus patients admitted from November 14 to 29 in the hospital complex, the average stay was 2.8 days and less than 7% died. Over the past 18 months, the average stay for these patients was 8.5 days and 17 percent died.

Olaf Scholz will be sworn in tomorrow as the ninth post-war German Chancellor, the first Social Democrat in 16 years to hold this post. He will lead a tripartite coalition government with the Progressive Greens and the Libertarian Free Democrats.

Defying polls and experts, Scholz led his 158-year party from the precipice of insignificance to an unlikely victory. Now he wants to show that the center-left can once again become a political force in Europe and further mend the bridge between the social democrats and the working class in Germany. Just over 800,000 voters who abandoned the party for the far left and far right returned in the last elections.

Across the EU, Social Democrats rule in nine of the 27 Member States, and the lessons of Germany are already proving to be influential. In France, the socialist mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, who recently announced her own presidential candidacy from afar, raised the theme of “respect” which has become the centerpiece of Scholz’s campaign.

Background: Once a fiery young socialist who joined his party as a teenager, Scholz gradually softened to become a post-ideological centrist. Today he is seen to be to the right of much of the party base, much like President Biden, with whom he is sometimes compared.

Cabinet: The new German government will have gender parity for the first time, with eight women and eight men.

President Biden will attend a video meeting with Russian leader Vladimir Putin today in what is quite possibly the most important leader-to-leader conversation the US president has since taking office. The conversation could set the course for Ukraine’s fate as a fully independent nation.

Biden will tell the Russian president that if he orders his forces to invade Ukraine, Western allies may decide to cut Russia off from the international financial system, administration officials said.

In recent weeks, Ukrainians have warned that Russia is shaping the architecture for major military action, if not full-fledged invasion. US intelligence officials have estimated that Moscow has plans for an offensive involving around 175,000 troops that is expected to begin as early as next year.

Battle plan: If an all-out attack does occur, Ukrainian forces are more prepared to deal with it than ever before, a Ukrainian commander said. But without significant help from Western countries, especially the United States, they will not be able to hold back the Russian military.

The Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard can seem both ethereal and eternal to visitors. But climate change virtually guarantees an eventual collapse of its vulnerable ecosystem.

The Times’ top film critics AO Scott and Manohla Dargis have put together their list of the best movies of the past 12 months – films that, in Scott’s words, “reward your attention, engage your feelings, and respect your intelligence.” Here is a selection of their choices.

“The summer of the soul” a musical documentary by Questlove, features performance footage from a series of open-air concerts in Harlem in 1969, as well as interviews with musicians and members of the public. It’s “a stroke of pure joy,” Scott writes.

Dargis recommends watching “The power of the dog” The long-awaited feature film by Jane Campion, especially on the big screen. “Like all the movies I love, ‘The Power of the Dog’ caught my skin,” she writes. “I looked at it, I fell into it, I felt it. And like all the movies I care about most, it’s so much more than the sum of its finely crafted story parts. “

With “West Side Story, ” Steven Spielberg and Tony Kushner – and an energetic young cast of Jets and Sharks – pulled off a surprising cinematic stunt. “Respecting the art and good intentions of the original musical, they turned it into something urgent, modern and exciting,” Scott writes.

Find out more about the best films of the year.

That’s it for today’s briefing. Thanks for joining me. – Natasha

PS Pulitzer Prize-winning Times correspondent Ellen Barry joins the science bureau to report on mental health.

The last episode of “The Daily” concerns Jeffrey Epstein’s partner, Ghislaine Maxwell.

You can reach Natasha and the team at [email protected].