The New Year has come and it has brought with it the wave of virus led by Omicron.
More than 3.5 million people worldwide died of coronavirus in 2021, nearly twice as many as in 2020. The delta variant caused havoc worldwide, and now the variant is Omicron, which is already dominant in the US , feed height. in cases.
Omicron has spread to more than 100 countries after it was first identified in Botswana and South Africa in late November, infecting previously vaccinated people as well as those who were previously infected. But South African officials say their country is now at its peak in the Omicron wave, and new cases are declining, all without a significant increase in deaths – giving hope that while other countries may see similar weeks of intensity, they may also see declines. The number of deaths is lower than in previous waves.
For the United States, the coming weeks look tough. “We’re going to be in a difficult January, where cases will continue to rise and peak, and then fall rapidly,” said Ali Mokdad, a University of Washington epidemiologist and former scientist with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
He said that while cases of the virus will continue to overwhelm hospitals, he expects the proportion of cases leading to hospitalizations to be lower than in previous waves. Animal studies indicate that Omicron does not invade the lungs easily, which may help explain its generally lower severity.
New estimates from researchers at Columbia University suggest that the United States could peak by January 9 at about 2.5 million cases per week, although that number could be as high as 5.4 million. In New York City, the first US city to experience a major boom, researchers estimate that cases will peak by the first week of the new year.
“It’s shocking. It’s disturbing,” said Jeffrey Shaman, an epidemiologist who led the modeling business in Columbia. “We are seeing unprecedented numbers of Covid-19 cases.”
At the same time, Dr Shaman said, there is a possibility that as cases decline in areas now experiencing significant Omicron rises, other areas currently less affected will see Omicron rises, leading to a more rounded nationwide case curve. The hottest areas of the country are now clustered in the eastern half of the country.
The United States set a one-day record with 489,000 cases on Wednesday, then broke the record again on Thursday when it counted 582,000 cases, according to the New York Times database.
The number of new cases fell from those records on Friday, when many states did not report data on New Year’s Eve. But the number remains exceptionally high, with 443,000 new cases in just 28 states.
Even the staggering numbers from the past several days have fallen short, with the holiday season causing major distortions in testing and data reports. The increasing use of at-home tests is making accounting more questionable.
Genome sequencing shows that Omicron has exponential growth because some mutations appear to accelerate transmission. But new studies, including a survey of 1 million coronavirus patients in England, support research showing that two doses of vaccines offer significant protection against severe disease, even though Omicron has always been better at evading vaccines.
Doctors urge anyone who is not immunized to get the first dose of the vaccine as soon as possible, and anyone who is vaccinated to get a booster dose.
“We are all tired and ready for this to be over,” said Dr. Brian Garibaldi, head of the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center. “But we still have a lot of work to do and a long way to go.”
Sarah Kahlan Contribute to the preparation of reports.