In less than 24 hours, the number of confirmed Omicron cases in the United States has doubled, with the mutation now verified in all but six states.
As of Saturday morning, 830 Omicron cases had been confirmed across the country using DNA sequencing, a 97% rise over Friday morning’s number.
In truth, the true number of Omicron cases is significantly higher, as only around 1% to 2% of all cases are sequenced for variant markers, but testing data demonstrates an alarming national trend.
The CDC says that Omicron is responsible for at least 13% of all new COVID-19 cases in New York, which saw its largest single-day total of new COVID-19 cases ever on Friday with 21,027.
“The winter COVID-19 surge is here,” New York Governor Kathy Hochul warned, urging everyone to get vaccinated and boosted.
Omicron has already been confirmed in every state in the United States except Oklahoma, Montana, North and South Dakota, Indiana, and Vermont, while the eventual confirmation of the highly transmissible strain in every state appears assured.
The rise of the variant, which appears to be highly transmissible and capable of evading immune responses induced by vaccination or past infection, has already pushed Europe to the verge of new lockdowns.
Dutch health officials have advised the government to impose a strict national lockdown before Christmas, and the country is poised to down all but the most essential retailers on Sunday, leaving frightened consumers scrambling to stock up on last-minute gifts before the restrictions take effect.
Concerned ministers in France and Austria strengthened travel restrictions as the number of cases increased. Paris has postponed its New Year’s Eve fireworks display.
Denmark’s theaters, concert halls, amusement parks, and museums were all shuttered. Ireland instituted a curfew of 8 p.m. for pubs and bars and restricted attendance at indoor and outdoor activities.
In the United Areas, highly vaccinated northeastern states appear to be the most vulnerable at the present, like cold weather, decreasing vaccination immunity, and the different iteration all combine to a fresh case rise.
Connecticut has one of the highest immunization rates in the country, with 74% of the population fully immunized. Additionally, the state’s COVID problem has spiraled out of control in recent weeks. New cases have increased 162% in the last two weeks, with 72 individuals out of every 100,000 testing positive for the virus daily.
Rhode Island currently has the highest COVID rate in the country, with 99 out of every 100,000 residents testing positive for the virus on a daily basis – an increase of 63 percent in the last two weeks. Additionally, it is the second most vaccinated state in the United States, with 75% of citizens fully vaccinated.
Vermont is the most vaccinated state in America, with 76% of inhabitants fully immunized. However, the state is still suffering a rise, with 69 out of every 100,000 residents infected daily.
To the vaccine’s credit, though, mortality has stayed low in all three states despite recent case rises.
Other surrounding states, such as Massachusetts, Maine, and New Hampshire, all of which have over 70% of their populations completely vaccinated, are also experiencing case spikes.
“I think the only thing that it can come down to is behaviors and waning immunity,” said Dr Chris Thompson, an infectious disease expert at Loyola University of Maryland.
“So the boosters will help to overcome the waning immunity and it’s up to us to become vigilant about those behaviors of handwashing, masking, social distancing, testing, vaccinations and those sorts of things.
“[There are] also colder temperatures up there, so people are probably gathered together more indoors again, and that gathering can can lead to easier spread, especially with Omicron.”
New York and New Jersey have developed as early Omicron epicenters. According to the CDC, the new strain is responsible for approximately 13% of sequenced cases in those states.
New York’s case count has surged by 75% in the last two weeks, and the state is also leading the nation in Omicron cases sequencing, with 59 confirmed.
The Omicron COVID variant has been detected in 89 countries, and the World Health Organization (WHO) reported on Saturday that the number of cases is doubling every 1.5 to 3 days in places with community transmission.
Omicron is fast expanding in countries with high levels of population immunity, but it is unclear whether this is due to the virus’s capacity to avoid protection, its intrinsic greater transmissibility, or a mix of the two, the WHO noted in an update.
Omicron was classified a variant of concern by the agency on Nov. 26, shortly after it was discovered, and much remains unknown about it, including the severity of the sickness it causes.
“There are still limited data on the clinical severity of Omicron,” the WHO stated.
“More data are needed to understand the severity profile and how severity is impacted by vaccination and pre-existing immunity.”
The agency further added, “There are still limited available data, and no peer-reviewed evidence, on vaccine efficacy or effectiveness to date for Omicron.”
The WHO warned that given the quick increase of cases, hospitals in some areas may become overwhelmed.
“Hospitalizations in the UK and South Africa continue to rise, and given rapidly increasing case counts, it is possible that many healthcare systems may become quickly overwhelmed.”
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