On the Covid testing website on Broadway in Santa Monica, the wait was no less than 45 minutes lengthy even with an appointment on Monday, Jan. 3, 2021.
Carolyn Cole | Los Angeles Occasions | Getty Photographs
The omicron variant of Covid-19 now makes up practically all sequenced circumstances within the U.S., driving an enormous improve of infections throughout the nation that threatens to pressure hospitals and disrupt each day life.
Omicron represented 95% of sequenced Covid circumstances within the U.S. throughout the week ending New Yr’s Day, whereas the once-dominant delta variant is now solely 4.6% of sequenced circumstances, based on knowledge from the Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention.
The CDC usually collects specimens of the virus that causes Covid and analyzes their genetic sequences to determine new variants and decide which strains of the virus are circulating within the U.S.
The extremely contagious omicron variant has quickly overtaken delta in a matter of weeks. At first of December, omicron represented lower than 1% of sequenced circumstances whereas delta represented 99%.
The U.S. reported a pandemic report of greater than 1 million new infections on Monday, based on knowledge compiled by Johns Hopkins College. The nation is now reporting a seven-day common of greater than 480,000 new infections, practically double the week prior, based on a CNBC evaluation of Hopkins knowledge.
Omicron is driving up circumstances, no less than partly, attributable to its capacity to partially evade the immunity generated by vaccines and trigger breakthrough infections in massive numbers.
President Joe Biden on Tuesday mentioned people who find themselves totally vaccinated, notably those that have obtained boosters, are extremely protected in opposition to extreme sickness from omicron even when they’re contaminated with the variant.
“You may nonetheless get Covid, however it’s extremely unlikely, most unlikely, that you’re going to turn into severely unwell,” Biden mentioned about people who find themselves vaccinated. “We’re seeing Covid-19 circumstances amongst vaccinated workplaces throughout America, together with right here on the White Home, however in case you’re vaccinated and boosted, you’re extremely protected.”
A examine revealed by the U.Okay. Well being Safety Company final week discovered that Pfizer and Moderna’s two-dose vaccines are solely about 10% efficient at stopping symptomatic an infection from omicron 20 weeks after the second dose. Nonetheless, two doses nonetheless present good safety in opposition to extreme sickness, based on the examine.
Booster doses, alternatively, present the most effective safety and are as much as 75% efficient at stopping symptomatic an infection, the U.Okay. Well being Safety Company discovered. Public well being officers within the U.S. have been intently observing knowledge out of the U.Okay. as a result of the omicron wave started in Britain just a few weeks earlier than it hit the U.S.
Biden mentioned people who find themselves unvaccinated ought to be alarmed by omicron’s speedy unfold within the U.S., warning a lot of them will get contaminated and develop extreme sickness.
“Some will die — needlessly die,” Biden mentioned. “Unvaccinated are taking over hospital beds and crowding emergency rooms and intensive care models. That is displaced different individuals who want entry to these hospitals.”
Scientists and public well being officers are nonetheless making an attempt to find out the severity of sickness attributable to omicron in contrast with delta. The U.Okay. Well being Safety Company, in its examine, discovered that individuals contaminated with omicron are much less prone to require hospital remedy in contrast with those that caught delta.
A examine from the College of Hong Kong’s School of Drugs discovered that lung an infection from omicron is considerably decrease than the unique pressure of the virus, which could counsel much less extreme illness. Nonetheless, omicron replicates a lot sooner in human airways, which can clarify why it spreads sooner, the examine discovered.
The U.Okay. Well being Safety company’s chief medical advisor, Susan Hopkins, cautioned that its nonetheless too early to attract definitive conclusions about severity, as a result of the variant is simply beginning to attain extra susceptible teams such because the aged. The World Well being Group has additionally cautioned in opposition to treating omicron as a gentle variant as a result of the folks contaminated thus far are in youthful age teams that usually have higher medical outcomes.
In the US, hospitalizations are rising. About 98,000 Individuals are hospitalized with Covid-19, based on a seven-day common of information from the Division of Well being and Human Providers as of Jan. 3, up 32% from every week in the past.
A small examine out of South Africa, which first alerted the world about omicron in November, discovered that individuals contaminated with the brand new variant might have elevated immune safety in opposition to the delta. This might end in omicron displacing delta in international locations the place they’re co-circulating, based on the examine.
The group of South Africa scientists famous that if omicron displaces delta and proves extra delicate, “the incidence of Covid-19 extreme illness can be decreased and the an infection might shift to turn into much less disruptive to people and society.”
— CNBC’s Nate Rattner contributed to this report.