The Omicron variant has now become the dominant strain in the US, accounting for over 73% of new coronavirus cases.
The Omicron variant first emerged in South Africa. South African scientists soon reported its emergence to the World Health Organization (WHO). The health body later classified it as a variant of concern. Since then, the heavily mutated strain has caused infections in more than 77 countries across the world. On 1st December, the United States reported its first case of Omicron. Now, in less than three weeks, Omicron has become the dominant strain in the US.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has monitored the course of the disease. Using genomic surveillance, the organization has constantly analyzed the spread of various variants across the country. According to recent estimates, as of 18th December, Omicron accounted for 73% of new coronavirus cases in the US. While Delta variant caused over 26% of cases. In contrast, the previous week, Omicron had only accounted for 12.6% of cases.
Bracing for the Worst
Multiple states across the US have reported a sharp increase in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. However, a huge proportion of cases have emerged in the Northwest and Southeast. In a recent interview with ABC, Dr. Anthony Fauci predicted that Omicron will likely cause a huge burden on the country’s healthcare system. He further stressed the importance of boosters in containing infections.
The international surge in infections has shown the variant’s highly transmissible nature. Recent reports report a higher reinfection risk with the Omicron variant than Delta. Moreover, data from Moderna and Pfizer has shown a significant reduction in vaccine effectiveness against the variant. As a result, health officials across the world are pushing for booster doses.